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Title: Custer's Last Shot - or, The Boy Trailer of the Little Horn
Author: Travers, J. M.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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of the Digital Library@Villanova University


_Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883, by FRANK
TOUSEY, in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D.

_Entered at the Post Office at New York, N. Y., as Second Class Matter._

  No. 565.


  NEW YORK, July 11, 1883.           ISSUED EVERY WEDNESDAY.

  {  PRICE   }
  { 5 CENTS. }

  Vol. I




A Romance of the Terrible Ride to Death.



The subscription price for THE WIDE AWAKE LIBRARY for the year 1882
will be $2.50 per year; $1.25 per 6 months, post paid. Address FRANK
TOUSEY, PUBLISHER, 34 and 36 North Moore Street, New York. Box 2730.



The Boy Trailer of the Little Horn.


By Col. J. M. TRAVERS.





"Hold up yer hands thar, ye varmints. Ef his hair air gray I kin
swar this chile's hand air as steddy and his eye as sure az they war
twenty years ago. Bein' sich a heathen, I reckon ye don't know that
wine improves wid age; ther older it air, ther better, an' I s'pose
thar's a likeness between wine an' me, az ther feller sez. Keep them
hands steddy, my red cock-o'-the-walk. Now, I'm goin' ter caterkize ye
'cordin' ter my own style. Fust and foremost, who air ye?"

The buckskin-clad hunter held his long rifle nicely poised, and the
bead at the end was in a line with the object of his speech.

Under such peculiar circumstances the warrior (for his color proclaimed
him an Indian) could do no less than remain quiet, although from his
evident uneasiness it was plainly seen that he did so under protest.

Even in this sad predicament, the boasting qualities of his race seemed
to be predominant.

"Ugh!" he ejaculated, slapping his dusky chest vigorously, "me big
chief. Hunter must hear of Yellow Hawk. Big chief, great brave. Take
much scalps. Hab hunter's in little while. What name? ugh!"

The leather-clad ranger gave a laugh that was not all a laugh, insomuch
that it appeared to be a loud chuckle coming up from his boots.

His thin face was a little wrinkled, and the tuft of hair upon his chin
of the same iron-gray color as the scalp mentioned by the redskin;
but no one would be apt to judge, taking into consideration the man's
strength and stubborn endurance, that he was over seventy years of age.

Yet such was the actual fact; for some fifty years this ranger had
roamed the wild West from the frozen region of the polar seas to the
torrid climes of the Isthmus; and everywhere had his name been reckoned
a tower of honesty, strength and power.

Though probably few men had had half of his experience among the
redskins of the mountains and prairies, there was something so
charmingly fresh in the remark of his red acquaintance that made the
ranger more than smile.

"Purty good fur ye, Yaller Hawk. I won't furgit yer name, and by hokey
I reckon I'll plug ye yet, ef things keep on ther way they seem set on
going. Az ter my name, thet's another goose. I don't s'pose ye ever
hearn tell o' such a cuss az Pandy Ellis, now did ye?"

Again that queer chuckle, for the Indian had slunk back, his black eyes
fastened upon the ranger's face, with a sort of dazed expression.

It appeared as though Pandy was known to him by report, if not

"Ugh! Sharp shot! Heavy knife! Big chief! Ugh!"

"I reckon," returned the old ranger dryly.

Half a moment passed, during which neither of them spoke.

Pandy's grim features had resumed their usual aspect, and there was
actually a scowl upon his face as he gazed steadily at the redskin.

"Chief," said he at length, "fur I reckon I kin b'lieve ye that fur
an' say ye air a chief, I'm going ter ax ye sum questions, an' I want
square answers to every wun o' them. Fust o' all, what'd ye shoot at me
fur?" and Pandy glanced at his shoulder, where a little tear told where
the bullet had gone.

"Me see through bushes; tink was Blackfoot squaw. Ugh!"

"Yas, I reckon. Werry plausible, az ther feller sez, but two thin.
Wal, we'll let that pass, seein' az no harm war done. I forgive ye,
chief. Receive a benediction, my red brother. Let that lie pass ter yer
credit. Now, my painted scorpion, look me full in the eye. _What hez
Sitting Bull done wid my pard?_"

This was uttered in a slow, but emphatic tone.

The Indian either could not or would not understand; he shook his head.

Pandy took a step forward, and his rifle was again raised menacingly.

"Looky hyar, ye lump o' dough, I'm inquirin' respectin' Bolly Wherrit,
the big rover o' thar plains. White Thunder, do ye understand?"

Whether it was the hunter's threatening attitude that scared the
warrior, or that he suddenly realized what was meant, can never be made
manifest; certain it is he remembered just at this critical period.

"Ugh! mean White Thunder; him dead."

"Another lie. Now, redskin, how did he come ter die?" asked Pandy, who,
although not believing this assertion, began to feel uneasy.

"Wagh! eat too much. Dine with Sitting Bull. No hab good tings
afore; stuff full and burst. Run all ober. Ugh!" grunted this savage

"Thunder! thet air rich. How the ole man'll larf wen he hears it.
Allers prided himself on bein' a light feeder; eat az much az a bird,
him that I've seen git away wid a hull haunch o' venison while I war
chawin' the tongue. Now, Yaller Hawk, allow me ter say I don't believe
a word ye've sed; may be all is az true az Scripture, but I wouldn't
like ter swar ye. I'll tell ye what I think. Bolly air a prisoner in
yer camp. I tole him twar a fool's errand he started on, but a willing
man must hev his way, az the feller sez, so he started widout me. I'm
goin' into yer camp; tell Sitting Bull that I'll see him widin a week,
and listen, Yaller Hawk. Does ther eagle car fur its mate? will thar
she bar fight fur her cubs? Wal, I love Bolly Wherrit; he air my life,
all I care about livin' fur. Mark my words, redskin; if any harm comes
ter White Thunder, I swar Sitting Bull and his chiefs shall _go under_.
Do yer hear? Then don't fail to report. That's all; ye can retire now,
az ther cat sed when it had ther mouse by ther nape o' ther neck. Come,
git, absquatulate, vamose the ranche."

An Indian's code is "an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."

Yellow Hawk had attempted the ranger's life, and he expected the latter
to take his in just retaliation.

Therefore, he was not a little surprised at the words of his enemy, nor
did his amazement retard his progress.

A moment and he was beyond the range of vision, having vanished among
the trees.

Pandy Ellis, the trapper chief, was alone. He did not stay in his
exposed position long, however, knowing full well the treacherous
character of the foes he had to deal with, but plunging among the
undergrowth himself, in a direction almost opposite to the one taken by
the Indian, he made his way along, aiming for a certain spot.

This proved to be a small creek, on the further bank of which his horse
was tethered.

Crossing over, the ranger mounted and rode away. The animal he
bestrode was no mustang, but a tall, broad-breasted horse, capable
not only of carrying heavy burdens and making fast time, but also of
keeping up his pace.

Many years ago Pandy owned a quaint steed called Old Nancy, and in
memory of that faithful equine friend had this animal been named.

Reaching the prairie, the ranger dashed out upon the open space and
cantered along toward the north.

The grass was already high, and dotted here and there with beautiful
wild flowers, that seemed to make the scene one of enchantment.

His gray eyes swept both the horizon and the ground before him with
customary caution.

All at once the ranger brought Nancy to an abrupt halt, threw himself
from the saddle and bent down to examine tracks in the soft earth.

"Glory! kin I b'lieve my eyes? A hull army o' 'em, az I'm a sinner.
Ther report I heerd must be true then. My yallar-haired chief air on
the war-trail, and when Custer gits on ther rampage thar's blood on
ther moon."



The slanting rays of the rising sun fell upon an immense Indian
encampment that stretched for several miles along the left bank of the
Little Horn, and could hardly have been less than a mile in width.

Doubtless such a gathering of redmen had not taken place for many years.

In addition to the several lodges composing the village proper, scores
and even hundreds of temporary brush-wood shelters had been hastily
constructed, which significant fact went to show that this immense
assemblage of warriors, numbering very nearly three thousand, was a
gathering from different tribes.

That mischief was intended by these warlike Sioux could be presumed
from the fact of their being painted as for battle.

The sun had been shining for some time when two mounted Indians, coming
from the plains away beyond the distant range of hills, appeared almost
simultaneously on the high bluffs that lined the right bank of the

Dashing down the steep inclined plane they forded the Little Horn and
rode directly into the village.

One lodge, more conspicuous than its fellows, was situated near
the center of the place, and even an inexperienced eye might have
discovered in it the resting-place of a great chief, even though the
only conviction came from seeing the many sub-chiefs that hovered near

These two hard riders reached the lodge at nearly the same time, and
throwing themselves to the ground, left their sweltering horses to take
care of themselves, while they entered with that boldness the bearers
of exciting news generally possess.

Old Sitting Bull was busily engaged in an earnest confab with some half
dozen chiefs, and although he spoke only once in a while, his words
were listened to respectfully by the rest.

All eyes were turned upon the new-comers, and a hush fell upon the
assembly, for something seemed to tell them that great news was on the
tapis. Yellow Hawk, (for this discomfited chief was one of the hard
riders) managed to get in the first word, and when it was known that
the far-famed Pandy Ellis was in their immediate neighborhood, more
than one of these dusky braves felt his heart beat faster, for there
was a terrible meaning attached to the old ranger's honest name, for
all evil-doers.

When, however, the second courier spoke, a wild excitement seized upon
the chiefs.

Custer the hard fighter, the yellow-haired devil, whom they had always
feared, was charging along their trail and aiming for the village like
a thunderbolt, with his cavalry regiment at his back.

Indians are not accustomed to speaking their thoughts during times
of excitement, but the news loosened their tongues, and for several
moments a hubbub arose in the head chief's lodge.

In the midst of this several white men, garbed as Indians, but with
their faces painted, entered.

A moment only was needed to become acquainted with the state of
affairs, and then one of them, a squatty individual, who had long been
a pest to the border, under the name of Black Sculley, spoke a few
words in the ear of Sitting Bull.

Whatever he said does not concern my narrative, but it had its effect
upon the chief, who immediately became calm, and made a motion toward
one who stood at the entrance of the lodge as a sort of door-keeper.

This individual signaled the waiting chiefs outside, and in another
moment fully forty well-known leading Sioux were clustered together.

Indian councils from the time of Red Jacket and Tecumseh back to time
immemorial have been windy affairs, in which much eloquence and debate
was needed to settle that which had already been decided before the
argument commenced; for being natural born orators the red sons of the
plains and forest liked to hear their own voices.

In contrast with these, this council was very brief, only lasting about
five minutes.

This proved that their dealings with the whites had affected the

After the chiefs separated, there was a wild commotion in the immense

Horses neighed, dogs barked, men shouted, and the din was increased by
the thunder of hoofs as squad after squad of mounted braves, led by
their chiefs, dashed down to the river and forded it.

In a lodge not far removed from that of the great chief, a leather-clad
ranger lay, bound hand and foot.

It was Bolly Wherrit, the old-time chum and friend of Pandy Ellis.

He had been taken prisoner, fighting against overwhelming numbers, and
had lain here without food for over twenty-four hours.

What his fate would doubtless be the old ranger knew well enough, but
he had faced death too often to flinch now.

Something seemed to trouble him, however, for he occasionally gave vent
to a groan and rolled restlessly about.

"Cuss the thing," he muttered at length. "Bolly Wherrit, ye're
growing inter yer second childhood; thar's eggscitin' times comin'
off now, and hyar ye lie tied neck and heel. Didn't I hyar what them
infernal renegades talked 'bout jest then. Custer, my pet, a-comin',
tearin', whoopin' at this hyar town wid his cavalry. Lordy, won't the
yaller-har'd rooster clean 'em out; don't I know him though. Wonder ef
Major Burt air along. Why didn't I wait fur Pandy. T'ole man tole me
I'd get inter trouble, but consarn the luck, in course a woman's at the
head o' it. Cud I stand it wen that purty face, runnin' over wid tears,
war raised ter mine, an' she a pleadin'? No, sir, fool or not, I'd run
through fire fur a woman, 'cause I kain't never furget my mother. That
gal is in this hyar village. 'Cause why? Sumfin tells me so, and I've
hed that feeling afore. Beside, ain't ole Sittin' Bull hyar, and cudn't
I swar I heerd the voice o' that white devil she tole me about, Pedro
Sanchez she called him, right aside this lodge. Bolly Wherrit, thar's
no good talking, ef ye don't get outen this place in an hour, ye'll
never leave it alive, fur when Custer sails in he never backs out, and
the reds hev a failing fur braining their prisoners, 'specially men
folks. Now do ye set ter work, and show these red whalps that a border
man air sumpin like a bolt o' lightning."

From the manner in which Bolly set to work, it would be supposed that
he had been making efforts at freeing his arms for some time back, and
had only stopped to rest while holding this one-sided conversation with

Somehow or other he had found a piece of a broken bottle, and had been
sawing away at the cord securing his hands with this, one end being
thrust into the ground, and held upright in the proper position.

Although his wrists and hands were badly lacerated by this rough
method, the ranger possessed the grit to persevere.

Ten minutes after his soliloquy his hands separated. Bolly gave a
sigh of relief, held the bloody members up for inspection, and then,
without an instant's delay, seized upon the sharp-edged glass.

It had taken him hours to free his arms, as he was unable to see,
and his position, while working, exceedingly uncomfortable; the cord
securing his feet he severed in a few minutes.

Something like a chuckle escaped his lips as he stood upright. There
was a mighty stretching of those cramped and tired limbs, and then
Bolly was ready for business.

An ardent desire had seized upon him to take part in the attack which
brave Custer was sure to make.

Fastening the cords around his ankles in a way that looked very secure,
but which was treacherous, the ranger lay down upon the ground.

With his hand he quietly raised one of the skins composing the lodge
and peeped out.

The opening thus formed was not over a couple of inches in length, but
his keen eyes could see everything that was passing.

A grim smile lit up the ranger's features, as he saw the wild
excitement that reigned throughout the camp.

"Ther askeered o' Custer; they know him mighty well, but by thunder
they mean ter fight. It'll be the biggest Indian fight that this
country ever saw, bust my buttons now ef 'twon't. Bolly Wherrit, ye
must let t'other matter drop, and sail inter this, fur it'll be full o'
glory and death."

Alas! how the words of the old ranger came true has been made manifest
in a way that has caused the whole country to mourn.

Death was fated to ride triumphant in the ravine on the other shore;
this valley would see such a red slaughter as the annals of Indian
history have seldom presented.

Several hours passed on.

The warriors were too busy with other matters to even think of their
prisoner just then, much less visit his secure quarters, and so Bolly
was undisturbed.

Noon came and went.

The hot sun beat down upon the earth with great fury, but a gentle
breeze in the valley did much toward cooling the air on this fatal
twenty-fifth of June.

All at once the old trapper leaped wildly to his feet; this same light
wind had carried to his ear the distant but approaching crash of
firearms and the wild yells of opposing forces.

His frame quivered and seemed to swell with excitement.

"Yaller Har's at work. The best Indian fighter that ever lived hez
struck ile. Bolly Wherrit, now's the time fur yer chance at glory.
Whoop! hooray!"

With this shout the ranger burst out of the lodge like a thunderbolt,
and not even giving himself an instant's time for reflection, hurled
his body upon a guard who leaned idly against a post, listening to the
sounds of battle.



A column of mounted men wearing the national colors, and headed by a
group of officers, were making their way in a westerly direction. In
the advance rode a body of Crow Indians, and on either flank were the
scouts of the regiment--over seven hundred in all, and some of the most
gallant fighters on the plains.

Among that group of officers, every man of whom had honor attached to
his name, rode one who seemed conspicuous both for his bearing and
peculiar appearance. His form was rather slender, and indeed one might
call it womanly, but the face above, with its prominent features,
redeemed it from this characteristic. The features themselves might
be styled classic in their strange light, having a Danish look.
Surmounting this clearly cut face was the well-known yellow hair, worn
long on the neck.

Such was the gallant Custer. He had always been a dashing cavalry
leader, and with Crook and McKenzie rendered the Union efficient
service under General Sheridan during the late unpleasantness.

The morning was half over when the command was ordered to halt for two

One of these was that his scouts had brought word that the large Indian
village, whose presence in the vicinity had been strongly suspected,
was only a short distance ahead; the other that a single horseman was
sighted coming along their back trail at a furious gallop.

Custer had suspected this latter might be a bearer of dispatches from
his commander, General Terry, from whom he had separated at the mouth
of the Rosebud, the commander going up the river on the supply steamer
_Far West_, to ferry Gibbons' troops over the water.

When, however, the horseman came closer, it was discovered that he was
no blue coat, but a greasy leather-clad ranger. The individual rode
directly up to the officers, and his quick gray eye picking out Custer,
he extended a horny palm.

"Can I believe my eyes?" exclaimed the general; "gentlemen, let me make
you acquainted with my old friend, Pandy Ellis, the best Indian fighter
that ever raised a rifle, and one whom I am proud to shake hands with."

"Come, come, general, don't butter it too thick. Yer sarvint,
gentlemen. I'm on hand ter see ther fun, wich air all I keer 'bout.
Don't mind me no more than ef I warn't in these hyar diggin's,"
protested Pandy, modestly.

"We shall do no such thing, old friend. Colonel Cooke, we will now move
onward to the assault," and Custer touched his spurs to his steed.

A few notes from the trumpeters, and the regiment was again in motion.

Onward at a gallop went the troops.

The valley of the Little Horn was reached, and where the great trail
entered it, another halt was made.

Now the immense village was in sight: large bands of warriors made
their appearance on all sides, some of them mounted, others on foot.

That there was serious business before them every man in that regiment
saw by intuition; bloody work that would ring from one end of the land
to the other, and yet how few of them suspected in what a terrible way
it would end.

Custer was reckless; every military man has agreed upon that.

He possessed a willful trait in his character that at times showed
itself, and when the occasion presented, as it was fated to do before
this day was over, merged into an indomitable stubborn nature. This
one serious fault was generally hidden beneath his dashing spirit, and
it would be a difficult thing to have met a more social companion than
this hero of the last Indian war.

There was something wrong about him on this day when he committed his
fatal error.

United in a solid body, the regiment might have cut its way through the
Indian camp, and in the end come out victorious.

Custer either considered his force stronger than it really was, or else
underestimated the fighting powers of the enemy.

He was too confident, and, in order that the Indians should not escape,
ordered Major Reno, with three companies, to enter the valley where the
trail struck it.

The yellow-haired cavalry leader took five companies himself, numbering
over three hundred men, with the avowed intention of entering the
village some three miles further down.

Major Reno could offer no remonstrance to his superior officer,
although perhaps he may have felt that this plan was a most dangerous

His lips and those of his fellow officers were sealed by military
discipline. Not so, however, with Pandy Ellis.

He had gazed upon the tremendous Indian village as it could be seen
from their elevated position with something akin to amazement. Never
before in all its vast experience had the veteran ranger witnessed such
a gathering of redskins, and his usually smiling face clouded with

None knew the reckless, dashing nature of Custer better than Pandy, and
he heard the orders for a division of the regiment with dismay.

He even ventured to remonstrate with the general, but the latter turned
upon him fiercely, and, although his sudden anger suddenly cooled down
without a word being spoken, the look was enough to inform the ranger
that he was meddling with affairs in which he had no part.

All the censure of the rash act must fall upon one pair of shoulders,
where the glory also rests.

Pandy fell a little behind when the detachment struck off behind the
crest of the high bluffs marking the right bank of the Little Big
Horn. The old fellow had grown more cautious in his advancing years,
and although at one time, in his career, this daring assault would
have filled him with thoughts of glory, it now had an effect quite
the reverse. He could only deplore the fact that Custer would take
no warning, but persisted in riding directly into the jaws of death.
Duty seemed to stand out before the ranger, and dashing alongside the
general, he once more begged him to consider the situation. Something
was certainly wrong with the usually gentlemanly general.

"Old friend," said he, "if you fear for your own safety, there is
plenty of time to join Reno yonder. If for my welfare, I beg of you to
let the subject drop."

"General, if 'twar any other man az sed that, he shud never live ter
see another sunrise. Ye know Pandy Ellis better than that," said the
old man, reproachfully. Custer moved uneasily in his saddle.

"Forgive me, Ellis; I meant nothing. Some devilish humor seems to
possess me to-day, and I must let it out in fight. Besides, there is no

"No danger!" muttered Pandy, falling back again, "no danger. Cuss me
ef thet don't sound odd. Three hundred agin three thousand! Taint like
ther old days now; then reds war reds, but now az they've got rifles
and kin use 'em better than our men, ther devils. Lord forgive me, but
I must say that I never hearn o' sich a reckless thing. Pandy Ellis
air a goin' ter see it through, though, ef he does go under. Time's
'bout nigh up anyhow, might az well larf an' grow fat, az ther feller
sez. Don't think o' Bolly, but jist yell an' sail in. Hooray!" and the
ranger gave a subdued shout as the wild excitement seized upon him.

Major Reno was left behind with his three companies. Further to the
left, some two miles away, was Captain Belton with three more companies.

As Custer and his ill-fated three hundred rode gallantly away,
vanishing behind the crown of the bluffs, some of those who remained
may have entertained suspicions of the dreadful result that was soon
to follow, but no time was granted to realize what these conjectures
amounted to.

The Indians had gathered thickly on the opposite bank, and Major Reno
at once gave the word to go forward.

Fording the river in the midst of a fire so deadly that several saddles
were emptied, the soldiers reached the other shore. Once on _terra
firma_ they formed and then charged.

As the bugles rang out it was a glorious sight to see that compact body
of men dash forward like an avalanche, clearing the way before them as
if they were invincible.

Alas! that such a gallant charge should have been in vain.

Overwhelming numbers opposed the troops; the horses could not even move
forward, and, brave to the core, the men threw themselves to the ground
and fought on foot. It was a terrible struggle, but could not last long.

Finding that the number of the Indians was far more than had been even
imagined, and realizing that to continue the struggle would mean the
sacrifice of every man in the command, Major Reno reluctantly gave the
order to remount, and the three companies crossed the river again under
a harassing fire, sadly depleted in number.

Just then Captain Belton came up with his men, but seeing the madness
of attempting to assail the infuriated horde of red demons, savage at
their success and the sight of blood, he wisely retired, and joined
Reno, who had taken up a position on one of the bluffs back of the
river bank.



    "Cannon to the right of them,
      Cannon to the left of them,
    Cannon in the front of them,
      Volleyed and thundered.
    Onward through shot and shell,
      Into the mouth of hell,
    They who had fought so well,
      Rode the six hundred."
              --_Charge of the Light Brigade._

The Crimean war may have presented its phases of reckless daring to
the world, but I doubt if such a case as Custer's gallop to glory and
death has been paralleled since the days of Leonidas and his deathless
Spartans in the world-famed pass of Thermopylæ.

They literally rode to destruction, as may be seen when it is
officially stated that not one regular soldier in the whole command
lived through the battle.

After leaving the attack at the upper end of the village to Reno's
case, Custer and his men struck along the route selected, at as rapid a
pace as the nature of the ground permitted.

This line of travel was just beyond the crest of the high bluffs, and
no doubt the leading principle that actuated the general into selecting
it, was an idea that their movements might be concealed from the enemy.

In this, however, the project failed utterly, for great numbers of
Indian scouts had posted themselves on the crags and their rifles kept
up a continued musical refrain far from pleasant to the ears of the
devoted band, more than one of whom threw up his arms and fell from his
steed as the bitter lead cut home.

It was a dangerous ride, and yet in the face of this murderous fire
these valiant men rode on, turning neither to the right nor the left,
but keeping straight forward.

Now and then a trooper, exasperated beyond endurance by the fall of
some dear comrade, would discharge his carbine at the Indians who
showed themselves boldly on one side.

Owing to the rapid motion these shots were indifferently rewarded, only
a few of the most expert hitting the objects of their aim.

On ordinary occasions old Pandy Ellis would have been one of the first
to prove his markmanship, but something seemed to keep his attention
riveted in one direction, and amidst the storm of hissing bullets,
growing momentarily louder and more threatening, the prairie ranger
rode as calmly as if indeed there was no danger.

But if our old friend paid little attention to this deadly discharge
from all quarters, others made up for his lack of interest, and growls
of dissatisfaction arose on all sides; not at their leader, but because
it was almost impossible to return the fire of the enemy.

With his usual disregard for danger, Custer rode in the advance, where
his form was a prominent mark for all concealed sharp-shooters; but the
general, in spite of all, seemed to bear a charmed life.

He leaned forward in the saddle, and seemed to be scrutinizing
some point of land, toward which his attention had been drawn by
Bloody-Knife, one of his Crow scouts.

It was at this moment, after a gallop of nearly three miles after
leaving Major Reno, that Custer gave a start and uttered an exclamation
as a bullet grazed his flesh, making a slight but burning skin wound.

Aroused to action by this, his quick eye took in all the surroundings,
and immediately the order was given to change the route.

Passing over the crown of the bluffs, the cavalry rushed down toward
where the Little Big Horn ran noisily over its bed.

Indians seemed as thick as blackberries on a July day.

From every bush and rock they made their appearance, ugly-looking and
determined on mischief.

All the way down to the level bank of the river men kept dropping, and
with them horses, but in spite of it all the brave squad kept straight

Just at this moment a new form appeared among the blue coats.

Where he came from no one had the slightest idea, not even keen-eyed
Pandy himself.

The first the ranger knew of it, he saw some one mounted on a white
horse dash by him, and a boy dressed in the becoming suit of a hunter
drew rein beside the yellow-haired chief.

Custer turned his head for the first time since changing the course of
his troop, and his face expressed evident displeasure when he saw the

"Mason, boy, you here?" the officer ejaculated.

The young fellow did not seem to pay any heed to the dismay that was
plainly perceptible in the tones of the general.

"General," he almost shouted, putting out a hand to seize Custer's
bridle, but which was impatiently put away by him, "to go forward is
impossible. They are ten to your one."

"To retreat is also impossible, even if we wished it," said Custer,

It was indeed so; the command could never scale the bluffs again in the
face of those defending them.

Again the boy appealed.

"General, the whole river bank is a mass of reds. It is a trap, an
ambuscade. Turn back, or halt, if you value your life," he exclaimed.

Several of the officers were waiting for a reply; but Custer, firm and
brave to the last, did not hesitate in his course.

He realized that a terrible error had been committed in dividing his
troop; but he possessed the spirit to persist in his former plan,
hoping to come out all right in the end.

His fellow officers saw the lips pressed firmly together.

Then came the one word:


The foot of the bluffs was reached, and then the truth of the boy's
assertion became manifest.

Another moment, and the gallant command was completely surrounded by a
struggling, yelling mass of Indians, many of whom were mounted.

Then commenced the deadliest fight that has ever been known to take
place on the plains.

All the attendant noises of a great battle, cannon excepted, could be
found here.

The Sioux seemed crazy with both anger and delight; and many a poor
fellow, struggling hard in the midst of this sea of humanity, was
actually pulled from his horse into the arms of death.

There was no halt made at all.

The command kept compactly together, using their weapons as best they
could, but never thinking of retreating.

On, on, was the cry; forward, the shout.

Being prevented from fording the river by the overwhelming force,
Custer and his men rode along the shore.

Every second the number of opponents swelled, as those upon the heights
came down upon the scene of action; and still the little band went on,
trampling down and riding over those who would not get out of the way.

As a single man in a crowd is pushed hither and thither, like a feather
floating on the water and at the mercy of the wind, so Custer and his
command were drawn away from the river.

Everywhere was their trail marked by the dead, until it came to the

After leaving the water, the remnant of the gallant Seventh attempted
to make a break out of this infuriated mass, but the tide had set in
against them.

Five, ten minutes of this awful fighting, and then there came a time
when retreat was utterly out of the question, much as they might have
wished it. The Sioux had forced them into a ravine, and here was
enacted the closing scene of the bloody drama.

Custer saw the inevitable finale; hope of a rescue there could be none,
as Reno had received positive orders, and Terry and Crook were far away
in different directions.

In this ravine they must die, then.

"My God!" exclaimed Custer, "we are trapped like foxes. To stay here
means death. Forward, men, forward. Down with the hounds!"

Wounds counted as nothing at this dread moment; so long as a man could
keep his seat, he was in good luck; it was the death bullet that told.

"My Heavens! the general's shot!" shouted a soldier close to Pandy

Custer was reeling in his saddle; the film of death already showed
itself in those clear eyes, but bracing himself, he discharged his
revolver full in the face of Black Sculley, the renegade, who had given
him his death-wound.

The scoundrel rolled over with a curse; Custer's last shot had done its

As the general fell from his saddle he was caught in the arms of the
boy hunter, who had dismounted.

While the awful din raged around, and men were covering one another
with blood, the soul of as gallant an officer as ever drew sword passed
away to a better world.

Custer died at the head of his command.



Their valiant leader lying dead upon the ground, and men continually
dropping on all sides, the remnant of the officers saw that the game
was up. There was not one chance in a thousand for their escape, and
the only thing that was left to them was to fight to the last gasp,
to "pile the field with Moslem slain," and die as did Bowie and his
friends at the Alamo, with the bodies of their enemies forming a
breast-high bulwark around them.

"Down with the redfiends!"

It was brave Colonel Cook's last words, for hardly had he spoken before
a lance knocked the red sword from his hand. Eager hands seemed to
clutch at him on all sides, and in an instant he had disappeared, being
pulled down among that surging crowd of savage devils.

Colonel Custer fought like a Hercules, but nothing could avail against
such overwhelming numbers. In the confusion of the onslaught he had
accidentally become separated a little from the rest, and although this
may have hastened his death a trifle, in the end it made no difference.
This gallant man was the next officer to fall. His horse was shot under
him, and almost before he had reached the ground fate had overtaken him.

His comrade, Colonel Yates, uttered a heavy groan when Custer fell,
and as if yet hoping against hope, turned his eyes towards the bluffs
above. For once the brave man found himself wishing a fellow officer
would commit a breach of discipline, and disobey orders. If Reno came
up with the remaining seven companies they might be saved. Alas! the
major never came, for about this time he was industriously engaged in
defending himself against a horde of savage Sioux.

As moment after moment glided away, every spark of hope left the heart
of Yates, and clenching his teeth, he turned his full attention upon
the scene around him.

Indeed, it was enough to appall the stoutest heart to see that little
band of brave men hemmed in on all sides by a surging mass of red
demons, each one of whom seemed to feel the old desire for human blood
so characteristic of the Indian race.

It would have been a sight fit for a painter, and yet what artist
could do justice to the expression of mingled despair and courage that
showed itself upon each face in that noble little band?

Ah, me! It was a terrible, terrible half-hour. Men in that gallant
Seventh, who had been ordinary mortals before, now proved themselves
heroes, and fought like tigers at bay.

There is something fearful in the look of a man who has given up every
vestige of hope, and fights with that fierce courage born of despair;
one can never expect to see it elsewhere.

"Boys, we've got to die here. Close up and let every man take half a
dozen of these red fiends to eternity with him."

It was Captain Smith who yelled this out, and those who knew him best
can believe it of the officer.

This was not his first Indian fight.

He had faced death before, but never would again.

Bronzed, bearded faces grew paler than usual, and perhaps some hands
shook as the men thought of the loved ones at home.

God knows that they had cause to feel this weakness for a moment, when
they realized that never again should their eyes behold those dear
friends, and that this ravine in which they fought was doomed to be
their field of death.

"Keep your faces towards the foe!" shouted Colonel Yates, bravely, and
to himself he muttered the anxious prayer that could never be answered:

"Oh, heavens! that Crook was here, or Andy Burt and the Ninth."

But Crook and Gallant Major Burt were far away.

The Indians, incited by their chiefs, now prepared for a grand final

Mr. Read, who had accompanied the expedition, was down; Colonel Keogh
had vanished a long time before, and just at this critical juncture
Captain Smith threw up his arms, and after reeling for an instant in
his saddle, slipped to the ground.

Yates saw that the closing scene was at hand.

"Close up, men, close up! For God's sake, let every man keep his face
towards them! The old Seventh will become famous!" he exclaimed.

Yes, indeed, famous at the dear cost of the utter extermination of
almost half its number.

A yell, such as might have made the earth tremble, and the whole mass
of warriors, mounted and on foot, came against the solid little phalanx
like an avalanche.

Had the rush been from one quarter alone, the remnant of cavalry would
have been swept out of existence like a flash, scattered here and there
among their enemies; but as the press came from all sides at once, it
only served to crush them closer together.

In union there is always strength.

Had the hundred cavalrymen now left been divided into small groups,
they would have been all killed before ten minutes had passed by, but
in a solid body they could resist for over half an hour.

Pandy Ellis was in the thick of it.

His blood was thoroughly aroused, and I doubt if any man in that
ill-fated command killed half as many red-skins as did this gray-haired

When his rifle and pistols were empty, he slung the former to his back
very coolly, and then, drawing the huge bowie-knife that had given him
the name of Heavy Knife, he sailed in to conquer or die. Experienced in
these matters, he had foreseen such a catastrophe, although even his
vivid imagination had failed to paint such a serious calamity.

Pandy had expected to be forced into a retreat, but such a thing as
having the whole command utterly annihilated never entered his head,
until they were pushed into the ravine trap.

Even when he was fighting in the midst of the red-skins, a thought of
the strange boy who had so suddenly disappeared among them, entered his

Custer had called him Mason, and seemed to feel some affection for him.

Pandy's eyes soon fell upon him. He had the general's revolver in
his hand, and was seated on his horse, engaged in emptying it with
commendable precision, making every shot tell.

When the ranger looked again, a few moments later, the boy had

"Poor feller, he's done fur; an' yet it'll likely be ther fate o' us
all," muttered Pandy, as he drove his keen blade home in the broad
breast of a brave.

At such a dread time as this the eye of a participant could not take in
the entire scene.

All that Pandy was sure of after Cooke fell pierced by many wounds, was
that every member of that heroic band fought as if the strength and
endurance of a dozen men was in his body.

For every blue-coat who fell, at least two Indians bit the dust.

Although the fight had grown more silent, now that nearly all the
firearms were discharged, it was none the less deadly on that account.

Sabers, red with human gore, were flashed in the sun's bright rays, and
urged to their deadly work by arms that seemed iron in their endurance.

Lances, tomahawks and keen knives opposed them, and now and then a
rifle added its weight to the side of the Indians.

On each occasion, some poor fellow would totter in his saddle, and
finding himself going, show the spirit that imbued his nature by making
a last sweeping blow at the enemy who held such a tight grip on them

It was horrible to see how that devoted little band continually
diminished in numbers.

There were hardly forty left now, and in ten minutes these had become
less than twenty. The end was near at hand.

Yates still lived, although the only commissioned officer.

His face was very white, and streaked with blood, so that old Pandy,
still fighting like a hero, hardly recognized the man who touched his

"Old friend, try to escape and carry the news to Crook and Reno. If you
succeed, tell them to let my folks know how I died, and that my last
were of them. The old seventh has made a record that----"

It was never finished; the fatal bullet came, and as brave a man as
ever presented his face to the foe succumbed to the inevitable.

Pandy seemed to hesitate an instant, then his powder-begrimed face lit

"I'll do it, bust my buttons. Might az wal die tryin' it az hyar.
Good-bye, boys; I'm in fur death, or ter carry ther news ter Crook.
Nancy, away wid ye," and the knife point sent the animal bounding among
the Indians.

Ten minutes later and all was over. The ravine looked like a
slaughter-pen in the daylight, and even when the Sioux, glutted with
blood, searched among the heaps of slain for any who might live, the
sun sank out of sight as if ashamed to look upon such a horrid scene,
and a merciful darkness hurried to close over the ravine of death.



When Bolly Wherrit threw himself upon the guard at his prison lodge, he
was without a single weapon.

Besides this his hands and wrists were considerably lacerated by the
cruel glass that had been the means of his gaining freedom, but he had
no doubt regarding his ability to overcome the fellow, especially as he
had the advantage of a surprise.

Finding himself so suddenly seized by the throat, the guard turned like
a flash and attempted to use his arm, thinking to get the hunter in a
bear's clasp, and then hold him till assistance came.

He counted without his host, however, as many folks are in the habit of

Raised in the school of nature, very nearly the whole of his life
being spent upon the plains in active warfare with the savage denizens
thereof, it was not likely that Bolly would in his declining years lose
the prompt discretion and agility that had marked his whole checkered

Perhaps that Indian thought a thunderbolt had seized hold of him, that
is, if he took time to think at all, which is rather questionable, and
in truth he would not have been far from the truth.

The way in which Bolly shook him by means of the hold upon his throat
would have reminded one of a terrier and a rat.

So violent was the motion that the unlucky fellow's head was in danger
of coming off, and when Bolly in the end dashed his clenched fist full
in the red face, it ended the matter, for when he released his clasp
the man dropped to the ground perfectly insensible.

To stoop over the fallen brave and transfer the fellow's weapon to his
own person, was, for the ranger, but the work of a moment.

Quite a fine-looking rifle, of a modern pattern, a long, ugly-looking
knife, a revolver and some ammunition were thus appropriated without
compunction, for Bolly believed in the adage that "to the victor belong
the spoils." Besides, had not this man or his friends made themselves
owners of his articles of warfare without saying so much as "by your

There were very few men left in the village; for one to remain idle
when such deadly work was in progress at two separate points would have
been a decided disgrace.

A dozen cavalrymen dashing in at the northern and western end of the
village could have carried everything before them.

Not forty yards away from the prison lodge, some ten or twelve warriors
were clustered, being wounded braves unable to take part in the great

So interested were these worthies in what was passing before their eyes
(for, standing on a little elevation, they could see the fight with
Reno now drawing to an end, and the gallop to death of brave Custer
and his men), that the little episode in their rear did not serve to
attract their attention.

It was only when the ranger arose to his feet, after arming himself
by means of the late guard's weapons, that one of the wounded
braves happened to catch sight of him, and, giving the alarm to his
companions, the whole of them started forward with a yell.

If they were to be deprived of a share in both of the fierce battles,
why could they not get up a little affair of their own, a private
entertainment, so to speak, whereby each individual participant on
their side might share the excitement.

Unfortunately for them Bolly Wherrit proved too willing, and then again
he wanted all the fun on his side of the house.

"Now fur sumpin rich. Calculate I kin wipe out them reds like a chalk
mark. Old bruiser in front thar, take keer o' yerself."

The rifle proved to be a good one in the right hands, for as the report
sounded, one of the approaching braves sprang wildly forward with a
convulsive drawing up of the legs, and was met half way by death.

Then the revolver commenced its fearful work.

As man after man lay down never to rise again, Bolly burst out into a
wild, reckless laugh.

When the chambers were empty, only four men stood erect, and they
looked as if they wished themselves anywhere but in their present

Nothing daunted by the force of numbers, Bolly sprang towards them,
holding his empty rifle in one hand and the long knife in the other.

Some stern duty appeared to call these four brave fellows in as many
different directions, just then; at any rate they did not wait for the
arrival of White Thunder, but dashed wildly away, forgetful alike of
their wounded dignity, and their late dignified wounds. A shout from
the old hunter caused them to expedite matters, and Bolly laughed at
the ludicrous figures they cut.

A shrill neigh close by caused him to start. It was a well-remembered
sound, and the hunter quickly turned his face in the direction from
whence it came.

A horse, saddled and bridled, was fastened to a stake driven into the
ground in front of a tent, and Bolly saw that it was his own lost
steed. The animal had recognized its master, and had given token of its
love for him.

With a few bounds Bolly was at the side of Black Bess.

As his hand fell caressingly upon the noble mare's mane, the skin
serving as a door to the lodge was swept suddenly aside, and the next
instant Bolly found himself face to face with Blue Horse, a noted
chief, and an old enemy of his.

What this individual was doing in his lodge while his comrades fought
and bled will, perhaps, never be known, and does not really affect the
course of my narrative.

All that I wish to be positive about is the fact that he was there, and
that for almost fully sixty seconds the foes glared at each other.

"Ugh! White Thunder! Blue Horse no forget ears," grunted the chief, as
he put his hand to his belt and drew a revolver.

"Remember that ole scrimmage, eh, chief? Wal, I reckon I cud give ye
another leetle reminder o' this happy occasion, seein' that yer is so
partic'lar 'bout it," and the ranger laughed in the Indian's face.

Blue Horse angrily raised his weapon, but considerately refrained from
firing. The reason of this clemency on his part was obvious.

Bolly held his empty revolver in his hand, and this had been thrown
with tremendous force against the chief's head, which, not being made
of iron, gave way, and the Sioux nation had to mourn the loss of
another leader.

Bolly secured the revolver of Blue Horse, and was thinking of searching
the village from one end to the other in order to accomplish the
strange mission that had brought him to this part of the country, when
a chorus of angry yells attracted his attention.

Upon investigation these were found to proceed from a score of mounted
red men who were dashing along towards him, having evidently been
attracted by the cries of the four wounded warriors, who had fled after
their little private amusement.

"Plague take the luck, I must git. Sich a good chance thrown away. Now,
ye kin bet high on't, Bolly Wherrit's goin' ter have his own rifle back
agin, an' resky that gal mighty soon. Whoa, Bess, whoa, old girl. Have
they been treatin' ye bad? Away now, an' make the dust fly!"

Faithful Black Bess needed no second invitation, but darted away like
an arrow shot from the bow, with Bolly swinging his rifle in the air,
and shouting defiance to those who followed after.

His first thought was to make for the river and join the combatants
on the other shore, but upon glancing across, such a mass of surging
humanity met his gaze that Bolly was actually appalled. Besides, his
pursuers were between himself and the water having come from that

"Tarnal death! but it looks hot over thar. Reckon it must be Custer,
for I swar no other man wud do sich a dare-devil thing. Ef they get
outer thet hole, then I'll guv the general credit fur a heap o'
smartness. Oh! yer imps o' Satan. 'Spect ter ketch me, hey? Wal, now
we'll see what the hoss has ter say 'bout thet," muttered Bolly.

Actions often speak louder than words; if Black Bess could not talk,
she certainly showed what she thought of the case by making a streak
that promised to carry the ranger out of sight very shortly.

The last the score of Sioux saw of him he was waving his old hat in an
affectionate farewell, and the exuberant shouts he gave utterance to
came faintly across the level ground.

Bolly made at once for the hills, which he reached in a short time.
Here we will leave the brave old ranger for a time, hatching up daring
plans to carry out his singular mission, and return once more to that
ravine of death where Custer and the last of his command fell beneath
the fury of the Sioux and their renegade friends.



Night had closed over the scene of the terrible battle, but the
darkness was not intense, as the stars shone out with unusual
brilliancy, and the silver crescent of a new moon in the western sky
lent its feeble aid.

The cold stars looked down upon a fearful sight; such an one as has not
been seen in this fair land for many a year.

Hundreds of men and horses lying dead in that fatal ravine, and a trail
of bodies leading almost in a circle, down to the river and then up the

Valiant men lay here: heroes whose names shall ever be mentioned with
proud honor by their surviving comrades; and yet what a price they paid
for that worthless commodity to the dead--immortality.

Across the Little Horn could be heard the noises of a great camp, and
once in a while the breeze bore the distant crack of firearms.

These last came from several miles to the south, where Major Reno had
intrenched his command on the bluffs, and from hastily-constructed
rifle-pits fought the enemy, who had posted themselves on the
neighboring heights, where they could control his position.

Shadowy figures glided hither and thither over the field of battle, for
that it was a battle, though a very uneven one, I do affirm, in spite
of the constant appellation of massacre indulged in by the newspaper

The very word massacre brings to mind the idea of a wholesale butchery
of helpless people. Historians are prone to be partial in its use.

We always find the affair termed a massacre when the Indians are
victorious; but when the tables are turned it is "a splendid campaign,"
"a hard-fought battle," and "a glorious victory for the troops."

If the word massacre does not mean a one-sided butchery, then every
world's battle has been such.

As to Custer's particular case, did he not move forward with the
intention of attacking the village, and though every man fell, did they
not slay at least their own number of redskins? Then this proves the
affair a battle and not a massacre.

Having carried my point, I beg pardon for the digression.

These shadowy figures gliding over the scene of death were robbers of
the slain, and having no compunctions of conscience, if a coveted ring
refused to come off, the finger was at once severed in order to obtain
the bauble.

Noble Custer and most of his officers lay close together, just as they
had fallen.

Near by was a heap of slain, which included troopers, Sioux and horses.

One of the robbers of the dead approached this pile, and began pulling
the bodies about in a promiscuous manner, his eyes busily engaged
searching for plunder.

Under this pile a form lay, which, as the heavenly lights fell upon it,
revealed the features of the boy who had been beside General Custer
when he fell.

Something gleamed from the little finger of his left hand, and as this
sparkled in the light of the moon, the prowler uttered a delighted
exclamation that at once proved him to be a white man.

Seizing hold of the hand, he at once attempted to pull the diamond
solitaire ring off, but this proving fruitless, he felt for his knife.

Just as this was drawn, his hand was tightly clutched by the one he

The truth of the matter was, that the boy had been rendered insensible
by being struck with a bullet, that glanced from his forehead without
breaking the bone.

Others, killed later in the desperate struggle, had fallen upon him,
and here for several hours he lay at the door of death.

When the heap that pressed upon him had been removed by the robber,
the fresh air served to partially revive him, and the twisting of his
finger by the desperado finished the business.

Mason, as I shall call my boy hero, for Custer had given him that name
when addressing him, opened his eyes.

By the dim light of the stars and the new moon combined, he saw the
figure of a man kneeling over him.

That it was a white man was evident from his clothes and hat, and also
the bushy beard.

A pair of fine cavalry boots, stolen from some unfortunate officer,
were slung across his shoulders, and he seemed burdened down with all
sorts of plunder.

Mason waited to see no more.

The wrenching at his finger ceased, the man uttered a curse, and began
to draw his knife.

Then the whole horrible truth burst upon the boy's mind.

Under the impulse of the moment he tightened his clasp, and actually
pulled himself to his feet by means of the renegade, and after this had
been accomplished, released his hold.

The matter did not rest here.

Amazed at having the dead come to life in such an unexpected manner, as
it seemed, the renegade uttered a cry and started back.

Custer's revolver was still held in the boy's right hand, just as it
had been when he had fallen to the earth.

Whether a single load remained or not he could not tell, but quickly
pulling up the hammer he raised the weapon.

When the robber of the dead, base craven that he was, saw this
movement, he flung out his hands in an involuntary appeal for mercy,
but the boy, after passing through such a bitter, bloody experience,
could feel no pity for such as he.

The hammer fell, the crack came, and the bullet did its mission of
retributive justice.

"My God! I'm done for. Curses on the young hound," half howled the
renegade, reeling wildly in the effort to keep his feet, and at length
plunging to the ground, where he lay covered with plunder, waiting for
some other robber to relieve him as he had despoiled others.

Mason sank to the ground immediately, and it was not until several
moments had passed by that he ventured to raise his head and look

Not an object was stirring near him.

If the marauders of the dead had noticed the shot at all, they had
taken it for granted that it was fired by one of their number at a
wounded cavalryman, and the shout given by the victim of the bullet
went far to corroborate this idea.

As he looked, Mason saw one of those shadowy forms skulking about and
bending over the dead.

Fearful lest he should meet with one such and be murdered for want of
weapons, he crawled over to where the renegade lay and secured his

Not content with this, he quietly proceeded to reload the empty
chambers of the one he had taken from the holsters of Custer's saddle.

When this was done, he felt content, and arose to his feet.

Although he could see in the immediate vicinity, all appeared dark and
gloomy a hundred yards away, and the bluffs could only be distinguished
because they were outlined against the star-bedecked sky after the
manner of a silhouette.

Which way to go was a puzzler.

Beyond the ravine he could hear the murmur of the river, and knew that
on the other shore was the camp of the Sioux.

Once clear of this slaughter-pen and his ideas would flow more
naturally, for it was impossible to think calmly while the mutilated
bodies of friends lay around on every side.

To say a thing was to do it with Custer's boy friend.

He seemed to know that the general must be near by, and was led
instinctively to his body.

A horse had fallen upon Custer's lower limbs, but the heavy weight had
given him no pain, for he had been beyond that when the animal was shot.

I cannot positively say that the tears came from the boy's eyes, as
some of my readers might deem that an unmanly proceeding, though God
knows the poor fellow had cause enough to weep, with his best and only
friend lying dead before him.

That he lifted the general's cold hand and kissed it repeatedly, while
murmuring a farewell, I can and do affirm.

A moment more and he was stealthily making his way along the ravine,
heading toward the river.

A vague notion that a horse was necessary to his future movements had
intruded itself upon his brain, and although his plan of obtaining one
was as yet illy defined, it constantly gained ground.

Once a dark form suddenly rose up in front of him, but the greasy
Indian got no further than the drawing of his knife, when Mason's
revolver sounded his death note, and without even a groan he sank
beside the dead man whom he had been in the act of despoiling when
disturbed by the boy's approach.

Avoiding all others whom he saw, Mason soon left the ravine behind
him, and passing over the intervening ground, where a few bodies were
scattered promiscuously about, he stood upon the river bank.

There was something soothing in the steady hum of the water which
appeared to steady the boy's disturbed mind, and for almost half an
hour he stood leaning against a tree that bent over the river, and
engaged in dreamy fancies.

He had almost forgotten his notion of getting a remount in place of the
one lost during the bloody skirmish.

Sad thoughts had crowded into his mind.

Of all that gallant band, was he the only survivor?

It seemed so, indeed; but Mason did not know of the supreme effort made
by old Pandy Ellis, the prince of bordermen.

The boy's reverie was becoming almost unbearable, when it was disturbed
by what appeared to be the flash of a paddle further up the stream.



Valliant old Pandy Ellis, the veteran ranger of the prairies, was not
the man to give up hope easily. He had been in many a tight scrape
before, and had kept a bright face when the best of men might have
given up in despair.

But there was something so fearful in the horrible struggle, where
human efforts however strong seemed puny as an infant's, that the
ranger might well be pardoned for shutting his teeth grimly and
resolving to die hard.

There were actually tears in his eyes as he gave one last glance back
at that sadly depleted little band, where noble Yates still shouted out
encouraging words, and wielded his bloody sword with an untiring arm.

It was the last ever seen of this detachment of the gallant Seventh
alive; and although the old ranger were to live his whole life over
again, he could never forget that scene.

His hands were fully occupied in defending his person against the many
weapons raised against it.

During the next five minutes Pandy had the hottest little scrimmage
that ever fell to his lot.

On every side nothing met his eye but a mass of red faces, bearing the
most devilish looks he could imagine, and the owners of which were
trying their best to stab or shoot the rider.

Boldly he plunged into the thick of them.

Nancy trampled many under her feet, and bore her inevitable wounds
with the air of a martyr, than which she could not well do otherwise,
belonging as she did to such a renowned hero.

Guns cracked about him, bullets whistled close to his head, and cut
into his flesh; lances, knives and tomahawks were thrust up at him with
vengeful intent, and yet this veteran urged his horse forward, armed
only with a knife as a serviceable weapon, with which he seemed to keep
himself surrounded by a wall of steel through which it was next to
impossible to force a passage.

How many men he and his horse killed between them during that five
minutes' fearful ride, Pandy could not even guess after it was over,
for his mind was in a whirl, and he did mechanically the work that was
needed, just as a set machine might have done; but it must certainly
have been dozens.

Some men might have deemed it impossible to force a way on horseback
through that mass of excited redskins. Colonel Yates had deemed it so,
but to Pandy nothing was accepted as beyond the power to do, until an
attempt had been made, and Yates' last words to him proved that the
officer must have either placed more confidence in the ranger's dash
than his own, or else had resolved to die with his brave boys at any

It was over at last, this brief but exciting ride of the prairie man's,
encompassed on all quarters by death.

As horse and rider burst out of that maddened throng as a strong
swimmer buffets the billows of the mighty deep, Pandy drew a long

Not that the danger was over by any means. Here were dozens of Sioux
braves outside of the _melee_, and these seeing an enemy emerge from
the mass of struggling combatants, made a rush at him. Pandy uttered
a taunting laugh and dashed away like a bird, for although Nancy was
breathing hard from her exertions, she was equal to what the occasion

The ranger after clearing about a third of a mile, turned to one side
and rode up a pass that led to the other side of the bluffs.

Reaching the crest, he passed along until almost even with the ravine
of death. Then he paused for a last glimpse. Alas! all was over.

Yates too had fallen, and not one of his men could be seen alive; all
that was visible seemed to be a sea of red men rushing pell-mell over
the battle-field.

Old Pandy was visibly affected.

"God help me! I never seen such a thing in my life. The hull crowd
wiped out az clean az a whistle. What's goin' ter become o' us all at
this hyar rate. Custer, Cooke, Yates, Keogh, all gone. Bust my buttons
ef these reds ain't woke up wid sum o' ther old fire. My hate fur 'em
war dyin' out, but it only needed this ter kindle it wus nor ever. I'll
have revenge for this day's work; Custer shall never lie in his grave
without satisfaction; an' ef ther pesky Government won't take it in
hand, dash me, Bolly Wherrit's ther chap ter stick by me. We'll go on
ther war path, an' by ther heavens above, if Sitting Bull don't pay
dear fur this, then it's because two ole trappers will hev gone under.
Tarnal Snakes an' critters! but it makes me tearin' mad. I must let out
my spleen or bust; jist a parting card afore I go, ter let 'em know
what's comin' in ther future."

It took but a couple of moments to load his rifle and revolvers.

His presence was not even suspected until the gun sent its clear
detonation echoing over the hills.

A commotion was visible among the crowd below, and cries of pain
reached the ranger's ear that were sweet music to him just then.

Without wasting any more time, he emptied all the chambers of his
revolver, and then turning his horse's head, gave a loud hurrah, and
vanished from view, feeling a hundred per cent. better after making a
start in what he was pleased to term his death roll.

Some thirty yards below the crest of the bluffs, the way was easily
traveled, and what few difficulties presented themselves were speedily
overcome by such an enterprising individual as the ranger.

In a short time Pandy came to Custer's back trail.

It was quite deserted now, save by the dead, for after the cavalry
had passed, the Indians followed after in order to have a hand in the
battle which they knew would take place when the troops attempted to
storm the village.

The crags that had so lately echoed with the cracks of Indian rifles as
their owners lay in ambush, were silent now, and as Pandy rode along
he could not help thinking how different it would have all been, had
headstrong Custer cast aside his willful mood, and listened to the
advice of one who had his best interest at heart.

It was while in this contemplative mood that Pandy suddenly became
aware of the fact that a body of Indians were dodging about and among
the rocks in front of him.

To retreat was almost impossible, as he would doubtless receive a
bullet in the back.

Making what might be termed the best of a bad bargain, Pandy took the
bridle between his teeth, and holding a revolver in each hand, urged
Nancy forward at a gallop.

There was something in the manner of this undaunted man's facing death
again after his recent escape and great exertions, that would have
enlisted the admiration of even an enemy.

As he advanced, the redskins vanished altogether, and Pandy was
beginning to believe they had gone altogether, when he heard a
singular but well-known whoop that made him draw rein with an
exclamation of surprise.

At the same instant a tall Indian stepped into view from behind a
bowlder and advanced boldly toward the ranger.

The latter seemed to recognize him, for a smile illuminated his bronzed
and blood-stained countenance.

It was Eagle Eye, the Crow chief, whose hand Pandy pressed so warmly.

The Crow scouts of the expedition were some of his braves, but the
chief had missed seeing the ranger before.

They were old friends, having hunted and trapped together a whole
season several years before.

"Brother been in the big fight; much hurt?" said the chief, looking
with dismay at the ranger's many wounds, which he seemed to regard as
so many scratches, although some of them were very serious.

"Yes, I war thar, chief, an' 'twar ther hottest time o' my life. Did ye
see it?"

"We reached the hilltop too late to take part. Custer gone up and all
his men? Ugh! it was a heap big fight. How brother get away?"

"Wal, ye see," said Pandy, tying a rag over one of his worst wounds,
and sitting with one leg over the saddle, "we war jist about goin'
under, an' I'd 'cluded not to survive the boys, when Yates asked me
ter make an attempt ter git away ter carry the news ter Mary, az ther
feller sez, so I done it. Kin tell ye more about it another time,
chief. Just now I want ter git ye ter do sumpin important. Know where
Terry air?"

The chief pointed in the direction whence lay the distant Yellowstone,
as Pandy well knew, and the ranger beamed his satisfaction.

"I reckon ye're correct, chief. Now, what I want is that ye send a
couple o' yer men ter tell the gineral this sad news, an' git him ter
hurry on hyar, fur I heerd firing down below, an' ef Reno hain't met
Custer's fate he's in a bad fix anyhow. I intend ter jine him wharever
he may be an' stand ther consequences. Chief, I'm off. Remember I
depend on ye," and waving his hand toward his red friend, Pandy Ellis
disappeared in the growing shadow that told of the coming night.



Mason, General Custer's boy friend, leaned forward still more, relying
on the hold he had upon the tree bending over the water, when that
unmistakable sound, the dip of a paddle, reached his ears.

Underneath him the water of the Little Horn gurgled and plashed among
the stones jutting out from the bank; close by a melancholy owl tried
to make night hideous with its solemn declarations of warning, and once
in a while the barking of dogs in the great village could be heard; but
to these usual noises the boy paid little heed, as he had heard them
for some time past.

The silver crescent still held forth in the western sky, and its meager
light, augmented by the united force of stars, proved sufficient to see
the opposite shore of the river, which at this point was rather narrow.

Could the boy's mental faculties have given him warning that it was not
a common foe he was about to see?

There have been many occasions when persons of fine perceptions and
susceptibility have realized, seemingly by tuition alone, that those
whom they bear no love for are in the vicinity.

With some people this delicate sense of knowing what even the eyes and
ears fail to tell becomes an art.

Many a deaf and blind man can tell, even the instant he enters the
room, whether it be occupied or not, no matter how quiet those within
may render themselves.

I only state this to defend my position when saying that young Mason
appeared to suspect that a foe of more than common caliber was

Of course one cannot be positive as to what he thought, but at any rate
the boy leaned out further than ever, and was fully engrossed in the
steady but light dip of the paddle.

Whoever this night traveler was, his movements proclaimed him to be a
man habitually addicted to caution.

This the boy quickly discovered, for although the canoe was undoubtedly
approaching him, yet the steady dips of the paddle seemed to grow
fainter if possible, or at least no louder.

Soon, by judging from the sounds he was enabled to place the exact
position of the descending canoe, and a few seconds later a moving
object crossed his range of vision.

That this was a boat, and that this craft contained but one person,
soon became manifest as it drew nearer the concealed watcher.

The man stood erect near the stern, and held lightly poised in one hand
the long paddle he had just been using.

Even in the dim light one would think an ancient giant, or at least a
modern pocket edition of the famous Goliath whom David, the shepherd
boy, slew with a stone, had appeared.

The colossal proportions reared themselves at least seven feet high,
and being bulky in proportion the man presented a formidable aspect,
such as would at sight appall a common foe.

Mason uttered a low exclamation and gave a companion start of surprise
when the figure loomed into view; but after this one indication of his
feelings he remained as motionless as a form of bronze.

There was no mistaking that person whom he was now looking upon; even a
casual glance would have been sufficient to impress the face and figure
indelibly on any mind, and surely the eyes of hate are more susceptible
of retaining an object they dislike than others.

Hate was a feeble word when used in connection with the feeling our
boy friend entertained towards this giant in the canoe, and if there
was a word that combined fierce detestation, aversion, and a bitter
longing to hack a man to pieces, together with a trifle of respect for
his prowess, I should use it; but every one knows how weak the English
language is in adjectives, compared with the scorching Italian.

The giant's back was toward the bank where Mason had concealed himself,
and, judging from his appearance, he was closely scrutinizing the
opposite shore as if intent on discovering something that required time
to reveal.

At this point the river was rather swift, owing to its narrow bed, and
his rapid motion seemed to interfere sadly with his study of the other
bank, for he muttered several impatient words to himself in a voice
that made Mason grit his teeth like a maniac when he heard it; for this
verified what suspicions the sight of the form had raised.

Downward came the canoe with the current, and urged also by the impetus
given by the last few dips of the paddle.

It was within a dozen feet of the spot where Mason hugged the
tree-trunk, when the man threw up an arm bare to the shoulder and as
knotty as the gnarled limb of an oak, and seized upon a branch that
bent affectionately toward the cool water of the river. Instantly the
canoe was halted in its downward course, as if a wall of stone had been
suddenly reared in front of it, and remained swinging to and fro, with
the water gurgling about the stern.

The giant now leaned down, and appeared to look up and down the stream
as if searching for something.

This latter, which had been invisible to him while descending the
stream, proved the opposite from his present post of observation, as
the low ejaculation of surprise manifested.

"There it is as I expected; one, two, three a score of fires. The
Indian village undoubtedly. Now, there's work before you if you expect
to see that money, and such a sum ain't picked up every day these
times. I've seen it when I'd a risked my life for a tenth of the gold.
It's as plain as daylight; after that battle and victory, old Sitting
Bull and his men 'll keep a loose camp. All that I'm afraid of are
those sharp devils, Santee and Crazy Horse, for they've got such a
spite against me I'd have a nice time if taken.

"Then I believe that Cheyenne chief, Black Moccasin, is here, and he
bears me a grudge for that affair on the Platte.

"But what's the odds; I'm used to running risks on a lone hand, and
it's in me to win or lose all. I'll cross here, leave the boat, and
bring back the gal, if I have to search every lodge in the place,"
saying which the man let go of his hold on the branches, and gave a
sweep of his paddle that startled the canoe towards the opposite bank,
which at this point was low and sweeping.

Mason gave a convulsive movement when he heard that word "gal"

"It is Red Goliath, and he has come from _him_ for _her_."

These muttered words were all that he spoke; after that his lips
remained as close and immovable as the clasps of a vise.

A few more sweeps of the paddle, almost noiselessly given, served to
bring the canoe to the opposite shore, which the prow struck with a
slight grating sound.

Laying down the paddle, the giant leaped upon the shore, and grasping
the canoe pulled it upon the pebbly bench so that it could not be
carried away by the action of the water.

As he turned around after doing this thing, a dark shadowy form arose
beside him, where it had up to this time crouched in the obscurity.

Other ears than the boy's had heard the suspicious dip of the paddle,
and eyes that were hostile to his cause had witnessed the crossing of
the giant.

Mason from his position saw this form rise up, and he realized the
danger of the late oarsman, but not by word or deed did he attempt to
warn the giant who was his deadly foe.

There was no necessity for a warning, however, for Red Goliath saw the
uprising of the tall form that seemed almost to rival his own.

This modern giant and Hercules possessed a fierce nature, similar to
that of a wild beast, and on stated occasions his thirst for blood
became almost a mania, that could only be quenched in the life fluid of
some one.

Perhaps one of these moods was coming upon him even then.

A looker-on would have been inclined to think so upon hearing the growl
of satisfaction he gave utterance to.

When foemen worthy of each other's steel come in contact, there is
seldom much time lost in skirmishing.

The Red Goliath threw himself upon his Indian foe with an agility one
would hardly expect him to possess.

His assault, overpowering as it seemed, was right valiantly met by his
sturdy opponent, and as the two closed, Mason could no longer see the
particulars of the combat.

There was a threshing of arms for half a moment, then came the dull,
sodden sound of blows delivered with telling force, and which must
proceed from the white man.

The crushing nature of these was soon made clear.

One of the gigantic forms raised the other high in the air with but
feeble resistance, and dashed him upon the ground with tremendous power.

As if intent on making sure of his work, the Red Goliath stooped over
his fallen foe.

Something gleamed in the faint light; the sound of a blow reached
Mason's ears, and the blade did not shine when it was again raised.

A hoarse chuckle that would have curdled the blood in the veins of a
sensitive person proceeded from the human vampire as he arose to his
feet, and after giving the corpse a kick with his heavily booted foot,
replaced his knife.

It was certainly a fair fight, and the giant had the same privilege
of slaying his fallen enemy that was granted in the arena at the
hippodrome of Rome during ancient times; but civilization has brought
with it the noble act of forgiving foes, which, however, such men as
this seldom practice.

After that half laugh of triumph, Red Goliath stalked noiselessly away,
and the boy was left alone with his meditations and half-shaped plans.



Only for a few moments did young Mason remain in this state. Then his
active brain aroused him to the necessity of making each second count.

His plans were only partially matured; but it would not prove hard
to fully arrange them as time wore on, and his first move was really
characteristic of the boy.

Pulling out a piece of water-proof cloth, he quickly wrapped it around
his revolver, and then stepped boldly down into the river.

A few seconds later he was swimming silently for the other shore,
holding the revolver out of the water as much as possible by means of
his teeth, in which it was clasped.

The current carried him a little distance down the stream, and he
landed some ten or twelve yards below the spot where Red Goliath had
left his boat.

Thanks to his buckskin garments, the water did not soak through, and
after emerging from the river Mason found himself little the worse for
his swim.

What to do now might have puzzled some old stagers; but the boy's
action was prompt and to the point.

Stepping up to the boat, he felt along the side until his hand came in
contact with a ring, and when this was found he gave an exclamation of

Leaving the water he struck off in the same direction the giant had
taken but a few moments before, passing by the dead Indian without even
halting to examine the body.

Red Goliath must have been moving very slowly and cautiously after
his fight, for Mason, who had, either through good luck or excellent
management, hit upon the exact line of travel pursued by the giant,
caught up with him before the outskirts of the village were gained. A
moving form, crouching low, and yet showing the immense bulk in spite
of this proceeding, was seen not ten yards ahead of him.

This was what attracted Mason's eye and kept him on the watch.

When the first lodges were passed, the danger thickened around our boy

He had two sources to guard against, the giant on the one hand and the
inhabitants of the village he was in the midst of on the other.

It may be surmised from this that Mason was very careful of his

In spite of his size, which one would naturally suppose conducive to
clumsiness, Red Goliath managed to get over ground with almost the
noiseless powers of a serpent.

He seemed to be somewhat acquainted with the arrangement of the
village, for he passed by dozens of lodges without giving them the
least attention, his aim being to all appearances a certain spot not
far from the center of the encampment, which was of so great a length.

There were several things in favor of this spying expedition which
counted in the favor of the giant, and also his unseen follower.

In the first place, the night might be called dark, for the crescent
moon was at the horizon, and although one might distinguish a form at
ten yards distance, it would be next to impossible to declare whether
the man was white or red.

Then again there were but a few hundred braves in the village, and
these scattered along its entire length did not serve to even partially
fill the lodges.

Where some of the late inmates were the reader knows, for brave Custer
and his men fought hard, and each dragoon slew at least one Indian
before going under.

What the main portion of the Sioux were about at this time will soon be
made manifest, but a suspicion of the truth might be gleaned from the
occasional shots that were borne by the wind from the north, where Reno
had entrenched himself on one of the bluffs overlooking the river.

Red Goliath kept on his way as if he had been among the lodges before,
and, to tell the truth, this was not his first visit to the village.
Several nights before he had made one with the same purpose that he now
had in view; but an unlucky tumble over a drunken brave had brought
the Indians swarming around him like so many bees, and it took all the
power the giant possessed to escape. He managed to do it, however, and
by means of the canoe which we have seen him use, in coming to the
point once more.

After moving forward some ten minutes, even Mason, some distance in his
rear, could hear the boisterous sound of laughter and loud talking.

Where it came from would not prove hard to say, for a brilliant
light, within a dwelling that seemed to be half cabin and half lodge,
proclaimed its whereabouts.

There could be no doubt but what it came from white men, or at least
men who were pale faces in looks but red devils by nature.

Goliath crept towards this lodge, and in another moment was beside it.

The boy moved around on the other side, and by dint of using the
caution that seemed to be a part of his nature, managed to gain the
dense shadow of the northern side without making an iota of noise.

Then the thought intruded itself, what if the giant should take a
notion to make a circuit of the lodge?

He would certainly be found out, and Mason knew that discovery by this
man meant death.

This action was promptly executed. The skins composing the lodge were
loose at the bottom, and a pile of furs lay just within.

A glance at the two inmates showed that they were interested in the
contents of a suspicious-looking keg, and paid no attention to anything

It took the boy but a moment to glide like an eel under the skin of the
lodge, and hide among the furs.

From here he could watch the two men and hear all that was said without
being in danger of discovery.

They were not a very nice-looking couple to gaze upon, not being overly
well burdened with good looks, but the boy had seen one of them before,
and it would be hard work to find any uglier man than Pedro Sanchez in
this sphere of ours; so his companion might be said to possess some
claims of beauty when compared with the noseless, one-eyed French
creole, whose face bore the scars of some fearful combat.

Pedro was tall and slim, with the agility of a tiger combined with the
ferocity of a grizzly bear.

He addressed his companion as Hoskins, and between the two they seemed
to be effecting a compromise in regard to some bargain of which the
nature was soon made manifest.

A faint long-drawn sigh, that told of unspoken misery close beside him,
made the boy give a start, and it was with the utmost difficulty that
he repressed the exclamation that arose to his lips when his eyes were
turned in that direction.

From the pole of the lodge a long torch was stuck out, and the light
of this served to illuminate the half where the men sat, but the cabin
part was rather dim.

Guided by that sigh, however, the boy had little trouble in making out
a small girlish form that crouched rather than sat upon a pile of furs,
and seemed to be intently regarding the two men who laughed and grew
merry over the whisky keg.

"Adele!" was the cry that arose to that brother's lips, but he bravely
repressed it, and also the longing that had seized upon him to clasp
that dear form to his breast and defy all enemies.

Although his ears were drinking in all that the two men said, yet his
eyes were steadily glued upon the light form.

Hark! the Creole was speaking while he held up a tin cup that had
lately belonged to one of Custer's men, and squinted with his one eye
at its contents.

"_Carramba!_ Hoskins, my price I think exceedingly reasonable. If you
only knew the time and money I've spent in this matter, and what deadly
enemies I've made by my exploit, you wouldn't begrudge me a picayune.
_Begar!_ I sent one of them to his long home in the fight to-day," and
Pedro gave a hoarse laugh that grated on the nerves like a file, and
would have set a sensitive person crazy.

The boy started, and unconsciously his hand sought his head where the
bullet had glanced from it.

He knew now to whom he owed that debt, and gritted his teeth as he
inwardly resolved to pay the amount with interest when the proper
occasion presented itself.

Hoskins did not share in his companion's mirth, but appeared to be

He soon looked up and took a sip at the liquor.

"Wal, mebbe the gal's worth it, squire. I've taken a mighty shine to
her purty face, and, being in want of a wife, I guess we kin come to
a bargain. Two hundred shiners, you said, and the hoss I own. We'll
consider the question settled then. Now let's take a look at my

Pedro jumped to his feet with alacrity, and led the girl forward, much
against her will.

As the torchlight fell on that sunny head, with its masses of golden
hair and tear-bedimmed face, Mason ground his teeth in mingled rage
and pity, and at the same time drew out his revolver. It was fated
differently, however.

Hoskins feasted his eyes upon Adele's delicate beauty, and the grin
that came upon his face told Pedro that he was satisfied with the

"Old hoss, we're squar on that. Gal, look up. Ye're mine now, body and
soul. D'ye hear me? I've bought ye with a price, and I'd jest like fur
the man to show himself what's goin' to take ye from me," said Hoskins.

There was a queer ripping sound. Mason saw a shining blade cut the
skins of the lodge as if they were paper, and through this opening
leaped Red Goliath, with a revolver in one hand and a knife in the
other, and the brief exclamation of "I'm the identical chap."



Hoskins may have been astonished at this sudden intrusion and answer
to the vain question he asked. I have no doubt but what he was, more
especially when his eyes took in the huge form of the giant, but his
surprise was as nothing when compared to the consternation exhibited by
the creole.

Pedro Sanchez had appeared in the jolliest possible humor a few moments
before; now, the smile that had illuminated his face at the time of the
giant's entrance seemed frozen there.

Pedro Sanchez had good cause to remember Red Goliath.

The two had been comrades in crime, and together they had committed
many of the deeds that made the city of New Orleans tremble to its

Between them they had carried off Adele, hoping to secure a heavy
ransom from her mother.

At this time the treachery so natural to Sanchez exhibited itself.

A desire to obtain the whole reward, on which he could retire from
business, possessed him, and he attempted to get rid of his comrade by
pushing the giant over the edge of an abyss on the southern plains.

The creole really thought the other dead, but in some way Red Goliath
escaped with severe injuries, that laid him up for months at a cabin.

There he became acquainted with a gentleman who had recently left New
Orleans for his health, having slain his distinguished foeman in a
duel, and who intended staying away until the affair blew over.

In a conversation with this man, the giant became acquainted with
several things that entirely changed the tenor of his ideas, and an
understanding followed between them.

When Red Goliath started on the trail of vengeance, he had no intention
of restoring Adele to her mother for a ransom, as a much larger sum had
been offered him than he could ever expect from the lady, to carry her
away to a point from whence she should never return, and the duelist
had even hinted that he should not weep very much should news of her
death reach him.

The truth of the matter was that Adele Pierrepont and her brother,
Mason, stood between Luke Camden, the duelist and an immense fortune,
and the idea of getting rid of the two had only entered his head when
he heard through the giant that the girl had already been carried away.

Red Goliath proved a true traitor.

He had tracked his treacherous companion all the way from the plains of
Texas to the pastures in the north, where the white man joined teams
with Sitting Bull's gang of plunderers and thieves, where his merits in
the peculiar line of business he dealt in were duly appreciated.

No wonder, then, that the creole shivered in dread when he saw the
man whom he had attempted to murder standing before him with a deadly
revolver in his hand, and cruel vengeance flashing from his eyes.

At first Pedro's hands failed to do their duty, and hung limp by his

"Aha! it is thus we meet, my fine chicken," said the giant, who
evidently had a tinge of the dramatic in his nature.

By the light of the torch it could now be seen that his hair and beard
gave rise to the first half of his name, being of a fiery hue.

His eyes were small and deep-set, glittering like a snake's.

Pedro Sanchez was actually too frightened to say a word in answer to
this implied question.

He could only stand and glare like a wild beast at bay and powerless to
help itself.

The giant seemed rather talkative in his triumph.

"Pushed Red Goliath down a gulch, half a mile deep. Thought he'd
die like a rat in its hole. Aha! my fine fellow, bushes are great
inventions; thanks to them I am here now--here to claim my vengeance.
Five thousand dollars tempted you, did it? Well, I want to tell you
I'm offered double as much to keep the gal away forever: kill her if I
like. Now, Brutus, your time has about come. Are you ready to meet your
just doom?"

Pedro was shivering as only a man can who sees instant death before
him, and his chattering teeth precluded the possibility of a reply.

The giant smiled derisively, and turned his eyes on Hoskins.

At this critical period the individual proved himself the possessor of
more courage than the boasting creole.

Perhaps this arose from his ignorance of the giant's power, which Pedro
was well acquainted with.

"Who the deuce are you that comes breaking into a man's house, and
talking about doom and all that sort of thing? By George! I've a notion
to----" began Hoskins in a blustering tone, but he came to an abrupt
pause, for the giant seeing where it was most needed had swung the
revolver around until it covered his form.

"You're mistaken. You haven't any notion at all, and it'll be better
for your health if you don't have any. Asked me what I came here for;
you invited me; declared you would like to see the man that was going
to take the gal from you, so I showed myself. Now, my rooster, what's
what with you?"

Hoskins seemed to have some spirit in him at any rate.

"Fool," said he, "one shot from your pistol would put you in a hornet's
nest. If I choose to shout, a hundred braves will surround the lodge."

"As to the alarm, I care nothing for that; knew I couldn't do any work
without raising it; but I swear you shan't shout again in this world,
though you may in the one below us. Die, you dog."

The sudden startling crack of a revolver rang out.

Red Goliath had fired. There was an awful shudder on the part of
Hoskins; a gurgling sound as if he was trying to curse his slayer,
and then the stricken man fell to the ground shot through the heart.
Turning on the creole, Red Goliath again raised his death-dealing

Pedro had slunk away and was crouching on the ground.

At this contemptible display of cowardice, the giant gave him a hearty
kick of derision, in order to induce him to stand erect; but it only
had the effect of flattening the miscreant out still more.

There was no time to waste, as the Indians must already be alarmed.

Firing two shots into the dark corner where Pedro had crouched, the
giant hurriedly replaced his weapons.

Then like a flash he seized upon Adele, lifted her light form as easily
as if she had been a feather, and dashed out.

An Indian met him just beyond the lodge.

One sweep of the giant's disengaged arm sent him to the ground like a
ten-pin overwhelmed by a ball.

Although braves were appearing in every direction, Red Goliath sped
onward like an antelope, the burden he carried appeared as nothing.

The village was soon left behind, and when the open ground was at
length gained, two shadowy figures flitting close behind him proclaimed
the fact that these were his only pursuers.

To get rid of them was an easy task to a man like the Hercules, who was
well versed in every detail of fight and strategy, and armed into the

Again the revolver came into play.

Suddenly halting, and wheeling in his tracks, he presented the weapon.

With its first crack one of the pursuers described a parabola in the
air, as if he had leaped from a spring-board, and upon touching the
ground lay very, very quiet.

The second attempted to dodge, but soon found out that lead can travel
mortally fast when driven by powder.

He made his way into camp half an hour later with a broken arm, and the
bullet lodged in his side.

Having thus rid himself of both pursuers, the giant once more rushed

The river bank was gained, and also the canoe.

"Whoop! hurrah! won it, by George! run the gauntlet too," said the
daring man to himself, as he placed Adele, too powerless with terror to
resist, in the boat; and after pushing the craft off, sprang in himself.

Young Mason had been so taken aback by the giant's sudden shots and his
rapid flight that even had he so wished he could have done nothing to
prevent him.

Before he actually realized what had occurred, Red Goliath had vanished
from the lodge, carrying the boy's darling sister with him.

It seemed but half a minute had passed, and Mason was about to rise up
from his place of concealment and follow on the giant's trail, when
half a dozen Indians burst into the lodge to see what damage had been
done here.

Hoskins would never steal another horse, he had gone to that bourne
from whence no traveler e'er returns; in a word he was dead.

Pedro came crawling out of the dark corner with a hole in him large
enough to let the life out of any common man, but which did not appear
to inconvenience him at all.

For several moments they jabbered away in a tongue unknown to our hero,
much to his disgust, for he was impatient.

When they at length left the lodge, Pedro securing the gold his late
companion possessed before doing so, Mason gave a sigh of relief, and
made haste to throw off the warm furs in which he had been wrapped.

Then he boldly stalked from the lodge, walking as if he had a perfect
right in the village. Several times he came across braves, and on
such occasions grasped hold of a revolver, ready for service, but his
bearing must have deceived the red-skins, for he was not molested.

After gaining the outskirts of the village, Mason struck at once for
the river.

He knew that it was too late to reach the place where the canoe had
been left before the giant, and had resolved to wait for it at a point

The wisdom of his course was soon made apparent, for his sharp eyes
caught sight of a dark object moving slowly down the river near the
other bank.

It was Red Goliath's canoe.



When Bolly Wherrit left the great Indian camp behind him, and headed
for the distant hills, he had no intention of leaving the vicinity.

An object had attracted him hither, which, though backed by a golden
reward, had something else behind it as an invigorator that proved far
more potent with the old ranger than the money involved.

His own words had proclaimed that the cause of his hastening north,
leaving his chum Pandy Ellis in the thick of some business that
concerned them both, was a beautiful woman's tears.

Bolly always was weak as regarded the other sex, and knowing this
reverence of his, which can hardly be called a failing, it has been a
continual wonder to me why the ranger never married, especially as he
must have been a fine-looking fellow in his younger days, judging from
the grand old face he possesses at the present writing.

I strongly suspect, however, that in his youth Bolly had loved and
been deceived, and although he never ceased caring for the ladies, he
regarded them with suspicion when he came to the point.

As he rode along Bolly was engaged in various conjectures, the main
subject of which was the rescue of Adele, for the reader must know by
this time that this was the object that had sent Bolly from New Orleans
to this northern province in such haste.

The sun was sinking down in the western sky, and the shadows were
growing very long, when Bolly reached the hills.

A stream of water, so cold that one could almost believe it an ice
spring, murmured among the stone, and pursued its tortuous way through
the neighboring ravine, heading for the Little Horn, where its waters
were quickly engulfed by the larger stream.

At this Bolly came to a halt, and allowed Black Bess to drink all that
she wished, dismounting first to quench his own thirst.

The ranger did not attempt to climb the hills, as it would have proven
a difficult task, and one which there was no necessity for, as he
intended doing some work before morning came on.

Longer grew the shadows, and more gloomy the ravines between the
elevations, as the prairie ranger galloped slowly along the foot of the

Night at length closed around him; the peaks were dimly outlined
against the sky in which the stars began to appear.

In the west the infant moon looked like a silver bond of promise to the
good welfare of man, and smiled upon the earth as if in pity at its
forlorn and unlighted condition.

All of these things Bolly noticed with the air of a man whose mind is
preoccupied, and whose thoughts have no range beyond a certain point.

Now that quite a distance separated him from the huge Sioux village,
the usual sounds that accompany a night upon the plains came to his
ears, and it really seemed as though the wolves howled and the coyotes
barked louder than ever on this particular occasion.

Perhaps with their more than human instinct, these beasts of carrion
knew of the feast for their hungry maws, that the setting sun had shone
upon, and which was not yet ready for them because of the many moving
figures in that terrible ravine of death.

A whippoorwill sending forth his plaintive cry near by, and the shrill
scream of a night hawk from a neighboring tree, aroused Bolly from the
stupor as it might almost be called, into which he had unconsciously

For the first time he noticed that Black Bess had carried him into the
midst of a forest that lay at the foot of the hills.

As he made this discovery, the distant murmur of running water came to
his ears, which could not be made by a creek.

Undoubtedly it was the river that he was nearing, and as this was just
what he desired, Bolly let his sable steed continue her own course.

Five minutes later he brought the animal to a halt.

Before him rolled the Little Horn with its shady banks, the starlight
glinting from the tiny waves that the adverse wind gave rise to.

Long and earnestly Bolly looked at the water.

He had built his schemes upon the river, and being in a contemplative
mood, he was wondering whether the morning would see him successful or
the reverse.

From this serious state he was abruptly aroused by a sound that to ears
of experience like his bespoke danger.

Only a twig snapped by some incautious foot, but it had a world of
meaning to the ranger.

As if it affected him like electricity, Bolly slid from the back of
Black Bess, and crouched on that side of the horse nearest to the seat
of danger.

The rifle he held was laid gently upon the ground, and in its stead he
quickly laid hold of the formidable knife taken from the Indian who had
been placed over his prison as a guard.

Although these movements were accomplished with all the noiseless
powers of a tiger, Bolly was not unobserved.

Two pair of gleaming eyes had noted his descent from the horse, and
hardly had the ranger laid hold of his knife than he was called upon to
use it.

A form arose lightly in the air, and passing over the bushes like a
bird, landed close beside him.

Following this came a second, and as this man landed he gave a fierce
shout, the pent-up air of his jump forcing itself through his teeth
with the shrill force of a steam-whistle.

There was no such thing as taking Bolly Wherrit unawares. A man who had
earned the name of White Thunder and Never Sleep among the northern
tribes might be surprised, as he was not possessed of a second sight to
divine ambuscades, but his enemies always found him ready.

The first man who leaped went to immediate death, for, as he braced
himself to recover from the force of his jump, the ranger gave one
spring and plunged his knife forward. It entered the broad red chest
with a sickening thud, and when Bolly pulled it out again, a perfect
deluge of blood followed.

Sickening as was the sight of this tottering man, actually turning
pale from loss of blood, we soldiers have to witness far more terrible
things, such as would make a civilian faint with horror.

The old ranger had seen worse in his day, when dear comrades were
roasted before his eyes at the stake, and besides he had no time to
waste in heroics.

His second foeman aimed a vicious blow at his head with a tomahawk that
glittered like steel or silver as it flew by.

This intended death-blow Bolly avoided by a dip of the head, and in
another instant the two were locked in a close embrace.

The Indian had managed to lay hold of his knife, so that the combatants
were equally well armed.

Before a dozen seconds had passed Bolly discovered that he had no
puny antagonist with whom to combat, for the fellow seemed to possess
muscles of iron, and even by exerting all his strength, the ranger
failed to raise him from the ground to dash him down, as he had done
many a man before.

They were in such a situation that if either attempted to use his
knife, the other would have the advantage for an instant, and even this
short time might prove disastrous to all cherished hopes of victory.

An idea came into Bolly's head which told him that the advantage really
lay in his favor, for while fully the Indian's equal in strength, he
also possessed some knowledge of scientific wrestling, against which
the brave could oppose nothing in the same line.

The chance soon presented itself, and was promptly seized upon.

By an adroit fling of his foot, and a corresponding whirl with his
arms, the ranger completely demolished his sturdy but ignorant foeman.

Falling underneath, the Indian knew that his chances of escape were
slight, indeed, unless he managed to hold the ranger down, and dropping
his knife, he attempted to accomplish this by clasping Bolly around the

Unfortunately, however, for him, his hands failed to meet, and he could
not put forth his full amount of strength.

Our old friend broke loose from the death clasp.

A cry of alarm burst from the doomed man's lips when he saw the red
blade uplifted, but the outstretched arms were dashed aside, and the
knife descended.

"That fur Tom Garny, blast yer hide," he muttered, and his foe was dead.

As the ranger was shaking himself to see that no material damage had
befallen him through his recent struggle, the reports of several guns,
followed by savage shouts, came from the bluffs across the river and
further up. It proceeded from besieged Reno and his foes, but Bolly did
not know this.

"Ah! sum o' ye over yonder I reckon. Wonder what became o' Custer, for
it must hev been him, az no wun else'd rush inter danger like that.
Sounds mighty bad; they hain't kerried the town, an' I'm afraid the
yaller-haired chief hez either gone under or else had ter retreat, a
thing I never knew him ter do, long az I've been acquainted--ha! what
in blazes! Bolly Wherrit, down ye imp. Bess, silence now, old girl.
Byes, do yer juty now, fur thar's sumpin' a comin' this way that needs
lookin' arter."

The ranger sank out of sight as if he had been shot.



The human mind differs so greatly with various individuals that what
might be said of one person, proves exactly the opposite in another.

It has truly been remarked that one man's food is poison to another,
and the same may be said of the capacity of their intellect.

Pandy Ellis, the veteran ranger of the wild West, whose days had been
passed among scenes of danger from boyhood up to old age, was the
possessor of an iron will and a stout heart.

He had witnessed, almost with composure, it might be said, scenes that
would have made many a brave man turn pale and tremble; had passed
through others, not unscratched either, when dear friends fell to rise
no more, and yet had not been shocked.

The utter annihilation of Custer's devoted command had actually
appalled him, and put him in the gloomiest state possible.

It was perhaps the fearful fact that not one in that gallant band came
out to tell the tale, that worked so on his feelings.

Had some escaped, the affair would have lost some of that horrible
fascination that proceeded from the fact that every one, officers
and men alike, had been swept into eternity, just as surely as if an
earthquake had swallowed them.

Eagle Eye, the Crow chief, had promised to send some of his men with
the news to Terry; at least his silence had been the same as an
acquiescence, and this finished his obligations toward the ill-fated
Colonel Yates.

The sound of firing in the advance told Pandy that Major Reno was
actively engaged on the bluffs, and aroused by the thought that there
was hot work yet before him, he urged Nancy forward. As night closed
about him, it could not but be conducive of gloomy thoughts, for the
darkness appeared to communicate itself to the mind in some way or
other, keeping brighter ideas at bay.

As he advanced, carefully now, as the way was rough and unfamiliar,
the sounds in front grew clearer until the old ranger knew that he was
drawing near the scene of action.

It would be impossible to join Reno on horseback, if the position of
the troops was as bad as he suspected, and the next thing for him to
do, would be to hide Nancy in some place where _he_ could find her
again, but no one else.

Such a spot he was not long in ferreting out, and after securing the
horse by means of his lariat, Pandy moved forward once more.

Louder came the detonation from guns and shouts from dusky throats,
threatening everything that was terrible to the remnant of the gallant
Seventh; and yet their answering yells and shots proved the young
fellows to be undaunted by the fate that seemed staring them in the

Pandy stood and listened, on the brow of an eminence, striving to
pierce the gloom ahead with those eagle-like eyes.

Something like a cheer arose to his mouth at the unflinching bravery
exhibited by these blue-coated heroes, as they gave back shout for

Although the light at a distance was deceptive and uncertain, he could
make out that Reno had planted his command on the top of the bluffs, to
stand what might be called a siege.

In the haste of the movement, and worried by the Indians, the
courageous major had, unfortunately for those under his command,
selected a spot that was controlled by higher points on either side.

From one of these latter it would not have been a very difficult task
to keep the enemy at bay, but now he had a double danger to contend
against, as the Indians occupied the heights around him, and also
attempted to storm his position.

It is doubtful whether the handful of the gallant Seventh who lived
through this night and the succeeding day, will ever forget how the
minutes dragged on, and yet I have no doubt but what in these dangerous
hours some of them joked and laughed with that terrible _sang froid_
men often assume when all hope is gone.

From his position the old prairie ranger could see that some kind of
earthwork or rifle-pits had been constructed, and behind these rough
shelters the tigers fought their fiendish foemen.

As yet Major Reno's men had had no suspicion of the awful calamity that
had overtaken Custer and his three hundred men. So confident of success
had the general been, that he divided what troops he had, so as to
inclose the Indian village.

When they galloped away, it was the last that had been seen of them.
True, some firing had been heard several miles away, long continued, as
though an obstinate battle was in progress; but this had died away by

Opinions differed, as they always will among many men. Some felt sure
that Custer had defeated the Indians, marched on the village, and that
any moment they might expect to see a huge bonfire in progress.

Others of a more reflective nature looked at the matter in a more
serious light, thinking it not improbable that dashing Custer himself
had been the sufferer, and that he would find it difficult to join
them; but none ever suspected the horrible truth even for a moment.

That five companies of the bravest men in the old Seventh should
have been completely swept out of existence was something almost

When Pandy found himself gazing upon this scene, he began pinching
himself, uncertain whether to believe his eyes or not.

"Lord help us, what's ther world comin' to, I'd like ter know? Wen
these hyar reds gobble up ther bravest gineral az ever drew breath wid
all his men, and then squat down round ther rest as if ther meal warn't
complete, it's time ole Uncle Samuel war wakin' up. Blast my hide, ole
Sitting Bull must be extarminated for this. I shall never hev any peace
in life till it's done. But looky hyar now, ole man, bizness must be
'tended to. Ye'd like ter be wid Reno an' his men yonder, so az ter
share in ther fun. Don't see any other way o' gittin' round it. Needs
must wen ther devil drives, az ther feller sez. Now, jest show us wat
ye kin do at this advanced period o' life in this line."

Communing with himself in his way the ranger began descending the
elevation from which he had seen at the same time as much and as
little. The valley below looked forbidding, but to a man of Pandy's
nature, and who had so recently passed through such a horrible affair,
a thing like this did not serve to daunt in the least. Soon he found
himself gulfed in the darkness; the shots came from above him, and ten
minutes after quitting his post of observation, an eagle's eyrie as it
seemed, the trapper was cautiously making his way upward again.

There were manifold sources of danger on all sides against which he
was compelled to guard himself. In every red warrior (and the hill
actually swarmed with them) he had a deadly foe as a white man, and an
inveterate one as the only Pandy Ellis. Besides there was a chance that
the gallant boys above, deeming every moving object an enemy, would
either fire upon him, or use their sabers as he attempted to mount the
breastworks. It was a risky business, but one in which Pandy delighted.

Making use of each bush and rock, he slowly ascended the steep inclined
plane. At times he was so close to some of the Indians, that he might
have touched them with his arm had he so desired; but the reader may
rest assured, Pandy did not take the trouble to test this. He was
fated, however, to meet with one scrape before gaining his destination,
and which came very near being fatal to him.

It was among a cluster of rocks, and the ranger had mounted a sort of
cliff to expedite matters. Accidents are not confined alone to the
careless, although they meet with more than the prudent, no doubt.
Pandy's foot slipped and over he went.

It was certainly mortifying that after taking five minutes to get up
this nice little cliff, he should descend it in a few seconds; it would
have been even more so had he landed on the hard rocks below, for the
fall was no petty one.

As luck would have it, however, an Indian brave happened to be below,
and on this poor devil came the brunt of the tumble.

This being in the shape of a hundred and sixty pounds avoirdupois,
proved to be too much for the equanimity of his mind and the balance of
his body, as the poor fellow immediately collapsed.

He was only a little confused, however, and had sense enough to lay
hold of the object that struck him, so that Pandy sought the ground
almost as soon as did the other.

Perhaps the Indian had a vague notion that it was a comrade who had
fallen upon him. If so, then he had no time to frame this idea into
a thought, for the hill-top fell over upon him, at least the warrior
thought so when he opened his eyes hours later in this world of pain.

Pandy had only given him a sound argument in the shape of a blow
between the eyes.

Again the ranger pursued his upward way.

The small cliff was successfully scaled, and beyond this traveling
seemed much easier so far as lifeless obstructions were concerned.

It would be impossible to follow Pandy's movements after this; they
were inimical with those of a snake, crawling hither and thither,
passing under the noses of red watchers, and close beside the fighting

How he did it the trapper chief could not tell himself. With a thousand
chances against him, he successfully gave the savage Sioux the slip,
and, all unknown to them, passed from their outer line, and scaling the
rudely thrown up earth-works, found himself among the rifle pits of the



It needed no second look to convince Mason that it was the giant's
canoe his eyes beheld, nor did he stop to examine the moving object
more closely.

Having arranged his course of action long before, he now stepped
quietly into the water, and when it reached as high as his neck, began
swimming out.

So dexterous were the movements of the boy trailer, whose cause Custer
had taken up so readily, and might have carried out but for his
untimely death, that no sound resulted from his locomotion through the
water, beyond that which even the most suspicious of mortals would take
to be the swishing of the wind-driven wavelets.

When the canoe came even with the spot on which he had stood before
entering the water, Mason was directly in front of it.

As only his head remained above the water and the giant's direction
was directed further on, it was not strange that Red Goliath failed to
discover anything suspicious just at the prow of his canoe.

The boat glided past, and Mason's hand sought the ring he had hunted up

Luckily he found it, and in this way managed to keep alongside of the
boat, just behind the giant.

Red Goliath stood up like a statue, and for such he might indeed have
been taken but for the regular pendulum motion of his arms, as the
paddle was shifted from side to side, in order that the momentum caused
by the current might be materially aided by long silent sweeps.

Adele sat in the bow, motionless.

Young Mason's heart gave a great throb of sympathy when he heard what
sounded suspiciously like a sob from the girl.

His sister had been stolen from her home in New Orleans by Hoskins
and this giant, and like a sleuth-hound this boy had followed on the
trail, tracking the fugitives from one border town to another on their
northward course, and yet always coming too late.

He had met Custer years before, and had been a friend of the
yellow-haired cavalry leader, so when he found the general in these
regions, the latter at once took up his cause, and sent out scouts to
discover where Hoskins and his fair girl captive were.

These men, experienced as they were, failed to accomplish their end.

It was Mason himself, by his indefatigable efforts, who first
discovered Sitting Bull's village, and reported the fact to the
general, who was already heading in that direction, aiming for the
Little Big Horn.

The boy also declared that Hoskins was with the Indians, which fact
Custer was prone to believe.

After this Mason vanished, nor did he make his appearance until the
doomed command was riding down the bluffs into the ambuscade.

How the latter proved fatal to the gallant troops is already known.

The wily Sioux allowed them to come on, pretending to give way, until
the men were fairly in the trap, when they closed about them in a solid

After this explanation, which I hold as due to the reader, I will
resume the thread of my narrative where it was dropped.

The canoe passed down the stream for several miles in this way.

It may seem strange that Red Goliath, shrewd as he has shown himself to
be, should risk so much in passing the Indian village after arousing
the inhabitants by creating such an alarm, but the fact was, he proved
to be one of those cunning fellows who believe that under the existing
circumstances the safest place is that nearest the seat of action.

In spite of the danger that seemed to encompass him, the giant passed
by without an alarm.

Soon the firing on the right shore could be heard, and this became
louder as they drew nearer, until they were abreast of the scene of
Reno's obstinate defense.

Passing by, the giant continued on its way down the river, until Mason
began to wonder whether it would ever stop, his poor arm feeling the
effects of the long pull.

Red Goliath had another object in view while taking this route, besides
that already mentioned.

There was a cave in the hills below the village which he intended to
occupy; for, although Adele was in his hands, only half of the mission
which he had been intrusted with by the duelist was accomplished.

The boy yet remained, and although the words he had heard Hoskins
boastfully utter had created a suspicion in his mind that Mason had
fallen with Custer's command, he intended remaining in the vicinity
until this could be proven by searching the battle-field.

Shortly after passing the bluffs where Reno was battling with
overwhelming numbers of crafty foemen, the giant made a sudden sweep
with the paddle, and turned the prow toward the shore.

As the boat struck, he sprang out and pulled it into a clump of bushes,
which, with the reeds growing near the bank, proved an effectual
hiding-place. Adele still sat motionless.

The giant addressed her, for the first time since starting on his water
voyage, and Mason could see her tremble at the sound of his rough
voice, as if it meant something of horror.

"Come, gal, we leave the creek here. There's a snug little hiding-place
I intend taking you to, where there'll be no chance of discovery. Now
that you're in my power again, I don't intend losing sight of you.
You're in somebody's way, therefore you have to be removed. It depends
on yourself how this is to be done. Two ways are open: one, by carrying
you off to some foreign land; t'other, leaving you to the mercy of the
forest beasts," and the unfeeling giant laughed to himself.

"And they would prove more merciful than such a monster as you,"
declared Adele, as she stepped from the unsteady boat and faced Red
Goliath. How her eyes shone, as they flashed out the scorn born of her

"Bravo! I see the little gal hain't lost her spirit yet. I acknowledge
the corn without hesitation; hain't got such a thing as a heart; never
had, either. Remember how I used to delight in pinching the wings
of butterflies, and running pins through 'em when I was a little
boy--which, considering my present size, was a long time ago. So you
see, gal, I must be what they call a modern monstrosity, a man without
a heart. However, I can say this hain't my doing. I only wanted to get
a ransom from your mother; but this other fellow must step into the

"Do you think I can't tell who you mean? It is a fit idea to originate
with such a man as Luke Camden," said the girl, in scornful tones.

Red Goliath started, and when he spoke his voice was as gruff as ever.

"Remember, I mention no names. Now, gal, we'll be going. Give me your

Adele drew back with a shudder of horror; willingly she would never
touch it.

"I will walk beside you in plain view," she said.

"All right," growled the giant, who could not but notice the shudder
and knew its import, and he looked at his hand as if half believing
that he would see the red marks that had so often dyed it.

"All right, my gal; but remember no tricks, or as sure as there is life
in the air we breathe, I shall shoot you down;" and as if to enforce
this horrible threat, he whipped out a revolver.

Side by side, the man and his intended victim walked through the woods.
When speaking of his method of traveling, stalked would be a better
word, for he covered three or four feet with every step, so that Adele
was compelled to almost run in order to keep up with him.

Neither of them saw the water-drenched form that flitted from tree to
tree in their rear.

Half a mile, perhaps, was covered.

Mason, on several occasions, thought he heard a noise in his rear, as
though the trailer himself was being trailed; but his attention being
almost fully occupied in front, it soon passed from his mind.

The hills were reached at length, and the ascent commenced.

Before five minutes had passed Red Goliath came to a pause.

Before them a black orifice yawned in the rocks. The giant made Adele
enter first, and himself followed after, as if afraid lest she should
give him the slip after all.

Another moment and they stood in a cavern some twenty feet square, the
dimensions of which could be seen by the star-light that found ingress
through the large cracks above.

In spite of his protestations as to not harming her, there were dark
thoughts in the mind of the giant.

Bloody deeds were every-day affairs with him; the girl stood in his
way; therefore she must be removed.

Why he had not done the deed before I cannot say.

Perhaps, in the beginning his plan was different; and, once in the
canoe, the outcry she would make might draw a cordon of enemies around

Red Goliath replaced his revolver and drew his knife, running his
finger along the edge in a deliberate way.

His eyes gleamed like those of a snake, and appeared to fascinate the

Not a word did the giant utter, but his actions needed no explanation.

He took a step towards Adele.

She sank on her knees terribly frightened at the savage monster's move.

The little hands were clasped and wrung despairingly, but they might
just as well have appealed to a man of stone.

As the long blade was raised the light glittered along the steel.

"Be merciful, as you expect to receive mercy," moaned Adele.

The giant did not expect any mercy; at least his actions betokened as
much, for, as if he had not heard her at all, he continued to advance.

Another step and he would be upon her.

She seemed to shrink even closer to the rocky floor, and seeing no hope
in that ferocious countenance, covered her eyes with her hands to shut
out the dread sight.

Unknown to himself, Red Goliath was sealing his own doom.

As the knife quivered in the air, and was just about to descend,
Mason's voice rang out through the cavern.



Once within the rifle pits, Pandy Ellis drew his breath more easily,
for the present danger was over.

The first person he met was garbed as an officer, and this man,
although brave as a lion, proved to be an arrogant fellow in this time
of danger.

"Whar kin I see Major Reno?" asked the ranger, laying his hand on the
arm of the officer, a familiarity he seemed to resent, for he shook it
off as he turned haughtily toward the other.

"What are you doing here, fellow, when all brave men are at work?"

Pandy smiled a little.

He entertained a curious feeling toward the army.

In one way he felt a contempt for them, and then again he almost
reverenced everything pertaining to the great governmental system.

"Because I've jest come in; crawled among the reds. Been wid Custer,
an' by ther Lord Harry, seen ther general an' every man wiped out,"
said Pandy.

"Look here, fellow; what canard is this?" demanded the officer.

The ranger overlooked the insulting speech; for he knew that what he
said was astounding news.

His tone was dignified when he repeated it, however.

"I said Custer, Cooke, Gates, Keogh and every man of 'em had gone

"It is impossible, man alive; there is something behind this. Look
here, fellow, do you know what we do with spies?" A vague notion had
entered the officer's head that this might be a ruse of the enemy to
force Reno to surrender.

Pandy's eyes flashed fire; here was something he could not stand.

"Do ye know what I would do wid such cusses as you? Wal, sir, I'd jist
snap ye atween my fingers like a pipe-stem, bust me ef I wudn't," said
Pandy, grimly.

"And this to me!" exclaimed the officer, in such a tragic voice, that
had Pandy ever read Scott's works he would have been reminded of
Marmion and the noble earl, Lord Douglas. "Who the devil are you, sir,
may I inquire?"

It was evident that the man in authority had taken the ranger for one
of the regular scouts belonging to the expedition, until his thoughts
ranged on something worse.

"What am I? A free ranger; man who never took an insult in his life
from red or white. Who am I? I reckon I'm a man, sir, which is more
than kin be sed o' you. My name? I never was ashamed of it. If ye'll
go an' let Major Reno know what I told you, an' say ter him that Pandy
Ellis sent ye, thar'll be no more sed about the matter."

The soldier leaned forward, and peered at the thin face of this
leathern-clad warrior. Pandy stood like a rock, and their eyes met.

"It's him; curse me if I haven't put my foot into it;" and, wheeling
about, the officer strode away, his sword jingling musically when it
came in contact with the spur that adorned his heels. He never reported
to Major Reno, as a ball laid him low not three minutes afterward.

Pandy Ellis was a curious fellow, taciturn, one might call him.
Although he fought through the night side by side with the cavalrymen,
he never once mentioned a word of what he had seen, supposing the
officer had reported to Reno, and that the major did not communicate
the news to his men for fear of disheartening them. His duty had been
done in this respect, and he was satisfied, although, of course, the
ranger could not help wondering why he was not called upon to give a
full report of the awful battle.

The night passed in those rifle pits, with death hovering close by, and
seizing upon a comrade every little while, will never be forgotten by
those who have survived the dread ordeal.

Again and again did the Indians attempt to force their position, only
to fall back in confusion from the defense offered by those valorous
sons of the republic who fought on with the black shadow hovering above
them and the bullets, commanding their position, rattling about their

It was a moment to be remembered until time shall be no more.

Morning broke at last, but did not materially change their prospects;
for what was a benefit to them proved the same to their foes; each side
could now make their bullets tell.

Brave men fell during the day--men whose records in the memory of their
fellow-soldiers will doubtless be their only monuments.

Pandy fought through it all like a hero.

It was familiar business to the veteran ranger; and it might be noticed
that every time he fired (which was frequently) he cut a fresh little
notch on the handle of his tomahawk.

Pandy Ellis was the first man to avenge the death of Custer and his men.

As the day wore on, even the most cheerful began to grow discouraged.

Surrounded by tireless enemies thirsting for their blood; without
water to quench the fierce longing that commenced to prey upon them;
and no signs of aid from either Custer or Terry, their case was indeed
becoming desperate.

It was late in the afternoon of the 26th of June, that keen-eyed Pandy
Ellis discovered that the Indians' village had vanished, so far as
lodges and people were concerned.

This gave him grounds for hope, which feeling was soon communicated to
the rest of the devoted band.

It was evident that Terry or else Gibbon, perhaps, had arrived, and
that the Indians were ready for retreat, although they intended holding
Reno under their thumbs as long as possible.

Word must be sent, or by some oversight the remnant of the gallant
Seventh might be left to perish on the field, and those rifle pits
become their graves.

Pandy Ellis at once volunteered to accomplish this duty.

How he ever managed to dash through the redskins and live, will
probably ever remain a mystery, but he did it.

A bullet touched his arm, three more cut his clothing, and, at the last
instant, the cavalry horse he rode was shot from under him; but in
spite of all this, the brave ranger carried the news to General Terry.

As the soldiers advanced the Indians retired, and the remnant of the
Seventh Cavalry was saved.

Sleep seemed very sweet to those tired heroes that night; that much I
can vouch for.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Hold!" Mason shouted this word as if he possessed the fire of a Forest
or an Edwin Booth.

Involuntarily the giant became motionless. It was only for a few
seconds, however, and the deadly knife would have descended after all.

A pistol crack rang out with startling distinctness, awakening the
echoes of this subterranean place. The boy trailer had fired; his prey
had been tracked down, and the closing scene of the tragedy drew near.

Red Goliath dropped his blade with a howl, and clapped his hand up to
his left shoulder, where the lodging-place of the bullet could be seen
by the blood that wet his flannel shirt.

Two inches from his heart; not a bad shot, considering the excitement
consequent upon the termination of the chase, and the dim light
afforded by the cracks above, and yet it came very near costing the boy
his life.

After shooting, in his eagerness to prevent the monster from doing
Adele any harm in his dying moments (thinking his shot fatal), Mason
sprang forward and presented his revolver.

It was a bad move on his part. Although agile beyond all calculation,
his excitement made him less cautious than was his custom.

Red Goliath gave a singular cry when the boy appeared, for he
recognized him at once, even though the young gentleman he had seen in
New Orleans was now clad in the fanciful garb of a hunter.

In spite of his astonishment, the man did not lose his presence of mind
an iota.

He saw the leveled revolver, and gave it a knock that sent the weapon
spinning to the other end of the cavern, and the next instant the boy
was clasped by the giant's one useful arm.

Once in that grasp, Mason's struggles were those of an infant, and he
was soon thrown upon his back. A heavy knee upon his chest held him
down, and he was compelled to see the giant reach over and, with his
left arm, pick up the long knife.

Then eye glared at eye.

Mason's did not flinch at the blood-shot orbs that were fastened upon

He saw that blade ascend, but beyond a slight shudder it did not seem
to affect him.

Red Goliath now realized what a climax affairs had reached, and he
could not forego the temptation to tantalize the boy before dispatching

"There you lie, my little man, and there you're going to lie forever.
Thought to get the best of me, did you? Aha! Red Goliath has passed
through the jaws of death too often to give in to a mere stripling. The
fates work in my favor. Hoskins found out what it meant to meddle with
such a dangerous customer; now I'm going to give you a taste. Say your
prayers, young man, for your seconds are numbered on this earth."

Higher rose the blade, as the giant gathered strength for a mighty

Yet the boy's eyes did not quiver, but remained fastened on those of
his enemy. A minute would seem an eternity at such a time.

Red Goliath was purposely delaying his blow, to make the death agony
more potent; but he hesitated too long.

A hand that could grip like a vise caught the upraised arm, and the
giant looked up to find himself face to face with Chevalier Bolly



Adele had for ancestors, on her father's side of the house, valiant
Frenchmen, and she inherited some of their courage.

Red Goliath had paid no attention to her after Mason so suddenly
appeared upon the scene of action, and in this disregard he proved his
complete ignorance of the young girl's bravery.

When she saw the one she loved so well in the power of this rough
assassin, all fear fled for the time being from her heart, and she was

While she alone had been threatened Adele could not help being
terror-stricken, but now the case was quite altered.

The revolver that had been knocked from Mason's hand (General Custer's
revolver) lay near the young girl. Her eyes had followed its course
through the air mechanically, and as she realized what power lay in the
little weapon, her eyes flashed. She sprang forward and picked it up.

Just at this instant a man clad in a buckskin, and whose face bore the
impress of nature's nobleman, stepped into view. He held up a hand
toward Adele, as if telling her to remain a passive spectator, and she,
willing to trust her cause in such hands, suffered the revolver that
had been raised with so determined a purpose to fall to her side.

One bound, like that of a panther, served to bring Bolly Wherrit in a
position where he could enter into the game. As his iron hand came down
upon the brawny arm of the giant Hercules, the latter looked up with a
startled look. It was his last word upon earth, the curse he uttered;
for the ranger buried his knife in that broad chest, with the force of
an avenger, and threw the dying monster upon the rocky floor. Mason
sprang up and took Adele away to the other end of the cavern, in order
that she might not witness what a terrible thing death was.

I shall not dwell upon the convulsive movements of the stricken giant.

Twice he essayed to pull out a revolver, but each time Bolly kicked
his arm; and thus foiled of his devilish purpose, the savage man died,
foaming at the mouth.

Bolly stood contemplating the body with folded arms.

There was something fascinating, and at the same time repulsive, in the
bulky form lying so quiet in the arms of death, and the gray-haired
ranger shook his head as he turned away.

"It run agin the grain, that blow did, but 'twar either his life or
yers, and I took the choice. He was a fine man in shape, but a devil in
mind. Wal, it's the fate o' us all; and the only wonder air how ye've
'scaped so long. Young feller, I reckon az how yer name must be Mason
Pierrepont?" said the ranger.

"It is, sir, and to whom are we indebted for this great service," said
the boy, clasping an arm tighter around Adele than the circumstances
seemed to warrant, seeing that she was only an adopted daughter of his

His words contained a dignity that compelled Bolly to respect him.

"Bolly Wherrit air my name, tho' that ain't o' much consequence. Yer
mother engaged me to come arter the leetle gal yonder. Unfortunately I
war taken prisoner, but escaped during the fight yesterday. Kin ye tell
me anything about it?"

Mason graphically, but concisely, gave an account of Custer's
annihilation, at which the old ranger stood aghast, and it was several
moments before he recovered.

"Heavens! but thet war orful. Arter that I'm death on the reds. And ye
say my chum Pandy Ellis war in it? If they've rubbed out--but no; sech
a thing air impossible; Pandy couldn't die so easy. Custer kilt Black
Sculley wid his last shot, did he? Then thar's another boarder jest
gone. But poor Custer, an' Cooke, handsome Cooke, and Yates, wid whom
I've bunked many's the time. Poor boys, it's a bad piece o' bizness,
but ef they've kilt my Pandy Ellis, then the world won't be big enuff
ter hide ole Sitting Bull an' his chiefs from Bolly Wherrit's rifle;"
and the set teeth proclaimed every word meant as it was uttered.

By comparing notes, Mason and the ranger came to a good understanding,
and realized the situation of affairs across the river pretty

It was while they were debating as to their future course, that an
alarm occurred in the shape of the sudden appearance of an Indian, who
had stumbled upon the cave by accident, as his surprise would seem to

The prairie ranger proved too quick for the red American, however, and
hurling himself upon the Indian, he brought him to the ground.

Here he was speedily secured, with Mason's assistance, and rolled into
a corner for safe-keeping.

Fearing lest more of these unwelcome guests should make their
appearance, Bolly took his station in the passage leading to the
cavern, and there remained all night, while Mason and Adele slept
within, or at least made a pretense of sleeping.

But the darkness passed away without any alarm, and daylight found them
in the same order, only that all signs of the dead giant had strangely
vanished from the cavern, in which mystery Bolly was a participant.

Leaving the others, the ranger went out on a scout, and came back in
an hour or so with the news that the remainder of the cavalry were
intrenched among the hills on the other side of the river, and battling
with the Sioux.

Bolly also brought with him the choice portion of a deer he had shot.

It took but a short time to gather fuel, and soon the olfactories of
our friends were greeted by the delicious aroma of roasting venison.

Breakfast dispatched, the situation was discussed again, and at the end
of the council it was decided best to remain where they were, and await
the movement of the troops.

Mason being acquainted with Custer's intended plans of operation, knew
that Terry might be expected, and it might be safer for them to leave
in the care of the soldiers, for the vicinity seemed swarming with

Thus the day passed.

In the evening Bolly took another scout, and witnessed the arrival of
General Terry's men.

He was soon with the heroes who had fought so long under Major Reno,
and almost the first person he ran across was his chum.

It would have done a philosopher good to have witnessed the meeting
between these great-hearted men, each of whom feared the other was dead.

A pressure of the hand that spoke volumes was followed by the
expressive glance.

Words fail on such an occasion to convey the idea that other things can

Bolly did not wait to see any of the officers, although many of them
were known to him, but rushed his chum to the other side of the river,
where he made him acquainted with Mason and Adele.

That night the quartette of friends spent in the cave, enjoying
themselves with yarns and good cheer.

In the morning, Bolly proposed a start, urged by the young girl's
desire to see home, and the agony of that lady mother in the Southern
city, whose tears had accomplished what money alone could never have

After reaching Laramie, rapid transit was obtained, and, before many
days passed by, the city of New Orleans was reached.

Madame Pierrepont fulfilled all her promises to Bolly, and still thinks
that everything she owns would be inadequate to recompense him for
saving her dear son and adopted daughter.

I have grave suspicions (aroused by some of young Mason's warm
_brotherly_ actions) that the time is not far distant when his wealthy
mother will receive pretty Adele as her own daughter, but perhaps they
are too young as yet for more than surmises on my part.

Pandy Ellis and his partner started for the field of action again,
and by the time this reaches the reader's eye, they will doubtless be
at the side of impetuous Major Burt or some other of Cooke's gallant

On their way we lose sight of these princes of the prairies, but let us
hope it will not be forever.

Alas! poor Custer!

His memory will ever be green in the memory of his fellow-soldiers.

The whole country mourns his loss, and well they may, for a more
dashing, chivalrous, valiant cavalry chief never led his men to battle,
and though willful at times, his other qualities completely hid this

Who among us can stand forth, and pointing to himself, say, "Look at
me, and take a lesson. I am faultless?" Not one, I am sure.

And with Custer fell the flower of the army; noble men whose names
shall ever be cherished by all lovers of the good and brave.

That Pandy Ellis was their first real avenger the reader already knows.

Whether retribution shall overtake Sitting Bull and his warriors, or
not, time alone will tell.

As to the movements of the troops under Terry, also those under Cooke,
the reader can glean fresher news from the daily papers than I can give.

At present it seems that the Northwest will be the scene of a bloody
Indian war which can only terminate with the extermination of the
warriors engaged.

As to Pedro Sanchez, he has recovered from the wounds received at the
hands of his former companion, Red Goliath, but trembles whenever left
alone, for he has in some way heard of the terrible oath sworn by Pandy
Ellis to have his life; and if there is one man in the world whom the
French Spaniard fears it is the veteran trapper chief.

From the limited papers at my command I have drawn this tale out of the
terrible death-ride still so fresh in the public mind, and now that
Custer has gone to join his brave fellow-officers in the spirit world,
I hope all his faults, such as they were, may be overlooked, and due
reverence shown for the name of our missing hero.


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  462 THE JAMES BOYS AND THE VIGILANTES.              By D. W. Stevens.
  466 THE JAMES BOYS AND THE KU KLUX.                 By D. W. Stevens.
  469 THE JAMES BOYS IN CALIFORNIA.                   By D. W. Stevens.
  474 THE JAMES BOYS AS TRAIN WRECKERS.               By D. W. Stevens.
  479 THE JAMES BOYS IN MINNESOTA.                    By D. W. Stevens.
  482 THE JAMES BOYS AS HIGHWAYMEN.                   By D. W. Stevens.
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  521 THE JAMES BOYS IN COURT.                        By D. W. Stevens.
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Transcriber's Notes:

Added table of contents.

Italics are used to represent _italics_.

Retained inconsistent spellings in dialect (e.g. "yallar-haired" vs.

Retained some inconsistent hyphenation (e.g. "red-skin" vs. "redskin").

Page 2, changed period to question mark after "fight fur her cubs?"

Page 3, added missing apostrophe to "thar's" in "thar's eggscitin'
times comin'." Corrected "Indion" to "Indian" in "through the Indian
camp." Changed "Scully" to "Sculley" for consistency with later

Page 4, corrected "entertained suspicious" to "entertained suspicions;"
"on the drags" to "on the crags;" and "had accidentally became" to "had
accidentally become." Corrected "Bowle" to "Bowie."

Page 5, changed "cry of a participant" to "eye of a participant."
Changed "powder-begrimmed" to "powder-begrimed." Corrected "Wherritt"
to "Wherrit" ("Bolly Wherrit proved too willing").

Page 6, removed duplicate "a" from "battle and not a massacre." Changed
comma to period after "all sorts of plunder." Added missing "r" to "I
can and do affirm."

Page 7, added missing period after "sumpin important." Corrected
"detestion" to "detestation." Changed "world" to "word" in "that word

Page 8, corrected "cautiousty" to "cautiously" ("slowly and
cautiously"). Corrected "firs" to "furs" ("pile of furs lay just

Page 9, corrected "disiinguished" to "distinguished" ("slain his
distinguished foeman"). Added missing apostrophe to "Pedro's hands
failed to do their duty." Corrected "miscreat" to "miscreant"
("flattening the miscreant").

Page 10, corrected "puled" to "pulled" ("Bolly pulled it out again").

Page 11, changed "know" to "known" ("is already known"). Added missing
apostrophe to "think I can't tell." Corrected "semed" to "seemed"
("familiarity he seemed to resent"). Corrected "uuder" to "under"
("every man of 'em had gone under").

Page 12, changed "gripe" to "grip" in "grip like a vise." Corrected
period to question mark in "Kin ye tell me anything about it?"
Corrected "situaiion" to "situation" ("situation was discussed again").

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Custer's Last Shot - or, The Boy Trailer of the Little Horn" ***

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