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Title: Buffalo Land - Authentic Account of the Discoveries, Adventures, and - Mishaps of a Scientific and Sporting Party in the Wild West
Author: Webb, W. E.
Language: English
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Transcriber's note:

    Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

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[Illustration:

_BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION BUFFALO NY_]

  BUFFALO LAND:

  AN

  AUTHENTIC ACCOUNT

  OF THE

  _Discoveries, Adventures, and Mishaps of a Scientific
  and Sporting Party_

  IN THE WILD WEST;

  WITH

  GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS OF THE COUNTRY; THE RED MAN, SAVAGE
  AND CIVILIZED; HUNTING THE BUFFALO, ANTELOPE,
  ELK, AND WILD TURKEY; ETC., ETC.

  REPLETE WITH INFORMATION, WIT, AND HUMOR.

  The Appendix Comprising a Complete Guide for Sportsmen and Emigrants.

  BY

  W. E. WEBB,

  OF TOPEKA, KANSAS.

  Profusely Illustrated

  FROM ACTUAL PHOTOGRAPHS, AND ORIGINAL DRAWINGS BY HENRY WORRALL.

  CINCINNATI AND CHICAGO:

  E HANNAFORD & COMPANY.

  SAN FRANCISCO: F. DEWING & CO.

  1872.

  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1872, by

  E. HANNAFORD & CO.,

  In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.

  STEREOTYPED AT THE FRANKLIN TYPE FOUNDRY, CINCINNATI.

  TO

  The Primeval Man,

  _The Original Westerner, and First Buffalo Hunter,_

  This Work is Dedicated,

  WITH PROFOUND REGARD,

  _BY THE AUTHOR._



BUFFALO LAND.

BY OUR TAMMANY SACHEM.


  There's a wonderful land far out in the West,
    Well worthy a visit, my friend;
  There, Puritans thought, as the sun went to rest,
    Creation itself had an end.
  'T is a wild, weird spot on the continent's face,
    A wound which is ghastly and red,
  Where the savages write the deeds of their race
    In blood that they constantly shed.
  The graves of the dead the fair prairies deface,
    And stamp it the kingdom of dread.

  The emigrant trail is a skeleton path;
    You measure its miles by the bones;
  There savages struck, in their merciless wrath,
    And now, after sunset, the moans,
  When tempests are out, fill the shuddering air,
    And ghosts flit the wagons beside,
  And point to the skulls lying grinning and bare
    And beg of the teamsters a ride;
  Sometimes 't is a father with snow on his hair,
    Again, 't is a youth and his bride.

  What visions of horror each valley could tell,
    If Providence gave it a tongue!
  How often its Eden was changed to a hell,
    In which a whole train had been flung;
  How death cry and battle-shout frightened the birds,
    And prayers were as thick as the leaves,
  And no one to catch the poor dying one's words
    But Death, as he gathered his sheaves:
  You see the bones bleaching among the wild herds,
    In shrouds that the field spider weaves.

  That era is passing--another one comes,
    The era of steam and the plow,
  With clangor of commerce and factory hums,
    Where only the wigwam is now.
  Like mist of the morning before the bright sun,
    The cloud from the land disappears;
  The Spirit of Murder his circle has run
    And fled from the march of the years;
  The click of machine drowns the click of the gun,
    And day hides the night time of tears.



PREFACE.


The purpose of this work is to make the reader better acquainted with
that wild land which he has known from childhood, as the home of the
Indian and the buffalo. The Rocky Mountain chain, distorted and rugged,
has been aptly called the colossal vertebræ of our continent's broad
back, and from thence, as a line, the plains, weird and wonderful,
stretch eastward through Colorado, and embrace the entire western half
of Kansas.

Fortune, not long since, threw in my way an invitation, which I gladly
accepted, to join a semi-scientific party, since somewhat known to fame
through various articles in the newspaper press, in a sojourn of several
months on the great plains. At a meeting held with due solemnity on the
eve of starting, the Professor (to whom the reader will be introduced in
the proper connection) was chosen leader of the expedition, while to my
lot fell the office of editor of the future record, or rather Grand
Scribe of what we were pleased to call our "Log Book." The latter now
lies before me, in all its glory of shabby covers and dirty pages. Its
soiled face is as honorable as that of the laborer who comes from his
task in a well harvested field. Out of the sheaves gathered during our
journey, I shall try and take such portions as may best supply the
mental cravings of the countless thousands who hunger for the life and
the lore of the far West.

I have given the mistakes as well as triumphs of our expedition, and the
members of the party will readily recognize their familiar camp names.
The disguise will probably be pleasant, as few like to see their
failures on public parade, preferring rather to leave these in barracks,
and let their successes only appear at review.

The plains have a face, a people, and a brute creation, peculiarly their
own, and to these our party devoted earnest study. The expedition
presented a rare opportunity of becoming acquainted with the game of the
country; and, in writing the present volume, my aim has been to make it
so far a text-book for amateur hunters that they may become at once
conversant with the habits of the game, and the best manner of killing
it. The time is not far distant, when the plains and the Rocky
Mountains will be sought by thousands annually, as a favorite field for
sport and recreation.

Another and still larger class, it is hoped, will find much of interest
and value in the following pages. From every state in the Union, people
are constantly passing westward. We found emigrant wagons on spots from
which the Indians had just removed their wigwams. Multitudes more are
now on the way, with the earnest purpose of founding homes and, if
possible, of finding fortunes. In order to aid this class, as well as
the sportsman, I have gathered in an appendix such additional
information as may be useful to both.

The scientific details of our trip will probably be published in proper
form and time, by the savans interested. In regard to these, my object
has been simply to chronicle such matters as made an impression upon my
own mind, being content with what cream might be gathered by an
amateur's skimming, while the more bulky milk should be saved in
capacious scientific buckets.

Professor Cope, the well known naturalist, of the Academy of Sciences,
Philadelphia, received for examination and classification the most
valuable fossils we obtained, and to him I am indebted for a large
amount of most interesting and valuable scientific matter, which will
be found embodied in chapters twenty-third and twenty-fourth.

The illustrations of men and brutes in this work are studies from life.
Whenever it was possible, we had photographs taken.

The plains, it must be said, are a tract with which Romance has had much
more to do than History. Red men, brave and chivalrous, and unnatural
buffalo, with the habits of lions, exist only in imagination. In these
pages, my earnest endeavor, when dealing with actualities, has been to
"hold the mirror up to Nature," and to describe men, manners, and things
as they are in real life upon the frontiers, and beyond, to-day.

                                                              W. E. W.

  TOPEKA, KANSAS, _May_, 1872.



CONTENTS.


  CHAPTER I.

                                                                  PAGES.

  THE OBJECT OF OUR EXPEDITION--A GLIMPSE OF ALASKA THROUGH CAPTAIN
  WALRUS' GLASS--WE ARE TEMPTED BY OUR RECENT PURCHASE--ALASKAN
  GAME OF "OLD SLEDGE"--THE EARLY STRUGGLES OF KANSAS--THE
  SMOKY HILL TRAIL--INDIAN HIGH ART--THE "BORDER-RUFFIAN,"
  PAST AND PRESENT--TOPEKA--HOW IT RECEIVED ITS
  NAME--WAUKARUSA AND ITS LEGEND,                                  25-35


  CHAPTER II.

  A CHAPTER OF INTRODUCTIONS--PROFESSOR PALEOZOIC--TAMMANY SACHEM--DOCTOR
  PYTHAGORAS--GENUINE MUGGS--COLON AND SEMI-COLON--SHAMUS
  DOBEEN--TENACIOUS GRIPE--BUGS AND PHILOSOPHY--HOW
  GRIPE BECAME A REPUBLICAN,                                       36-54


  CHAPTER III.

  THE TOPEKA AUCTIONEER--MUGGS GETS A BARGAIN--CYNOCEPHALUS--INDIAN
  SUMMER IN KANSAS--HUNTING PRAIRIE CHICKENS--OUR FIRST
  DAY'S SPORT,                                                     55-63


  CHAPTER IV.

  CHICKEN-SHOOTING CONTINUED--A SCIENTIFIC PARTY TAKE THE BIRDS ON
  THE WING--EVILS OF FAST FIRING--AN OLD-FASHIONED "SLOW SHOT"--THE
  HABITS OF THE PRAIRIE CHICKEN--ITS PROSPECTIVE EXTINCTION--MODE
  OF HUNTING IT--THE GOPHER SCALP LAW,                             64-74


  CHAPTER V.

  A TRIAL BY JUDGE LYNCH--HUNG FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT--QUAIL
  SHOOTING--HABITS OF THE BIRDS, AND MODE OF KILLING THEM--A
  RING OF QUAILS--THE EFFECTS OF A SEVERE WINTER--THE SNOW
  GOOSE,                                                           75-83


  CHAPTER VI.

  OFF FOR BUFFALO LAND--THE NAVIGATION OF THE KAW--FORT RILEY--THE
  CENTER-POST OF THE UNITED STATES--OUR PURCHASE OF HORSES--"LO"
  AS A SAVAGE AND AS A CITIZEN--GRIPE UNFOLDS THE INDIAN
  QUESTION--A BALLAD BY SACHEM, PRESENTING ANOTHER VIEW,           84-98


  CHAPTER VII.

  GRIPE'S VIEWS OF INDIAN CHARACTER--THE DELAWARES, THE ISHMAELITES
  OF THE PLAINS--THE TERRITORY OF THE "LONG HORNS"--TEXANS
  AND THEIR CHARACTERISTICS--MUSHROOM ROCK--A VALUABLE DISCOVERY--
  FOOTPRINTS IN THE ROCK--THE PRIMEVAL PAUL AND VIRGINIA,         99-111


  CHAPTER VIII.

  THE "GREAT AMERICAN DESERT"--ITS FOSSIL WEALTH--AN ILLUSION
  DISPELLED--FIRES ACCORDING TO NOVELS AND ACCORDING TO FACT--
  SENSATIONAL HEROES AND HEROINES--PRAIRIE DOGS AND THEIR HABITS--
  HAWK AND DOG, AND HAWK AND CAT,                                112-123


  CHAPTER IX.

  WE SEE BUFFALO--ARRIVAL AT HAYS--GENERAL SHERIDAN AT THE FORT--INDIAN
  MURDERS--BLOOD-CHRISTENING OF THE PACIFIC RAILROAD--SURPRISED
  BY A BUFFALO HERD--A BUFFALO BULL IN A QUANDARY--GENTLE
  ZEPHYRS--HOW A CIRCUS WENT OFF--BOLOGNA TO LEAN ON--A
  CALL UPON SHERIDAN,                                            124-141


  CHAPTER X.

  HAYS CITY BY LAMP-LIGHT--THE SANTA FE TRADE--BULL-WHACKERS--
  MEXICANS--SABBATH ON THE PLAINS--THE DARK AGES--WILD BILL
  AND BUFFALO BILL--OFF FOR THE SALINE--DOBEEN'S GHOST-STORY--AN
  ADVENTURE WITH INDIANS--MEXICAN CANNONADE--A RUNAWAY,          142-160


  CHAPTER XI.

  WHITE WOLF, THE CHEYENNE CHIEF--HUNGRY INDIANS--RETURN TO HAYS--A
  CHEYENNE WAR PARTY--THE PIPE OF PEACE--THE COUNCIL
  CHAMBER--WHITE WOLF'S SPEECH, AS RENDERED BY SACHEM--THE
  WHITE MAN'S WIGWAM,                                            161-176


  CHAPTER XII.

  ARMS OF A WAR PARTY--A DONKEY PRESENT--EATING POWERS OF THE
  NOMADS--SATANTA, HIS CRIMES AND PUNISHMENT--RUNNING OFF
  WITH A GOVERNMENT HERD--DAUB, OUR ARTIST--ANTELOPE CHASE
  BY A GREYHOUND,                                                177-191


  CHAPTER XIII.

  CHARACTER OF THE PLAINS--BUFFALO BILL AND HIS HORSE BRIGHAM--THE
  GUIDE AND SCOUT OF ROMANCE--CAYOTE VERSUS JACKASS-RABBIT--A
  LAWYER-LIKE RESCUE--OUR CAMP ON SILVER CREEK--UNCLE
  SAM'S BUFFALO HERDS--TURKEY-SHOOTING--OUR FIRST MEAL ON THE
  PLAINS--A GAME SUPPER,                                         192-208


  CHAPTER XIV.

  A CAMP-FIRE SCENE--VAGABONDIZING--THE BLACK PACER OF THE PLAINS--SOME
  ADVICE FROM BUFFALO BILL ABOUT INDIAN FIGHTING--LO'S
  ABHORRENCE OF LONG RANGE--HIS DREAD OF CANNON--AN IRISH
  GOBLIN,                                                        209-219


  CHAPTER XV.

  A FIRE SCENE--A GLIMPSE OF THE SOUTH--'COON HUNTING IN MISSISSIPPI--
  VOICES IN THE SOLITUDE--FRIENDS OR FOES--A STARTLING
  SERENADE--PANIC IN CAMP--CAYOTES AND THEIR HABITS--WORRYING
  A BUFFALO BULL--THE SECOND DAY--DAUB, OUR ARTIST--HE
  MAKES HIS MARK,                                                220-235


  CHAPTER XVI.

  BISON MEAT--A STRANGE ARRIVAL--THE SYDNEY FAMILY--THE HOME
  IN THE VALLEY--THE SOLOMON MASSACRE--THE MURDER OF THE
  FATHER AND THE CHILD--THE SETTLERS' FLIGHT--INCIDENTS--OUR
  QUEEN OF THE PLAINS--THE PROFESSOR INTERESTED--IRISH MARY--DOBEEN
  HAPPY--THE HEROINE OF ROMANCE--SACHEM'S BATH BY
  MOONLIGHT--THE BEAVER COLONY,                                  236-249


  CHAPTER XVII.

  PREPARATIONS FOR THE CHASE--THE VALLEY OF THE SALINE--QUEER
  'COONS--A BISON'S GAME OF BLUFF--IN PURSUIT--ALONGSIDE THE
  GAME--FIRING FROM THE SADDLE--A CHARGE AND A PANIC--FALSE
  HISTORY AGAIN--GOING FOR AMMUNITION--THE PROFESSOR'S LETTER--
  DISROBING THE VICTIM,                                          250-263


  CHAPTER XVIII.

  STILL HUNTING--DARK OBJECTS AGAINST THE HORIZON--THE RED MAN
  AGAIN--RETREAT TO CAMP--PREPARATIONS FOR DEFENSE--SHAKING
  HANDS WITH DEATH--MR. COLON'S BUGS--THE EMBASSADORS--A NEW
  ALARM--MORE INDIANS--TERRIFIC BATTLE BETWEEN PAWNEES AND
  CHEYENNES--THEIR MODE OF FIGHTING--GOOD HORSEMANSHIP--A
  SCIENTIFIC PARTY AS SEXTONS--DITTO AS SURGEONS--CAMPS OF THE
  COMBATANTS--STEALING AWAY--AN APPARITION,                      264-279


  CHAPTER XIX.

  STALKING THE BISON--BUFFALO AS OXEN--EXPENSIVE POWER--A BUFFALO
  AT A LUNATIC ASYLUM--THE GATEWAY TO THE HERDS--INFERNAL
  GRAPE-SHOT--NATURE'S BOMB-SHELLS--CRAWLING BEDOUINS--"THAR
  THEY HUMP"--THE SLAUGHTER BEGUN--AN INEFFECTUAL
  CHARGE--"KETCHING THE CRITTER"--RETURN TO CAMP--CALVES'
  HEAD ON THE STOMACH--AN UNPLEASANT EPISODE--WOLF BAITING,
  AND HOW IT IS DONE,                                            280-291


  CHAPTER XX.

  THE CAYOTES' STRYCHNINE FEAST--CAPTURING A TIMBER WOLF--A FEW
  CORDS OF VICTIMS--WHAT THE LAW CONSIDERS "INDIAN TAN"--"FINISHING"
  THE NEW YORK MARKET--A NEW YORK FARMER'S
  OPINION OF OUR GRAY WOLF--WESTWARD AGAIN--EPISODES IN OUR
  JOURNEY--THE WILD HUNTRESS OF THE PLAINS--WAS OUR GUIDE A
  MURDERER?--THE READER JOINS US IN A BUFFALO CHASE--THE
  DYING AGONIES,                                                 292-305


  CHAPTER XXI.

  "CREASING" WILD HORSES--MUGGS DISAPPOINTED--A FEAT FOR FICTION--
  HORSE AND MONKEY--HOOF WISDOM FOR TURFMEN--PROSPECTIVE
  CLIMATIC CHANGES ON THE PLAINS--THE QUESTION OF
  SPONTANEOUS GENERATION--WANTON SLAUGHTER OF BUFFALO--AMOUNT
  OF ROBES AND MEAT ANNUALLY WASTED--A STRANGE
  HABIT OF THE BISON--NUMEROUS BILLS--THE "SNEAK THIEF" OF
  THE PLAINS,                                                    306-317


  CHAPTER XXII.

  A LIVE TOWN AND ITS GRAVE-YARD--HONEST ROMBEAUX IN TROUBLE--JUDGE
  LYNCH HOLDS COURT--MARIE AND THE VINE-COVERED COTTAGE--THE
  TERRIBLE FLOODS--DEATH IN CAMP AND IN THE DUGOUT--WAS
  IT THE WATER WHICH DID IT?--DISCOVERY OF A HUGE
  FOSSIL--THE MOSASAURUS OF THE CRETACEOUS SEA--A GLIMPSE
  OF THE REPTILIAN AGE--REMINISCENCES OF ALLIGATOR-SHOOTING--THEY
  SUGGEST A THEORY,                                              318-329


  CHAPTER XXIII.

  FROM SHERIDAN TO THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS--THE COLORADO PORTION OF
  THE PLAINS--THE GIANT PINES--ATTEMPT TO PHOTOGRAPH A BUFFALO--THINGS
  GET MIXED--THE LEVIATHAN AT HOME--A CHAT
  WITH PROFESSOR COPE--TWENTY-SIX-INCH OYSTERS--REPTILES AND
  FISHES OF THE CRETACEOUS SEA,                                  330-350


  CHAPTER XXIV.

  CONTINUED BY COPE--THE GIANTS OF THE SEAS--TAKING OUT FOSSILS
  IN A GALE--INTERESTING DISCOVERIES--THE GEOLOGY OF THE
  PLAINS,                                                        351-365


  CHAPTER XXV.

  A SAVAGE OUTBREAK--THE BATTLE OF THE FORTY SCOUTS--THE SURPRISE--
  PACK-MULES STAMPEDED--DEATH ON THE ARICKEREE--THE
  MEDICINE MAN--A DISMAL NIGHT--MESSENGERS SENT TO WALLACE--MORNING
  ATTACK--WHOSE FUNERAL?--RELIEF AT LAST--THE OLD
  SCOUT'S DEVOTION TO THE BLUE,                                  366-376


  CHAPTER XXVI.

  THE STAGE DRIVERS OF THE PLAINS--"OLD BOB"--JAMAICA AND GINGER--AN
  OLD ACQUAINTANCE--BEADS OF THE PAST--ROBBING THE
  DEAD--A LEAP FROM THE LOST HISTORY OF THE MOUND BUILDERS--INDIAN
  TRADITIONS--SPECULATIONS--ADOBE HOUSES IN A RAIN--CHEAP
  LIVING--WATCH TOWERS,                                          377-386


  CHAPTER XXVII.

  OUR PROGRAMME CONCLUDED--FROM SHERIDAN TO THE SOLOMON--FIERCE
  WINDS--A TERRIFIC STORM--SHAMUS' BLOODY APPARITION AND
  INDIAN WITCH--A RECONNOISSANCE--AN INDIAN BURIAL GROVE--A
  CONTRACTOR'S DARING AND ITS PENALTY--MORE VAGABONDIZING--JOSE
  AT THE LONG BOW--THE "WILD HUNTRESS'" COUNTERPART--SHAMUS
  TREATS US TO "CHILE"--THE RESULT,                              387-395


  CHAPTER XXVIII.

  THE BLOCK-HOUSE ON THE SOLOMON--HOW THE OLD MAN DIED--WACONDA
  DA--LEGEND OF WA-BOG-AHA AND HEWGAW--SABBATH MORNING--SACHEM'S
  POETICAL EPITAPH--AN ALARM--BATTLE BETWEEN AN
  EMIGRANT AND THE INDIANS--WAS IT THE SYDNEYS?--TO THE
  RESCUE--AN ELK HUNT--ROCKY MOUNTAIN SHEEP--NOVEL MODE
  OF HUNTING TURKEYS--IN CAMP ON THE SOLOMON--A WARM WELCOME,    396-415


  CHAPTER XXIX.

  OUR LAST NIGHT TOGETHER--THE REMARKABLE SHED-TAIL DOG--HE
  RESCUES HIS MISTRESS, AND BREAKS UP A MEETING--A SKETCH OF
  TERRITORIAL TIMES BY GRIPE--MONTGOMERY'S EXPEDITION FOR THE
  RESCUE OF JOHN BROWN'S COMPANIONS--SCALPED, AND CARVING HIS
  OWN EPITAPH--AN IRISH JACOB--"SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST"--SACHEM'S
  POETICAL LETTER--POPPING THE QUESTION ON THE RUN--THE
  PROFESSOR'S LETTER,                                            416-428



CONTENTS OF APPENDIX.


                                                                  PAGES.

  PRELIMINARY TO THE APPENDIX,                                  431, 432


  CHAPTER FIRST.

  COME TO THE GREAT WEST--SHOULD THERE NOT BE COMPULSORY
  EMIGRATION--"GET A GOOD READY"--HOMESTEAD LAWS AND
  REGULATIONS--THE STATE OF KANSAS--THE COST OF A FARM--A FEW
  MORE PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS,                                    433-450


  CHAPTER SECOND.

  HUNTING THE BUFFALO--ANTELOPE HUNTING--ELK HUNTING--TURKEY
  HUNTING--GENERAL REMARKS--WHAT TO DO IF LOST ON THE PLAINS--THE
  NEW FIELD FOR SPORTSMEN,                                       451-463


  CHAPTER THIRD.

  "BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES"--THE GREAT WEST--FALL
  OF THE RIVERS--THE PRINCIPAL RIVERS AND VALLEYS OF
  BUFFALO LAND--THE VALLEY OF THE PLATTE--THE SOLOMON AND
  SMOKY HILL RIVERS--THE ARKANSAS RIVER AND ITS TRIBUTARIES--STOCK
  RAISING IN THE GREAT WEST--THE CATTLE HIVE OF NORTH
  AMERICA--THE CLIMATE OF THE PLAINS--CLIMATIC CHANGES ON THE
  PLAINS--THE TREES AND FUTURE FORESTS OF THE PLAINS--THE
  SUPPLY OF FUEL--DISTRICTS CONTIGUOUS TO THE PLAINS--THE VALLEYS
  OF THE WHITE EARTH AND NIOBRARA--NEW MEXICO: ITS
  SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, ETC.--THE DISAPPEARING BISON--THE
  FISH WITH LEGS--THE MOUNTAIN SUPPLY OF LUMBER FOR THE
  PLAINS,                                                        465-503

  LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

  _From Original Drawings by Henry Worrall, and Actual Photographs._

  _The Engraving by the Bureau of Illustration, Buffalo, N. Y._


                                                                  PAGE

  FRONTISPIECE,                                      FACING TITLE PAGE

  ALASKAN LOVERS--SEALING THE CONTRACT,                             27

  ALASKAN GAME OF OLD SLEDGE,                                       27

  "WAUKARUSA,"                                                      33

  "TOASTS HIS MOCCASINED FEET BY THE FIRE,"                         33

  THE PROFESSOR--A REMARKABLE STONE,                                39

  TAMMANY SACHEM--PROSPECTIVE AND RETROSPECTIVE,                    39

  COLON AND SEMI-COLON,                                             43

  DAVID PYTHAGORAS, M. D.,                                          43

  ONE OF THE MUGGSES,                                               47

  SHAMUS DOBEEN--HIS CARD,                                          53

  HON. T. GRIPE (BEATIFIED),                                        53

  "SPERIT, GENTLEMEN!"                                              57

  OUR FIRST BIRD-SHOOTING,                                          67

  JUDGE LYNCH--HIS COURT,                                           77

  UNNATURALIZED,                                                    91

  NATURALIZED,                                                      91

  "YOU'VE RILED THAT BROOK"--AN OLD FABLE MODERNIZED,               96

  DOG TOWN--THE HAPPY FAMILY,                                       96

  INDIAN ROCK--FROM A PHOTOGRAPH,                                  105

  MUSHROOM ROCK--FROM A PHOTOGRAPH,                                105

  FIRE ON THE PLAINS, ACCORDING TO NOVELS,                         115

  FIRE ON THE PLAINS, AS IT IS,                                    115

  "AND ERIN'S SON CHRISTENS THOSE FAR-OFF POINTS OF THE PACIFIC
        RAILROAD WITH HIS BLOOD,"                                  127

  GENTLE ZEPHYRS--GOING OFF WITHOUT A DRAWBACK,                    133

  "LOOKED LIKE THE END OF A TAIL,"                                 137

  THE RARE OLD PLAINSMAN OF THE NOVELS,                            137

  WILD BILL--FROM A PHOTOGRAPH,                                    147

  BUFFALO BILL--FROM A PHOTOGRAPH,                                 147

  OUR HORSES RUN AWAY WITH US,                                     157

  THE PIPE OF PEACE--THE PROFESSOR'S DILEMMA,                      167

  _White Wolf at Home_,                                            172

  THE WILD DENIZENS OF THE PLAINS,                                 197

  SMASHING A CHEYENNE BLACK-KETTLE,                                219

  MIDNIGHT SERENADE ON THE PLAINS,                                 227

  GOING AFTER AMMUNITION,                                          259

  BATTLE BETWEEN CHEYENNES AND PAWNEES,                            271

  ONE OF OUR SPECIMENS--PHOTOGRAPHED BY J. LEE KNIGHT, TOPEKA,     301


  WANTON DESTRUCTION OF BUFFALO, EMBRACING:

        DAILY, FOR FUN,                                            315

        300 A DAY FOR PLEASURE,                                    315

        FOR EXCITEMENT,                                            315

        100,000 FOR TONGUES,                                       315

        2,000,000 FOR ROBES, TO GET WHISKY,                        315

  DUG OUT,           329

  TAKING AND BEING TAKEN,                                          335

  DEVELOPING--ONE OF THE FIRST FAMILIES,                           348

  THE SEA WHICH ONCE COVERED THE PLAINS,                           357

  WACONDA DA--GREAT SPIRIT SALT SPRING,                            399


  MORE OF OUR SPECIMENS (PHOTOGRAPHED BY J. LEE KNIGHT), EMBRACING:

        PRAIRIE CHICKENS,                                          413

        HEAD OF AN ELK,                                            413

        WILD TURKEY,                                               413

        BEAVER,                                                    413



BUFFALO LAND.



CHAPTER I.

     THE OBJECT OF OUR EXPEDITION--A GLIMPSE OF ALASKA THROUGH CAPTAIN
     WALRUS' GLASS--WE ARE TEMPTED BY OUR RECENT PURCHASE--ALASKAN GAME
     OF "OLD SLEDGE"--THE EARLY STRUGGLES OF KANSAS--THE SMOKY HILL
     TRAIL--INDIAN HIGH ART--THE "BORDER-RUFFIAN," PAST AND
     PRESENT--TOPEKA--HOW IT RECEIVED ITS NAME--WAUKARUSA AND ITS
     LEGEND.


The great plains--the region of country in which our expedition
sojourned for so many months--is wilder, and by far more interesting,
than those solitudes over which the Egyptian Sphynx looks out. The
latter are barren and desolate, while the former teem with their savage
races and scarcely more savage beasts. The very soil which these tread
is written all over with a history of the past, even its surface giving
to science wonderful and countless fossils of those ages when the world
was young and man not yet born.

At first, it was rather unsettled which way the steps of our party would
turn; between unexplored territory and that newly acquired, there were
several fields open which promised much of interest. Originally, our
company numbered a dozen; but Alaska tempted a portion of our savans,
and to the fishy and frigid maiden they yielded, drawn by a strange
predilection for train-oil and seal meat toward the land of furs. For
the remainder of our party, however, life under the Alaskan's tent-pole
had no charms. Our decision may have been influenced somewhat by the
seafaring man with whom our friends were to sail. The real name of this
son of Neptune was Samuels, but our party called him, as it savored more
of salt water, Captain Walrus, of the bark Harpoon. This worthy,
according to his own statement, had been born on a whaler, weaned among
the Esquimeaux, and, moreover, had frozen off eight toes "trying to
winter it at our recent purchase." He evidently disliked to have
scientific men aboard, intent on studying eclipses and seals. "A
heathenish and strange people are the Alaskans," Walrus was wont to say.
"What is not Indian is Russian, and a compound of the latter and
aboriginal is a mixture most villainous. One portion of the partnership
anatomy takes to brandy, while the other absorbs train-oil, and so a
half-breed Alaskan heathen is always prepared for spontaneous
combustion, and if rubbed the wrong way, flames up instantly. He is
always hot for murder, and if you throw cold water on his designs, his
oily nature sheds it."

And many a yarn did the captain spin concerning their strange customs.
Sealing a marriage contract consisted in the warrior leaving a fat seal
at the hole of the hut, where his intended crawled in to her home
privileges of smoke and fish. Their favorite game was "old sledge,"
played with prisoners to shorten their captivity.

[Illustration: ALASKAN LOVERS--SEALING THE CONTRACT.]

[Illustration: ALASKAN GAME OF OLD SLEDGE.]

All this, and much more, probably equally true, we had picked up of
Alaskan history, and at one time our chests had been packed for a voyage
on the Harpoon; but at the final council the west carried it against
the north, and our steps were directed toward the setting sun, instead
of the polar star.

The expedition afforded unexcelled facilities for seeing Buffalo Land.
It was composed of good material, and pursued its chosen path
successfully, though under difficulties which would have turned back a
less determined party.

None of our company, I trust, will consider it an unwarrantable license
which recounts to others the personal peculiarities and mistakes about
which we joked so freely while in camp. It was generally understood,
before we parted, that the adventures should be common stock for our
children and children's children. Why should not the great public share
in it also?

       *       *       *       *       *

Let the reader place before him a checker-board, and allow it to
represent Kansas, whose shape and outline it much resembles; the half
nearest him will stand for the eastern or settled portion of the State,
of which the other half is embraced in Buffalo Land proper. It is with
the latter that we have first to do, as with it we first became
acquainted.

Our party entered the State at Kansas City, and took the cars for
Topeka, its capital. During our morning ride through the valley of the
Kaw, memory went backward to the years when "Bleeding Kansas" was the
signal-cry of emancipation. When gray old Time, a decade and a half ago,
was writing the history of those bright children of Freedom, the united
sisterhood, a virgin arm reached over his shoulder, and a fair young
hand, stained with its own life-blood, wrote on the page toward which
all the world was gazing, "I am Kansas, latest-born of America. I would
be free, yet they would make me a slave. Save me, my sisters!" The great
heart of our nation was sorely distressed. Conscience pointed to one
path--Policy, that rank hypocrite, to another.

And so it was that the young queen, with her grand domain in the West,
struggled forward to lay her fealty at the feet of our great mother,
Liberty. She made a body-guard of her own sons, and their number was
quickly swelled by brave hearts from the north, east, and west. The new
territory, begging admission as a State, became a battle-ground. Slavery
had reached forth its hand to grasp the new State and fresh soil, but
the mutilated member was drawn back with wounds which soon reached,
corrupted and destroyed the body. In this land of the Far West a nation
of young giants had been suddenly developed, and Kansas was forever won
for freedom.

But there was yet another enemy and another danger. Westward, toward
Colorado, the savage's tomahawk and knife glittered, and struck among
the affrighted settlements. _Ad Astra per Aspera_, "to the stars through
difficulties," the State exclaims on the seal, and to the stars, through
blood, its course has been.

Those old pages of history are too bloody to be brought to light in the
bright present, and we purpose turning them only enough to gather what
will be now of practical use. Kansas suffered cruelly, and brooded over
her wrongs, but she has long since struck hands with her bitterer foe.
Most of the "Border Ruffians" ripened on gallows trees, or fell by the
sword, years ago. A few, however, are yet spared, to cheer their old age
by riding around in desolate woods at midnight, wrapped in damp
nightgowns, and masked in grinning death-heads. Although the mists of
shadow-land are chilling their hearts, yet those organs, at the cry of
blood, beat quick again, like regimental drums, for action.

The Kaw or the Kansas River, the valley of which we were traversing, is
the principal stream of the State--in length to the mouth of the
Republican one hundred and fifty miles, and above that, under the name
of Smoky Hill, three hundred miles more.

The "Smoky Hill trail" is a familiar name in many an American home. It
was the great California path, and many a time the demons of the plain
gloated over fair hair, yet fresh from a mother's touch and blessing.
And many a faint and thirsty traveler has flung himself with a burst of
gratitude on the sandy bed of the desolate river, and thanked the Great
Giver of all good for the concealed life found under the sand, and with
the strength thus sucked from the bosom of our much-abused mother, he
has pushed onward until at length the grand mountains and great parks of
Colorado burst upon his delighted vision.

About noon we arrived at Topeka, the capital, well situated on the south
bank of the river, having a comfortable, well-to-do air, which suggests
the quiet satisfaction of an honest burgher after a morning of toil. The
slavery billow of agitation rolled even thus far from beyond the border
of the state. Armed men rode over the beautiful prairies, some east,
some west--one band to transplant slavery from the tainted soil of
Missouri, another to pluck it up.

A small party of Free State men settled upon this beautiful prairie.
South flowed the Waukarusa, south and east the Shunganunga, and west and
north the Kaw or Kansas. Here thrived a bulbous root, much loved by the
red man, and here lazy Pottawatomies gathered in the fall to dig it. In
size and somewhat in shape, it resembled a goose egg, and had a hard,
reddish brown shell, and an interior like damaged dough. The Indian
gourmands ate it greedily and called it "Topeka." From the two or three
families of refugee Free State men the town grew up, and from the Indian
root it took its name. Its christening took place in the first cabin
erected, and it is reported that a now prominent banker of the town
stood sponsor, with his back against the door, refusing any egress until
the name of his choice was accepted. It is even affirmed that one
opposing city founder was pulled back by his coat-tail from an attempted
escape up the wide chimney.

[Illustration: "WAUKARUSA."]

[Illustration: "TOASTS HIS MOCCASINED FEET BY THE FIRE."]

The old Indian love of commemorating events by significant names is well
illustrated in Kansas. One example may be given here. Waukarusa once
opposed its swollen tide to an exploring band of red men. Now, from time
beyond ken, the noble savage has been illustrious for the ingenuity with
which he lays all disagreeable duties upon the shoulders of the patient
squaw. He may ride to their death, in free wild sport, the bison
multitudes; but their skins must be converted into marketable robes,
and the flesh into jerked meat, by the ugly and over-worked partner of
his bosom. While she pins the raw hide to earth, and bends patiently
over, fleshing it with horn hatchet for weary hours, the stronger
vessel, his abdominal recesses wadded with buffalo meat, toasts his
moccasined feet by the fire, fills his lungs with smoke from villainous
killikinick, and muses soothingly of white scalps and happy hunting
grounds.

Ox-like maiden, happy "big injun!" you both belong to an age and a
history well nigh past, and let us rejoice that it is so.

But to return to the band long since gathered into aboriginal dust whom
we left pausing on the banks of the Waukarusa. "Deep water, bad bottom!"
grunted the braves, and, nothing doubting it, one loving warrior pushed
his wife and her pony over the bank to test the matter. From the middle
of the tide the squaw called back, "Waukarusa" (thigh deep), and soon
had gained the opposite bank in safety. Then and there the creek
received its name, "Waukarusa."

We procured a remarkable sketch, in the well known Indian style of high
art, commemorative of this event. It has always struck us that the
savage order of drawing resembles very much that of the ancient
Egyptian--except in the matter of drawing at sight, with bow or rifle,
on the white man.



CHAPTER II.

     A CHAPTER OF INTRODUCTIONS--PROFESSOR PALEOZOIC--TAMMANY
     SACHEM--DOCTOR PYTHAGORAS--GENUINE MUGGS--COLON AND
     SEMI-COLON--SHAMUS DOBEEN--TENACIOUS GRIPE--BUGS AND
     PHILOSOPHY--HOW GRIPE BECAME A REPUBLICAN.


When permission was given me to draw upon the journal of our trip for
such material as I might desire, it was stipulated that the camp-names
should be adhered to. A company on the plains is no respecter of
persons, and titles which might have caused offense before starting were
received in good part, and worn gracefully thenceforward.

Our leader, Professor Paleozoic, ordinarily existed in a sort of
transition state between the primary and tertiary formations. He could
tell cheese from chalk under the microscope, and show that one was full
of the fossil and the other of the living evidences of animal life. A
worthy man, vastly more troubled with rocks on the brain than "rocks" in
the pocket.

Learning had once come near making him mad, but from this sad fate he
was happily saved by a somewhat Pickwickian blunder. While in Kansas,
some years since, he penetrated a remote portion of the wilderness,
where, as he was happy in believing, none but the native savage, or,
possibly, the primeval man, could ever have tarried long enough to leave
any sign behind. Imagine his astonishment and delight, therefore, when
from the tangled grass he drew an upright stone, with lines chiseled on
three sides and on the fourth a rude figure resembling more than any
thing else one of those odd fictions which geologists call restored
specimens. On a ledge near were huge depressions like foot-prints. They
were foot-prints of birds, no doubt, and quite as perfect as those found
in more favored localities, and from which whole skeletons had been
constructed by learned men.

Both specimens were forwarded to, and at the expense of, noted savans of
the East. Our professor called the pillar from the tangled grass an
altar raised by early races to the winds. The short lines, he suggested,
designated the different points of the compass, while the rude figure
was intended for Boreas. Our scientists toward the rising sun met the
boxes at the depot, paid charges, and careful draymen bore them to the
expectant museum.

One hour after, seven wise men might have been seen wending their way
sorrowfully homeward, with hands crossed meditatively under their
coat-tails, and pocket vacuums where lately were modern coins.
Government clearly had a case against our professor. Science decided
that he had removed a stone telling in surveyors' signs just what
section and township it was on. The figure which he had imagined a
heathen idea of Boreas was the fancy of some surveyor's idle moment--a
shocking sketch of an impossible buffalo. Whether the bird-tracks had a
common origin, or were hewn by the hatchets of the red man, is a point
still under discussion.

A worthy man, as before remarked, was the professor, full of knowledge,
genial in camp, and, having rubbed his eye-tooth on a section stone,
geological authority of the highest order. When the professor said a
particular rock belonged to the cretaceous formation, one might safely
conclude that no modern influences had been at work either on that rock
or in that vicinity. That question was settled.

Next came Tammany Sachem, our heavy weight and our mystery. Before
joining our party, he had been a New York alderman, noted for prowess in
annual aldermanic clam-bakes at Coney Island. He was wont to exhibit a
medal, the prize of such a tournament, on which several immense clams
were racing to the griddle, for the honor of being devoured by the city
fathers.

A green-ribbed hunting coat traversed his rotundity, which had the
generous swell of a puncheon. His face was reddish, and his nose like a
beacon-light against a sunset sky. When you thought him awake, he was
half asleep; when you thought him asleep, he was wide awake. A look of
extreme happiness always beamed on his face when misfortunes impended.
Per contra, successes made him suspicious and morose. New York aldermen
have always been a puzzle to the nation at large. Perhaps our friend's
facial contradictions, put on originally as one of the tricks of the
trade, had become chronic from long usage. We have since learned that
the sachems of Tammany laugh the loudest and joke the most freely when
under affliction.

[Illustration: THE PROFESSOR--A REMARKABLE STONE.]

[Illustration: TAMMANY SACHEM--PROSPECTIVE AND RETROSPECTIVE.]

When I was appointed editor, the Sachem volunteered as local
reporter. Many of the items he gathered are entered in our log-book in
rhyme, and to these pages some of them are transferred verbatim. In
wooing the muses, our alderman certainly acted out of character. The
ideal poet is thin instead of obese, and he is a reckless innovator who
lays claim to any measure of the divine afflatus without possessing
either a pale face, thin form, or a garret.

As to what drove a New York alderman to the society of buffaloes, we had
but one explanation, and that was Sachem's own. We knew that he disliked
women in every form, Sorosis and Anti-Sorosis, bitter and sweet alike.
According to his statement, made to us in good faith, and which I
chronicle in the same, Cupid had once essayed to drive a dart into
Sachem's heart, but, in doing so, the barb also struck and wounded his
liver. As his love increased, his health failed. His liver became
affected in the same ratio as his heart. This was touching our alderman
in a tender spot. Imagine a New York city father without digestion; what
a subject of scorn he would become to his constituency! Our alderman
fled from Cupid, clams, and his beloved Gotham, and sought health and
buffalo on the plains of Kansas. As he remarked to us pathetically: "A
good liver makes a good husband. Indigestion frightens connubial bliss
out of the window. Pills, my boy, pills is the quietus of love. If you
wish Cupid to leave, give him a dose of 'em. The liver, instead of the
heart, is at the bottom of half the suicides."

Doctor Pythagoras in years was fifty, and in stature short. His
favorite theory was "development," and this he carried to depths which
would have astonished Darwin himself. How humble he used to make us feel
by digging at the roots of the family tree until its uttermost fiber lay
between an oyster and a sponge! (Rumor charged him with waiting so long
for diseases to develop, that his patients developed into spirits.)
While he indorsed Darwin, however, he also admired Pythagoras. The
latter's doctrine of metempsychosis he Darwinized. In their
transmigration from one body to another, souls developed, taking a
higher order of being with each change, until finally fitted to enter
the land of spirits. The soul of a jack-of-all-trades was one which
developed slowly, and picked up a new craft with each new body. Like
Pythagoras, he remembered several previous bodies which his soul had
animated, among others that of the original Rarey, who existed in Egypt
some centuries before the modern usurper was born. If souls proved
entirely unworthy during the probationary or human period, they were
cast back into the brute creation to try it over again. To this class
belonged prize-fighters, Congressmen, and the like. With them the past
was a blank--an unsuccessful problem washed from the slate. The doctor
had a hobby that a vicious horse was only a vicious man entered into a
lower order of being. To demonstrate this he had traveled, and still
persisted in traveling, on eccentric horses, for the purpose of
reasoning with them. But his Egyptian lore had been lost in
transmission, and his falls, kicks, and bites became as many as the
moons which had passed over his head.

[Illustration: COLON AND SEMI-COLON.]

[Illustration: DAVID PYTHAGORAS, M. D.]

Genuine Muggs was an Englishman. The antipodes of Tammany Sachem, who
would not believe any thing, Muggs swallowed every thing. He had already
absorbed so much in this way that he knew all about the United States
before visiting it. Given half a chance, he would undoubtedly have told
the savage more about the latter's habits than the aborigine himself
knew. It was positively impossible for him to learn any thing. His round
British body was so full of indisputable facts that another one would
have burst it. In the Presidential alphabet, from Alpha Washington to
Omega Grant, he knew all of our rulers' tricks and trades, and
understood better the crooked ways of the White House than our own
talented Jenkins.

British phlegm incased his soul, and British leather his feet. From heel
to crown he was completely a Briton. His mutton-chop whiskers came just
so far, and the h's dropped in and out of his utterings in a perfectly
natural way. In the Briton's alphabet, Sachem used to remark, the _I_ is
so big that it is no wonder the _H_ is often crowded out.

Muggs was a fair representative of the average Englishman who has
traveled somewhat. The eye-teeth of these persons are generally cut with
a slash, and they are forever after sore-mouthed. For a maiden effort
they never suck knowledge gently in, but attempt a gulp which strangles.
The consequence of this hasty acquiring is a bloated condition. The
partly-traveled Briton seems, at first acquaintance, full and swollen
with knowledge; but should the student of learning apply the prick, the
result obtained will generally prove to be--gas.

Over our great country, some of the family of Muggs meet one at every
turn. Often they scurry along solitarily, but occasionally in groups. In
the former case they are unsocial to every body--in the latter to every
body except their own party. The bliss which comes from ignorance must
be of a thoroughly enjoyable nature, for the Muggses certainly do enjoy
themselves. They will pass through a country, remaining completely
uncommunicative and self-wrapped, and know less of it after six months'
traveling than an American in two. The professor says he has met them in
the lonely parks of the Rocky Mountains and in the fishing and hunting
solitudes of the Canadas. If they have been an unusually long time
without seeing a human being, they may possibly catch at an eye-glass
and fling themselves abruptly into a few remarks. But it is in a tone
which says, plainer than words, "No use in your going any further, man;
I have absorbed all the beauties and knowledge of this locality."

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION BUFFALO_

ONE OF THE MUGGSES.]

It is a rare treat to see a coach delivered of Muggs at a country inn.
"Hi, porter, look hout for my luggage, you know. Tell the publican some
chops, rare, and lively now, and a mug of hale, and, if I can 'ave it, a
room to myself." If the latter request is granted, and you are
inquisitive enough to take a peep, you may see Muggs sturdily surveying
himself in the glass, and giving certain satisfied pats to his cravat
and waistcoat, as if to satisfy them that they covered a Briton. Could
the mirror which reflects his face also reflect his thoughts, they
would read about as follows: "Muggs, you are a Briton, and this hotel
must be made aware of the fact. Whatever you do, be guilty of no
un-English act while in this outlandish land. Your skin is now full of
knowledge, and let not other travelers, like so many mosquitoes, suck it
from you. Your forefathers blessed their eyes and dropped their h's, and
so must you." And perhaps by this time, if the chops have arrived, he
dines in seclusion and, by so doing, loses a fund of information which
his fellow-travelers have obtained by common exchange.

Again on the way, Muggs nestles in a corner of the coach and acts
strictly on the defensive, indignantly withdrawing his square-toed,
thick-soled English shoes, should neighboring feet attempt to hobnob
with them. On a trip through Buffalo Land, however, it is difficult for
one of her Britannic Majesty's subjects to maintain the national
dignity. But this fact Genuine Muggs--our Muggs--evidently did not know.
Had he known it, he would never have gone with us in the world.

Another of our party rejoiced in the appellation of "Colon." He obtained
this title because his eccentric specialities of character several times
came very near putting if not a full stop, at least the next thing to
it, upon the particular page of history which our party was making.
Longitudinally, Mr. Colon was all of five feet eleven; in circumference,
perhaps a score or so of inches. He possessed a fair share of oddities,
and what is better an equally fair one of dollars. The hemispheres of
his philanthropic brain seemed equally pre-empted by philosophy and
bugs. Engaging in some immense work for the amelioration of mankind, he
would pursue it with ardor, dwell upon it with unction, and then
suddenly leave it, half finished, to capture a rare spider. Philosophy
and Entomology had constant combat for Colon, and victory tarried with
neither long enough for the seat of war to be cultivated and blossom
with any luxuriance. At the time he joined our party one of his grandest
charitable projects had lately died in a very early period of infancy,
entirely supplanted in his affections for the time being by the prospect
of a chase after Brazilian insects. During our journey it was no
uncommon thing for us to see his thin form all covered with bugs and
reptiles, which had crawled out of the collecting boxes carried in his
pockets. If this meets our friend's eye, let him bear no malice, but
reflect, in the language of his own invariable answer to our
remonstrances, "It can't be helped." Should the public parade of his
faults be disagreeable, he can suffer no more from them now than we did
in the past, and may perhaps call them into closer quarters for the
future.

Mr. Colon's son, of two years less than a score, we dubbed Semi-colon,
as being a smaller edition, or to be exact, precisely one-half of what
the senior Colon was. So perfect was the concord of the two that the
junior had fallen into a chronic and to us amusing habit of answering
"Ditto" to the senior's expressions of opinion. Divide the father's
conversation by two, add an assent to every thing, and the result,
socially considered, would be the son. It may readily be seen,
therefore, why the professor for short should call him, as he nearly
always did, "Semi."

Shamus Dobeen, our cook and body-servant, according to his own account,
was the child of an impoverished but noble Irish family. Indeed, we
doubt if any Irishman was ever promoted from shovel laborer to
body-servant without suddenly remembering that he was "descinded" from a
line of kings. At the time Shamus was added to the population of
Ireland, the patrimonial estate had dwindled down to a peat bog. As this
soon "petered out," Shamus went from the exhausted moor into the cold
world. He had been by turns expelled patriot, dirt disturber on new
railroads, gunner on a Confederate cruiser, and high private in a Union
regiment. The position of gunner he lost by touching off a piece before
the muzzle had been run out, in consequence of which part of the
vessel's side went off suddenly with the gun. Captured, he readily
became a Union soldier, and could, without doubt, have transformed
himself into a Cheyenne, or a Patagonian, had occasion for either ever
required.

While in Topeka, our party made the acquaintance of Tenacious Gripe, a
well-known Kansas politician, and who attached himself to us for the
trip. Every person in the State knew him, had known him in territorial
times, and would know him until either the State or he ceased to be.

Flung headlong from somewhere into Kansas during the "border ruffian"
period, he would probably have passed as rapidly out of it had he been
allowed to do so peaceably. But as the slavery party endeavored to push
him, he concluded to stick. At that particular time, he was a moderate
Democrat or conservative Republican, and consequently had no particular
principles. But the slavery party supposed he had, and to them
accordingly he became an object of suspicion. They assumed the
aggressive, and he at once resolved into a staunch Republican. Had the
latter first struck him, he would have been as staunch a Democrat. And
Gripe has never known how near he came to being the latter. The
Republicans had just decided to order him out of the state as a border
ruffian spy, when the Democrats took action and did so for his not being
one. Those were troublous times. He went to the front at once in the
antislavery ranks, and has stayed there ever since. Sore-headed men are
apt to become famous. There were those in our late war who were kicked
by adversity into the very arms of Fame.

Our friend had been in both the upper and lower houses of the State
Legislature, and had rolled Congressional logs, moreover, until he was
hardly happy without having his hands on one.

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION BUFFALO_

SHAMUS DOBEEN--HIS CARD.]

[Illustration: HON. T. GRIPE (BEATIFIED).]



CHAPTER III.

     THE TOPEKA AUCTIONEER--MUGGS GETS A BARGAIN--CYNOCEPHALUS--INDIAN
     SUMMER IN KANSAS--HUNTING PRAIRIE CHICKENS--OUR FIRST DAY'S SPORT.


We had three or four days to spend in Topeka, as it was there that we
were to purchase our outfit for the buffalo region. With the latter
purpose in view, we were wandering along Kansas Avenue the next morning,
when a horseman came furiously down the street, shouting, at the top of
his lungs, "Sell um as he wars har!" Semi hastily retreated behind Mr.
Colon, thinking it might be a Jayhawker, while the professor adjusted
his glasses.

Muggs said the individual reminded him of the famous charge at
Balaklava. Muggs had never seen Balaklava, but other Englishmen had,
which answered the same purpose.

The equestrian proved to be a well-known auctioneer of Topeka, who may
be discovered at almost any time tearing through the streets on some
spavined or bow-legged old cob, auctioneering it off as he goes. His
favorite expression is, "I'll sell um as he wars har." What particular
selling charm lies concealed in this announcement even Gripe could not
tell. Sachem thought that possibly he had been brought up at some
exposed frontier post, where, on account of Indian prejudices, wearing
hair is a rare luxury. To say there that a man was still able to comb
his own scalp-lock denoted an extraordinary state of physical
perfection. Expressions of praise for humans are often applied to
horses, and so, perhaps, the one in question. "I have heard," quoth our
alderman, in support of this assertion, "Fitz say of a belle, at a
charity ball, what a 'bootiful cweature;' and I have heard him, the day
after, in his stable, say the same thing of his horse."

That horse-auction was a sight worth seeing. The crowd collected most
thickly on the corner of Kansas Avenue and Sixth Street, and before it
the cob came to a stand. And it was a stand--as stiff and painful as
that of a retired veteran put on dress parade. The limbs would have had
full duty to perform in supporting the carcass alone, which had
evidently been in light marching order for years past. The additional
weight of the auctioneer must certainly have proved altogether too much,
had not the horse heard, for the first time, of the wonderful qualities
with which he was still endowed.

Seeing a whole corner, with gaping mouths, swallowing the statement that
he was only six years old, reduced by hard work, and could, after three
months grass, pull a ton of coal, he would have been a thankless horse
indeed, which could not strain a point, or all his points, for such a
rider.

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION_

"SPERIT, GENTLEMEN!"]

And so, when the spurs suddenly rattled against his ribs, the old skin
full of bones gave a snort of pain, which the auctioneer called "Sperit,
gentle_men_!" and away up the broad avenue he rolled, at a speed which
threatened to break the rider's neck, and his own legs as well. His
tail having been cut short in youth, and retrimmed in old age, the
outfit made but a sorry figure going up the street. The Professor said
it suggested the idea of some fossil vertabra, with a paint brush
attached to its end, running away with a geological student.

After the return and cries for more bids, Muggs must have winked at the
auctioneer--possibly, to slyly telegraph him the fact that in "Hengland"
they were up to such games. At least the auctioneer so declared, and
advancing the price one dollar in accordance therewith, finally knocked
the brute down to him. Then the British wrath bubbled and boiled. The
auctioneer was inexorable. Muggs _had_ winked, and that was an advanced
bid, according to commercial custom the land over. Articles were often
sold simply by the vibration of an eyelash, and not a word uttered.

The Professor remarked that in law winks would doubtless be accepted as
evidence. It was a recognized principle of the statutes that he who
winked at a matter acquiesced in it, and indeed such signals were often
more expressive than words. Sachem sustained this point, and added
further that he had known many a man's head broken on account of an
injudicious wink.

The crowd, with almost unanimous voice, pronounced the auctioneer right
and Muggs wrong.

"Me take the brute!" exclaimed the indignant Briton; "why he can 'ardly
stand up long enough to be knocked down. Except in France, he could be
put to no earthly use whatever. 'Is knees knock together in an ague
quartette, and 'is tail--look at it! It's hincapable of knocking a fly
off; looks more like flying off hitself!" Muggs further declared the
sale was an attempt on the owner's part to evade the health officer, who
would have been around, in a couple of days, to have the carcass
removed.

The auctioneer waxed belligerent, the crowd noisy, and Muggs, like a
true Englishman, secured peace at the price of British gold. The horse
was on his hands, having barely escaped being on the town, and an
enthusiastic crowd of urchins escorted the purchase to a livery stable.
Muggs christened the animal Cynocephalus, and soon afterward sold him to
Mr. Colon, who was of an economical turn, for the use of his son Semi.

"I have heard," said the thoughtful father, "that the buffalo grass of
the plains is very nourishing. All that the poor steed needs is care and
fat pastures. Semi can give him the former, and over the latter our
future journey lies. I have also learned that what is especially needed
in a hunting horse is steadiness, and this quality the animal certainly
possesses."

From some months' acquaintance with the purchase, we can say that
Cynocephalus was steady to a remarkable degree. We are firmly persuaded
that a heavy battery might have fired a salute over his back without
moving him, unless, possibly, the concussion knocked him down.

Our first hunting morning, the second day preceding our hegira westward,
came to us with a clear sky, the sun shedding a mellow warmth, and the
air full of those exhilarating qualities which our lungs afterward
drank in so freely on the plains. Indian summer, delightful anywhere, is
especially so in Kansas.

From the advance guard of the winter king not a single chilling zephyr
steals forward among the tarrying ones of summer. Soothing and gentle as
when laden with spicy fragrance south, they here shower the whole land
with sunbeams. Earth no longer seems a heavy, inert mass, but floats in
that smoky, fleecy atmosphere with which artists delight so much to wrap
their angels. It is as if the warmer, lighter clouds of sunny weather
were nestling close to earth, frightened from the skies, like a flock of
white swans, at the October howls of winter. But I never could agree
with those writers who call this season dreamy. If such it be, it is
surely a dream of motion. All nature appears quickened. The inhabitants
of the air have commenced their southern pilgrimage, and the oldest and
leading ganders may be heard croaking, day-time and night-time, to their
wedge-shaped flocks their narrative of summer experiences at the Arctic
circle, and their commands for the present journey.

Sachem, I find, has recorded as a discovery in natural history that
geese form their flocks in wedge shape that they may easier "make a
split" for the south when Nature, with her north pole, stirs up their
feeding and breeding-grounds in November gales, and changes their fields
of operation into fields of ice. Sachem was sadly addicted to slang
phrases.

All game, I may remark, is wilder at this season of the year than
earlier. If the earth is dreaming, its wild inhabitants certainly are
not. Men, too, have thrown off the summer lethargy, and shave their
neighbors as closely as ever. If any one thinks it a dreamy season of
the year, let him test the matter practically by being a day or two
behindhand with a payment.

In reply to a question, the professor told us that the smoky condition
of the atmosphere was probably caused by the exhalation of phosphorus
from decaying vegetation. Sachem remarked that out of twenty different
objects which he had submitted for examination, and as many questions
that he had asked, nine-tenths of the results contained phosphorus in
some shape. It was becoming monotonous and dangerous.

While the party thus mused and speculated, we had come out into the open
country, south-west of town, and were now approaching Webster's Mound, a
cone-shaped hill from which we afterward obtained some excellent views.
For the trip we had been supplied with two dogs, one a setter, belonging
to the private secretary of the Governor, and the other a pointer, the
property of a real estate dealer. The former was an ancient and
venerable animal. The rheumatism was seized of his backbone and held
high revel upon the juices which should have lubricated the joints. Even
his tail wagged with a jerk, inclining the body to whichever side it had
last swung. He was so full of rheumatism that whenever he scented a
chicken the pain evoked by the excitement caused him to howl with
anguish. The pointer, per contra, was hale and swift, but had lost one
eye; and a shot from the same charge which destroyed that organ,
rattled also on his left ear-drum, and that membrane no longer responded
to the shouts of the hunter. On one side he could see, and not hear--on
the other, hear, but not see. Nevertheless, with gestures for the left
view, and shouts on the right, fair work might still be obtained. Both
dogs rejoiced in the uncommon name of Rover, and both possessed that
most excellent of all points in such animals, a steady point.

If any of my readers are fond of field-sports, and have not yet shot
prairie-chickens over a dog, let them take their guns and hie to the
West, and taste for themselves of this rare sport. With the wide prairie
around him, keeping the bird in full view during its passage through the
air, one can choose his distance for firing and witness the full effect
of his shot. I think the brief instant when the flight of the bird is
checked and it drops head-foremost to earth, is the sweetest moment of
all to the hunter.



CHAPTER IV.

     CHICKEN-SHOOTING CONTINUED--A SCIENTIFIC PARTY TAKE THE BIRDS ON
     THE WING--EVILS OF FAST FIRING--AN OLD-FASHIONED "SLOW SHOT"--THE
     HABITS OF THE PRAIRIE-CHICKEN--ITS PROSPECTIVE EXTINCTION--MODE OF
     HUNTING IT--THE GOPHER SCALP LAW.


We had left the road and were now driving over the fine prairie skirting
Webster's Mound, the grass being about a foot high and affording
excellent cover. Taking advantage of its being matted so closely from
the early frosts, the old cocks hid under the thick tufts and called for
close work on the part of our dogs.

Back and forth across our path these intelligent animals ranged, the one
fifty yards or so to our right, the other as many to our left, crossing
and re-crossing, with open mouths drinking in eagerly the tainted
breeze. This latter was in our favor, and both dogs suddenly joined
company and worked up into it, with outstretched noses pointing to game
that was evidently close ahead.

The pointer crawled cautiously, like a tiger, his spotted belly sweeping
the earth, and his tail, which had been lashing rapidly an instant
before, gradually stiffening. He would open his mouth suddenly, drink in
a quick, deep draught of air, and, closing the jaws again, hold it until
obliged to take another respiration. He seemed as loath to let the
scent of the chicken pass from his nostrils as a hungry newsboy is to
quit the savory precincts of Delmonico's kitchen window. The setter's
old bones appeared to renew their youth under the excitement, and he was
as active as a retired war-horse suddenly plunged into battle.

Both dogs came simultaneously to a point--tails curved up and rigid,
each body motionless as if cut in marble and one forepaw lifted. No
wonder so many men are wild with a passion for hunting. Kind Providence
smiles upon the legitimate sport from conception to close, and gives us
a _posé_ to start with fascinating to any lover of the beautiful,
whether hunter or not. But one must not pause to moralize while dogs are
on the point, or he will have more philosophy than chickens.

All the party had got safely to ground and were behind the dogs, with
guns ready and eyes eagerly fastened on the thick grass which concealed
its treasure as completely as if it had been a thousand miles below its
roots, or on the opposite side of this mundane sphere in China. Not a
thing was visible within fifty yards of our noses save two dogs standing
motionless, with stiffened tails and eyes fixed on, and nozzles pointed
toward, a spot in the sea of brown, withered grass, not ten feet away.

The Professor took out his lens, Mr. Colon let down the hammers of his
gun and cocked them again, to be sure all was right, while Sachem wore a
puzzled expression as if undecided whether the attitude of the dogs
indicated any thing particular or not. The grass nodded and rustled in
the light wind, but not a blade moved to indicate the presence of any
living thing beneath it, while the dogs remained as if petrified.

The Professor said it was very remarkable, and wondered what had better
be done next. Mr. Colon thought that the dogs were tired, and we might
as well get into the wagon. Another suggested at random that we should
set the dogs on, and Muggs, who had probably heard the expression
somewhere, cried, "Hi, boys, on bloods!" At the words the dogs made a
few quick steps forward, and on the instant the grass seemed alive with
feathered forms, popping into air like bobs in shuttlecock. Such a
fluttering and flying I have never seen since, when a boy, I ventured
into a dove cote, and was knocked over by the rush of the alarmed
inmates. From under our very feet, almost brushing our faces, the
beautiful pinnated grouse of the prairies left their cover, and us also.

Every gun had gone off on the instant, and we doubt if one was raised an
inch higher than it happened to be when the covey started. The Professor
afterward extracted some stray shot from the legs of his boots, and the
setter, which was next to Muggs, gave a cry of pain for which there was
evidently other cause than rheumatism, as was demonstrated by his
retirement to the rear, from which he refused to budge until we all got
into the wagon, and to which he invariably retreated whenever we got
out.

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION BUFFALO. N. Y._

OUR FIRST BIRD-SHOOTING.]

From the midst of the birds which were soaring away, one was seen to
rise suddenly a few feet above his comrades, and then fall straight
as a plummet, and head first, to earth. It had caught some stray shot
from the bombardment--Muggs claimed from his gun, but this statement the
setter, could he have spoken, would certainly have disputed.

Semi-Colon brought in the game, which proved to be a fine male, with
whiskers and full plumage, which must have made sad havoc among the
hearts of the hens, when the old fellow was on annual dress parade in
the spring. At that season of the year the cocks seek some knoll of the
prairie, where the grass has been burnt or cut off, and strut up and
down with ruffled feathers, uttering meanwhile a booming sound, which
can be heard in a clear morning for miles. The flabby pink skin that at
other seasons hangs in loose folds on his neck is then distended like a
bagpipe, and he is a very different bird from the same individual in his
Quaker gray and respectable summer and fall habits.

Ensconced again in the wagon, our party moved forward, the dogs, as
before, examining the prairie. The professor was comparing the birds of
the present and the past ages, when Muggs suddenly blasted his eyes and
declared the beasts were at it again. And so they were, the setter
making a good stand at some game in the grass, and the other dog, a
short distance off, pointing his companion. During the remainder of the
day we found many large flocks of birds, and fired away until two or
three swelled noses testified how dirty our guns were.

"Fast shooting," said the professor, as we were on our way home, "is as
bad as that too slow. Although I am no sportsman from practice, I love
and have studied the principles of it. In my father's day the rule was,
when a bird rose, for a hunter to take out his snuff-box, take snuff,
replace the box, aim, and fire. You may find the advice yet in some
works. The shot then has distance in which to spread. With close
shooting they are all together, and you might as well fire a bullet.
When you have given the bird time, act quickly. The first sight is the
best. Again, the first moment of flight, with most birds, is very
irregular, as it is upward, instead of from you."

Dobeen begged leave to inform our "honors" that in Ireland, after a bird
rose, the rule was, instead of taking snuff, to take off the boots
before firing. The professor thought that such a habit related to
outrunning the gamekeeper, and was intended to procure distance for the
poacher rather than the bird.

Sachem stated that he had known a slow hunter once. He was a
revolutionary veteran, used a revolutionary musket, and believed in
revolutionary powder. He refused to do any thing different from what his
fathers did, and abhorred double-barreled shotguns and percussion-caps
as inventions of the devil. It was constantly, "General Washington did
this," and "Our army did that," and his old head shook sadly at the
innovations Young America was making. His ghost, with the revolutionary
musket on its shoulder, had since been known to chase hunters, with
breech-loaders, who were caught on his favorite ground after dark. "Old
1776" was great on wing-shooting, and could be seen at almost any time
hobbling over the moor, firing away at snipe and water-fowl. He was one
of those slow, deliberate cases, always taking snuff after the bird
rose. There would be a glitter of fluttering wings as the game shot into
air. Down would come the long musket, out would come the snuff-box, and
the old soldier would go through the present, make ready, take snuff,
take aim, and fire, all as coolly as if on parade. The old musket often
hung fire from five to ten seconds, and the premonitory flash could be
seen as the shaky flint clattered down on the pan. The veteran always
patiently covered the bird until the charge got out. The recoil was
tremendous, and the old man often went down before the bird; but such
positions, he asserted, were taken voluntarily, as ones of rest. Some
said that the gun had been known to kick him again after he was down.

Sachem's narration was here cut short by the dogs again pointing. This
was followed by the usual bombardment, which over, the bag showed the
magnificent aggregate of two chickens for the entire day's sport.

The prairie-chicken is now extinct in many of the Western States where
it was once well known. Usually, during the first few years of
settlement, it increases rapidly, and is often a nuisance to pioneer
farmers. Perhaps, when the latter first settle in a country, a few
covies may be seen; under the favorable influences of wheat and
corn-fields, the dozens increase to thousands and cover the land. But
with denser settlement come more guns, and, what is a far more
destructive agent, trained dogs also. Under the first order of things,
the farmer, with his musket, might kill enough for the home table. With
double-barreled gun and keen-scented pointer, the sportsman and
pot-hunter think nothing of fifty or sixty birds for a day's work. It
seems almost impossible, under such a combination, for a covey to escape
total annihilation.

We may suppose a couple of fair shots hunting over a dog in August, when
the chickens lie close, and the year's broods are in their most delicate
condition for the table. The pointer makes a stand before a fine covey
hidden in the thick grass before him. The ready guns ask no delay, and,
at the word, he flushes the chickens immediately under his nose. Each
hunter takes those which rise before him, or on his side, and if four or
less left cover at the first alarm, that number of gray-speckled forms
the next moment are down in the grass, not to leave it again. If more
rose, they are "marked," which means that their place of alighting is
carefully noted, and, as the chicken has but a short flight, this task
is easy. Meanwhile, the guns have been reloaded, the dog flushes others
of the hiding birds, and so the sport goes on. The birds that get away
are "marked down," and again found and flushed by the dog. Without this
useful animal the chickens would multiply, despite any number of
hunters. I have often seen covies go down in the grass but a few hundred
yards away, yet have tramped through the spot dozens of times without
raising a single bird. In twenty years this delicious game will probably
be as much a thing of the past as is the Dodo of the Isle de France. At
the period of our visit they were already gathering into their fall
flocks, which sometimes number a hundred or more. In these they remain
until St. Valentine recommends a separation. During the colder weather
of winter they seek the protection of the timber, and may be seen of
mornings on the trees and fences. They never roost there, however, but
pass the night hidden in the adjacent grass.

The prairie-chicken's admirers are numerous, other animals beside man
being willing to dine on its plump breast. We had an illustration of
this in our first day's shooting. Sometimes when we fired, the report
would attract to our vicinity wandering hawks, and we found that either
instinct or previous experience teaches these fierce hunters of the air
that in the vicinity of their fellow-hunter, man, wounded birds may be
found. One wounded chicken, which fell near us, was seized by a hawk
immediately.

As we passed one or two fields, indications of gophers appeared, their
small mounds of earth covering the ground. In some counties these
animals formerly destroyed crops to such an extent that the celebrated
"Gopher Act" was passed. This gave a bounty of two dollars for each
scalp, and under it many farms yielded more to the acre than ever before
or since. One of these animals which we secured resembled in size and
shape the Norway rat, and, in the softness and color of its coat, was
not unlike a mole. The oddest thing was its earth-pouches--two open
sacks, one on either side of its head, and capable of containing each a
tablespoonful or more. These the gopher employs, in his subterranean
researches, for the same purpose that his enemy, man, does a
wheelbarrow. Packing them with dirt, the little fellow trudges gayly to
the surface, and there cleverly dumps his load.

We reached town again, well pleased with our day's ride, and over our
evening pipes discussed the results. Muggs thought our shot were too
small. Sachem thought the birds were.

Colon was delighted with the new State, but believed that wing-shooting
was not his _forte_. He would be more apt to hit a bird on the wing if
he could only catch it roosting somewhere.

Gripe, at the other end of the room, was piling Republican doctrines
upon a bearded Democratic heathen from the Western border.



CHAPTER V.

     A TRIAL BY JUDGE LYNCH--HUNG FOR CONTEMPT OF COURT--QUAIL
     SHOOTING--HABITS OF THE BIRDS, AND MODE OF KILLING THEM--A RING OF
     QUAILS--THE EFFECTS OF A SEVERE WINTER--THE SNOW GOOSE.


A short time after supper, Tenacious Gripe appeared with the mayor of
the city, who wished to make the acquaintance of the Professor. The two
august personages bowed to each other. It was the happiest moment in
their respective lives, they declared. An invitation was extended us to
delay our departure another day and try quail shooting. The citizens
said the birds were unusually abundant, the previous winter having been
mild and the summer long enough for two separate broods to be hatched,
and the brush and river banks were swarming with them. As we were about
to abandon the birds of the West and seek an acquaintance with its
beasts, we decided, after a brief consultation, to accept the invitation
and remain another day.

Among the persons present in the crowded office of the hotel, was a man
from the southwestern part of the state who had lately been interested
in a trial before the celebrated Judge Lynch. Sachem interviewed him,
and reports his statement of the occurrence in the log book, as
follows:

  A stranger played me fur a fool,
    An' threw the high, low, jack,
  An' sold me the wuss piece of mule
    That ever humped a back.

  But that wer fair; I don't complain,
    That I got beat in trade;
  I don't sour on a fellow's gain,
    When sich is honest made.

  But wust wer this, he stole the mule,
    An' I were bilked complete;
  Such thieves, we hossmen makes a rule
    To lift 'em from their feet.

  We started arter that 'ere pup,
    An' took the judge along,
  For fear, with all our dander up,
    We might do somethin' wrong.

  We caught him under twenty miles,
    An tried him under trees;
  The judge he passed around the "smiles,"
    As sort o' jury fees.

  "Pris'ner," says judge, "now say your say,
    An' make it short an' sweet,
  An', while yer at it, kneel and pray,
    For Death yer can not cheat.

  No man shall hang, by this 'ere court,
    Exceptin' on the square;
  There's time fur speech, if so it's short,
    But none to chew or swear."

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION. BUFFALO_

JUDGE LYNCH--HIS COURT.

JUDGE AND JURY. SHERIFF. ATTORNEY. LOAFER. CLERK. DEPUTY SHERIFF.]

  An' then the thievin' rascal cursed,
    An' threw his life away,
  He said, "Just pony out your worst,
    Your best would be foul play."

  Then judge he frowned an awful frown,
    An' snapped this sentence short,
  "Jones, twitch the rope, an' write this down,
    Hung for contempt of court!"

Sharp 8 next morning saw us on the road leading east of town, the two
dogs with us, and a young one additional, the property of a resident
sportsman. Our last acquisition joined us on the run, and kept on it all
day, going over the ground with the speed of a greyhound, his fine nose,
however, giving him better success than his reckless pace would have
indicated.

Three miles from town, or half way between it and Tecumseh, our party
left the wagon, with direction for it to follow the road, while we
scouted along on a parallel, following the river bank.

The Kaw stretched eastward, broad and shallow, with numerous sand bars,
and along its edges grew the scarlet sumach and some stunted bushes, and
between these and the corn a high, coarse bottom grass, with intervals
at every hundred yards or so apart of a shorter variety, like that on a
poor prairie. Among the bushes, there was no grass whatever, and yet the
birds seemed indifferently to frequent one spot equally with another.

In less than ten minutes after leaving the wagon, all the dogs were
pointing on a barren looking spot, thinly sprinkled with scrubby bushes
not larger than jimson-weeds. They were several yards apart, so that
each animal was clearly acting on his own responsibility.

If it puzzled us the day before to discover any signs of game under
their noses, it certainly did so now. There was apparently no place of
concealment for any object larger than a field-mouse. The bushes were
wide apart, and the soil between was a loose sand. Around the roots of
the scrubs, it is true, a few thin, wiry spears of grass struggled into
existence, but these covered a space not larger than a man's hand, and
it seemed preposterous to imagine that they could be capable of
affording cover. That three dogs were pointing straight at three bushes
was apparent, but we could see nothing in or about the latter calling
for such attention.

Shamus, who had accompanied us, wished to know if the twigs were witch
hazels, because, if so, three invisible old beldames might be taking a
nap under them, after a midnight ride. "But, then," said Dobeen, "the
dog's hairs don't stand on end as they always do in Ireland when they
see ghosts and witches." We believe that our worthy cook was really
disappointed in not discovering any stray broomsticks lying around.
These, he afterward informed us, could not be made invisible, though
their owners should take on airy shapes unrecognizable by mortal eyes.

Muggs had suggested urging the dogs in, but the party, wiser from
yesterday's experience, desired a ground shot, if it could be secured.
The Professor adjusted his lens, and decided to make a personal
inspection around the roots of the bush immediately in front of him.

Carefully the sage bent over the suspicious spot, and almost fell
backward as, with a whiz and a dart, half a dozen quails flew out,
brushing his very nose. Instantly every bush sent forth its fugitives. A
flash of feathered balls, and they were all gone. Such whizzing and
whirring! it was as if those scraggy bushes were _mitrailleuses_, in
quick succession discharging their loads.

Only one gun had gone off, but that so loudly that our ears rung for
several seconds. Mr. Colon had accidentally rammed at least two, perhaps
half a dozen, loads into one barrel, and the gun discharged with an aim
of its own, the butt very low down. Two birds fell dead. But alas for
our Nimrod! Colon stood with one hand on his stomach undecided whether
that organ remained or not. On this point, however, he was fully
re-assured at the supper-table that night, and in all our after
experience, we never knew that gun to have the least opportunity for
going off, except when at its owner's shoulder, and he perfectly ready
for it.

The two birds were now submitted to the party for inspection. They were
fine specimens of the American quail, more properly called by those
versed in quailology, the Bob White. This bird is very plentiful
throughout Kansas, and just before the shooting season commences, in
September, will even frequent the gardens and alight on the houses of
Topeka. They "lay close" before a dog, take flight into air with a
quick, whirring dart, and their shooting deservedly ranks high. They are
very rapid in their movements upon the ground, often running fifty or
seventy-five yards before hiding. When this takes place, so closely do
they huddle that it is seldom more than the upper bird that can be seen.
"Green hunters" sometimes pause, trying to discover the rest of the
covey before firing, and experience a great and sudden disgust when the
single bird which they have disdained suddenly develops into a dozen
flying ones.

We had an eventful days' sport, expending more ammunition than when
among the chickens, and with more satisfactory results, as we brought in
over two dozen birds. More than half of these were taken by Sachem at
one lucky discharge. He saw a covey in the grass, huddled together as
they generally are when not running. At these times they form a circle
about as large in diameter as the hoop of a nail keg, with tails to the
center and heads toward the outside. Fifteen quails would thus be a
circle of fifteen heads, and a pail, could it be dropped over the covey,
would cover them all. Not only is this an economy of warmth, there being
no outsiders half of whose bodies must get chilled, but there is no
blind side on which they can be approached, every portion of the circle
having its full quota of eyes. Let skunk or fox, or other roamer through
the grass, creep ever so stealthily, he will be seen and avoided by
flight. Sachem aiming at the midst of such a ring, broke it up as
effectually as Boutwell's discharge of bullion did that on Wall Street.

We have since found the frozen bodies of whole covies, which had gone to
roost in a circle and been buried under such a heavy fall of snow that
the birds could not force their way upward. Their habit is to remain in
imprisonment, apparently waiting for the snow to melt before even making
an effort for deliverance. Oftentimes it is then too late, a crust
having formed above. A severe winter will sometimes completely
exterminate the birds in certain localities.

During this first day of quail-shooting, we also saw for the first time
flocks of the snow-goose. The Professor counted fifty birds on one sand
bar. This variety, in its flight across the continent, apparently passes
through but a narrow belt of country, being found, to the best of my
knowledge, in but few of the states outside of Kansas.

Our return to the hotel was without accident, and our supper such as
hungry hunters might well enjoy. After it was disposed of, we gathered
around the ample stove in the hotel office, and lived over again the
events of the day.



CHAPTER VI.

     OFF FOR BUFFALO LAND--THE NAVIGATION OF THE KAW--FORT RILEY--THE
     CENTER-POST OF THE UNITED STATES--OUR PURCHASE OF HORSES--"LO" AS A
     SAVAGE AND AS A CITIZEN--GRIPE UNFOLDS THE INDIAN QUESTION--A
     BALLAD BY SACHEM, PRESENTING ANOTHER VIEW.


Next morning we said good-by to hospitable Topeka, and took up our
westward way over the Pacific Railroad. An ever-repeated succession of
valley and prairie stretched away on either hand. To the left the Kaw
came down with far swifter current than it has in its course below, from
its far-away source in Colorado. It might properly be called one of the
eaves or water-spouts of the great Rocky Mountain water-shed. With a
pitch of over five feet to the mile, its pace is here necessarily a
rapid one, and when at freshet height the stream is like a mill-race for
foam and fury.

At the junction of the Big Blue we found the old yet pretty town of
Manhattan. To this point, in early times, water transit was once
attempted. A boat of exceedingly light draught, one of those built to
run on a heavy dew, being procured, freight was advertised for, and the
navigation of the Kaw commenced. The one hundred miles or more to
Manhattan was accomplished principally by means of the capstan, the boat
being "warped" over the numberless shallows. This proved easier, of
course--a trifle easier--than if she had made the trip on macadamized
roads. If her stern had a comfortable depth of water it was seldom
indeed, except when her bow was in the air in the process of pulling the
boat over a sand bar. The scared catfish were obliged to retreat up
stream, or hug close under the banks, to avoid obstructing navigation,
and it is even hinted that more than one patriarch of the finny tribe
had to be pried out of the way to make room for his new rival to pass.

Once at Manhattan, the steamboat line was suspended for the season, its
captain and crew deciding they would rather walk back to the Missouri
River than drag the vessel there. Soon afterward, the steamer was burned
at her landing, and the Kaw has remained closed to commerce ever since.

About the same time, an enterprising Yankee advocated in the papers the
straightening of the river, and providing it with a series of locks,
making it a canal. As he had no money of his own with which to develop
his ideas into results, and could command nobody's else for that
purpose, the project failed in its very inception.

Fort Riley, four miles below Junction City, is claimed as the
geographical center of the United States, the exact spot being marked by
a post. What a rallying point that stick of wood will be for future
generations! When the corner-stone of the National Capitol shall there
be laid, the orator of the day can mount that post and exclaim, with
eloquent significance, elsewhere impossible, "No north, no south, no
east, no west!" and enthusiastic multitudes, there gathered from the
four quarters of the continent, will hail the words as the key-note of
the republic.

That spot of ground and that post are valuable. I hope a national
subscription will be started to buy it. It is the only place on our
continent which can ever be entirely free from local jealousies. There
would be no possible argument for ever removing the capital. The Kaw
could be converted into a magnificent canal, winding among picturesque
hills past the base of the Capitol; and then, in case of war, should any
hostile fleet ever ascend the rapid Missouri, it would be but necessary
for our legislators to grasp the canal locks, and let the water out, to
insure their perfect safety. Imagine the humiliation of a foreign naval
hero arriving with his iron-clads opposite a muddy ditch, and finding it
the only means of access to our capital!

A painful rumor has of late obtained circulation that a band of St.
Louis ku-klux, yclept capital movers, intend stealing the pole and
obliterating the hole. Let us hope, however, that it is without
foundation.

Before leaving Topeka, the party had purchased horses for the trip, and
consigned the precious load to a car, sending a note to General
Anderson, superintendent, asking that they might be promptly and
carefully forwarded to Hays City, our present objective point upon the
plains.

The professor, bringing previous experience into requisition, selected a
stout mustang--probably as tractable as those brutes ever become. He was
warranted by the seller never to tire, and he never did, keeping the
philosopher constantly on the alert to save neck and knees. It is the
simple truth that, in all our acquaintance with him, that mustang never
appeared in the least fatigued. After backing and shying all day, he
would spend the night in kicking and stealing from the other horses.

Mr. Colon, by rare good fortune, obtained a beautiful animal, formerly
known in Leavenworth as Iron Billy--a dark bay, with head and hair fine
as a pointer's, limbs cut sharp, and joints of elastic. After carrying
Mr. C. bravely for months, never tripping or failing, he was sold on our
return to the then Secretary of State, who still owns him. More than
once did Billy make his rider's arm ache from pulling at the curb, when
the other horses were all knocked up by the rough day's riding. It was
interesting to see him in pursuit of buffalo. He would often smell them
when they were hidden in ravines, and we wholly unaware of their
vicinity. Head and ears were erect in an instant, and, with nostrils
expanded, forward he went, keeping eagerly in front at a peculiar
prancing step which we called tiptoeing. Once in sight of the game, and
the rider became a person of quite secondary importance. Billy said, as
plainly as a horse could say any thing, "_I_ am going to manage this
thing; _you_ stick on." And manage it he did. Not many moments, at the
most, before he was at the quarters of the fleeing monsters, and nipping
them mischievously with his teeth. I could always imagine him giving a
downright horse-laugh, his big bright eyes sparkled so when the
frightened bison, at the touch, gave a switch of his tail and a swerve
of alarm, and plunged more wildly forward. If the rider wished to
shoot, he could do so; if not, content himself, as Mr. Colon usually
did, with clinging to the saddle, and uttering numberless expostulatory
but fruitless "whoa's."

Once on our trip Billy was loaned for the day to a gentleman who wished
to examine a prospective coal mine. When barely out of sight of camp,
Billy discovered a herd of buffalo, and, despite the vehement
remonstrances of his rider, straightway charged it. The mine-seeker was
no hunter, but a wise and thoroughly timid devotee of science in search
of coal measures. A few moments, and the poor, frightened gentleman
found himself in the midst of a surging mass of buffalo, his knees
brushing their hairy sides, and their black horns glittering close
around him, like an array of serried spears. He drew his knees into the
saddle, and there, clinging like a monkey, lost his hat, his map of the
mine, and his spectacles. He returned Billy as soon as he could get him
back to camp, with expressions of gratitude that he had been allowed to
escape with life, and never manifested the least desire to mount him
again.

Sachem's purchase was a horse which had run unaccountably to legs. He
was sixteen hands high, a trifle knock-kneed, and with a way of flinging
the limbs out when put to his speed which, though it seemed awkward
enough, yet got over the ground remarkably well. With the shambling gait
of a camel, he had also the good qualities of one, and did his owner
honest service.

Muggs bought a mule, partly because advised to do so by a plainsman, and
partly because the rest of us took horses. With true British obstinacy
he paid no attention to our expostulations, and the creature he obtained
was as obstinate as himself. Poor Muggs! A mule may be good property in
the hands of a plainsman, but was never intended to carry a Briton.

Semi-Colon had the auction purchase, and Dobeen selected a Mexican
donkey, one of the toughest little animals that ever pulled a bit. He
could excel a trained mule in the feat of dislodging his rider, and had
a remarkable penchant for running over persons who by chance might be
looking the other way. It seemed to be his constant study to take
unexpected positions, or, as Sachem phrased it, to "strike an attitude."

My mount was a stout-built old mare, recommended to me as a solid beast,
on the strength of which, and wishing to avoid experiments, I made
purchase at once. I found her solid indeed. When on the gallop her feet
came down with a shock which made my head vibrate, as if I had
accidentally taken two steps instead of one, in descending a staircase.

Could the good people of Topeka have gotten us to ride out of their town
upon our several animals, it would have given them a fair idea of a
_mardi gras_ cavalcade in New Orleans.

And so, our camp equipage and live stock following by freight, the
express rolled us forward toward the great plains. So far along our
route we had seen but few Indians, and those civilized specimens, such
as straggle occasionally through the streets of Topeka. The Indian
reservations in Kansas are at some distance apart, and their
inhabitants frequently exchange visits. The few whom we had seen
consisted of Osages, Kaws, Pottawatomies, and Sioux, all equally dirty,
but the last affecting clothes more than the others, and eschewing
paint. The members of this tribe, generally speaking, have good farms
and are worth a handsome average per head. At the time of our visit they
were expecting a half million dollars or so from Washington, and were
soon to become American citizens. One privilege of this citizenship
struck us as very peculiar. By the State law, as long as an Indian is
simply an Indian, he can buy no whisky, and is thus cruelly debarred
from the privilege of getting drunk, but once a voter, he can luxuriate
in corn-juice and the calaboose, as well as his white brother. What a
travesty upon American civilization and politics!

Muggs was prejudiced against the Osages, having been induced by one of
them to invest in a bow and arrows, "for the Hinglish Museum, you know."
On pulling for a trial shot, one end of the bow went further than the
arrow, and the cord, warranted to be buffalo sinew, proved to be an
oiled string.

Sachem declared that he had found Muggs returning the wreck to the
Indian with the following speech: "O-sage, little was your wisdom to
court thus the wrath of a Briton. Take with the two pieces this piece of
my mind. That your noble form may be removed soon to the 'appy 'unting
ground, where bow trades are not allowed, is the prayer of your patron,
Muggs."

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION. BUFFALO. N. Y._

UNNATURALIZED.]

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION. BUFFALO. N. Y._

NATURALIZED.]

Mr. Colon asked Tenacious Gripe to explain the condition of the
Native Americans in Kansas. The orator kindly consented and thereupon
discoursed as follows:

"The Indians of Kansas are divided into the wild and the tame. Both
alike cover their nakedness with bright handkerchiefs, old shirts,
military coats, and many-hued ribbons. The principal difference in point
of dress is in the method of procuring it. Among those tribes which are
at peace with the government, the white man robs the Indian; among the
wild tribes the conditions are reversed--the Indian robs the white man.
In the one case the contractors and agents carry off their half million
dollars or thereabouts; in the other the savage bears away a quantity of
old clothes and fresh scalps. As he finds it difficult to procure
sufficient of the white man's justice to satisfy the cravings of his
nature, he feeds it with what he can and whenever he can of revenge.
Wise men tell us, gentlemen, that revenge is sweet and justice a dry
morsel. All Indians beg when they get an opportunity. The tame ones, if
they find it fruitless, divert themselves by selling worthless pieces of
wood with strings attached, as bows. The wild ones, in a like
predicament, relieve their tedium by whacking away at our ribs with bows
that amount to something. The principles actuating both classes are
alike. It is simply the application which causes difficulty--in the one
case an appeal with bow and arrows to our pockets, in the other to our
bodies.

"All our wars with these people, gentlemen, are a result of their
political economy. They believe that the Great Spirit provided buffalo
and other game for his red children. When the white man drives these
away, they understand that he takes their place as a means of
sustenance, and as they have lived upon the one, so they intend to do
upon the other. If the buffalo attempts to evade his duty in the
premises, they kill him and take his meat; if the white man, they kill
him and take his hair."

Sachem produced a roll of dirty brown paper and said that he had studied
the Indian question and found two sides to it. One he could give us in a
nutshell, believing that the meat of the nut had often excited the
spirit of war.

  Where waters sung above the sand,
    And torrent forced its way,
  Stretched out, disgusted with the land,
    A bearded miner lay,
  Prepared to strike, with willing hand,
    Whatever lead would pay.

  Echo of hoof on beaten ground
    Rung on the desert air,
  Ringing a tune of gladsome sound
    To miner, watching there;
  A paying lead, at last, he'd found--
    The vein a "man of hair."

  An instant more, and at the ford
    A savage chief appeared;
  The miner saw his goodly hoard,
    And tore his own good beard.
  (You'll always find an ox is gored
    When sheep are to be sheared.)

[Illustration: Dog Town--The Happy Family at Home.]

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION_

"You've riled that Brook"--An old Fable modernized.]

  And these the words the miner said:
    "You've spoilt my drink, old fellow;
  You've riled the brook, my brother red,
    And, by your cheek so yellow,
  To-night above your sandy bed
    The prairie gale shall bellow.

  "No relatives of mine are dead,
    At least by Injun cunnin',
  But many other hearts have bled,
    And many eyes are runnin';
  For blood and tears alike are shed,
    When _you_ go out a gunnin'.

  "Some slumbrin' peaceful, first they knew,
    They heard your horrid din--
  Women as well as men you slew,
    You bloody son of sin;
  I mourn 'em all, revenge 'em too,
    Through Adam they were kin."

  This having said, the miner smart,
    Drew bead upon the red man:
  They're fond of beads--it touched his heart,
    And Lo, behold, a dead man;
  Upon Life's stage he'd played his part,
    A gory sort of head man!

  Two packs of goods lay on the ground;
    Quoth miner, "Lawful spoil!
  My lucky star at last has found
    As good as gold and oil;
  I kinder felt that fate was bound
    To bless my honest toil.

  "Such heathen have no lawful heirs--
    I'll be the Probate Judge,
  For though they kinder go in pairs,
    Their love is all a fudge;
  I'll 'ministrate on what he wears,
    And leave his squaw my grudge."



CHAPTER VII.

     GRIPE'S VIEWS OF INDIAN CHARACTER--THE DELAWARES' THE ISHMAELITES
     OF THE PLAINS--THE TERRITORY OF THE "LONG HORNS"--TEXANS AND THEIR
     CHARACTERISTICS--MUSHROOM ROCK--A VALUABLE DISCOVERY--FOOTPRINTS IN
     THE ROCK--THE PRIMEVAL PAUL AND VIRGINIA.


We noticed many fine rivers rolling from the northward into the Kaw,
which stream we found was known by that name only after receiving the
Republican, at Junction City. Above that point, under the name of the
Smoky Hill, it stretches far out across the plains, and into the eastern
portion of Colorado. Along its desolate banks we afterward saw the sun
rise and set upon many a weary and many a gorgeous day.

All the large tributaries of the Kansas river, consisting of the Big
Blue, Republican, Solomon, and Saline, came in on our right. Upon our
left, toward the South, only small creeks joined waters with the Kaw,
the pitch of the great "divides" there being towards the Arkansas and
its feeders, the Cottonwood and Neosho.

We had now fairly entered on the great Smoky Hill trail. Here Fremont
marked out his path towards the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific, and on
many of the high _buttes_ we discovered the pillars of stone which he
had set up as guides for emigrant trains, looking wonderfully like
sentinels standing guard over the valleys beneath. Indeed we did at
first take them for solitary herders, watching their cattle in some
choice pasture out of sight.

Most of our party had expected to find Indians in promiscuous abundance
over the entire State, and we were therefore surprised to see the
country, after passing St. Mary's Mission, entirely free of them. Muggs
asked Gripe if the American Indian was hostile to all nationalities
alike, or simply to those who robbed him of his hunting-grounds. The
orator replied as follows:

"Sir, the aborigine of the western plains cares not what color or flavor
the fruit possesses which hangs from his roof tree. The cue of the
Chinaman is equally as acceptable as hairs from the mane of the English
lion. A red lock is as welcome as a black one, and disputes as to
ownership usually result in a dead-lock. His abhorrence is a wig, which
he considers a contrivance of the devil to cheat honest Indian industry.
I would advise geologists on the plains to carry, along with their picks
for breaking stones, a bottle of patent hair restorative. It is handy to
have in one's pocket when his scalp is far on its way towards some
Cheyenne war-pole. The scalping process, gentlemen, is the way in which
savages levy and collect their poll-tax. Any person in search of
romantic wigwams can have his wig warmed very thoroughly on the Arkansas
or Texas borders. On the plains along the western border of Kansas,
however, geologists can find a rich and comparatively safe field for
exploration. It is doubtful if the savages ever wander there again.

"Of the Indian warrior on the plains we may well say, _requiescat in
pace_, and may his pace be rapid towards either civilization or the
happy hunting ground. History shows that his reaching the first has
generally given him quick transit to the second. The white man's country
has proved a spirit-land to Lo, whose noble soul seems to sink when the
scalping-knife gathers any other rust than that of blood, and whose
prophetic spirit takes flight at the prospect of exchanging boiled
puppies and dirt for the white brother's pork and beans. Very often,
however, it must be said, Lo's soul is gathered to his fathers by reason
of its tabernacle being smitten too sorely by corn lightning."

As Gripe paused, the Professor took up the subject in a somewhat
different strain:

"We have here in this State," remarked he, "a tribe which may well be
called the Indian Ishmael. Its hand is and ever has been, since history
took record of it, against its brethren, and its brethren's against it.
I refer to the pitiful remnant of the once great Delawares. From the
shores of the Atlantic they have steadily retreated before civilization,
marking their path westward by constant conflicts with other races of
red men. The nation in its eastern forests once numbered thousands of
warriors. Now, three hundred miserable survivors are hastening to
extinction by way of their Kansas reservation.

"A number of their best warriors have been employed as scouts by the
government, when administering well merited chastisement to other
murdering bands. The Delawares, I have often thought, are like
blood-hounds on the track of the savages of the plains. They take fierce
delight in scanning the ground for trails and the lines of the streams
for camps. There is something strangely unnatural in the wild eyes of
these Ishmaelites, as they lead the destroyers against their race, and
assist in blotting it from the face of the continent. Themselves so
nearly joined to the nations known only in history, it is like a
plague-stricken man pressing eagerly forward to carry the curse, before
he dies, to the remainder of his people."

The valleys of the Saline, Solomon, and Smoky Hill, as we passed them in
rapid succession, seemed very rich and were already thickly dotted with
houses. This is one of the best cattle regions of the state, and vast
herds of the long-horned Texan breed covered the prairies. We were
informed that they often graze throughout the entire winter. As early in
the spring as the grass starts sufficiently along the trail from Texas
to Kansas, the stock dealers of the former State commence moving their
immense herds over it. The cattle are driven slowly forward, feeding as
they come, and reach the vicinity of the Kansas railroads when the grass
is in good condition for their summer fattening. As many as five hundred
thousand head of these long horns have been brought into the State in a
single season. Some are sold on arrival and others kept until fall, when
the choicest beeves are shipped East for packing purposes, or into
Illinois for corn feeding. The latter is the case when they are
destined eventually for consumption in Eastern markets, grass-fed beef
lacking the solid fatness of the corn-fed, and suffering more by long
transportation.

This very important trade in cattle, when fully developed, will probably
be about equally divided between southern and central Kansas, each of
which possesses its peculiar advantages for the business. While the
valley of the Arkansas has longer grass, and more of it, the dealers in
the Kaw region claim that their "feed" is the most nutritious. My own
opinion, carefully formed, is that both sections are about equally good,
and that the whole of western Kansas, with Colorado, will yet become the
greatest stock-raising region of the world. The climate is peculiarly
favorable. Two seasons out of three, on an average, cattle and sheep can
graze during the winter, without any other cover than that of the
ravines and the timber along the creeks.

The herders who manage these large bodies of cattle are a distinctive
and peculiar class. We saw numbers of them scurrying along over the
country on their wild, lean mustangs, in appearance a species of
centaur, half horse, half man, with immense rattling spurs, tanned skin,
and dare-devil, almost ferocious faces. After an extensive acquaintance
with the genus Texan, and with all due allowance for the better portion
of it, I must say, as my deliberate judgment, that it embraces a larger
number of murderers and desperadoes than can be found elsewhere in any
civilized nation. A majority of these herders would think no more of
snuffing out a life than of snuffing out a candle. Texas, in her rude
solitude, formerly stretched protecting arms to the evil doers from
other states, and to her these classes flocked. She offered them not a
city but a whole empire of refuge.

Just beyond Brookville, two hundred miles from the eastern border of
Kansas, our road commenced ascending the Harker Bluffs, a series of
sandstone ridges bordering on the plains.

On our left, Mushroom Rock was pointed out to us, a huge table of stone
poised on a solitary pillar, and strangely resembling the plant from
which it is named. As the professor informed us, we were on the eastern
shore of a once vast inland ocean, the bed of which now forms the
plains. Sachem thought the rock might be a petrified toad-stool, on a
scale with the gigantic toads which hopped around in the mud of that age
of monsters. The professor thought it was fashioned by the waters, in
their eddyings and washings.

Subsequent examinations showed this entire region to be one of
remarkable interest to the geologist. A few miles east of Mushroom Rock,
near Bavaria, as we learned from the conductor, human foot-prints had
been discovered in the sandstone. The professor, who had long ascribed
to man an earlier existence upon earth than that given him by geology,
was greatly excited, and at his earnest request, when the down train was
met, we returned upon it to Bavaria.

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION_

MUSHROOM ROCK,

On Alum Creek, near Kansas Pacific R. R.--From a Photograph.]

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION_

INDIAN ROCK, on Smoky Hill River, Kansas--From a Photograph.]

That place we found to consist of two buildings, each serving the double
purpose of house and store, the track running between them. Two
sandstone blocks, each weighing several hundred pounds, lay in front of
one of the stores, and there, sure enough, impressed clearly and deeply
upon their surface were the tracks of human feet. They had been
discovered by a Mr. J. B. Hamilton on the adjacent bluffs.

There was something weird and startling in this voice from those
long-forgotten ages--ages no less remote than when the ridge we were
standing upon was a portion of a lake shore. The man who trod those
sands, the professor informed us, perished from the face of the earth
countless ages before the oldest mummy was laid away in the caves of
Egypt; and yet people looked at the shriveled Egyptian, and thought that
they were holding converse with one who lived close upon the time of the
oldest inhabitant. They wrested secrets from his tomb, and called them
very ancient. And now this dweller beside the great lakes had lifted his
feet out of the sand to kick the mummy from his pedestal of honor in the
museum, as but a being of yesterday, in comparison with himself.

This discovery was soon afterward extensively noticed in the newspapers,
and the specimens are now in the collection made by our party at Topeka.
It is but fair to say that a difference of opinion exists in regard to
these imprints. Many scientific men, among whom is Professor Cope,
affirm that they must be the work of Indians long ago, as the age of the
rock puts it beyond the era of man, while others attribute them to some
lower order of animal, with a foot resembling the human one. For my own
part, after careful examination, I accept our professor's theory, that
the imprints are those of human feet. The surface of the stone has been
decided by experts to be bent down, not chiseled out. Science not long
ago ridiculed the primitive man, which it now accepts. It is not
strange, therefore, that science should protest against its oldest
inhabitant stepping out from ages in which it had hitherto forbidden him
existence.

We also found on the rocks fine impressions of leaves, resembling those
of the magnolia, and gathered a bushel of petrified walnuts and
butternuts. There were no other indications whatever of trees, the whole
country, as far as we could see, being a desolate prairie.

"Gentlemen," said the professor, "as surely as you stand on the shore of
a great lake, which passed away in comparatively modern times, science
stands on the brink of important revelations. We have here the evidence
of the rocks that man existed on this earth when the vast level upon
which you are about to enter was covered by its mass of water. The waves
lapped against the Rocky Mountains on the west, and against the ridges
on which you are standing, upon the east. From previous explorations, I
can assure you that the buffalo now feed over a surface strewn with the
remains of those monsters which inhabited the waters of the primitive
world, and the grasses suck nutriment from the shells of centuries.
Geology has held that man did not exist during the time of the great
lakes. I assert that he did, gentlemen, and now an inhabitant of that
period steps forward to confirm my position. This man walked
barefooted, and yet the contour of one of the feet, so different in
shape from that of any wild people's of the present day, shows that it
had been confined by some stiff material, like our leather shoes. The
appearance of the big toe is especially confirmatory of this. I would
call your attention, gentlemen, to the block which contains companion
impressions of the right and left foot. The latter is deep, and well
defined, every toe being separate and perfect. The former is shallow,
and spread out, with bulged-up ridges of stone between each toe. These
are exactly the impressions your own feet would make, on such a shore
to-day, were the sand under the right one to be of such a yielding
nature that in moving you withdrew it quickly, and rested more heavily
on the other, the material under which was firmer. Your right track
would spread, the mud bulging up between the toes, and forcing them out
of position, and the material nearly regaining its level, with a
misshapen impression upon its surface.

"You will also perceive that the sand was already hardening into rock
when our ancient friends walked over it. I use the plural because, if I
may venture an opinion from this hasty examination, I should say the two
tracks were those of a female, the single one that of a man. From the
position of the blocks they were probably walking near each other at
that precise time when the new rock was soft enough to receive an
impression and hard enough to retain it. You will perceive that the
surface of the stone is bent down into the cavities, as that of a loaf
of half-raised bread would be should you press your hand into it."

Sachem thought that the couple might have been an ancient Paul and
Virginia telling their love on the shores of the old-time lake.

The Professor continued: "You notice close beside the two imprints an
oval, rather deep hole in the rock, precisely like that a boy often
makes by whirling on one heel in the sand."

Sachem again interrupted: "Perhaps the maiden went through the
fascinating evolution of revolving her body while her mind revolved the
'yes' or 'no' to her swain's question. It might be a refined way of
telling her lover that she was well 'heeled,' and asking if he was."

The Professor very gravely replied: "In those days the world had not run
to slang. If one of Noah's children had dared to address him with the
modern salutation of 'governor,' the venerable patriarch would have
flung his child overboard from the ark. Taking your view of the case,
Mr. Sachem, the whirl in the sand, which gave the lover his answer, is
telling us to-day that same old story. And the coquette of that remote
period caused the tell-tale walk upon the sand, which has proved the
greatest geological discovery of modern times. I believe that it will be
followed up and sustained by others equally as important, all tending to
date man's birth thousands of years anterior to the time geology has
hitherto assigned him an existence upon earth."

We spent many hours of the night in getting the rocks to the depot for
shipment to Topeka, the few inhabitants of Bavaria assisting us. Soon
after a westward train came along, and we were again in motion toward
the home of the buffalo.

Before we slept the Professor gave us the following information: The
vast plateau lying east of the Rocky Mountains, and which we were now
approaching, was once covered by a series of great fresh-water lakes. At
an early period these must have been connected with the sea, their
waters then being quite salty, as is abundantly demonstrated by the
remains of marine shells. During the time of the continental elevation
these lakes were raised above the sea level, and their size very much
diminished. Over the new land thus created, and surrounding these
beautiful sheets of water, spread a vegetation at once so beautiful and
so rich in growth that earth has now absolutely nothing with which to
compare it. Amid these lovely pastures roved large herds of elephants,
with the mastodon, rhinoceros, horse, and elk, while the streams and
lakes abounded with fish. But the drainage toward the distant ocean
continued, the water area diminished, the hot winds of the dry land
drank up what remained of the lakes, and, in process of time, lo! the
great grass-covered plains that we wander over delightedly to-day. What
folly to suppose that such a land, so peculiarly fitted for man's
enjoyment, should remain, through a long period of time, tenanted simply
by brutes, and be given up to the human race only after its delightful
characteristics had been entirely removed.



CHAPTER VIII.

     THE "GREAT AMERICAN DESERT"--ITS FOSSIL WEALTH--AN ILLUSION
     DISPELLED--FIRES ACCORDING TO NOVELS AND ACCORDING TO
     FACT--SENSATIONAL HEROES AND HEROINES--PRAIRIE DOGS AND THEIR
     HABITS--HAWK AND DOG AND HAWK AND CAT.


Next morning, as the first gray darts of dawn fell against our windows,
Mr. Colon lifted up a sleepy head and gazed out. Then came that quick
jerk into an upright position which one assumes when startled suddenly
from a drowsy state to one of intense interest. The motion caused a
similar one on the part of each of us, as if a sort of jumping-jack set
of string nerves ran up our backs, and a man under the cars had pulled
them all simultaneously.

We were on the great earth-ocean; upon either side, until striking
against the shores of the horizon, the billows of buffalo-grass rolled
away. It seemed as if the Mighty Ruler had looked upon these waters when
the world was young, and said to them, "Ye waves, teeming with life, be
ye earth, and remain in form as now, until the planet which bears you
dissolves!" And so, frozen into stillness at the instant, what were then
billows of water now stretch away billows of land into what seems to the
traveler infinite distance, with the same long roll lapping against and
upon distant _buttes_ that the Atlantic has to-day in lashing its
rock-ribbed coasts; and whenever man's busy industry cleaves asunder the
surface, the depths, like those of ocean, give back their monsters and
rare shells. Huge saurians, locked for a thousand centuries in their
vice-like prison, rise up, not as of old to bask lazily in the sun, but
to gape with huge jaws at the demons of lightning and steam rushing
past, and to crack the stiff backs of savans with their forty feet of
tail.

To the south of us, and distant several miles, was the line, scarcely
visible, of the Smoky Hill, treeless and desolate; on the north, the
upper Saline, equally barren. As difficult to distinguish as two brown
threads dividing a brown carpet, they might have been easily overlooked,
had we not known the streams were there, and, with the aid of our
glasses, sought for their ill-defined banks.

A curve in the road brought us suddenly and sharply face to face with
the sun, just rising in the far-away east, and flashing its ruddy light
over the vast plain around us. Its bright red rim first appeared,
followed almost immediately by its round face, for all the world like a
jolly old jack tar, with his broad brim coming above deck. It reminded
me on the instant of our brackish friend, Captain Walrus; and in
imagination I dreamily pictured, as coming after him, with the
broadening daylight, a troop of Alaskans, their sleds laden with
blubber.

The air was singularly clear and bracing, producing an effect upon a
pair of healthy lungs like that felt on first reaching the sea-beach
from a residence inland. An illusion which had followed many of us from
boyhood was utterly dissipated by the early dawn in this strange land.
This was not the fact that the "great American desert" of our
school-days is not a desert at all, for this we had known for years; it
related to those floods of flame and stifling smoke with which
sensational writers of western novels are wont to sweep, as with a besom
of destruction, the whole of prairie-land once at least in every story.
Young America, wasting uncounted gallons of midnight oil in the perusal
of peppery tales of border life, little suspects how slight the
foundation upon which his favorite author has reared the whole vast
superstructure of thrilling adventure.

The scene of these heart-rending narratives is usually laid in a
boundless plain covered with tall grass, and the _dramatis personæ_ are
an indefinite number of buffalo and Indians, a painfully definite one of
emigrants, two persons unhappy enough to possess a beautiful daughter,
and a lover still more unhappy in endeavoring to acquire title, a
rascally half-breed burning to prevent the latter feat, and a rare old
plainsman specially brought into existence to "sarcumvent" him.

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION. BUFFALO_

FIRE ON THE PLAINS, ACCORDING TO NOVELS.]

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION_

FIRE ON THE PLAINS, AS IT IS.]

At the most critical juncture the "waving sea of grass" usually takes
fire, in an unaccountable manner--perhaps from the hot condition of the
combatants, or the quantities of burning love and revenge which are
recklessly scattered about. Multitudes of frightened buffalo and gay
gazelles make the ground shake in getting out of the way, and the flames
go to licking the clouds, while the emigrants go to licking the
Indians. Although the fire can not be put out, one or the other, or
possibly both, of the combatants are "put out" in short order.
Should the miserable parents succeed in getting their daughter safely
through this peril, it is only because she is reserved for a further
laceration of our feelings. The half-breed soon gets her, and the lover
and rare old plainsman get on his track immediately afterward. And so on
_ad libitum_.

We beg pardon for condensing into our sunrise reflections the material
for a novel, such as has often run well through three hundred pages, and
furnished with competencies half as many bill-posters. It is unpleasant
to have one's traditionary heroes and heroines all knocked into pi
before breakfast. It makes one crusty. Possibly, it may be their proper
desert, but, if so, could be better digested after dinner.

The whole story would fail if the fire did, as novelists never like to
have their heroines left out in the cold. But it is as impossible for
flames as it is for human beings to exist on air alone. It is scarcely
less so for them to feed, as they are supposed to do, on such scanty
grass. The truth is, that what the bison, with his close-cropping teeth,
is enabled to grow fat on, makes but poor material for a first-class
conflagration.

The grass which covers the great plains of the Far West is more like
brown moss than what its name implies. Perhaps as good an idea of it as
is possible to any one who has never seen it, may be obtained by
imagining a great buffalo robe covering the ground. The hair would be
about the color and nearly the length of the grass, at the season in
question. In the spring the plains are fresh and green, but the grass
cures rapidly on the stalk, and before the end of July is brown and
ripe. It will then burn readily, but the fire is like that eating along
a carpet, and by no means terrifying to either man or brute. The only
occasion when it could possibly prove dangerous is when it reaches, as
it sometimes does, some of the narrow valleys where the tall grass of
the bottom grows; but even then, a run of a hundred yards will take one
to buffalo grass and safety. This latter fact we learned from actual
experience, later on our trip.

What a wild land we were in! A few puffs of a locomotive had transferred
us from civilization to solitude itself. This was the "great American
desert" which so caught our boyish eyes, in the days of our school
geography and the long ago. A mysterious land with its wonderful record
of savages and scouts, battles and hunts. We had a vague idea then that
a sphynx and half a score of pyramids were located somewhere upon it,
the sand covering its whole surface, when not engaged in some sort of
simoon performance above. No trains of camels, with wonderful patience
and marvelous internal reservoirs of water, dragged their weary way
along, it was true; yet that animal's first cousin, the American mule,
was there in numbers, as hardy and as useful as the other. Many an
eastern mother, in the days of the gold fever, took down her boys
discarded atlas, and finding the space on the continent marked "Great
American Desert," followed with tearful eyes the course of the emigrant
trains, and tried to fix the spot where the dear bones of her first-born
lay bleaching.

As a people, we are better acquainted with the wastes of Egypt than with
some parts of our own land. The plains have been considered the abode of
hunger, thirst, and violence, and most of our party expected to meet
these geniuses on the threshold of their domain, and, while Shamus
should fight the first two with his skillet and camp-kettles to war
against the third with rifle and hunting-knife.

But in the scene around us there was nothing terrifying in the least
degree. The sun had risen with a clear highway before him, and no clouds
to entangle his chariot wheels. He was mellow at this early hour, and
scattered down his light and warmth liberally. Wherever the soil was
turned up by the track, we discovered it to be strong and deep, and
capable of producing abundant crops of resin weeds and sunflowers, which
with farmers is a written certificate, in the "language of flowers," of
good character.

We thundered through many thriving cities of prairie dogs, the
inhabitants of which seemed all out of doors, and engaged in
tail-bearing from house to house. The principal occupations of this
animal appears to be two; first, barking like a squirrel, and second,
jerking the caudal appendage, which operations synchronize with
remarkable exactitude. One single cord seems to operate both extremities
of the little body at once. It could no more open its mouth without
twitching its tail, than a single-thread Jack could bow its head without
lifting its legs. Those nearest would look pertly at us for a moment,
and then dive head foremost into their holes. The tail would hardly
disappear before the head would take its place and, peering out,
scrutinize us with twinkling eyes, and chatter away in concert with its
neighbors, with an effect which reminded me of a forest of monkeys
suddenly disturbed.

Sachem declared that they must all be females, for no sooner had one
been frightened into the house than it poked its head out again to see
what was the matter. "That sex would risk life at any time to know what
was up."

The professor, with a more practical turn, told us some of the quaint
little animal's habits. "Why it is called a dog," said he, "I do not
know. Neither in bark, form, or life, is there any resemblance. It is
carnivorous, herbivorous, and abstemious from water, requiring no other
fluids than those obtained by eating roots. Its villages are often far
removed from water, and when tamed it never seems to desire the latter,
though it may acquire a taste for milk. It partakes of meats and
vegetables with apparently equal relish. It is easily captured by
pouring two or three buckets of water down the hole, when it emerges
looking somewhat like a half-drowned rat. The prairie dog is the head of
the original 'happy family.' It was formerly affirmed, even in works of
natural history, that a miniature evidence of the millennium existed in
the home of this little animal. There the rattlesnake, the owl, and the
dog were supposed to lie down together, and such is still the general
belief. It was known that the bird and the reptile lived in these
villages with the dog, and science set them down as honored guests,
instead of robbers and murderers, as they really are."

On our trip we frequently killed snakes in these villages which were
distended with dogs recently swallowed. The owls feed on the younger
members of the household, and the old dogs, except when lingering for
love of their young, are not long in abandoning a habitation when snakes
and owls take possession of it. The latter having two votes, and the
owner but one (female suffrage not being acknowledged among the brutes),
it is a "happy family," on democratic principles of the strictest sort.

We have also repeatedly noticed the dogs busily engaged in filling up a
hole quite to the mouth with dirt, and have been led to believe that in
this manner they occasionally revenge themselves upon their enemies,
perhaps when the latter are gorged with tender puppies, by burying them
alive. An old scout once told us that this filling up process occurred
whenever one of their community was dead in his house, but as the
statement was only conjectural, we prefer the other theory.

While we were this day steaming through one village an incident occurred
showing that these animals have yet another active enemy. Startled by
the cars, the dogs were scampering in all directions, when a powerful
chicken-hawk shot down among them with such wonderful rapidity of flight
that his shadow, which fell like that from a flying fragment of cloud,
scarcely seemed to reach the earth before him. Some hundreds of the
little brown fellows were running for dear life, and plunging wildly
into their holes without any manifestations of their usual curiosity.
The hawk's shadow fell on one fat, burgher-like dog, perhaps the mayor
of the town, and in an instant the robber of the air was over him and
the talons fastened in his back. Then the bird of prey beat heavily with
its pinions, rising a few feet, but, finding the prize too heavy, came
down. He was evidently frightened at the noise of the cars and we hoped
the prisoner would escape. But the bird, clutching firmly for an instant
the animal in its talons, drew back his head to give force to the blow,
and down clashed the hooked beak into one of the victim's eyes. A sharp
pull, and the eyeball was plucked out. Back went the beak a second time,
and the remaining eye was torn from its socket, and the sightless body
was then left squirming on the ground, while the hawk flew hastily away
a short distance, evidently to return when we had passed on. It was
pitiful to see the dog raise up on its haunches and for an instant sit
facing us with its empty sockets, then make two or three short runs to
find a path, in its sudden darkness, to some hole of refuge, but
fruitlessly, of course.

A few days afterward, at Hays City, we witnessed an affair in which the
air-pirate got worsted. While sitting before the office of the village
doctor, a powerful hawk pounced upon his favorite kitten, which lay
asleep on the grass, and started off with it. The two had reached an
elevation of fifty feet, when puss recovered from her surprise and went
to work for liberty. She had always been especially addicted to dining
on birds, and the sensation of being carried off by one excited the
feline mind to astonishment and wrath. Twisting herself like a weasel
her claws came uppermost, and to our straining gaze there was a sight
presented very much as if a feather-bed had been ripped open. The
surprised hawk had evidently received new light on the subject; it let
go on the instant, and went off with the appearance of a badly plucked
goose, while the cat came safely to earth and sought the nearest way
home.



CHAPTER IX.

     WE SEE BUFFALO--ARRIVAL AT HAYS--GENERAL SHERIDAN AT THE
     FORT--INDIAN MURDERS--BLOOD-CHRISTENING OF THE PACIFIC
     RAILROAD--SURPRISED BY A BUFFALO HERD--A BUFFALO BULL IN A
     QUANDARY--GENTLE ZEPHYRS--HOW A CIRCUS WENT OFF--BOLOGNA TO LEAN
     ON--A CALL UPON SHERIDAN.


As we passed out of the dog village, the engine gave several short,
sharp whistles, and numberless heads were at once thrust out to
ascertain the cause. "Buffalo!" was the cry, and with this there was a
rush to the windows for a view of the noblest of American game. Even
sleepy elderly gentlemen jostled rudely, and Sachem forgot his liver so
far as to crowd into a favorable position beside a young woman.

"There they go!" "Oh, my, what monsters!" "What beards!" "What horns!"
"Beats a steeplechase!" "Uncanny beasts, lookin' and gangin' like Nick!"
"Sure, they're going home from a divil's wake!" and similar ejaculations
filled the car, as they do a race-stand when the horses are off. Two
huge bulls had crossed just ahead of the engine, and one of them,
apparently deeming escape impossible, was standing at bay close to the
track, head down for a charge. He was furious with terror, the hissing
steam and cow-catcher having been close at his heels for a hundred
yards. As we flew past he was immediately under our windows, and we were
obliged to look down to get a view of his immense body, with the back
curving up gradually from the tail into an uncouth hump over the fore
shoulders.

These two solitary old fellows were the only buffalo we saw from the
train, the herds at large having not yet commenced their southern
journey. At certain seasons, however, they cover the plains on each side
of the road for fifty or sixty miles in countless multitudes. These wild
cattle of Uncle Samuel's, if called upon, could supply the whole Yankee
nation with meat for an indefinite period.

About noon we arrived at Hays City, two hundred and eighty miles from
the eastern border of the State, and eighty miles out upon the plains. A
stream tolerably well timbered, known as Big Creek, runs along the
southern edge of the town, and just across it lies Fort Hays, town and
fort being less than a mile apart.

The post possessed considerable military importance, being the base of
operations for the Indian country. We found Sheridan there, an officer
who won his fame gallantly and on the gallop. During the summer our red
brethren had been gathering a harvest of scalps, and, in return, our
army was now preparing to gather in the gentle savage.

We had read accounts in the newspapers, some time before, of the capture
of Fort Wallace and of attacks on military posts. Such stories were not
only untrue, but exceedingly ridiculous as well. Lo is not sound on the
assault question. His chivalrous soul warms, however, when some forlorn
Fenian, with spade on shoulder and thoughts far off with Biddy in
Erin's Isle, crosses his vision. Being satisfied that Patrick has no
arms, his only defense being utter harmlessness, and well knowing that
the sight of a painted skin, rendered sleek by boiled dog's meat, will
make him frantic with terror, the soul of the noble savage expands. No
more shall the spade, held so jauntily, throw Kansas soil on the bed of
the Pacific Railroad; and the scalp, yet tingling with the boiling of
incipient Fenian revolutions underneath, on the pole of a distant wigwam
will soon gladden the eyes of the traditionally beautiful Indian bride,
as with dirty hands she throws tender puppies into the pot for her
warrior's feast. The savage hand, crimson since childhood, descends with
defiant ring upon the tawny breast, and, with a cry of, "Me big Indian,
ha, whoop!" down sweeps Lo upon the defenseless Hibernian. A startled
stare, a shriek of wild agony, a hurried prayer to "our Mary mother,"
and Erin's son christens those far-off points of the Pacific Railroad
with his blood. A rapid circle of hunting-knife and the scalp is lifted,
a few twangs of the bow fills the body with arrows, there is a rapid
vault into the saddle, and a mutilated corpse, with feathered tips, like
pins in a cushion, dotting its surface, alone remains to tell the tale
of horror.

[Illustration: "And Erin's son christens those far-off points of the
Pacific Railroad with his blood."]

Blood had been every-where on the railroad, which reached across the
plains like a steel serpent spotted with red. There was now a cessation
of hostilities, and Indian agents were reported to be on the way from
Washington to pacify the tribes. As they had been a long time in coming,
the inference was irresistible that the popping of champagne corks was
a much more pleasant experience than that of Indian guns would have
been. The harvest of scalps had reached high noon some time before. Far
off, south of the Arkansas, the savages had their home, and from thence,
like baleful will-o'-the-wisps, they would suddenly flash out, and then
flash back when pursued, and be lost in those remote regions. Lately,
United States troops have been so placed that the Indian villages may be
struck, if necessary, and retaliation had; and this, together with the
pacificatory efforts of the Quaker agents, is doing much to bring about
a condition of things which promises permanent peace.

Here our party was at Hays, the objective point of our journey, and our
base of operations against the treasures of the past and present, which
alike covered the country around. This little town is in the midst of
the great buffalo range. Away upon every side of it stretch those vast
plains where the short, crisp grass curls to the ridges, like an
African's kinky hair to his skull. Bison and wild horse, antelope and
wolf, for weeks were now to be our neighbors, appearing and vanishing
over the great expanse like large and small piratical crafts on an
ocean. We were kindly received at the Big Creek Land Company's office,
on the outskirts of the town, and there deposited our guns and baggage.
Our horses were expected on the morrow.

Twilight found us, after a busy afternoon, sitting around the office
door, with that tired feeling which a traveler has when mind and body
are equally exhausted. Our very tongues were silent, those useful
members having wagged until even they were grateful for the rest. The
hour of dusk, of all others, is the time for musing, and almost
involuntarily our minds wandered back a twelve-month, when the plains
were a solitude. No railroad, no houses, no tokens of civilization save
only a few solitary posts, garrisoned with corporal's guards, and
surrounded by red fiends thirsty for blood. Such was the picture then;
now, the clangor of a city echoed through Big Creek Valley.

While wondering at the change, away on the hills to our right there rose
a thundering tread, like the marching of a mighty multitude. Shamus, who
sat directly facing the hill, saw something which chilled the Dobeen
blood, and caused that noble Irishman to plunge behind us. Mr. Colon,
who had given a startled turn of the head over his right shoulder,
exclaimed, "Bless me, what's that?" The glance of Muggs froze that
Briton so completely that he failed to tell us of ever having seen a
more "hextraordinary thing in Hingland." I am in doubt whether even our
grave professor did not imagine for the moment that the mammalian age
was taking a tilt at us.

Gathering twilight had magnified what in broad day would have been an
apparition sufficiently startling to any new arrival in Buffalo Land. A
long line of black, shaggy forms was standing on the crest and looking
down upon us. It had come forward like the rush of a hungry wave, and
now remained as one uplifted, dark and motionless. In bold relief
against the horizon stood an array of colossal figures, all bristling
with sharp points, which at first sight seemed lances, but at the
second resolved into horns. Then it dawned upon our minds that a herd of
the great American bison stood before us. What a grateful reduction of
lumps in more than one throat, and how the air ran riot in lately
congealed lungs!

Dobeen declared he thought the professor's "ghosts of the centuries" had
been looking down upon us.

One old fellow, evidently a leader in Buffalo Land, with long
patriarchial beard and shaggy forehead, remained in front, his head
upraised. His whole attitude bespoke intense astonishment. For years
this had been their favorite path between Arkansas and the Platte. Big
Creek's green valley had given succulent grasses to old and young of the
bison tribe from time immemorial. Every hollow had its traditions of
fierce wolf fights and Indian ambuscades, and many a stout bull could
remember the exact spot where his charge had rescued a mother and her
young from the hungry teeth of starving timber wolves. Every wallow,
tree, and sheltering ravine were sacred in the traditions of Buffalo
Land. The petrified bones of ancestors who fell to sleep there a
thousand years before testified to purity of bison blood and pedigree.

Now all this was changed. Rushing toward their loved valley, they found
themselves in the suburbs of a town. Yells of red man and wolf were
never so horrible as that of the demon flashing along the valley's bed.
A great iron path lay at their feet, barring them back into the
wilderness. Slowly the shaggy monarch shook his head, as if in doubt
whether this were a vision or not; then whirling suddenly, perhaps
indignantly, he turned away and disappeared behind the ridge, and the
bison multitude followed.

Our horses arrived the next morning all safe, excepting a few skin
bruises, the steed Cynocephalus, however, being a trifle stiffer than
usual, from the motion of the cars. When they were trotted out for
inspection, by some hostlers whom we had hired that morning for our
trip, the inhabitants must have considered the sight the next best thing
to a circus.

Apropos of circuses, we learned that one had exhibited for the first and
only time on the plains a few months before. In that country, dear
reader, Æolus has a habit of loafing around with some of his sacks in
which young whirlwinds are put up ready for use. One of these is liable
to be shaken out at any moment, and the first intimation afforded you
that the spirit which feeds on trees and fences is loose, is when it
snatches your hat, and begins flinging dust and pebbles in your eyes.
But to return to our circus performance. For awhile all passed off
admirably. The big tent swallowed the multitude, and it in turn
swallowed the jokes of the clown, older, of course, than himself. In the
customary little tent the living skeleton embodied Sidney Smith's wish
and sat cooling in his bones, while the learned pig and monkey danced to
the melodious accompaniment of the hand-organ.

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION_

GENTLE ZEPHYRS--"GOING OFF WITHOUT A DRAWBACK.]

Suddenly there was a clatter of poles, and two canvass clouds flew out
of sight like balloons. The living skeleton found himself on a distant
ridge, with the wind whistling among his ribs, while the monkey
performed somersaults which would have astonished the original
Cynocephalus. The pig meanwhile found refuge behind the organ, which the
hurricane, with a better ear for music than man, refused to turn.

"Mademoiselle Zavenowski, the beautiful leading equestrienne of the
world," just preparing to jump through a hoop, went through her own with
a whirl, and stood upon the plains feeding the hungry storm with her
charms. The graceful young rider, lately perforating hearts with the
kisses she flung at them, in a trice had become a maiden of fifty,
noticeably the worse for wear.

An eye-witness, in describing the scene to us, said the circus went off
without a single drawback. It was as if a ton of gunpowder had been
fired under the ring. Just as the clown was rubbing his leg, as the
result of calling the sensitive ring-master a fool (a sham suffering,
though for truth's sake), there was a sharp crack, and the establishment
dissolved. High in air went hats and bonnets, like fragments shot out of
a volcano. The spirits of zephyr-land carried off uncounted hundreds of
tiles, both military and civil, and we desire to place it upon record
that should a future missionary, in some remote northern tribe, find
traditions of a time when the sky rained hats, they may all be accounted
for on purely scientific grounds.

Much property was lost, but no lives. The immediate results were a
bankrupt showman and a run on liniments and sticking-plaster.

Our first hunt was to be on the Saline, which comes down from the west
about fifteen miles north of Hays City.

Before starting, we carefully overhauled our entire outfit. For a long,
busy day nothing was thought of save the cleaning of guns, the oiling of
straps, and the examination of saddles, with sundry additions to
wardrobe and larder. Shamus became a mighty man among grocery-keepers,
and could scarcely have been more popular had he been an Indian supply
agent. The inventory which he gave us of his purchases comprised twelve
cans of condensed milk, with coffee, tea, and sugar, in proportion;
several pounds each of butter, bacon, and crackers; a few loaves of
bread, two sacks of flour, some pickles, and a sufficient number of
tin-plates, cups, and spoons. To these he subsequently added a
half-dozen hams and something like fifty yards of Bologna sausage, which
he told us were for use when we should tire of fresh meat. Sachem
entered protest, declaring that sausage and ham, in a country full of
game, reflected upon us.

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION BUFFALO NY_

"LOOKED LIKE THE END OF A TAIL."]

[Illustration: THE RARE OLD PLAINSMAN OF THE NOVELS.]

Of course, we found use for every item of the above, and especially for
the Bologna. If one can feel satisfied in his own mind as to what
portion of the brute creation is entering into him, a half-yard of
Bologna, tied to the saddle, stays the stomach wonderfully on an all
day's ride. It is so handy to reach it, while trotting along, and with
one's hunting-knife cut off a few inches for immediate consumption.
Semi-Colon, however, who was a youth of delicate stomach, sickened on
his ration one day, because he found something in it which, he said,
looked like the end of a tail. It is a debatable question, to my mind,
whether Satan, among his many ways of entering into man, does not
occasionally do so in the folds of Bologna sausage. Certain it is that,
after such repast, one often feels like Old Nick, and woe be to the man
at any time who is at all dyspeptic. All the forces of one's gastric
juices may then prove insufficient to wage successful battle with the
evil genius which rends him.

Our outfit, as regards transportation, consisted of the animals
heretofore mentioned, and two teams which we hired at Hays, for the
baggage and commissary supplies.

The evening before our departure we rode over to the fort and called
upon General Sheridan. "Little Phil" had pitched his camp on the bank of
Big Creek, a short distance below the fort, preferring a soldier's life
in the tent to the more comfortable officer's quarters. This we thought
eminently characteristic of the man. He is an accumulation of tremendous
energy in small compass, a sort of embodied nitro-glycerine, but
dangerous only to his enemies. Famous principally as a cavalry leader,
because Providence flung him into the saddle and started him off at a
gallop, had his destiny been infantry, he would have led it to victory
on the run. And now, officer after officer having got sadly tangled in
the Indian web, which was weaving its strong threads over so fair a
portion of our land, Sheridan was sent forward to cut his way through
it.

The camp was a pretty picture with its line of white tents, the timber
along the creek for a background, and the solemn, apparently illimitable
plains stretching away to the horizon in front. Taken altogether, it
looked more like the comfortable nooning spot of a cavalry scout than
the quarters of a famous General. Our chieftain stood in front of the
center tent, with a few staff-officers lounging near by, his short,
thick-set figure and firm head giving us somehow the idea of a small,
sinewy lion.

We found the General thoroughly conversant with the difficult task to
which he had been called. "Place the Indians on reservations," he said,
"under their own chiefs, with an honest white superintendency. Let the
civil law reign on the reservation, military law away from it, every
Indian found by the troops off from his proper limits to be treated as
an outlaw." It seemed to me that in a few brief sentences this mapped
out a successful Indian policy, part of which indeed has since been
adopted, and the remainder may yet be.

When speaking of late savageries on the plains the eyes of "Little Phil"
glittered wickedly. In one case, on Spillman's Creek, a band of
Cheyennes had thrust a rusty sword into the body of a woman with child,
piercing alike mother and offspring, and, giving it a fiendish twist,
left the weapon in her body, the poor woman being found by our soldiers
yet living.

"I believe it possible," said Sheridan, "at once and forever to stop
these terrible crimes." As he spoke, however, we saw what he apparently
did not, a long string of red tape, of which one end was pinned to his
official coat-tail, while the other remained in the hands of the
Department at Washington. Soon after, as Sheridan pushed forward, the
Washington end twitched vigorously. He managed, however, with his right
arm, Custer, to deal a sledge-hammer blow, which broke to fragments the
Cheyenne Black-kettle and his band. Whether or not that band had been
guilty of the recent murders, the property of the slain was found in
their possession, and the terrible punishment caused the residue of the
tribe to sue for peace. It was the first time for years that the war
spirit had placed any horrors at their doors, and that one terrible
lesson prepared the savage mind for the advent of peace commissioners.

Our brief conference ended, the General bade us good day, and wished us
a pleasant experience. Scarcely had we got beyond his tents, however,
when we were overtaken by a decidedly unpleasant one. On their way to
water, a troop of mules stampeded, and passing us in a cloud of dust,
our brutes took bits in their teeth, and joined company. Happily, the
run was a short one to the creek, where those of us who had not fallen
off before managed to do so then. Poor Gripe was the only person
injured, suffering the fracture of a rib, which necessitated his return
to Topeka, so that we did not see him again until some months afterward,
when we met him on the Solomon.



CHAPTER X.

     HAYS CITY BY LAMP-LIGHT--THE SANTA FE
     TRADE--BULL-WHACKERS--MEXICANS--SABBATH ON THE PLAINS--THE DARK
     AGES--WILD BILL AND BUFFALO BILL--OFF FOR THE SALINE--DOBEEN'S
     GHOST-STORY--AN ADVENTURE WITH INDIANS--MEXICAN CANNONADE--A
     RUNAWAY.


Hays City by lamp-light was remarkably lively and not very moral. The
streets blazed with the reflection from saloons, and a glance within
showed floors crowded with dancers, the gaily dressed women striving to
hide with ribbons and paint the terrible lines which that grim artist,
Dissipation, loves to draw upon such faces. With a heartless humor he
daubs the noses of the sterner sex a cherry red, but paints under the
once bright eyes of woman a shade dark as the night in the cave of
despair. To the music of violin and stamping of feet, the dance went on,
and we saw in the giddy maze old men who must have been pirouetting on
the very edge of their graves.

Being then the depot for the great Santa Fe trade, the town was crowded
with Mexicans and speculators. Large warehouses along the track were
stored with wool awaiting shipment east, and with merchandise to be
taken back with the returning wagons. These latter are of immense size,
and, from this circumstance, are sometimes called "prairie schooners;"
and, in truth, when a train of them is winding its way over the plains,
the white covers flecking its surface like sails, the sight is not
unlike a fleet coming into port. Oxen and mules are both used. When the
former, the drivers rejoice in the title of "bull-whackers," and the
crack of their whips, as loud as the report of a rifle, is something
tremendous.

On the day of our arrival at Hays City, one of these festive individuals
noticed Dobeen gazing, with open mouth, and back towards him, at some
object across the street, and took the opportunity to crack his lash
within an inch of the Irishman's spine. The effect was ludicrous; Shamus
came in on the run to have a ball extracted from his back!

These Mexicans who come through with the ox-trains are a very degraded
race, dark, dirty, and dismal. In appearance, they much resemble
animated bundles of rags, walking off with heads of charcoal. Personal
bravery is not one of their striking characteristics; indeed, they often
run away when to stand still would seem to an American the only safe
course possible. We were desirous of sending back to Hays City some of
the proceeds of our excursion for shipment to friends at St. Louis and
Chicago, and therefore hired two of the Mexican teamsters to go as far
as the Saline, and return with the fruits of our prowess. For this
service, which would occupy about four days, they were to receive
twenty-five dollars each.

The morrow was Sunday, and came to us, as nine-tenths of the mornings on
the plains did afterward, clear and bracing. Compared with the previous
evening, the little town was very quiet. There was no stir in the
streets, although later in the morning a few of the last night's
carousers came out of doors, rubbing their sleepy eyes, and slunk around
town for the remainder of the day. All nature was calm and beautiful; it
almost seemed as if we might hear the chime of Sabbath bells float to us
from somewhere in the depths around.

One of our sea legends recites that ship wrecked bells, fallen from the
society of men to that of mermaids, are straightway hung on coral
steeples, where, when storms roar around the rocks above, they toll for
the deaths of the mariners. Was it impossible, we mused, that ancient
mariners, with whole cargoes of bells, went down on this inland sea
centuries before Rome howled? The earth around us might be as full of
musical tongues as of saurians, and only awaiting the savan's spade and
sympathetic touch to give their dumb eloquence voice. If the people of
those days were navigators, surely they might also have been men of
metal. In the far-away past existed numerous arts which baffle modern
ingenuity. Stones were lifted at sight of which our engineers stand
dismayed. Bodies were embalmed with a skill and perfection which our
medical faculty admire, but have scarcely even essayed to imitate. Is it
impossible that vessels plowed this ancient ocean with a speed which
would have left our Cunarders out of sight? If human spirits freed from
earth take cognizance of following generations, how those old captains
must have laughed when Fulton boarded his wheezing experiment to paddle
up the Hudson! And if our doctor's Darwinian-Pythagorean theory were
correct, Fulton's spirit might have brought the crude idea from some
ancient stoker.

But while we were thus speculating and giving free reins to Fancy's most
erratic moods, the chaplain arrived from the fort, and mounting the
freight platform, read the Episcopal morning service. A crowd gathered
around, and a voice from the past whispering in their ears, a few bowed
their heads during prayer. A drunkard went brawling by, with a sidelong
glance and the leering look of eyes whose watery lids seemed making vain
efforts to quench the fiery balls. How it grated on one's feelings! In a
land so eloquent with voices of the mighty past, it seemed as if even
instinct would cause the knee to bow in homage before its Maker.

Monday was our day of final preparation, and we commenced it by making
the acquaintance of those two celebrated characters, Wild Bill and
Buffalo Bill, or, more correctly, William Hickock and William Cody. The
former was acting as sheriff of the town, and the latter we engaged as
our guide to the Saline.

Wild Bill made his _entree_ into one court of the temple of fame some
years since through Harper's Magazine. Since then his name has become a
household word to residents along the Kansas frontier. We found him very
quiet and gentlemanly, and not at all the reckless fellow we had
supposed. His form won our admiration--the shoulders of a Hercules with
the waist of a girl. Much has been written about Wild Bill that is pure
fiction. I do not believe, for example, that he could hit a nickel
across the street with a pistol-ball, any more than an Indian could do
so with an arrow. These feats belong to romance. Bill is wonderfully
handy with his pistols, however. He then carried two of them, and while
we were at Hays snuffed a man's life out with one; but this was done in
his capacity of officer. Two rowdies devoted their energies to brewing a
riot, and defied arrest until, at Bill's first shot, one fell dead, and
the other threw up his arms in token of submission. During his life time
Bill has probably killed his baker's dozen of men, but he has never, I
believe, been known as the aggressor. To the people of Hays he was a
valuable officer, making arrests when and where none other dare attempt
it. His power lies in the wonderful quickness with which he draws a
pistol and takes his aim. These first shots, however, can not always
last. "They that take the sword shall perish with the sword;" and living
as he does by the pistol, Bill will certainly die by it, unless he
abandons the frontier.

[Illustration: BUFFALO BILL--FROM A PHOTOGRAPH.]

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION_

WILD BILL--FROM A PHOTOGRAPH.]

Only a short time after we left Hays two soldiers attempted his life.
Attacked unexpectedly, Bill was knocked down and the muzzle of a musket
placed against his forehead, but before it could be discharged the ready
pistol was drawn and the two soldiers fell down, one dead, the other
badly wounded. Their companions clamored for revenge, and Bill changed
his base. He afterward became marshal of the town of Abilene, where he
signalized himself by carrying a refractory councilman on his shoulders
to the council-chamber. A few months later some drunken Texans
attempted a riot, and one of them, a noted gambler, commenced firing on
the marshal. The latter returned the fire, shooting not only the
gambler, but one of his own friends, who, in the gloom of the evening,
was hurrying to his aid. Bill paid the expenses of the latter's funeral,
which on the frontier is considered the proper and delicate way of
consoling the widow whenever such little accidents occur.

The Professor took occasion, before parting with Wild William, to
administer some excellent advice, urging him especially, if he wished to
die in his bed, to abandon the pistol and seize upon the plow-share. His
reputation as Union scout, guide for the Indian country, and sheriff of
frontier towns, our leader said, was a sufficient competency of fame to
justify his retirement upon it. In this opinion the public will
certainly coincide.

Buffalo Bill was to be our guide. He informed us that Wild Bill was his
cousin. Cody is spare and wiry in figure, admirably versed in plain
lore, and altogether the best guide I ever saw. The mysterious plain is
a book that he knows by heart. He crossed it twice as teamster, while a
mere boy, and has spent the greater part of his life on it since. He led
us over its surface on starless nights, when the shadow of the blackness
above hid our horses and the earth, and though many a time with no trail
to follow and on the very mid-ocean of the expanse, he never made a
failure. Buffalo Bill has since figured in one of Buntline's Indian
romances. We award him the credit of being a good scout and most
excellent guide; but the fact that he can slaughter buffalo is by no
means remarkable, since the American bison is dangerous game only to
amateurs.

We were off early on Tuesday morning for the Saline, our course toward
which lay before us a little west of north, the citizens turning out to
see us start. We had just parted from Gripe, who went East on the first
train to get his ribs healed. "To think, gentlemen," said he, "that I
should have escaped rebel bullets and Indian atrocities, only to have my
ribs cracked at last by a stampede of mules!" Poor Gripe's farewell
reminded me strongly of the old saying about the ruling passion strong
in death. As he stood on the platform, with one hand against his aching
side, he could not refrain from waving a courtly adieu with the other,
and bowing himself from our presence, into the car, as if leaving the
stage after a political speech.

We were sorry to lose our friend, and this, together with the thought of
the weeks of uncertainties and anxieties which lay before us, made our
exit from Hays rather a solemn affair. Even Tammany Sachem's face was
ironed out so completely that not a smile wrinkled it. Dobeen had loaded
one wagon with culinary weapons, and now sat among his pots and pans,
evidently ill at ease and wishing himself doing any thing else rather
than about to plunge further into the wilderness.

When about to mount Cynocephalus, Semi's feelings were wounded by a
depraved urchin who suggested, "You'd better fust knock that fly off,
Boss. Both on ye 'll be too much for the hoss!" Fortunately, perhaps,
for our feelings, the remainder of the inhabitants were so civil that
further criticisms on our outfit, though they may have been ripe at
their tongues' end, were carefully repressed.

Moving out over the divide above town the Professor noticed the general
depression of the party, and forthwith began philosophising.

"My friends," said he, "had the feelings which explorers suffer, when
fairly launched, been allowed to be present during the days of
preparation, science and discovery would be in their infancy. Enthusiasm
bridges the first obstacles to an undertaking, but others roll on and
block the explorer's path, and the spirit which has got him into the
difficulty momentarily deserts him. If properly courted, however, she
returns, and meanwhile the traveler is afforded the opportunity of
looking, through matter-of-fact spectacles, along his future journey.
What he thought pebbles reveal themselves as hills, and what he had
marked on his chart as hills develop into mountains. These he must
recognize and examine with all the resolution he can summon, and he will
be the more able to climb them from expecting to do so. Right here is
the critical point in his journey. Numerous cross-roads branch off--some
right, others left, but all with a brighter prospect down them. Perhaps
on one, a wife and children stand at the door of their home, beckoning
him. The garden that his own hand planted blooms in a background of
flowers, while the path he has now chosen sparkles with winter snow. He
knows, however, that beyond these, perhaps amid sterile mountains, are
the precious diamonds he seeks.

"It is wise that, where these roads branch off--some to castles of
indolence, others to comfortable homes and moderate exertion--the man
should be left alone for a time and allowed to survey the rough path
before him, with all the blinding glamour of enthusiasm subdued by the
light of truth, and with a full knowledge of all the stumbling blocks
which lie before him. If he then thumbs the edge of his hunting-knife,
examines his Henry rifle, and presses forward, the metal is there, and
from that time onward you may at any time learn of his whereabouts by
inquiring at the temple of fame."

Sachem interrupted the Professor to remonstrate at the girding of loins
being left out. He had always been used to the girding in similar
discourses, and considered that loins were in much more general use than
Henry rifles.

And now Shamus, from his perch on the pans, suddenly broke in: "Faith,
Professor, your enthusiasm once brought me sore trouble. It got me into
a haunted house, when the clock was strikin' midnight, and my legs were
sore put to it to get me out fast enough. Ye see, I bet a pig with my
next cousin that I would stay all night in an old house full of spirits.
The master and his house-keeper had been murdered in the tenantry riots,
and the boys that did the business, they swung for it soon afterward.
And now, there was a regular barricadin' and attackin' going on those
nights ever since. While I was lookin' at the old clock, and thinkin' of
the pig I'd drag home in the morning, I must have dramed a little. He
was as likely a pig as yez ever saw, and I was listenin' proudly to his
swate cries as I carried him from the sty, and feelin' full enough of
enthusiasm to stay there a hundred years. Just then there was a rustlin'
in front, and I opened my eyes wide, and there stood the old
house-keeper leanin' against the shaky clock, with her ear to its yellow
face, and lookin' straight behind me to where I could feel the master
was sittin'. There was an awful light in her eyes, and I thought I heard
her say--any way, I knew she was sayin' it--'Hark, Sir Donald, they're
comin', but the soldiers will be here, too, at twelve.' An' then there
was a sort of shudder in the old clock and it commenced a wheezin' an'
bangin' away, a tryin' to get through the strokes of twelve, as it did
twenty years before. But it hadn't got out half, when I heard the crowd
outside scrapin' against the window sill. An' then there come a report,
and the room was filled with smoke, an' somethin' hit the back of my
head. How I got out I don't know, but when I come to myself I was
running for dear life across the common. I have the scar of the ghost's
bullet ever since. See here, yez can see it for yourselves." And taking
off his cap, Shamus showed us a bald spot about the size of a silver
dollar on the back of his cranium.

"And what became of the pig?" asked Mr. Colon quietly.

"Faith, an' my cousin carried him home next morning," replied Shamus,
with a regretful sigh; "and lady Dobeen, bless her sowl, never forgot
to tell me of that to her dying day. We were needin' the bacon them
times."

Sachem, who delighted to spoil our cook's stories, declared that, to
gain a pig, it was worth the cousin's while to fire an old musket
through the window over a drunken Irishman inside. Still that did not
excuse him for his carelessness; he should have seen that the wad flew
higher.

What Dobeen's answer might have been will never be known; for, just at
that moment, the attention of the entire party was suddenly directed to
a dark mass of moving objects away off upon our right, a mile distant at
least, and to our untrained eyes entirely unrecognizable. The Mexicans,
however, pronounced them buffaloes. Whether thinking to vindicate his
reputation for personal courage, or whether simply from love of
excitement, is not exactly clear, but Dobeen eagerly requested
permission to pursue them, and as he would, _ex officio_, be debarred
the pleasure of future sport, consent was given. This was done the more
readily, because we knew that Shamus, while as inexperienced in the
chase as any of us, was also a wretched rider; for, although constantly
boasting of the tournaments he had been engaged in, we all indorsed
Sachem's opinion, that, if ever connected with such an affair at all, it
must have been in holding a horse, not riding one.

It was worthy of note that every one of the party was as eager for the
chase as Shamus, and yet that personage was allowed to ride off alone.
Mr. Colon, it is true, essayed to join his company, but after going a
hundred yards or so, suddenly changed his mind and came back. Our
maiden efforts in buffalo hunting promised such modesty as to refuse a
public appearance, unless together.

Our cook had been instructed by the guide to avail himself of the
ravines, and after getting as near the herd as possible, then spur
rapidly up to it. He went off at a gallop, his solid body flying clear
of the saddle whenever the donkey's feet struck ground, and soon
disappeared in a ravine which seemed to promise a winding way almost
into the very midst of the herd. We watched intently for his
reappearance. In such periods of suspense the minutes seem strangely
long, creeping as slowly toward their allotted three-score as they do
when one, at a sickbed vigil, listens for the funeral chimes of the
clock, telling when the minutes are buried in the hours.

At length, in the far away distance, we descried Shamus, disdaining
further concealment, riding gallantly out of the ravine for a charge. A
few moments more and game and hunter were face to face, and we held our
breath, expecting to see the dark cloud dash away with our bloodthirsty
cook at its skirts. "As I am alive," suddenly ejaculated Muggs,
"Dobeen's coming this way, at a bloody good run, and the buffalo after
him!" We could scarcely believe our eyes, but, sure enough, it was a
clear case of pursuer and pursued, with the appropriate positions
entirely reversed. Shamus seemed imitating that famous hunter who
brought home his bear-meat alive, preceding it by only half a coat-tail.
But the game before us was changing in appearance most wonderfully. It
seemed bristling with unusually long horns, and as we looked the dark
cloud suddenly spread out into a fan-like shape, and we all cried,
simultaneously, "Indians!"

There they were, a party of our red brethren bearing rapidly down upon
us in pursuit of Dobeen, whose arms and legs were playing like flails on
his donkey's sides, with an appeal for speed which had evidently called
into action all the reserves of that true conservative.

Our party would have sold out their interest in the plains for a
bagatelle. Our whole outfit had whirled, like a weather-cock, and was
pointing back to Hays. The Mexicans were already dodging in and out
among their oxen, and firing their old muskets furiously, although the
foe was yet a fair cannon-shot away. Shamus could not well have been in
more danger from foes behind than he was from friends before; indeed, he
afterward said that asking deliverance from the latter made him almost
forget the former.

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION_

OUR HORSES RUN AWAY WITH US.]

The horses of both Sachem and Muggs ran away, taking a straight line for
the distant town. This caused a general stampede on the part of all the
other horses, much to the regret of their riders, who were thus cruelly
prevented from a proper display of latent prowess in rendering
protection to the wagons and our cook. From the former came a steady
cannonade. Squirming like eels among their oxen, the Mexicans fired from
under the animals' bellies, astride the tongue, from anywhere, indeed,
that furnished a barricade between the distant Indians and themselves.

It is one of the remarkable tactics of this remarkable people, in
military emergencies, that when they can not put distance between them
and the enemy, they must substitute _something_ else. A single trooper,
on an open plain, could send a small army of them scampering off, but
let them get behind a barricade, and they will continue banging away
with their old muskets until either the weapon bursts or ammunition
gives out. It is surprising how harmless their fusillades generally are.
If Mexican powder is used, it goes off like a mixture of lamp-black and
nitro-glycerine, with a premonitory fiz and then a fearful concussion,
leaving a smell of burnt oil in the air which overcomes for a moment the
natural aroma of the warriors themselves.

But while we were still being run away with by our spirited animals,
another change occurred in the situation equally as unexpected as the
first. The Indians had stopped running about the time that we commenced,
and now stood in a dusky line something less than half a mile off,
making signs to us. Shamus evidently considered it a horrible
incantation for his scalp, and every time he looked backward plied with
renewed fervor at his donkey's ribs. Our guide, who had stayed with the
wagons and exerted himself to silence the Mexican batteries, motioned us
to return, which we were finally enabled to do by virtue of steady
pulling upon one rein and coming back in half circles.

By the time our cook reached us, out of breath and perspiring terribly,
two savages had ridden out from their band, weaponless, and were now
gesturing a wish to communicate. The Professor and our guide rode to
meet them, apparently unarmed; but with characteristic exhibition of the
white man's subtlety, the tail-pocket of the philosopher's coat held a
pistol in reserve, and the guide, I have no doubt, was equally well
provided.



CHAPTER XI.

     WHITE WOLF, THE CHEYENNE CHIEF--HUNGRY INDIANS--RETURN TO HAYS--A
     CHEYENNE WAR PARTY--THE PIPE OF PEACE--THE COUNCIL CHAMBER--WHITE
     WOLF'S SPEECH, AS RENDERED BY SACHEM--THE WHITE MAN'S WIGWAM.


About midway between our party and the dusky group that stood watching
us the four embassadors met. The Indians proved to be a band of
Cheyennes, under White Wolf, or, as he is more frequently called,
Medicine Wolf, out on the war-path against the Pawnees. The Wolf was a
fine-looking man, six feet four in height, straight as an arrow, and
developed like a giant. Being a chief, he possessed the regalia and
warranty deed of one, consisting of a ragged military coat without any
tail, and a dirty letter from some Indian agent, with a lie in it over
which even a Cheyenne must have smiled, telling how White Wolf loved the
whites. Perhaps he did; his namesake loves spring lamb.

Our guide was an indifferent interpreter, but had no difficulty in
understanding that the Indians were hungry and wished something to eat.
In all my experience from that day to this I have never found an Indian
who was not hungry, except once. The exception was an old fellow who,
although enough of an Indian to be habitually drunk, was so degenerate a
specimen in other respects as to be somewhat dyspeptic. His stomach had
repudiated, after receiving a deposit from a trader of one hundred
pickled oysters, and had temporarily closed its doors. His stock of
gastric juices seemed to have been well-nigh bankrupted by a fifty
years' discounting of jerked buffalo. The one hundred tons of this
compound which the noble warrior had dissolved would have exhausted the
liquid of a tannery. Let these savages of the plains meet a white man,
whenever or wherever they may, their first demand is always for meat and
drink, followed not unfrequently by another for his scalp. The victim
may have but a day's rations, and be a hundred miles from any station
where more can be obtained, but his all is taken as greedily and
remorselessly as if he commanded a commissary train.

The Professor and our guide motioned White Wolf and his companion to
wait, and rode back to us for the purpose of casting up our account of
ways and means. The only chance of balancing it seemed to be by sight
draft on Shamus' wagon or an entry of war. We dare not refuse them and
go on; they would be sure to dog our steps, and at the first convenient
opportunity attack and probably murder us. Shamus, with recovered
courage, stoutly protested against a raid upon his department. "To
think," he expostulated, "of the swate sausage and ham bein' used to wad
such painted carcasses as them divils!" The guide suggested as the best
alternative that we should invite the Indians to return with us to Hays.
We caught at the idea and adopted it immediately; and while the guide
rode back as the bearer of our invitation, we "stood to arms," awaiting
the result with silent but ill-concealed solicitude.

Should the Indians consider it an attempt to trap them, our bones might
have an opportunity to rest in some neighboring ravine until the ready
spades of some future geological expedition should disturb them, and we
be at once reconstructed into some rare species of ancient ape or
specimens of extinct salamanders. Or, if happily resurrected at a
somewhat earlier period, might not some enterprising Barnum of the
twentieth century place on our bones the seal of centuries, and lay them
with the mummies in his showcases? Our expedition was partly intended
for diving into the past, but not quite so deep or so permanent a dive
as that. What wonder that incipient ague-chills played up and down and
all about our spinal column, as we reflected how completely we were
dependent on the caprice of those Native Americans sitting out there, in
half-naked dignity, on their tough ponies? Or that we gazed anxiously at
the huge chief as he sat, silent and motionless, awaiting the approach
of our guide?

Our ideas of the savage had been so thoroughly Cooperised during
boyhood, that when our guide approached the Wolf, and, with a gesture to
the south, invited him back to Hays, I was prepared to see the tall form
straighten in the saddle, and pictured to my imagination some such
specimen of untutored eloquence as this:

"Pale-face, the blood of the Cheyenne burns quick. He meets you trailing
like a serpent across his war-path, seeking to steal treasures from the
red man's land. He asks food, and you tell him to come into your trap
and get it. Pale-faces, remove your hats; noble Cheyennes, remove their
scalps!"

Nothing of this kind occurred, however. Our guide informed us that the
bold savage simply fastened one button of his tailless coat, grunted out
"Ugh!" in a satisfied way, and motioned his band to follow. This they
did, and we were soon retracing our steps to Hays; by the guide's
advice, making the savages keep a fair distance behind us.

The roofs of Hays glistened across the plains, as they say those of
Damascus do in the East. We had formed a boy's romantic acquaintance
with that land, where the sun burns and the simooms frolic, and once
were quite enamored of its wild Bedouins of the desert. Our manhood was
now experiencing the sensation of seeing a tribe fiercer than their
eastern brethren, not exactly at our doors, because we had none, but
following very closely at our heels.

As our strange cavalcade re-entered the town the people stopped to gaze
a moment, and then came out to meet us. News flew to the fort, and some
of the officers rode over. The Land Company's office was selected for a
council room, the Cheyennes tying their ponies to the stage corral near.
The Indians were a strange-looking crew. Sachem declared them all women,
and Dobeen affirmed that they looked more like a covey of witches than
warriors. With their long hair divided in the middle, and falling,
sometimes in braids and again loosely, over their shoulders, and their
blankets hanging around them, they did really look much like the
traditional squaw who so kindly assists one in cutting his eye-teeth at
Niagara Falls, with her sharp practice and cheap bead-work. Their faces
were as smooth as a woman's, without the least trace of either mustache
or whiskers; so that, altogether, when we essayed to pick out some
females, we got completely "mixed up," and were at length forced to the
conclusion that the majestic White Wolf was traveling over the plains
with a copper-colored harem.

Cooper having told us that the Indian term of reproach is to be or to
look like a woman, we avoided offense and the "arrows of outrageous
fortune" which an Indian is so dexterous in using, and gained the
information desired by addressing a direct inquiry to White Wolf,
through the interpreter, whether he had any squaws along. He replied by
holding up two fingers and pointing out the couple thus designated. We
tried to find, first in their features and then in their clothing, some
distinguishing characteristic but found it impossible; so that when they
changed positions an instant afterward, I was entirely at a loss to
recognize them again.

All had extremely uninviting countenances, any one of which would have
sufficed to hang three ordinary men, and a common villainy made them as
much alike as forty-six nutmegs. White Wolf alone differed in
appearance. He was stoutly built, as well as tall and straight, with
broad features, the bronze of his complexion merging almost into white,
and he smiled pleasantly and readily. The others were no more able to
smile than Satan himself, the expression which their faces assumed when
attempting it being simply diabolical. Dobeen was so startled by one
who tried that contortion on and asked for "tobac," that he retreated in
disorder from the council-chamber.

White Wolf and the more important members of his band took the chairs
proffered them, and sat in a circle, the Professor, Sachem, and two
leading citizens of Hays being sandwiched in at proper intervals. The
object of the gathering was gravely announced to be that the Indians
might smoke the pipe of peace with the towns-people. As war was a
chronic passion with these wild horsemen of the plains, none of them had
ever been near the place in friendly mood before, and the novelty of the
occasion, therefore, brought the entire population around the building.
The postmaster of Hays, Mr. Hall, had once traded among the Cheyennes
and, understanding their sign-language, acted as interpreter. This
curious race has two distinct ways of conversing--one by mouth, in a
singularly unmusical dialect, and the other by motions or signs with the
hands. The latter is that most generally understood and employed by
scouts and traders.

[Illustration: THE PIPE OF PEACE--THE PROFESSOR'S DILEMMA.]

One of the Indians now took from a sack a red-clay pipe, with a
ridiculously long bowl and longer shank, and inserted into it a
three-foot stem, profusely ornamented with brass tacks and a tassel of
painted horse hair. This was handed to White Wolf, together with a small
bag of tobacco, in which the Killikinnick leaves had been previously
crumbled and mixed. These were a bright red, evidently used for their
fragrance, as they only weakened the tobacco without adding any
particular flavor. We were struck with the Indian mode of smoking.
The chief took a few quick whiffs, emitting the fumes with a hoarse
blowing like a miniature steam-engine. He then passed it, mouth-piece
down so that the saliva might escape, and it commenced a slow journey
around the circle. When it reached our worthy professor he found himself
in a sore dilemma. No smoke had ever curled along the roof of his mouth,
or made a chimney of his geological nose. For an instant the philosopher
hesitated; then, reflecting that passing the pipe would be worse than
choking over it, the excellent man put the stem to his mouth and gave a
pull which must have filled the remotest corner of his lungs with
Killikinnick. Gasping amid the stifling cloud, it poured from both mouth
and nose, and called on the way at his stomach, which gave unmistakable
symptoms of distress. We feared that he would be forced to forsake the
council, but, with an effort worthy of the occasion and himself, he kept
his seat, and opening wide his mouth, waited patiently until the fiend
of smoke had withdrawn from his interior its trailing garments.

The council disappointed us. In White Wolf we had found as fine-looking
an Indian as ever murdered and stole upon his native continent. His
people were first in war, first to break peace, and the last to keep it,
their excuse being that the white man trespassed on their hunting
grounds. We had rather expected that burly form to rise from his seat,
and, with flashing eyes, utter then and there a flood of aboriginal
eloquence: "White man, your people live where the sun rises, ours where
it sets. When did you ever come to us hungry and be fed, or clothed and
go away so," and so on _ad infinitum_. Instead of all this there was a
tremendous smoking and grunting, more like a farmer's fumigation of hogs
than one of those pipe-of-peace councils which I had so often studied on
canvas and in books. I have often regretted since that our aborigines
can not read. If they could only learn from the white man's literature
what they ought to be, the contrast between it and what they really are
would be so violent that it might make an impression, even upon an
Indian.

For a happy mingling of lies and truth our "big talk" could hardly be
excelled. A reporter could have taken down the proceedings somewhat as
follows:

SCENE--Six Indians and as many white men in a ring. Postmaster Hall in
the center, acting as interpreter.

_Indian_--"Cheyenne love white man much (lie). Forty-six warriors all
hungry (truth). Us good Indians" (lie). And so on, alternately.

_Pale Brother_--"White man love Cheyenne. Got lots of food, but no
whisky" (the latter a lie which almost choked the speaker).

It would not interest the reader to know all the repetitions or nonsense
uttered, and we spare him the infliction of even attempting to tell him.
The Indians had for their object food, and they got it. The whites had
for their object permanent peace, and did not get it.

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION BUFFALO_

WHITE WOLF AT HOME.

"The red man is noble, big injun is me."]

In due time the council broke up, and in an incredibly short time
thereafter many of the Indians were reeling drunk. That White Wolf
did not become equally so was owing altogether to his being a man of
iron constitution. Any thing but metal, it seemed to me, must have been
burnt out by the fiery draughts which we saw the noble chief take down.
A tin cupful of "whisk," such as would have made the cork in a bottle
tight, was tossed off without a wink.

Sachem, who took notes, rendered White Wolf's speech at the council in
verse, as follows:

  White brother, have pity; the White Wolf is poor,
    The skin of his belly is shrunk to his back;
  A gallon of whisky is good for a cure,
    If followed by plenty of "bacon and tack."

  The red man is noble, big Injun is me:
    Like berries all crimson and ready to pick,
  The scalps on my pole are a heap good to see--
    Good medicine they when poor Injun is sick.

  The red man is truth, and the white one is lies;
    The first suffers wrong at hand of the other;
  The way they skin us is good for sore eyes,
    The way we skin them astonishing, rather.

  They rob us of guns and offer us plows,
    And tell us to farm it, to go into corn;
  We're good to raise hair, and good to raise rows,
    And good to raise essence of corn--in a horn.

  Go back to your cities and leave us our home,
    Or off with your scalp and that remnant of shirt;
  Go, let the poor Injun in happiness roam,
    And live on his buffalo, puppies, and dirt.

Two or three of the Indians mounted their ponies and took a race through
the streets. The animals were thin, despondent brutes, but as wiry as if
their hides were stuffed, like patent mattresses, full of springs. The
Indians, as is their universal custom, mounted from the right side,
instead of the left as we do. At the lower end of the street they got as
nearly in line as their inebriated condition would permit, and when the
word was given set off toward us with frightful shouts, which made the
ponies scamper like so many frightened cats.

The animal which came out ahead had no rider to claim the honors, that
blanketed jockey having fallen off midway. He was now sitting on his
hams, looking the wrong way down the track, and evidently adding up the
"book" which he had made for the race. As he soon arose, with a
dissatisfied grunt, we thought his figures probably read about as
follows:

Given--A gallon of Hays whisky in the saddle, and a race-horse under it.
Endeavor to divide the latter by a rawhide whip, and the result is a
sore-headed Indian, who stands forfeit to his peers for "the drinks."

As we wandered back to the council-chamber, the scene there had changed
somewhat. White Wolf had been transformed into a cavalry colonel, and
was strutting around with two gilt eagles on his broad shoulders,
looking fully as important as many a real colonel whom we have caught in
his pin feathers and, withal, much more of the hero. Our warrior had
seen some of the officers from the fort strolling around, and
straightway fell to coveting his neighbors' straps, which observing,
Sachem at once purchased from a store the emblems of power and pinned
them upon him. He whispered to us that when White Wolf took his first
step as a colonel, it had been accompanied by a snort of pain, the
unlucky slipping of a pin having evidently conveyed to the chief the
idea that one of the eagles had grasped his shoulder in its talons.

The chief modestly requested similar honors for his "papoose," and that
individual was treated to the straps of a captain. A different
application of strap, it occurred to me, would have seemed more proper
upon the six feet of unpromising humanity which appeared above the
"papoose's" moccasins.

It had been a matter of surprise to us how the Indians could make such
inferior looking stock as theirs capable of such speed and extraordinary
journeys; but it ceased to excite our wonder after an examination of
their whips. These ingenious instruments of torture have handles, which
in form and size resemble a policeman's club. To one end are attached
some thongs of thick leather, half a yard in length, and to the other a
loop of the same material, just large enough to go over the hand and
bind slightly on the wrist. Dangling from the latter, the handle can be
instantly grasped, and the body of thongs brought down on the pony's
skin, with a crack like a flail on the sheaves, and the result is what
Sachem called an astonishing "shelling out" of speed.

We explained to White Wolf that Tammany Sachem was one of many great
chiefs who had a mighty wigwam in the big city of the pale-faces, far
away toward the rising sun; that they were all good men, and never lied
like the chiefs of the Cheyennes, or took any thing belonging to others;
and that their women, instead of carrying heavy burdens, spent all their
time in distributing the money and goods of the big wigwam to the needy.

White Wolf signified, through the interpreter, that such a wigwam was
too good for earth, and ought to be pitched on the happy hunting grounds
as soon as possible.

Sachem thought the savage meant to be sarcastic.



CHAPTER XII.

     ARMS OF A WAR PARTY--A DONKEY PRESENT--EATING POWERS OF THE
     NOMADS--SATANTA, HIS CRIMES AND PUNISHMENT--RUNNING OFF WITH A
     GOVERNMENT HERD--DAUB, OUR ARTIST--ANTELOPE CHASE BY A GREYHOUND.


At our request White Wolf and two of his braves gave us a display of
their skill--or rather, their strength--in the use of their bows,
shooting their arrows at a stake sixty yards off. The efforts were what
would be called good "line shots," although missing the slender stick.
We then essayed a trial with the chief's bow, which was an exceedingly
stout hickory wrapped in sinew, but we found that more practiced
strength than ours was required even to bend it. Some amusement was
created when the first of our party took up the bow, by the haste with
which a small and unusually ugly Indian retreated from the foreground as
if fearing that an arrow might be accidentally sent through his blanket.

Among the stock which the savages had brought with them was a
long-eared, diminutive brute, scarcely higher than a table, and
apparently forming the connecting link between a jackass rabbit and a
donkey. This animal White Wolf seemed extremely anxious to present to
the Professor, but it was politely declined, by the advice of the
interpreter, who explained to us that a return gift of the donkey's
weight in sugar and coffee would be expected. Notwithstanding the
stringency of the law forbidding the sale of whisky and ammunitions to
the Indians, the savages found little difficulty in filling themselves
with fire-water, and also got a little powder. White Wolf went off with
his pocket full of cartridges in exchange for some Indian commodities,
but the cunning pale face rendered them of little value by selecting
ammunition a size too small for the gun.

The eating powers of these nomads are marvelous. We saw the chief,
inside of two hours, devour three hearty dinners, one of which was
gotten up from our own larder and was both good and plentiful. As he did
full justice to every invitation to eat and drink, we concluded that he
would continue to accept during the whole afternoon, if the opportunity
were only offered him. What a capital minister to England was here
wasting his gastric juices on the desert air! If Great Britain should
continue her hesitation to digest our Alabama claims, the wolf at their
door would digest enough roast beef to bring them to terms or
starvation. Sugar, coffee, spices, pickles, sardines, ham, and many
another luxury of civilization, were alike welcome at the capacious
portal of the untutored savage. Dobeen discovered him eating a can of
our condensed milk under the impression that it was a sweet porridge.

Their entertainment at the town being concluded, the Indians were
conducted over to the fort and some rations given them. They manifested
an especial fondness for sugar, but took any thing they could get, their
ponies proving capable of carrying an unlimited number of sacks. It
seemed as difficult to overload these animals as it is a Broadway
omnibus; and their riders, perhaps in order to avoid being top heavy,
took freight for the inside whenever opportunity offered. As they came
back through the town, we all turned out to see them off. The band
promised us peace, notwithstanding which it was no small satisfaction to
discover that they were poorly armed. Bows and arrows were the only
weapons which all possessed, and while a few had revolvers, the chief
alone sported a rifle, a rusty-looking old breech-loader.

As our late cavalry escort rode off, their attitudes plainly bespoke
that they had been raiding upon more than the flesh-pots of Egypt. Sons
of the sandy-complexioned desert, we saw several of them kiss their
mother before they got out of sight. The most serious question with us
now was whether or not these red gormandizers had been uttering peace
notes not properly indorsed by their hearts. The trouble is that when
one discovers a circulation of this kind, his own ceases about the same
instant, and his bones become a fixed investment in the fertile soil of
the plains.

One of the officers of the fort told us an amusing instance of the
impudent treachery of which the western Indians of to-day are sometimes
guilty. A year or two before, when Hancock commanded the Department and
was encamped near Fort Dodge, on the Arkansas, Satanta and his band of
Kiowas came in. This chief has always been known as very hostile to the
whites, usually being the first of his tribe to commence hostilities. He
was the very embodiment of treachery, ferocity, and bravado.
Phrenologically considered, his head must have been a cranial marvel,
and the bumps on it mapping out the kingdom of evil a sort of Rocky
Mountain chain towering over the more peaceful valleys around. Viewed
from the towering peaks of combativeness and acquisitiveness the
territory of his past would reveal to the phrenologist an untold number
of government mules, fenced in by sutler's stores, while bending over
the bloody trail leading back almost to his bark cradle, would be the
shades of many mothers and wives, searching among the wrecks of emigrant
trains for flesh of their flesh and bone of their bone.

Satanta was long a name on the plains to hate and abhor. He was an
abject beggar in the pale faces' camp and a demon on their trail. On the
occasion in question he came to Gen. Hancock with protestations of
friendship, and, although these were not believed, he was treated
precisely as if they had been. To gratify his love of finery an old
military coat with general's stars, said to be one that Hancock himself
had cast off, was presented him. By some means he also acquired a bugle,
and the garrison were greatly amused for the remainder of the day by
seeing Satanta galloping back and forth before his band, blowing his
bugle and parading his coat, the warriors all cheering the old
cut-throat and proud as himself of the display. The way he handled that
bugle, however, before the next morning was by no means so amusing.

Some time before dawn the sleepy garrison were aroused by the thunders
of a stock stampede, and out of the darkness came the clatter of hoofs,
as Satanta and his band departed for the south with a goodly herd of
government mules and horses. Pursuit was commenced at once, with the
hope of cutting them off before they could get the stock across the
Arkansas, then somewhat swollen. Just as the troops reached the bank of
that stream, a major-general's uniform was seen going out of the water
upon the other side. Notwithstanding its high rank fire was instantly
opened upon it, but ineffectually. The savage turned a moment, blew a
shrill, defiant blast upon his bugle, and galloped off in safety. Too
much promotion made him mad. As a simple chief, he might have stolen
some straggling teams; as a major-general, he appropriated a whole herd.

During the next eighteen months, Satanta had several encounters with the
troops, generally wearing the major-general's coat and blowing his
bugle. His last exploit, which brought the long hesitating sword of
justice upon his head, is too fresh and too painful to be soon
forgotten. A few months ago the savage chief was living with his people
on a reserve in the Indian Territory and being fed by the government.
Gathering a few of his warriors he stole forth, and, crossing the Texas
border, surprised a wagon train, murdered the teamsters, and drove off
the mules. Fortunately, Gen. Sherman, in his examination of frontier
posts, happened to be near the scene of murder, and at once ordered
troops in pursuit. They were still trailing the marauders when Satanta
returned to the reservation at Fort Sill, and with bold effrontery
begotten of long immunity, actually boasted of the crime before the
Quaker agent. "I did it," said he, "and if any other chief says it was
him, tell him he lies. I am the man." Gen. Sherman had just arrived, and
when Satanta, with a number of minor chiefs who were with him on the
raid, came into the fort to trade and visit, they were seized and bound,
and started for Texas under a strong guard, to be tried by the
authorities there. On the way one of the Indians in some manner loosened
his bands, and seizing the musket of the guard nearest him, shot the
soldier in the shoulder, but before he could do further harm the other
guards fired, and the savage rolled from the wagon down upon the plain,
apparently dead. The body was afterward found close by the road-side in
a position which showed that after falling the savage had enough of
vitality left to enable him to crawl with bloody hands for several
yards. Finding the life-tide ebbing fast, he had then placed his body in
position toward the rising sun, composed his arms by his side and, with
Indian stoicism, yielded up his breath. The remainder of the party,
including Satanta, were brought safely to Texas, tried, and sentenced to
be hanged.

Our adventure with White Wolf and his band obliged us, of course, to
pass another night in Hays. We spent a most pleasant hour during the
evening in the office of Dr. John Moore, an old resident of Plattsburg,
N. Y., who assisted us materially in selecting medical stores, and who
by his genial disposition endeared himself to our entire party, so that
when we heard of his sad fate soon afterward, it seemed as if death had
crouched by our own camp-fire. Should the Indians become troublesome,
there was some talk at the fort, he now informed us, of organizing a
company for operations against them, composed of buffalo hunters and
scouts under the lead of regular officers, and in this case it was his
purpose to accompany it in the capacity of a surgeon. As good guns were
difficult to obtain there, and we had some extra weapons, one of our
party loaned the doctor an improved Henry rifle and holster revolvers.
Before we again heard of him, he had crossed that shadowy line which
winds between the tombs and habitations of men, and his name was added
to the drearily long list which bears for its heading--"Killed by
Indians."

Commencing with those first entries after the Mayflower introduced our
fathers to savage audience, and chiseling separately each name on a
marble milestone, the white witnesses would girdle the earth.

Sunrise next morning saw us again moving northward, fully determined
that no body of Indians, unless comprising the whole Cheyenne nation,
should force us back again. We had met the red man on his native heath
and familiarity had bred contempt. All were in excellent spirits and
felt the braver, perhaps, because our late visitors had assured us that
their tribe was on the war-path against the Pawnees, and meant only
peace with the whites.

Our party left Hays the second time with quite an acquisition. On the
eve of starting we had been approached by an artist, who begged
permission to accompany us. We assented on the instant. An artist was,
of all others, the thing we needed. How interesting it would be to have
the thrilling incidents of the coming months sketched by our artist on
the spot. "Daub" was a fine-looking fellow, with peaked hat, peaked
beard, and peaked mustache; in short, was of the genuine artist cut, of
the kind that are always sitting around on the stones in romantic places
and getting married to heiresses.

During the day we saw many varieties of the cactus, some of them very
beautiful. As we had no regular botanist with our expedition, Mr. Colon
developed a taste in that direction, and secured and deposited several
fine specimens which were carefully laid away in Shamus' wagon. It was
not long before that excellent Irishman gave a prolonged howl, the cause
of which he did not vouchsafe to tell us, but as we saw him cautiously
rubbing his pantaloons we surmised that he had rolled or sat down upon a
choice variety. The remainder of the plants he must, with still greater
caution, have dropped overboard, as none could subsequently be found for
boxing. If the truth must be said, I was not at all sorry for it. I had
lent a hand in obtaining an unusually large cactus, but the loan was
returned in such damaged condition that I lost all interest at once. The
minute needles which nature has scattered over these plants will pierce
a glove readily, and burrow in the flesh like trichina. The cactus may
be set down as Dame Nature's pin-cushions.

Endless prairie-dog villages covered the country, and occasionally
cayotes, about the size of setters, with brushy, fox-like tails, started
out of ravines and ran off with a hang-dog sort of look, stopping
occasionally to see if they were being pursued. Our guide ran one of
these down with his horse and it was almost with sympathy that we
watched the tired wolf, when he found running useless, dodging between
the horse's legs, rendering the rider's aim false. It was finally
dispatched by a greyhound. The latter deserved his name only from
courtesy of species, as his color was inky black. He belonged to one of
our hostlers, who got him from a Mexican train-master, and was a
wonderful fighter. I saw him afterward in combats with not only the
cayote, but the large timber wolf, and in every instance he came off the
victor. On one occasion, I remember, he whipped the combined curs of a
railroad tie camp, making every antagonist take to his heels. Very
nearly as high as a table, with powerful chest and immense spring, the
hound's movements were like flashes of light. He danced round and over
his foe, his fangs clicking like a steel trap, first on one side and now
on the other, and again, ere his enemy had closed its jaws on the shadow
in front, he was at the rear. I have seen a gray wolf bleeding and
helpless, and the hound untouched, after a half hour's combat.

On the north fork of Big Creek we frightened a dozen antelopes out of
the brakes, and had a fine opportunity of witnessing a chase by the
hound which alone was worth a journey to the plains to see. I remember
having been very much interested, when a boy, in reading accounts of
gazelle hunting in the Orient, where hawks and dogs are both used. The
former pounce down from the air on the fleet-footed victim's head,
compelling it to stop every few moments to shake its unwelcome passenger
off, and the dogs are thus enabled to overtake it. This always seemed to
me a cowardly sort of sport. The harmless victim of the chase, who can
not touch the earth without its turning tell-tale to the keen-scented
pursuer, should not be robbed of his only refuge, speed, or the pursuit
becomes butchery.

The American antelope upon our plains is what the gazelle is upon those
of Africa. Timid and fleet, it often detects and avoids danger to which
its powerful neighbor, the buffalo, falls a victim. The group which we
had frightened bounded away with an elasticity as if nature had
furnished them hoofs and joints of rubber. There was no apparent effort
in their motion, and we imagined larger powers in reserve than really
existed. As the greyhound slowly gained upon them, we noticed this, and
the Professor thereupon delivered what Sachem aptly styled a running
discourse.

"Gentlemen, poetry of motion, perhaps by poetical license, gives
exaggerated ideas of force. A smooth-running engine, though taxed to its
utmost capacity, seems capable of accomplishing more, while its wheezing
neighbor, groaning and straining as if on the verge of dissolution, has
abundant powers in reserve. Some Hercules may lift a weight on which a
straw more would seem to him large enough to sustain the traditional
drowning man. The feat marks itself by a life-long backache, but, if he
has performed it gracefully, he bears with it a reputation for a
fabulous reserve of power, the exhibition seeming but the safety valve
to his supposed giant forces struggling for expression."

Our learned friend seldom found us less attentive than then. All the
wagons were stopped, and from every elevation upon them we looked out
over the solitudes at the race going on before us. Pursuer and pursued
were pitting against each other the same quality--speed. There was no
lying in ambush or taking unawares. The fleetest-footed of game was
flying before the swiftest of dogs. There could be no trailing, as these
hounds run only by sight. What a straining of muscles! The low ridge
barely lifting the animals against the horizon, their legs, from
rapidity of motion, were invisible, and the bodies, for a short space,
seemed floating in air. It was one short, black line, running rapidly
into twelve gray ones, these latter resolving occasionally into as many
balls of white cotton, when the puffy, rabbit-like tails of the
antelopes were turned toward us. Two of the best mounted horsemen from
our party had started with the chase, but seemed scarcely moving, so
rapidly were they left behind.

Twice we thought the hound had closed, but instantly succeeding views
showed daylight still between, although the narrow strip was being
blotted out with the same regular certainty with which the dark slide of
the magic lantern seizes the figures on the wall. Down into a ravine,
and out of sight they passed, and we were fearing the _finale_ would be
hidden, when they came into view on the opposite side and pressed up the
bank. The bounds of the hound were magnificent, and we all gave a cry of
admiration, as with a splendid effort he launched himself like a black
ball upon the herd. In an instant after we saw him hurled back and
taking a very unvictor-like roll down the hill. He quickly recovered,
however, and fastened on an antelope which seemed lagging behind. His
first selection, the leader of the herd, had proved an unfortunate one,
and he bore a bruise for some time where the buck had struck him with
his horns.

The second seizure turned out to be a doe, and was quite dead when we
reached it. The victor was lying along side, looking very much as if one
antelope hunt a day was sufficient for even a greyhound. We noticed that
the hair was rubbed off from the doe's sides by its struggles, and on
passing our hands over the neck found that its coarse coat parted from
the skin at a slight touch. This peculiarity in the antelope is very
marked. In a subsequent hunt I once saw a wounded buck plunge forward,
roll along the ground for a few feet, and then run off with the bare
skin along his entire side showing just where he had struck the earth.

One of our party produced a knife, and the animal was bled and the
entrails taken out. We seemed destined to have a mishap with every
adventure, and had already learned to expect such sequences, the only
question being whose turn should come next. This time it proved to be
Semi-Colon's. We were a mile from the wagons, and Semi's horse, being
considered the most thoroughly broken, was nominated to bear the game to
them. To this proceeding Cynocephalus seemed in nowise indisposed,
quietly submitting to the management of one of the hostlers and our
guide, as they lashed the antelope across his back, securing it to the
rear of the large Texas saddle with the powerful straps which always
hang there for purposes of this kind. This accomplished, Semi climbed
into the saddle, gave a click and a kick, and set his steed in motion.
That eccentric assemblage of bones made one spasmodic step forward,
which brought the bloody, hairy carcass with a swing against his loins.

What a change that touch produced! Those wasted nostrils emitted a
terrific snort, the stiff stump-tail jerked upward like the lever of a
locomotive, and with a dart Cynocephalus was off across the plains. He
probably imagined that some beast of prey had coveted his spare-ribs,
and was whetting its teeth on the vantage-ground of his backbone.
Occasionally the frightened animal would slack up and indulge in a fit
of kicking, looking back meanwhile with terror at the object fastened
upon his hide, then plunge frantically forward again. The antelope stuck
to the saddle for some time, but not so Semi-Colon. The first of these
irregular proceedings caused that young man, as Sachem expressed it, "to
get off upon his head." Cynocephalus finally burst his saddle-girths,
and we were obliged to furnish other transportation for our game.

Let me say, _en passant_, that I am trying to chronicle minutely the
events which befel our half-scientific, half-sporting, and somewhat
incongruous party on its trip through Buffalo Land; and, although my
readers may think us particularly unfortunate, we really suffered no
more than amateurs usually do. My object is to set up guide boards at
the dangerous places, that other travelers may avoid the pitfalls and
the perils into which we fell. And to every amateur hunter we beg to
offer this advice: Never tie dead game upon a strange horse unless you
owe the rider a grudge.

"Young men," said the Doctor, from his saddle, "you have seen a
beautiful illustration in the theory of development. The hound and the
antelope may have been originally an oyster and a worm. From their first
slow motion, when one only opened its jaws to seize the other, they have
progressed until the speed of to-day results. Should the hound ever
become wild, and pursuit and flight change to an every-day matter
instead of a holiday-sport, development would still continue. A
giraffe-like antelope, with the speed of the wind, would fly before a
hound the size of a stag." The Doctor's "clinic," as Sachem called it,
was suddenly cut short at this point by a struggle for mastery between
himself and the human spirit concealed in his horse.

"How much," exclaimed the Professor, when Pythagoras had at length come
off triumphant, and we again moved forward--"How much the race that we
have witnessed is like that we all run. Powerful and eager as the
greyhound, man sees flying before him, on the plain of life, an object
which he thirsts to grasp. Taxing every muscle in pursuit, panting after
it over the smooth country below the 40th mile-post, he crosses there
the ravine where rheumatism and straggling gray hairs lurk, and with
these clinging to him, starts up the hill of later life. Half-way to its
summit, on which the three-score stone marking the down-hill grade looks
uncomfortably like that over a tomb, he seizes the object of pursuit
only to be flung back by it bruised. If of the proper metal, he falls
but to rise again, and should the first wish be out of reach, fastens on
one of its companions. There is where blood tells. If the least taint of
cur is in it the first blow sends its recipient yelling to his kennel,
there to whine for the remainder of life over bruised ribs."

Muggs thought a single toss was sufficient, and retreat then only
prudence. If the bones on one side were broken, he saw no reason to
expose the other. Dying successful was only procuring meat for others to
enjoy.

The Professor was developing a remarkable talent for finding not only
the stones of the past written all over with a wonderful and
translatable history, but also the moral connected with each incident of
our journey. Had any of us broken our necks he would doubtless have
improved the occasion to draw a comparison and have made it the text of
a philosophic disquisition.



CHAPTER XIII.

     CHARACTER OF THE PLAINS--BUFFALO BILL AND HIS HORSE BRIGHAM--THE
     GUIDE AND SCOUT OF ROMANCE--CAYOTE VERSUS JACKASS-RABBIT--A
     LAWYER-LIKE RESCUE--OUR CAMP ON SILVER CREEK--UNCLE SAM'S BUFFALO
     HERDS--TURKEY SHOOTING--OUR FIRST MEAL ON THE PLAINS--A GAME
     SUPPER.


Our trail was taking us west of north, and we expected to reach the
Saline about dusk and there encamp. The same strange evenness of country
surrounded us. Over its surface, smooth and firm as a race track, we
could drive a wagon or gallop a horse in any direction. Even the Bedouin
has no such field for cavalry practice--his footing being shifting sand,
while ours was the compact buffalo grass, so short that its existence at
all could scarcely have been detected a few yards away. Sachem said he
could think of no such cavalry field except that of his boyhood, when he
slipped into the parlor and pranced his rocking-horse over the soft
carpet; with which memory, he added, was coupled another, to the effect
that while thus skirmishing on dangerous ground, his cavalry was
attacked from the rear by heavy infantry and badly cut up.

Numerous buffalo trails crossed our path, running invariably north and
south. This is caused by the animals feeding from one stream to another,
the water courses following the dip of the country's surface from west
to east. Wallows were also very numerous, and we noticed as a
peculiarity of these, as well as the paths, that the grass killed by
treading and rolling does not renew itself when the spots are abandoned.
More than once on the Grand Prairie of Illinois I have seen these
wallows, made before the knowledge of the white man, still remaining
destitute of grass.

An old bull who has been rolling when the wallow is muddy, is an
interesting object. The clay plastered over and tangled in his shaggy
coat bakes in the sun very nearly white; and this it was, probably, that
gave rise to the early traditions of white buffalo.

Wherever on our route the rock cropped out along creeks or in ravines,
it was the white magnesia limestone, and so soft as to be easily cut.
Further west alternate pink and white veins occur, giving the stone a
very beautiful appearance. We frequently found on the rocks and in the
ravines deposits of very perfect shells, apparently those of oysters.
Sachem suggested that they marked the location of pre-historic
restaurants--the Delmonicos of the olden time, say fifty thousand years
before the Pharaohs were born. He thought it possible that some future
quarry-man might blast out an oyster-knife and money pot of quaint
coins.

Muggs thought this patch of our continent resembled Australia--"Not that
it is as rich, you know, but there's so much of it." He even became
enthusiastic enough to affirm that the land might be made profitable,
"if some Hinglish sheep and 'eifers were put on it, you see."

The Professor assured us that the country around was equal to the plains
of Lombardy in point of fertility, and as the soil was of great depth,
and rich in the proper mineral properties, it would undoubtedly become
before 1890 the great wheat-producing region of the world.

Our party fell into silence again, and, having nothing else to interest
me at the moment, I resumed my study, which this episode had
interrupted, of Buffalo Bill, our guide. Athletic and shrewd, he rode
ahead of us with sinews of iron and eye ever on the alert, clad in a
suit of buckskin. His mount was a tough roan pony which he had named
Brigham and of which he seemed very fond. Nevertheless, this fondness
did not prevent hard riding, and when I last saw Brigham, several months
afterward, he was a very sorry-looking animal, insomuch that I concluded
not to have his photograph taken as that of a model steed for Buffalo
Land, as I once contemplated doing.

It was extremely fortunate for us that we had secured Cody as guide. The
whole western country bordering on the plains, as we afterward learned,
from sorry experience, is infested with numberless charlatans, blazing
with all sorts of hunting and fighting titles, and ready at the rustle
of greenbacks to act as guides through a land they know nothing about.
These reprobates delight in telling thrilling tales of their escapes
from Indians, and are constantly chilling the blood of their shivering
party by pointing out spots where imaginary murders took place. Without
compasses they would be as hopelessly lost as needleless mariners. I
have my doubts if one-third of these terribly named bullies could tell,
on a pinch, where the north star is. Unless they chanced to strike one
of the Pacific lines which stretch across the plains, a party, under
their guidance, wishing to go west would be equally liable to get among
the Northern Siouxs or the Ku-Klux of Arkansas.

A thousand miles east Young America's cherished ideal of the frontier
scout and guide is an eagle-eyed giant, with a horse which obeys his
whistle, and breaks the neck of any Indian trying to steal him. In
addition to its wonderful master, the back of this model steed is
usually occupied by a rescued maiden. At risk of infringing on the
copyrights of thirty-six thousand of the latest Indian stories, we have
obtained from an artist on the spot an illustration of the last heroine
brought in and her rescuer, the rare old plainsman.[1]

  [1] See illustration on page 137.

Cody had all the frontiersman's fondness for practical jokes, and
delighted in designating Mr. Colon as "Mr. Boston," as if accidentally
confounding the residence with the name. In one instance, with a cry of
"Come, Mr. Boston, here's a specimen!" he enticed the philanthropist
into the eager pursuit of a beautiful little animal through some rank
bottom grass, and brought the good man back in such a condition that we
unanimously insisted on his traveling to leeward for the rest of the
day.

While we thus journeyed, and, in traditional traveler's style, mused and
pondered, Shamus came running back to say that we were wanted in front.
"Such a goin' on in the ravine beyant as bates a witch's dance all
holly!" We saw that the forward wagons had halted and the men were
peering cautiously over the edge of the highland into the valley of
Silver Creek, which stream wound along below, entirely out of sight
until one came directly upon it. In this lonely land, the pages of whose
history Time had so often turned with bloody fingers, an event slight as
even this was startling. That hollow in the plain before us seemed to
yawn, as if awaking in sleepy horrors, and we noticed a general
tightening of reins and rattling of spurs. This maneuver was executed to
prevent our horses running away again and thus rendering us incapable of
supporting our advanced guard. If savages were around, our provisions
must be protected, and we at once dismounted and scattered among the
teams in such a way as to offer the most successful defense.

Our fears were groundless. In a few moments Cody came galloping back on
Brigham, and said briefly that we should lose a fine lesson in natural
history unless we hurried to the front. Truth compels me to say that we
did not hanker after a close acquaintance with Lo on the rampage; yet we
did earnestly desire to improve every opportunity of studying the other
inhabitants of the plains, and a few moments accordingly found our whole
party peering over the edge of the bluff into the valley below.

[Illustration: THE WILD DENIZENS OF THE PLAINS.]

There, on a patch of bottom grass, half a dozen elk were feeding; a
short distance away, a small herd of wild horses drank from the brook;
while in a ravine immediately in front of us, three cayotes were
attempting to capture a jackass-rabbit. What a wealth of animal life
this valley had opened to us. From our own level the table-lands
stretched away in all directions until striking its grassy waves
against the horizon, with not a shrub, tree, or beast to relieve the
clearly-cut outlines. Casting our eyes upward, the bright blue sky,
clear of every vestige of clouds, arched down until resting on our
prairie floor, and not even a bird soared in the air to charm the
profound space with the eloquence of life. Casting our eyes downward,
the earth was all astir with the activity of its brute creation.

Before we could make any effort at capture, the elk and horses winded us
and fled away toward the opposite ridges, where stalking them would have
been exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. Leading the mustangs was
a large black stallion, which kept its position by pacing while the
others ran. Buffalo Bill said this was an escaped American horse which
had fled to solitude with the rider's blood upon his saddle. We noted
the statement as one for future elucidation at our camp-fire. The rabbit
chase in the ravine continued, and we watched it unseen for several
minutes. The wolves were endeavoring to surround their victim, and cut
in ahead of it whenever he attempted to get out of the ravine. Although
such odds were against him, the rabbit had thus far succeeded by
superior speed and quick dodging in evading his enemies; but escape was
hopeless, as he was hemmed in and becoming exhausted. These tireless
wolves, cowardly creatures though they are, might worry to death an
elephant. A few shots terminated this scene, driving off the wolves, but
killing the rabbit for whose protection they were fired. The Professor
remarked that this was like a lawyer's rescue. He sometimes frightens
away the persecutors, but the charges generally kill the client.

For the benefit of those of my readers who have never seen a member of
that unfortunate rabbit family which has been christened by such a
humiliating given name, I would state that the species is remarkable for
its very long ears, and very long legs. If the reader, being a married
man, desires a pictorial representation of this animal, let him draw a
donkey a foot high on the wall, and if his wife does not interrupt by
drawing a broomstick, he may be satisfied that his work is well done,
and a life-size jackass-rabbit will stand out before him.

A mile from the scene of this adventure Silver Creek joined the Saline,
and at the junction it was determined to make our camp. We descended
among heavy "brakes," staying our loaded wagons with ropes from behind.
Immense quarries of the soft, white limestone rose from the valley's bed
to the level of the plains above, and the rains of centuries had
fashioned out pillars and arches, giving them the appearance of ancient
ruins staring down upon us. Mr. Colon picked up a fine moss agate and
the Professor a Kansas diamond. Under the surface of the former were
several figures of bushes and trees, outlined as distinctly as the
images one sees blown into glass. The diamond was as large as a hazel
nut and as clear as a drop of pure water, so that, notwithstanding its
size, ordinary print could be easily read through it. Had it possessed a
hardness corresponding with its beauty, the Professor could have
enriched with it half a dozen scientific institutions. Such stones now
command a fair market value among travelers, and are generally mounted
in rich settings as souvenirs of their trips.

A picturesque group of some half-dozen oaks offered a good camping spot,
and around it the wagons were placed for the night in a half-circle, the
ends of the crescent resting each side of us upon the creek. The rule of
the plains is, "In time of peace prepare for war."

Northward from us, and distant perhaps fifty yards, rippled the clear
waters of the Saline, which was then at a low stage. High above it was
the table-land of the plains, and the edge of this, as far as we could
trace it, was dotted with the dark forms of countless buffalo. So
distant as to appear diminutive, their moving seemed like crawling, and
the back-ground of light grass gave them much the appearance of bees
upon a board. They were crowding up to the very edge of the valley of
the Saline, from whence, as we were told, they extended back to the
Solomon, thence to the Republican, and at intervals all the way
northward to the remote regions of the Upper Missouri.

Could the venerable Uncle Samuel go up in a balloon and take a thousand
miles' view of his western stock region, he would perceive that his
goodly herds of bison, some millions in number, feeding between the
snows of the North and the flowers of the South, were waxing fat and
multiplying. This latter fact might somewhat surprise him, when he
discovered around his herd a steady line of fire and heard its continual
snapping. The unsophisticated old gentleman would see train after train
of railroad cars rustling over the plains, every window smoking with the
bombardment like the port-holes of a man-of-war. He would see Upper
Missouri steamers often paddling in a river black with the crossing
herds, and pouring wanton showers of bullets into their shaggy backs. To
the south Indians on horseback, to the north Indians on snow shoes,
would meet his astonished gaze, and around the outskirts of the vast
range his white children on a variety of conveyances, and all, savage
and civilized alike, thirsting for buffalo blood. That the buffalo, in
spite of all this, does apparently continue to increase, shows that the
old and rheumatic ones, the veteran bulls which in bands and singly
circle around the inner herds of cows and calves, are the ones that most
commonly fall the easy victims to the hunters. Their day has passed, and
powder and ball but give the wolves their bones to pick a little
earlier.

Such were the thoughts that revolved in my mind while sitting upon one
of the wagons, and dividing my attention between the tent pitching going
on under the trees and the shaggy thousands which, feeding against the
horizon, seemed to grow larger as the sun went down behind them and they
stood out in deepening relief in the long autumn twilight. These
solitudes made me think of Du Chaillu on the African deserts when night
set in, and I wondered if the brute denizens there could be more
interesting than those which surrounded us. Had a lion roared, I doubt
whether it would have struck me as unnatural, although it might have
induced a speedy change of base. It begets a peculiar feeling in one's
mind, I thought, when the lower brutes surround him and his
fellow-creature alone is absent. Animal organizations are every-where,
blood throbbing and limbs moving, and yet the world is as solitary to
him as if the planet had been sent whirling into space and no living
being upon it except himself. A handkerchief, a hat, any thing which his
brother man may have worn, yields more of companionship than all the
life around him.

And now, through the trees, we saw several of our men running with their
weapons in hand, and immediately afterward heard the rapid reports of
their revolvers and rifles from the creek just below, followed by the
fluttering, noisy exit of turkeys from among the trees. Some flew away,
but most of them were running, and, in their fright, passed directly
among the wagons. One old gobbler, with a fine glossy tuft hanging at
his breast, had a hard time of it in running the gauntlet of our
camp-followers, narrrowly escaping death by a frying pan hurled from the
vigorous grasp of Shamus.

This class of our game birds is noted the continent over for its
wildness and cunning, these qualities furnishing old hunters with
material for numberless yarns, as they gather around the camp-fires and
weave their fancies into connected sequence. Thus it has become a matter
of veritable history that knowing gobblers sometimes examine the tracks
that hunters have left to see which way they are going.

On Silver Creek the turkeys were very tame, and before it became too
dark for shooting our party had killed twelve. Muggs and Sachem had
combined their forces and devoted their joint attention to one of them
sitting stupidly on a limb, where it received a bombardment of five
minutes' duration before coming down. Our Briton explained that "the
bird was unable to fly away, you see, because I 'it 'im at my first
shot." To this statement Sachem stoutly demurred upon two grounds:
First, that Muggs' gun had gone off prematurely, the time in question,
and barely missed one of his English shoes; and, second, that the turkey
showed but one bullet mark, and that wound was necessarily fatal, as it
had carried away most of the head! A compromise was finally effected,
and we were much edified by seeing the two coming into camp with the
bird between them, sharing mutually its honors.

Great numbers of turkeys seemed to inhabit the creek, all along which we
heard them, at dark, flying up to their roosts. This induced a number of
our party to visit a large oak scarcely a hundred yards from camp, which
one of our men had marked as a favorite resort. Proceeding with the
utmost caution, under the dim shadows of approaching night, we presently
stood beneath the roost. Clearly defined between us and the sky were the
limbs, and clustering thickly over them, like apples left in fall upon a
leafless tree, we could descry large black balls, indicating to our
hunger-stimulated imaginations as many prospective turkey roasts. For
this special occasion our only two shot guns had been brought forth from
the cases, the remainder of the party being furnished with Spencer and
Henry rifles.

We had been instructed each to select our bird, and fire at the word to
be given by the guide. How loud and sharp the clicking of the locks
sounded, in the stillness of that jungle on the plains, as six barrels
pointed upward, but their aim made all unsteady by the thumping of as
many palpitating hearts. Then, in a low tone, came the words--and they
seemed hoarsely loud in the painful silence around us--"Ready! Take
careful aim!" "Hold!" cried the Professor, in a sudden outburst of
enthusiasm; "Gentlemen, you see above us thirty fine specimens of that
noblest of all American birds, the turkey. Wisely has it been said that,
instead of the eagle, the turkey should have been our National"--"Fire!"
cried the guide, in an agony, as the Professor, having dropped his gun,
was rising to his feet, and the turkeys, alarmed by his eloquence, were
preparing for flight.

And fire we did. A half dozen tongues of flame shot upward, and the roar
of our unmasked battery reverberated over the solitude. The rustling and
fluttering among the tree tops was terrific, and showers of twigs and
bark rained down upon us. Every one of us knew that his shot had told,
yet for some reason, perhaps owing to the superior cunning of the birds,
none fell at our feet. Before regaining the wagon, however, we found
fluttering on our path a fine fat one with a shattered second joint. It
was claimed by Sachem, on the ground that in his aiming he had made legs
a speciality, not wishing to injure the breasts.

Later in the season, when the birds had become much wilder, I often shot
them, both running and flying. They are very hard to kill, and a sorely
wounded one will often astonish the hunter by running long distances, or
hiding where it seems impossible. The fall through the air, or sudden
stop from full speed when running, are alike exciting spectacles. And
the big body, with red throat and dark plume, luscious even to look at,
is fit game to excite the pride of any sportsman.

The modes of hunting the wild turkey are numerous.[2] Mounted on a swift
pony it is not difficult to run one down, as may be done in half an
hour, the birds, when pushed, seeking the open prairie and its ravines
at once. On foot, with a dog, they can easily be started from cover, and
generally rise with a tremendous commotion among the bushes, when they
may be brought down with coarse shot. Another method of turkey shooting,
and one that became quite a favorite of mine, was to steal out from camp
in the gray of early morning--so early that only the tops of the trees
were visible against the sky--provided with a rifle and shot gun both.
When the birds have once been hunted, extreme caution is necessary to
get within seventy yards of them. Upon a high bough, in the gloom, the
old gobbler appears twice his real size, looking as long as a rail. Try
the rifle first, and, two chances out of three, there is a miss. Then,
as the great wings spread suddenly, like dark sails against the sky, and
the big body, launched from the bough, shakes the tree top as if a wind
was passing through it, catch your shot gun, and fire. In the dim
light, and at long distance, it takes a quick and true eye to call from
the ground that welcome resound which tells of game fallen.

  [2] The amateur sportsman or other reader, will find them described at
  length in the Appendix.

Under the big oaks, meanwhile, our camp fire burned brightly, and Shamus
was developing the mysteries of his art. Roast turkey and broiled
antelope tempt the pampered appetites of dyspeptic city men, but here in
the wilderness, their fresh juices, hissing from beds of glowing coals,
filled the air with a fragrance that to us was sweeter than roses. Tired
enough, after an all day's ride, and hungry as bears from twelve hours
fasting, we sucked in the odors of the cooking meat, as a sort of aërial
soup, while the Dobeen stood an aproned king of grease and turkey, with
basting spoon for scepter, and with it kept motioning back the hungry
hordes that skirmished along his borders.

Two mess chests had been placed a few feet apart, with the tail-boards
of our wagons connecting them, and over this was spread a linen table
cloth, white plates, clean napkins, and bright knives, with salt,
pepper, and butter. All were in their accustomed places. This our first
meal on the plains looked more like an aristocratic pic-nic than a
supper in the territory of the buffaloes. But the picture was too bright
to last, and ere many days neither napkins nor cloth could have been
made available as flags of truce.

It is one of those threadbare truisms, adorning all hunting stories of
every age and clime, that hunger is the best seasoning. We had an excess
of it on hand just then, and would willingly have shared it with the
dyspeptic, baldheaded young men of Fifth Avenue. The turkey we found fat
and very rich in flavor, and the antelope steaks more delicate than
venison. Condensed milk supplied well the place of the usual lacteal,
and was an improvement on the city article, inasmuch as we knew exactly
what quantity and quality of water went into it. We were obliged to
economize, however, respecting this part of our supplies. The following
entry in our log-book, by Sachem, under date of the day preceding this,
will explain the reason: "Two cans of milk stolen, probably by the
Cheyennes. Consider the article more reliable for families than city
stump-tail, requiring neither milking or feeding, and never kicking the
bucket, or causing infants to do so. Had no idea that a taste of it
would develop such a talent for hooking."



CHAPTER XIV.

     A CAMP-FIRE SCENE--VAGABONDIZING--THE BLACK PACER OF THE
     PLAINS--SOME ADVICE FROM BUFFALO BILL ABOUT INDIAN FIGHTING--LO'S
     ABHORRENCE OF LONG RANGE--HIS DREAD OF CANNON--AN IRISH
     GOBLIN--SACHEM'S "SONG OF SHAMUS."


How vividly, when one is fairly embarked in any new enterprise, do the
events of the first night impress one's imagination, and how indelibly
do they fix themselves in the memory! Inside our tents all was clean and
cheery, but as none of us were disposed to seek them before a late hour,
we spent the evening around our camp-fires. Excitement, for the time,
had overmastered our sense of fatigue. The Professor's notes were out,
and, with his feet to the fire and a box for a desk, he looked more like
the Arkansas traveler writing home, than the learned savan committing to
paper the latest secrets wrung from nature. The remainder of our party
were scattered promiscuously around the fire, some seated on logs and
boxes, the others outstretched upon the grass.

Tammany Sachem was the first to break the silence. "Fellow citizens," he
exclaimed, "let's vagabondize!" Now, with our alderman, vagabondizing
meant story telling, an accomplishment which we consider the especial
forte of vagabonds.

We all hailed this proposition gladly, for Buffalo Bill, stretched there
before the fire, had much of plain lore stored in his active brain that
we wished to draw out, and we at once seized the opportunity to ask
about the black pacer we had seen during the afternoon, and his weird
story of the bloody saddle.

From Bill's narrative we gathered the following: Something over a year
before the era of our expedition a train of government wagons left Fort
Hays destined for Fort Harker, and the Indians being troublesome, some
twenty soldiers were sent in the wagons, as a guard. A few hours later
there passed through Hays City a man from the mountains riding a
powerful black stallion, while his family, consisting of a young wife
and her brother, occupied a covered wagon which followed close behind.
The stranger determined to take advantage of the protection afforded by
the government train, and the little party pushed out after it over the
plains. The day was a sultry one in midsummer, the sun pouring down its
flood of heat on the desolate surface of the expanse that spread away on
all sides. The long train, a full mile from front to rear, dragged its
slow length sluggishly along, the mules sleepily following the trail,
while the teamsters and soldiers dozed in the covered wagons. A driver,
who happened to be awake, saw in the distance a beautiful mirage, and in
it, as he looked, strange objects, like mounted men, were bobbing up and
down. But then he had often seen weeds and other small objects similarly
transformed, by these wonderful illusions of the plains, and even he
forgot the bobbing shadows and dozed away again on his seat.

But there was danger near. Stealthily out of the mirage, and bending low
in their saddles, rode a painted band of savages, hiding their advance
in a ravine. Their purpose was to strike and cut off the rear of the
train, the length of which promised unusual success to their
undertaking, as the white men were too much scattered to oppose any
resistance to a sudden onset. At length, nearly the entire train had
filed by, and the foremost of the last half dozen wagons approached the
ravine. At the signal, out from it burst the troop of red horsemen, and
crossed the road like a dash of dust from the hand of a hurricane, every
savage spreading his blanket and uttering the war whoop. The startled
teams fled in stampede over the plains, dragging the wagons after them.
Some of the drivers were thrown out and others jumped. Two or three were
killed, and by the time the other teams and the guards had taken the
alarm, and turned back for a rescue, the savages had cut the traces of
the frightened mules, and were on the return with them to their distant
villages. Instead of stopping the animals to release them from the
wagons, the Indians urged them to wilder speed, and leaning from their
saddles, cut the fastenings at full run. Among the booty taken, was a
valuable race horse and fifteen hundred dollars in greenbacks, belonging
to an officer who was on his way from New Mexico to the East.

Meanwhile, our friend, the owner of the black pacer, with his outfit,
was moving quietly along two or three miles in the rear, entirely
unaware of affairs at the front. Some of the savages, while escaping
with the booty, espied him, and coveting the noble animal which he rode,
they made a detour and surprised him as he sat jogging along a hundred
yards or so ahead of the wagon containing his wife and brother-in-law.
Though mortally wounded at their first volley, with the desperate effort
of a dying man he clung to the saddle for a hundred yards or more, and
then rolled upon the prairie a lifeless corpse. Frantic with terror, the
horse dashed through the circle of Indians that surrounded him, and
fled. The savages, probably fearing longer delay, did not pursue, nor
even attack the wagon, and the black pacer was not seen again for some
months, when at length some hunters discovered him, freed from saddle
and bridle, the leader of the wild herd.

Buffalo Bill gave us quite an insight into some of the mysteries of
plain craft. When you are alone, and a party of Indians are discovered,
never let them approach you. If in the saddle, and escape or concealment
is impossible, dismount, and motion them back with your gun. It shows
coolness, and these fellows never like to get within rifle range, when a
firm hand is at the trigger. If there is any water near, try and reach
it, for then, if worst comes to worst, you can stand a siege. The
savages of the plains are always anxious to get at close quarters before
developing hostility. Unless very greatly in the majority, and with some
unusual incentive to attack, they will not approach a rifle guard. Were
they as well supplied with breech-loading guns as with pistols, the case
would be different, of course. Bill was the hero of many Indian battles,
and had fought savages in all ways and at all hours, on horseback and on
foot, at night and in daytime alike.

As an amusing illustration of the savage abhorrence of long-range guns,
I beg the reader's indulgence for introducing an anecdote which I
afterward heard narrated by an officer who participated in the affair.
Major A---- was sent out from Fort Hays with a company of men on an
Indian scout, and, when near a tributary of the south fork of the
Solomon, the savages appeared in force, and a fight commenced, which
continued until dark. Several soldiers were wounded and two killed. As
the Indians were evidently increasing in numbers, after nightfall a
squad was dispatched to the fort for ambulances and reinforcements. Only
six men could be spared, and these were sent off with a light
field-piece in charge. Soon after crossing the Saline, a strong band of
Indians was discovered half a mile off reconnoitering. A shell was sent
screaming toward them, but the aim was too high, and it burst a short
distance beyond them. Nevertheless, the effect was instantaneous; the
savages vanished, nor stood upon the order of their going. During the
next ten miles this scene was repeated three times, the stand-point on
each occasion being removed further and further away. The last shot was
a remarkably long one, and the shell burst directly in their faces. Not
only did they disappear for good, but the whole investing force, on
receiving their report, fled likewise.

Talking thus about Indians, under the gloom of the trees, seemed in some
unaccountable way to suggest the idea of witches to the mind of
Pythagoras. Perhaps, in accordance with his pet theory of development,
he was cogitating whether, ages ago, the red man's family horse might
not have been a broomstick. At any rate, he suddenly gave a new turn to
the conversation by asking Shamus why, when the dogs pointed the
witch-hazel during our quail hunt at Topeka, he had affirmed that the
canine race could see spirits and witches which to mortal eyes were
invisible. Now, the Dobeen had been bred on an Irish moor, where the
whole air is woven, like a Gobelin tapestry, full of dreams of the
marvelous, and where whenever an unusual object is noticed by moonlight,
the frightened peasant, instead of stopping a moment to investigate the
cause, rushes shivering to his hut to tell of the fearful _phookas_ he
has seen. He was very superstitious, and we had often been amused at his
evasions, when, as sometimes happened, his faith conflicted with our
commands. The time might be near when such peculiarities would prove
troublesome instead of amusing, and it was well, therefore, that we
should get a peep at the foundations of our cook's faith, and perhaps
that portion of it which related to our friends, the dogs, would be
especially entertaining. Moreover, we had had so much of the red man
that we were glad to welcome an Irish witch to our first camp-fire.
Dobeen's narrative was substantially as follows, though I can not
attempt to clothe it in his exact language, and still less in the rich
brogue which yet clung to him after years of ups and downs in "Ameriky."

"Dogs can study out many things better than men can," said Shamus, in
his most impressive manner. "Before I left old Ireland for America, I
had a dashing beast, with as much wit as any boy in the country. He
could poach a rabbit and steal a bird from under the gamekeeper's nose,
an' give the swatest howl of warnin' whenever a bailiff came into them
parts."

Sachem suggested that these were rather remarkable habits for a dog
connected with the great house of Dobeen.

"But yez must know he was only a pup when my fortunes went by,"
responded Shamus, "and he learnt these tricks afterward. Ah, but he was
a smart chap! Couldn't he smell bailiffs afore ever they came near, an'
see all the witches and ghosts, too, by second sight! He wouldn't never
go near the O'Shea's house, that had a haunted room, though pretty Mary,
the house-girl, often coaxed at him with the nicest bits of meat."

Sachem thought that perhaps the animal's second sight might have shown
him that stray shot from pretty Mary's master, aimed at a vagabond,
might perhaps hit the vagabond's dog.

"I wasn't a vagabond them times," retorted Shamus, quickly, yet with
entire good humor, "and sorry for it I am that the name could ever
belong to me since. And please, Mr. Sachem, don't be after interruptin'
again. Some people wonder why the dogs bark at the new moon an' howl
under the windows afore a death. In the one matter, your honors, they
see the witches on a broomstick, ridin' roun' the sky, an' gatherin'
ripe moon-beams for their death-mixtures an' brain blights. Many a man
in our grandfathers' time--yes, an' now-a-days too--sleepin' under the
full moon, has had his brains addled by the unwholesome powder falling
from the witches' aprons. Wise men call it comet dust. And why shouldn't
a dog that has grown up to mind his duty of watchin' the family, howl
when he sees Death sittin' on the window sill, a starin' within, and
preparin' to snatch some darlint away? Ah, but their second sight is a
wonderful gift though!

"The name of my dog, your honors, was Goblin, an' he came to us in a
queer sort of way, just like a goblin should. There was a hard storm
along the coast, an' the next mornin' a broken yawl drifted in, half
full of water, with a dead man washin' about in it, an' a half-drowned
pup squattin' on the back seat. Me an' my cousin buried the man, an' the
other beast I brought up. May be there was somethin' in this distress
that he got into so young that he couldn't outgrow. Even the priest used
to notice it, and say the poor creature had a sort of touch of the
melancholy; an' sure, he never was a joyful dog. Smart an' true he was,
but, faith, he wasn't never happy; yez might pat him to pieces, an' get
never a wag of the tail for it. He delighted in wakes and buryins, an'
when a neighborin' gamekeeper died, he howled for a whole day an' a
night, though the man had shot at him twenty times. Mighty few men, your
honors, with a dozen slugs in their skin, would have stood on the edge
of a man's grave that shot them, an' mourned when the earth rattled on
the box the way Goblin, poor beast, did then. Ah, nobody knows what dogs
can see with their wonderful second sight. That beast thought an'
studied out things better than half the men ye'll find; an' it's my
belief that dogs did so before, an' they have done it since, an' they
always will."

"You are right, Dobeen," said the Professor. "Put a wise dog, and a
foolish, vicious master together. The brute exhibits more tenderness and
thoughtfulness than the man. In the latter, even the mantle of our
largest charity is insufficient to cover his multitude of sins, while
the skin of his faithful animal wraps nothing but honest virtue. The
dog, having once suffered from poison, avoids tempting pieces of meat
thenceforward, when proffered by strange hands, but the man steeps his
brain in poison again and again--or as often as he can lay hold of it.
While grasping the deadly thing, he sees, stretching out from the bar
room door, a down grade road, with open graves at the end, and
frightened madmen, chased by the blue devils and murder and misery,
rushing madly toward them. These swallow their victims, as the hatches
of a prison ship do the galley slave, and close upon them to give them
up only when the jailer, the angel of the resurrection, shall unlock the
tombs, and calls their occupants to judgment. Does the sight appall and
bring him to his senses? No, he crowds among the terrors, and takes to
his bosom the same venomous serpent that he has seen sting so many
thousands to death before him. And yet people give to the brute's wisdom
the name of instinct, and call man's madness wisdom."

"But, your honors," interposed Dobeen, "I shall be after losing my dog
entirely, unless yez lave off interruptin' me, an' let me finish my
story."

"Go on, Shamus, go on!" we all cried with one breath.

"Well, then, when Goblin came to me in his infancy, he wore a silver
collar with his name all beautifully engraved on it. May be the dead
man in the boat had been bringing him from some strange land to the
childer at home, and thinking how the odd name would please them all,
when the shadows were darting around his hearth. And so Goblin howled
his way through the world, till one full moon eve, when every bog was
shinin' as if the peat was silver. Such times, any way in old Ireland,
your honors, the air is full of unwholesome spirits. This was good as a
wake for Goblin, and I can just hear him now the way he cried and howled
that night! He kept both eyes fixed on the moon, and no mortal man,
livin' or dead, will ever know what he saw, but when he howled out worse
nor common that night, it meant, may be, that some witch, uglier than
the rest, had just whisked across the shinin' sky. Just at midnight, I
was waked out of a swate sleep by the quietness without, the way a
miller is when his mill stops. I looked out of the window at the dog
where he sat, an', faith, the dog wasn't there at all! Just then I heard
a despairin' sort of howl, away up in the air above the trees, an' by
that token I knew the witches had Goblin. Next mornin', one of the lads
livin' convanient to us told me he had heard the same cry in the middle
of the night, the cry, your honors, of the poor beast as the witches
carried him off. Afore the week was out, Goblin's collar was found on
the gamekeeper's grave; that was all--not a hair else of him was ever
seen in old Ireland."

As Shamus concluded his veracious narrative he looked around upon us
with an air of triumph, as if satisfied that even Sachem dare not now
dispute the second sight of the canine race.

That worthy took occasion to declare on the instant, however, that the
nearest neighbor was fully justified in playing the witch. If any thing
could destroy the happiness of human beings, as well as of the
broom-riding beldams, it would be the howling of worthless curs at
night. He himself had often been in at the death of vagabond cats and
dogs engaged in moon-worship. The outbursts of Goblin had simply been
silenced in an outburst of popular indignation.

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION NY._

SMASHING A CHEYENNE BLACK KETTLE.]



CHAPTER XV.

     A FIRE SCENE--A GLIMPSE OF THE SOUTH--'COON HUNTING IN
     MISSISSIPPI--VOICES IN THE SOLITUDE--FRIENDS OR FOES--A STARTLING
     SERENADE--PANIC IN CAMP--CAYOTES AND THEIR HABITS--WORRYING A
     BUFFALO BULL--THE SECOND DAY--DAUB, OUR ARTIST--HE MAKES HIS MARK.


Our fire scene was evidently no novelty to the Mexicans, whose lives had
been spent in camping out, and who, with one cheap blanket each, for
mattress and covering, slept soundly under the wagons. Across their
dark, expressionless faces the flames threw fitful gleams of light,
which were as unheeded as the flashes with which the Nineteenth Century
endeavors to penetrate the gloom which shrouds them as a nation. While
the world moves on, the degenerate descendants of Montezuma sleep.

In the valley bordering our little skirt of trees we could hear the
horses cropping the short, juicy buffalo grass, and trailing their
lariat ropes around a circle, of which the pin was the center.
Semi-Colon lay on the grass close to his father, who occupied a
cracker-box seat in this tableau, the amiable son at little intervals
raising his head to indorse, in his peculiar dissyllabic way, what the
positive parent said. Looking at the group around me, and thinking of
our evening turkey hunt, memory carried me back to the last time I had
been among the trees after dark, with gun in hand, which was at the
South, away down in Mississippi, just after the war.

It was a lazy time, those November days. Large flocks of swans filled
the air above, with their flute-like notes, and thousands of sand-hill
cranes circled far up toward the sun, their bodies looking like distant
bees, as from dizzy heights they croaked their approbation of the rich
crops beneath them. Ducks passed like charges of grape shot, sending
back shrill whistles from their wings, as they dived down into the
standing corn.

As night came on, the moon went up in a great rush of light, like the
reflector of a railroad train mounting the sky. Soon every shadow is
driven from the woods, and then the horns are tooted, the dogs howl, and
away go gangs of woolly heads, old and young, in pursuit of Messrs.
'Possum and 'Coon. In vain the sly tree-fox doubles around stumps, and
leaving tempting persimmon and oaks full of plumpest acorns, at the
warning noise, seeks refuge among huge cypresses. On go the hunters--big
dogs, little dogs, bear-teasers, and deer-hounds, sprinkled with
darkeys--crashing through cane and underbrush, the human portion of the
party laughing and yelling as if a tempest had stolen them ages ago from
Babel, and just discharged them in pursuit of that particular 'coon.

The voice of the Professor suddenly called me back to the present, and I
found myself chilled by the wet grass, as if my body had been wandering
with the mind in that land of cotton, and was unprepared for the
northern air.

"Gentlemen"--this was what the voice said--"we are now one thousand and
five hundred miles from Washington City, latitude 39, longitude 99.
Stick a pin there on the map, and you will find that we have got well
out on the spot that geographers have been pleased to call desert. Does
it look like one? Tell me, gentlemen, had you rather discount your
manhood among the stumps of New England than loan it at a premium to the
rich banks of these streams?"

The Professor came to an abrupt pause, for borne to us on the still air
was that most unmistakable of all sounds, the human voice. The note of
one bird at a distance may be mistaken for another, and the cry of a
brute, when faintly heard, lose its distinguishing tones. But once let
man lift up his voice in the solitude, and all nature knows that the
lord of animal creation is abroad. There are many sounds which resemble
the human voice, just as there are many objects which, indistinctly
seen, the hunter's eye may misinterpret as birds. But when a flock of
birds does cross his vision, however far away, he never mistakes them
for any thing else. The first may have excited suspicion, the latter
resolves at once into certainty.

We listened attentively and anxiously. It might very naturally be
supposed that, after leaving the abodes of his fellows, and going far
out into the solitary places of Nature, man would rejoice to catch the
sounds which told him that others of his race were near, but this, like
many other things, is modified by circumstances. On the plains the
first question asked is, "Are they friends or foes?" No one being able
to answer, the breeze and general probabilities are inquired of, and
until the eyes pass verdict the moments are laden with suspense. Even in
times of peace the hunter, if possible, avoids the savage bands which
flit back and forth across Buffalo Land; for, if he saves his life, he
is apt to lose an inconvenient amount of provisions, at least, at their
hands.

Our guide speedily informed us that Indians never make any noise when in
camp, which was gratifying intelligence. All further suspense was
shortly relieved by the appearance down the valley of muskets glittering
in the moon-light. The bearers proved to be two soldiers, who stated
that some officers, with a small force of cavalry, were in camp a mile
below us, being out for the purpose of obtaining buffalo meat, and
having as guests two or three gentlemen from St. Louis, desirous of
seeing the sport. They had heard our late heavy firing, and sent to know
what was the matter. We gave the soldiers a late paper to carry back,
and with many regrets that our fatigue was too great to think of
accompanying them for a neighborly call, we bade them good-night, and
saw them disappear down the valley.

At the Professor's suggestion, preparations were now made for retiring,
and we sought our tent and blankets. In a few brief moments, the others
of the party were blowing, in nasal trumpetings, the praises of
Morpheus. I could not sleep, however; for each bone had its own
individual ache, and was telling how tired it was. Pulling up a
tent-pin, I looked out under the canvas.

On a log by the fire sat Shamus, his head between his hands, gazing at
the coals, and droning a low tune. Occasionally, he would make a dash at
some fire-brand, with a stick which he used as a poker, and break it
into fragments, or toss it nervously to one side. Whether this was
because it resolved itself into a fire-sprite winking at him, or some
unhappy memory glowed out of the coals, I tried to tempt sleep by
conjecturing.

Off at a little distance, I could see one of our men standing guard near
the horses, and once or twice my excited fancy thought it detected
shadows creeping toward him. A little beyond, nervously stretching his
lariat rope, while walking in a circle around the pin, was Mr. Colon's
Iron Billy. His clean head erect, and fine nose taking the breeze, the
intelligent animal appeared restless, and I could not help thinking that
he saw or smelt something unusual, away in the darkness. What if the
bottom grass was full of creeping savages?

The crescent moon, just rising over the divide, was scarred by many
cloud lines, and as yet gave no light. The sensation which had stolen
over me was becoming disagreeable, when far off, at some ford down the
creek, I heard animals splashing through water, and concluded that
Billy's nervousness was caused by crossing buffaloes. The horse had an
established reputation as a watch, his former owner having assured us
that neither Indian nor wild beast could approach camp without Billy
giving the alarm.

Presently, Dobeen resumed his droning, which had been suspended for a
few moments, this time singing some snatches from an old Irish ballad.
The last words were just dying away, when I started to my feet in
horror. What an infernal chorus filled the air! Each point of the
compass was represented, and we were wrapped around with a discordant,
fiendish cordon of sound. Bursting upon us with a deep mocking cry, it
ended abruptly in a wild "Ha-ha!" It was such a chorus as pours through
Hades, when some poet opens, for an instant, the gate of the damned. Our
poor Irishman, at the first sound, had fallen from the log as if shot,
but had suddenly sprung to his feet, and was now performing a
terror-dance behind the fire with a club. For a moment, I, too, had
taken the outburst for the war-whoop of savages, but was saved from a
panic by seeing through the gloom the figure of the sentinel still at
his post, and the next instant the voice of the guide was lifted, with
the re-assuring intelligence--"Only cayotes, gentlemen, only cayotes!"

Mr. Sachem and Mr. Muggs had been lying close behind me in their
blankets. The former had given a terrified snort, and then both lay
motionless. After the alarm, Sachem admitted that he was frightened. Had
always heard that people shot over instead of under the mark in battle.
Was resolved to lay low. Had no high views about such things. Muggs had
not thought it worth while to get up. Knew they were wolves. Had heard
more hextraordinary 'owls before he came to the blarsted country.

But where was the doctor? Echo answered, "Where?" "Hallo, Doctor!"
cried the guide, and a voice from the woods, which was not echo,
answered, "Coming!" Again Buffalo Bill lifted his voice in the solitude,
and again came an answer, this time in a form of query, "Is it
developed, my boy? If so, classify it." And we answered that the birth
in the air had developed into wolves, and been classified as the _canis
latrans_, noisy and harmless.

Finding that this new lesson in natural history had taken away all
desire for sleep, I finished the study by the fire, with our guide for a
tutor.

The cayote (pronounced K[=i]-o-te), in its habits, is a villainous cross
between a jackal and a wolf, feasting on any kind of animal food
obtainable, even unearthing corpses negligently buried. With the large
gray wolf, the cayotes follow the herds of bison, generally skulking
along their outskirts, and feeding upon the wounded and outcasts. These
latter are the old bulls which, gaunt and stiff from age and spotted all
over with scars, are driven out of the herd by the stout and jealous
youngsters. Feeding alone, and weak with the burden of years upon his
immense shoulders, the old bull is surrounded by the hungry pack. But
they dare not attack. One blow of that ponderous head, with the weight
of that shaggy hump behind it, is still capable of knocking down a
horse. The veteran could fling his adversaries as nearly over the moon
as the cow ever jumped, if they only gave him a chance. Like a grim old
castle, he stands there more than a match for any direct assault of the
army around.

[Illustration: MIDNIGHT SERENADE ON THE PLAINS.]

With the tact of our modern generals, a line of investment is at once
formed, and a system of worrying adopted. No rest now for the old bull.
He can not lie down, or the beasts of prey will swarm upon him. Again
and again he charges the foe, each time clearing a passage readily, but
only to have it close again almost instantly. In these resultless
sorties the garrison is fast using up its material of war. The
ammunition is getting short which fires the old warrior, and sends the
black horns, like a battering-ram, right and left among his foes. As
long as he keeps his feet he lives, though hemmed in closely by the
snapping and snarling multitude. The tenacity of one of these patriarchs
is wonderful. For a whole life-time chief of the brutes on his native
plains, he has grown up surrounded by wolves. Not fearing them himself,
he has easily defended the cows and calves. An attempted siege would
once have been but sport to him, and it seems difficult for the brain in
the thick skull to understand that Time, like a vampire, has been
sucking the juices from his joints and the blood from his veins.

Tired out at length, the old bull begins to totter, and his knees to
shake from sheer exhaustion. His shakiness is as fatal as that of a Wall
Street bull. As he lies down the wolves are upon him. They are clinging
to the shaggy form, like blood-hounds, before it has even sunk to the
sod, and the victim never rises again.

The cayotes are very cowardly, and when carcasses are plenty, sleep
during the day in their holes, which are generally dug into the sides of
some ravine. If found during the hours of light, it is usually skulking
in the hollows near their burrows. They have a decidedly disagreeable
penchant for serenading travelers' camps at night, so that our late
experience, the guide assured me, was by no means uncommon. They will
steal in from all directions, and sit quietly down on their haunches in
a circle of investment. Not a sound or sign of their coming do they
make, and, if on guard, one may imagine that every foot of the country
immediately surrounding is visible, and utterly devoid of any animate
object. All at once, as if their tails were connected by a telegraphic
wire, and they had all been set going by electricity, the whole line
gives voice. The initial note is the only one agreed upon. After
striking that in concert, each particular cayote goes it on his own
account, and the effect is so diabolical that I could readily excuse
Shamus for thinking that the dismal pit had opened.

At this point Dobeen approached and cut off my further gleaning of wolf
lore. The corners of his mouth seemed still inclined to twitch, showing
that the shock had not yet worn off. He was chilled by the night, he
said, and did not feel very well, and craved our honors' permission to
sleep at our feet in the tent. Consent was given, and as he left us he
turned to announce his belief that animals with such voices must have
big throats.

It was not yet light, next morning, when our camp was all astir again.
Drowsiness has no abiding place with an expedition like ours upon the
plains. Should he be found lurking anywhere among the blankets, a bucket
of water, from some hand, routs him at once and for the whole trip. Even
Sachem, who usually hugged Morpheus so long and late, might that
morning have been seen among the earliest of us washing in the waters of
the creek.

We were all in excellent spirits, and with appetites for breakfast that
would have done no discredit to a pack of hungry wolves. No sign of the
sun was yet visible, save a scarcely perceptible grayish tinge diffusing
itself slowly through the darkness, and the lifting of a light fog along
the creek upon which we were encamped. Although sufficiently novel to
most of our party, the scene was quite dreary, and we longed, amid the
gloom and chill, for the appearance of the sun, and breakfast. By the
way, I have noticed that with excursion parties, whether sporting or
scientific, enthusiasm rises and sets with the sun. The gray period
between darkness and dawn is an excellent time for holding council. The
mind, no less than the body, seems to find it the coolest hour of the
twenty-four, and shrinks back from uncertain advances.

Added to the discomforts usually attendant upon camp-life were our stiff
joints. The first day upon horseback is twelve hours of pleasant
excitement, with a fair share of wonder that so delightful a recreation
is not indulged in more generally. The next twenty-four hours are spent
in wondering whether those limbs which furnish one the means of
locomotion are still connected with the stiffened body, or utterly riven
from it; and, if the whole truth must be told, the saddle has also left
its scars.

As the edge of the plateau overlooking the river became visible in the
growing light, we saw, as on the evening previous, multitudes of buffalo
feeding there, and after breakfast a council of war was held. I am
somewhat ashamed to record that it voted no hunting that day. To find
the noblest of American game some of us had come half away across the
continent, and now, in sight of it, the tide of enthusiasm which had
swept us forward hitherto stood suddenly still. Not because it was about
to ebb, but simply in obedience to certain signals of distress flying
from the various barks, and which it was utterly impossible for any of
us to conceal.

For mounting a horse was entirely out of the question for that day. Not
one of us could have swung himself into saddle for any less motive than
a race with death. Our steps were slow and painful, and we felt as if,
at this period of life's voyage, every timber of our several crafts had
been pounded separately upon some of the hidden rocks of ocean. It was
absolutely necessary to go into dock for repairs, and the valley
promised to be a pleasant harbor.

It was a truly melancholy spectacle to behold Sachem and Muggs. The
liveliest and the gayest ones yesterday, but to-day the gravest of the
grave. That rotund form, which always doubted his own or other people's
emotions, was the walking embodiment of woe, and for once evidently
clear of all doubt upon one subject, at least. Muggs was even free to
confess that, for general results, yesterday's rough riding exceeded "a
'unt with the 'ounds." Our animals were also quite stiff, but the
hostlers attributed this not so much to their yesterday's service as to
their long ride in the cars. They had not yet got their "land legs"
fully on again. It was soothing to our pride, if not to our feelings,
to reflect that perhaps some of our soreness was the result of their
first day's stiffness.

A beaver colony near us, and a great abundance of turkeys, offered
lessons in natural history of no small interest, and within reach of
lame students. The valley gave an entomological invitation to Mr. Colon,
and the great ledges, with their possibilities of valuable fossils,
attracted the Professor.

Sitting on a wagon tongue, and applying liniment to an abraded shin,
might have been seen Pythagoras, M. D., whose daily life, since leaving
Topeka, had been a series of struggles with the brute he rode. His
belief in the transition of souls into horses was growing upon him. He
felt that he was combating the spirit of a deceased prize-fighter, which
used its hoofs as fists, landing blows right and left. Doctor David
called these "spiritual manifestations." A favorite habit of the animal
was what is known as brushing flies from the ear with the hind foot, and
often, as the owner was about to mount, this species of front kick would
upset him. The equine's disposition, it must be said, had not been
improved by the immense saddle-bags with which the Doctor had surmounted
him when on the march. Originally, these contained a small amount of
medicine, but this had all been ground to powder under the weight of
sundry stones and bones, gathered in the furtherance of the great theory
of development.

As the sun got well up in the heavens, staying in camp became
monotonous, and we hobbled off in different directions, to examine the
surroundings. Our Mexicans climbed to the plains above, taking their
rusty muskets along to kill buffalo. Our guide went down to the hunting
camp below us, intending to return to Hays with the officers, home
duties requiring his attention. One of our hostlers, familiar with the
country, was to be our pilot in future.

Back of our camp lay the castellated rocks which had attracted our
notice the previous evening, and over which Daub, our artist, now became
intensely enthusiastic. He wandered back and forth in front of them, his
soul in his eyes, and these upturned to the bluffs. And thus we left
him.

"Genius is struggling hard for utterance there," said the Professor
impressively. "That young man will make his mark; see if he doesn't."
Alas, how little we thought he would do it so soon.

An hour later, returning that way, we descried our artist high up on the
face of the rocks, perched on a jutting fragment, and clinging to a
stunted cedar with one hand, while with the other he plied his brush.
Fully forty feet intervened between him and the earth.

"What devotion!" cried the Professor.

"Beautiful spirit," said Mr. Colon, "how soon it commences to climb."

"That young man will develop," said Dr. Pythagoras.

A few feet more, and the artist and his work were fully revealed. He had
developed. A cry of agony came from the Professor's lips; for there in
large yellow lines, half blotting out a beautiful stone, our eyes beheld
the diabolical letters, S O Z.

He never finished the word. The Professor seized a rifle, and brought it
to a level with the artist's paint pot. "Come down, you rascal!" he
cried. "How dare you deface one of nature's castles with a patent name?"
Would he have fired? I think he would. But the man of genius caught his
eye, and comprehending the situation, cried, with face whiter than the
chalk before him, "O, don't!"

"Add the 'odont', you villain," screamed the Professor, "and I'll--I'll
fire!"

With our first returning wagon, the artist went back to Hays, but his
work, alas! remains, and perhaps--who knows?--some future generation may
yet point to that wall and tell how SOZ, king of an extinct people, once
held dominion over the beautiful valley.



CHAPTER XVI.

     BISON MEAT--A STRANGE ARRIVAL--THE SYDNEY FAMILY--THE HOME IN THE
     VALLEY--THE SOLOMON MASSACRE--THE MURDER OF THE FATHER AND THE
     CHILD--THE SETTLERS' FLIGHT--INCIDENTS--OUR QUEEN OF THE
     PLAINS--THE PROFESSOR INTERESTED--IRISH MARY--DOBEEN HAPPY--THE
     HEROINE OF ROMANCE--SACHEM'S BATH BY MOONLIGHT--THE BEAVER COLONY.


At noon we were all in camp again, fully prepared to do justice to the
ample dinner of buffalo, antelope, and turkey which we found awaiting
us. The Mexicans brought in the quarter of an old bull, and, according
to their own story, had committed terrible slaughter on the plain above;
but, as we had already learned to balance a Mexican account by a
deduction of nine-tenths for over-drafts, we felt that we saw before us
the result of their day's hunt. This our first taste of bison, gave us
highly exaggerated ideas of that animal's endurance. The entire flesh
was surprisingly elastic--indeed, a very clever imitation of India
rubber. It recoiled from our teeth with a spring, and just then I should
scarcely have been surprised had I seen those buffalo which were feeding
in the distance, go bounding off like immense foot-balls. My opinion in
regard to buffalo meat afterward underwent a great change, but not until
I had tasted the flesh of the cows and calves. Shamus, on this occasion,
had devoted his culinary energies especially to the turkeys, and they
were well worthy such attention. Their fat forms, nicely browned, would
have tempted the veriest dyspeptic.

Just as we rose from dinner, a covered emigrant wagon was discovered
approaching us, coming down the valley right on our trail. From the fact
that we were off the route of overland travel, our first conjecture was
that it was from Hays, with a party of hunters, or possibly with
Tenacious Gripe, so far recovered as to be rejoining us. We assumed an
attitude of dignified interest, prepared to develop it into friendship,
or "don't want to know you" style, as occasion might require. A hale,
elderly man was the driver, now walking beside his oxen. The outfit
halted before our astonished camp, and as it did so two women, genuine
spirits of calico and long hair, lifted a corner of the wagon cover and
looked out. Both were apparently young, but one face was thin, and had
that peculiar expression of being old before its time which is far more
desolate than age. The other countenance was certainly good-looking and
interesting--quite different, indeed, from those usually seen peeping
out of emigrant wagons. Introductions are short and decisive on the
plains. We liked their looks, and invited them to stop; they liked ours,
and accepted. I think the Professor's dignified attitude and scholarly
bearing stood us in good stead as references.

Another female developed as the wagon gave forth its load--this time a
bouncing Irish girl, rosy-cheeked and active, evidently the family
servant. At this latter apparition Shamus dropped one of our platters,
but quickly recovering himself, began to put forth wonderful exertions
to prepare a second dinner, the new comers having consented, after some
hesitation, to become our guests during the nooning hour.

Before proceeding to give the reader the history of this interesting
family, I ought, perhaps, to say that I do so with their express
permission, the only disguise being that, at his request, the father
will here be designated by his Christian name, Sydney.

These people, after an absence of about a year, were now returning from
Elizabeth City, a recently-started mining town in New Mexico, to their
former home, about forty miles east of our present camp, which they had
left the preceding season under circumstances that were sad, indeed.
About three years before, the family, then consisting of Mr. Sydney and
wife, and their two daughters, had moved from Ohio to Kansas and settled
on a tributary of the Solomon. Availing himself of the homestead law,
Mr. Sydney took a tract of one hundred and sixty acres, and commenced
improving it. One of the daughters soon married a young man to whom she
had been betrothed at the East, and who at once set earnestly to work to
make for himself and young wife a home in the new land. The houses of
the father and the child were but half a mile apart, and, no timber
intervening, each could be plainly seen from the other. For a time this
little colony of two families was very happy. Having had the first
choice, their farms were well situated, embracing both river and valley,
and their herds, provided with rich and unlimited range, increased
rapidly. Soon rumors came from below that a railroad, on its way to the
Rocky Mountains, would shortly wind its way up the Solomon Valley,
bringing civilization to that whole region, and daily mails within a few
miles of their doors.

The second year of prosperity had nearly ended, when one morning a man
from the settlements above dashed rapidly past Mr. Sydney's house,
turning in his saddle to cry that the Cheyennes had been murdering
people up the river, and were now sweeping on close behind him. The
message of horror was scarcely ended when the dusky cloud appeared in
sight, rioting in its tempest of death down the valley. Midway between
home and the house of her daughter, Mrs. Sydney was overtaken by the
yelling demons. In vain the agonized husband pressed forward to the
rescue, firing rapidly with his carbine. She was killed before his eyes,
but not scalped, the Indians evidently considering delay dangerous.

It is a fact that speaks volumes in illustration of the mingled ferocity
and cowardice that characterize the wild Indians of to-day that, in all
that terrible Solomon massacre, not a single armed man who used his
weapon was harmed, nor was one house attacked. The victims were composed
entirely of the surprised and the defenseless, overtaken at their work
and on the roads.

Passing the dead body of the mother, the Cheyennes, on their wiry
ponies, swept onward, like demon centaurs, toward the home of the
daughter. Sitting by our fire at evening, with that dreary, fixed look
which one never forgets who has once seen it, the young woman told us
the story of her childless widowhood. Her face was one of those which,
smitten by sorrow, are stricken until death. Once evidently comely, the
smiles and warm flush had died out from it forever--just as in the lapse
of centuries the colors fade from a painting. Though scarcely
twenty-five, her youth was but an image of the past. She told her story
in that mechanical, absent sort of manner which showed that no morning
had followed the evening of that desolate day. She was still living with
her dead.

"The Lord gave me then a cup so bitter," she said, "that its sting drove
a mother's joy from my heart forever. I have been at peace since,
because, among the dregs, I found that God had placed a diamond for me
to wear when I was wedded to him. Even then I did not rebel and reproach
my Maker, but I sunk down with one loud cry, and it went right along to
the great white throne up there, with the spirits of my husband and my
babe. I thought I could see them in the air, like two white doves
flitting upward, bearing with them, as part of our sacrifice, the cry
that I gave, when my heart-strings seemed to snap, and I knew that I was
a widow and childless. Perhaps I was crazed for a moment, or--I do not
know--perhaps my spirit really did go with them part of the way. The
neighbors found me there for dead, and I remained cold, till they
brought in my dear babe, my poor, mutilated babe, and placed him on my
breast. His warm blood must have woke me, and I sat up, and saw them
bringing John's body to lay it by me. And then the whole scene came
before me again, and it seemed so stamped into my very brain, that
shutting my eyes left me more alone with my murdered ones and the
murderers. And I just dragged myself where I could look at the setting
sun, and tried with its bright glare to burn the scene from off my
vision, so that, if I went mad, there wouldn't be any memory of it left.
For mad people have their memories and suffer from them, and they know
it, and the very fact that they know it keeps them mad. I went through
it all.

"A person dreaming is not rational, and yet may suffer so, and feel it
too, as to shudder hours after waking up. There was John, running toward
the house with our baby boy, and the savages yelling and whipping their
ponies, trying to get between the open door and him. Alone, he could
have saved himself. And our baby thought John was running for play, and
was clapping his little hands and chirping at me as the savages closed
around my husband. I had only time to pray five words, 'O God, save my
husband!' and it did not seem an instant until I saw the poor body I
loved so well lying on the ground, and they standing over, shooting
their arrows into it. Baby was not killed, but thrown forward under one
of the horses, and I had just taken a step or so toward him, when an
Indian, who seemed to be the chief, lifted him by the dress to his
saddle. I think his first intention was to carry him with them, but,
seeing some of our neighbors hurrying toward us, they struck the baby
with a hatchet, and hurled him to the ground. At the instant they struck
him, he was looking back at me with his great blue eyes wide open and
staring with fright."

And then the poor woman, having finished her story, began sobbing
piteously.

The Solomon had numberless tales of these terrible massacres equally as
harrowing as this, and I could fill pages of this volume with chapters
of woe that terminated many a family's history. The result of these and
other Indian atrocities is probably yet remembered throughout the entire
country. Kansas well nigh rebelled against a government which left her
unprotected. The War Department authorized vigorous measures, and the
Governor of the State raised a regiment and at its head took the field.
Through blows from Custar and Carr, the savages found out, at last, that
the dogs of war which they let loose might return to bay at their own
doors.

Two women from the Saline were carried into captivity by the Indians,
and taken as wives by two of their chiefs. One day Carr, at the head of
his troops, looked down into the valley upon the encampment of a band
especially noted for its hostility, now lying in fancied security below
him. The two white captives were in the wigwams. Suddenly, to the ears
of the savages, came a murmur from the hill-side like the first whisper
of a torrent.

Instantly, almost, it increased to a roar, and, as they sprung to their
feet and rushed forth, the blue waves of vengeance dashed against the
village, and broke in showers of leaden spray upon them. Mercy put no
shield between them and that annihilating tempest. Every savage in the
number was a fiend, and, as a band, they had long been the scourge of
the border. Their hands were yet red with the blood of the massacres
upon the Saline and Solomon, and white women toiled in the wigwams of
their husbands' murderers. One of the captives, Mrs. Daley, was killed
by the savages, to prevent rescue; the other was saved, and restored to
her husband.

Somewhat later, two women from the Solomon were taken captive, one of
them being a bride of but four months who had recently come out with her
young husband from the State of New York. Custar seized some chiefs and,
with noosed lariats dangling before their eyes, bade them send and have
those prisoners brought in, or suffer the penalties. Indians have an
unconquerable prejudice against being hung, as it prevents their spirits
entering the happy hunting grounds, and the captives were promptly sent
to Custar's camp. We afterward saw one of them, Mrs. Morgan, on the
Solomon. What an agony must have been hers, as she came in sight of her
old home, and the memory of her wrongs since leaving it, rose anew
before her!

But to return to the history of our emigrants. After the murders, Mr.
Sydney and his daughters abandoned their farms, and with the same wagon
and oxen which two years before had brought the family out from Ohio,
they started for the recently discovered mines in New Mexico. The
journey was tedious, and, when at length arrived there, he found but
little gold, and even less relief from his mighty sorrow. The old home,
with its graves, beckoned him back, and thither he was now returning to
spend his remaining days, unless, as he laconically stated, some one had
"jumped the claim." Lest my readers toward the rising sun should not
clearly understand the old gentleman's meaning, I ought perhaps to
explain that, under existing laws, a "Homesteader" can not be absent
from his land over six months at any time, without forfeiting his title,
and rendering it liable to occupancy by other parties. It was already
two days over the allotted period, he said. But the oxen were thin, and
he finally decided to rest with us until the next morning, and then push
forward.

Flora, the younger daughter, was a blooming Western girl of a thoroughly
practical turn, and a counselor on whose advice the father and sister
evidently relied greatly. The Professor assured me confidentially that
evening, and with much more than his wonted enthusiasm on such a
subject, that she preferred the language of the rocks to that of fashion
plates. She had even disputed one of his statements, he said, and
vanquished him by producing the proof from a well-worn scientific
work--one of a dozen books carefully wrapped up and stowed away with
other goods in the wagon.

A novel accomplishment which the young lady possessed was that of being
an excellent rifle shot, and it afforded us all considerable merriment
when she challenged Muggs to a trial of skill, and, producing a target
rifle, utterly defeated him. Such a woman as that, the Professor said,
was safe on the frontier; she could fight her own way and clear her
vicinity of savages, whenever necessary, as well as any of us.

We did not wish our emigrant maiden aught but what she was, and were
well pleased with the romance of her visit. For the nonce, she was our
queen; the rough ox-wagon was her throne, and the great plains her ample
domain. In sober truth, she might justly challenge our esteem and
admiration. Here was one of the gentler sex willing to make divorce of
happiness, that she might minister to a half-crazed father and mourning
sister, and who, for their sake, chose to wander through a country which
might at any moment become to them the valley of the shadow of death. In
the presence of such heroism, what right had we, though bruised and
tired, to complain? No wonder the Professor took early occasion to tell
us that she was a noble woman, an honor to her sex.

This emigrant wagon, with its wee bit of domestic life, was a pleasant
object to all of us out there on the desert, with the single exception
of Alderman Sachem. That worthy member of our party avoided its
vicinity, as if a plague spot had there seized upon the valley. "I did
think," he exclaimed, dividing glances that were quite the reverse of
complimentary between the Professor and Shamus--"I did think that we had
got out of the latitude of spooning. We haven't had a digestible
mouthful since they came in sight. A love-struck Irishman can neither
eat, himself, or let others."

But Shamus was too happy to heed the remark; for the first time since
starting, he seemed perfectly contented. An Irish girl, the like of
Mary, and devoted enough to follow her old master through such
adversity, seemed Dobeen's beau ideal of the lovely and lovable in the
sex. The valley became for him the brightest spot upon earth. He would
have been content there to court and cook, I think, during the remainder
of his natural life. Mary was shy, and Shamus was bold, but it was quite
apparent that both enjoyed the situation immensely.

Although the little party stayed but a day, their departure seemed to
leave quite a void in the valley. The most noticeable results to us were
some errors in cooking and a slackness in the prosecution of scientific
investigations.

Mr. Sydney gave us a hearty invitation to visit him upon the Solomon, if
our wanderings took us that way, and our prophetic souls, with a common
instinct, told all of us that the Professor would recognize a call of
science in that direction. By a look and a smile from a maiden, the
Philosopher, deeply sunken in the primary formation, had been drawn to
the surface of the modern, a result which fashionable society had more
than once striven in vain to bring about. Miss Flora certainly bid fair
to become a favorite pupil of his, were the opportunity only offered.

This maiden of the plains was a new character. The beautiful heroine
mentioned in most Western novels as having penetrated the Indian
country, is either the daughter of "once wealthy parents," or the
heiress of a noble family and stolen by gypsies for reward or revenge.
It was the first appearance that I could recall of a farmer's girl in a
position where kidnapping Indians and a frantic lover could so easily
appear, and by opportune conjunction weave the plot of a soul-harrowing
romance.

Another evening in camp was spent in writing and story-telling. The
fire was getting low, when Sachem rose to his feet and called to Shamus.
"Dobeen," said he, "your country folks are always handy with the sticks.
Let's go for wood, and have a fire that will warm up the witches on
their broomsticks and send them flying off to hug the clouds." We
watched the pair go out of sight. Knowing well the habits of Tammany, we
all felt sure that, though he might find the load, Irish shoulders would
have to bear it back to camp.

Scarcely three minutes had elapsed, when out of the timber, with
garments as wet as water could make them and dripping fast, a fat form
came shivering to our fire. Our alderman had taken a night bath in the
creek--an adventure which he thus related in his own peculiar way:

"Below us in the woods is a big beaver pond, I don't know how deep. I
seemed an hour going down, and didn't touch bottom then. I was fooled by
the moon. (To be expected, though, as she's a female!) A few of her
beams, thrown down through the trees, glittered on the water like drift
wood. That sort of beams make poor timber for bridges, but I didn't know
it then as well as I do now. One of them went from bank to bank, and I
took it for a log, and got a ducking. How frightened I was, though, when
my feet touched water and my body went, with a swash, right under it! I
opened my mouth to shout and the water rushed in, and I was like a
vessel sinking with open hatches. I took in so much, I was afraid I'd be
waterlogged and never come up. I did, though, and found that rascally
Irishman throwing sticks at my head, and telling me to hold on to them.
I told him to do that thing himself, and finally climbed ashore."

We afterward sought out our newly-found neighbors, the beavers, finding
their pond a short distance below us on the creek, and a little lower
down the dam itself. Many more trees had been cut for the latter than
were used in its construction, several having been abandoned when almost
ready to fall. We noticed that the butts of the prostrated trees were
sharpened down gradually like the point of a lead-pencil, but both ways,
instead of one, so that a tree cut nearly through met from above and
below at the point of breaking, like the waist of an hour glass. This
dam was most interesting to all of us, since it seemed so much to
resemble the work of man. In this waste place of the earth, it really
seemed almost like company, and we felt a strong desire to have a
friendly conference with the builders. But these had formed this
reservoir for the express purpose that in its depths they might escape
intrusion, and now the whole regiment of engineers seemed asleep in
barracks. Still our men secured a few very fine ones by trapping.

It appeared that the beavers were a vacillating set of architects, as
all the trees which stood near the water and leaned over it at all, were
gnawed more or less, and many of them left when almost ready to fall.
The position of the dam had evidently been determined by the tree which
fell first. From the reckless manner in which they had slashed around
with their teeth, it was pertinently suggested that this colony must
have obtained from the beaver congress a government subsidy. Having been
acquainted with the art of building before man mastered it, the beaver
race also probably understood how to do it at little personal expense.

The beaver appears to be distributed in considerable numbers all over
the western half of Kansas, although the spring floods sweep away their
dams almost every season. Once afterward, when lost on the plains for a
day, I came across a beaver dam. Several hours of anxious suspense in
the solitude, fearing to meet man lest he should prove a savage, begot a
strange feeling of companionship when I came in sight of the rude
structure of logs. If not civilization, it was a close imitation of it,
and I laid down and fell into a refreshing sleep, soothed, in the
fantasies of Dreamland, with the whir of looms and hum of factory life.



CHAPTER XVII.

     PREPARATIONS FOR THE CHASE--THE VALLEY OF THE SALINE--QUEER
     'COONS--A BISON'S GAME OF BLUFF--IN PURSUIT--ALONGSIDE THE
     GAME--FIRING FROM THE SADDLE--A CHARGE AND A PANIC--FALSE HISTORY
     AGAIN--GOING FOR AMMUNITION--THE PROFESSOR'S LETTER--DISROBING THE
     VICTIM.


The early dawn of Wednesday morning saw us again astir. There was the
same creeping of mist out of the valley to join the darkness as it fled
from the plains above, and the same revealing of thousands of shaggy
forms silently feeding in the distance. This time our beasts and our
bodies were both in excellent condition for the chase. Joints gain and
lose stiffness quickly in such a life. One morning the hunter feels as
if the mill of life, though he turn its crank ever so slowly, had broken
every bone in his body; twenty-four hours later may find him elastic and
buoyant, as if youth had torn away from the embrace of the dead past and
was with him again in all its pristine vigor. In the present case, too,
that friend of early hours and foe of sleepy eyes, the coffee bean had
done its work for us grandly.

Ten horsemen comprised the strength of the party which rode out of the
valley just as daylight was coming into it. One of the hostlers and a
Mexican were left in camp, the remainder of our force accompanying us,
with a couple of wagons to bring in the game. At his earnest
solicitation, Shamus was permitted to abandon his post of duty
temporarily, and go along also, with the understanding that he was to
select choice pieces from the first suitable game we might bring down,
and, returning to camp, be ready for our arrival with an ample dinner.

As we rode down the valley of Silver Creek, gangs of wild turkeys
occasionally came out of the narrow skirt of timber, and, running along
before us for short distances, re-entered it, and were lost to view
again. Never having been hunted, they seemed destitute of the timidity
and cunning which are the usual characteristics of this bird.

Twenty minutes' ride brought us to the Saline, the basin of which we
found to be half a mile or thereabouts in width, and presenting a scene
of great desolation. We were something like two hundred feet below the
table-lands which came down to the narrow valley in barren canyons and
masses of rock. The stream itself is narrow, with less than two feet of
water running swiftly over the sands, and along its banks, at intervals,
a few dwarfed cottonwood trees. Such was the Valley of the Saline at
this point; yet thirty miles below, our men told us, the valley opened
out into rich bottom lands, and was famous for its beauty.

While in the act of crossing, we came suddenly upon four small animals
playing and fishing in the shallow water. With an exclamation of
astonishment, the Professor had his glasses out in a moment. The guide
informed us they were only 'coons, and such they were sure enough, with
the peculiar color and distinctive rings that made it impossible, on
second look, to mistake them for any thing else. Truly, Nature seemed
full of eccentricities in this remarkable region. The raccoons of
natural history have always affected trees, and been considered, _par
excellence_, creatures of the forest. I scarcely think the Professor
would have been surprised, at that moment, to know that hereabouts fish
were in the habit of climbing around in bushes, or stealing corn.

When they heard us, the four little fellows scampered away a few steps,
and disappeared in some holes in the bank, in executing which maneuver
one of them swam a yard or two across a deep spot, making good progress.
We learned from our men that small colonies of these animals are
frequently found along treeless creeks on the plains, living in the
banks, and fishing for a living, by grasping the minnows and frogs, as
they pass over the shallow places.

From the river we directed our course toward a deep canyon which,
opening toward us as if the bluff had been riven asunder by some great
convulsion of Nature, at its further end reached the level of the
plains, and offered us an easy ascent. Evidence of volcanic action
appeared along the canyon in the form of vitrified fragments and
occasional masses of lava resembling rock.

The guide called our attention to an object in the ravine some distance
ahead, which was enveloped in a cloud of dust. It was a buffalo, he
said, indulging in a game of bluff. This statement not appearing very
clear to our non-gambling party, he explained that the old fellow was
"butting against the bank, as if he was going to break it all to pieces,
when in reality he had no show at all."

As we could not approach nearer without frightening him, we stood still
for a few minutes and watched him. He would back fifteen or twenty yards
from the bluff, paw the ground for an instant, and then fling himself
headlong against the wall of earth with a tremendous force, as was
abundantly testified by the great clouds of dust that would rise in the
air. For a moment afterward he would continue violently hooking the
soil, as if the bowels of the earth were those of an adversary. We
afterward repeatedly saw bulls engaged in this exercise. It is to the
buffalo what the training school is to the prize-fighter, a developing
of brute force for future conflicts.

The shock of such charges as we witnessed, if made by a domestic ox,
would have broken his neck. Even our bison friend finally overdid the
matter. Either because his foot tripped or the blow glanced, upon one of
his charges, he fell down on his fore legs, and then rolled completely
over. We thought this a good time to push forward, and accordingly did
so at a gallop. Whether thinking himself knocked down by a foe, or
because he heard the rattling of hoofs, we could not determine, but he
suddenly sprang to his feet, whirled his shaggy head into bearing upon
us, then turned and set away at full speed up the canyon, toward the
plains above. The order was given to ply spur and close in upon him, if
possible, or he would set the herds above in motion.

It was a mad ride that we had for the next ten minutes--across beds of
gravel, among huge bowlders, and once or twice over great fissures in
the earth which chilled my blood as I took a sort of bird's-eye view of
their depths. In a lumbering run on ahead of us went the frightened
bull, his feet occasionally sending back dashes of pebbles, while behind
him rattled such a clattering of hoofs that the poor brute, if he could
think at all, must have imagined he had butted open the door of Hades,
and was now being pursued by its inmates.

There were mishaps in this our first buffalo hunt, of course, and among
them, Muggs dropped a stirrup, and was obliged to support himself
afterward on one foot--an awkward matter, resulting from his
inconvenient English saddle, one of the kind which compels one, half the
time, to sustain the whole body by the stirrups alone. We gained upon
the game steadily, though no particular member of our party excelled as
leader, first one being ahead and then the other. Cynocephalus developed
wonderfully, and kept well up with his better conditioned neighbors.

What a magnificent prize for the hunter rushed on before us, swinging
his ponderous head from side to side, for the purpose of getting better
rear views--such an ungainly and shaggy animal, a perfect marvel of
magnificent disproportions! It is well enough to go to Africa and hunt
lions, and describe their majestic, flowing manes; but this bison, in
mad flight ahead of us, could have furnished hair and mane enough to fit
out half a dozen lions. At close quarters, too, he was fully as
dangerous as the king of beasts.

We were close at his heels when the level of the plain was reached, and
pursuer and pursued shot out upon it together. A large herd, feeding not
five hundred yards away, was speedily in full flight northward. "A stern
chase is a long chase," is no less true in buffalo hunting than in
nautical matters. After considerable experience in the sport, I would
recommend amateurs to get as near their game as possible before
starting, and then try their horses' full metal. Once by the side of the
game, he can keep there to the end. And so, after a terrible chase, when
at times we had almost despaired of overtaking the old fellow, we now
found it easy to keep alongside.

Our bull was a huge one, even among his species, and in such moments of
excitement the imagination seems to have a trick of entering the
chambers of the eye, and sliding its mirrors into a sort of double focus
arrangement. With blood boiling until my heart seemed to bob up and down
on its surface, I found myself riding parallel with the brute, and had I
never seen him afterward, would have been almost willing to make oath
that his size could be represented only by throwing a covering of
buffalo robes over an elephant.

Every one in the party was firing, some having dropped their reins to
use their carbines, and others yet guiding their horses with one hand,
while they fired their holster revolvers with the other. Shooting from
the saddle, with a horse going at full speed, needs practice to enable
one to hit any thing smaller than a mammoth. You point the weapon, but
at the instant your finger presses the trigger, the muzzle may be
directed toward the zenith or the earth. An experienced hunter steadies
his arm, not allowing it to take part in the motion of his body, no
matter how rough the latter may be. But we were not experienced hunters,
and so, although such exclamations as, "That told!" "Mine went through!"
and "Perfectly riddled!" were almost as numerous as the bullets, it was
easy to see that the flying monster remained unharmed.

From the first, Mr. Colon had fired without taking any aim whatever, and
so it happened that his gun, in describing its half circle consequent
upon the rising and falling motion of the horse, at length went off at
the proper moment, and we heard the thud of the ball as it struck.
Dropping his head into position as if for a charge, the buffalo whirled
sharply to the right, and passing directly between our horses, made off
toward the main herd. But he soon slowed down to a walk, and as we again
came up with him, we could see the blood trickling from his nose, which
he held low like a sick ox.

In the excitement of the chase, and perhaps from being well blown before
coming near the buffalo, our horses had hitherto shown no fear, but now,
as the old bull stood there in all his savage hugeness, and the smell of
blood tainted the air, they pushed, jostled, snorted, and pranced, so
that it required all our efforts to keep them from downright flight.
Even Dobeen's donkey kept his rider uncertain whether his destiny was to
seek the ground or abide in the saddle.

The brute stood facing us, perhaps fifty yards off, his eyes rolling
wildly from pain and fury, and the blood flowing freely through his
nostrils.

We were waiting patiently for him to die, when suddenly the head went
into position, like a Roman battering ram, and down he came upon us. We
were utterly routed. No spur was necessary to prompt the horses, and I
doubt if their former owners had ever known what latent speed their
hides concealed. The whole thing was so sudden there was no time for
thought, and all that I can remember is a confused sort of idea that
each animal was going off at a tremendous pace, with the rider devoting
his energies to sticking on. After the first few jumps, we were no
longer an organized company, each brute taking his own course, and
carrying us, like fragments of an explosion, in different directions. A
marked exception, however, was Muggs' mule, which for the only time in
his life, seemed unwilling to run away. After being the first to start,
and assisting the others to stampede, he stopped suddenly short,
depositing his rider something like ten yards ahead of him, in a manner
quite the reverse of gentle.

We did not stop running as soon as we might have done. And I here enter
protest against the nonsense indulged in on one point by most of the
novelists who educate people in buffalo lore. When we halted, there
stood the bull not thirty yards from the spot where he had first
stopped, although we had located him, throughout more than half a mile's
ride but a few feet from our horses' tails, and at times had even
imagined we heard his deep panting. This mortifying record would have
been saved us had we known that a buffalo's charges never extend beyond
a short distance. Either his adversary or his attack is speedily
terminated. He does not pursue, in the "long, deep gallop" style at all.
Yet I scarcely remember a single instance mentioned in those old books
of western adventure, in which a buffalo's charge was for a less
distance than a mile. In one case that I now recall, the race was nip
and tuck between man and bison for over an hour, and the biped was
finally enabled to save his life only by leaving the saddle and swinging
into a tree! Such stories are simply balderdash.

As soon as possible after checking our horses, we rode back toward the
wagon and the game, seeing in the former, the grinning faces of our men.
The buffalo was still on his feet, but while we looked he slowly sunk to
his knees, like an ox lying down to rest, and then quietly reposed on
his belly, in the same attitude one sees domestic cattle assume when
wishing a quiet chew of the cud. Had it not been for his bloody nose and
wild eyes, he would have looked as peaceful as any bovine that ever
breathed.

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION_

GOING AFTER AMMUNITION.]

Wishing to put the poor brute out of misery, we approached closer, and
several of us dismounted, when a general fire was opened. Like a cat,
the old fellow was on his feet again almost instantly. By a singular
coincidence, our entire party just then discovered that we were out of
ammunition, and in a body started for the wagon, to get some. Muggs
afterward assured us that, at the time, he had just got his hand in, "so
that every shot told, you know," and I have the authority of all for
the deliberate statement that the bull would have been riddled before
moving a foot had not the cartridges suddenly given out.

The effort of getting up had sent the mass of blood collected from
inward bleeding surging out of the buffalo's nose, and, as we looked
back, he was tottering feebly, and an instant afterward fell to the
ground. There was no doubt now of his death, and we swarmed upon and
around him. He was an immense old fellow, and his hide fairly covered
with the scars of past battles. Inasmuch as this was our first trophy,
it was determined to take his skin, and we forthwith seated the
Professor on his great shaggy neck, with the horns forming arms for an
impromptu hunter's throne. From thence he wrote upon leaves from his
note-book a letter to his class at the East, which he permitted me to
copy. I introduce it here, as showing that the blood of even a savan
pulsates warmly amid such circumstances as now surrounded us.


                                            "ON A BUFFALO, IN THE }
                                        YEAR OF MY HAPPINESS, ONE.}

     "_Dear Class_--I know the staid and quiet habits that characterize
     all of you, and that you are not given to hard riding and buffalo
     hunting. Yet this prairie air, with its rich fragrance and wild
     freeness, would give a new circulation to the blood of each one of
     you. Like a gale at sea, the breeze sweeps against one's cheeks,
     and the great billows of land rise on every side, as mountains of
     troubled ocean. Why not desert the city and lose yourself for
     awhile in this great grand waste? Antelope are bounding and buffalo
     running on every side of us, while villages of prairie dogs bark at
     the flying herds. One grows in self-estimation after breathing this
     air, and, feeling that safety and life depend on his own exertions,
     learns to place reliance upon the powers which Nature has given
     him, with manly independence of artificial laws and police.

     "While I am writing, the first victim of our prowess, a magnificent
     specimen of the American bison, is being skinned by our suite, the
     robe from which, when prepared, we intend sending you. The men say
     it must be dressed by some of the civilized Indians on the
     reserves, as the white man's tanning injures the value.

       *       *       *       *       *

     "The robe is now off, and half a ton of fat meat lies exposed. We
     shall only take the hind quarters, a portion of the hump, and the
     tongue. How glad the famishing wretches in the tenement houses of
     the city would be for an opportunity to pick those long ribs which
     we leave for the wolves! His horns are somewhat battered, but we
     have cut them off, to supplant hooks on a future hat-rack. One of
     the men has just taken a large musket ball from the animal's flank.
     That shot must have been received years ago, as the ball is an old
     fashioned one and is thickly encased in fat.

     "The geological formation of the country is very interesting. I
     expect to examine the same more thoroughly after we have studied
     the animals traversing its surface. Yesterday, we had in camp a
     family from the Solomon, who were sufferers some months since from
     the fearful Indian massacre there. Their story was an exceedingly
     interesting one, though very sad. We shall visit them if duty calls
     that way. I must close. The men have thrown the skin in the wagon,
     flesh side up, and deposited the meat upon it, and all are now
     ready for further conquests.

                    "Your sincere friend and instructor,

                                                              "H----."



CHAPTER XVIII.

     STILL HUNTING--DARK OBJECTS AGAINST THE HORIZON--THE RED MAN
     AGAIN--RETREAT TO CAMP--PREPARATIONS FOR DEFENSE--SHAKING HANDS
     WITH DEATH--MR. COLON'S BUGS--THE EMBASSADORS--A NEW ALARM--MORE
     INDIANS--TERRIFIC BATTLE BETWEEN PAWNEES AND CHEYENNES--THEIR MODE
     OF FIGHTING--GOOD HORSEMANSHIP--A SCIENTIFIC PARTY AS
     SEXTONS--DITTO AS SURGEONS--CAMPS OF THE COMBATANTS--STEALING
     AWAY--AN APPARITION.


Our further conquests for that day, it was decided, could best be
effected by still hunting. The guide had suggested that, if we desired
to fill our wagon with meat and get back to camp before night, we might
profitably adopt the practice of old hunters, who, when they pursue
bison, "mean business." The new tactics consisted of infantry
evolutions, and required a dismounting of the cavalry. We were to crawl
up to the herds, through ravines, and from those ambuscades open fire.

A mile away buffalo were feeding in large numbers, and our men pointed
out several swales into which we could sink from the surface of the
plains, and, following the winding lines, find cover until emerging
among the herd. But while we were still gazing at the latter, sharp and
distinct against the northern horizon appeared other objects, evidently
mounted men, and men in that direction meant Indians. It is wonderful
how quickly one's ardor disappears, when, from being the hunter, he
becomes the hunted. Our only desire now was, in Sachem's language, "a
hankering arter camp," which we at once proceeded to gratify.

Back again with the remainder of our party, we felt quite safe. Indians
of the plains seldom attack an armed body which is prepared for them;
and then there had been no recent demonstrations of hostility. On the
other hand, no massacre had yet occurred upon the frontier which was not
unexpected. The whole life of many of these nomads has been a catalogue
of surprises. It was Artemus Ward, I think, who knew mules that would be
good for weeks, for the sake of getting a better opportunity of kicking
a man. These savages will do the same for the sake of killing one.

Many an armed man, fully capable of defending himself, has thus been
thrown off his guard, and sent suddenly into eternity. The cunning
savage, seeing his foe prepared, approaches with signs of friendship,
and cries of "How, how?"--Indian and short for "How are you?" Their
extended hands meet, and as the palms touch, the pale-face shakes hands
with death; for, while his fingers are held fast in that treacherous
clasp, some other savage brains him from behind, or sheaths a knife in
his heart, and the betrayed white, jerked forward with a fiendish laugh,
kisses the grass with bloody lips. We had been repeatedly warned by our
guides that, when in the minority, the only safe way to hold councils
with the Indians is at rifle range. Even if bound by treaty, a
knowledge that they can take your scalp without losing their own, is
like binding a thief with threads of gold: the very power which should
restrain, is in itself a temptation.

Our little camp soon bristled all over with defiance, a sort of mammoth
porcupine presenting points at every angle for the enemy's
consideration. Our animals were put safely under cover among the trees,
where they could not be easily stampeded; the wagons were ranged in a
crescent, forming excellent defense for our exposed side; and pockets
were hurriedly filled with ammunition. As we were thus earnestly
preparing for war, an entomological accident occurred. Sachem, while
excitedly thrusting a handful of cartridges into Mr. Colon's pockets,
suddenly drew back his hand with an expression of alarm, bringing with
it a whole assortment of bugs. One of the pocket-cases of our
entomologist had opened, and the inmates, imprisoned but that morning,
were now swarming over our fat friend's fingers, and up his arm, which
he was shaking vigorously. There they were--rare bugs and plethoric
spiders, together with one lively young lizard--all clinging to the limb
which had brought them rescue from their cavernous cell with more
tenacity than if they had been stuck on with Spalding's glue. Poor
Sachem! While he danced and fumed, and gave his opinion of bug-men
generally, Mr. Colon cried--"O, my bugs, my beautiful bugs!" and grasped
eagerly at his vanishing treasures. Our alderman disengaged himself at
length from his noxious visitors, and meanwhile the other members of
the party, having provided themselves, poured into the other pocket of
the grieved naturalist a further supply of cartridges, thereby utterly
annihilating the remainder of his collection.

Our preparations being concluded, and still no signs of the Indians, we
sat down to dinner. Shamus was terribly agitated, and the shades of
dyspepsia hovered over his cooking; but, although the coffee was muddy
and the meat burned, we were in no mood to take exceptions. There was
considerable determination visible on the faces of all our party. The
red man was getting to be as sore a trouble to us as the black man had
been to politicians, and having already lost a day on his account, we
were now fully resolved to hold our ground. We had seen the savage in
all the terrors of his war-paint, and felt a very comforting degree of
assurance that a dozen cool-headed hunters, mostly armed with
breech-loaders, possessed the odds.

At length, along the edge of the breaks beyond the Saline, a dark object
appeared, followed by another and then another in rapid succession,
until forty unmistakable Indians came in sight, and were bearing
directly toward us, following the tracks of our wagons. Half a mile off
they halted, and then we saw one big fellow ride forward alone. His form
seemed a familiar one, and soon it revealed itself as that of our late
friend, White Wolf. Now we had, but a few days before, in the space of
four brief hours, concluded at least forty treaties of peace with this
chief and his drunken braves; yet, remembering past history, we should
have wanted at least as many more treaties, before taking the chances
of having one of them kept, and admitting the painted heathens before us
to full confidence and fellowship.

As the leader of our party, it devolved upon the Professor to go forward
and meet the chief, which he promptly did, taking along our man who was
acting in Cody's place as guide, to assist him in comprehending the
savage's wishes. Midway between us the respective embassadors met. We
heard the chief's loud "How, how?" and saw their hand-shaking, and could
not help wondering what the Philosopher's class would say, could they
have beheld their honored tutor officiating as a frontispiece for such a
savage background.

White Wolf stated that he had been out after Pawnees; he could not find
them, and so "Indian felt heap bad!" Just at this instant a loud, quick
cry came from his knot of warriors, who were now manifesting the wildest
excitement, lashing up their ponies, stringing their bows, and making
other preparations as if for a fight. Without a word, the chief turned
and ran for dear life toward his band, while the Professor and our guide
wheeled and ran for dear life toward us. Seldom has the man of science
made such progress as did the respected leader of our expedition then.
The guide called, "Cover us with your guns!"--a command which we
immediately proceeded to obey, evidently to the intense alarm of the
Professor, for so completely were they covered, that I doubt if either
would have escaped, had we been called upon to fire.

Our first thought had been a suspicion of treachery, but we now saw
that the Cheyennes had faced toward the hills, and, following their
gaze, we beheld coming down their trail, and upon the tracks of our
wagon, another band of mounted Indians. It soon became clear to us that
the Pawnees, the Wolf's failure to find whom had made that noble red man
feel "heap bad," were coming to find him. We counted them riding along,
twenty-five in all--inferior in numbers, it was true, but superior to
the Cheyennes in respect to their arms, so that, upon the whole, the two
forces now about to come together were not unevenly matched. The Pawnees
live beyond the Platte, and for years have been friendly to the whites,
even serving in the wars against the other tribes on several occasions.

What a stir there was in the late peaceful valley! The buffalo that were
lately feeding along the brow of the plateau had all fled, and here
right before us were sixty-five native Americans, bent upon killing each
other off, directly under the eyes of their traditional destroyer, the
white man. The Professor said it forcibly suggested to his mind some of
the fearful gladiatorial tragedies of antiquity. Sachem responded that
he wasn't much of a Roman himself, but he could say that in this show he
was very glad we occupied the box-seat, the safest place anywhere around
there; and we all decided that it must be a face-to-face fight, in which
neither party dare run, as that would be disorganization and
destruction.

It was strange to see these wild Ishmaelites of the plains warring
against each other. Over the wide territory, broad enough for thousands
of such pitiful tribes, they had sought out each other for a bloody
duel, like two gangs of pirates in combat on mid-ocean; and, like them,
if either or both were killed, the world would be all the better for it.
It was clearly what would be called, on Wall street, a "brokers' war,"
in which, when the operators are preying on each other, outsiders are
safe.

While we were looking, a wild, disagreeable shout came up from the
twenty-five Pawnees, as they charged down into the valley, which was
promptly responded to by fierce yells from the forty Cheyennes.

"Let it be our task to bury the dead," said the Professor, looking
toward the wagon in which rested his geological spade. "It is extremely
problematical whether any of these red men will go out of the valley
alive."

And thus another wonderful change had come over the spirit of our dream.
From being a scientific and sporting expedition, we had been suddenly
metamorphosed into a gang of sextons, who, in a valley among the
buffaloes, were witnessing an Indian battle, and waiting to bury the
slain.

As the Pawnees came down at full gallop, the Cheyennes lashed up their
ponies to meet them. Then came the crack of pistols, and a perfect storm
of arrows passed and crossed each other in mid-air. As the combatants
met, we could see them poking lances at each other's ribs for an
instant, and then each side retreated to its starting point. Charge
first was ended. We gazed over the battle-field to count the dead, but
to our surprise none appeared.

[Illustration: BATTLE BETWEEN CHEYENNES AND PAWNEES.]

A few minutes were spent by both parties in a general overhauling of
their equipments, and then another charge was made. They rode across
each other's fronts and around in circles, firing their arrows and
yelling like demons, and occasionally, when two combatants accidentally
got close together, prodding away with lances. The oddest part of the
whole terrible tragedy to us was that the charges looked, when closely
approaching each other, as if they were being made by two riderless
bands of wild ponies.

The Indians would lie along that side of their horses which was turned
away from the enemy, and fire their pistols and shoot their arrows from
under the animals' necks, thus leaving exposed in the saddle only that
portion of the savage anatomy which was capable of receiving the largest
number of arrows with results the least possibly dangerous. I noticed
one fat old fellow whose pony carried him out of battle with two arrows
sticking in the portion thus unprotected, like pins in a cushion. He
still kept up his yelling, but it struck me that there was a touch of
anguish in the tone, and I felt confident that he would not sit down and
tell his children of the battle for some time to come.

We saw one exhibition of horsemanship which especially excited our
admiration. An arrow struck a Cheyenne on the forehead, glancing off,
but stunning him so with its iron point, that, after swaying in the
saddle for an instant, he fell to the earth. Another of the tribe, who
was following at full speed, leaned toward the ground, and checking his
pony but slightly, seized the prostrate warrior by the waistband, and,
flinging him across his horse in front of the saddle, rode on out of the
battle.

For several hours--indeed until the sun was low in the heavens and the
shadows crept into the valley--this terrible fray continued, the
charging, shouting, and firing being kept up until both combatants had
worked down the river so far that we could no longer see them.

It was approaching the dusk of evening when White Wolf and his band rode
back. We counted them and found the original forty still alive. The
chief assured us they had killed "heap Pawnees," whereupon some of us
sallied forth to visit the battle-field. Three dead ponies lay there,
and with a disagreeable sensation we looked around, expecting to
discover the mangled riders near by. Not one was visible, however, nor
even the least sign of their blood. The grass was not sodden with gore,
nor did a single rigid arm or aboriginal toe stick up in the gathering
gloom. Neither the wolves or buzzards gathered over the field, and
slowly the conviction dawned upon us that Indian battles, like some
other things, are not always what they seem.

As we turned again toward camp, the Professor, dragging his spade after
him, suggested that, in accordance with the reputed habits of these
savages, the Pawnees had perhaps carried off their dead. But at the
instant, only a short distance down the river, the camp-fire of that
miserable and all but annihilated band glimmered forth. It was decidedly
too bold and cheerful for the use of twenty-five ghosts, and we knew
then that White Wolf had lied.

That valorous chieftain we found limping around outside our wagons, with
a lance-cut in one of his legs, while several of his warriors had
arrow-wounds, and one a pistol-shot, none of the injuries, however,
being dangerous. The Pawnees probably suffered with equal severity; and
this was the sum total of the day's frightful carnage--the entire result
of all the fierce display that we had witnessed.

Not long afterward, in front of a Government fort, and in plain sight of
the garrison, a battle occurred between two large parties of rival
tribes, about equal in numbers. Back and forth, amid furious cries and
clouds of arrows, the hostile savages charged. Noon saw the affair
commenced, and sunset scarcely beheld its ending. The Government report
states, if my memory serves me correctly, that one Indian and two horses
were killed; and a shade of doubt still exists among the witnesses
whether that one unlucky warrior did not break his neck by the fall of
his pony!

These savages fight on horseback, and are neither bold nor successful,
except when the attacking party is overwhelming in numbers, and then the
affair becomes a massacre. All this knowledge came to us afterward, but
our first introduction to it was a surprise. Kind-hearted man though he
was, I think the resultless ending of the battle disconcerted even the
Professor. Having nerved one's self to expect horrors, it is natural to
seek, on the gloomy mirror of fate, some rays of glimmering light which
can be turned to advantage. I think the Professor's rays, had the
contest proved as sanguinary as we first anticipated, would have found
their focus in some stout cask containing a nicely-pickled Pawnee or
Cheyenne _en route_ to a distant dissecting table. It would have been
rather a novel way, I have always thought, of sending the untutored
savage to college.

We made a requisition upon our medicine-chest, and dressed the wounds of
the suffering warriors. White Wolf stripped to the waist, and, exposing
his broad, muscular form, exhibited thirty-six scars, where, in
different battles, lances and arrows had struck him. It struck us all as
a rather remarkable circumstance, though we prudently refrained from
commenting upon it just then, that nearly all these scars were on his
back.

The chief expressed great friendship for us, and I really believe he
felt it. Sachem's stout form was especially the object of his
admiration. Between these two worthies a very cordial regard seemed to
be springing up, until White Wolf unluckily offered him an Indian bride
and a hundred buffalo robes, if he would go with the band to its wigwams
on the Arkansas--a proposition which disgusted our alderman beyond
measure. Savages, sooner or later, generally scalp white sons-in-law,
and it would be "heap good" for the Cheyenne to have such an opportunity
always handy. Sachem declined the honor with all the dignity he could
command, and carefully avoided "the match-making old heathen," as he
termed him, for the remainder of the evening.

We kept early hours that night. Guard was doubled, to prevent any
possible treachery, and a sleepy party laid down to rest. The Cheyennes
went into camp a few hundred yards up the creek, a barely perceptible
light, looking from our tents like a fire-fly, marking the spot.

When a "cold camp" is discovered on the plains, the experienced
frontiersman can always determine at once whether white men or Indians
made it, by the size of the ash-heap. The former, even when trying to
make their fire a small one, will consume in one evening as much fuel as
would last the red man a half-moon. The latter, putting together two or
three buffalo chips, or as many twigs, will huddle over them when
ignited, and extract warmth and heat enough for cooking from a flame
that could scarcely be seen twenty yards.

The two opposing parties, which were now resting only a mile or so
apart, had each tested the other's metal, and, as the sequel proved,
found them foemen worthy of their _steal_. From the unconcealed fires in
their respective camps, we concluded that neither side had any intention
of attacking, or fear of being attacked.

It was early in the dawn of the next morning when we were startled from
our slumbers by a terrific cry from Shamus, which brought all of us to
our tent-doors, with rifles in hand ready to do battle, in the shortest
possible time. Looking out, we beheld our cook standing near the first
preparations of breakfast, and gazing with astonished eyes toward the
darkness under the trees, among which we heard, or at least imagined we
heard, the stealthy steps of moccasined feet. In answer to our
interrogatories, Shamus stated that just as he was putting the meat in
the pan, he saw the light of the fire reflected, for an instant, on a
painted face peering out at him from behind a tree. "Faith, but I shaved
the lad's head wid the skillet!" said Dobeen, and sure enough we found
that article of culinary equipment lying at the foot of the suspected
cottonwood, badly bent from contact with something, but whether that
something was the bark or a painted skull is known only to that skulking
Cheyenne.

We waited until broad daylight, but no further disturbance occurred, and
what was strangest of all, the valley both above and below us seemed
entirely destitute of either Pawnee or Cheyenne. A reconnoissance, which
was made by the Professor, Mr. Colon, and our guide, developed the fact
that not being able to steal any thing else, the savages had executed
the difficult military maneuver of stealing away. Just before daybreak,
the Pawnees had gone due north, and the Cheyennes, about the same time,
due south. As White Wolf had expressed a cold-blooded intention of
exterminating the remnant of his foes in the morning, the pitying stars
may have taken the matter in hand and misled him; and if so, how
disappointed that blood-thirsty band must have been when their path
brought them into their own village, instead of the Pawnee camp! In
confirmation of this astrological suggestion, I may say that while in
Topeka I saw "stars," on several occasions, leading Indians in the
opposite direction from that in which they wished to go.

In due time our party sat down to another plentiful breakfast, which was
eaten with all the more relish because we had all that little world to
ourselves again. Discussing Dobeen's apparition, we finally came to the
unanimous conclusion that it was some Indian who, while his brothers
stole away, had straggled behind, to pick up a keepsake. I think that
hideous face among the trees never entirely ceased to haunt the chamber
of Dobeen's memory. He shied as badly as did Muggs' mule, when in
strange timber, and was ever afterward a warm advocate for pitching camp
on the open prairie.

In justice to White Wolf, it should be stated that we afterward learned
that while charging in such a mistaken direction after Pawnees that
morning, he met two men from Hays City, out after buffalo meat. Finding
that they were from the village which had been kind to him, he loaded
their wagons with fat quarters, instead of filling their bodies with
arrows, as they had first expected, and sent them home rejoicing.



CHAPTER XIX.

     STALKING THE BISON--BUFFALO AS OXEN--EXPENSIVE POWER--A BUFFALO AT
     A LUNATIC ASYLUM--THE GATEWAY TO THE HERDS--INFERNAL
     GRAPE-SHOT--NATURE'S BOMB-SHELLS--CRAWLING BEDOUINS--"THAR THEY
     HUMP"--THE SLAUGHTER BEGUN--AN INEFFECTUAL CHARGE--"KETCHING THE
     CRITTER"--RETURN TO CAMP--CALVES' HEAD ON THE STOMACH--AN
     UNPLEASANT EPISODE--WOLF BAITING, AND HOW IT IS DONE.


Breakfast over, the day's work was planned out. We were desirous of
loading one of our wagons with game, and sending it back to Hays, from
whence the meat could be forwarded by express to distant friends, and
serve as tidings from camp, of "all's well." The other wagon we decided
to keep with us. Horseback hunting, although fine sport, evidently would
not, in our hands, prove sufficiently expeditious in procuring meat. Our
guide adduced another argument as follows: "Yer see, gents, if yer want
ter ship meat by rail, it won't do ter run it eight or ten miles, like a
fox, and git it all heated up. Ther jints must be cool, or they'll
spile." Stalking the bison was to be our day's sport, therefore, and we
were speedily off, taking only the two wagons, the riding animals being
all left in camp. Shamus prepared a lunch for us, as we did not expect
to return for dinner before dusk.

Following the same route as the day before, we soon ascended the Saline
"breaks," and emerged on the plains above. Looking to us as if they had
not changed position for twenty-four hours, the buffalo herds still
covered the face of the country, busy as ever in their constant
occupation of feeding. For animals which perform no labor, they have an
egregious appetite, eating as if they were Nature's lawn-gardeners, and
were under contract with her to keep the grass shaved.

What an immense aggregate of animal power was running to waste before
us. Those huge shoulders, to which the whole body seemed simply a base,
were just the things for neck-yokes. Others, indeed, had thought the
same before us, and tried to utilize these wild oxen. A gentleman at
Salina, Kansas, obtained two buffalo calves, and trained them carefully
to the yoke. They pulled admirably, but their very strength proved a
temptation to them. A pasture-fence was no obstacle in the way of their
sweet will. Not that they went over it, but they simply walked through
it, boards being crushed as readily as a willow thicket. In summer they
took the shortest road to water, regardless of intervening obstructions,
and they thought nothing of flinging themselves over a perpendicular
bank, wagon and all. After carefully calculating the result of his
experiment at the end of the first year, the owner decided that,
although he undoubtedly had a large amount of power on hand, he could
obtain a similar quantity, at less expense, by buying a couple of
steam-engines.

A few months previous to our trip, a contractor on the Kansas Pacific
Railroad determined to domesticate a young bison bull, and accordingly
took it to his home at Cincinnati. Proving a cross customer, he
presented it to the Longview Lunatic Asylum, near that city, but there
was no inmate insane enough to occupy the yard simultaneously with
Taurus for any length of time. The first day he charged among the
lunatics in a reckless manner, eliciting surprising activity of crazy
legs. If exercise for their minds was what the poor creatures needed,
they certainly obtained it, by calculating when and where to dodge.

Without loss of time, we set about finding a gateway into the herds.
Looking at the surface before us, it appeared a level, unbroken plain,
quite to the verge where it rolled up against the distant horizon. One
would have maintained that even a ditch, if there, might be traced in
its meanderings across the smooth brown floor. Yet deep ravines, miles
in length, wound in and out among the herds, though to us entirely
invisible. A short search discovered one of these, which promised to
answer our purpose, and to lead to a spot where a large number of cows
and calves were feeding. Fortunately the wind was north, so that we
could creep into its teeth without sending to the timid mothers any
tell-tale taint.

The wagons were stopped, and we got out, and descending into the hollow,
moved forward. The walls on either side seemed disagreeably close. All
around us was animal life, a small portion of which would have been
sufficient, if so disposed, to make the concealed path which we were
traversing a veritable "last ditch" to us. As we entered the ravine,
some cayotes slunk out of it ahead of us, and one large gray wolf, with
long gallop, disappeared over the banks. The temptation to fire at them
was very strong, but prudence and the guide forbade.

We picked up some very fine specimens of "infernal grape," in the form
of nearly round balls of iron pyrites. They lay upon the surface like
canister-shot upon a battle-field. It seemed as if during the early
period, when Mother Earth began to cool off a little, her fiery heart
still palpitated so violently under her thin bodice, that beads of the
molten life within, like drops of perspiration, had forced their way
through, and, in cooling, had retained their bubble-like form. We could
have picked up a half-bushel of them which would have made very fair
aliment for cannon. The dogs of war could have spit them out as
spitefully and fatally against human hearts as if the morsels had been
prepared by human hands. From such well-molded shot, of no mortal make,
Milton might have obtained his charges for those first cannon which the
traitor-angel invented and employed against the embattled hosts of
heaven. Shamus, when he afterward became acquainted with the specimens,
called them "a rattlin' shower of witches' pebbles."

We also passed large surfaces of white rock, which were sprinkled all
over with dark, hollow balls, of a vitrified substance. Most of them
were imbedded midway in the rock, leaving a hemisphere exposed which, in
color and form, was an exact counterpart of a large bomb. If the reader
has ever seen a shell partly imbedded in the substance against which it
was fired, this description will be perfectly plain. There were
indications that a volcano had once existed in this vicinity, and it
seemed highly probable that the red-hot balls which it projected into
air had fallen and cooled in the soft formation adjacent, still
retaining their original shape.

We should have lingered longer over these geological curiosities, had
not the premonitory symptoms of a scientific lecture from the Professor
alarmed our guide into the remonstrance, "You're burnin' daylight,
gents!" and thus warned, we pushed forward.

A few hundred yards further brought us to the spot for commencing active
operations. Dropping upon hands and knees, we began crawling along the
side of the ravine in a line, pushing our guns before us. We knew that
the buffalo must be very close, for we could hear the measured cropping
of their teeth upon the grass. They seemed to be feeding toward us, as
we slowly drew up to the level. I found myself trembling all over, so
nervous that the cracking of a weed under our guns sounded to me as loud
as a pistol-shot.

I looked around, and the stories which I had read in my youth of
adventures in oriental lands rose fresh to my memory. I almost imagined
our party a dozen wild Bedouins, creeping from ambush to fire upon a
caravan, the first note of alarm to which would be a storm of musketry.
Unshaven faces, soiled clothes, and rough hair, assisted us to the
personation, and if aught else was needed to carry out the fancy, it
soon came in a low "Hist!" from the guide, as he pointed to the level
above us. Following the direction of his finger, we saw some hairy
lumps, about the size of muffs, not fifty yards in front of us, bobbing
up and down just above the line which defined the prairie's edge against
the sky. For an instant, we supposed them to be small animals of some
sort, playing on the slope, but the low voice of the guide said, "Thar
they hump, gents!" and we caught the word at once, just as the whaler
does the welcome cry of "There she blows," from the look-out aloft. What
we saw, of course, were the humps of buffaloes moving slowly forward as
they fed. At a word from our guide, we halted for last preparations.

"Fire at the nearest cows, gents," he said, "and if you get one down,
and keep hid, you'll have lots of shots at the bulls gatherin' round."

Muggs was continually getting his gun crosswise, so that should it go
off ahead of time, as usual, it would shoot somebody on the left, and
kick some one on the right. Just ahead of us, a prairie dog sat on his
castle wall, and barked constantly. But, fortunately, neither his
signals nor our grumbled remonstrances to the Briton seemed to attract
the attention of the herd in the least degree.

A few more feet of cautious crawling, and several buffaloes stood
revealed, a cow and calf among the number. The mother espied us, and
lifting her uncouth head, with its crooked, homely horns, regarded us
for an instant with a quiet sort of feminine curiosity, and then went to
feeding again. She probably considered us a parcel of sneaking wolves,
and being conscious of having hosts of protectors near her, was not at
all frightened. Almost simultaneously, the guns of the whole party were
at shoulder, and just as the cow lifted her head again, to watch the
movement, we fired. The fate of that bison was as effectually sealed as
that of the condemned army horse which was first used to tell Paris and
the world the terrors of the mitrailleuse. The poor creature gave a
quick whirl to the right, made two convulsive jumps, and then stood
still. She dropped her nose, a gush of blood following fast; her whole
frame shuddered, as the air from the lungs tried to force its way
through the clotted tide, and then she fell dead, almost crushing the
calf also. The smell of the blood seemed to excite the bulls more than
the report of the guns, which had only startled them for an instant.
Some stood stupidly snuffing about the prostrate victim, while others,
straightening out their tails, marched uneasily around.

Lying on the ground, and our heads only visible, we kept up a constant
firing. It was almost impossible not to hit some of the old bulls. The
veterans were wounded rapidly, and in all portions of their bodies. One
old fellow, who had been standing with his rear to us, suddenly took it
into his head to run for dear life, and away he went accordingly, with
his hams looking very much like the end of a huge pepper-box. Two or
three others soon began to show signs of grogginess, being drunk with
the blood which was collecting internally from their many wounds.

One bulky and distressed specimen suddenly caught a glimpse of the
Professor's hat. Forthwith the tail was straightened and raised stiffly
into the air, the head was lowered, and down he came upon us at full
charge. Such a proceeding, a few days before, would simply have resolved
itself into a question whether he could catch us or not. Now, however,
we stood our ground, or rather we lay upon it very firmly, while enough
of us took careful aim to batter his bones fast and sorely. Before
taking twenty steps, he was limping from a shattered foreleg, and in a
moment more came to a sullen halt, and shook his old head in impotent
rage. His eyes were fixed fiercely upon ours; he evidently desired
nothing in the world so much as to get forward for a closer
acquaintance, but his broken bones forbade. We fired rapidly, and fairly
loaded his body with lead before he allowed death to trip him from his
feet. He never took his eyes from off us, until the body rolled over,
and I thanked our breech-loaders which had prevented the poor beast from
having a fair chance.

Three buffalo were down, as the result of our first "stalk." The herd
had fled, but the calf we had first seen remained standing stupidly by
his dead mother. "Let's ketch the critter," said our guide, and to catch
him we accordingly prepared. The first movement was to surround him,
which done, we began closing in upon him. He was hardly larger than a
good-sized goat, and we feared might succeed in dodging us, but as the
circle narrowed, our hopes of securing a live specimen increased.
Suddenly, the little fellow seemed aware of his danger, and, whirling
about, with head down, made a dart for the open space between Sachem and
the guide. As they closed to prevent his escape, our fat friend went
down with a butt in the stomach, which, although far from pleasant, was
nevertheless the occasion of sufficient delay on the part of the calf to
enable the guide and Semi-Colon to lay firm hold upon him. It was
wonderful what a warlike little fellow he proved, butting undauntedly at
our legs, and uttering, as he did so, a hissing noise. "But me no
butts," exclaimed the Professor, with a facetiousness which from him was
almost as amusing to the rest of us as the pugnacity of the calf, as he
sprang aside to avoid a blow on the knee, and suddenly recognized Duty's
call in another direction. It was not long, however, before the little
animal was securely bound, and laid in one of the wagons, which by this
time had come up.

The work of skinning and cutting up our game now began, the robe of the
cow proving finer than that from either of the others. Our men told us
that from one position old hunters sometimes shoot down a dozen buffalo
before the herd takes flight. Success is much more probable if the first
victim is a female.

Other herds invited our attention, and by three o'clock in the afternoon
we had twenty quarters secured, and were returning to camp. Only the
first three robes had been taken off, the skin being left on the rest of
the meat, the better to preserve it from soiling.

Such hunting fatigues one, and we were glad enough to see the smoke of
our fire rising from the valley, and to anticipate the dinner which we
felt was waiting for us. The plains tired us, and so did conversation,
and all instinctively felt that any attempt at a joke, in our hungry,
worn out condition, would have caused an all but fiendish state of
feeling. Momus himself could not have made that party smile. Most of us
had taken part in cutting up the carcasses, and as we now rode home,
sitting on the skin-covered quarters, we looked like a party of butchers
returning from the slaughter-pens.

As we drew close to camp, how goodly a sight did Shamus seem, in his
white apron, bidding us "Hurry to yer dinner!" while backing up his
invitation were the brown turkeys, the stews and roasts, the white bread
and yellow butter, and a clean table-cloth. On the spot, we could have
pardoned Shamus all his notions of witchcraft, and I think that Sachem's
charity just then would even have covered our cook's late weakness in
the line of "spooning." The Professor's science, Colon's philanthropy,
Sachem's wealth of worldly wisdom, and Muggs' British self-complacency,
all combined, offered no such consolation, in this hour of sober
realities, as the simple Irishman, with his basting-spoon.

Water from the brook and towels from the chest soon removed blood and
dust, and dinner followed. Shamus had many a mark scored against Sachem
for attacks on himself and his ancestry, and ventured during dinner to
rub out one, by asking Tammany, in a very respectful manner, and as if
it was a matter of our _cuisine_, whether calves' heads agreed with his
stomach.

What would have been called in Washington, "an unpleasant episode," was
discovered by Muggs in the center of a biscuit. Taking a hearty British
bite from it, various hairy lines followed the morsel into his mouth,
and caught among his teeth. Examination revealed one of Mr. Colon's
choicest spiders, which by some means had effected his escape and
crawled into the dough. It was hard to tell which was most incensed, the
Briton or the entomologist. Sachem remarked that the specimen was much
kneaded, and added it to our bill of fare as "game, breaded."

As night approached, our Mexicans prepared for wolf-baiting. During the
day they had shot two or three old bulls, which wandered within half a
mile of camp, and now the swarthy fellows intended to turn an honest
penny. For these purposes professional hunters, and occasionally
teamsters on the plains, provide themselves with bottles of strychnine,
and a quantity of this was accordingly produced. We went with the men to
see the operation, as it clearly came within the province of our
studies. With their knives the Mexicans cut from the carcass lumps of
flesh about the size of one's fist, into which gashes were made, doses
of strychnine inserted, and the flesh then pressed together again. The
balls, thus charged, were scattered close around the carcass, and a few
laid upon it. Cuts were also made, and the poison introduced in various
parts of the hams. As many as fifty doses were thus prepared, and we
then returned to camp.

No cayote serenade occurred that night, the musicians evidently being
busy drawing sweetness from the cords of the slain. A solemn hush lay
over the land, for the bisons are a quiet race, and, except in novels,
never take to roaring any more than they do to ten-mile charges.



CHAPTER XX.

     THE CAYOTES' STRYCHNINE FEAST--CAPTURING A TIMBER WOLF--A FEW CORDS
     OF VICTIMS--WHAT THE LAW CONSIDERS "INDIAN TAN"--"FINISHING" THE
     NEW YORK MARKET--A NEW YORK FARMER'S OPINION OF OUR GRAY
     WOLF--WESTWARD AGAIN--EPISODES IN OUR JOURNEY--THE WILD HUNTRESS OF
     THE PLAINS--WAS OUR GUIDE A MURDERER?--THE READER JOINS US IN A
     BUFFALO CHASE--THE DYING AGONIES.


The next day's life began, as did the previous one, before sunrise, and
while breakfast was cooking, we followed the Mexicans down to examine
their baits. The ground around the carcasses was flecked with forms
which, in the early light, looked like sleeping sheep. A half-dozen or
more wolves, which were still feeding, scampered away at our approach.
From the number of animals lying around, we at first supposed most of
them simply gorged, but the rapid, satisfied jabbering of the Mexicans
quickly convinced us that the strychnine had been doing its work more
effectually than we had given it credit for. Twenty-three dead wolves
were found, and the even two dozen was made up by a large specimen of
the gray variety--or timber-wolf, as it is called in contradistinction
from the cayote--who was exceedingly sick, and went rolling about in
vain efforts to get out of the way.

Before proceeding to skin the dead wolves, the Mexicans captured this
old fellow and haltered him, by carbine straps, to the horns of one of
the buffalo carcasses, near which he sat on his haunches, with eyes
yellow from rage and fright. Just to stir him up, we tossed him a piece
of bone; he caught it between his long fangs with a click that made our
nerves twitch. Man never appreciates the wonderful command that God gave
him over the other animals until away from his fellows, and surrounded
by the wild beasts of the solitudes, in all their native fierceness.
Here were a few mortals of us encompassed by wolves, in sufficient
numbers and power to annihilate our party, and yet one solitary man
walking toward them would have put the whole brute multitude to flight.

Although we wondered, at the time, that so many wolves were gathered
from a single baiting, we soon learned that this success was by no means
unusual. At Grinnel Station, where a corporal's guard was stationed, we
afterward saw over forty dead wolves, and most of them of the gray
variety, stacked up, like cord-wood, as the result of one night's
poisoning by the soldiers.

The remainder of this day was devoted to stalking, and resulted in our
obtaining a sufficiency of robes and meat to justify us in sending the
two Mexican wagons back with them to Hays. Our two captives, the buffalo
calf and wolf, went also. The history of that shipment merits brief
chronicling.

The robes went to St. Louis, to a man who advertised a patent way of
curing such skins, "warranted as good as Indian tan." Some months
afterward they were returned to Topeka, duly finished, and I find in
the official note-book the following entry. "Robes received to-day.
Resolution, by the company, to learn what the law would consider 'Indian
tan,' in a suit for damages." They had been shaved so thin that the
roots of the hair stuck out on the inside, while the patent liquid in
which they had been soaked gave forth an odor which would have been
wonderful for its permanency, if it had not been still more wonderful
for its offensiveness.

Of the meat, a portion went to our friends, and the balance to Fulton
Market, New York. In the first quarter, it carried dyspepsia and
disgust, and was so tough that the recipients, with the utmost effort,
could not find a tender regret for our danger in obtaining it; while our
New York consignee wrote that the first morning's steaks "finished the
market," and very nearly finished his customers. He found it impossible,
even by the Fulton Market method of subtraction, to get three hundred
dollars' worth of express charges out of half that amount of sales, and
suggested a discontinuance of shipments. The buffalo calf died on the
cars, which probably saved somebody's bones from being broken in
celebration of his maturity. The gray wolf got safely to the State of
New York, but escaping soon after, a county hunt became necessary, to
save the sheep from total extinction. One farmer, in his ire, even went
so far as to threaten us with a suit for violating the law, and
importing a pauper and disreputable character into the State.

Our experience may be useful to future hunters, to all of whom we would
say, unless solely to find amusement, never kill old bulls. Cows and
calves are generally juicy and tender, but not so the veterans; they,
after death, butt around among one's digestive organs with a ferocity
which makes the liver ache. Being most easily obtained, bull beef is
generally all that is sent to market, and thus many a patriarchal bison,
dead, accomplishes more in retaliation for his sudden taking-off than
the Fates ever permitted him to do in lusty life.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few days more were spent in our Silver Creek camp, and we then folded
our tents and took a westward course, with the purpose of examining, not
only the remoter regions of Kansas, but also the Colorado portion of the
plains. The new town of Sheridan, fourteen miles east of the State line,
and nine from Fort Wallace, was our objective point.

"Gentlemen," said the Professor, as we packed and adjusted our things in
the wagons, "we are now to climb for a hundred miles directly up the
roof of the Rocky Mountain water-shed, its long rivers and rich valleys
forming the gutters, or spouts, to carry off the surplus water."

Sachem, who dreaded these lectures almost as much as he did crinoline,
interposed with some of his usual badinage; but among irreverent classes
of Sophomores and Freshmen, the Professor had learnt to answer only such
questions as were relevant, and to pass all others by unheeded. For this
reason such interruptions never broke the thread of his discourse, and
but temporarily checked its unwinding. In a few minutes, however, the
wagons started, and our expedition began crawling up the slope of the
Professor's metaphorical roof, and thereupon our worthy leader's
discourse was brought to a graceful conclusion.

For four days we continued our westward journey, the soft grass carpet
beneath us ever stretching away to the horizon in its tiresome sameness,
its figures of buffalo and antelope, big antlered elk and skulking
wolves woven more beautifully upon its brown ground than in the rug-work
of the looms. How I loved to sit upon such rugs, when a child, and gaze
at the strange figures, as they were lit up by the flashing fire-light!
Memory recalled one very impracticable reindeer, which used to lie just
in front of a maiden aunt's chair, representing a Brussels
manufacturer's idea of the animal. His horns were longer than his head,
body and tail combined, and the spring he was making, when transfixed by
the loom, brought his nose so close to the ground, that my older boyhood
calculated the immense antlers would certainly have tipped him over had
he not been held back by the threads.

But to return to the plains. We examined highlands and lowlands for poor
soil, but found none. What we had once expected to see a bed of sand, if
ever we saw it at all, turned up under the spade a rich dark loam, in
depth and character fully equal to an Illinois prairie. Together with
those other legends, localized drought and grasshoppers, the American
desert, when revealed by the head-light of civilization, had taken to
itself the wings of a myth, and fled away. There was a great sameness in
the climate, as well as the scenery. Day followed day, with its
sunshine and its winds, the latter being decidedly the most disagreeable
feature of the entire trip.

Various episodes marked our journey from Silver Creek to Sheridan. A few
only of the more noteworthy incidents can be transferred to these pages.
They will suffice, however, as specimens of our adventures, and help the
reader, I trust, to a better acquaintance with the free, wild life of
the West.

The second day after leaving Silver Creek, we suddenly encountered
another specialty of the plains, the "Wild Huntress." So often has this
personage and her male counterpart danced, with big letters and a
bowie-knife, across yellow covers, that we met the "original Jacobs" of
the tribe gleefully. She came to us in a cloud of buffalo, with black
eyes glittering like a snake's, and coarse and uncombed hair that
tangled itself in the wind, and streamed and twisted behind her like
writhing vipers. A black riding habit flowed out in the strong breeze,
its train snapping like a loose sail, and a black mustang fled from her
Indian lash--the dark wild horse, a fit carrier for such somber outfit.

She was introduced to us by the bison herd, which came thundering across
our front, with this strange figure pressing its flank and darting
hither and thither from one outskirt of the flying multitude to the
other. The reins lay loose on the neck of her mustang, which entered
into the fierce chase like a bloodhound, doubling and twisting on its
course with an agility that was wonderful.

One hand of the huntress held out a holster revolver, which she fired
occasionally, but with uncertain aim, one of the bullets indeed
whistling our way. The chase constituted the excitement that she sought,
and the pistol was little more than a spur to urge it on.

"That's Ann, poor P--'s wife," said our guide. "Crazy since the Indians
killed her husband. He was a contractor on the railroad; his camp used
to be just above Hays. She lives in the old 'dug-out' on the line yet,
and spends half her time chasing buffalo. She never kills none, but that
isn't what she is after. She wants to be moving, and just as wild as she
can; it sort o' relieves her mind."

The huntress had seen our outfit, and rode toward us. The face was a
very plain one, with a vacant yet anxious expression, and the
tightly-drawn skin seeming scarcely to cover the jaw-bones. She halted
before us, and commenced conversation at once.

"Good day, gentlemen."

"Good day, madam."

"She always tells her story to every body," muttered the guide in a low
voice.

"Have you seen any Cheyennes hereabouts, gentlemen? I sighted a party
this morning, and you ought to have seen them run. Raven Dick, here, put
his best foot foremost, but they shook him out of sight in a ravine.
Haven't any thing better to do, friends, and so I'm riding down some
buffalo."

We could easily understand why superstitious savages should run when a
maniac female of such dismal aspect flitted along their trail.

"Out from Hays, sirs?" she continued, after a pause. "I left there
yesterday. Dick and I camped last night. We must be home when the men
come in from work this eve. Up, Rave!" and she struck the mustang a
cruel blow, from which he jumped with quivering muscles, only to be
violently curbed. For the first time she had just noticed our guide, and
sat for an instant with her wild eyes eating a way to his heart. Then
she turned again to us.

"Sirs, you must aid me. Some say the Cheyennes killed my husband, and
others there be who think Abe there did it. More shame to me who has to
tell it, but the two had a fight about a woman, some months gone. It was
just after pay-day, and husband was drunk; otherwise he'd never have
bothered his head about any girl but the one he married.

"There were blows and black eyes, and being a rough man's quarrel, it
ended with hand-shaking. My man came home, and we sat by the fire that
night, and I took no notice that he'd been wrong, but spoke of our old
home in Ohio, and asked him wouldn't he go back there when the contract
was finished. And he put his hand on mine, and says: 'Sis, if the cuts
and fills on the next mile work to profit, we'll go home.' Just then
there came a hiss from the door at our backs, and husband turned sharp
and quick. There was a knot-hole in the planks, and its round black
mouth, gaping from out in the night at us, had spit the sound into our
ears. Husband he rose and went to the door, and fell back dying, with an
arrow in his breast. Some said it was a Cheyenne, and others said Abe
did it. There were lots of Indian bows in camp, and Cheyennes don't
kill for the love of it, but only to steal. I'm going to ask them, if I
can catch them, did they do it, and if not, I know who did. I've a bow,
Abe, and an arrow too, and I hope his blood isn't on your hands."

"I didn't do it, Ann. I don't shoot no man in the dark," replied our
hostler guide, with a sullen defiance, which among that class stands
equally well for innocence or guilt. We looked at the two, as they sat
for an instant facing each other. The picture was a weird one--a
wildcat, fronting the object of its chase, but undecided whether to
spring or not. We felt that the dark maniac had been hovering around us,
and that this meeting was not altogether accidental. Her disordered
brain was yet undecided in which direction vengeance lay, and, like a
tigress, she was watching and waiting.

Our policy developed, on the instant, into a non-committal and a safe
one. As she wheeled her horse, and left us without a word, we remarked
to our guide that crazy folks were often suspicious of their best
friends.

"That's so," he replied, and rode off to urge on the wagons. We shrank
from the idea of living with a murderer, and acquitted him of the crime
on the spot.

       *       *       *       *       *

We are moving out over the grand, illimitable plain again. Reader, ride
with us awhile by the side of that big bison bull, which we have just
stirred up from his noonday dream. You see his broad nostrils, reddish
just under the dark skin at the end, and sensitive as the nose of a
pointer. They have caught the air which we tainted, while passing for a
moment across the breeze.

[Illustration: ONE OF OUR SPECIMENS.

_BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION. BUFFALO. N. Y._]

He has seen nothing, and we are still invisible, but he does not stop to
look behind. "Escape for your life!" has been as plainly telegraphed
from nose to brain, as it could be by eyes or mouth. We were so far off
and well hidden then, that those active tell-tales, sound and sight,
could play no part in this alarm. But the sentinel nerves of smell fled
back from their post on the frontier, with the cry of "Man!" and the
beast of the wilderness thinks only of flight. Powerful for defense
against the rest of the animal creation, he is coward on the instant
before its king.

Away he goes, right into the teeth of the wind, which he knows will tell
him of any other foes ahead. Lumber along, old fellow, in your ponderous
gallop,--the reader and I are on your path. Our saddle girths have been
tightly drawn, the holster pistols are nestled snug at hand, in their
cases on either side of the saddle-horn, while across its front lies the
light Henry carbine, with a shoulder-strap attaching it to our person,
should we drop the gun for the pistol. Thus we ride with twenty-four
shots before reloading, at the service of our trigger-finger; the
carbine carries twelve, the pistols each a half-dozen.

How warm we have become. Our hearts are as high up as they can get,
bumping away at the throat-valves, as if they wished to get out and see
what it is that has called their reserves into action.

There is a muskish taint in the air, from the game ahead. Put in your
spurs, comrade; don't spare. Get up beside him quickly as possible. Once
there, the horses will easily stick. A stern chase disheartens the
pursuer, encourages the pursued. Look out for that creek! See how the
buffalo takes its steep bank--a plunge headlong, which sends the dust up
in clouds. Now, as we check and turn into a ford, he is going up the
opposite side.

Another hundred yards, and we are close beside him. The long tongue is
hung out, and his head lies low down, as he plunges steadily forward,
diverging ever so little as we press up opposite his fore-shoulders.
That was a bad shot, my friend, barely missing your horse's head.
Shooting at full gallop is like drawing straight lines while being
shaken.

Some of our bullets are telling; you can hear them crack on his hide.
There is a red spot now, not bigger than the point of one's finger,
opposite a lung, and drops of blood trickle, with the saliva, from his
jaws. Half a score of balls have been pelted into his big body, and he
is bleeding internally. Now the blood comes thicker, and little clots of
it drop down. He slows up--there is danger; look well to your seat!

That was a narrow escape, comrade. The bull suddenly whirled on his
forefeet for a pivot, and your horse's chest, which was brushing his
hind-quarters, grazed the black horns as they dipped for a plunge. The
pony's swerve barely saved you both.

Now he stands sullen, glaring at us. The wounds look like little points
of red paint, put deftly on his shaggy hide. They bleed inwardly, just
crimsoning the brown hair at their mouths. The large eyes roll and swell
with pain and fury. He is measuring our distance.

See him blow the blood from his nostrils. The drops scatter like
red-hot shot around him, seeming to hiss in globules of fury, as they
spatter upon the dry grass. Bladder-like bubbles sputter in ebb and
flow, from the red holes over his lungs. Tiny doors, for death's
messengers to have entered in at.

What a marvel of size and ferocity he looks. Only our horse's legs stand
between us and disembowelment. Down drops the head into battery again,
and his rush would knock us over like nine-pins, did we stay to receive
it. But bison charges are short ones. Our animals spring away, and he
stops. Signs of grogginess are coming on him. How he hates to feel his
knees shake, straightening them out with a jerk, as we thought he was
just going down.

But at last gradually and gracefully he sinks, doubling his legs under
him, and resting on his belly. There is still no flurry, or motion of
any kind denoting pain. Unconquerable to the death, he suddenly falls on
his side, the limbs stiffen, and he is dead.

Twine your hands in the long beard, and in the mane. How he shames the
lion, for whom he could furnish coats half a dozen times over. What
switches of hair those black fetlocks would make. Was there ever another
so big a bison?

Wondering over this, we lie down on the prostrate bulk, and wait for the
wagon.



CHAPTER XXI.

     "CREASING" WILD HORSES--MUGGS DISAPPOINTED--A FEAT FOR
     FICTION--HORSE AND MONKEY--HOOF WISDOM FOR TURFMEN--PROSPECTIVE
     CLIMATIC CHANGES ON THE PLAINS--THE QUESTION OF SPONTANEOUS
     GENERATION--WANTON SLAUGHTER OF BUFFALO--AMOUNT OF ROBES AND MEAT
     ANNUALLY WASTED--A STRANGE HABIT OF THE BISON--NUMEROUS BILLS--THE
     "SNEAK THIEF" OF THE PLAINS.


While we were at breakfast one morning, the guide ran in to say that the
herd of wild horses which we had seen on Silver Creek, were feeding
toward us, a mile away. I left the table to obtain a view of them, and
by Abe's advice carried my rifle, as he suggested that we might "crease"
one of them. This feat consists in hitting the upper edge of the bones
of the neck with a bullet, the blow striking so high up that it will
momentarily paralyze, without fracturing. We had read of it often in
tales of Western daring, where the hero mounted the prostrate steed,
and, upon its return to consciousness, escaped on its back from
numberless difficulties and hosts of Indians.

A short distance out from camp, we turned and saw Muggs following us
with a saddle and bridle on his arm. He had suffered grievous wrong at
the heels of his mule, and was bent on possessing himself of one of our
creased horses. After creeping, with almost infinite caution, within
seventy-five yards, we succeeded in placing our bullets exactly where we
intended, thereby knocking down two victims, who at once became
insensible--and no wonder, for their bones were as effectually fractured
as if they had been struck with a sledge-hammer. Muggs' faith in the
theory of creasing, however, was unbounded. Up he ran and buckled on the
saddle, and got one foot in the stirrup, ready to swing himself into the
seat, when the animal rose.

After waiting about ten minutes, our Briton concluded that a dead horse
was poor riding, and left us with a very emphatic statement that, in his
opinion, capturing a mount with a rifle was "another blarsted Hamerican
lie, you know!"

I afterward conversed with several plainsmen about the merits of
"creasing," and found that their attempts had invariably ended in the
same way as ours had done. The feat may have been possible with
smooth-bore rifles, in the hands of those remarkable hunters of old, who
were able to shoot away the breath of a pigeon, and hit the eye of a
flying hawk; but with breech-loaders I unhesitatingly pronounce creasing
an utter impossibility. The achievement sounds well in theory, but, like
much else of popular Western lore is somewhat impracticable when fairly
tested. I have an idea that the principal market value of "creased"
horses in the future, as in the past, will be derived from furnishing
creatures of romance with fearful rides. For this purpose, a cracked
skeleton would be as apt as a sound one, to carry the rider into many
of the scenes with which these tales are wont to harrow our souls.

While crawling up on the herd, we took its census very carefully. I was
a little surprised to find there were but twenty-five horses, all told.
They were apparently a little larger than the wild ones of Texas, and
had bushy manes and tails, and their step was remarkably firm and
elastic. They were exceedingly timid creatures, raising their heads
constantly, to gaze around. One very interesting circumstance connected
with the herd was that among these wild horses we noticed two strangers;
one, a feeble old buffalo bull, expelled from his tribe, and seeking
their aid against the wolves, and the other, the black pacing stallion.

When we fired, the survivors were off on the instant, and the manner in
which their clean hoofs struck the earth, and spurned it, was truly
worth seeing. No heaves either, it was plain to see, had ever troubled
those full chests. We caught sight of the herd awhile after, on a ridge
four miles away, and they were still running at full speed. These were
the only wild horses we saw on our trip. In fact, but two or three small
droves are believed to exist on the plains, as the great mass of the
shaggy-maned thousands, children of those old Spanish castaways, swarm
nearer the Pacific.

So timid and fleet are these horses that none of them have ever been
captured except during the early spring. They are then poor, and, by
hard spurring, can be ridden down. At other times their bottom, and the
advantage of having no weight to carry, insure their safety. It is
quite probable, however, that a systematic pursuit, of the kind
practiced in Texas, might prove successful at any season of the year.

I gazed at our two victims with less satisfaction than at any thing I
had ever killed. Shooting horses, dear reader, is a good deal like
shooting monkeys. They are both too intimately associated with man to be
made food for his powder. One is a very true and faithful servant, and
the other, if we may believe Mr. Darwin, was once his ancestor.

In examining the two handsome bodies lying there, I noticed one fact to
which I should have liked to draw the attention of the whole learned
fraternity of blacksmiths, who mutilate horses, the world over. The
hoofs were as solid and as sound as ivory, without a crack or wrong
growth of any sort. And why? Turning them up, the secret lay exposed;
for there, filling the cavity within--a sponge of life-giving oil--was
the frog entire, just as Nature made and kept it. Its business was to
feed and moisten the hoof, and this it had done perfectly. No blacksmith
had ever gouged it out with his knife, and robbed it anew at every
shoeing.

It is noticeable that the equine race, in its wild state, has none of
the ills of the species domesticated. The sorrows of horse-flesh are the
fruits of civilization. By the study and imitation of Nature's methods,
we could greatly increase the usefulness of these valuable servants, and
remove temptation from the paths of many men who lead blameless lives,
except in the single matter of horse-trades. It may well be queried,
perhaps, whether even the patient man of Uz, had he been laid up by a
runaway colt instead of boils, could have resisted the temptation to
trade it off upon Bildad the Shuhite, when that individual came to
condole with him.

As we journeyed onward, we found the soil ever the same, in depth and
strength equal to an Illinois prairie. The old cretaceous ocean, and the
great lakes, certainly left it rich in deposits. When its surface shall
have been broken by the plow, and the water-fall absorbed instead of
shed off, the plains will resemble, in appearance and products, any
other prairie country. The amount of moisture annually passing over
them, in storm-clouds that burst further east, is abundantly sufficient
to make the tract very fertile. It is a well established fact in
relation to climatic influences, that moisture attracts moisture; and in
this region the dry ground, with its few shallow streams, has now no
claim upon the summer clouds. The tough buffalo grass has put a lock-jaw
on the plain. It can drink nothing from the floods of the rainy season.
But pry open the hungry mouth with the plowshare, and the earth will
drink greedily. The moisture then absorbed, given up through the agency
of capillary attraction, will draw the showers of summer, as they are
passing over. Already a marked change has taken place over a portion of
the plains, and crops have been grown as far west as Fort Wallace.

The subject of spontaneous generation, I may remark in this connection,
became a very interesting one to our party. Wherever the soil has been
disturbed, wild sun-flowers spring suddenly into existence. The
"grading camps" of the railroads were followed by belts of these
self-asserting annuals. The first garden-patch cultivated at Fort
Wallace had weeds and insects similar to those that infest gardens
elsewhere. In some cases hundreds of miles of barren plain intervened
between the spots where the seeds germinated, and the nearest points
where other plants of the same variety grew. Neither birds or wind could
have carried the seeds in such quantities. Is the theory true that germs
fall down to us from other planets? Or, do not the plains offer a strong
argument on behalf of spontaneous generation?

Another matter on which the plains appealed to us strongly, pertained to
the wanton destruction of its wild cattle. During the year 1871, about
fifty thousand buffalo were killed on the plains of Kansas and Colorado
alone. Of this number, it will be correct to estimate that about
one-third were shot for their robes, as many more for meat, and sixteen
thousand or so for sport. Each buffalo could probably have furnished
five hundred pounds of meat and tallow, the quantity of the latter being
small. When killed for food, only the hind quarters and a small portion
of the loin are saved, in all perhaps two hundred pounds. The hides of
these are sacrificed, the skin being cut with the quarters, and left on
them for their protection. The profits of this great slaughter would,
therefore, be about 16,500 robes and 3,300,000 pounds of meat; the waste
over 33,000 robes, and probably not less than 20,000,000 pounds of
meat. In this computation, the vast herds which range further north are
not included. There, however, the waste is comparatively small, as the
red man is in the habit of saving the greater portion of the flesh and
robes. Of the above twenty million pounds of meat left to rot in the
sun, and taint the air of the plains, the greater proportion would
furnish sweeter and more nourishing food to the poor classes of our
cities than the beef which they are able to obtain.

Let this slaughter continue for ten years, and the bison of the American
continent will become extinct. The number of valuable robes and pounds
of meat which would thus be lost to us and posterity, will run too far
into the millions to be easily calculated. All over the plains, lying in
disgusting masses of putrefaction along valley and hill, are strewn
immense carcasses of wantonly slain buffalo. They line the Kansas
Pacific Railroad for two hundred miles.

Following ordinary sporting parties for an hour after they have
commenced smiting the borders of a herd, stop by a few of the monsters
that they leave behind, in pools of blood, upon the grass; draw your
hunting-knife across the fat hind-quarters, and see how the cuts reveal
depths of sweet, nourishing meat, sufficient to supply two hundred
starving wretches with an abundant dinner; then if your humanity does
not tempt to a shot at the worse than pot-hunters in front, God's
bounties have indeed been thrown away upon you.

By law, as stringent in its provisions as possible, no man should be
suffered to pull trigger on a buffalo, unless he will make practical use
of the robe and the meat. What would be thought of a hunter, in any of
the Western States, who shot quails and chickens and left them where
they fell? Every citizen, whether sportsman or not, would join in outcry
against him. Another matter which the law should regulate relates to the
protection of the buffalo cows until after the season when they have
brought forth their young. The calf will thrive, though weaned by
necessity at a very early age, and the season for shooting cows,
although short, would be amply long enough to comport with the chances
of future increase.

Probably the most cruel of all bison-shooting pastime, is that of firing
from the cars. During certain periods in the spring and fall, when the
large herds are crossing the Kansas Pacific Railroad, the trains run for
a hundred miles or more among countless thousands of the shaggy monarchs
of the plains. The bison has a strange and entirely unaccountable
instinct or habit which leads it to attempt crossing in front of any
moving object near it. It frequently happened, in the time of the old
stages, that the driver had to rein up his horses until the herd which
he had startled had crossed the road ahead of him. To accomplish this
feat, if the object of their fright was moving rapidly, the animals
would often run for miles.

When the iron-horse comes rushing into their solitudes, and snorting out
his fierce alarms, the herds, though perhaps a mile away from his path,
will lift their heads and gaze intently for a few moments toward the
object thus approaching them with a roar which causes the earth to
tremble, and enveloped in a white cloud that streams further and higher
than the dust of the old stage-coach ever did; and then, having
determined its course, instead of fleeing back to the distant valleys,
away they go, charging across the ridge over which the iron rails lie,
apparently determined to cross in front of the locomotive at all
hazards. The rate per mile of passenger trains is slow upon the plains,
and hence it often happens that the cars and buffalo will be side by
side for a mile or two, the brutes abandoning the effort to cross only
when their foe has merged entirely ahead. During these races the
car-windows are opened, and numerous breech-loaders fling hundreds of
bullets among the densely crowded and flying masses. Many of the poor
animals fall, and more go off to die in the ravines. The train speeds
on, and the scene is repeated every few miles until Buffalo Land is
passed.

Another method of wanton slaughter is the stalking of the herds by men
carrying needle-guns. These throw a ball double the weight of the
ordinary carbine, and the shot is effective at six hundred yards.
Concealed in ravines, the hunter causes terrible havoc with such weapons
before the herd takes flight. We were never guilty of ambushing after
those two days on the Saline, and of those occasions we were heartily
ashamed ever afterward.

[Illustration: _BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION BUFFALO_

One specialty of the plains that deserves mention, and quite as
remarkable as its brutes and plants, though of rather more modern
origin, is its numerous Bills. Of these, we became acquainted, before
our trip was ended, with the following distinct specimens: Wild Bill,
Buffalo Bill, California Bill, Rattlesnake Bill, and Tiger Bill, the
last named being, as one of our men who had played with him remarked,
the "dangererest on 'em all." We also heard of a Camanche Bill and an
Apache Bill, but these celebrities it was not our fortune to meet.

Five pictures for the consideration of Uncle Samuel, suggestive of a
game law to protect his comb-horns, buttons, tallow, dried beef,
tongues, robes, ivory-black, bone-dust, hair, hides, etc.]

I can not dismiss the peculiar characters of the plains without again
paying tribute to that unapproachable thief, the cayote. Let no party of
travelers leave any thing exposed in camp lighter than an anvil. We
lost, in one night, at the hands--or rather the jaws--of these slinking
sneak-thieves of the plains, a boot, a pair of leather breeches, and a
half-quarter of buffalo calf, besides some smaller articles.



CHAPTER XXII.

     A LIVE TOWN AND ITS GRAVE-YARD--HONEST ROMBEAUX IN TROUBLE--JUDGE
     LYNCH HOLDS COURT--MARIE AND THE VINE-COVERED COTTAGE--THE TERRIBLE
     FLOODS--DEATH IN CAMP AND IN THE DUG-OUT--WAS IT THE WATER WHICH
     DID IT?--DISCOVERY OF A HUGE FOSSIL--THE MOSASAURUS OF THE
     CRETACEOUS SEA--A GLIMPSE OF THE REPTILIAN AGE--REMINISCENCES OF
     ALLIGATOR-SHOOTING--THEY SUGGEST A THEORY.


Our fourth day's travel from Silver Creek brought us to Sheridan, our
secondary base of operations, so to speak, and only fourteen miles east
of the Colorado border. We found the town a very lively one,
notwithstanding that the grave-yard, beautifully located in a commanding
position overlooking the principal street, was patronized to a
remarkable extent. The place had built itself up as simply the temporary
terminus of the Pacific Railroad. Soon after our visit it moved
westward, and at last accounts but one house remained to mark its former
site.

The shades of night had just settled over the town upon the evening of
our arrival, when Abe, our hostler-guide, came running to us with
information that "Honest Rombeaux," another of our hostlers, was being
hung by some of the citizens. The locality which had been selected for
this little diversion was a railroad trestle a short distance below the
town. We were already acquainted with the penchant our Sheridanites had
for hanging people. Thirty or more graves on the neighboring hill had
been pointed out before sundown, as those of persons who had fallen
under sentence from Judge Lynch. In the expressive language of the
citizen who volunteered the information, there had been "thirty
funerals, and not one nateral death." Now that Judge Lynch had opened
court at our own door, we proposed to raise the question of
jurisdiction.

Armed, at once, we set off for a rescue, and, stumbling through the
darkness, had gone only a hundred yards or so, when we met the lynchers
returning. At their head, with a very dirty piece of rope around his
neck, walked our hostler, trembling all over, and chattering broken
English rapidly, in mingled fright and anger. The leader of the party
told us that the evidence not being quite sufficient for hanging, an
extra session of court had been called to be held immediately, and as
having some interest in the case, we were invited to seats on the jury.
The trial, we were further informed, was to be held in Rombeaux's own
house. This last was a new surprise, for reasons to be explained
presently. Rombeaux had been with us ever since leaving Hays, and had
gained his title of "Honest" from a particularly faithful discharge of
duty.

To him had been intrusted the supplies for hired men and horses. Three
of the Mexicans he had severally thrashed for stealing. Once, in the
night, on Silver Creek, we had heard a rattling at the medicine-chest,
and trembling for our limited stock of spirits, stole forth to catch
the culprit. On his knees by the open box was Rombeaux, replacing the
brandy-bottle, and we feared that he, too, had become a thief. But just
then, on the still air, came words of thanks to the Virgin Mary, for
having enabled him to awake in time to frighten away the robber. Nor was
this all; in the fierceness of his indignation, we beheld him sally
forth immediately afterward, and kick a sleeping Mexican out of his
blankets, on suspicion. Thereupon, we went back to bed with implicit
faith in Rombeaux, which had followed us ever since.

Had he not told us, moreover, of a vine-covered cottage in France, where
pretty Marie watched and waited until her lover could earn dowry
sufficient to match hers? It was the old story. A maiden fair tarried in
Europe, while a true knight ransacked foreign lands for fame and
fortune; and long since had all of us, save Sachem, exhausted our stock
of spare change to hasten the reunion.

Passing some of the lowest and most flashy-looking saloons in the place,
we entered a ravine, and soon stopped before a "dug-out." So much was it
the work of excavation, that the dirt roof was level with the earth
above, and the door seemed to open directly into the bank. We knocked,
and were answered promptly by a fat, gayly dressed French woman. This
was Rombeaux's wife, and here was Rombeaux's house. What a Marie and
vine-clad cottage these!

Without delay the trial commenced, the Frenchman and his wife occupying
places in the center, and the court seated on boxes, barrels, and the
bed. The evidence taken that night in the cabin was substantially the
following:

Two years before Jules Pigget, a native of France, accompanied by his
young wife, appeared on the railroad below, and solicited work. They
both found ready employment, and lived below Hays, in a dug-out, happy
and prosperous. Within a year came another Frenchman, our present Honest
Rombeaux. Across the water, he and Jules had been rival suitors for
Marie's hand; yet strangely enough, the newcomer was welcomed by the
young couple, and took up his abode with them. Matters prospered with
all three, and soon Jules was to be appointed tank-tender on the road.
That year came the great rain-storm, when so many families in Western
Kansas and Texas were drowned. Hundreds of people were living in
dug-outs, rude excavations in the banks of streams, with the roof on a
level with the bank above, but the room itself entirely below high-water
mark--a style of dwelling which, as no great rise had occurred in years,
had become quite popular among new-comers.

On the night of the great flood people went to bed as usual. The streams
had risen but little. At midnight the rain fell heavily; the firm
surface of the plains shed the waters like a roof; streams rose ten feet
in an hour, and the foaming currents, roaring like cataracts, came down
with the force of mighty tidal waves. Many dwellers in the dug-outs
sprang from their beds into water, to find egress by the doors
impossible, and were fortunate if they succeeded in escaping through
the chimneys or roofs. Whole families were drowned. Fort Hays, at the
fork of Big Creek, and supposed to be above high-water, was inundated,
six or eight soldiers being swept away, while the remainder were obliged
to seek safety on the roofs of the stone barracks. Large numbers of
mules, picketed on the adjacent bottoms, were drowned. Their picket-pins
fast in the earth, the animals were swept from their feet by the rising
waters, and towed under by the firmly-held lariats. Emigrants encamped
on the bottom heard the roar of the flood; with no time to harness, they
seized the tongues of their wagons themselves, but the rising tide
gained on them too rapidly, and they were glad to save life at the
expense of oxen and goods. The horrors of that night are indescribable,
and, to crown all, they took place amid a darkness that was total.
Above, was the roar of waters descending; below, the answering roar of
the floods, as they rolled madly onward, carrying in their strong arms
the wreck of farms, and corpses by the score.

On that night Jules, the husband, perished. Honest Rombeaux and Marie,
however, were rescued from the roof of their dwelling at daylight; and
afterward, when the flood had subsided, the body of Jules was taken from
the wash in the fire-place. And now came suspicion, and pointed over the
shoulders of the throng gathered around; for there was an ugly wound
half hidden in the dead husband's hair, and his fingers were bruised.
Some men did not hesitate to say boldly that when Rombeaux escaped
through the chimney, Jules stayed behind to assist his wife out, and
that when he tried to follow, he was struck on the head by his quondam
rival, and, still clinging to the chimney's edge, his fingers were
pounded until their hold was loosed, and the victim sucked under the
roof, against which the waters were already beating. The man and woman,
however, claimed that it was the whirl of the waters against pegs and
logs which had disfigured the corpse. Three weeks afterward they were
married.

"And now, gentlemen," said our foreman, rising from his barrel, when the
evidence was all in, "the question for the jury to decide is, Was it the
water that did it?"

A doubt existing in the case, we gave the prisoner its benefit; but
there was murder in the air, and Rombeaux knew it. Before morning he had
departed--Marie said for La Belle France, but, as the citizens generally
believed, really for Texas.

The next twenty-four hours constituted a regular field-day for the
Professor, being distinguished by an event which, from a scientific
stand-point, was among the most important of our entire expedition. This
was the discovery of a large fossil saurian, which we came upon while
exploring quite in sight of Sheridan, and not more than half a mile from
its eastern outskirts.

Descending the side of a deep, desolate rift in the earth, we found
ourselves among unmistakable traces of violent volcanic action. The
ground was strewn with black sand, and with yellow pebble-like masses,
apparently impure sulphur. There were numerous round cones also, looking
like diminutive craters, with edges and surface composed of bubble-like
lava, the material having evidently hardened while still distended by
the struggling gases. The appearance, to use a homely comparison, was
somewhat that of several low pots, over the edges of which boiling
molasses had poured, and then burned by the heat of the fire. Some
scattered objects, which at first we took for stumps of huge trees, upon
examination we found to be pillars of mud and rock, upheavals,
apparently, from volcanic action, and not the work of the floods, which,
in those primeval times, we knew, must have poured down the valley. They
would have answered, without much difficulty, for druidical altars, had
we only been in the land once inhabited by those long-bearded,
blood-thirsty priests of old.

Two or three poisoned cayotes and a dead raven were lying near some
bleached buffalo skulls, on which, as we presently discovered, daubs of
lard mixed with strychnine had been placed, and licked off by the
victims; and straightway, as genius of the scene, an unshaven,
woolen-shirted little man appeared in view, busily engaged in skinning a
wolf. We saluted him, and the response in French-English told us his
nationality at once. We found his name to be Louis, and his proper
occupation that of watchmaker. But as the pinchbeck time-pieces of the
frontier did not furnish enough repairing to take up his entire time, he
had many spare hours, and these he devoted to securing pelts. As buffalo
were not now in the vicinity, he larded their bones, with the success of
which we were eye-witnesses.

Louis was a wiry little Gaul, very positive in his ideas about every
thing. An animated conversation sprang up at once between him and the
Professor, and it soon became amusingly evident that his geological
ideas did not entirely accord with those of the Philosopher. A sudden
turn in the colloquy developed a fact of keen interest to even the most
unscientific member of our party.

Pointing to the other side of the valley, Louis told us that there lay
the bones of an immense snake, all turned to stone. This sudden voice
from the past ages sounded in the Professor's ears like the blare of a
trumpet to a warrior. He hurried us forward in the direction indicated,
and, locking arms with the bloody-shirted little Frenchman, strode on in
advance. I wish his class could have seen him thus traversing the
desolate bed where that old sunken volcano went to sleep. We were glad
that the latter was still asleep, and had never acquired the habit of
snorting into wakefulness, and pelting explorers with hot rocks.

What mysteries, I have often thought, might we not discover, on looking
down the throat of a healthy volcano, if some wise alchemist could only
brew a dose sufficiently powerful to stop the fiery fellow's foaming at
the mouth! Or, better still, if it could reach the bowels of the earth,
and keep the whole system quiet, while we, puny mortals, like trichina
mites, swarmed down the interior, and bored scientifically back to the
crust again. Earth's veins run golden blood, and we might be gorged with
that, perhaps, ere making exit into the sunshine again.

A shout from the further edge of the ravine cut short our speculations,
and called our attention to the Professor. He stood waving his slouched
hat for an instant, and then bent close over the ground, in earnest
scrutiny.

A few moments later, and we all stood beside the huge fossil. It lay
exposed, upon a bed of slate, looking very much like a seventy-foot
serpent, carved in stone. Part of the remains had been taken up to the
town, and spread over the bench, in the shop of Louis. From what was
left, the jaws appeared to have been originally over six feet long, the
sharp hooked and cone-shaped teeth being still very perfect. A few broad
fragments of ribs showed that, in circumference, the animal's body had
been about the size of a puncheon. We felt confident that the specimen
was a very rare one, as Muggs had never seen any thing like it, even in
England. It now rests in the museum at Cambridge, Massachusetts.

"This fossil, gentlemen," said the Professor, "is that of a
_Mosasaurus_, a huge reptile which existed in the cretaceous sea. This
appears to be one of the largest members of the family yet discovered,
its length, as you will perceive, being over fifty feet. The species to
which it belonged swarmed in immense numbers, but were surrounded by
monsters even more remarkable than they. The deep which they inhabited
must have been constantly lashed and torn with their fierce conflicts;
for it was an age of war, and the powers of offense and defense, which
the monsters of that period possessed, were terrible. Winged reptiles
filled the air, in appearance more hideous than any creation of the
imagination. Following close upon the Reptilian came the Mammalian age,
and I hold that with the largest of the mammals came man, rude in tastes
and uncouth in form, but even then ruling as king of the animal
creation. Wielded by a strength equal to that of a gorilla, his club
would dash in the skull of any beast which dare dispute dominion with
him."

The text thus suggested him, the Professor then diverged into an
argument on his pet theory of man's early existence.

A trivial circumstance connected with our discovery arrested my
attention, and, from a sportsman's stand-point, suggested a little
theory of my own. The head of the saurian rested on the basin's edge,
its jaws touching, with their stony tips, the prairie, while down into
the valley below stretched the body and tail. This little fact
dove-tailed itself into some incidents of the past, and gave rise to
quite a train of speculation.

Some years ago I hunted alligators in Mississippi. Sitting on the bank
of a sluggish bayou, I would watch the surface of the water, close under
which were visible the noses of countless buffalo fish, floating as one
sees minnows do in glass jars. Under the hot sun all nature seemed
asleep. Soon, however, a black knot, an ugly dark wart, not larger than
one's two fists, would make its appearance, floating, like some charred
fragment, slowly along.

To a stranger, the only suspicious circumstance would have been, that
where there was no current whatever, it still continued its motion, the
same as before. The experienced eye recognized this object as the nose
of an alligator, behind which, and just at the surface, as it got
opposite, the ugly eyes would become visible, looking out for hogs or
dogs, as they came to drink under the bank.

I never had the patience to wait for the _finale_ of the scene; but had
I done so, I should have beheld the knot float closer in, and, just
after passing the victim, a tail would have come out of the water, and,
with a curving blow forward, knocked the prize out from shore, and in
front of the devourer's jaws. It was my good fortune, frequently, to
send a Ballard rifle-ball into the pirate's eyes. In such cases there
was usually a tremendous commotion in the water, accompanied by a strong
smell of musk, and the wounded reptile would then make straight for
shore, and run his head upon it. Under such circumstances, the creature
always sought at least that much of dry land to die upon, seeming as
anxious as man that its lamp of life should not be extinguished under
water.

This monster whose remains we were now exhuming was allied to the
alligator, as one of the great family of lizards, and had died in the
same manner--his head on the shores of the basin, his tail in its
depths. Perhaps in the convulsion of Nature which opened a path for the
waters to the ocean, and drained this inland sea, the fissure in which
we stood had gaped, and exhaled poisonous gases through the whirlpool
its suction created. The saurian monster of that strange age felt the
hungry vortex swallowing him, which meanwhile enveloped him in deadly
secretions, killing before devouring. With a last lurch through the
cauldron's ebbing tide, the lizard threw himself upon its edge, and
died.

Of the countless millions of saurians then existing, capricious Nature
had seized upon this one, to transmute it into an imperishable monument
of that extinct race. In those ages of roaring waters and hissing fires,
she had clothed the bones in stone, that they might withstand the
gnawing tooth of time, and thus handed them down to the wondering eyes
of the Nineteenth Century. Many of the pieces, it should be said, were
cracked and scarred, evidently by the action of fierce heat.

Constantly the earth is giving up these marvelous creations of the past,
in comparison with which the animals of the present are tame enough.
While we doubt a modern sea-serpent as impossible, we dig up fossilized
marine monsters, which could easily have swallowed the biggest snake
that credible sea-captain ever ran foul of.

[Illustration: DUG-OUT.]



CHAPTER XXIII.

     FROM SHERIDAN TO THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS--THE COLORADO PORTION OF THE
     PLAINS--THE GIANT PINES--ATTEMPT TO PHOTOGRAPH A BUFFALO--THINGS
     GET MIXED--THE LEVIATHAN AT HOME--A CHAT WITH PROFESSOR
     COPE--TWENTY-SIX INCH OYSTERS--REPTILES AND FISHES OF THE
     CRETACEOUS SEA.


At Sheridan, we were very near the Colorado portion of the plain, which
stretched on for some hundreds of miles further westward, its further
line lapping the base of the Rocky Mountains. Into this territory we
passed, and spent a considerable period of time in its examination, but
while our experience was to us full of interest, any thing more extended
than a brief summary would occupy too much space here.

For the first one hundred miles, the soil deteriorated in quality, and
the sage-bush made its appearance, as did also the "Adam's needle" or
"Spanish bayonet." The latter makes an excellent substitute for soup,
but a wretched cushion to alight upon when thrown from your horse. (I
make the latter statement on the authority of Doctor Pythagoras.)
Brackish water was found at intervals, and white saline crystallizations
were seen along some of the streams. Although the soil was more sandy
than further east, the buffalo grass was abundant and nutritious, so
that at no time had we any difficulty in finding grazing for our cattle,
and the antelope that we killed were invariably in good condition. This
belt of eastern Colorado proved particularly rich in fossil wealth, to
the description of which we shall devote most of this chapter, and the
whole of that following. In the vicinity of the Big Sandy, we found
numerous lakes of clear water, surrounded by rich pasturage.

About one hundred miles west of the Kansas line, the country began
gradually improving, and continued to do so until we reached the
mountains. The Bijou basin, through which we passed, afforded excellent
range, and contained good streams. The country swarmed with antelopes,
and once we saw a herd running rapidly, which was four minutes in
crossing the road.

We had fine views of Pike's Peak, at a distance of one hundred and fifty
miles, the atmosphere there being remarkably pure and transparent.
Emigrants have often been deceived when, as their wagons crawled over
the crest which we named First View, the fine old Peak burst upon their
sight, and in their enthusiasm resolved to get an early start next day
and reach it before another night-fall. Our guide told us that when he
first crossed the plains, by the Platte route, his party camped for the
night near Monument Rock. After supper, two of the men and a woman set
out to cut their names in the stone, supposing it to be only a mile or
so distant, but when an hour's traveling brought the rock apparently no
nearer, they became discouraged and returned. Next day Monument Rock was
found to be twelve miles distant from their camping-place.

When within a day's journey of the mountains, we came in sight of
several tall objects standing out in bold relief upon the plain. These
proved to be giant pines, thrown out, like sentinels, from the forests
still far beyond and invisible. We could not resist the impulse to give
the first one we came to a hearty hug; for, after so many weeks upon the
treeless plain, these suggestions of mighty forests, with their mingled
sheen and shadow, were indeed welcome. The mountains of Colorado, with
their beautiful parks and wonderful young cities, have been so often
described that our notes would prove a useless addition to a somewhat
worn history, and hence we forbear taxing the reader's patience by
transcribing them here.

After studying the principles of mining and irrigation, we spent in the
neighborhood of one calendar month in getting views of sunrise and
sunset, from all the known peaks, to the end that no future tourist
might feel called upon to extend to us his kind commiseration for having
lost some particular outlook, where he had been, and which he considered
the best of all. To accomplish this thoroughly, we hewed paths up
hitherto inaccessible mountains, and at the end of the month made a
close calculation, and decided that we were a match for all such
tourists for at least five years to come. We then retraced our steps to
Buffalo Land, again entering the fossil belt near Fort Wallace.

One incident of our trip into Colorado deserves especial mention from
having been the first, as it will probably prove the last, attempt to
photograph the buffalo in his native wildness, at close quarters. The
idea was suggested in a letter which the Professor received from his
Eastern friends, who thought that actual photographs of the animals
inhabiting the plains would be a valuable addition to the ordinary
facilities for the study of natural history. As good fortune would have
it, there happened to be at Sheridan an artist, just arrived from Hays,
then prospecting for a location, and him we promptly engaged. The second
day out, two old buffaloes, near our road, were selected as good
subjects for first views. One of these was soon killed, the other making
his escape up a ravine near by. Although we had good reason to suspect
that the latter had been wounded, we did not pursue him, since it was
now near noon, and our artist, moreover, being of a somewhat timid
disposition, had expressly stipulated that we should keep near him, not
so much, he repeatedly assured us, as a body-guard for himself, as for
the protection of his new camera and outfit.

The dead bull we propped into position with our guns and other supports,
and while the artist carefully adjusted his instrument, Shamus began to
make preparations for lunch, and Mr. Colon and Semi set out for a few
minutes' pastime in catching bugs. They had been gone a full half hour,
and we were just remarking their prolonged absence somewhat impatiently,
when a loud cry from the nearer bank of the ravine fell on our ears, and
looking around we beheld Colon senior, and ditto junior, making toward
us at a tremendous rate of speed.

"Buffalo!" was all that we could catch of Semi's wild shouts, as he led
the chase directly toward us, his father having lost several seconds in
securing one of his specimen-cases, and on the instant the old bull that
we had wounded an hour before hove in sight, in full charge upon the
flying entomologists. As buffalo charges are short ones, he would have
stopped, no doubt, in a moment or so, had not Muggs and I, the only
members of our party who happened to have their guns at hand, opened
fire on him, and planted another bullet between his ribs. The effect was
to infuriate the old fellow tenfold, and down he came careering toward
us, with what I then thought the most vicious expression of countenance
I had ever seen on a buffalo's physiognomy.

The attack was so sudden, and the surprise so complete, that we were
most ingloriously stampeded, and fell back in hot haste upon our
reserves, the guide and teamsters, who, we knew, would be provided with
weapons and in good shape to cover our retreat. The sitting for which we
had made such elaborate preparations was abruptly terminated in the
manner shown in the accompanying engraving.

Fortunately for the artist, the blow originally intended for him was
delivered upon the legs of the instrument. His assailant being at length
dispatched, the poor fellow proceeded to pick out of the ruins of his
property what remained that might again be useful. He stated that his
stock, as well as the subject of buffalo photographing, was "rather
mixed," and that, if we would pay him for the damage done, he would
return. Next morning he left us, and thus it was that science lost the
projected series of valuable photographic views.

[Illustration: TAKING AND BEING TAKEN.]

Exploration gives us a past history of the plains which is interesting
in the extreme. Our party spent some weeks in exploring for fossils
beyond Sheridan, and were richly rewarded. In the great ocean which once
covered the land, the wonderful reptiles of the cretaceous age swarmed
in prodigious numbers, and their fierce struggles upon and under its
surface made "the deep to boil like a pot." The mysterious Leviathan,
described in the forty-first chapter of Job, had its prototype in more
than one of the monsters of that period:

"Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about.

"Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out.

"Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron.

"His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth.

"The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in
themselves; they can not be moved.

"He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood.

"He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be
hoary."

The fossil remains of these reptiles are numerous, constituting a rich
mine of scientific wealth, which has been but very lightly worked.
Enough fossils can be obtained by future exploration to fill to
overflowing all the museums of the land.

We have no means of computing how long the cretaceous sea existed, but
we know that it passed away and was replaced by large fresh-water
lakes, those of the plains being bounded on the west by the Rocky
Mountains. Then succeeded an age of which we can catch but occasional
glimpses, and our longing becomes intense that we could know more. We
see a land fertile as the garden of Eden, surrounding beautiful lakes.
The climate is delightful, and earth, air, and water, are full of life.
Grand forests and flower-covered prairies nod and blossom under the kind
caresses of Nature. Water fowls numberless plunge under and skim over
the surface, and the songsters of the air warble forth their hymns of
praise. Over the pastures and through the forests roam an animal
multitude of which we can have but faint conception, but among the
number we recognize the lion with his royal mane, and the tiger with his
spots; and there also are the elephant, the mastodon, the rhinoceros,
the wild horse, and the great elk.

After our return, the eminent naturalist, Prof. Edward D. Cope, A. M.,
visited the plains, and spent some time in careful exploration there. As
he had previously received several fossils from us for examination, I
communicated with him not long since, asking a record of his trip. This
he very kindly consented to furnish, and, did space permit, I would
gladly publish entire the matter which he has placed at my disposal. No
apology can be necessary, however, for yielding to the temptation of
devoting two or three chapters to a chat by Prof. Cope with my readers.

The manuscript, as it lies before me, is entitled: "On the Geology and
Vertebrate Palæontology of the Cretaceous Strata of Kansas." Let us
begin with "Part I--A General Sketch of the Ancient Life."

       *       *       *       *       *

That vast level tract of our territory lying between Missouri and the
Rocky Mountains represents a condition of the earth's surface which has
preceded, in most instances, the mountainous or hilly type so prevalent
elsewhere, and may be called, in so far, incompletely developed. It does
not present the variety of conditions, either of surface for the support
of a very varied life, or of opportunities for access to its interior
treasures, so beneficial to a high civilization.

It is, in fact, the old bed of seas and lakes, which has been so
gradually elevated as to have suffered little disturbance. Consistently
with its level surface, its soils have not been carried away by rain and
flood, but rather cover it with a deep and widespread mantle. This is
the great source of its wealth in Nature's creations of vegetable and
animal life, and from it will be drawn the wealth of its future
inhabitants. On this account its products have a character of
uniformity; but viewed from the stand-point of the political
philosopher, so long as peace and steam bind the natural sections of our
country together, so long will the plains be an important element in a
varied economy of continental extent.

But they are not entirely uninterrupted. The natural drainage has worn
channels, and the streams flow below the general level. The ancient sea
and lake deposits have neither been pressed into very hard rock beneath
piles of later sediment, nor have they been roasted and crystallized by
internal heat. Although limestone rock, they easily yield to the action
of water, and so the side drainage into the creeks and rivers has
removed their high banks to from many rods to many miles from their
original positions. In many cases these banks or bluffs have retained
their original steepness, and have increased in elevation as the
breaking-down of the rock encroached on higher land. In other cases the
rain-channels have cut in without removing the intervening rocks at
once, and formed deep gorges or canyons, which sometimes extend to great
distances. They frequently communicate in every direction, forming
curious labyrinths, and when the intervening masses are cut away at
various levels, or left standing like monuments, we have the
characteristic peculiarities of "bad lands" or _mauvaises terres_.

In portions of Kansas tracts of this kind are scattered over the country
along the margins of the river and creek valleys and ravines. The upper
stratum of the rock is a yellow chalk; the lower, bluish, and the
brilliancy of the color increases the picturesque effect. From elevated
points the plains appear to be dotted with ruined villages and towns,
whose avenues are lined with painted walls of fortifications, churches,
and towers, while side alleys pass beneath natural bridges or expand
into small pockets and caverns, smoothed by the action of the wind,
carrying hard mineral particles.

But this is the least interesting of the peculiarities presented by
these rocks. On the level surfaces, denuded of soil, lie huge
oyster-shells, some opened and others with both valves together, like
remnants of a half-finished meal of some titanic race, who had been
frightened from the board, never to return. These shells are not
thickened like most of those of past periods, but contained an animal
which would have served as a meal for a large party of men. One of them
measured twenty-six inches across.

If the explorer searches the bottoms of the rain-washes and ravines, he
will doubtless come upon the fragment of a tooth or jaw, and will
generally find a line of such pieces leading to an elevated position on
the bank or bluff, where lies the skeleton of some monster of the
ancient sea. He may find the vertebral column running far into the
limestone that locks him in his last prison; or a paddle extended on the
slope, as though entreating aid; or a pair of jaws lined with horrid
teeth which grin despair on enemies they are helpless to resist. Or he
may find a conic mound, on whose apex glisten in the sun the bleached
bones of one whose last office has been to preserve from destruction the
friendly soil on which he reposed. Sometimes a pile of huge remains will
be discovered, which the dissolution of the rock has deposited on the
lower level, the force of rain and wash having been insufficient to
carry them away.

But the reader inquires, What is the nature of these creatures thus left
stranded a thousand miles from either ocean? How came they in the
limestones of Kansas, and were they denizens of land or sea? It may be
replied that our knowledge of this chapter of ancient history is only
about five years old, and has been brought to light by geological
explorations set on foot by Dr. Turner, Prof. Mudge, Prof. Marsh, W. E.
Webb, and the writer. Careful examinations of the remains discovered
show that they are all to be referred to the reptiles and fishes. We
find that they lived in the period called Cretaceous, at the time when
the chalk of England and the green sand marl of New Jersey were being
deposited, and when many other huge reptiles and fishes peopled both sea
and land in those quarters of the globe. The twenty-six species of
reptiles found in Kansas, up to the present time, varied from ten to
eighty feet in length, and represented six orders, the same that occur
in the other regions mentioned. Two only of the number were terrestrial
in their habits, and three were flyers; the remainder were inhabitants
of the salt ocean. When they swam over what are now the plains, the
coast-line extended from Arkansas to near Fort Riley, on the Kansas
River, and, passing a little eastward, traversed Minnesota to the
British Possessions, near the head of Lake Superior. The extent of sea
to the westward was vast, and geology has not yet laid down its
boundary; it was probably a shore now submerged beneath the waters of
the North Pacific Ocean.

Far out on its expanse might have been seen in those ancient days, a
huge snake-like form which rose above the surface and stood erect, with
tapering throat and arrow-shaped head; or swayed about, describing a
circle of twenty feet radius above the water. Then it would dive into
the depths, and naught would be visible but the foam caused by the
disappearing mass of life. Should several have appeared together, we
can easily imagine tall twining forms, rising to the height of the masts
of a fishing fleet, or like snakes twisting and knotting themselves
together. This extraordinary neck, for such it was, rose from a body of
elephantine proportions; and a tail of the serpent pattern balanced it
behind. The limbs were probably two pairs of paddles, like those of
_Plesiosaurus_, from which this diver chiefly differed in the
arrangement of the bones of the breast. In the best known species,
twenty-two feet represent the neck, in a total length of fifty feet.

This is the _Elasmosaurus platyurus_ (Cope), a carnivorous sea reptile,
no doubt adapted for deeper waters than many of the others. Like the
snake-bird of Florida, it probably often swam many feet below the
surface, raising the head to the distant air for a breath, then
withdrawing it and exploring the depths forty feet below, without
altering the position of its body. From the localities in which the
bones have been found in Kansas, it must have wandered far from land,
and that many kinds of fishes formed its food, is shown by the teeth and
scales found in the position of its stomach.

A second species, of somewhat similar character and habits, differed
very much in some points of structure. The neck was drawn out to a
wonderful degree of attenuation, while the tail was relatively very
stout, more so, indeed, than in the _Elasmosaurus_, as though to balance
the anterior regions while occupied in various actions, _e. g._, while
capturing its food. This was a powerful swimmer, its paddles measuring
four feet in length, with an expanse, therefore, of about eleven feet.
It is known as _Polycotylus latipinnis_ (Cope).

The two species just described formed a small representation, in our
great interior sea, of an order which swarmed at the same time, or near
it, over the gulfs and bays of old Europe. There they abounded twenty to
one. Perhaps one reason for this was the almost entire absence of the
real rulers of the waters of Ancient America, viz: the _Pythonomorphs_.
These sea-serpents, for such they were, embrace more than half the
species found in the limestone rocks in Kansas, and abound in those of
New Jersey and Alabama. Only four have been seen as yet in Europe.

Researches into their structure have shown that they were of wonderful
elongation of form, especially of tail; that their heads were large,
flat, and conic, with eyes directed partly upwards; that they were
furnished with two pairs of paddles like the flippers of a whale, but
with short or no portion representing the arm. With these flippers and
the eel-like strokes of their flattened tail they swam--some with less,
others with greater speed. They were furnished, like snakes, with four
rows of formidable teeth on the roof of the mouth. Though these were not
designed for mastication, and without paws for grasping could have been
little used for cutting, as weapons for seizing their prey they were
very formidable. And here we have to consider a peculiarity of these
creatures in which they are unique among animals. Swallowing their prey
entire, like snakes, they were without that wonderful expansibility of
throat, due in the latter to an arrangement of levers supporting the
lower jaw. Instead of this each half of that jaw was articulated or
jointed at a point nearly midway between the ear and the chin. This was
of the ball and socket type, and enabled the jaw to make an angle
outward, and so widen, by much, the space inclosed between it and its
fellow. The arrangement may be easily imitated by directing the arms
forward, with the elbows turned outward and the hands placed near
together. The ends of these bones were in the Pythonomorphs as
independent as in the serpents, being only bound by flexible ligaments.
By turning the elbows outward, and bending them, the space between the
arms becomes diamond-shaped, and represents exactly the expansion seen
in these reptiles, to permit the passage of a large fish or other body.
The arms, too, will represent the size of jaws attained by some of the
smaller species. The outward movement of the basal half of the jaw
necessarily twists in the same direction the column-like bone to which
it is suspended. The peculiar shape of the joint by which the last bone
is attached to the skull, depends on the degree of twist to be
permitted, and, therefore, to the degree of expansion of which the jaws
were capable. As this differs much in the different species, they are
readily distinguished by the column or "quadrate" bone when found. There
are some curious consequences of this structure, and they are here
explained as an instance of the mode of reconstruction of extinct
animals from slight materials. The habit of swallowing large bodies
between the branches of the under-jaw necessitates the prolongation
forward of the mouth of the gullet; hence the throat in the
Pythonomorphs must have been loose and almost as baggy as a pelican's.
Next, the same habit must have compelled the forward position of the
glottis or opening of the windpipe, which is always in front of the
gullet. Hence these creatures must have uttered no other sound than a
hiss, as do animals of the present day which have a similar structure,
as for instance, the snakes. Thirdly, the tongue must have been long and
forked and for this reason: its position was still anterior to the
glottis, so that there was no space for it except it were inclosed in a
sheath beneath the windpipe when at rest, or thrown out beyond the jaws
when in motion. Such is the arrangement in the nearest living forms, and
it is always, in these cases, cylindric and forked.

The flying saurians of the cretaceous sea of Kansas, though not numerous
in species, were of remarkable size. Though their remains are generally
flattened by the pressure of the overlying rocks, two species have left
a complete record of their form and dimensions. One of them
(_Ornithochirus Tarpyia_) spread eighteen feet between the tips of the
wings, while the _O. umbrosus_ covered nearly twenty-five feet with his
expanse. These strange creatures flapped their leathery wings over the
waves, and, often plunging, drew many a fish from its companions of the
shoal; or, soaring at a safe distance, viewed the sports and combats of
the more powerful saurians of the sea; or, trooping to the shore at
nightfall, suspended themselves to the cliffs by the claw-bearing
fingers of their wing-limbs.

[Illustration: DEVELOPING--ONE OF THE FIRST FAMILIES.]

In connection with the subject of the old lakes and their fertile
shores, where human beings, it might reasonably be expected, once lived
so comfortably, the editor of this volume begs to lay before the reader
(in a sort of parenthesis, for which Professor Cope is in no way
responsible) an effort of Sachem's. He dedicated it to Darwin, and was
pleased to call it, notwithstanding it smells more of the fossil-bone
caves than the fields,

THE PRIMEVAL MAN'S PASTORAL.

  My grandfather Jock was an ape,
    His grandfather Twist was a worm;
  Each age has developed in shape,
    And ours has got rid of the squirm;
  If the law of selection will work in our case,
    We'll develop, in time, to a wonderful race.

  My sweetheart has claws, and her face
    Is covered with bristles and hair;
  She's feline in nature and grace,
    She's apt to get out on a tear,
  She's cursed with a passion to sing after night;
    But these she'll evolve, and develop all right.

  One race has evolved in the sea,
    And partly got rid of their scales;
  Though cousin by faces to me,
    They're cousin to fishes by tails;
  But they'll ever remain simply mer-men and women,
    For selection won't work, in the world that they swim in.

  'T is said that Gorilla the Great,
    Who rules as the chief of our clan,
  Has found in the annals of fate,
    We're soon to evolve into man;
  Furthermore, that our children will doubt whence they came,
    Till a fellow named Darwin shall put them to shame.



CHAPTER XXIV.

     CONTINUED BY COPE--THE GIANTS OF THE SEAS--TAKING OUT FOSSILS IN A
     GALE--INTERESTING DISCOVERIES--THE GEOLOGY OF THE PLAINS.


The giants of the Pythonomorphs of Kansas have been called _Liodon
proriger_ (Cope) and _Liodon dyspelor_ (Cope). The first must have been
abundant, and its length could not have been far from sixty feet,
certainly not less. Its physiognomy was rendered peculiar by a long
projecting muzzle, reminding one of that of the blunt-nosed sturgeon of
our coast, but the resemblance was destroyed by the correspondingly
massive end of the branches of the lower jaw. Though clumsy in
appearance, such an arrangement must have been effective as a ram, and
dangerous to his enemies in case of collision. The writer once found the
wreck of an individual of this species strewn around a sunny knoll
beside a bluff, and his conic snout, pointing to the heavens, formed a
fitting monument, as at once his favorite weapon, and the mark
distinguishing all his race.

Very different was the _Liodon dyspelor_, a still larger animal than the
last, with a formidable armature. It was indeed the longest of known
reptiles, and probably equal to the great finner whale of modern oceans.
The circumstances attending the discovery of one of these, will always
be a pleasant recollection to the writer. A part of the face, with
teeth, was observed projecting from the side of a bluff by a companion
in exploration, (Lieut. Jas. H. Whitten, U. S. A.), and we at once
proceeded to follow up the indication with knives and picks. Soon the
lower jaws were uncovered, with their glistening teeth, and then the
vertebræ and ribs. Our delight was at its height when the bones of the
pelvis and part of the hind limb were laid bare, for they had never been
seen before in the species and scarcely in the order. While lying on the
bottom of the cretaceous sea, the carcass had been dragged hither and
thither by the sharks and other rapacious animals, and the parts of the
skeleton were displaced and gathered into a small area. The massive tail
stretched away into the bluff, and after much laborious excavation we
left a portion of it to more persevering explorers. The species of
_Clidastes_ did not reach such a size as some of the _Liodons_, and were
of elegant and flexible build. To prevent their habits of coiling from
dislocating the vertebral column, these had an additional pair of
articulations at each end, while their muscular strength is attested by
the elegant striæ and other sculptures which appear on all their bones.
Three species of this genus occur in the Kansas strata, the largest
(_Clidastes cineriarum_, Cope) reaching forty feet in length. The
discovery of a related species (_Holcodus coryphæus_, Cope) was made by
the writer under circumstances of difficulty peculiar to the plains.
After examining the bluffs for half a day without result, a few bone
fragments were found in a wash above their base. Others led the way to
a ledge forty or fifty feet from both summit and foot, where, stretched
along in the yellow chalk, lay the projecting portions of the whole
monster. A considerable number of vertebræ were found preserved by the
protective embrace of the roots of a small bush, and, when they were
secured, the pick and knife were brought into requisition to remove the
remainder. About this time one of the gales, so common in that region,
sprang up, and, striking the bluff fairly, reflected itself upwards. So
soon as the pick pulverized the rock, the limestone dust was carried
into eyes, nose, and every available opening in the clothing. I was
speedily blinded, and my aid disappeared into the canyon, and was seen
no more while the work lasted. Only the enthusiasm of the student could
have endured the discomfort, but to him it appeared a most unnecessary
"conversion of force" that a geologist should be driven from the field
by his own dust. A handkerchief tied over the face, and pierced by
minute holes opposite the eyes, kept me from total blindness, though
dirt in abundance penetrated the mask. But a fine relic of creative
genius was extricated from its ancient bed, and one that leads its genus
in size and explains its structure.

On another occasion, riding along a spur of a yellow chalk bluff, some
vertebræ lying at its foot met my eye. An examination showed that the
series entered the rock, and, on passing round to the opposite side the
jaws and muzzle were seen projecting from it, as though laid bare for
the convenience of the geologist. The spur was small and of soft
material, and we speedily removed it in blocks, to the level of the
reptile, and took out the remains, as they laid across the base from
side to side. A genus related to the last is _Edestosaurus_. A species
of thirty feet in length, and of elegant proportions has been called _E.
tortor_ (Cope.) Its slenderness of body was remarkable, and the large
head was long and lance-shaped. Its flippers tapered elegantly, and the
whole animal was more of a serpent than any other of its tribe. Its
lithe movements brought many a fish to its knife-shaped teeth, which are
more efficient and numerous than in any of its relatives. It was found
coiled up beneath a ledge of rock, with its skull lying undisturbed in
the center. A species distinguished for its small size and elegance is
_Clidastes pumilus_ (Marsh). This little fellow was only twelve feet in
length, and was probably unable to avoid occasionally furnishing a meal
for some of the rapacious fishes which abounded in the same ocean.

Tortoises were the boatmen of the cretaceous waters of the eastern
coast, but none had been known from the deposits of Kansas until very
recently. One species now on record (_Protostega gigas_, Cope), is of
large size, and strange enough to excite the attention of naturalists.
It is well known that the house or boat of the tortoise or turtle is
formed by the expansion of the usual bones of the skeleton till they
meet and unite, and thus become continuous. Thus the lower shell is
formed of united ribs of the breast and breast-bone, with bone deposited
in the skin. In the same way the roof is formed by the union of the
ribs with bone deposited in the skin. In the very young tortoise the
ribs are separate as in other animals; as they grow older they begin to
expand at the upper side of the upper end, and, with increased age, the
expansion extends throughout the length. The ribs first come in contact
where the process commences, and in the land-tortoise they are united to
the end. In the sea-turtle, the union ceases a little above the ends.
The fragments of the _Protostega_ were seen by one of the men projecting
from a ledge of a low bluff. Their thinness and the distance to which
they were traced excited my curiosity, and I straightway attacked the
bank with the pick. After several square feet of rock had been removed,
we cleared up one floor, and found ourselves well repaid. Many long
slender pieces, of two inches in width, lay upon the ledge. They were
evidently ribs, with the usual heads, but behind each head was a plate
like the flattened bowl of a huge spoon placed crosswise. Beneath these
stretched two broad plates two feet in width, and no thicker than
binders' board. The edges were fingered, and the surface hard and
smooth. All this was quite new among fully grown animals, and we at once
determined that more ground must be explored, for further light. After
picking away the bank and carving the soft rock, new masses of strange
bones were disclosed. Some bones of a large paddle were recognized, and
a leg bone. The shoulder-blade of a huge tortoise came next, and further
examination showed that we had stumbled on the burial-place of one of
the largest species of sea-turtle yet known. The single bones of the
paddle were eight inches long, giving the spread of the expanded
flippers as considerably over twenty feet. But the ribs were those of an
ordinary turtle just born, and the great plates represented the bony
deposit in the skin, which, commencing independently in modern turtles,
united with the expanded ribs below, at an early day. But it was
incredible that the largest of known turtles should be but just hatched,
and for this and other reasons it has been concluded that this "ancient
mariner" is one of those forms not uncommon in old days, whose
incompleteness in some respects points to the truth of the belief, that
animals have assumed their modern perfection, by a process of growth
from more simple beginnings.

The cretaceous ocean of the West was no less remarkable for its fishes
than for its reptiles. Sharks do not seem to have been so common as in
the old Atlantic, but it swarmed with large predaceous forms related to
the salmon and saury.

[Illustration: THE SEA WHICH ONCE COVERED THE PLAINS.

  Elasmosaurus platyurus.
  2. Liodon proriger.
  3, 4, 5. Ornithochirus umbrosus.
  6. Ornithochirus harpyia.
  7. Protostega.
  8. Polycotylus latipinnis.]

Vertebræ and other fragments of these species project from the worn
limestone in many places. I will call attention to, perhaps, the most
formidable, as well as the most abundant of these. It is the one whose
bones most frequently crowned knobs of shale, which had been left
standing amid surrounding destruction. The density and hardness of the
bones shed the rain off on either side, so that the radiating gutters
and ravines finally isolated the rock mass from that surrounding. The
head was some inches longer than that of a fully grown grizzly bear, and
the jaws were deeper in proportion to their length. The muzzle was shorter
and deeper than that of a bull-dog. The teeth were all sharp cylindric
fangs, smooth and glistening, and of irregular size. At certain distances
in each jaw they projected three inches above the gum, and were sunk one
inch into the bony support, being thus as long as the fangs of a tiger,
but more slender. Two such fangs crossed each other on each side of the
middle of the front. This fish is known as _Portheus molossus_ (Cope).
Besides the smaller fishes, the reptiles no doubt supplied the demands
of his appetite.

The ocean in which flourished this abundant and vigorous life, was at
last completely inclosed on the west, by elevation of sea-bottom, so
that it only communicated with the Atlantic and Pacific at the Gulf of
Mexico and the Arctic Sea. The continued elevation of both eastern and
western shores contracted its area, and when ridges of the sea-bottom
reached the surface, forming long low bars, parts of the water area were
inclosed and connection with salt water prevented. Thus were the living
beings imprisoned and subjected to many new risks to life. The stronger
could more readily capture the weaker, while the fishes would gradually
perish through the constant freshening of the water. With the death of
any considerable class the balance of food supply would be lost, and
many larger species would disappear from the scene. The most omnivorous
and enduring would longest resist the approach of starvation, but would
finally yield to inexorable fate; the last one caught by the rising
bottom among shallow pools from which his exhausted energies could not
extricate him.


PART II--GEOLOGY.

The geology of this region has been very partially explored, but appears
to be quite simple. The following description of the section along the
line of the Kansas Pacific Railroad, will probably apply to similar
sections north and south of it. The formations referable to the
cretaceous period on this line, are those called by Messrs. Meek and
Hayden the Dakota, Benton, and Niobrara groups, as Nos. 1, 2 and 3.
According to Leconte,[3] at Salina, one hundred and eighty-five miles
west of the State line of Missouri, the rocks of the Dakota group
constitute the bluffs, and continue to do so as far as Fort Harker,
thirty-three miles farther west. They are a "coarse brown sand-stone,
containing irregular concretions of oxide of iron," and numerous
molluscs of marine origin. Near Fort Harker, certain strata contain
large quantities of the remains (leaves chiefly) of dicotyledonous and
other forms of land vegetation. Near this point, according to the same
authority, the sand-stone beds are covered with clay and limestone.
These he does not identify, but portions of it from Bunker Hill,
thirty-four miles west, have been identified by Dr. Hayden, as belonging
to the Benton or second group. The specimen consisted of a block of
dark, bluish-gray clay rock, which bore the remains of the fish
_Apsopelix sauriformis_ (Cope). That the eastern boundary of this bed is
very sinuous is rendered probable by its occurrence at Brookville,
eighteen miles to the eastward of Fort Harker, on the railroad. In
sinking a well at this point, the same soft, bluish clay rock was
traversed, and at a depth of about thirty feet a skeleton of a saurian
of the crocodilian order was encountered, the _Hyposaurus vebbii_
(Cope).

  [3] Notes on the geology of the survey for the extension of the Union
  Pacific Road E. D. from the Smoky Hill to the Rio Grande, by John L.
  Leconte, M. D. Philadelphia, 1868.

The boundary line, or first appearance of the beds of the Niobrara
division, has not been pointed out, but at Fort Hays, seventy miles west
of Fort Harker, its rocks form the bluffs and outcrops every-where. From
Fort Hays to Fort Wallace, near the western boundary of the state, one
hundred and thirty-four miles beyond, the strata present a tolerably
uniform appearance. They consist of two portions; a lower, of
dark-bluish calcareo-argillaceous character, often thin-bedded; and a
superior, of yellow and whitish chalk, much more heavily bedded. Near
Fort Hays the best section may be seen, at a point eighteen miles north,
on the Saline river. Here the bluffs rise to a height of two hundred
feet, the yellow strata constituting the upper half. No fossils were
observed in the blue bed, but some moderate-sized _Ostreæ_, frequently
broken, were not rare in the yellow. Half-way between this point and the
Fort, my friend, N. Daniels, of Hays, guided me to a denuded tract,
covered with the remains of huge oysters, some of which measured
twenty-seven inches in diameter. They exhibited concentric obtuse ridges
on the interior side, and a large basin-shaped area behind the hinge.
Fragments of fish vertebræ of _Anogmius_ type were also found here by
Dr. Janeway. These were exposed in the yellow bed. Several miles east of
the post, Dr. J. H. Janeway, Post Surgeon, pointed out to me an immense
accumulation of _Inoceramus problematicus_ in the blue stratum. This
species also occurred in abundance in the bluffs west of the Fort, which
were composed of the blue bed, capped by a thinner layer of the yellow.
Large globular or compound globular argillaceous concretions, coated
with gypsum, were abundant at this point.

Along the Smoky Hill River, thirty miles east of Fort Wallace, the south
bank descends gradually, while the north bank is bluffy. This, with
other indications, points to a gentle dip of the strata to the
north-west. The yellow bed is thin or wanting on the north bank of the
Smoky, and is not observable on the north fork of that river for twenty
miles northward or to beyond Sheridan Station, on the Kansas Pacific
Railroad. Two isolated hills, "The Twin Buttes," at the latter point are
composed of the blue bed, here very shaly to their summits. This is the
general character of the rock along and north of the railroad between
this point and Fort Wallace.

South of the river the yellow strata are more distinctly developed.
Butte Creek Valley, fifteen to eighteen miles to the south, is margined
by bluffs of from twenty to one hundred and fifty feet in height on its
southern side, while the northern rises gradually into the prairie.
These bluffs are of yellow chalk, except from ten to forty feet of blue
rock at the base, although many of the canyons are excavated in the
yellow rock exclusively. The bluffs of the upper portion of Butte Creek,
Fox, and Fossil Spring (five miles south) canyons, are of yellow chalk,
and reports of several persons stated that those of Beaver Creek, eight
miles south of Fossil Spring, are exclusively of this material. Those
near the mouth of Beaver Creek, on the Smoky, are of considerable
height, and appear at a distance to be of the same yellow chalk.

I found these two strata to be about equally fossilliferous, and I am
unable to establish any palæontological difference between them. They
pass into each other by gradations in some places, and occasionally
present slight laminar alternations at their line of junction. I have
specimens of _Cimolichthys semianceps_ (Cope), from both the blue and
yellow beds, and vertebrae of the _Liodon glandiferus_ (Cope) were found
in both. The large fossil of _Liodon dyspelor_ (Cope) was found at the
junction of the bed, and the caudal portion was excavated from the blue
stratum exclusively. Portions of it were brought East in blocks of this
material, and these have become yellow and yellowish on many of the
exposed surfaces. The matrix adherent to all the bones has become
yellow. A second incomplete specimen, undistinguishable from this
species, was taken from the yellow bed.

As to mineral contents, the yellow stratum is remarkably uniform in its
character. The blue shale, on the contrary, frequently contains numerous
concretions, and great abundance of thin layers of gypsum and crystals
of the same. Near Sheridan concretions and septaria are abundant. In
some places the latter are of great size and, being embedded in the
stratum, have suffered denudation of their contents, and, the septa
standing out, form a huge honey-comb. This region and the neighborhood
of Eagle Tail, Colorado, are noted for the beauty of their
gypsum-crystals, the first abundantly found in the cretaceous formation.
These are hexagonal-radiate, each division being a pinnate or
feather-shaped lamina of twin rows of crystals. The clearness of the
mineral, and the regular leaf and feather forms of the crystals give
them much beauty. The bones of vertebrate fossils preserved in this bed
are often much injured by the gypsum formation which covers their
surface and often penetrates them in every direction.

The yellow bed of the Niobrara group disappears to the south-west, west,
and north-west of Fort Wallace, beneath a sandy conglomerate of
uncertain age. Its color is light, sometimes white, and the component
pebbles are small and mostly of white quartz. The rock wears irregularly
into holes and fissures, and the soil covering it generally thin and
poor. It is readily detached in large masses, which roll down the
bluffs. No traces of life were observed in it, but it is probably the
eastern margin of the southern extension of the White River Miocene
Tertiary stratum. This is at least indicated by Dr. Hayden, in his
geological preface to Leidy's extinct mammals of Dakota and Nebraska.

Commercially, the beds of the Niobrara formation possess little value,
except when burned for manure. The yellow chalk is too soft in many
places for buildings of large size, but will answer well for those of
moderate size. It is rather harder at Fort Hays, as I had occasion to
observe at their quarry. That quarried at Fort Wallace does not appear
to harden by exposure; the walls of the hospital, noted by Leconte on
his visit, remained in 1871 as soft as they were in 1867. A few
worthless beds of bituminous shale were observed in Eastern Colorado.

The only traces of Glacial Action in the line explored were seen near
Topeka. South of the town are several large, erratic masses of pink and
bloody quartz, whose surfaces are so polished as to appear as though
vitrified. They were transported, perhaps, from the Azoic area near Lake
Superior.



CHAPTER XXV.

     A SAVAGE OUTBREAK--THE BATTLE OF THE FORTY SCOUTS--THE
     SURPRISE--PACK-MULES STAMPEDED--DEATH ON THE ARICKEREE--THE
     MEDICINE MAN--A DISMAL NIGHT--MESSENGERS SENT TO WALLACE--MORNING
     ATTACK--WHOSE FUNERAL?--RELIEF AT LAST--THE OLD SCOUTS' DEVOTION TO
     THE BLUE.


On our return to Sheridan we were deeply pained to hear of the sad death
of Doctor Moore and Lieutenant Beecher, whose acquaintance we had formed
at Fort Hays, and the former of whom we had learned to esteem most
highly as a personal friend. A scouting party, not long before, had left
the post just named, under the command of General Forsythe, of
Sheridan's staff, and composed principally of those citizens who had
seen frontier service. Dr. Moore accompanied it as surgeon, and Lieut.
Beecher--a nephew of Henry Ward Beecher, and an officer of the regular
army--held the position of chief of scouts, which he had filled for some
time previously with much credit. The savages of the plains being again
upon the war-path, that brave and well-organized little party of fifty
were dispatched to pursue a band of Indians, which had appeared before
Sheridan and run off a lot of stock.

Some of the scouts were now in the town, and from one of them we
obtained an account of the expedition. Fresh from the mouth of that
sandy hell in the river's head, which had sucked out the life-blood of
so many of his companions, I wish my readers could have heard the story
told with the rude eloquence in which he clothed it. As it is, how
nearly they will come to doing so, must perforce depend on how nearly I
can remember his language.

"You see, captain," he began (it is considered impolite among this class
ever to address one without using some title), "we had the nicest little
forty lot o' scouts that ever followed the plains fur a living, and
trails fur an Injun. Thar wur ingineers, doctors, counter-jumpers, and a
few deadbeats, but every one of 'em had lots of fight, and not the least
bit of scare. Ther talents run ter fightin', an' ther bodies never run
away from it.

"It wur kinder curious, though, to see the chaps that wur not bred ter
ther business git along. They wur the profession folks. Some had a
little compass, not much bigger 'n a button, that they carried on the
sly. Good scouts don't need no such fixin's. These uns 'ud reach inter
ther pockets, as if they was going ter take a chaw o' terbaccer, and
gettin' a sly wink at ther needle, would cry out ter ther neighbors, 'I
say, hoss, we 're goin' a little too much east of north!' or, 'I tell
yer what, fel, we 're at least two p'ints off our course.' And all ther
time they couldn't have told south from west, without them needles. But
ther warn't a coward in the whole pack. Every one had a back as stiff
fur a fight as a cat.

"We struck a large Injun trail the fourth day out, and kept it till
evenin', but no other sign showed itself over ther wide reach that would
have told a livin' bein' had ever bin thar before us. Next mornin',
early, ther was a sudden fuss among our horses, and a cry from the
guard, and, afore we knew it, eight pack-mules had been stampeded, and
driven off. It wur a narrow call fur ther whole herd.

"The fellers had come down a ravine until they got close enough, and,
then suddenly rushin' along in the grayness, set the mules inter a crazy
run, and gathered 'em up, out of gun-shot. You may lick a pack-mule
along all day, and be afraid he 'll drop down dead, and yet give him a
fair chance to stampede, and he 'll outrun an elk, and grow fat on it.

"Stock and Injuns was both out of sight in a jiffy, and the order was
given to saddle, and recapture. We were just raisin' inter ther
stirrups, when some of the boys called out, and we saw the whole valley
ahead of us filled with Injuns comin' down. Ther warn't no mules lost
just then, and we kinder fell back onto a sort of high-water island in
the Arickeree. That, yer know, is the dry fork of the Republican. Bein'
low water then, as it is most of the time thar, nothin' but a dry bed of
sand was on each side.

"It seemed as if the whole Injun nation was coming down on us. Such a
crowd o' lank ponies, and painted heathen astride, yer never see. I
expected seein' of 'em would prevent _my_ ever seein' of my family agin.
'Jim,' says I to my chum, and 'Bill,' says he to me, and then we didn't
say nothin' more, but as the heathen come a chargin', we both put a hand
in our pockets, just as if the brains had been in one head, and then
both of us took a chaw o' terbaccer.

"For the next few hours ther wur an awful scrimmage, and a shootin', and
a hollerin', and a whizzin' of bullets, which made that the hottest
little island ever stranded on sand. The boys had all dug out, with
their hands, sort o' little rifle-pits, and fit behind 'em. We had good
Spencers, with a few Henrys, and the way those patents spit lead at the
devils' hearts wur a caution. The first charge, they cum close up to us,
and for a hull minnit, that stretched out awfully, we were afraid they'd
ride us down. It was reg'lar coffee-mill work then, grindin' away at the
levers, and we flung bullets among 'em astonishin'. As fast as one Injun
keeled, another'd pick him up, and nary dead was left on the field.

"They follered up the charge game by a siege one, and peppered away at
us from the neighborin' ravines and hills. Ther number wur about eight
hundred, and some had carbines, and others old rifles and pistols. A few
would sneak along in the bottom grass, and get behind trees, and then
thur would be a flash, and a crack, and the ball would come tearin' in
among us, sometimes burrowin' in a human skull, or elsewise knockin'
down a horse. And all around, on the ridges, the squaws were a dancin'
and shoutin', and the braves, whenever any of 'em got tired of shootin',
would join their ugly she's, and help 'em in kickin' up a hullabaloo.

"I reckon, arter they'd killed the last hoss, they must ha' had a
separate scalp-dance fur each one on us. Plain sailin' then, ther red
fellows thought--less than fifty white men down in the sand, and most a
thousan' Injuns roun' 'em, and more 'n a hundred miles to the nearest
fort; the weaker party bein' afoot, too, and the other mounted.

"But we soon made 'em pitch another tune, beside ther juberlatin' one.
We had took notice of a big Injun, with lots o' fixins on him, cavortin'
all round ther island, and a spurrin' up the braves. We made certain it
wur the medicine man, and found out arterward that he'd been tellin' on
'em ther pale-faces' bullets would melt before reachin' an Injun. Six on
us got our rifles together, and as ther old copper-colored Pillgarlic
cum dancin' round, we let fly. If Injun carcasses go along with ther
spirits, I reckon ther bullets we put into the old sinner, got melted,
sure enough. And what a howlin' thur was, as his pony scampered in among
the squaws, empty saddled!

"It wur an awful sight to look roun' among our little sand-works--twenty
killed and wounded men, covered with blood and grit. Our leader, Col.
Forsythe, was shot in both legs, a ball passin' through the thigh part
of one, and a second breakin' the bones of the other below the knee. He
wur a knowin' and cool officer.

"Lieut. Beecher, a nephew of the big preacher, was shot through the
small o' the back, and lay thar beggin' us to kill him. He too wur a
brave man, and didn't flinch, never, from duty nor danger. They say that
his two sisters were drowned from a sailboat on the Hudson, two years
ago, and that the old parents are left now all alone. Doc. Moore was
shot through the head, and sat thar noddin', and not knowin' no one. I
spoke to him once, and he kinder started back, as if he see the Injun
which shot him, still thar. He wur a good surgeon, and all the boys
liked him. I hev got his gun down at my tent, all full o' sand, whar it
got tramped arter he fell.[4]

  [4] I obtained the weapon that I had loaned our friend, and have
  carefully kept it since, as a memento.

"Culver lay dead on one side of our little island, shot by an Injun that
crawled up in the grass. Lots o' others was wounded, and our chances
looked as dark as ther night which wur coming down on us. But we was
glad ter see daylight burn out, as it kinder gin us a chance to rest and
think.

"That night was awful dismal. The little spot o' sand, down thar in the
river's bed, seemed ther only piece o' earth friendly to us, and we were
clingin' to it like sailors ter a raft at sea. The darkness all around
was a gapin' ter swaller us, and a hidin' its blood-hounds, to set 'em
on with ther sun. Night, without any thin' in it more 'n grave-stones,
is terrifyin' to most people, but just you fill it full of pantin's for
blood in front, and Death sittin' behind, among the corpses, and
watchin' the wounded, and a feller's blood falls right down to January.
It kinder thickens, like water freezin' round the edges, and your hands
and feet get powerful cold, and you feel as if you wouldn't ever be
thawed out, this side of the very place you don't want ter go to.

"Toward midnight, Stillwell and Trudell crawled out o' camp, to go for
relief. They were to creep and sneak through the Injun lines, and get
beyond 'em by daylight. Then they would lay by, and push on ag'in, when
dark cum, toward Wallace. That little spot of barracks, a hundred and
twenty-five miles off, kept up our hope mightily. It was our
light-house, like. We were shipwrecked among savages, and had sent a
couple of yawls off, to tell the keeper thar of danger. We knew if the
news reached, blue coats would flash out to us, like spots of light, and
our foes go before 'em as mist.

"But footin' it nights, and layin' by days, fur over a hundred miles,
through Injun country, is slow work, and we didn't, most on us, expect
much; and our hearts follered the little black spots, showin' us our two
companions a creepin' off into darkness, like a couple of wolves. It
took good men, too, from our little party, and fur awhile I was
faint-hearted. In our shipwreck, it seemed like takin' bottles which
might ha' helped to hold out, and flingin' 'em into ther waves, with
messages tellin' how and whar we went down.

"About two o'clock Lieut. Beecher died, havin' for some time begged the
men to end his sufferin's by shootin' of him.

"We all kept perfect quiet that night--no fire, nor wur ther a sound
heard, from our little island, by the heathen on the bluffs. An just
that quietness gave 'em the worst foolin' they ever had. It seems the
road down river had been left open by 'em, hopin' we would steal out and
run for it durin' the night. We bein' all on foot, they could overtake
us in the mornin', and worry on us out easy. Durin' the dark we waited
quiet, and watched, and passed water to our wounded, and sprinkled it
over some of 'em who couldn't drink.

"It wer just kinder palin' like way up in the sky, and we could see that
off down East, somewhar, ther mornin' was commencin' ter climb, when Jim
nudged me, and says, 'Chum, what's that?' We both stuck our ears right
up, like two jackass-rabbits, and listened. It wur all dark near the
ground, but we could hear a steady, gallopin' sound, comin' in toward us
from up the ravines, and over the hills. It wur like a beatin' of ther
earth with flails by threshers you couldn't see.

"The sound came a creepin' along the sod so quick we soon knew it wur
the Injuns, on ther ponies, comin' down ter pick up the trail. And now
we could see 'em a bobbin' along toward us in ther gloom, the rows er
ugly heads goin' up and down, like jumpin'-jacks. It just seemed as ther
side er ther night had been painted all full o' gapin' red devils, and
ther sun wur jest revealin' on 'em. 'Lay still!' wer the word, and each
man hugged his sand bank, just a skinnin' one eye, like a lizard over a
log. They 'd no idee we were thar, not bein' able to understand the grit
of that little forty, and they cum gallopin' along, careless-like, happy
as so many ghosts goin' ter a fun'ral. But it warn't _our_ fun'ral just
then. When they 'd got so close we could smell 'em, colonel guv the word
ter fire, and we let 'em have it. Stranger, you ain't no idee what a
gettin' up bluffs, and general absentin' of 'emselves ther wur. Arter
the fust crack, yer couldn't see an Injun at all, but jest a lot er
ponies, diggin' it on ther back track, and you knowed painted cusses
wer glued ter ther opposite side on 'em.

"We had fightin' until night ag'in, but no men were killed arter the
fust day. The savages were cautious-like, and took long range fur it. We
now commenced cuttin' off the hind quarters of our dead hosses, and
boilin' small pieces in a empty pickle-jar belongin' ter ther colonel.
Burke, he 'd dug a shallow well, too, which gave us plenty of water.
Hoss meat isn't relishin' at fust. One kin eat it, but, as ther feller
said about crow, he don't hanker arter it. Ther gases had got all
through ther carcasses, and we had ter sprinkle lots o' gunpowder inter
the pot, to kill the taste.

"The fust hoss cut up was my old sorrel. He didn't go well while livin',
and couldn't be expected to when dead. Instead of takin' a straight
course, and givin' some satisfaction, he jumped across all the turns
inside o' me, and brought up bump agin my hide, as if he wer comin'
through. He had that same trick o' cuttin' corners when livin', and I
perceded ter give him up as a uncontrollable piece of hoss flesh.

"When night come on agin, Pliley and Whitney attempted ter get through
ther Injun lines and make fur Wallace, but were driven back. Fur ther
next few days we kept eatin' hoss flesh, and fightin' occasionally. The
third night Pliley and Donovan succeeded in gettin' away.

"On the fourth day, Doctor Moore died. After the fifth, no Injuns was
visible, and we gathered prickly pears and eat 'em, boilin' some down
inter syrup. Our mouths were all full of ther little needles, and it
wer mighty hard keepin' a stiff upper lip. We were eatin' away on our
forty-eight horses, and watchin' and hopin'. We couldn't move, and leave
our wounded, or the Injuns would be on 'em right off. The poor fellows
had no surgeon, and were sufferin' terrible as 't was.

"Ther mornin' of ther ninth day broke with a cry of 'Injuns!' Now, human
natur' can't stand fitin' allers. To carry out my shipwreck idee,
fellers on a raft kin cling an' swaller water fur awhile, but they can't
fight a hull grist o' hurricanes. Hoss meat an' prickly pears ain't jest
ther thing, either, to slap grit inter a man. Ther were a big crowd
comin', sure enough, way off on ther hills. We were kinder beginnin' ter
despond, when a familiar sort o' motion on the fur dark line spelt in
air the word, 'Friend!' It wer the advanced guard o' relief, approachin'
on ther jump. Why, boy"--and the old scout seized hold of Semi, and
shook him in excitement--"talk of Lucknow and ther camels a comin', they
warn't nowhar. The blessed old blue cloth! If yer want ter love a color,
jest get saved by it once. When I get holed in ther earth, I 'll take
back ter dust on a blue blanket, an' if I get married afore, gal an'
I'll wear blue, an' the preacher'll hev ter swar a blue streak in jinin'
us!"

We afterward met others of the scouts--intelligent, clear-headed
fellows, with much more of cultivation than our rough friend
possessed--and they corroborated his story in every particular. I have
let him tell it in his own way, not only because vastly more graphic
than any words of mine could be, but also to the end that the reader
might become acquainted with a genuine frontiersman--one of that class
which is wheeling into line with the immense multitudes of Indians and
buffalo that time and civilization are bearing swiftly onward to hide
among the memories of the past.

That the savages suffered very severely in their several attacks upon
that little band of heroes on the Arickeree, was evident from the number
of bodies found by the relief, as it hastened forward from Fort Wallace.
The corpses were resting on hastily-constructed scaffolds, and some had
evidently been placed there while dying, as the ground underneath was
yet wet with blood.



CHAPTER XXVI.

     THE STAGE DRIVERS OF THE PLAINS--OLD BOB--"JAMAICA AND GINGER"--AN
     OLD ACQUAINTANCE--BEADS OF THE PAST--ROBBING THE DEAD--A LEAF FROM
     THE LOST HISTORY OF THE MOUND BUILDERS--INDIAN
     TRADITIONS--SPECULATIONS--ADOBE HOUSES IN A RAIN--CHEAP
     LIVING--WATCH TOWERS.


The stage drivers of the plains are rapidly becoming another inheritance
of the past, pushed out of existence by the locomotive, whose
cow-catcher is continually tossing them from their high seats into the
arms of History. What a rare set they are, though! No two that I ever
saw were nearly alike, and they resemble not one distinctive class, but
a number. The Jehus who crack their whips over the buffalo grass region,
and turn their leaders artistically around sharp corners in rude towns,
are made up on a variety of patterns. Some are loquacious and others
silent, and while a portion are given to profanity, another though
smaller number are men of very proper grammar. Some with whom I have
ridden would discount truth for the mere love of the exercise, while
others I have found so particular that they could not be induced to lie,
except when it was for their interest to do so.

In a village on the shores of Lake Champlain, in the frozen regions of
northern New York, where mercury becomes solid in November, and remains
so until May, I got on intimate terms, when a boy, with a stage driver.
During the long winters the coaches were placed on sleds, and well do I
remember the style in which "Old Bob," as he was universally called,
would come dashing into the town on frosty mornings, winding uncertain
tunes out of a brass horn, given him years before by a General Somebody,
of the State Militia. In front of the long-porched tavern, the leaders
would push out to the left, in order to give due magnificence to the
right hand circle, which deposited the coach at the bar room door.
Bearish in fur, and sour in face, Bob would then roll from the seat,
rush up to the bar, and for the first time open his mouth, to ejaculate,
"Jamaica and ginger!" The fiery draught would thaw out his tongue, as
hot water does a pump, and after that it was easy work to pump him dry
of any and all news on the line above.

That was many years ago, and in a spot half a continent away. One
morning, while at Sheridan, I heard the blast of a horn up the street,
whose notes awakened echoes which had long lain dead and buried in
boyhood's memory. A moment more, and out from an avenue of saloons the
overland stage rattled, and on its box sat the friend of my childhood,
"Old Bob." He had the identical horn, and it was the identical tune,
which I had so often heard in the by-gone years, the only difference
being that both were cracked, and the lungs behind the mouth-piece,
touched by the winters of sixty-odd, wheezed a little. As the coach came
to the door, I jumped up by the "boot," and grasping the old fellow's
hand, introduced myself. Old Bob rubbed his eyes, which were weak and
watery, and scanned me closely.

"Well, well, lad," he said, "your face takes me now, sure enough. I mind
your father and mother well, and you're the little rascal that stole my
whip once, when I was thawing out with Jamaica and ginger. Did you tell
me by the old tune? You did, eh? Well, truth is, lad, the horn won't
blow any other. It's got to running in that groove, and when I try to
coax any thing new out, it sets off so that it frightens the horses."

The coach was now ready for starting, and, as he gathered up the reins,
my friend of auld lang syne called out to me, "When you get back to York
State, if you see any Rouse's Point people that ask for Old Bob, tell
them he doesn't take any Jamaica and ginger now. Tell them he's out on
the plains, tryin' to get back some of the life the cussed stuff burnt
out of him." And away the stage coach rattled, and soon was out of
hearing.

Next day's down stage brought intelligence that Bob's coach had been
attacked by Indians, but the old fellow had handled his lines right
skillfully, and brought mails and passengers through in safety.

Our last day at Sheridan, for the Professor, was marked by two important
events, namely: a communication from the living present, and another
from the dead past. The first came, as the postmark showed, by way of
Lindsey, on the Solomon river. The Professor said it was simply an
answer to some scientific inquiries, but, to our intense amusement, he
blushed like a school-girl when Sachem bluntly remarked that the
handwriting was feminine, and that the scientific information in
question must certainly be contraband, as it was not offered for our
benefit at all.

A geologist in love is a phenomenon. The dusty museum is no place for
Cupid. In his flights, the mischievous boy is apt to hit his head
against fossil lizards, and his darts are intercepted by skulls which
were petrified before he ever wandered through Paradise and tried his
first barb on poor Adam. The atmosphere which inwraps the geologist
comes from an unlovable age, in which monstrosities existed only by
virtue of their expertness in devouring other monstrosities. No stray
spark of love-light flickered, even for an instant, over that waste of
waters and gigantic ferns.

It was apparent that science would suffer, unless the Solomon river was
included in our homeward route. We had examined the heart of Buffalo
Land, having traversed its center from east to west, and our party was
disposed to oblige the Professor by returning along the northern border.
Southward two hundred miles was the Arkansas, flowing near the southern
limit of the buffalo region. While there were some reasons why we
desired to visit it, and though it was, perhaps, equally rich in game,
it promised nothing of greater interest, upon the whole, than the
district we now proposed traversing. But of this more in the next
chapter.

Toward evening came our introduction to what we were pleased to imagine
was a beauty of the past, which happened thus: As we were wandering
among the Mexican teamsters loafing around the depot, an urchin, with
half a shirt and very crooked legs, ran up to us, and exclaimed, over a
half masticated morsel of cheese, "Mister, there's a bufferler!" His
crumby fingers pointed in a direction midway between the horizon and a
Mexican donkey, which its owner was trying to drag across the valley,
and there, true enough, on the side of a brown ridge, not a mile off, we
saw the game, feeding as usual.

Here was a chance for horseback hunting again, which we had not
attempted for several days. And what a splendid opportunity of showing
the natives how well we could do the thing! Our wagons had groaned under
the burden of pelts and meats with which we had loaded them, and we were
suffering just then from that dangerous confidence which first success
is so apt to inspire.

Half the pleasure of hunting, if sportsmen would but confess it,
consists in showing one's trophies to others. It was not at all
surprising, therefore, that the send-off found two-thirds of our force
in the field. The day was warm, and, though the hunters ran far and
fast, the bison went still further and faster, and escaped. He led us,
however, to greater spoil than his own tough carcass; for underneath the
sod which his hoofs spurned, lay a treasure which glittered as
temptingly to geological eyes as gold to the miner, when first struck by
his prospecting pick.

The Professor trotted out of town with becoming dignity, following the
hunters merely to avail himself of their protection, while examining
the ridges around. A mile out, the heat and his rough-paced nag proved
too much for him, and he threw himself upon the ground for a rest. Lying
there, watching idly the little insects wandering about, his attention
was attracted to a colony of burrowing ants, who, with a hole in the
earth half an inch in diameter, were continually coming up, rolling
before them small grains of sand and pebbles, the latter obtained far
below, and a small mound of them already showing the extent of their
patient labors. The Professor began to mark more closely the tiny
builders, imagining that he could distinguish one of the citizens going
down, and recognize him again as he came up again with his burden from
below.

Occasionally, it seemed to the observant savan, something blue was
brought out, which glittered more than sand. Looking closer, he
discovered that the shining particles were beads of some bright
substance, and resembling exactly those worn by the Indians of to-day.
It thrilled him, as if he had been brought face to face with the far-off
ages, when the world was young. Beneath, evidently, lay the dead of some
forgotten tribe, and horse and man were resting upon a place of
sepulcher. There was no mound to mark the spot, and if any ever existed,
the seasons of ages had obliterated it. The savage races which now roam
the plains never bury their dead, but lay the bodies on scaffolds, or
hang them in trees. And so these little ants, robbing the graves far
beneath us, were bringing to our gaze, on a bright summer day in the
Nineteenth Century, the mysteries of ages already hoary with antiquity
when Columbus first saw our shores.

We found ourselves wondering to what race the hidden dead belonged, and
whether the unpictured maidens of those days were pleasant to look upon,
or true ancestors of the hideous and unromantic creatures who, with
their savage lords, now roam the plains. Thinking of the tribes of the
past brought those of the present to mind, and, not wishing to have our
hair presented as tribute to some maiden wooed by treacherous Cheyenne,
we turned our horses' heads homeward, bringing the beads with us, safely
deposited in one of our entomologist's pocket-cases. They remain among
the trophies of our expedition, and Mr. Colon has lately written me that
he will have an excavation made, during the present year, at the spot
where they were found.

These beads, I can not but think, form one link in a chain connecting an
ancient people, perhaps the mound-builders, with the savage tribes of
the present. There is a tradition among some of the Western Indians
that, centuries ago, a people, different in language and form from the
red men, came from over the seas to trade beads for ponies. The
buffaloes were then larger, and the climate warmer, than now.
Dissensions finally arose, in which the strangers were killed. Is there
not reason to believe that this tradition gives us a glimpse of the time
when some of the large mammals still existed on the plains, and the
genial sun looked down upon pastures clothed in rich vegetation--a time
and region, probably, of perennial summer?

Once, during our stay in Kansas, we were directed by a hunter to a spot
where he had seen portions of an immense skeleton, and there found one
vertebra only remaining of a mastodon. It afterward transpired that,
shortly before our trip, some Indians had passed Fort Dodge with the
large bones lashed on their ponies, taking them to a medicine-lodge on
the Arkansas, to be ground up into good medicine. They stated that the
bones belonged to one of the big buffaloes which roamed over the plains
during the times of their fathers. At that period, the Happy Hunting
Ground was on earth, but was afterward removed beyond the clouds by the
Great Spirit, to punish his children for bad conduct.

Many reasons, besides dim traditions, exist for the belief that those
mysterious nations whose paths we have been able to trace from the
Atlantic west, and from the Pacific east, pushed inward until they met
in the middle of the continent. The numerous mounds in the Western
States, with the curious weapons and vessels which they contain, show
that the nations then existing, and migrating toward the interior, were
not only powerful but essentially unlike our modern Indians. To instance
but one illustration of this, there are near Titusville, Pa., ancient
oil wells, which bear unmistakable evidences of having been dug and
worked by the mound-builders. Thus they speculated in oil, which of
itself is a token of high civilization.

Coming east from the Pacific coast, we find existing on the very edge of
the desolate interior extensive ruins of ancient cities, of whose
builders even tradition gives no account. By these and other remains
which the gnawing tooth of Time has still spared to us, the people of
those days tell us that they were full of commercial energy; and who
knows but they may have been as determined as our nation has ever been,
to push trade across from ocean to ocean? It is highly probable also
that the Indians of the interior were then far superior to the present
tribes, as seems very fairly determined by many of the traditions and
customs which obtain among the latter.

In view of the foregoing considerations, it is not remarkable that the
beads, denoting, as they did, a place and manner of burial unlike that
of the savages of the plains, interested us so much. It was a leaf, we
could not but think, from the lost history of the mound-builders.

A noticeable feature of life on the plains is the sod-house, there
called an adobe, from some resemblance to the Mexican structures of
sun-dried brick. The walls of these primitive habitations are composed
of squares of buffalo-grass sod, laid tier upon tier, roots uppermost. A
few poles give support for a roof, and on these some hay or small brush
is laid. Then comes a foot of earth, and the covering is complete. When
well-constructed, these houses are water-proof, very warm in winter, and
cool in summer; but when the eaves have been made too short to protect
the walls, the latter are liable to dissolve under a heavy shower.
During a sudden rain at Sheridan, being obliged to turn out early one
morning to protect some goods, we discovered that the neighboring
habitation had resolved itself into a mound of dirt, resembling somewhat
a tropical ant-hill. We were still gazing at the ruins, when the owner,
clad in the brief garment of night-wear, came spluttering through the
roof, like a very dirty gnome discharged by a mud-volcano. While he
stood there in the rain, letting the falling flood cleanse him off, he
remarked, in a manner that for such an occasion was certainly rather
dry--"Lucky that houses are dirt-cheap here, stranger, for I reckon this
one 's sort o' washed!"

A person of small capital, as may readily be inferred, can live very
comfortably on the plains. His house may be built without nail or board,
and his meat may be obtained at no other expense than the trouble of
shooting it.

We saw many wooden buildings at the different stage stations, which had
subterranean communications with little sod watch-towers, rising a
couple of feet above the ground, at a distance of forty or fifty yards
from the main building. Loop-holes through their walls afforded
opportunities for firing, and if the wooden stations were burned, the
occupants could find a secure retreat. We heard of but one occasion in
which the tower was ever used, but then it was most effectively, the
savages, gathered close around the main building, being surprised and
put to sudden flight, by the murderous fire which seemed to spring out
of the ground at their rear.



CHAPTER XXVII.

     OUR PROGRAMME CONCLUDED--FROM SHERIDAN TO THE SOLOMON--FIERCE
     WINDS--A TERRIFIC STORM--SHAMUS' BLOODY APPARITION AND INDIAN
     WITCH--A RECONNOISSANCE--AN INDIAN BURIAL GROVE--A CONTRACTOR'S
     DARING AND ITS PENALTY--MORE VAGABONDIZING--JOSE AT THE LONG
     BOW--THE "WILD HUNTRESS'" COUNTERPART--SHAMUS TREATS US TO
     "CHILE"--THE RESULT.


"Gentlemen," said the Professor, next morning, at breakfast, "We have
well-nigh exhausted Buffalo Land. North of us some twenty miles, the
upper waters of the Solomon may be reached. I believe that district to
be rich in fossils; it is also interesting as the path over which the
red men have so often swept on their missions of murder. The valley
winds eastward and southward during its course, and will discharge us at
Solomon City, a point well back on our homeward journey. There our
expedition may fitly disband. Should it be considered desirable, during
the coming year, to explore the wild territories of the north-west, we
can meet at such place as may be designated. What say you?"

Our response was a unanimous vote in favor of accepting the programme
thus sketched out. Some of us desired the trip, and all knew that the
Professor would go at any rate.

Our path lay over the same undulating plain that we had been traversing
for many weeks, the wind blowing fiercely in our teeth. The violent
movement of the air over this vast surface is often unpleasant, and
during a severe winter is more dangerous than the intense cold of the
far north, as it penetrates through the thickest clothing. The winter of
1871-2, when numbers of hunters and herders were frozen to death,
illustrated this to a painful degree. The months of December and January
are usually mild, and no precautions were taken. On the morning of the
most fatal day, it was raining; in the afternoon, the wind veered and
blew cold from the north, the rain changing to sleet, and this, in turn,
to snow so blinding that objects became invisible at the distance of a
few feet.

After the storm, near Hays City, five men belonging to a wood-train were
found frozen to death. They had unloaded a portion of their wood, and
endeavored to keep up a fire, but the fierce wind blew the flames out,
snatching the coals from the logs, and flinging them into darkness. The
men seized their stores of bacon and piled them upon fresh kindling, but
even the inflammable fat was quenched almost instantly. One of another
party, who finally escaped the same sad fate, by finding a deserted
dugout, said it seemed as if invisible spirits seized the tongues of
flame and carried them, like torches, out into the awful blackness.
Thousands of Texas cattle perished during that storm. One herder, in
order to save his life, cut open a dying ox, and, after removing the
entrails, took his place inside the warm carcass.

We noted a curious incident, relative to the wind's fantastic freaks on
the plains, while at Sheridan. One day, during the prevalence of a north
wind, we observed all the old papers, cards, and other light rubbish
which ornament a frontier town, moving off to the south like flocks of
birds. Two days afterward, the wind changed, and the refuse all came
flying back again, and passed on to the northward.

On the first evening of our homeward journey from Sheridan, we encamped
on what appeared to be a small tributary of the upper Solomon. While the
tents were being pitched, and the necessary provisions unloaded, Shamus
strolled toward a clump of trees half a mile off, in hopes of securing a
wild turkey to add to his stores. He soon came running back in a great
fright, to tell us that, as he was passing among the trees, the black
pacer of the plains, with its bloody master in the saddle, had started
out of a bottom meadow just beyond, and fled away into the gloom. This
was a sufficiently ghostly tale in itself, but it was not all; Shamus
further averred that as he turned to fly, he saw a hideous Indian witch
swinging to and fro in a tree directly before him. The spot was
unwholesome, he assured us, and he urged instant removal.

It seemed evident that our cook had some foundation for his fears, as
his terror was too great and his account too circumstantial for the
matter to be simply one of an excited imagination. If there were Indians
close by, it was necessary that we should know it at once, and avoid the
danger of an attack at dawn. We organized a reconnoissance immediately,
and, six men strong, moved toward the timber. Scattering as much as
possible, that concealed savages might not have the advantage of a
bunch-shot, we cautiously reached the border of the trees, and entered
their shadows. We breathed more freely; if tree-fighting was to be
indulged in, we now had an equal chance. It is a trying experience,
reader, to advance within range of a supposed ambuscade, and the moment
when one reaches the cover unharmed is a blessed one. The logs and
stumps which seemed so hideous, when death was thought to be crouching
behind, suddenly glow with friendship, and one is glad to know that he
can hug such friends, should danger glare out from the bushes ahead.

As we walked forward, Shamus' witch suddenly appeared before us. It was
the body of a papoose, fastened in a tree.

The spot was evidently an Indian burying-ground. The corpse had been
loosened by the wind, and now rocked back and forth, staring at us. It
was dried by the air into a shriveled deformity, rendered doubly
grotesque by the beads and other articles with which it had been decked
when laid away. We had neither time nor inclination to explore the grove
for other bodies, preferring our supper and our blankets. As Shamus
stoutly held to the story of the phantom pacer, we were forced to
conclude that some stray Indian, from motives of either curiosity or
reverence, had been visiting the grove when frightened out of it by our
cook. In the gathering gloom, a red shirt or blanket would have
answered very well for bloody garments.

These burial spots are held in high reverence by the Indians, and their
hatred of the white man receives fresh fuel whenever the latter chops
down the sacred trees for cord-wood. On one occasion, a contractor
destroyed a burial grove, a few miles above Fort Wallace, to supply the
post with fuel. The first blow of the axe had scarcely fallen upon the
tree, when some Indians who chanced to be in the neighborhood sent word
that the desecrator would be killed unless he desisted. Messages from
the wild tribes, coming in out of the waste, telling that they were
watching, ought to have been warning sufficient. But he was reckless
enough to disregard them, and continued his work. The trees were felled
and cut up, and the wood delivered. The contractor went to the post for
his pay, and as he took it, spoke in a jocose vein of the threat which
had come to naught.

Soon afterward, he set out for camp. Midway there, he heard the rush of
trampling hoofs, and looking up, his horrified gaze beheld a band of
painted savages sweeping down upon him from out the west. Five minutes
later, he lay upon the plain a mutilated corpse, and every pocket
rifled. The Indians had fulfilled their threats. The trees which to them
answered the same purpose that the marble monuments which we erect over
our dead do among us, had been broken up by a stranger, and sold. They
acted very much as white men would have done under similar
circumstances, except that the purloined greenbacks were probably
scattered on the ground, or fastened, for the sake of the pictures, on
wigwam walls, instead of being put out at interest.

Our little adventure gave rise to another evening of "vagabondizing."
Each one of our men, including the Mexicans, had some Indian tale of
thrilling interest to relate, in which he had been the hero. José, a
cross-eyed child of our sister Republic, spun the principal yarns of the
occasion. He had commenced outwitting Death while yet an infant, being
content to remain quiet under a baker's dozen of murdered relations,
that he might be rescued after the paternal hacienda had taken fire, by
somebody who survived.

After a careful analysis of several thousand remarkable stories which
were told to us first and last during our journey, I have deemed it wise
to repeat only those which we were able to corroborate afterward. Among
the latter is a narrative that was given us by the guide on this
occasion, having for its text a side remark to the effect that crazy
Ann, the wild huntress whom we met above Hays, was not the first lunatic
who had been seen wandering upon the plains. About the close of 1867, a
small body of Kiowas appeared in the vicinity of Wilson's Station, a few
miles above Ellsworth, being first discovered by a young man from
Salina, who was herding cattle there. They rushed suddenly upon him, and
he fled on his pony toward the station, a mile away. The chief's horse
alone gained on him, and the savage was just poising his spear to strike
him down, when the young man turned quickly in his saddle, and
discharged a pistol full at his pursuer's breast, killing him instantly.
Meanwhile, the half-dozen negro soldiers at the station had been
alarmed, and now ran out and commenced firing. The Indians fled in
dismay, without stopping to secure their dead chieftain, who was at once
scalped by the station men, and left where he fell.

Next morning the soldiers revisited the place, and found that the band
had returned in the night, and removed the corpse. The negroes followed
the trail for a mile or more, in order to discover the place of burial,
and shortly found the chief's body lying exposed on the bank of the
Smoky. It had apparently been abandoned immediately upon the discovery
that the scalp had been taken, from the belief, probably, which all
Indians entertain, that a warrior thus mutilated can not enter the Happy
Hunting Ground. Now for the apparition in question. As the soldiers
approached the spot, a white woman, in a wretched blanket, fled away. In
vain they called out to her that they were friends; she neither ceased
her running, nor gave them any answer. The men pursued, but the fugitive
eluded them among the trees, and disappeared. A few days after, she was
again seen, but once more succeeding in escaping.

It afterward transpired that, a year or so before, a white girl had been
stolen from Texas, and passed into possession of one of the tribes. She
lost her reason before long, and, like all the unfortunate creatures of
this class among the Indians, became an object of superstition at once.
One morning she was missed by her captors, and a few days later a
Mexican teamster reported having seen a strange woman, near his camp,
who fled when he approached her. His description left no doubt of her
identity with the missing captive. I have since conversed with some of
the soldiers, then stationed at Wilson, and they assured me that the
white girl was plainly visible to them on both occasions. As she was
never afterward seen in the vicinity of civilization, the poor creature
is believed to have perished from exposure. Possibly she was making her
way to the settlements, when frightened back by the negroes, who may
have resembled her late tormentors too closely to be recognized as
friends.

After one has been for months passing over a country stained every-where
by savage outrage, it is easy to understand how the man whose wife or
sister has met the terrible fate of an Indian captive, can spend his
life upon their trail, committing murder. For murder it is, when
revenge, not justice, prompts the blow, and the innocent must suffer
alike with the guilty.

While breakfast was preparing next morning, some fiend suggested to one
of our Mexican teamsters that the Americans might like a taste of
Mexico's standard dish, "chile," of which, the fellow said, he had a
good supply in his wagon-chest. Shamus was consulted, and assented at
once, seeming delighted with the prospects of astonishing our palates
with a new sensation. Know, O reader, of an inquiring mind, that chile
consists of red pepper, served as a boiling hot sauce, or stew. It is
believed to have been invented by the Evil One, and immediately adopted
in Mexico.

Shamus succeeded admirably in his design of concocting a sensation for
us. Our alderman was _ex-officio_ the epicure of the party, half of his
duties as a New York city father having been to study carefully all
known flavors. He always tasted new dishes, and on our behalf accepted
or rejected them. When, therefore, the savory stew came before us, he
experimented with a mouthful. Immediately thereafter a commotion arose
in camp, and Shamus fled before the righteous wrath of Sachem.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

     THE BLOCK-HOUSE ON THE SOLOMON--HOW THE OLD MAN DIED--WACONDA
     DA--LEGEND OF WA-BOG-AHA AND HEWGAW--SABBATH MORNING--SACHEM'S
     POETICAL EPITAPH--AN ALARM--BATTLE BETWEEN AN EMIGRANT AND THE
     INDIANS--WAS IT THE SYDNEYS?--TO THE RESCUE--AN ELK HUNT--ROCKY
     MOUNTAIN SHEEP--NOVEL MODE OF HUNTING TURKEYS--IN CAMP ON THE
     SOLOMON--A WARM WELCOME.


On the second day we reached the Solomon, and directed our course down
its valley. Shamus' face was as bright as if he was about to blow up an
English prison, which, for so pronounced a Fenian, indicated a happiness
of the very highest degree. It was evident that Irish Mary had hold of
the other end of our cook's heart-strings, and was twitching them
merrily. Cupid had indeed found us in the solitude, and, as Sachem
expressed it, was "whanging away" at two of our number, at least, most
remorselessly.

Two days' ride brought us to the forks of the river, where a block-house
had been built a year or two before, and in which we expected to find a
resident. Since its abandonment by the troops, it had been occupied by
an elderly man, known as Doctor Rose, who, solitary and alone, was
holding this frontier post, that, when civilization came, he might
possess it as a farm. We were disappointed. The barricade was deserted,
and every thing about it as silent as the grave. No curling smoke uprose
among the trees, and the everlasting hills and dusky prairies stretched
away on all sides in weird, wild desolation. We shook the door, and
called, but found no answer. It was fastened upon the inside, and as we
had no right to force it, we passed on, and encamped by the "Waconda
Da," or Great Spirit Salt Spring, a few miles below.

We did not suppose that the old man we had sought was so near us. Up on
a high ridge only a short distance off, his body was lying, another
victim of Indian murder. Savages had been raiding through the
settlements below, and thinking himself exposed, he had contrived to
fasten the door of the block-house from the outside, and attempted to
escape in the night. No one but the red murderers saw the old man die,
and how and when they met him will never be known; but his body was
found near the roadside, where the path wound over a high ridge, and
within sight of the Waconda, and there it was afterward laid in its
lonely sepulcher by his sorrowing family.

Down on a creek below, the savages, on the previous evening, had been
sweeping off the thin line of settlements, as a broom sweeps spiders'
houses from the wall. Perhaps some dark demon eye, glancing up from the
crimson trail, saw the old man, bending under the weight of years,
feebly trying to save the few remaining days left him, and turned
pitilessly aside to hurl him into that grave which, at best, could not
be far off. No struggle was visible where he fell, and it is probable
that they approached him with a treacherous "How, how?" and a
hand-shake, and, as he gave the grasp of friendship, struck him down,
and launched him into eternity.

Waconda Da, Great Spirit Salt Spring, is among the most remarkable
natural curiosities of the West, and is held in great reverence by the
native tribes. It presents the appearance of a large conical mass of
rock, about forty feet high, shaped like an inverted bowl, and smooth as
mason-work. In the center of its upper surface, is the spring, shallow
at the rim, and in the middle having a well-like opening, about twenty
feet in depth. Into this pool the Indians cast their offerings, ranging
from old blankets to stolen watches, thereby to appease the Great
Spirit. (From his location, Sachem thought the latter must be an old
salt.)

We fished with a hooked stick for some time, and were rewarded by
bringing up a ragged blanket and a shattered gunstock. All around the
rim of the opening were incrustations of salt, and the brackish water
trickled over, and ran in little rivulets down the huge sides. At the
base of the rock, a dead buffalo was fast in the mud, having died where
he mired, while licking the Great Spirit's brackish altar.

[Illustration: WACONDA DA--GREAT SPIRIT SALT SPRING.]

As no remarkable spot in Indian land should ever be brought before the
public without an accompanying legend, I shall present one, selected out
of several such, which has attached itself to this. To make tourists
fully appreciate a high bluff or picturesquely dangerous spot, it is
absolutely essential that some fond lovers should have jumped down
it, hand-in-hand, in sight of the cruel parents, who struggle up the
incline, only to be rewarded by the heart-rending _finale_. This, then,
is


THE LEGEND OF WACONDA.

Many moons ago--no orthodox Indian story ever commenced without this
expression--a red maiden, named Hewgaw, fell in love. (And I may here be
permitted to quote a theory of Alderman Sachem's, to the effect that
Eve's daughters generally fall into every thing, including hysterics,
mistakes, and the fashions.) Hewgaw was a chief's daughter, and
encouraged a savage to sue for her hand who, having scalped but a dozen
women and children, was only high private or "big soldier." Chief and
lover were quickly by the ears, and the fiat went forth that Wa-bog-aha
must bring four more scalps, before aspiring to the position of
son-in-law. This seemed as impossible as Jason's task of old. War had
existed for some time, and, as there was no chance for surprises,
scalp-gathering was a harvest of danger.

There seemed no alternative but to run for it, and so, gathering her
bundle, Hewgaw sallied out from the first and only story of the paternal
abode, as modern young ladies, in similar emergencies, do from the third
or fourth. Through the tangled masses of the forest, the red lovers
departed, and just at dawn were passing by the Waconda Spring, into
whose waters all good Indians throw an offering. Wa-bog-aha either
forgot or did not wish to do so. Instantly the spring commenced
bubbling wrathfully. So far, the Great Spirit had guided the lovers;
now, he frowned. An immense column of salt water shot out of Waconda
high into air, and its brackish spray dashed furiously into the faces of
Wa-bog-aha and Hewgaw, and drove them back.

The saltish torrent deluged the surrounding plains--putting every thing
into a pretty pickle, as may well be imagined. The ground was so soaked
that the salt marshes of Western Kansas still remain to tell of it, and,
a portion of the flood draining off, formed the famous "salt plains."
Along the Arkansas and in the Indian Territory, the incrustations are
yet found, covering thousands of acres. The Kansas River, for hours, was
as brackish as the ocean, its strangely seasoned waters pouring into the
Missouri, and from thence into the Mississippi. It was this, according
to tradition, which caused such a violent retching by the Father of
Waters, in 1811. The current flowed backward, and vessels were rocked
violently--phenomena then ascribed by the materialistic white man to an
earthquake.

Too late the luckless pair saw their mistake, and started for the summit
of Waconda, just as the angry father put in his very unwelcome
appearance. Had they avoided looking toward the spring, all, perchance,
might yet have been well. Without exception, the medicine men had
written it in their annals that no eye but their own must ever gaze back
at Waconda, after once passing it. Tradition explains that this was to
avoid semblance of regret for gifts there offered the Great Spirit.
Sachem, however, is of the opinion that in giving these orders the
medicine men had the gifts in their eye, and simply wished time to put
them in their pockets. Hewgaw could not resist the temptation to peep.
Immediately around the rock all was quiet, while without the narrow
circle the descending torrents were dashed fiercely by the winds. The
beasts of the plains, in countless numbers, came rushing in toward the
Waconda, their forms white with coatings of salt, and probably
representing the largest amount of corned meat ever gathered in one
place.

All the brute eyes--knightly elk, kingly bison, and currish wolves--were
turned toward the top where Wa-bog-aha and Hewgaw stood, casting their
valuables, as appeasing morsels, into the hissing spring. It refused to
be quieted. Suddenly, the lovers were nowhere visible, and the salt
storm ceased. Nothing could be found by the afflicted father, except a
tress of his daughter's hair--perhaps her chignon.

The old chief declared that, just as the end was approaching, the clouds
were full of beautiful colors, and the air glittered with diamonds. The
white man's science, however, coldly assumes that these appearances were
only the rainbows and their reflections, playing amidst the crystal salt
shower.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sabbath morning dawned upon our camp, and according to our usual custom,
we lay by for the day. At ten o'clock, the Professor read the morning
service. It must have been a strange scene that we presented, while
uncouth teamsters and all--our family-pew the wide valley, with its
seats of stones, and logs--sat listening to the beautiful language that
told how the faith of which Christianity was born was cradled in a land
as primitive and desolate as that which we were traversing. There, the
wild Arab hordes hovered over the deserts; here, America's savage tribes
do the same over the plains.

Our priest stood near one of Nature's grandest altar pieces, "Waconda
Da." Reverence from the most irreverent is secured among such scenes and
solitudes. Away from his fellows, man's soul instinctively looks upward,
and yearns for some power mightier than himself to which to cling. The
brittle straw of Atheism snaps when called upon for support under these
circumstances, and the blasphemy which was bold and loud among the
haunts of men, here is hushed into silence, or even awed into
reverential fear.

The Professor improved the opportunity to deliver an excellent discourse
upon the wonderful evidences of God's power which geology is daily
revealing. His peroration was quite flowery, and in a strain very much
as follows:

"Science is yet in its infancy, and many things which seem dark to us
will be clear to our descendants. Future generations will doubtless
wonder at our boiler explosions, and our railroad accidents. Lightning
expresses will be used only for freight, while machines navigating the
air, at one hundred miles an hour, will carry the passengers. Steam,
electricity, and the magnetic needle have all been open to man's
appropriative genius ever since the world offered him a home, and yet
he has only just now comprehended them. The future will see instruments
boring thousands of feet into the earth in a day, and developing
measures and mysteries which the world is not now ripe for
understanding. Perhaps, the telescopes of another century may bring our
descendants face to face with the life of the heavenly bodies, and give
us glimpses of the inhabitants at their daily avocations. Who knows but
that the beings who people other worlds in the infinite ocean of space
around us, compared with which worlds our little planet is insignificant
indeed, are able, by the use of more powerful instruments than any with
which we are acquainted, to hold us in constant review? Our battles they
may look upon as we would the conflicts of ants, and they wonder,
perchance, why so quarrelsome a world is permitted to exist at all."

Next morning Sachem was up at daybreak, examining the spot where Hewgaw
and Wa-bog-aha met their fate, and underwent their iridescent
annihilation. His offering to their memory we found after breakfast,
tacked up in a prominent position beside the spring. The inscription,
evidently intended as a sort of epitaph, was written on the cover of a
cracker-box, and struck me as so peculiar that I was at the pains of
transcribing it among our notes. I give it to the reader for the
purpose, principally, of showing the unconquerable antipathies of an
alderman.


IN MEMORIAM.

  Lot's wife, you remember, looked back,
    (What woman could ever refrain?)
  And instantly stood in her track
    A pillar of salt on the plain.

  If all were thus cursed for the fault,
    Who peep when forbidden to look,
  The feminine pillars of salt
    Could never be written in book.

  Hewgaw was an Indian belle
    Which no one could ring--she was fickle;
  Some scores of her lovers there fell
    (Where she did at last) in a pickle.

  Thus salt is the only thing known
    Entirely certain of keeping
  Flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone,
    Out of the habit of peeping.

  Unless the tradition has lied,
    Our maiden may claim, with good reason,
  That she is a well-preserved bride,
    And certainly bride of a season.

  Wa-bog-aha big was a brave--
    The Great Spirit salted him down:
  Braves seldom get corned in the grave,
    They 're oftener corned in the town.

  My rhyming, you find, is saline,
    Quite brackish its toning and end;
  The moral--far better to pine
    Than wed and get "salted," my friend.

Soon after sunrise we took our way down the river, intending to reach
the Sydney farm on the following day, and there spend the necessary time
in preparing our specimens for immediate shipment when we should arrive
at Solomon City. The Professor made desperate efforts to appear entirely
wrapped up in science, and his devotion to geology was something
wonderful. Hitherto he had been inclined to urge us forward, but now he
made a show of holding us back. Did he do so with a knowledge that our
necessities for food and forage would be sufficient spur, and was he
simply shielding his weak side from Sachem's attacks?

We had proceeded but a few miles on our journey, when the guide rode
back, and reported fresh pony tracks across the road ahead of us. This
was an unquestionable Indian sign, but as the trail seemed to be leading
north, we took no precaution; our route was over a high divide, where
ambushing was impossible.

Approaching Limestone Creek, the road wound down the face of a
precipitous bluff, into the valley below. We had just commenced the
descent, when the now familiar cry of "Injuns!" came back from the men
in front, and following closely on the cry we heard the echoing report
of firearms. We looked in the direction of the sound, and saw close to
the trees an emigrant wagon, while beyond it, but at fully one hundred
yards' distance, four or five Indians were riding back and forth in
semi-circles, and firing pistols. The emigrant stood beside his oxen,
with rifle in readiness, but apparently reserving his fire.

"That man knows his biz!" exclaimed our guide, as he urged the teams
forward, that we might afford rescue. "Injuns never bump up agin a
loaded gun."

A gleam of calico was visible in the wagon, and another rifle barrel,
held by female hands, seemed peering out in front. The general aspect of
the assailed outfit reminded us strongly of the Sydney family, and
suspicion was strengthened by a very unscientific yell from the
Professor, as he started off at break-neck speed down the bluff for a
rescue, with no other weapon whatever in his hand than a small hammer he
had just been using for breaking stones. Mr. Colon seemed equally
demented, following close upon Paleozoic's heels with a bug-net. Shamus,
at the moment, happened to be astride his donkey, and giving an Irish
war-whoop which reached even to the scene of combat, straightway charged
over the limestone ledges in a cloud of white dust. Our appearance upon
the scene was a surprise to Lo. The Indians stood not upon the order of
their going, but "lit out on the double-quick," as our guide expressed
it, and were soon out of sight.

We found that the emigrants were named Burns, the family comprising the
parents and their two children. The man stated that he had no fear of
the savages. He had been twice across the plains, and made it a rule
never to throw a shot away. "If they can draw your fire," said he, "the
fellows will charge. But they don't want to look into a loaded gun."
Mrs. Burns had come to her husband's rescue with an expedient worthy the
wife of a frontiersman. Having no gun, she pointed from under the
canvass the handle of a broom. This, being woman's favorite weapon, was
handled so skillfully that the savages imagined it another rifle. In our
log-book she was chronicled at once as fully the equal of that
revolutionary hero, who one evening made prisoner of a British officer,
by crooking an American sausage into the semblance of a pistol, and
presenting it at the Englishman's breast.

There were two of our party who did not rejoice as they should have
done, after rendering such timely aid to the Burns family. How romantic
had the rescued party only proved to be the one which was at first
suspected!

Where this little scene occurred, there are homesteads now, which will
soon develop into thrifty farms. The blessing of a railroad can not be
long deferred. A year, a month, even a week sometimes, makes wonderful
changes in Buffalo Land, when the tide of immigration is rolling forward
upon it. Before the present year is ended, the beautiful valley of
Limestone Creek will be teeming with civilized life, and the savage red
man, there is good reason to believe, has departed from it forever.

After bidding the Burns family good-bye, we traveled without further
adventure until near noon, when the guide rode back, and directed our
attention to some elk, which he pointed out, some distance ahead. The
bodies of the herd were hidden by a ridge, but above its brown line we
could plainly see their great antlers, looking like the branches of
trees, moving slowly along. There was but one method of getting near the
game, and that was immediately adopted. Up the side of the sloping
ridge we carefully crawled, and, reaching the summit, peeped over. Half
a dozen big antlered fellows, and as many does, were feeding along the
slope below. Only one of them, a splendid male, was within shooting
distance at all, and even for it the range was long. The guide and Muggs
fired together, breaking the poor creature's shoulder.

What a startled stare the noble animals flashed back at the crack of the
rifles, and how quickly they disappeared. Their trot was perfectly
grand--great, firm strokes which seemed to fairly fling the bodies
onward. We had hardly time to realize having fired, when their tails
bade us distant adieu. It is said that no horse can keep up with the
trot of the elk. If charged upon suddenly, however, from close quarters,
he is frightened into an awkward gallop, and may then be overtaken
easily.

Our wounded game looked formidable, and we approached cautiously. He
made several efforts to run, but each time fell forward, in plunging
slides, on his nose and side, rubbing the hair from the latter, and
daubing the ground with blood from his nostrils. Muggs felt free to
confess that even the pampered stags of England, when perilously roused
from their well-kept glens, by over-fed hunters in killing coats and
boots, never presented such a picture of wild beauty and agony, colored
just the least bit with danger. At this "kill" we lost our black hound.
Tempted to incaution by the sight of the noble elk standing wounded and
at bay, or else excited by its blood, the dog sprang forward. A chance
blow of the massive horns knocked him over, and in an instant more the
beast had stamped him to death.

We finished the elk by a united volley, and added him to our trophies.
The horns, resting upon their tips, gave space for one of our Mexicans,
five feet two in stature, to pass beneath them erect. Elk hairs are
remarkably elastic. Single ones obtained from this specimen stretched by
trial with the fingers, and detached from the skin so easily that the
latter seemed worthless.

During the day we found and secured the remains of two saurians--one
about eight and the other ten feet in length, and also the tooth of a
fossil horse, quite a number of curious bubble-shaped pieces of iron
pyrites, and some fine petrifactions, in the way of butternuts and
fragments of trees. The soft, white limestone, mentioned more than once
before in this record of our expedition, appeared along our paths in
fine outcrops, and contained very perfect fossil shells.

Abe, our guide, told us that a year or two previous, during a winter of
unusual severity, he had found a flock of Rocky Mountain sheep feeding
near the Solomon. This was the only instance which came to our knowledge
of that animal having been seen upon the plains.

We had an amusing experience, before night, with turkeys, hunting them
in novel style. The birds were wild from recent pursuit, and, the
instant they saw us, would leave the narrow fringe of timber, and run
off into the ravines. Then would commence a ludicrous chase, each rider
plying spurs, and pursuing. There went Sachem, on his long-legged
purchase, the beast staggering and stumbling through ravines; and Semi
also, upon Cynocephalus, whose abbreviated tail was hoisted straight in
air, while at the other extremity his nose stretched well out and took
in air under asthmatic protests. Rearward was the Mexican donkey,
arguing the point with Dobeen whether or not to enter the race. Ahead of
all went the wild turkeys, running like ostriches. The bird is a heavy
one, and its short flights and runs, therefore, though rapid, can not be
long continued. Seeing the pursuit gaining, it would turn to the woods
again for protection. Other riders would there head it off, and soon,
completely exhausted and only able to stagger along, it was easily
taken. In this manner, we obtained over twenty turkeys while passing
along the river.

[Illustration: MORE OF OUR SPECIMENS--PHOTOGRAPHED BY J. LEE KNIGHT,
TOPEKA, KANS.

PRAIRIE CHICKENS.

HEAD OF AN ELK. WILD TURKEY.

BEAVER.]

That evening we reached the little settlement on the Solomon, which was
the Canaan of all our wanderings to certain members of our party, and
went into camp among the Sydneys and their neighbors. Our welcome was a
warm one, and it took Shamus but a few moments to find our friend's
kitchen, where he at once installed himself in the dual capacity of
lover and assistant cook, discharging the duties of each position to the
entire satisfaction of all concerned. Our supper with the Sydney family
seemed like civilization again, notwithstanding that we were still on
the uttermost bounds of civilized manners and customs. The Professor,
sitting next to Miss Flora, was the very picture of happiness, and "all
went merry as a marriage bell." Even Sachem ceased to sulk before the
meal was ended.

At dusk, as we were assuring ourselves by personal inspection that the
camp was in proper order, a familiar form came stalking toward us in the
gathering gloom. "Tenacious Gripe!" cried the Professor; and so it was.
Our friend's ribs had been repaired, and he was now on a mission along
the Solomon river, holding railroad meetings in the different counties.
The progressive westerner, when he has nothing else to do, is in the
habit of starting out on a tour for the purpose of inducing the dear
people to vote county bonds for a new railroad, and such a westerner was
Gripe.



CHAPTER XXIX.

     OUR LAST NIGHT TOGETHER--THE REMARKABLE SHED-TAIL DOG--HE RESCUES
     HIS MISTRESS, AND BREAKS UP A MEETING--A SKETCH OF TERRITORIAL
     TIMES BY GRIPE--MONTGOMERY'S EXPEDITION FOR THE RESCUE OF JOHN
     BROWN'S COMPANIONS--SCALPED, AND CARVING HIS OWN EPITAPH--AN IRISH
     JACOB--"SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST"--SACHEM'S POETICAL LETTER--POPPING
     THE QUESTION ON THE RUN--THE PROFESSOR'S LETTER.


Supper over, we made an engagement with our hospitable friends for their
presence at a sort of "state dinner" we proposed giving the next day,
and then returned to our own camp. A number of the settlers soon came
strolling in, and among them one bringing a most remarkable dog, of the
"shed-tail" variety. The animal was well known to fame in that section,
for having attacked some Indians who had taken his mistress captive and
were endeavoring to place her upon one of their ponies, and so delaying
them that the neighbors were able to arrive and give rescue. It was
claimed that thirty shots were fired at him without effect, which, if
true, proved that either those Indians were exceedingly bad marksmen, or
that the small fraction of caudal appendage which the beast possessed
acted as a protective talisman.

We had often seen dogs without tails, but previous to this had always
supposed that a depraved human taste, not nature, was at the root of it.
Tail-wagging we had considered as much the born prerogative of a dog as
a laugh is that of man. It is true some men do not laugh, but the child
did. A dog's tail embodies his laughing faculty, or rather one might
call it a canine thermometer. It rises and falls with his feelings, in
moments of depression going down to zero between his legs, and again
rising when the canine temperature becomes more even.

"That thar dorg, stranger, is of the shed-tail variety," said its owner,
when we solicited information. "Whole litter had nothin' but stumps.
Killed most on 'em off, 'cause, havin' nothin' to wag, visitin' people
couldn't tell whether they was goin' to bite, or be pleased. Some time
ago, a travelin' school-teacher giv' him a plaguy Latin name, but we
call him Shed, for short. He knows, just as well as you and I, that he
's in the wrong, latterly, and as soon as you look at him, or touch
where the tail ought ter be, he hides and howls. He 's sensitive as a
human."

Saying this, our new acquaintance leaned over the dog, which was lying
asleep, and gave the animal what he called a "latterly touch." Although
it was but the gentle contact of a finger tip, the poor creature jumped
up, uttered a dismal howl, and fled off among the wagons.

"That dorg," continued the owner, "would be one of the best critters
out, if it wasn't for his short cut. He 'll fight Injuns, or wild cats,
and take any amount of blows on his head, if they 'll only avoid his
misfortin.'"

We remarked that he seemed to have been shot in the side, some time.

"Yes, got a whole charge of quail shot slapped inter him. You see the
way it was, wer this. Most every section has one or two scraggy,
rattle-brained fellers, allers loungin' round, takin' free drinks, and
starvin' ther families. Whar we come from was one of this sort, never of
no account to no one. We had a temperance meetin' one day, and this Hib,
as they called him, wer opposed to it. He was afraid they 'd shut up Old
Bung's whisky shed. Well, we was all a gathered, listenin' to the
serpent and its poisoned sting, and that sort o' thing, and had about
concluded to go for Old Bung, when that contrairy, ornery Hib broke us
up. He goes and gets a fresh coon skin, and sneaks all round the
school-house, draggin' it arter him, and makin' a sort o' scented
circle. Then he goes and gets Shed Tail there, who was powerful on
coons, and sets him on that thar track. Shed give just one sniff, and
opened right out. The way he shied round that school-house wer a sin. In
five minutes, all the dogs of the village were at his heels, and goin'
round that circle like the spokes in a wheel.

"It was just a round ring of the loudest yelling you ever heard. Every
dog thought the one just ahead of him had the coon. All the meetin'
folks come a pourin' out, with sticks and chairs, and what with beatin'
and coaxin' they got all off the trail but old Shed. Half the people
went to chasin' that dorg, while the balance held onto the others. But
Shed just stuck to that coon track, like all possessed, dodgin' atween
our legs, or sheerin' off, and catchin' ther trail agin just beyond. He
finally upset Old Squire Bundy's wife, and the Squire got mad, and
slapped some No. 7 into his ribs."

The shed-tail's owner, waxing more and more eloquent with his subject,
had just commenced the narrative of another Indian battle in which his
favorite had figured, when we became interested in a wordy political
combat between Tenacious Gripe and a genuine specimen of the
"reconstructed," the first and only one of that genus that we saw in
Kansas. His clothes had the famous butternut dye, and his shirt bosom
was mapped into numerous creeks and rivers by the brown stains of
tobacco overflows. The dispute waxed warm, and grew more and more
prolific of eloquence. At length, the reconstructed beat a retreat, and
our orator was left in triumphant possession of the field.

Drawing fresh inspiration from his success, Gripe devoted another hour
to an account of the early struggles in Kansas against these "mean
whites." He gave us many vivid descriptions of the time when men died
that their children might live. Among other relations was that of the
expedition under Montgomery, to rescue the two companions of old John
Brown from the prison at Charlestown, Virginia, a short time after the
stern hero himself had there been hung.

The dozen of brave Kansas men interested in the enterprise reached
Harrisburg, with their rifles taken apart and packed in a chest, and
sent scouts into Virginia and Maryland. It was the middle of winter, and
deep snow covered the ground. They intended, when passing among the
mountains, to bear the character of a hunting party. Every member of
that little band was willing to push on to Charlestown, notwithstanding
the whole State of Virginia was on the alert, and pickets were thrown
out as far even as Hagerstown, Maryland. The plan was, by a bold dash to
capture the jail, and then, with the rescued men, make rapidly for the
seaboard. Although the expedition failed, it gave the world a glimpse of
that heroic western spirit which was not only willing to do battle upon
its own soil, but content to turn back and meet Death half-way when
comrades were in danger.

Gripe did not accompany the expedition. Yet he grew so eloquent over the
deep snow that stretched drearily before the little band, the gloomy
mountains which frowned down defiance, and the people, far more
inhospitable than either, who stood behind the natural barriers, filled
to fanaticism with suspicion, fear, and hate, that we were sorry he had
not been of the party. A man of such congressional qualifications as
were his, might have been able to steal even the prisoners.

On other matters of Kansas history, Gripe could speak from personal
experience. He had twice entered the territory during the period when
the Free State and pro-slavery forces were doing battle for it. In one
instance, the journey had been overland through Missouri, and in the
other, up the Missouri River. On the first occasion, he had suffered
numberless indignities at the hands of border ruffians, and would have
been killed, had there been any thing in the least degree stronger than
suspicion for them to act upon. On the other trip, the steamboat was
stopped at Lexington, and a pro-slavery mob boarded the vessel, and
searched for arms. The whole fabric of Kansas material which Gripe wove
for us that evening was figured all over with battles, and murders, and
tar-and-feather diversions. Had we been writing a history of the State,
we might have accumulated a fair share of the material then and there.

Another subject this evening discussed around our camp-fire was the
future of the vast plains which we had been traversing. Two or three of
the settlers were ranchemen, who had lived in this region for many
years. They were very enthusiastic about the section of their adoption,
and affirmed stoutly that within fifteen years the whole tract would be
under cultivation.

I can answer for our whole party that, beyond a doubt, the climate is
healthy and the soil rich. For the first one hundred miles, after
reaching the eastern boundary of the plains, springs and pure streams
abound. Further west, the water supply is not so plentiful. On only one
occasion, however, did we suffer any inconvenience from this, and that
was upon the very headwaters of the Saline. Going into camp late, coffee
was hastily prepared, and the quality of the water not noticed. It
proved to be quite salty, and as we drank liberally of the coffee, and
were unable afterward to find a spring, our sufferings before morning
amounted to positive torture. Each one of the party found that his lungs
were benefited by our sojourn on the plains. I believe that a
consumptive could find decidedly more relief in Buffalo Land than among
the mountains further west.

During the evening, we added considerably to our already very full notes
concerning the wild tribes of the western plains. So many are the "true
tales of the border" which one can hear in a few months of such
journeyings as ours, that the recital of even a tithe of the number
would become tiresome. The red-bearded owner of "Shed-tail" added to our
store, by relating an adventure which he claimed had occurred to himself
and Buffalo Bill, when they were teamsters together in an overland
train. It was to the effect that while riding ahead of the wagons, to
find a crossing over the Sandy, they discovered the skeleton of a man
lying at the foot of a cottonwood tree. As they dismounted for the
purpose of finding some means, if possible, of identifying the remains,
their attention was caught by letters cut in the bark. These they
deciphered sufficiently to see that it had been an attempt by some weak
hand to carve a name. A broken knife, lying near the bones, told plainly
enough who the worker at the epitaph had been, and other signs revealed
to the frontiersmen the whole death history. The man had been assailed
by savages, scalped, and left as dead. The work of the knife showed that
he must have recovered sufficiently to crawl to the tree, and there
make a faint effort to leave some record of his name and fate. The
straggling gashes indicated that he had continued the task even while
death was blinding his eyes. A few more drops of blood, and perhaps the
mystery of years, now shrouding the history of some family hearth-stone,
would have been cleared away.

We had no opportunity of verifying this story of red beard's, but as no
occasion existed for telling a lie, and the neighbors of the narrator
there present seemed much interested in the account, we accepted it as
truth. It was apparently no attempt to impose upon the strangers. But I
would here state, as a specimen feature of the frontier experience of
all travelers, that whenever, at any of our camps, surrounding ranchemen
or hunters discovered any member of our party taking notes, there were
straightway spun out the toughest yarns which ever hung a tale and
throttled truth.

Of one fact our journey thoroughly convinced us. Lo's forte has no
connection with the fort of the pale-faces. An unguarded hunter, or a
defenseless emigrant wagon, or unarmed railroad laborer, gratifies
sufficiently his most warlike ambition. The savages of the plains, in
their attacks upon the whites, have been like bees, stinging whenever
opportunity offers, and immediately disappearing in space. Their excuses
for the murders they commit have been as various as their moods. At one
time it is a broken treaty, at another the killing of their buffalo, and
trespassing upon the hunting-grounds, and again it is some other
grievance. It may be some gratification for them to know that it is
estimated that, until within the last three years, a white man's scalp
atoned for each buffalo killed by his race.

In our various wars with the Indians, it is worthy of remark the bison
have been like supply posts at convenient distances, to the hostile
bands. Traveling without any supplies whatever, and therefore rapidly, a
few moments suffice to kill a buffalo near the camping spot, and roast
his flesh over the chips. The pony, meanwhile, makes a hearty meal on
the grass. On the other hand, our troops, in pursuit of these bands,
have had to encumber themselves with baggage wagons, or pack-mules,
bearing food and forage.

Among our notes, I find recorded many incidents illustrative of the
aptitude which the savage mind possesses for dissimulation. For
instance, in our council at Hays City, White Wolf could apparently
understand only our sign language; yet when the interpreter advised the
Professor, in good English, not to accept the little Mexican _burro_,
unless content to return its weight in something much more valuable than
jackass meat, the chief could not refrain from smiling. As Indians are
not given to facial revelations, the colloquy must have struck him as
very apropos and very amusing. We concluded then and there, that it was
unsafe to talk Indian sign with the savages for effect, and meanwhile
express our real sentiments to each other in English; and upon this
opinion we habitually acted thereafter.

This was our last night together as a party. The Professor had signified
his intention of remaining a few days longer upon the Solomon, for the
purpose of studying the surrounding country. Shamus had asked a
discharge, in order to engage as farm hand for Mr. Sydney--an Irish
Jacob taking to agriculture as a means of obtaining his Rachel. We
received numerous invitations to divide our party for the night among
the settlers, and, glad to enjoy again the luxury of a roof, Sachem and
I gratefully accepted the hospitabilities of a neighboring log-cabin
among the trees.

The next day was busily occupied in separating from our loads such
things as the Professor and Shamus required for their further sojourn in
the Solomon valley. The morning following, we bade them both good-bye,
and have seen neither leader or servant since. With but one mishap, the
remainder of our party reached safely the more familiar haunts of
civilization. Doctor Pythagoras was the victim of our exceptional
misfortune. While attempting to mount his transformed prize-fighter, the
metamorphosed bully struck out from the shoulder, and the doctor was
floored. We found it necessary to carry him upon a rude stretcher to
Solomon City, and provide him with a section on a sleeping car for
transit to the East. As we shook his hand at parting, and bade him a
last good-bye, he exclaimed, "My young friends, I can not die yet. I
shall recover and outlive you all. I believe in the theory of the
'survival of the fittest.'"

Ever since our return, the tide of emigration, pouring onward from the
Atlantic, has lapped further and further out upon the surface of the
plains; and still, as truly now as when good old Bishop Berkeley first
wrote the line, "the Star of Empire westward takes its way."

       *       *       *       *       *

While I was preparing these notes for the press, I received the
following characteristic letter from Sachem, dated at his haunt in New
York. It was at first a puzzle, but I found the key in a note inclosed
by him, which he had lately received from the Professor.

SACHEM'S LETTER.

  To crack a head and break a heart,
    Are known as Paddy's forte;
  In kitchen, jail, or low-back cart--
    No matter where--he 'll court.

  To don a rig, and dance a jig,
    Attend a wake or wedding,
  He 'll sell his own or neighbor's pig
    And only rag of bedding.

  He lives a happy, careless life,
    Hand to mouth, and heart in hand;
  Ready for either love or strife,
    Building castles on the sand.

  With peck of trouble ever full,
    Good measure, running over,
  He deals in stock--the Irish bull,
    And with it, lives in clover.

  Love's labor is the only taste
    That Paddy's mind inherits:
  He thinks, where maidens run to waste,
    The harem has its merits.

  And so Dobeen, upon his course,
    Love's gallop quick began;
  The gal up on the other horse,
    He courted, as they ran.

  The bows around the maid were more
    Than suited to her mind;
  Cupid and Shamus rode before,
    The savage rode behind.

  They each pursued the maiden coy,
    Two wooed her _a la_ bow;
  The arrow tips of one were joy,
    The other's tips were woe.

  'T is said that Shamus won the race,
    And saved his hair and bacon:
  If Mary loved his wooing pace,
    His heart may stop its achin'.

And this was the Professor's letter, which had evidently set the
aldermanic machine to grinding doggerel again:

                                                    "ON THE SOLOMON, }
                                     LINDSEY, OTTAWA COUNTY, KANSAS. }

     ... "I have run down here after my mail. Am progressing finely with
     my studies. Shamus had an adventure yesterday. Mary and he rode
     over on horseback to a neighbor's, a mile away, and on the return
     were pursued by an Indian. Hard riding brought them in safely. Mary
     tells her mistress that, during the terrors of the chase, Shamus
     would not refrain from courting. He lashed her horse, and spurred
     his, and popped the question, alternately.

     "I shall probably remain here a month or so longer, as I am much
     interested in the _Flora_ of the Solomon Valley."

The italicized word in the last sentence is underscored, and its initial
letter bears evidence of having been maliciously transformed into a
capital by Sachem.


                                  THE END.



APPENDIX.



PRELIMINARY TO THE APPENDIX.


The officials of the new States and Territories are constantly
overwhelmed with letters of inquiry from all parts of our own country
and the Canadas, and even from Europe. Some of the writers wish
particulars concerning the opportunities that exist for obtaining homes;
others seek information as to the best points for hunting; while what to
bring with them, in the way of household goods, and farming implements,
or guns, dogs, etc., is the common question of nearly all.

While engaged in preparing "Buffalo Land" for the press, I published in
a newspaper at Topeka a brief summary of the information then at my
command upon the subjects above named. The result was the receipt of a
large number of letters, asking for all sorts of details, many of which
I found it impossible to answer through the mail. This fact, added to
the requests of various public officers, whom I take pleasure in thus
obliging, has induced me to attach an appendix to the present volume,
containing a condensed statement of such matters (not elsewhere
described in this work) as will assist parties westward bound, whether
emigrants, sportsmen, or tourists.

The Appendix which follows is divided into three chapters. The first of
these embodies information of especial interest to the immense army of
home-seekers who, from every quarter, are turning their eyes eagerly and
hopefully toward the free and boundless West. The second chapter is
designed for the use of the sportsman, and the third furnishes very
valuable and instructive details concerning the topography, resources,
climate, etc., of the plains, and, more particularly, a description of
the larger streams, with their contiguous valleys, which drain the vast
area included within the limits of Buffalo Land.

                                                              W. E. W.



APPENDIX.


CHAPTER FIRST.

FURTHER INFORMATION FOR THE HOME-SEEKER.



APPENDIX.


CONTENTS OF CHAPTER FIRST.


                                                                  PAGE

  COME TO THE GREAT WEST,                                          435

  SHOULD THERE NOT BE COMPULSORY EMIGRATION,                       436

  "GET A GOOD READY,"                                              437

  HOMESTEAD LAWS AND REGULATIONS,                                  438

  THE STATE OF KANSAS,                                             447

  THE COST OF A FARM,                                              448

  A FEW MORE PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS,                                449



APPENDIX.



CHAPTER FIRST.

_FURTHER INFORMATION FOR THE HOME-SEEKER._

COME TO THE GREAT WEST!


The Western States and Territories afford unexampled inducements to the
surplus energy and capital of the East and Europe; and the field which
they spread out so invitingly to the emigrant's choice is as wide as it
is magnificent. Hundreds of millions of acres of rich land--embracing
bottom and prairie, timber and running water--are open for settlement.
Counties are to be populated, and towns built, all over the new States
and Territories. Each of these latter is an empire in itself. Great
Britain could be set down within the borders of any one of them, and yet
leave room for some of the German principalities. The records of the
Agricultural Bureau at Washington show that, wherever the new soil has
been cultivated, both the yield per acre and the quality of the crops
produced are better than in the older States. The balance of power is
moving westward, and the capital of the nation, it can scarcely be
doubted, must eventually come also.

There is no reason why people should starve in the great cities of this
broad and heaven-favored land of ours. Business men, so often besieged
and worried with applications for positions in their stores and
counting-rooms, might with advantage tack up a copy of the Homestead Law
by their desk, and keep a further supply on hand for distribution. Every
few months some poet sings of the ill-paid seamstress in the crowded
town, or some hideous murder brings to light the heroine of the
garret-stitched shirt. Yet, meanwhile, at Denver City, house-girls have
been getting from six to ten dollars per week, and thousands could find
comfortable homes throughout Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado, with
remunerative wages. Abroad, men toil, and women work in the fields, and
in one year pay out from the scanty earnings which they wring from a
stingy soil more than enough to purchase one hundred and sixty acres of
good land in the great and growing West.


SHOULD THERE NOT BE COMPULSORY EMIGRATION?

Except in the case of the very decrepit, or totally disabled, there can
be no excuse for begging, in a country which offers every pauper a
quarter-section of as rich land as the sun shines upon. I suppose the
millennium will commence when laws compel the cities to drive from them
the idle and vicious, and make them tillers of the soil in the wilds.
Instead of brooding in the dark alleys, and breeding vice to be flung
out at regular intervals upon the civilized thoroughfares, these
germinators of disease and crime would be dragged forth from their
purlieus and hiding-places, and disinfected in the pure atmosphere of
the large prairies and grand forests. Granting that it might be a heavy
burden upon their shoulders at the outset, the present generation of
reformers would have the satisfaction of knowing that the sores were
cleansed, and that moral and physical disease was not being propagated
to suffocate their children; and even although some of the present
multitude of evil-doers might not be reclaimed, most of their children
certainly would be. It is more profitable to raise farmers than
convicts. Instead of building jails to hold men in life-long mildew, our
artisans might be building steamers and cars, to carry their products to
the seaboard.


"GET A GOOD READY."

Of the immense and almost boundless tracts of Western land that invite
the emigrant's choice, the larger part can be homesteaded and
pre-empted, and the remainder purchased on favorable terms from the
different railroads. The competition among the latter for immigration
has induced low prices and superior facilities for examination.

Where a number of families are coming together, the best way, as a rule,
is to select commissioners from the number, to go in advance, and spy
out the land, which can be done at comparatively trifling expense. On
giving satisfactory proof of their mission, such representatives are
nearly always able to secure low rates of fare and freight. In this way,
two or three reliable agents can select a district in which a colony may
settle, and make all the necessary arrangements for its transportation,
and each family save a number of dollars, which will give back compound
interest in the new home.

"Get a good ready" before starting, and have your route plainly mapped
out; otherwise, you will buy experience at the sacrifice of many a
useful dollar. And pray that your flight be not in the winter. Come at
such season as will enable you to provide at least some shelter and
supplies before the inclement months come on.

Furniture and provisions can be purchased at very reasonable rates at
the West, and no necessity exists, therefore, for bringing one or two
car loads of broken chairs, and partially filled flour barrels. Good
stock will repay transportation, but common breeds are abundant and
cheap on the ground. Texas yearlings can be purchased for about six
dollars per head in Kansas.


HOMESTEAD LAWS AND REGULATIONS.

The following is an epitome, by a former Register of a United States
Land Office, of such laws and regulations as pertain to the securing of
Government land:

The Pre-emption Act of September 4, 1841, provides, that "every person,
being the head of the family, or widow, or single man over the age of
twenty-one years, and being a citizen of the United States, or having
filed a declaration of intention to become a citizen, as required by the
naturalization laws," is authorized to enter at the Land Office one
hundred and sixty acres of unappropriated Government land by complying
with the requirements of said act.

It has been decided that an unmarried or single woman over the age of
twenty-one years, not the head of the family, but able to meet all the
requirements of the pre-emption law, has the right to claim its
benefits.

Where the tract is "offered," the party must file his declaratory
statements within thirty days from the date of his settlement, and
within one year from the date of said settlement, must appear before
the Register and Receiver, and make proof of his actual residence and
cultivation of the tract, and pay for the same with cash or Military
Land Warrants. When the tract has been surveyed but not offered at
public sale, the claimant must file within three months from the date of
settlement, and make proof and payment before the day designated in the
President's Proclamation offering the land at public sale.

Should the settler, in either of the above class of cases, die before
establishing his claim within the period limited by law, the title may
be perfected by the executor or administrator, by making the requisite
proof of settlement and cultivation, and paying the Government price;
the entry to be made in the name of "the heirs" of the deceased settler.

When a person has filed his declaratory statements for one tract of
land, it is not lawful for the same individual to file a second
declaratory statement for another tract of land, unless the first filing
was invalid in consequence of the land applied for, not being open to
pre-emption, or by determination of the land against him, in case of
contest, or from any other similar cause which would have prevented him
from consummating a pre-emption under his declaratory statements.

Each qualified pre-empter is permitted to enter one hundred and sixty
acres of either minimum or double minimum lands, subject to pre-emption,
by paying the Government price, $1.25 per acre for the former class of
lands, and $2.50 for the latter class.

Where a person has filed his declaratory statement for land which at the
time was rated at $2.50 per acre, and the price has subsequently been
reduced to $1.25 per acre, before he proves up and makes payment, he
will be allowed to enter the land embraced in his declaratory statement
at the last-named price, viz.: $1.25 per acre.

Final proof and payment can not be made until the party has actually
resided upon the land for a period of at least six months, and made the
necessary cultivation and improvements to show his good faith as an
actual settler. This proof can be made by one witness.

The party who makes the first settlement in person upon a tract of
public land is entitled to the right of pre-emption, provided he
subsequently complies with all the requirements of the law--his right to
the land commences from the date he performed the first work on the
land.

When a person has filed his declaratory statement for a tract of land,
and afterward relinquishes it to the Government, he forfeits his right
to file again for another tract of land.

The assignment of a pre-emption right is null and void. Title to public
land is not perfected until the issuance of the patent from the General
Land Office, and all sales and transfers prior to the date of the
patents are in violation of law.

The Act of March 27, 1854, protects the right of settlers on sections
along the lines of railroads, when settlement was made prior to the
withdrawal of the lands, and in such case allows the lands to be
pre-empted and paid for at $1.25 per acre, by furnishing proof of
inhabitancy and cultivation, as required under the Act of September 4,
1841.

The Homestead Act of May 20, 1862, provides "that any person who is the
head of a family, or who has arrived at the age of twenty-one years, and
is a citizen of the United States, or who shall have filed his
declaration of intention to become such, as required by the
naturalization laws of the United States, and who has never borne arms
against the United States Government, or given aid or comfort to its
enemies, shall be entitled to enter one quarter section or less quantity
of unappropriated public land."

Under this act, one hundred and sixty acres of land subject to
pre-emption at $1.25 per acre, or eighty acres at $2.50 per acre, can be
entered upon application, by making affidavit "that he or she is the
head of a family, or is twenty-one years of age, or shall have performed
service in the army and navy of the United States, and that such
application is made for his or her exclusive use or benefit, and that
said entry is made for the purpose of actual settlement and cultivation,
and not, either directly or indirectly, for the use and benefit of any
other person or persons whomsoever." On filing said affidavit, and
payment of fees and commissions, the entry will be permitted.

Soldiers and sailors who have served ninety days can, however, take one
hundred and sixty acres of the $2.50, or double minimum lands. In all
other respects they are subject to the usual Homestead laws and
regulations.

No certificate will be given, or patent issued, until the expiration of
five years from the date of said entry; and if, at the expiration of
such time, or at any time within two years thereafter, the person making
such entry--or if he be dead, his widow; or in case of her death, his
heirs or devisee; or in case of a widow making such entry, her heirs or
devisee, in case of her death--shall prove by two credible witnesses
that he or she has resided upon and cultivated the same for the term of
five years immediately succeeding the date of filing the above
affidavit, and shall make affidavit that no part of said land has been
alienated, and that he has borne true allegiance to the Government of
the United States; then he or she, if at that time a citizen of the
United States, shall be entitled to a patent. In case of the death of
both father and mother, leaving an infant child or children under
twenty-one years of age, the right and fee shall inure to the benefit of
said infant or children; and the executor, administrator, or guardian
may, at any time after the death of the surviving parent, and in
accordance with the law of the State in which such children for the time
being have their domicil, sell said land for the benefit of said
infants, but for no other purpose; and the purchaser shall acquire the
absolute title from the Government and be entitled to a patent.

When a homestead settler has failed to commence his residence upon land
so as to enable him to make a continuous residence of five years within
the time (seven years) limited by law, he will be permitted, upon filing
an affidavit showing a sufficient reason for his neglect to date his
residence at the time he commenced such inhabitancy, and will be
required to live upon the land for five years from said date, provided
no adverse claim has attached to said land, and the affidavit of a
settler is supported by the testimony of disinterested witnesses.

In the second section of the act of May 20, 1862, it is stipulated in
regard to settlers, that in the case of the death of both father and
mother, leaving an infant child, or children, under twenty-one years of
age, the right and fee shall inure to the benefit of the infant child or
children; and that the executor, administrator, or guardian, may sell
the land for the benefit of the infant heirs, at any time within two
years after the death of the surviving parent, in accordance with the
law of the State. The Commissioner rules that instead of selling the
land as above provided, their heirs may, if they so select, continue
residence and cultivation on the land for the period required by law,
and at the expiration of the time provided, a patent will be issued in
their names.

In the case of the death of a homestead settler who leaves a widow and
children, should the widow again marry and continue her residence and
cultivation upon the land entered in the name of her first husband for
the period required by law, she will be permitted to make final proof as
the widow of the deceased settler, and the patent will be issued in the
name of "his heirs."

When a widow, or single woman, has made a homestead entry, and
thereafter marries a person who has also made a similar entry on a
tract, it is ruled that the parties may select which tract they will
retain for permanent residence, and will be allowed to enter the
remaining tract under the eighth section of the act of May 20, 1862, on
proof of inhabitance and cultivation up to date of marriage.

In the case of the death of a homestead settler, his heirs will be
allowed to enter the land under the eighth section of the Homestead Act,
by making proof of inhabitancy and cultivation in the same manner as
provided by the second section of the act of March 3, 1853, in regard to
deceased pre-emptors.

When at the date of application the land is $2.50 per acre, and the
settler is limited to an entry of eighty acres, should the price
subsequently be reduced to $1.25 per acre, the settler will not be
allowed to take additional land to make up the deficiency.

The sale of a homestead claim by the settler to another is not
recognized, and vests no titles or equities in the purchaser, and would
be _prima facie_ evidence of abandonment, and sufficient cause for
cancellation of the entry.

The law allows but one homestead privilege. A settler who relinquished
or abandoned his claim can not hereafter make a second entry.

When a party has made a settlement on a surveyed tract of land, and
filed his pre-emption declaration thereof, he may change his filing into
a homestead.

If a homestead settler does not wish to remain five years on his tract,
the law permits him to pay for it with cash or military warrants, upon
making proof of residence and cultivation as required in pre-emption
cases. The proof is made by the affidavit of the party and the testimony
of _two_ credible witnesses.

There is another class of homesteads, designated as "Adjoining Farm
Homesteads." In these cases, the law allows an applicant _owning_ and
_residing_ on an original farm, to enter other land contiguous thereto,
which shall not, with such farm, exceed in the aggregate 160 acres. For
example, a party owning or occupying 80 acres, may enter 80 additional
of $1.25, or 40 acres of $2.50 land. Or, if the applicant owns 40 acres,
he may enter 120 at $1.25, or 60 at $2.50 per acre, if both classes of
land should be found contiguous to his original farm. In entries of
"Adjoining Farms," the settler must describe in his affidavit the tract
he owns and lives upon, as his original farm. Actual residence on the
tract entered as an "adjoining farm" is not required, but _bona fide_
improvement and cultivation of it must be shown for five years.

The right to a tract of land under the Homestead Act, commences from the
date of entry in the Land Office, and not from date of personal
settlement, as in case of the pre-emption.

When a party makes an entry under the Homestead Act, and thereafter,
before the expiration of five years, makes satisfactory proof of
habitancy and cultivation, and pays for the tract under the 8th section
of said act, it is held to be a consummation of his homestead right as
the act allows, and not a pre-emption, and will be no bar to the same
party acquiring a pre-emption right, provided he can legally show his
right in virtue of actual settlement and cultivation on another tract,
at a period subsequent to his proof and payment under the 8th section of
the Homestead Act.

The 2d section of the act of May 20, 1862, declares that after making
proof of settlement, cultivation, etc., "then, if the party is at that
time a citizen of the United States, he shall be entitled to a patent."
This, then, requires that all settlers shall be "citizens of the United
States" at the time of making final proof, and they must file in the
Land Office the proper evidence of that fact before a final certificate
will be issued.

A party who has proved up and paid for a tract of land under the
Pre-emption Act, can subsequently enter another tract of land under the
Homestead Act. Or, a party who has consummated his right to a tract of
land under the Homestead Act will afterward be permitted to pre-empt
another tract.

A settler who desires to "relinquish his homestead must surrender his
duplicate receipt, his relinquishment to the United States" being
endorsed thereon; if he has lost his receipt, that fact must be stated
in his relinquishment, to be signed by the settler, attested by two
witnesses, and acknowledged before the register or receiver, or clerk or
notary public using a seal.

When a homestead entry is contested and application is made for
cancellation, the party so applying must file an affidavit setting forth
the facts on which his allegations are grounded, describing the tract
and giving the name of the settler. A day will then be set for hearing
the evidence, giving all parties due notice of the time and place of
trial. It requires the testimony of two witnesses to establish the
abandonment of a homestead entry.

The notice to a settler that his claim is contested must be served by a
disinterested party, and in all cases when practicable, personal service
must be made upon the settler.

Another entry of the land will not be made in case of relinquishment or
contest, until the cancellation is ordered by the Commissioner of the
General Land Office.

When a party has made a mistake in the description of the land he
desires to enter as a homestead, and desires to amend his application,
he will be permitted to do so upon furnishing the testimony of two
witnesses to the facts, and proving that he has made no improvements on
the land described in his application, but has made valuable
improvements on the land he first intended and now applies to enter.

It is important to settlers to bear in mind that it requires two
witnesses to make final proof under the Homestead Act, who can testify
that the settler has resided upon and cultivated the tract for five
years from the date of his entry.

Patents are not issued for lands until from one to two years after date
of location in the District Office. No patent will be delivered until
the surrender of the duplicate receipt, unless such receipt should be
lost, in which case an affidavit of the fact must be filed in the
Register's Office, showing how said loss occurred, also that said
certificate has never been assigned, and that the holder is the _bona
fide_ owner of the land, and entitled to said patent.

By a careful examination of the foregoing requirements, settlers will
be enabled to learn without a visit to the Land Office the manner in
which they can secure and perfect title to public lands under the
Pre-emption Act of September 5, 1841, and Homestead Act of May 20, 1862.


THE STATE OF KANSAS.

Our sojourn on the plains impressed our party with a strong belief that
Kansas, at no distant day, will be one of the richest garden spots on
the continent. I have more particularly described the central portion of
the State, but both Northern and Southern Kansas are equally as fertile
and desirable.

The United States Land Offices in Kansas are located at the following
places: Topeka, Humboldt, Augusta, Salina, and Concordia. The rapidity
with which Kansas is being settled may readily be inferred from the fact
that 2,000,000 acres of its land were sold during one year, 1870.

In our note-book, I find the outline of a speech delivered by the
Professor in Topeka, and I quote a single paragraph as fitly expressing
the common sentiment of our entire number:

"Gentlemen, great as your State now is in extent of territory and
natural resources, she will soon have a corresponding greatness in the
means of development, and in a self-supporting population. 1870 holds in
her lap and fondles the infant; 1880 will shake hands with the giant.
The whole surface of your land, gentlemen, is one wild sea of beauty,
ready to toss into the lap of every venturer upon it, a farm. The genius
which rewards honest industry stands on the threshold of your State,
with countless herds and golden sheaves, smiling ready welcome to all
new-comers, of whatever creed or clime."


WHAT A FARM WILL COST.

The emigrant has already been told what it will cost him to obtain
government land. If this adjoins railroad tracts, he can secure what is
desired of the latter at from two to ten dollars per acre.

The expense of fencing material might be fairly estimated at from twenty
to thirty dollars per thousand feet for boards, and ten to fifteen
dollars per hundred for posts. This is supposing that all the material
is purchased. If fortunate enough to have timber on his claim, the
emigrant, of course, can inclose the farm at the cost of his own labor.

I have seen many new-comers protect their fields by simply digging
around them a narrow, deep trench, and throwing the earth on the inside
line so as to raise an embankment along that side two feet in height.
One single wire stretched along this, and secured at proper intervals by
small stakes, appears to answer quite well as a cattle guard.

Osage orange grows rapidly, and is cheap, and a permanent fence can be
made with it, at small expense, in the course of three or four years.

The usual cost of breaking prairie is from two to four dollars per acre.
With a yoke or two of good oxen, however, this item can also be saved.

The second year the farmer can set out with safety his trees and vines,
and the third or fourth year he may be considered fairly on the road to
prosperity.

Laborers' wages are from twenty to thirty dollars per month and board.

I estimate that a fair statement of the prices for stock would be about
as follows: Work oxen, seventy-five to one hundred dollars per yoke;
cows, twenty to fifty dollars each; horses, seventy-five to one hundred
and fifty dollars.


A FEW MORE PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS.

I would say to the emigrant, Do not be influenced to select any one
particular State or locality until you have more authority for the step
than a single publication. Examine carefully, make up your mind
deliberately, and then move with determination. It will require no very
great exertion to secure a half dozen glowing advertisements from as
many new Western States and Territories. It will need but little more
effort to obtain from five to fifty "rosy" circulars from as many
different districts in each of the separate "garden spots." After
examining these until ready to sing,--

  "How happy could I be with either
  Were t' other dear charmer away,"

take down your map, and let the railroads and streams assist your
choice. You have then secured yourself against one danger of the
journey--that of having these same circulars flung into your lap _en
route_, and being diverted by them into dubious ways and needless
expenditures. But be careful, reader, that you select not as accurate
beyond the possibility of a mistake the maps accompanying the circulars;
otherwise, you may find yourself unable to choose between several
thousand railroad centers from which broad gauges radiate like the
spokes in a wheel, and your ignorance of modern geography may be brought
painfully home by discovering navigable rivers where you had supposed
only creeks existed. In these matters, as in every thing else connected
with your "new departure," consult _all_ the various sources of
information within your reach.



APPENDIX.


CHAPTER SECOND.

FURTHER INFORMATION FOR THE SPORTSMAN.



APPENDIX.


CONTENTS OF CHAPTER SECOND.


                                                                  PAGE

  HUNTING THE BUFFALO,                                             453

  ANTELOPE HUNTING,                                                458

  ELK HUNTING,                                                     459

  TURKEY HUNTING,                                                  459

  GENERAL REMARKS,                                                 460

  WHAT TO DO IF LOST ON THE PLAINS,                                461

  THE NEW FIELD FOR SPORTSMEN,                                     462



CHAPTER SECOND.

_FURTHER INFORMATION FOR THE SPORTSMAN._


HUNTING THE BUFFALO.

The first matter to be determined, in planning any sporting trip, is the
best point at which to seek for game. If the object of pursuit be
buffalo, I should say, Deposit yourself as soon as possible on the
plains of Western Kansas.[5] Take the Kansas Pacific Railway at the
State line, and you can readily find out from the conductors at what
point the buffalo chance then to be most numerous. There are a dozen
stations after passing Ellsworth equally good. One month, the bison may
be numerous along the eastern portion of the plains; a month later, the
herds will be found perhaps sixty or eighty miles further west. As one
has at least a day's ride, after entering Kansas, before penetrating
into the solitude of Buffalo Land, there is ample time to decide upon a
stopping place. Russell as an eastern, and Buffalo Station as a western
point, will be found good basis for operations. In the former, some
hotel accommodations exist; in the latter, there are several dug-outs,
and hunters who can be obtained for guides.

  [5] During the present year, the A. T. & Santa Fe R. R. will probably be
  finished to the big bend of the Arkansas, which will place the sportsman
  in one of the finest game regions of the continent.

Those who can spend a week or more on the grounds, and wish to enjoy the
sport in its only legitimate way, namely, horseback hunting, should
stop at the point where they may best procure mounts, even if it
necessitate a journey in the saddle of twenty miles. Ellsworth, Russell,
and Hays City are the places where such outfits may generally be
obtained.

For shooting bison, the hunter should come prepared with some other
weapon than a squirrel rifle or double barreled shot gun. I have known
several instances in which persons appeared on the ground armed with
ancient smooth-bores or fowling-pieces; and in one of these cases the
object of attack, after receiving a bombardment of several minutes'
duration, tossed the squirrel hunter and injured him severely. A
breech-loading rifle, with a magazine holding several cartridges, is by
far the best weapon. In my own experience I became very fond of a
carbine combining the Henry and King patents. It weighed but seven and
one-half pounds, and could be fired rapidly twelve times without
replenishing the magazine. Hung by a strap to the shoulder, this weapon
can be dropped across the saddle in front, and held there very firmly by
a slight pressure of the body. The rider may then draw his holster
revolvers in succession, and after using them, have left a carbine
reserve for any emergency. Twenty-four shots can thus be exhausted
before reloading, and, with a little practice, the magazine of the gun
may be refilled without checking the horse. So light is this Henry and
King weapon that I have often held it out with one hand like a pistol,
and fired.

When a herd of buffalo is discovered, the direction of the wind should
be carefully ascertained. The taint of the hunter is detected at a long
distance, and the bison accepts the evidence of his nose more readily
than even that of his eyes. This delicacy of smell, however, is becoming
either more blunted or less heeded than formerly, owing probably to the
passage over the plains of the crowded passenger cars, which keep the
air constantly impregnated for long distances.

Having satisfied himself in regard to the wind, the sportsman should
take advantage of the ravines and slight depressions, which every-where
abound on the plains, and approach as near the herd as possible. If
mounted, let him gain every obtainable inch before making the charge. It
is an egregious blunder to go dashing over the prairie for half a mile
or so, in full view of the game, and thus give it the advantage of a
long start. When this is done, unless your animal is a superior one, he
will be winded and left behind.

In most cases, careful planning will place one within a couple of
hundred yards of the bison. Be sure that every weapon is ready for the
hand, and then charge. Put your horse to full speed as soon as
practicable. Place him beside the buffalo, and he can easily keep there;
whereas, if you nurse his pace at the first, and make it a stern chase,
both your animal and yourself, should you have the rare luck of catching
up at all, will be jaded completely before doing so. In shooting from
the saddle, be very careful between shots, and keep the muzzle of the
weapon in some other direction than your horse or your feet. A sudden
jolt, or a nervous finger, often causes a premature discharge. In taking
aim, draw your bead well forward on the buffalo--if possible, a little
behind the fore-shoulder. The vital organs being situated there, a
ranging shot will hit some of them, on one side or the other. Back of
the ribs, the buffalo will receive a dozen balls without being checked.
A discharge of bullets into the hind-quarters, is worse than useless.

While trying in the most enjoyable and practical manner to kill the
game, it is very necessary to escape, if possible, any injury to
yourself or horse. The Frenchman's remark on tiger hunting is very
apropos. "Ven ze Frenchman hunt ze tiger, it fine sport; but ven ze
tiger hunt ze Frenchman, it is not so." Care should be taken to have the
horse perfectly under control, when the bison stands at bay. Unless
experienced in bull fighting, he does not appreciate the danger, and a
sudden charge has often resulted in disembowelment.

Never dismount to approach the buffalo, unless certain that he is
crippled so as to prevent rising. One that is apparently wounded unto
death will often get upon his feet nimbly, and prove an ugly customer. I
knew a soldier killed at Hays City in this manner--thrown several feet
into the air, and fearfully torn. Recently near Cayote Station, on the
Kansas Pacific Railway, a buffalo was shot from the train, and the cars
were stopped to secure the meat, and gratify the passengers. One of the
latter, a stout Englishman, ran ahead of his fellows, and shook his fist
in the face of the prostrate bison. The American bull did not brook such
an insult from the English one, and Johnny received a terrible blow
while attempting to escape. He was badly injured, and, when I saw him
some time afterward, could only move on crutches.

Should the hunter on foot ever have to stand a charge, let him fire at
what is visible of the back, above the lowered head, or, should he be
able to catch a glimpse of the fore-shoulder, let him direct his bullet
there. The bone seems to be broken readily by a ball. Against the
frontal bone of the bison's skull, the lead falls harmless. To test this
fully, with California Bill as a companion, I once approached a buffalo
which stood wounded in a ravine. We took position upon the hill-side,
knowing that he could not readily charge up it, at a distance of only
fifteen yards. I fired three shots from the Henry weapon full against
the forehead, causing no other result than some angry head-shaking. I
then took Bill's Spencer carbine, and fired twice with it. At each shot
the bull sank partly to his knees, but immediately recovered again. I
afterward examined the skull, and could detect no fracture.

A person dismounted by accident or imprudence, and charged upon, can
avoid the blow by waiting until the horns are within a few feet of him,
and then jumping quickly on one side. After the buffalo has passed, let
the brief period of time before he has checked his rush, be employed in
traversing as much prairie, on the back track, as possible, and the
chances are that no pursuit will be made. Should a foot trip, or a fall
from the horse give no time for such tactics, then let the hunter hug
Mother Earth as tight as may be. The probabilities are that the bull can
not pick the body up with his horns. I have known a hunter to escape by
throwing himself in the slight hollow of a trail, and thus baffling all
attempts to hook him.

Accidents are rare in bison hunting, however, and the reader should not
be deterred from noble sport by the mere possibility of mishaps. I have
given the above advice, feeling that I shall be well repaid if it saves
the life or limbs of one man out of the thousands who may be exposed. A
glimpse of surgeon's instruments should not make the soldier a coward.
Comparatively few people are killed by electricity, and yet
lightning-rods are very popular.

The hunter who has no love for the saddle, and prefers stalking, should
provide himself with some breech-loading rifle or carbine, carrying a
heavy ball--the heavier the better. The most effective weapon is the
needle-gun used in the army, having a bore the size of the old
Springfield musket, and a ball to correspond. A bullet from this weapon
usually proves fatal. But there is little genuine sport in such
practice. Stalking holds the same relation to horseback hunting that
"hand line" fishing does to that with the rod and reel, the fly and the
spoon, or that killing birds on the ground does to wing-shooting.

In selecting from the herd a single individual for attack, the hunter
should do so with some reference to the intended use of the game. For
furnishing trophies of the chase, such as horns and robe, the bull will
do well; but if the meat is for use, it will be advisable to sacrifice
some sport, and obtain a cow or calf. I have known many an ancient
bison, with scarcely enough meat on his bones to hold the bullets,
killed by amateurs, and the leather-like quarters shipped to eastern
friends as rare delicacies!


ANTELOPE HUNTING.

Antelope hunting is a sport requiring more strategy and caution than the
one we have described. The creature is timid and swift, and inclined to
feed on ridges or level lands, where stalking is difficult. Its eyes and
ears are wonderfully quick in detecting danger, and the animal at once
seeks points which command the surroundings. If unable to keep in view
the object of alarm, immediate flight results.

The modes of hunting this game are two. If no possibility of stalking
exists, a red flag may be attached to a small stick, and planted in
front of the ravine or other place of concealment. The antelope at once
becomes curious, and begins circling toward it, each moment approaching
a little nearer, until finally within shooting distance. The other
method is by careful stalking. If the animal is on a high ridge, the
sides of which round upward a little, the hunter may crawl on his hands
and knees until he sees, just visible above the grass, the tips of the
horns or ears. Then let him rise on one knee, with gun to shoulder, and
take quick aim well forward, as the body comes into view. The approach
can not be too cautious, as the antelope stops feeding every minute or
so, to lift its head high, and gaze around. Thus the incautious hunter
may be brought, on the instant, into full relief, and the quick bound
which follows discovery, rob him of the fruit of long crawling.

Rare enjoyment might be obtained by any one who would take with him, to
the plains, a good greyhound. Mounted on a reliable horse, the sportsman
could follow the dog in its pursuit of antelope, and be in at the death.


ELK HUNTING.

Elk must be hunted by stalking, as he speedily distances any horse. The
animal is found in abundance along the upper waters of the Republican,
Solomon, and Saline. I prefer its meat to that of either the buffalo or
antelope. The horns of a fine male form a pleasing trophy to look at,
when the hunter's joints have been stiffened by rheumatism or age.


TURKEY HUNTING.

Wild turkeys exist in great numbers along the creeks, over the whole
western half of Kansas, and, where they have never been hunted, are so
tame as to afford but little sport. Cunning is their natural instinct,
however, and at once comes to the rescue, when needed. After a few have
been shot, the remainder will leave the narrow skirt of creek timber
instantly, and escape among the ravines by fast running, defying any
pursuit except in the saddle. Even then if they can get out of sight for
a moment, they will often escape. While the rider is pressing forward in
the direction a tired turkey was last seen, the bird will hide and let
him pass; or, turning the instant it is hidden by the brow of the
ravine, it will take a backward course, passing, if necessary, close to
the horse. As another illustration of the wily habits of the turkey, let
the hunter select a creek along which there has been no previous
shooting done, and kill turkeys at early morning on roosts, and the next
night the gangs will remain out among the "breaks."

For this shooting, a shot-gun is, of course, the best, although I have
had fine sport among the birds with the rifle. When using shot at one on
the wing, the hunter must not conclude his aim was bad, if no immediate
effect is observed. The flying turkey will not shrink, as the
prairie-chicken does, when receiving and carrying off lead. I have
frequently heard shot rattle upon a gobbler's stout feathers without any
apparent effect, and found him afterward, fluttering helpless, a mile
away.


GENERAL REMARKS.

The western field open to sportsmen is a grand one. Kansas, Colorado,
Nebraska, Dakota, and Wyoming, are all overflowing with game. The
climate of each is very healthy, and especially favorable for those
affected with pulmonary complaints. A year or two passed in their pure
air, with the excitement of exploration or adventure superadded, would
put more fresh blood into feeble bodies than all the watering-places in
existence. Let the dyspeptic seek his hunting camp at evening, and, my
word for it, he will find the sweet savor of his boyhood's appetite
resting over all the dishes. After the meal, with his feet to the fire,
he can have diversion in the way of either comedy or tragedy, or both,
by listening to frontier tales. When bed-time comes, he will barely have
time to roll under the blankets, before sweet sleep closes his eyes, and
the twinkling stars look down upon a being over whom the angel of health
is again hovering.

No extensive preparation for a western sporting trip is needed, as an
outfit can be obtained at any of the larger towns, in either Kansas,
Nebraska, or Colorado.

Of the three districts just named, I decidedly prefer the former for the
pursuit of such game as I have endeavored to describe in Buffalo Land.
The eastern half of Kansas furnishes chicken and quail shooting. The
birds have increased rapidly during late years, and at any point fifty
miles west of the eastern line, the sportsman will find plenty of work
for a dog and gun. The ground lies well for good shooting, being a
gently rolling prairie, with plenty of watering-places. The cover is
excellent, and with a good dog there is little trouble, between August
and November, in flushing the chickens singly, and getting an excellent
record out of any covey.

Wild fowl shooting is poor, there being no lakes or feeding-grounds. The
best sport of that kind I ever had was in Wisconsin and Minnesota.


WHAT TO DO, IF LOST ON THE PLAINS.

There have been several instances in which gentlemen, led away from
their party in the excitement of the chase, when wishing to return,
suddenly found themselves lost. Judge Corwin, of Urbana, Ohio,
separated in this manner from his party, wandered for two days on the
plains south of Hays City, subsisting on a little corn which had been
dropped by some passing wagon. He was found, utterly exhausted, by
California Bill, just as a severe snow-storm had set in. Persons thus
lost should remember that buffalo trails run north and south, and the
Pacific Railroads east and west. It will be easy to call to mind on
which side it was that the party left the road in starting out, and it
then becomes a simple matter to regain the rails, and follow them to the
first station.


THE NEW FIELD FOR SPORTSMEN.

South of Kansas is the Indian Territory, which probably has within it a
larger amount of game than any spot of similar size on our continent. It
fairly swarms with wild beasts and birds. At sunset one may see hundreds
of turkeys gathering to their roosts. Buffalo, elk, antelope, and deer
of several varieties, may be found and hunted to the heart's content.
Within the next two years this territory will be the paradise of all
sportsmen. It can now be reached by wagoning fifty miles or so beyond
the terminus of the A. T. & Santa Fe Railroad. But the savage, hostile
and treacherous, stands at the entrance of this fair land and forbids
further advance. While there is good hunting, there is also a
disagreeable probability of being hunted. Many of the tribes which
formerly roamed all over the plains are now gathered in the Indian
Territory. Jealous of their rights, they are apt to repay intrusion upon
them with death.

The white kills for sport alone the game which is the entire support of
the savage. I have often stood among the rotting carcasses of hundreds
of buffaloes, and seen the beautiful skins decaying, and tons of richest
meat feeding flies and maggots; and, standing there, I have felt but
little surprise that the savage should consider such wanton destruction
worthy of death. In the States, game is protected at least during the
breeding season; but no period of the year is sacred from the spirit of
slaughter which holds high revel in Buffalo Land.

It is manifest, however, that over the Indian Territory history will
soon repeat itself. Railroads are pushing steadily forward; 1872 is
already seeing the beginning of the end. The savage must flee still
further westward, and the valleys and prairies which he is now jealously
protecting will be invaded first by the sportsman, and then by the
farmer. Perhaps, before that time, Congress may have taken the matter in
hand, and passed laws which will have saved the noblest of our game from
at least immediate extinction.



APPENDIX.


CHAPTER THIRD.

ADDITIONAL FACTS CONCERNING THE NATURAL FEATURES, RESOURCES, ETC., OF
THE GREAT PLAINS AND CONTIGUOUS TERRITORY.



APPENDIX.


CONTENTS OF CHAPTER THIRD.


                                                                  PAGE

  "BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES,"                        467

  THE GREAT WEST,                                                  469

  FALL OF THE RIVERS,                                              470

  THE PRINCIPAL RIVERS AND VALLEYS OF BUFFALO LAND,                470

  THE VALLEY OF THE PLATTE,                                        470

  THE SOLOMON AND SMOKY HILL RIVERS,                               471

  THE ARKANSAS RIVER AND ITS TRIBUTARIES,                          472

  STOCK RAISING IN THE GREAT WEST,                                 474

  THE CATTLE HIVE OF NORTH AMERICA,                                477

  THE CLIMATE OF THE PLAINS,                                       479

  CLIMATIC CHANGES ON THE PLAINS,                                  482

  THE TREES AND FUTURE FORESTS OF THE PLAINS,                      484

  THE SUPPLY OF FUEL,                                              486

  DISTRICTS CONTIGUOUS TO THE PLAINS,                              487

  THE VALLEYS OF THE WHITE EARTH AND NIOBRARA,                     492

  NEW MEXICO--ITS SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, ETC.,                  494

  THE DISAPPEARING BISON,                                          500

  THE FISH WITH LEGS,                                              501

  THE MOUNTAIN SUPPLY OF LUMBER FOR THE PLAINS,                    502



CHAPTER III.

     _ADDITIONAL FACTS CONCERNING THE NATURAL FEATURES OF THE GREAT
     PLAINS; THEIR PRINCIPAL RIVERS AND VALLEYS; THEIR CLIMATE, ETC.,
     ETC._


"BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES."

In my endeavors to place Buffalo Land before the public in its true
light, I have felt a desire, as earnest as it is natural, that my
readers should feel that the subject has been justly treated. The
opinions of any one individual are liable to be formed too hastily, and
the country which before one traveler stretches away bright and
beautiful, may appear full of gloomy features to another, who views it
under different circumstances. A late dinner and a sour stomach, before
now, have had more to do with an unfavorable opinion concerning a new
town or country than any actual demerits. No two pairs of spectacles
have precisely the same power, and defects ofttimes exist in the glass,
rather than the vision.

These considerations have been brought to my mind with especial force
when, after giving an account of our own expedition, I have searched
through the records of others. A portion of the descriptions which I
have been able to find are the mature productions of travelers who,
perched upon the top of a stage-coach, or snugly nestled inside, have
undertaken to write a history of the country while rattling through it
at the best rate of speed ever attained by the "Overland Mail." What the
writers of this class lack in proper acquaintance with their subject
they usually make up by an air of profoundness, and positiveness in
expression, and the result has more than once been the foisting upon the
public of a species of exaggeration and absurdity which Baron Munchausen
himself could scarcely excel.

As a rather curious illustration of the numerous absurdities which have
obtained currency concerning the plains, may be mentioned the statement
published more than once during the winter of 1871-2, to the effect that
the snow of that region is different in character from that which falls
elsewhere. In support of this assumption, the fact is adduced that
snow-plows sometimes have but little effect upon it, on account of its
peculiar hardness, being pushed upon it, instead of through it. A little
more careful examination, however, would have discovered that the snow
itself is essentially similar to that which descends elsewhere, but that
the wind which drives it into the "cuts" and ravines also carries with
it a large amount of sand and surface dirt; and this, packing with the
snow, causes the firmness in question.

The valuable surveys being made from time to time under the auspices of
the Government, in charge of persons of experience and sagacity, are
doing much to replace this superficial knowledge with a more correct
comprehension of what the plains really are; and, altogether, we may
well hope that the time is not far distant when this whole wonderful
region will be as well understood as any portion of the national
domain.

As the object of this work is to place before its readers all the
essential information now obtainable concerning the great plains, no
apology will be necessary for adding some of the observations and
opinions of other competent writers upon the same subject. By far the
most valuable source which I have found to draw from in this connection,
is the comprehensive report published by Government, and bearing the
title of "United States Geological Survey of Wyoming and Contiguous
Territory, 1870. Hayden."


THE GREAT WEST.

Prof. Thomas informs us, in his report (embodied in Hayden's survey),
that, lying east of the divide, "the broad belt of country situated
between the 99th and 104th meridians, and reaching from the Big Horn
Mountains on the north to the Llano Estacado on the south, contains one
hundred and fifty thousand square miles. If but one-fifth of it could be
brought under culture and made productive, this alone, when fully
improved, would add $400,000,000 to the aggregate value of the lands of
the nation. And, taking the lowest estimate of the cash value of the
crops of 1869 per acre, it would give an addition of more than
$200,000,000 per annum to the aggregate value of our products.

"One single view from a slightly elevated point often embraces a
territory equal to one of the smaller States, taking in at one sweep
millions of acres. Eastern Colorado and Eastern Wyoming each contains as
much land sufficiently level for cultivation as the entire cultivated
area of Egypt."


FALL OF THE RIVERS.

The fall of the principal rivers traversing the region above named is
about as follows: Arkansas, to the 99th meridian, eleven to fifteen feet
to the mile; the Canadian, the same; the South Platte, from Denver to
North Platte, ten feet to the mile; the North Platte, to Fort Fetterman,
seven feet to the mile. The descent of the country from Denver Junction
to Fort Hays is nine feet to the mile. Thus it will be seen that
abundant fall is obtainable to irrigate all the lands adjacent.


THE PRINCIPAL RIVERS AND VALLEYS OF BUFFALO LAND.

The Platte (or Nebraska), the Solomon, the Smoky Hill, and the Arkansas,
are the four largest rivers of Buffalo Land proper, and form natural
avenues to the eastward from the mountains which shut it in upon the
west.


THE VALLEY OF THE PLATTE.

Describing this, Hayden says: "West of the mouth of the Elk Horn River,
the valley of the Platte expands widely. The hills on either side are
quite low, rounded, and clothed with a thick carpet of grass. But we
shall look in vain for any large natural groves of forest trees, there
being only a very narrow fringe of willows or cottonwoods along the
little streams. The Elk Horn rises far to the north-west in the prairie
near the Niobrara, and flows for a distance of nearly two hundred miles
through some of the most fertile and beautiful lands in Nebraska. Each
of its more important branches, as Maple, Pebble, and Logan Creeks, has
carved out for itself broad, finely-rounded valleys, so that every acre
may be brought under the highest state of cultivation.

"The great need here will be timber for fuel and other economical
purposes, and also rock material for building. Still the resources of
this region are so vast that the enterprising settler will devise plans
to remedy all these deficiencies. He will plant trees, and thus raise
his own forests and improve his lands in accordance with his wants and
necessities.

"These valleys have always been the favorite places of abode for
numerous tribes of Indians from time immemorial, and the sites of their
old villages are still to be seen in many localities. The buffalo, deer,
elk, antelope, and other kinds of wild game, swarmed here in the
greatest numbers, and, as they recede farther to the westward into the
more arid and barren plains beyond the reach of civilization, the wild
nomadic Indian is obliged to follow. One may travel for days in this
region and not find a stone large enough to toss at a bird, and very
seldom a bush sufficient in size to furnish a cane."


THE SOLOMON AND SMOKY HILL RIVERS.

The Solomon and Smoky Hill Rivers, while possessing some of the general
characteristics of the Platte, have more timber, and the entire
surrounding country is uniformly rolling. The Smoky Hill is a visible
stream only after reaching the vicinity of Pond Creek, near Fort
Wallace. Above that point a desolate bed of sand hides the water flowing
beneath. We have spoken fully of these sections elsewhere.


THE ARKANSAS RIVER AND ITS TRIBUTARIES.

The Arkansas, passing through the southern portion of the plains, has
wide, rich bottoms, with a more sandy soil than is found on the streams
north. Its small tributaries have considerable timber. All these valleys
are being settled rapidly.

Again consulting Prof. Thomas' report, we find that "the Arkansas River,
rising a little north-west of South Park, runs south-east to Poncho
Pass, where, turning a little more toward the east, it passes through a
canyon for about forty miles, emerging upon the open country at Canyon
City. From this point to the Eastern boundary of the Territory it runs
almost directly east.

"The mountain valley has an elevation of between seven and eight
thousand feet above the sea, while that of the plain country lying east
of the range varies from six thousand near the base of the mountains to
about three thousand five hundred feet at the eastern boundary of the
Territory. From Denver to Fort Hays, a distance of three hundred and
forty-seven miles, the fall is three thousand two hundred and seven
feet, or a little over nine feet to the mile.

"The Arkansas River, from the mouth of the Apishpa to the mouth of the
Pawnee, a distance of two hundred and six miles, has the remarkable fall
of two thousand four hundred and eight feet, or more than eleven feet to
the mile.

"The headwaters of the Arkansas are in an oval park, situated directly
west of the South Park. The altitude of this basin is probably between
eight and nine thousand feet above the level of the sea; the length is
about fifty miles from north to south, and twenty or thirty miles in
width at the middle or widest point. At the lower or southern end an
attempt has been made to cultivate the soil, which bids fair to prove a
success. Around the Twin Lakes, at the extreme point, oats, wheat,
barley, potatoes, and turnips have been raised, yielding very fair
crops. Below this basin the river, for twenty miles, passes through a
narrow canyon, along which, with considerable difficulty, a road has
been made. Emerging from this, it enters the 'Upper Arkansas Valley'
proper, which is a widening of the bottom lands from two to six or eight
miles. This valley is some forty or fifty miles in length, and very
fertile.

"The principal tributaries of the Arkansas that flow in from the south,
east of the mountains, are Hardscrabble and Greenhorn Creeks (the St.
Charles is a branch of the latter), Huerbano River, which has a large
tributary named Cuchara; Apishpa River, Timpas Creek, and Purgatory
River. On the north side, Fountain Gui Bouille River and Squirrel Creek
are the principal streams affording water.

"This entire district affords broad and extensive grazing fields for
cattle and sheep, and quite a number of herders and stock-raisers are
beginning already to spread out their flocks and herds over these broad
areas of rich and nutritious grasses. One of the finest meadows, of
moderate extent, that I saw in the Territory, was on the divide near the
head of Monument Creek, and near by was a large pond of cool, clear
water. The temperature of this section is somewhat similar to that of
Northern Missouri, and all the products grown there can be raised here,
some with a heavier yield and of a finer quality, as wheat, oats, etc.,
while others, as corn, yield less, and are inferior in quality."

As we descend the Arkansas, the valley becomes broader, and it is often
difficult to tell where the bottom ceases and the prairie commences.

This stream attracted such a large portion of the immigration of 1871
that it is already settled upon for some distance above Fort Zarah. The
soil is very rich, the climate pleasant and healthy, and good success
attends both stock and crop-raising.


STOCK-RAISING IN THE GREAT WEST.

Mr. W. N. Byers, who has lived for many years in Colorado, lately
contributed the following valuable article to the _Rocky Mountain News_,
treating more particularly of the western half of the plains:

"After the mining interest, which must always take rank as the first
productive industry in the mountain territories of the West,
stock-raising will doubtless continue next in importance. The
peculiarities of climate and soil adapt the grass-covered country west
of the ninety-eighth degree of longitude especially to the growth and
highest perfection of horses, cattle, and sheep. The earliest civilized
explorers found the plains densely populated with buffalo, elk, deer,
and antelope, their numbers exceeding computation. Great nations of
Indians subsisted almost entirely by the fruits of the chase, but, with
the rude weapons used, were incapable of diminishing their numbers. With
the advent of the white man and the introduction of fire-arms, and to
supply the demands of commerce, these wild cattle have been slaughtered
by the million, until their range, once six hundred miles wide from east
to west, and extending more than two thousand miles north and south,
over which they moved in solid columns, darkening the plains, has been
diminished to an irregular belt, a hundred and fifty miles wide, in
which only scattering herds can be found, and they seldom numbering ten
thousand animals.

"There is no reason why domestic cattle may not take their place. The
climate, soil, and vegetation are as well adapted to the tame as to the
wild. The latter lived and thrived the year round all the way up to
latitude fifty degrees north. Twenty years' experience proves that the
former do equally well upon the same range, and with the same lack of
care. Time, the settlement of the country, the growing wants of
agriculture, the encroachment of tilled fields, will gradually narrow
the range, as did semi-civilization that of the buffalo--first from the
Mississippi Valley westward, where that process is already seen, and
then from the Rocky Mountains toward the east; but as yet the range is
practically unlimited, and for many years to come there will be room to
fatten beeves to feed the world.

"This great pasture land covers Western Texas, Indian Territory, Kansas,
Nebraska, and Dakota, Eastern New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and
Montana, and extends far into British America. The southerly and
south-easterly portions produce the largest growth of grass, but it
lacks the nutritious qualities of that covering the higher and drier
lands farther north and west. Rank-growing and bottom-land grasses
contain mostly water: they remain green until killed by frost, when
their substance flows back to the root, or is destroyed by the action of
the elements. The dwarf grass of the higher plains makes but a small
growth, but makes that very quickly in the early spring, and then, as
the rains diminish and the summer heat increases, it dies and cures into
hay where it stands; the seed even, in which it is very prolific,
remains upon the stalk, and, though very minute, is exceedingly
nutritious.

"In so far as the relative advantages of different portions of this wide
region may be thought by many to preponderate over one another, we do
not appreciate them at all, but would as soon risk a herd in the valley
of the Upper Missouri, the Yellowstone, or the Saskachewan, as along the
Arkansas, the Canadian, or Red River. If any difference, the grass is
better north than south. One year the winter may be more severe in the
extreme north; the next it may be equally so in the south; and the third
it may be most inclement midway between the two extremes; or, what is
more common, the severe storms and heavy snows may follow irregular
streaks across the country at various points. There are local causes and
effects to be considered, such as permanently affect certain localities
favorably or the contrary. For instance, nearer the western border of
the plains there is less high wind, because the lofty mountain ranges
form a shelter or wind breaker. Of local advantages, detached ranges of
mountains, hills, or broken land, timber, brush, and deep ravines or
stream-beds are the most important in furnishing shelter, and, as a
general thing, better and always more varied pasture ground.

"There is never rain upon the middle and northern plains during the
winter months. When snow comes it is always dry, and never freezes to
stock. The reverse is the case in the Northern and Middle States, where
winter storms often begin with rain, which is followed by snow, and
conclude with piercing wind and exceeding cold. Stock men can readily
appreciate the effect of such weather upon stock exposed to its
influence.

"The soil of the plains is very much the same every-where. To a casual
observer it looks sterile and unpromising, but, when turned by the plow
or spade, is found very fertile. Near the mountains it is filled with
coarse rock particles, and under the action of the elements these become
disproportionately prominent on the surface. Receding from the
mountains, it becomes gradually finer, until gravel and bits of broken
stone are no longer seen. Being made up from the wash and wearing away
of the mountains, alkaline earths enter largely into its composition,
supplying inexhaustible quantities of those properties which the eastern
farmer can secure only by the application of plaster, lime, and like
manures. These make the rich, nutritious grasses upon which cattle
thrive so remarkably, and to the constant wonder of new-comers, who can
not reconcile the idea of such comparatively bare and barren-looking
plains with the fat cattle that roam over them.

"Besides the plains, there is a vast extent of pasture-lands in the
mountains. Wherever there is soil enough to support vegetation, grass is
found in abundance, to a line far above the limit of timber growth, and
almost to the crest of the snowy range. These high pastures, however,
are suitable only for summer and autumn range; but in portions of the
great parks and large valleys, most parts of which lie below eight
thousand feet altitude above the sea, cattle, horses, and sheep live and
thrive the year round. The cost of raising a steer to the age of five
years, when he is at a prime age for market, is believed to be about
seven dollars and a half, or one dollar and a half per year. A number of
estimates given us by stock men, running through several years, place
the average at about that figure. That contemplates a herd of four
hundred or more. Smaller lots of cattle will generally cost relatively
more. The items of expense are herding, branding, and salt--nothing for
feed."


THE CATTLE-HIVE OF NORTH AMERICA.

In this connection we may very properly quote from the same writer the
following paragraph in regard to the source from whence all the cattle
are now brought--that great natural breeding ground, the prairie land of
Texas.

"Texas is truly the cattle-hive of North America. While New York, with
her 4,000,000 inhabitants, and her settlements two and a half centuries
old, has 748,000 oxen and stock cattle; while Pennsylvania, with more
than 3,000,000 people, has 721,000 cattle; while Ohio, with 3,000,000
people, has 749,000 cattle; while Illinois, with 2,800,000 people, has
867,000 cattle; and while Iowa, with 1,200,000 people, has 686,000
cattle; Texas, forty years of age, and with her 500,000 people, had
2,000,000 head of oxen and other cattle, exclusive of cows, in 1867, as
shown by the returns of the county assessors.

"In 1870, allowing for the difference between the actual number of
cattle owned and the number returned for taxation, there must be fully
3,000,000 head of beeves and stock cattle. This is exclusive of cows,
which, at the same time, are reported at 600,000 head. In 1870 they must
number 800,000--making a grand total of 3,800,000 head of cattle in
Texas. One-fourth of these are beeves, one-fourth are cows, and the
other two-fourths are yearlings and two-year olds.

"There would, therefore, be 950,000 beeves, 950,000 cows, and 1,900,000
young cattle. There are annually raised and branded 750,000 calves.
These cattle are raised on the great plains of Texas, which contain
152,000,000 acres. In the vast regions watered by the Rio Grande,
Nueces, Guadalupe, San Antonio, Colorado, Leon, Brazos, Trinity, Sabine,
and Red Rivers, these millions of cattle graze upon almost tropical
growths of vegetation. They are owned by the ranchmen, who own from
1,000 to 75,000 head each."

As specimen ranches, may be named the following: Santa Catrutos Ranch
belongs to Richard King. Amount of land, 84,132 acres. The stock
consists of 65,000 cattle, 10,000 horses, 7,000 sheep, 8,000 goats.
Three hundred Mexicans are employed, and 1,000 saddle horses, on the
place. O'Connor's ranch, near Goliad, is an estate possessing about
50,000 cattle. The Robideaux ranch, on the Gulf, belonging to Mr.
Kennedy, contains 142,840 acres of land, and has 30,000 beef cattle in
addition to other stock.


THE CLIMATE OF THE PLAINS.

Mr. R. S. Elliott, who has studied this matter carefully, says: "The
plains have been so often described as a rainless region that great
misconception in regard to the climate has prevailed. The absolute
precipitation is much greater than has been in past years supposed, and
is due to other causes. Meteorologists who have described the rain-fall
of the plains as derived only or principally from the remaining moisture
of winds from the Pacific, after the passage of the Nevada and Rocky
Mountain ranges, have been greatly in error, and the better conclusion
now is, with all authorities who have given any special attention to the
subject, that the moisture which fertilizes the Mississippi Valley,
including the broad, grassy plains, is derived from the Gulf of Mexico.

"At Fort Riley about sixty-nine per cent, of the annual precipitation is
in spring and summer; at Fort Kearney, eighty-one; and at Fort Laramie,
seventy-two per cent. From observations at Forts Harker, Hays, and
Wallace, on the line of this road, the same rule seems to hold good.
Records have not been long enough continued at these three posts to give
a long average, but the mean appears to be between seventeen and
nineteen inches at Hays and Wallace, and possibly rather more at Harker.
The actual average for 1868 and 1869 at Hays is 18.76 inches, and for
the first six months of 1870 the record is 10.68 inches. At Wallace the
record for 1869 was over seventeen inches, and in 1870, up to October 1,
about the same amount had fallen.

"Without records there can be only conjecture; and I can only remark
that there does not seem to be much diminution in the annual rain-fall
until we get as far west as the one hundred and third meridian. Thence
to the base of the mountains (except perhaps in the timbered portions of
the great divide south of the line of this railway) the annual average
may be possibly two or three inches less than in the midst of the
plains--a peculiarity explained, hypothetically, by the fact that the
region 'lies to the westward of the general course of the moisture
currents of air flowing northward from the Gulf of Mexico, and is so
near the mountains as to lose much of the precipitation that localities
in the plains east and north-east are favored with. The mountains seem
to exercise an influence--electrical and magnetical--in attracting
moisture, which is condensed in the cooler regions of their summits,
while the plains at their feet may be parched and heated to excess.'
This explanation may be fanciful, but the fact remains that near the
mountains the rains seem to decrease north of the great divide;
fortunately, however, this occurs in a region where irrigation may be
applied extensively and where there is sufficient moisture to nourish
bountiful crops of grass.

"The vegetation of the plains along wagon tracks and rail road
embankments shows a capability of production scarcely suggested by the
surface where undisturbed: wherever the earth is broken up, the wild
sunflower (_Helianthus_), and others of the taller-growing plants,
though previously unknown in the vicinity, at once spring up.

"I have been on the plains all the time since early in May till this
date (22d of September). There has been much dry weather, but I have not
seen one cloudless day--no day on which the sun would rise clear and
roll along a canopy of brass to the west. There has always been humidity
enough to form clouds at the proper height; and on many days they would
be seen defining, by their flat bottoms, the exact line where
condensation became sufficient to render the vapor visible. I conclude,
from all this, that abundant moisture has floated over the plains to
have given us a great deal more rain than would be desirable if it had
been precipitated.

"Sometimes a storm would be seen to gather near the horizon, and we
could see the rain pending from the clouds like a fringe, hanging
apparently in mid-air, unable to reach the expectant earth. The rain
stage of condensation had been reached above, but the descending shower
was re-vaporized apparently, and thus arrested.

"These hot winds are not, so far as I have observed, apt to be constant
in one place for any considerable length of time; they strike your face
suddenly, and perhaps in a minute are gone. They seem to run along in
streaks or _ovenfulls_ with the winds of ordinary (but rather high)
temperature. They do not begin, I believe, till in July, as a general
rule, and are over by September 1, or perhaps by August 15. Their origin
I take to be, of course, in heated regions south or southwest of us; but
their peculiar occurrence, so capricious and often so brief, I can not
explain to myself satisfactorily.

"I may remark that this season, since about the 15th of July, in these
distant plains, has given us rain enough to make beautifully verdant the
spots in the prairie burnt off during the 'heated' term in July. From
Kit Carson eastward, the rains have been, I think, exceptionally
abundant. All through the summer we have had _dew_ occasionally, and it
has been remarked that buffalo meat has been more difficult of
preservation than heretofore--facts indicative of humidity in the
atmosphere, even where but little rain-fall was witnessed. Turnips sown
in August would have made a crop in this vicinity--four hundred and
twenty-two miles west of the state line of Missouri,"


CLIMATIC CHANGES ON THE PLAINS.

"Facts such as these," continues the same writer, "seem to sustain the
popular persuasion that a _climatic change_ is taking place, promoted by
the spread of settlements westwardly, breaking up portions of the
prairie soil, covering the earth with plants that shade the ground more
than the short grasses; thus checking or modifying the reflection of
heat from the earth's surface, etc. The fact is also noted that even
where the prairie soil is not disturbed, the short buffalo grass
disappears as the 'frontier' extends westward, and its place is taken
by grasses and other herbage of taller growth. That this change of the
clothing of the plains, if sufficiently extensive, might have a
modifying influence on the climate, I do not doubt; but whether the
change has been already spread over a large enough area, and whether our
apparently or really wetter seasons may not be part of a cycle, are
unsettled questions.

"The civil engineers of the railways believe that the rains and humidity
of the plains have increased during the extension of railroads and
telegraphs across them. If this is the case, it may be that the
mysterious electrical influence in which they seem to have faith, but do
not profess to explain, has exercised a beneficial influence. What
effect, if any, the digging and grading, the iron rails, the tension of
steam in locomotives, the friction of metallic surfaces, the poles and
wires, the action of batteries, etc., could possibly or probably have on
the electrical conditions, as connected with the phenomena of
precipitation, I do not, of course, undertake to say. It may be that wet
seasons have merely happened to coincide with railroads and telegraphs.
It is to be observed that the poles of the telegraph are quite
frequently destroyed by lightning; and it is probable that the lightning
thus strikes in many places where before the erection of the telegraph
it was not apt to strike, and perhaps would not reach the earth at all.

"It is certain that rains have increased; this increase has coincided
with the extension of settlements, railroads, and telegraphs. If
influenced by these, the change of climate will go on; if by extra
mundane influences, the change may be permanent, progressive, or
retrograde. I think there are good grounds to believe it will be
progressive. Within the last fifteen years, in Western Missouri and
Iowa, and in Eastern Kansas and Nebraska, a very large aggregate
surface has been broken up, and holds more of the rains than formerly.
During the same period modifying influences have been put in motion in
Montana, Utah, and Colorado. Very small areas of timbered land west of
the Missouri have been cleared--not equal, perhaps, to the area of
forest, orchard, and vineyards planted. Hence it may be said that all
the acts of man in this vast region have tended to produce conditions on
the earth's surface ameliorative of the climate. With extended
settlements on the Arkansas, Canadian, and Red River of the south, as
well as on the Arkansas, on the river system of the Kaw Valley, and on
the Platte, the ameliorating conditions will be extended in like degree;
and it partakes more of sober reason than wild fancy to suppose that a
permanent and beneficial change of climate may be experienced. The
appalling deterioration of large portions of the earth's surface,
through the acts of man in destroying the forests, justifies the trust
that the culture of taller herbage and trees in a region heretofore
covered mainly by short grasses may have a converse effect. Indeed, in
Central Kansas nature seems to almost precede settlements by the taller
grasses and herbage."


THE TREES AND FUTURE FORESTS OF THE PLAINS.

Mr. Elliott continues his article as follows: "The principal native
trees on the plains west of ninety-seventh meridian are: Cottonwood,
walnut, elm, ash, box-elder, hackberry, plum, red cedar. To these may be
added willow and grape-vines, and also the locust and wild cherry
mentioned by Abert as occurring on the Purgatory. The black walnut
extends to the one-hundredth meridian. The elm and ash are of similar,
perhaps greater range. Hackberry has been observed west of one hundred
and first meridian. Cottonwood, elder, red cedar, plum, and willow are
persistent to the base of the mountains. The extensive pine forest on
the 'great divide' south of Denver, although stretching seventy to
eighty miles east from the mountains, is not taken into view as
belonging to the plains proper. Its existence, however, suggests the use
of its seeds in artificial plantations in that region. The fossil wood
imbedded in the cretaceous strata in many parts of the plains is left
out of consideration, as belonging to a previous, though recent,
geological age; but the single specimens of trees found growing at wide
intervals are silent witnesses to the _possibility_ of extended forest
growth.

"Were it possible to break up the surface to a depth of two feet, from
the ninety-seventh meridian to the mountains, and from the thirty-fifth
to the forty-fifth parallel, we should have in a single season a growth
of taller herbage over the entire area, less reflection of the sun's
heat, more humidity in the atmosphere, more constancy in springs, pools,
and streams, more frequent showers, fewer violent storms, and less
caprice and fury in the winds. A single year would witness a changed
vegetation and a new climate. In three years (fires kept out) there
would be young trees in numerous places, and in twenty years there would
be fair young forests. The description of the 'broad, grassy plains,'
given in the foregoing pages, attests their capacity to sustain animal
life. For cattle, sheep, horses, and mules, they are a natural pasture
in summer, with (in many parts) hay cured standing for winter. The famed
Pampas, with their great extremes of wet and drought, can not bear
comparison with our western plains. For grazing purposes, the habitable
character of our vast traditional 'desert' is generally conceded, and
hence it need not be enlarged on here."


THE SUPPLY OF FUEL.

Of the question of fuel for the future dwellers upon the face of Buffalo
Land, Hayden, in his report, speaks as follows:

"The question often arises in the minds of visitors to this region, how
the law of compensation supplies the want of fuel in the absence of
trees for that use. Many persons have taken the position that the
Creator never made such a vast country, with a soil of such wonderful
fertility, and rendered it so suitable for the abode of man, without
storing in the earth beds of carbon for his needs. If this idea could be
shown to be true in any case, we would ask why are the immense beds of
coal stored away in the mountains of Pennsylvania and Virginia, while at
the same time the surface is covered with dense forests of timber. We
now know that this law does not apply to the natural world; and, if it
did, this western country would be a remarkable exception. The State of
Nebraska seems to be located on the western rim of the great coal basin
of the West, and only thin seams of poor coal will probably ever be
found; but in the vicinity of the Rocky Mountains, in Wyoming, and
Colorado, coal in immense quantities has been hidden away for ages, and
the Union Pacific Railroad has now brought it near the door of every
man's dwelling.

"These Rocky Mountain coal-beds will one day supply an abundance of fuel
for more than one hundred thousand square miles along the Missouri
River of the most fertile agricultural land in the world."

Of this coal area, Persifor Frazier, Jr., says: "Those beds which occur
on the east flank of the Rocky Mountains have been followed for five
hundred miles and more, north and south; and if it be true that these
are 'fragments of one great basin, interrupted here and there by the
upheaval of mountain chains, or concealed by the deposition of newer
formations,' then their extension east and west, or from the eastern
range of the Rocky Mountains or Black Hills to Weber Canyon, where an
excellent coal is mined, will fall but little short of five hundred
miles. Throughout this extent these beds of coal are found between the
upper cretaceous and lower tertiary (or in the transition beds of
Hayden), wherever these transition beds occur, whether on the extreme
flanks or in the valleys and parks between the numerous mountain ranges.
Assuming that the eroding agencies together have cut off one-half of the
coal from this area, and taking one-half of the remainder as their
average longitudinal extent, we have over fifty thousand square miles of
coal lands, accounting the latitudinal extent as only five hundred
miles; whereas we have no reason to believe that it terminates within
these bounds, but, on the contrary, good reason for supposing that it
extends northward far into Canada, and southward with the Cordilleras.
All this territory has been omitted in the estimate of the extent of our
coal fields."


DISTRICTS CONTIGUOUS TO THE PLAINS.

The reader has now had the salient features of the great plains placed
before him in succession. The more interesting districts immediately
adjoining will well repay the reader for a brief consideration.


THE NORTH PLATTE DISTRICT.

A late writer, who has studied the country of which he speaks very
closely,[6] thus describes the North Platte District:

  [6] Dr. H. Latham, under date June 5th, 1870, in the Omaha Daily Herald.

"The distance from the mouth of the North Platte, where it joins the
South Platte on the Union Pacific Railroad, to its sources in the great
Sierra Madre, whose lofty sides form the North Park, in which this
stream takes its rise, is more than eight hundred miles. Its extreme
southern tributaries head in the gorges of the mountains one hundred
miles south of the railroad, and receive their water from the melting
snows of these snow-capped ranges. Its extreme western tributaries rise
in the Wahsatch and Wind River ranges, sharing the honor of conveying
the crystal snow waters from the continental divide with the Columbia
and Colorado of the Pacific. Its northern tributaries start oceanward
from the Big Horn Mountains, three hundred miles north of the
starting-point of its southern sources.

"It drains a country larger than all New England and New York together.
East of the Alleghany Mountains there is no river comparable to this
clear, swift mountain stream in its length or in the extent of country
it drains.

"The main valley of the North Platte, two hundred miles from its mouth
to where it debouches through the Black Hills out on to the great
plains, is an average of ten miles wide. Nearly all this area--two
thousand square miles--is covered with a dense growth of grass,
yielding thousands of tons of hay. The bluffs bordering these intervals
are rounded and grass-grown, gradually smoothing out into great grassy
plains, extending north and south as far as the eye can see.

"Of the country, Alexander Majors says, in a letter to the writer of
this article: 'The favorite wintering ground of my herders for the past
twenty years has been from the Caché a la Poudre on the south to Fort
Fetterman on the north, embracing all the country along the eastern base
of the Black Hills.' It was of this country that Mr. Seth E. Ward spoke,
when he says: 'I am satisfied that no country in the same latitude, or
even far south of it, is comparable to it as a grazing and stock-raising
country. Cattle and stock generally are healthy, and require no feeding
the year round, the rich 'bunch' and 'gramma' grasses of the plains and
mountains keeping them, ordinarily, fat enough for beef during the
entire winter,'

"All this region east of the Black Hills is at an elevation less than
five thousand feet. The climate, as reported from Fort Laramie for a
period of twenty years, is 50° Fahrenheit. The mean temperature for the
spring months is 47°, for the summer months 72°, for autumn 60°, for
winter 31°. The annual rain-fall is about eighteen inches--distributed
as follows: Spring, 8.69 inches; summer, 5.70 inches; autumn, 3.69
inches. The snow fall is eighteen inches.

"There is in the North Platte Basin, east of the Black Hills divide, at
least eight million acres of pasturage, with the finest and most lasting
streams, and good shelter in the bluffs and canyons. As I have said
before, we can only judge of the extent and resources of such a single
region by comparison. Ohio has six million sheep, yielding eighteen
million pounds of wool, bringing herd farmers an aggregate of four and
one-half million dollars. This eight million acres of pasture would at
least feed eight million sheep, yielding twenty-four million pounds of
wool, and, at the same price as Ohio wool, six million dollars. Now,
this money, instead of going to build up ranches, stock-farms,
store-houses, woolen mills, and all the components of a great and
thrifty settlement, is sent by our wool-growers and woollen
manufacturers to Buenos Ayres, to Africa, and Australia, to enrich other
people and other lands, while our wool-growing resources remain
undeveloped.

"As you follow the North Platte up through the Black Hill Canyon, you
come out upon the great Laramie plains, which lie between the Black
Hills on the east and the snowy range on the west. These plains are
ninety miles north and south, and sixty miles east and west. They are
watered by the Big and Little Laramie Rivers, Deer Creek, Rock Creek,
Medicine Bow River, Cooper Creek, and other tributaries of the North
Platte. It is on the extreme northern portion of these plains, in the
valley of Deer Creek, that General Reynolds wintered during the winter
of 1860, and of which he remarks, on pages seventy-four and seventy-five
of his 'Explorations of the Yellowstone," as follows:

"Throughout the whole season's march the subsistence of our animals had
been obtained by grazing after we had reached our camp in the afternoon,
and for an hour or two between the dawn of day and our time of starting.
The consequence was that, when we reached our winter quarters there were
but few animals in the train that were in a condition to have continued
the march without a generous grain diet. Poorer and more broken-down
creatures it would be difficult to find. In the spring they were in as
fine condition for commencing another season's work as could be desired.
A greater change in their appearance could not have been produced even
if they had been grain-fed and stable-housed all winter. Only one was
lost, the furious storm of December coming on before it had gained
sufficient strength to endure it. The fact that seventy exhausted
animals, turned out to winter on the plains the first of November, came
out in the spring in the best condition, and with the loss of but one of
their number, is the most forcible commentary I can make on the quality
of the grass and the character of the winter.'

"These plains have been favorite herding grounds of the buffalo away
back in the pre-historic age of this country. Their bones lie bleaching
in all directions, and their paths, deeply worn, cover the whole plain
like a net-work. Their 'wallows,' where these shaggy lords of animal
creation tore deep pits into the surface of the ground, are still to be
seen. Elk, antelope, and deer still feed here, and the mountain sheep
are found on the mountain sides and in the more secluded valleys of the
Sierra Madre range--all proving conclusively that this has afforded
winter pasturage from time immemorial. Since 1849 many herds of
work-oxen, belonging to emigrants, freighters, and ranchmen, have grazed
here each winter.

"South of the Laramie plains is the North Park, one of three great parks
of the Rocky Mountains, so fully described by Richardson, Bross, and
Bowles. This North Park is formed by the great Snowy Range. It is a
valley from six to eight thousand feet high, ninety miles long, and
forty miles wide, surrounded by snowy mountains from thirteen to fifteen
thousand feet high. These mountain tops and sides are completely covered
with dense growths of forests; the lower hill-sides and this great
valley are covered with grasses. The forests and mountains afford ample
shelter from sweeping winds. Here, as well as on the Laramie plains,
the buffalo grazed in great herds; and here the Ute hunters, from some
hidden canyons, dashed down among them on their trained and fleet
ponies, shooting their arrows with unerring aim on all sides, and having
such glorious sport as kings might court and envy. The Indians are now
gone from this valley, and the buffalo nearly so. On the two million
acres in this valley not twenty head of cattle graze.

"This great park, splendidly watered by the three forks of the Platte,
and by a hundred small streams that drain these lofty mountains of their
snows and rains--rich in all kinds of nutritious grasses, plentifully
supplied with timber; on the tertiary coal fields, with iron, copper,
lead, and gold--has not one real settler. There are a few miners, but
where there should be flocks and herds of sheep and cattle without
number, there is only the wild game--the elk, antelope, and deer."


THE VALLEYS OF THE WHITE EARTH AND NIOBRARA.

These streams are branches of the Missouri--the one mainly in Dakota
Territory, and the other in Nebraska. The following graphic paragraphs
concerning them are from Hayden again:

"I have spent many days exploring this region (the White Earth Valley)
when the thermometer was 112° in the shade, and there was no water
suitable for drinking purposes within fifteen miles. But it is only to
the geologist that this place can have any permanent attraction. He can
wind his way through the wonderful canyons among some of the grandest
ruins in the world. Indeed, it resembles a gigantic city fallen to
decay. Domes, towers, minarets and spires may be seen on every side,
which assume a great variety of shapes when viewed in the distance. Not
unfrequently the rising or the setting sun will light up these grand old
ruins with a wild, strange beauty, reminding one of a city illuminated
in the night, when seen from some high point. The harder layers project
from the sides of the valley or canyon with such regularity that they
appear like seats, one above the other, of some vast amphitheater.

"It is at the foot of these apparent architectural remains that the
curious fossil treasures are found. In the oldest beds we find the teeth
and jaws of a Hyopotamus, a river-horse much like the hippopotamus,
which must have sported in his pride in the marshes that bordered this
lake. So, too, the Titanotherum, a gigantic pachyderm, was associated
with a species of hornless rhinoceros. These huge rhinoceroid animals
appear at first to have monopolized this entire region, and the plastic,
sticky clay of the lowest bed of this basin, in which the remains were
found, seems to have formed a suitable bottom of the lake in which these
thick-skinned monsters could wallow at pleasure."

Of the _fauna_ of the Niobrara and Loup Fork Valleys, he speaks as
follows: "In the later fauna were the remains of a number of species of
extinct camels, one of which was of the size of the Arabian camel, a
second about two-thirds as large. Not less interesting are the remains
of a great variety of forms of the horse family, one of which was about
as large as the ordinary domestic animal, and the smallest not more than
two or two and a half feet in height, with every intermediate grade in
size."


NEW MEXICO--ITS SOIL, CLIMATE, RESOURCES, ETC.

Bordering on what might be called the south-western corner of the
plains, or perhaps more properly forming, over its eastern half, part of
them, lies New Mexico. I find the following valuable description of the
soil, climate, and productions of this section in the report of Prof.
Cyrus Thomas:

"The best estimate I can make of the arable area of the Territory is
about as follows: In the Rio Grande district, one twentieth, or about
two thousand eight hundred square miles; in the strip along the western
border, one-fiftieth, or about six hundred square miles; in the
north-eastern triangle, watered by the Canadian River, one-fifteenth, or
about one thousand four hundred square miles. This calculation excludes
the 'Staked Plains,' and amounts in the aggregate to four thousand eight
hundred square miles, or nearly two million nine hundred thousand acres.
This, I am aware, is larger than any previous estimate that I have seen;
but when the country is penetrated by one or two railroads, and a more
enterprising agricultural population is introduced, the fact will soon
be developed that many portions now considered beyond the reach of
irrigation will be reclaimed. I do not found this estimate wholly upon
the observations made in the small portions I have visited, but, in
addition thereto, I have carefully examined the various reports made
upon special sections, and have obtained all the information I could
from intelligent persons who have resided in the Territory for a number
of years.

"As the Territory includes in its bounds some portions of the Rocky
Mountain range on which snow remains for a great part of the year, and
also a semi-tropical region along its southern boundary, there is, of
necessity, a wide difference in the extremes of temperature. But, with
the exception of the cold seasons of the higher lands at the north, it
is temperate and regular. The summer days in the lower valleys are quite
warm, but, as the dry atmosphere rapidly absorbs the perspiration of the
body, it prevents the debilitating effect experienced where the air is
heavier and more saturated with moisture. The nights are cool and
refreshing. The winters, except in the mountainous portions at the
north, are moderate, but the difference between the northern and
southern sections during this season is greater than during the summer.
The amount of snow that falls is light, and seldom remains on the ground
longer than a few hours. The rains principally fall during the months of
July, August, and September, but the annual amount is small, seldom
exceeding a few inches. When there are heavy snows in the mountains
during the winter, there will be good crops the following summer, the
supply of water being more abundant, and the quantity of sediment
carried down greater, than when the snows are light. Good crops appear
to come in cycles--three or four following in succession; then one or
two inferior ones.

"During the autumn months the wind is disagreeable in some places,
especially near the openings between high ridges, and at the termini of
or passes through mountain ranges. There is, perhaps, no healthier
section of country to be found in the United States than that embraced
in the boundaries of Colorado and New Mexico; in fact, I think I am
justified in saying that this area includes the healthiest portion of
the Union. Perhaps it is not improper for me to say that I have no
personal ends to serve in making this statement, not having one dollar
invested in either of these Territories in any way whatever; I make it
simply because I believe it to be true. Nor would I wish to be
understood as contrasting with other sections of the Rocky Mountain
region, only so far as these Territories have the advantage in
temperature. It is possible Arizona should be included, but, as I have
not visited it, I can not speak of it.

"There is no better place of resort for those suffering with pulmonary
complaints than here. It is time for the health-seekers of our country
to learn and appreciate the fact that within our own bounds are to be
found all the elements of health that can possibly be obtained by a tour
to the eastern continent, or any other part of the world; and that, in
addition to the invigorating air, is scenery as wild, grand, and varied
as any found amid the Alpine heights of Switzerland. And here, too, from
Middle Park to Los Vegas, is a succession of mineral and hot springs of
almost every character.

"The productions of New Mexico, as might be inferred from the variety of
its climate, are varied, but the staples will evidently be cattle,
sheep, wool, and wine, for which it seems to be peculiarly adapted. The
table-lands and mountain valleys are covered throughout with the
nutritious gramma and other grasses, which, on account of the dryness of
the soil, cure upon the ground, and afford an inexhaustible supply of
food for flocks and herds both summer and winter. The ease and
comparatively small cost with which they can be kept, the rapidity with
which they increase, and exemption from epidemic diseases, added to the
fact that winter-feeding is not required, must make the raising of stock
and wool-growing a prominent business of the country--the only serious
drawback at present being the fear of the hostile Indian tribes. But, as
these remarks apply equally well to all these districts, I will speak
farther in regard to this matter when I take up the subject of grazing
in this division.

"The cattle and sheep of this Territory are small, because no care seems
to be taken to improve the breed. San Miguel County appears to be the
great pasturing ground for sheep, large numbers being driven here from
other counties to graze. Don Romaldo Baca estimates that between five
hundred thousand and eight hundred thousand are annually pastured
here--about two-thirds of which are driven in from other sections. His
own flocks number between thirty thousand and forty thousand head; those
of his nephew twenty-five thousand to thirty thousand; Mr. Mariano
Trissarry, of Bernalillo County, owns about fifty-five thousand; and Mr.
Gallegos, of Santa Fé, nearly seventy thousand head.

"Don Romaldo Baca stated to me that his flocks yielded him an annual
average of about one and a half pounds of washed wool to the sheep; that
the average price of sheep was not more than two dollars per head; that
the wool paid all expenses, and left the increase, which is from fifty
to seventy-five per cent. per annum, as his profit. From these figures
some estimate may be formed of what improved sheep would yield.

"Wheat and oats grow throughout the Territory, but the former does not
yield as heavily in the southern as in the northern part. If any method
of watering the higher plateau is ever discovered, I think that it will
produce heavier crops of wheat than the Valley of the Rio Grande.

"Corn is raised from the Vermijo, on the east of the mountains, around
to the Culebra, on the inside; in fact, it is the principal crop of San
Miguel County, but the quality and yield is inferior to that which can
be produced in the Rio Grande Valley and along the Rio Bonito. The
southern portion of the Rio Pecos Valley and the Canadian bottoms are
probably the best portions of the Territory for this cereal.

"Apples will grow from the Taos Valley south, but peaches can not be
raised to any advantage north of Bernalillo, in the central section; but
it is likely they would do well along some of the tributaries and main
valley of the Canadian River. They also appear to grow well and produce
fruit without irrigation in the Zuñi country; and the valley of the
Mimbres is also adapted to their culture. Apricots and plums grow
wherever apples or peaches can be raised. I neglected to obtain any
information in regard to pears, but, judging from the similarity of soil
and climate here to that of Utah and California, where this fruit grows
to perfection, I suppose that in the central and southern portions it
would do well.

"The grape will probably be the chief, or at least the most profitable,
product of the soil. The soil and climate appear to be peculiarly
adapted for its growth, and the probability is that, as a grape-growing
and wine-producing section, it will be second only to California. From
Col. McClure I learned that the amount of wine made in 1867 was about
forty thousand gallons, and that the crop of 1869 would probably reach
one hundred thousand gallons. I have not been informed since whether his
estimate was verified or not. A good many vineyards were planted in
1869--at least double the number of 1868. Several Americans,
anticipating the building of a railroad through that section, have
engaged in this branch of agriculture. The wine that is made here is
said to be of an excellent quality.

"Beets here, as in Colorado, grow to an enormous size, and it is quite
likely that the sugar beet would not only yield heavy crops, but also
contain a large per cent. of saccharine matter. I am rather inclined to
believe that soil which is impregnated with alkaline matter will favor
the production of the saccharine principle. I base this opinion wholly
on observations made in Utah in regard to its effect on fruit; therefore
experiments may prove that I am wholly mistaken. It is possible the
experiment has been tried; if so, I am not aware of it.

"The Irish potatoes are inferior to those raised further north. Cabbages
grow large and fine. Onions from the Raton Mountains south have the
finest flavor of any I ever tasted, and therefore I am not surprised
that Lieut. Emory found the dishes at Bernalillo 'all dressed with the
everlasting onion.' But, as to the 'Chili,' or pepper, which is so
extensively raised and used in New Mexico, I beg to be excused, unless I
can have my throat lined with something less sensitive than nature's
coating. Sweet potatoes have been successfully tried in the vicinity of
Fort Sumner and along the head-waters of the Rio Bonito. Melons,
pumpkins, frijoles, etc., are raised in profusion in the lower valleys;
and I understand cotton was formerly grown in limited quantities.

"As a general thing, the mountains afford an abundance of pine for the
supply of lumber and fuel to those sufficiently near to them. Some of
the valleys have a limited amount of cottonwood growing along them. In
addition to pine, spruce and cottonwood, the stunted cedar and mesquit,
which is found over a large area, may be used for fuel. The best
timbered portion of the Rio Grande Valley is between Socorro and Doña
Aña. The east side of the Guadalupe range has an abundant supply of pine
of large size. Around the head-waters of the Pecos is some excellent
timber. Walnut and oak are found in a few spots south, but in limited
quantities, and of too small a size to be of much value."


THE DISAPPEARING BISON.

In connection with this general review of Buffalo Land, it is
interesting to note that while civilization, advancing from the east,
pushes our bison west, another tide of human beings, creeping out from
the mountains eastward, presses the buffalo back before it. The brute
multitude is thus between two advancing lines, which will soon crush it.
In confirmation of this, I find the following in Hayden's notes of the
country along the base of the Laramie Mountains:

"These broad, grassy plains are not yet entirely destitute of their
former inhabitants; flocks of antelope still feed on the rich,
nutritious grasses; but the buffalo, which once roamed here by
thousands, have disappeared forever. No trace of them is now left but
the old trails, which pass across the country in every direction, and
the bleached skulls which are scattered here and there over the ground.
These traces are fast passing away. The skulls are decaying rapidly, and
this once peculiar feature of the landscape in the West will be lost.
Two years ago I collected a large quantity of these bleached skulls and
distributed them to several of our museums, in order to insure their
preservation.

"There is also a singular ethnological fact connected with these skulls.
We shall observe that the greater part of them have the forehead broken
in for a space of three or four inches in diameter. Whenever an Indian
kills a buffalo, he fractures the skull with his tomahawk and extracts
the brains, which he devours in a raw state.

"Indians or old trappers traveling through the enemy's country always
fear to build a fire, lest the smoke attract the notice of the foe. The
consequence is that they have contracted the habit of eating certain
parts of an animal in an uncooked condition. I have estimated that six
men may make a full meal from a buffalo without lighting a fire. The
ribs on one side are taken out with a knife, and the concavity serves as
a dish. The brains are taken out of the skull, and the marrow from the
leg-bones, and the two are chopped together in the rib-dish. The liver
and lungs are eaten with a keen relish; also certain portions of the
intestines; and the blood supplies an excellent and nutritious drink.

"Both Indian and buffalo have probably disappeared forever from these
plains. Elk, black-tailed deer, red deer, mountain sheep, wolves, and
the smaller animals, are still quite abundant, especially in the valleys
of the small streams, where they flow down through the mountains. Elk
Mountain and Sheephead Mountain have always been noted localities for
these animals."


THE FISH WITH LEGS.

But while the buffalo has become extinct in that locality, an inhabitant
of the water may be preparing (query: in support of the theory of
development?) to take its place. I quote again from Hayden:

"There are other attractions here, of which the traveler will be
informed long before he reaches the locality. The 'fish with legs' are
the only inhabitants of the lake, and numbers of persons make it a
business to catch and sell them to travelers. During the summer season
they congregate in great numbers in the shallow water among the weeds
and grass near the shore, and can be easily caught; but in cold weather
they retire to the deeper portions of the lake, and are not seen again
until spring. These little animals are possessed of gills, and, were it
not for the legs, would most nearly resemble a miniature cat-fish. But
when warm weather comes, a form closely resembling them, but entirely
destitute of gills, may be seen in the water swimming, or creeping
clumsily about on land. Sometimes they travel long distances, and are
found in towns, near springs or wet places, usually one at a time, while
those with gills are never seen except in the alkaline lakes which are
so common all over the West."


THE MOUNTAIN SUPPLY OF LUMBER FOR THE PLAINS.

In connection with this (the western) border of the plains, it is
interesting to note what the same writer says, of a future supply of
lumber:

"Not only in the more lofty ranges, but also in the lower mountains, are
large forests of pine timber, which will eventually become of great
value to this country. Vast quantities of this pine, in the form of
railroad ties, are floated down the various streams to the Union Pacific
Railroad. One gentleman alone contracted for five hundred and fifty
thousand ties, all of which he floated down the stream from the
mountains along the southern side of the Laramie Plains. The Big and
Little Laramie, Rock Creek, and Medicine Bow River, with their branches,
were here literally filled with ties at one time; and I was informed
that, in the season of high water, they can be taken to the railroad
from the mountains, after being cut and placed in the water, at the rate
of from one to three cents each. These are important facts, inasmuch as
they show the ease with which these vast bodies of timber may be
brought to the plains below and converted into lumber, should future
settlement of the country demand it."

       *       *       *       *       *

"On the summits of these lofty mountains are some most beautiful, open
spots, without a tree, and covered with grass and flowers. After passing
through dense pine forests for nearly ten miles, we suddenly emerged
into one of these park-like areas. Just in the edge of the forest which
skirted it were banks of snow six feet deep, compact like a glacier, and
within a few feet were multitudes of flowers--and even the common
strawberry seemed to flourish. These mountains are full of little
streams of the purest water, and for six months of the year good
pasturage for stock could be found."


                            THE END.


Transcriber's note:

Variations in spelling and hyphenation have been retained. Obvious
printer errors have been silently corrected.

Page 341:  "What is the nature of these creatures thus left stranded..."
The word "is" was supplied by the transcriber.





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