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together, after their clumsy fashion, under the burning
Some were rolling on the ground amid a cloud of dust; others, with a hoarse rumbling bellow, were butting their large heads together, while many stood motionless, as if quite inanimate. Except their monstrous growth of tangled grizzly mane, they had no hair; for their old coat had fallen off in the spring, and their new one had not as yet appeared. Sometimes an old bull would step forward, and gaze at me with a grim and stupid countenance; then he would turn and butt his next neighbor; then he would lie down and roll over in the dirt, kicking his hoofs in the air. When satisfied with this amusement he would jerk his head and shoulders upward, and resting on his forelegs stare at me in this position, half blinded by his mane, and his face covered with dirt; then up he would spring upon all fours, and shake his dusty sides; turning half around, he would stand with his beard touching the ground, in an attitude of profound abstraction, as if reflecting on his puerile' conduct. “You are too ugly to live," thought I; and aiming at the ugliest, I shot three of them in succession. The rest were not at all discomposed at this; they kept on bellowing and butting and rolling on the ground as before. Henry Chatillon always cautioned us to keep perfectly quiet in the presence of a wounded buffalo, for any movement is apt to excite him to make an attack; so I sat still upon the ground, loading and firing with as little motion as possible. While I was thus em
ployed, a spectator made his appearance: a little antelope came running up with remarkable gentleness to within fifty yards; and there it stood, its slender neck arched, its small horns thrown back, and its large dark eyes gazing on me with a look of eager curiosity. By the side of the shaggy and brutish monsters before me, it seemed like some lovely young girl wandering near a den of robbers or a nest of bearded pirates. The buffalo looked uglier than ever. “Here goes for another of you,” thought I, feeling in my pouch for a percussion-cap. Not a percussion-cap was there. My good rifle was useless as an old iron bar. One of the wounded bulls had not yet fallen, and I waited for some time, hoping every moment that his strength would fail him. He still stood firm, looking grimly at me, and from necessity disregarding Henry's advice I rose and walked away. Many of the bulls turned and looked at me, but the wounded brute made no attack. I soon came upon a deep ravine which would give me shelter in case of emergency; so I turned round and threw a stone at the bulls. They received it with the utmost indifference. Feeling myself insulted at their refusal to be frightened, I swung my hat, shouted, and made a show of running toward them; at this they crowded together and galloped off, leaving their dead and wounded upon the field. As I moved toward the camp I saw the last survivor totter and fall dead. My speed in returning was wonderfully quickened by the reflection that the
Pawnees were abroad, and that I was defenseless in case of meeting with an enemy. I saw no living thing, however, except two or three squalid old bulls scrambling among the sand-hills that flanked the great ravine. When I reached camp the party were nearly ready for the afternoon move.
We encamped that evening at a short distance from the river bank. About midnight, as we all lay asleep on the ground, the man nearest to me gently reaching out his hand, touched my shoulder, and cautioned me at the same time not to move. It was bright starlight. Opening my eyes and slightly turning, I saw a large white wolf moving stealthily around the embers of our fire, with his nose close to the ground. Disengaging my hand from the blanket, I drew the cover from my rifle, which lay close at my side; the motion alarmed the wolf, and with long leaps he bounded out of the camp. Jumping up, I fired after him when he was about thirty yards distant; the melancholy hum of the bullet sounded far away through the night. At the sharp report, so suddenly breaking upon the stillness, all the men sprang up.
“You've killed him," said one of them.
“No, I haven't,” said I; "there he goes, running along the river."
“Then there's two of them. Don't you see that one lying out yonder?"
We went out to it, and instead of a dead white wolf found the bleached skull of a buffalo. I had missed my mark, and what was worse, had grossly
violated a standing law of the prairie. When in a dangerous part of the country, it is considered highly imprudent to fire a gun after encamping, lest the report should reach the ears of the Indians.
The horses were saddled in the morning, and the last man had lighted his pipe at the dying ashes of the fire. The beauty of the day enlivened us all. Even Ellis felt its influence, and occasionally made a remark as we rode along, and Jim Gurney told endless stories of his cruisings in the United States service. The buffalo were abundant, and at length a large band of them went running up the hills on the left.
“Do you see them buffalo?” said Ellis, “now I'll bet any man I'll go and kill one with my yager.”
And leaving his horse to follow on with the party, he strode up the hill after them. Henry looked at us with his peculiar humorous expression, and proposed that we should follow Ellis to see how he would kill a fat cow. As soon as he was out of sight we rode up the hill after him, and waited behind a little ridge till we heard the report of the unfailing yager. Mounting to the top, we saw Ellis clutching his favorite weapon with both hands, and staring after the buffalo, who one and all were galloping off at full speed. As we descended the hill we saw the party straggling along the trail below. When we joined them, another scene of amateur hunting awaited us. I forgot to say that when we met the volunteers Tête Rouge had obtained a horse from
one of them, in exchange for his mule, whom he feared and detested. This horse he christened James. James, though not worth so much as the mule, was a large and strong animal. Tête Rouge was very proud of his new acquisition, and suddenly became ambitious to run a buffalo with him. At his request, I lent him my pistols, though not without great misgivings, since when Tête Rouge hunted buffalo the pursuer was in more danger than the pursued. hung the holsters at his saddle-bow; and now, as we passed along, a band of bulls left their grazing in the meadow and galloped in a long file across the trail in front.
“Now's your chance, Tête; come, let's see you kill a bull."
Thus urged, the hunter cried, "Get up!" and James, obedient to the signal, cantered deliberately forward at an abominably uneasy gait. Tête Rouge, as we contemplated him from behind, made a most remarkable figure. He still wore the old buffalo coat; his blanket, which was tied in a loose bundle behind his saddle, went jolting from one side to the other, and a large tin canteen half full of water, which hung from his pommel, was jerked about his leg in a manner which greatly embarrassed him.
“Let out your horse, man; lay on your whip!" we called out to him. The buffalo were getting farther off at every instant. James, being ambitious to mend his pace, tugged hard at the rein, and one of his rider's boots escaped from the stirrup.