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Full text of "The great Sioux trail : a story of mountain and plain"

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>SEPH * ALTSHELER 



THE GREAT 
SIOUX TRAIL 



By JOSEPH A. ALTSHELER 

THE CIVIL WAR SERIES 

The Guns of Bull Run The Star of Gettysburg 

The Guns of Shiloh The Rock of Chickamaugua 

The Scouts of Stonewall The Shades of the Wilderness 

The Sword of Antietam The Tree of Appomattox 

THE WORLD WAR SERIES 

The Guns of Europe 
The Forest of Swords The Hosts of the Air 

THE YOUNG TRAILERS SERIES 

The Young Trailers The Free Rangers 

The Forest Runners The Riflemen of the Ohio 

The Keepers of the Trail The Scouts of the Valley 
The Eyes of the Woods The Border Watch 

THE TEXAN SERIES 

The Texan Star 
The Texan Scouts The Texan Triumph 

THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WAR SERIES 

Th Hunters of the Hills The Shadow of the North 
The Rulers of the Lakes 

BOOKS NOT IN SERIES 
The Great Sioux Trail A Soldier of Manhattan 

Apache Gold The Sun of Saratoga 

The Quest of tb Fwir A Herald of the West 

The Last of tfc Chiefs The Wilderness Road 

In Circling Camps My Captive 

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY, NEW YORK 

167-G. 




A stroke of a great paw and the rifle was dashed from 
the hands of the old chief. [PAGE 288.] 



THE GREAT 
SIOUX TRAIL 

A STORY OF MOUNTAIN AND PLAIN 

BY 

JOSEPH A. ALTSHELER 

AUTHOR OF 

"THE RULE s OP THE LAKES," 
"THE SHADOW or THE NORTH," ETC. 




ILLUSTRATED BT 

CHARLES L. \\RENN 



D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 

NEW YORK LONDON 

1918 



Copyright, 1918, by 
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY 



Printed in the United States of America 



FOREWORD 



"The Great Sioux Trail" is the first of a group of 
romances concerned with the opening of the Great West 
just after the Civil War, and having a solid historical 
basis. They will be connected by the presence of leading 
characters in all the volumes, but every one will be in 
itsalf a complete story. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I THE Sioux WARNING i 

II THE NARROW ESCAPE 25 

III THE LITTLE GIANT 53 

IV THE FLIGHT 84 

V THE WHITE DOME in 

VI THE OUTLAW 134 

VII THE BEAVER HUNTER 157 

VIII THE MOUNTAIN RAM 177 

IX THE BUFFALO MARCH 199 

X THE WAR CLUB'S FALL 229 

XI THE YOUNG SLAVE 246 

XII THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 266 

XIII THE REWARD OF MERIT 290 

XIV THE DREADFUL NIGHT 315 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

A stroke of a great paw and the rifle was dashed 
from the hands of the old chief . . . Frontispiece 

FACING PAGE 

The rifle sprang to his shoulder, a jet of flame leaped 
from the muzzle 48 

The body of a warrior shot downward, striking on 
the ledges 190 

"If he ever looks upon a white face again it will be 
the face of one who is a friend of the Sioux" . 256 



THE 
GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

CHAPTER I 

THE SIOUX WARNING 

THE scene cast a singular spell, uncanny and 
exciting, over young Clarke. The sweep of 
plains on one side, and on the other the dim 
outline of mountains behind which a blood-red sun 
was sinking, gave it a setting at once majestic and 
full of menace. The horizon, as the twilight spread 
over its whole surface, suggested the wilderness, the 
unknown and many dangers. 

The drama passing before his eyes deepened and 
intensified his feeling that he was surrounded by the 
unusual. The fire burned low, the creeping dusk 
reached the edge of the thin forest to the right, and 
soon, with the dying of the flames, it would envelop 
the figures of both Sioux and soldiers. Will's gaze 
had roved from one to another, but now it remained 
fixed upon the chief, who was speaking with all the 
fire, passion and eloquence so often characteristic 

1 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

of the great Indian leaders. He was too far away to 
hear the words, as only the officers of the troop were 
allowed at the conference, but he knew they were 
heavy with import, and the pulses in his temples beat 
hard and fast. 

"Who is the Indian chief?" he said to Boyd, the 
scout and hunter, who stood by his side. "He seems 
to be a man." 

"He is," replied Boyd with emphasis. "He's a 
man, and a great man, too. That's Red Cloud, the 
war chief of the Ogalala Sioux, Mahpeyalute, they 
call him in their language, one of the bravest war- 
riors that ever lived, and a thinker, as well. If he'd 
been born white he'd be governor of a big state by 
this time, and later on he might become president of 
'em all." 

"I've heard of him. He's one of our most danger- 



ous enemies." 



"So he is, Will. It's because he thinks we're going 
to spread over the Sioux country in which he's right 
and not because he hates us as men. I've known 
him in more peaceful times, and we've done each 
other good turns, but under that black hair of his 
beats a brain that can look far ahead and plan. He 
means to close to us the main trail through the Sioux 
country, and the Sioux range running halfway across 
the continent, and halfway from Canada to Mexico. 
Mountain and plain alike are theirs." 

"I can't keep from having a certain sympathy with 
him, Jim. It's but natural that they should want to 
keep the forests and the great buffalo ranges." 

2 



THE SIOUX WARNING 

"I share their feelings, too, though white I am, and 
to the white people I belong. I hate to think of the 
continent ploughed into fields everywhere, and with a 
house always in sight. Anyhow, it won't happen in 
my time, because in the west here there are so many 
mountains and the Sioux and Cheyennes are so war- 
like that the plough will have a hard time getting in." 

"And the country is so vast, too. But watch Red 
Cloud. He points to the west! Now he drops his 
hand, doubles his fist and stretches his arm across the 
way. What does it mean, Jim?" 

"It's a gesture telling Captain Kenyon that the road 
is barred to soldiers, settlers, hunters, all of us. Far 
to the south we may still follow the gold trails to 
California, but here at the edge of this mighty wilder- 
ness we must turn back. The nations of the Dakota, 
whom we call the Sioux, have said so." 

Mahpeyalute lowered his arm, which he had thrust 
as a barrier across the way, but his fist remained 
clenched, and raising it he shook it again. The sun 
had sunk over the dim mountains in the north 
and the burning red there was fading. All the thin 
forest was clothed now in dusk, and the figure of 
the chief himself grew dimmer. Yet the twilight 
enlarged him and lent to him new aspects of power and 
menace. As he made his gesture of defiance, young 
Clarke, despite his courage, felt the blood grow chill 
in his veins. It seemed at the moment in this dark 
wilderness that the great Indian leader had the power 
to make good his threats and close the way forever to 
the white race. 

8 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

The other Indians, ten in number, stood with their 
arms folded, and they neither stirred nor spoke. But 
they listened with supreme attention to every word of 
their redoubtable champion, the great Mahpeyalute. 
Will knew that the Sioux were subdivided into nations 
or tribes, and he surmised that the silent ones were 
their leaders, although he knew well enough that Red 
Cloud was an Ogalala, and that the Ogalalas were 
merely one of the Tetons who, federated with the 
others, made up the mighty Sioux nation. But the 
chief, by the force of courage and intellect, had raised 
himself from a minor place to the very headship. 

Red Cloud was about fifty years old, and, while at 
times he wore the white man's apparel, at least in 
part, he was now clothed wholly in Indian attire. A 
blanket of dark red was looped about his shoulders, 
and he carried it with as much grace as a Roman 
patrician ever wore the toga. His leggings and moc- 
casins of fine tanned deerskin were decorated beau- 
tifully with beads, and a magnificent war bonnet of 
feathers, colored brilliantly, surmounted his thick, 
black hair. 

He was truly a leader of wild and barbaric splendor 
in surroundings that fitted him. But it was not his 
tall, powerful figure nor his dress that held Will's gaze. 
It was his strong face, fierce, proud and menacing, 
like the sculptured relief of some old Assyrian king, 
and in very truth, with high cheek bones and 
broad brow, he might have been the reincarnation of 
some old Asiatic conqueror. 

The young officer seemed nervous and doubtful. 



THE SIOUX WARNING 

He switched the tops of his riding boots with a small 
whip, and then looked into the fierce eyes of the chief, 
as if to see that he really meant what he said. Ken- 
yon was fresh from the battlefields of the great civil 
war, where he had been mentioned specially in orders 
more than once for courage and intelligence, but here 
he felt himself in the presence of an alarming puzzle. 
His mission was to be both diplomat and warrior. He 
was not sure where the duties of diplomat ceased and 
those of warrior began. 

Meanwhile his protagonist, the Indian chief, had 
no doubt at all about his own intentions and was 
stating them with a clearness that could not be mis- 
taken. Captain Kenyon continued to switch his boot 
uneasily and to take a nervous step back and forth, 
his figure outlined against the fire. Young Clarke felt 
a certain sympathy for him, placed without experi- 
ence in a situation so delicate and so full of peril. 

The Ogalala stopped talking and looked straight at 
the officer, standing erect and waiting, as if he ex- 
pected a quick answer, and only the kind of answer, 
too, that he wished. Meanwhile there was silence, save 
for an occasional crackle of burning wood. 

Both young Clarke and the hunter, Boyd, felt with 
all the intensity of conviction that it was a moment 
charged with fate. The white people had come from 
the Atlantic to the great plains, but the mighty Sioux 
nation now barred the way to the whole Northwest, 
it was not a barrier to be passed easily. Will, as 
he said, understood, too, the feelings of Mahpeya- 
lute. Had he been an Ogalala like the chief he 

5 



THE GREAT SIOUX TOAIL 

would have felt as the Ogalala felt. Yet, whatever 
happened, he and Boyd meant to go on, because they 
had a mission that was calling them all the time. 

The Captain at last said a few words, and Red 
Cloud, who had been motionless while he waited, took 
from under his blanket a pipe with a long curved 
stem. Will was surprised. He knew something of 
Indian custom, but he had not thought that the fierce 
Ogalala chief would propose to smoke a pipe of peace 
at a time like the present. Nor was any such thought 
in the mind of Red Cloud. Instead, he suddenly struck 
the stem of the pipe across the trunk of a sapling, 
breaking it in two, and as the bowl fell upon the 
ground he put his foot upon it, shattering it. Then, 
raising his hand in a salute to Captain Kenyon, he 
turned upon his heel and walked away, all the other 
Indians following him without a word. At the edge 
of the thin forest they mounted their ponies and rode 
out of sight in the darkness. 

Captain Kenyon stood by the fire, gazing thought- 
fully into the dying coals, while the troopers, directed 
by the sergeants, were spreading the blankets for the 
night. Toward the north, where the foothills showed 
dimly, a wolf howled. The lone, sinister note seemed 
to arouse the officer, who gave some orders to the men 
and then turned to meet the hunter and the lad. 

'Tve no doubt you surmised what the Indian 
meant," he said to Boyd. 

"I fancy he was telling you all the trails through 
the Northwest were closed to the white people," said 
the hunter. 

6 



THE SIOUX WARNING 

"Yes, that was it, and his warning applied to hunt- 
ers, scouts and gold-seekers as well as settlers. He 
told me that the Sioux would not have their hunting 
grounds invaded, and the buffalo herds on which they 
live destroyed." 

"What he told you, Captain, is in the heart of every 
warrior of their nation. The Northern Cheyennes, a 
numerous and warlike tribe, feel the same way, also. 
The army detachments are too few and too scattered 
to hold back the white people, and a great and terrible 
war is coming." 

"At least," said Captain Kenyon, "I must do my 
duty as far as I may. I can't permit you and your 
young friend, Mr. Clarke, to go into the Sioux coun- 
try. The Indian chief, Red Cloud, showed himself 
to be a fierce and resolute man and you would soon 
lose your lives." 

Will's face fell, but the hunter merely shrugged his 
great shoulders. 

"But you'll permit us to pass the night in your 
camp, Captain?" he said. 

"Of course. Gladly. You're welcome to what we 
have. I'd not drive anybody away from company 
and fire." 

"We thank you, Captain Kenyon," said Will 
warmly. "It's a genuine pleasure to us to be the 
guests of the army when we're surrounded by such 
a wilderness." 

Their horses were tethered nearby with those of the 
troop, and securing their blankets from their packs 
they spread them on dead leaves near the fire. 

7 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"You'll take breakfast with us in the morning," 
said Captain Kenyon hospitably, "and then I'll decide 
which way to go, and what task we're to undertake. 
I wish you'd join us as scout, hunter and guide, Mr. 
Boyd. We need wisdom like yours, and Mr. Clarke 
could help us> too." 

"I've been independent too long," replied the hunter 
lightly. "I've wandered mountain and plain so many 
years at my own free will that I couldn't let myself 
be bound now by military rules. But I thank you 
for the compliment, just the same, Captain Kenyon." 

He and Will Clarke lay down side by side with 
their feet to the fire, their blankets folded about them 
rather closely, as the air, when the night advanced 
and the coals died completely, was sur'e to gr'ow cold. 
Will was troubled, as he was extremely anxious to go 
on at once, but he reflected that Jim Boyd was one 
of the greatest of all frontiersmen and he would be 
almost sure to find a way. Summoning his will, he 
dismissed anxiety from his mind and lay quite still, 
seeking sleep. 

The camp was now quiet and the fire was sinking 
rapidly. Sentinels walked on every side, but Will 
could not see them from where he lay. A light wind 
blowing down from the mountains moaned through 
the thin forest. Clouds came up from the west, blot- 
ting out the horizon and making the sky a curving 
dome of blackness. Young William Clarke felt that 
it was good to have comrades in the immense desola- 
tion, and it strengthened his spirit to see the soldiers 
rolled in their blankets, their feet to the dying coals. 

8 



THE SIOUX WARNING 

Yet his trouble about the future came back. He 
and Boyd^jvere in truth and reality prisoners. Cap- 
tain Kenyon was friendly and kind, but he would not 
let them go on, because the Sioux and Cheyennes had 
barred all the trails and the formidable Red Cloud had 
given a warning that could not be ignored. Making 
another effort, he dismissed the thought a second 
time and just as the last coals were fading into the 
common blackness he fell asleep. 

He was awakened late in the night by a hand push- 
ing gently but insistently against his shoulder. He 
was about to sit up abruptly, but the voice of Boyd 
whispered in his ear : 

"Be very careful ! Make no noise ! Release your- 
self from your blanket and then do what I say 1" 

The hand fell away from his shoulder, and, moving 
his head a little, Clarke looked carefully over the 
camp. The coals where the fire had been were cold 
and dead, and no light shone there. The figures of 
the sleeping soldiers were dim in the dusk, but evi- 
dently they slept soundly, as not one of them stirred. 
He heard the regular breathing of those nearest to 
him, and the light step of the sentinel just beyond a 
clump of dwarf pines. 

"Sit up now," whispered Boyd, "and when the sen- 
tinel passes a little farther away well creep from the 
camp. Be sure you don't step on a stick or trip over 
anything. Keep close behind me. The night's as 
black as pitch, and it's our one chance to escape from 
friends who are too hospitable." 

Will saw the hunter slowly rise to a stooping po- 

9 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

sition, and he did likewise. Then when the sound of 
the sentinel's step was lost at the far end of his beat, 
Boyd walked swiftly away from the canfldknd Will 
followed on his trail. The lad glanced back once, 
and saw that the dim figures by the dead fire did not 
stir. Weary and with the soothing wind blowing over 
them, they slept heavily. It was evident that the two 
who would go their own way had nothing to fear 
from them. There was now no bar to their depar- 
ture, save the unhappy chance of being seen by the 
sentinel. 

A rod from the camp and Boyd lay flat upon the 
ground, Will, without the need of instruction, imi- 
tating him at once. The sentinel was coming back, 
but like his commander he was a soldier of the civil 
war, used to open battlefields, and he did not see the 
two shadows in the dusk. He reached the end of his 
beat and turning went back again, disappearing once 
more beyond the stunted pines. 

"Now's our time," whispered Boyd, and rising he 
walked away swiftly but silently, Will close behind 
him. Three hundred yards, and they stopped by the 
trunk of a mountain oak. 

"We're clear of the soldiers now," said the hunter, 
"but we must have our horses. Without 'em and the 
supplies they carry we'd be lost. I don't mean any- 
thing against you, Will. You're a likely lad and 
you learn as fast as the best of 'em, but it's for me to 
cut out the horses and bring 'em here. Do you think 
you can wait patiently at this place till I come with 
'em?" 



THE SIOUX WARNING 

"No, Jim, I can't wait patiently, but I can wait 
n^^ I'll make myself keep still." 

"That's good enough. On occasion I can be as good 
a horsethief as the best Sioux or Crow or Cheyenne 
that ever lived, only it's our own horses that I'm 
going to steal. They've a guard, of course, but 
I'll slip past him. Now use all your patience, Will." 

"I will," said the lad, as he leaned against the trunk 
of the oak. Then he became suddenly aware that he 
no longer either saw or heard Boyd. The hunter had 
vanished as completely and as silently as if he had 
melted into the air, but Will knew that he was going 
toward the thin forest, where the horses grazed or 
rested at the end of their lariats. 

All at once he felt terribly alone. He heard noth- 
ing now but the moaning of the wind that came down 
from the far mountains. The camp was gone, Boyd 
was gone, the horses were invisible, and he was the 
only human being in the gigantic and unknown North- 
west. The air felt distinctly colder and he shivered 
a little. It was not fear, it was merely the feeling 
that he was cut off from the race like a shipwrecked 
sailor on a desert island. He took himself meta- 
phorically by the shoulders and gave his body a good 
shake. Boyd would be coming back soon with the 
horses, and then he would have the best of comrade- 
ship. 

But the hunter was a long time in returning, a 
half hour that seemed to Will a full two hours, but 
at last, when he had almost given him up, he heard 
a tread approaching. He had experience enough to 

11 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

know that the sound was made by hoofs, and that 
Boyd was successful. He realized now, so great was 
his confidence in the hunter's skill, that failure had 
not entered his mind. 

The sound came nearer, and it was made by more 
than one horse. Then the figure of the hunter ap- 
peared in the darkness and behind him came four 
horses, the two that they rode, and the extra animals 
for the packs. 

"Splendidly done!" exclaimed the lad. "But I 
knew you could do it!" 

"It was about as delicate a job as I ever handled," 
said Boyd, with a certain amount of pride in his tone, 
"but by waiting until I had a good chance I was able 
to cut 'em out. It was patience that did it. I tell 
you, lad, patience is about the greatest quality a 
man can have. It's the best of all winners." 

"I suppose that's the reason, Jim, it's so hard to 
exercise it at times. Although I had nothing to do 
and took none of the risk, it seemed to me you 
were gone several hours." 

Boyd laughed a little. 

"It proves what I told you," he said, "but we 
want to get away from here as quick as we can now. 
You lead two of the horses, I'll lead the other two, 
and we won't mount for a while yet. I don't think 
they can hear us at the camp, but we won't give 'em 
a chance to do so if we can help it." 

He trod a course straight into the west, the ground, 
fortunately, being soft and the hoofs of the horses 
making but little sound. Although the darkness hung 

12 



THE SIOUX WARNING 

as thick and close as ever, the skillful woodsman found 
the way instinctively, and neither stumbled nor trod 
upon the fallen brushwood. Young Clarke, just be- 
hind him, followed in his tracks, also stepping lightly 
and he knew enough not to ask any questions, con- 
fident that Boyd would take them wherever they 
Dished to go. 

It was a full two hours before the hunter stopped 
and then they stood on a low hill covered but thinly 
with the dwarfed trees of that region. The night was 
lightening a little, a pallid moon and sparse stars 
creeping out in the heavens. By the faint light young 
Clarke saw only a wild and rugged country, low hills 
about them and in the north the blur that he knew 
to be mountains. 

"We can stand up straight now and talk in our natu- 
ral voices," said Boyd, in a clear, full tone, "and right 
glad I am, too. I hate to steal away from friends, 
as if you were running from the law. That Captain 
Kenyon is a fine fellow, though he and his men don't 
know much about this wild country." 

"Isn't this about the same direction that Red Cloud 
and his warriors took ?" asked Will. 

"Not far from it, but we won't run into 'em. 
They're miles and miles ahead. There's a big Sioux 
village two or three days' journey farther on, and it's 
a certainty that their ponies are headed straight for 
it." 

"And we won't keep going for the same village?" 

The big hunter laughed infectiously. 

"Not if we know what is good for us," he replied, 

13 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"and we think we do. Our trail leads far to the north" 
of the Sioux town, and, when we start again, we'll 
make an abrupt change in our course. There's enough 
moonlight now for you to see the face of your watch, 
and tell me the time, Will." 

"Half-past one, Jim." 

"And four or five hours until morning. We'll move 
on again. There's a chance that some pursuing sol- 
dier might find us here, one chance in a thousand, so 
to speak, but slim as it is it is well to guard against it. 
Mount your horse. There's no reason now why we 
shouldn't ride." 

Will sprang gladly into the saddle, leading his pack- 
animal by the lariat, and once more followed Boyd, 
who rode down the hill into a wide and shallow val- 
ley, containing a scattered forest of good growth. 
Boyd's horse raised his head suddenly and neighed. 

"What does that mean?" asked Will, startled. 
"Sioux?" 

"No," replied the hutner. "I know this good and 
faithful brute so well that he and I can almost talk 
together. I've learned the meaning of every neigh he 
utters and the one you have just heard indicates that 
he has smelled water. In this part of the world water 
is something that you must have on your mind most 
of the time, and his announcement is welcome." 

"If there's a stream, do we camp by it?" 

"We certainly do. We won't turn aside from the 
luck that fortune puts in our way. We're absolutely 
safe from the soldiers now. They can't trail us in 
the night, and we've come many miles." 

14 



THE SIOUX WARNING 

They descended a long slope and came into the val- 
ley, finding the grass there abundant, and, flowing 
down the centre, a fine brook of clear cold water, 
from which horses and horsemen drank eagerly. 
Then they unsaddled and prepared for rest and food. 

"Is there no danger here from the Sioux?" asked 
Will. 

"I think not," replied the hunter. "I've failed to 
find a pony track, and I'm quite sure I saw a buck 
among the trees over there. If the Indians had passed 
this way there would have been no deer to meet our 
eyes, and you and I, Will, my lad, will take without 
fear the rest we need so much." 

"I see that the brook widens and deepens into a 
pool a little farther on, and as I'm caked with dust 
and dirt I think I'll take a bath." 

"Go ahead. I've never heard that a man was less 
brave or less enduring because he liked to keep clean. 
You'll feel a lot better when it's done." 

Will took off his clothes and sprang into the 
pool which had a fine, sandy bottom. The chill at 
once struck into his marrow. He had not dreamed 
that it was so cold. The hunter laughed when he 
saw him shivering. 

"That water comes down from the high moun- 
tains," he said, "and a few degrees more of cold would 
turn it into ice. But splash, Will ! Splash ! and you'll 
feel fine!" 

Young Clarke obeyed and leaped and splashed with 
great energy, until his circulation grew vigorous and 
warm. When he emerged upon the bank his whole 

15 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

body was glowing and he felt a wonderful exhilara- 
tion, both physical and mental. He ran up and down 
the bank until he was dry, and then resumed his 
clothing. 

"You look so happy now that I'll try it myself," 
said Boyd, and he was soon in the water, puffing and 
blowing like a big boy. When he had resumed his 
deerskins it was almost day. A faint, line of silver 
showed in the east, and above them the sky was gray 
with the coming dawn. 

"I'll light a little fire and make coffee," said Boyd, 
"but the rest of the breakfast must be cold. Still, a 
cup of coffee on a chill morning puts life into a man." 

Will, with the zeal characteristic of him, was al- 
ready gathering dead brushwood, and Boyd soon 
boiled the grateful brown liquid, of which they drank 
not one cup but two each, helping out the break- 
fast with crackers and strips of dried beef. Then 
the pot and the cups were returned to the packs and 
the hunter carefully put out the fire. 

"It's a good thing we loaded those horses well," 
he said, "because we'll need everything we have. Now 
you roll up in your blanket, Will, and get the rest of 
your sleep." 

"And you feel sure there is no danger? I don't 
want to leave all the responsibility to you. I'd like to 
do what I can." 

"Don't bother yourself about it. The range of the 
Sioux is farther west mostly, and it's not likely 
we could find a better place than this for our own 
little private camp." 

16 



THE SIOUX WARNING 

v 

The coming of a bright, crisp day removed from 

Will the feeling of desolation that the wilderness had 
created in his mind. Apprehension and loneliness dis- 
appeared with the blackness of the night. He was 
with one of the best scouts and hunters in the 
West, and the sun was rising upon a valley of uncom- 
mon beauty. All about him the trees grew tall and 
large, without undergrowth, the effect being that of 
a great park, with grass thick and green, upon which 
the horses were grazing in deep content. The waters 
of the brook sang a little song as they hurried over 
the gravel, and the note of everything was so strongly 
of peace that the lad, wearied by their flight and 
mental strain, fell asleep in a few minutes. 

It was full noon when he awoke, and, somewhat 
ashamed of himself, he sprang up, ready to apologize, 
but the hunter waved a deprecatory hand. 

"You didn't rest too long," said Boyd. "You 
needed it. As for me, I'm seasoned and hard, adapted 
by years of practice to the life I lead. It's nothing to 
me to pass a night without sleep, and to catch up later 
on. While you were lying there in your blanket I 
scouted the valley thoroughly, leaving the horses to 
watch over you. It's about two miles long and a mile 
broad. At the lower end the brook flows into a nar- 
row chasm." 

"What did you find in the valley itself, Jim?" 

"Track of bear, deer, wolf and panther, but no 
sign of human being, white or red. It's certain that 
we're the only people in it, but if we need game we 
can find it. It's a good sign, showing that this part 

17 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

of the country has not been hunted over by the In- 
dians." 

"Before long we'll have to replenish our food sup- 
ply with game." 

"Yes, that's certain. We want to draw as little on 
our flour and coffee as we can. We can do without 
'em, but when you don't have 'em you miss 'em ter- 
ribly." 

The stores had been heaped at the foot of a tree, 
while the pack horses, selected for their size and 
strength, nibbled at the rich grass. Will contemplated 
the little mound of supplies with much satisfaction. 
They had not started upon the path of peril without 
due preparation. 

Each carried a breech-loading, repeating rifle of the 
very latest make, a weapon yet but little known on the 
border. In the packs were two more rifles of the same 
kind, two double-barreled, breech-loading shotguns, 
thousands of cartridges, several revolvers, two strong 
axes, medicines, extra blankets, and, in truth, every- 
thing needed by a little army of two on the march. 
Boyd, a man of vast experience in the wilderness, had 
selected the outfit and he was proud of its completeness. 

"Don't you think, Jim," said young Clarke, "that 
you might take a little sleep this afternoon? You've 
just said that we've nothing to dread in the valley, and 
I can watch while you build yourself up." 

Boyd gave him a quick but keen glance. He saw 
that the lad's pride was at stake, and that he was anx- 
ious to be trusted with an important task. Looking at 
his alert face, and knowing his active intellect, the 

18 



THE SIOUX WARNING 

hunter knew that he would learn swiftly the ways of 
the wilderness. 

"A good idea," he said in tones seemingly careless. 
"I'll change my mind and take a nap. Wake me up if 
you see strange signs or think anything is going to 
happen." 

Without further word he spread his blanket on the 
leaves and in a minute or two was off to slumberland. 
.Will, full of pride, put his fine breech-loader over his 
shoulder and began his watch. The horses, having 
eaten' their fill, were lying down in the grass, and his 
own nuzzled his hand as he stroked their noses. 

He walked some distance among the trees, and he 
was impressed more and more by the resemblance of 
the valley to a great park, a park hitherto untrodden 
by man. Although he was not lonely or depressed 
now he felt very remote from civilization. The cities 
of the East, so far as his mind was concerned, were 
now on the other side of the world. The unknown, 
vast and interminable, had closed about him. 

Yet he felt a momentary exultation. Boyd and he 
would find a path through every peril. His walk 
brought him back to the edge of the brook, where for 
a little space thick bushes grew, and he heard a snarl- 
ing growl, followed by a rush that could be made only 
by a heavy body. He started violently, the pulses beat 
hard in his temples and he promptly presented his 
rifle. Then he laughed at himself. He caught a 
glimpse of a long, yellowish body and he knew it was 
a mountain lion, much more alarmed than he, and 
fleeing with all speed to the hills. 

19 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

He must be steadier of nerve and he gave himself a 
stern rebuke. Farther down the valley the brook 
widened again into a deep pool, and in the water, as 
clear as silver, he saw fine mountain trout, darting 
here and there. If they stayed a day or two in the 
valley he would come and catch several of the big 
fellows, as they were well provided with fishing tackle, 
which Boyd said would be a great resource, saving 
much ammunition. 

He went farther, and then climbed the hill which 
enclosed the valley on that side, obtaining from its crest 
a northern view of rolling plains, with the dim blue 
outline of the high mountains far beyond. He sur- 
mised that the group of hills in which they now lay 
was of limited area, and that when they continued 
their journey they must take once more to the plains, 
where they would be exposed to the view of roving 
Sioux. His heart throbbed as he looked over that 
great open expanse, and realized anew the danger. The 
pocket in the hills in which they lay was surely a 
safe and comfortable place, and one need be in no 
hurry to abandon it. 

When he went back to the camp Boyd was just 
awakening, and as he looked at Will his eyes twinkled. 

"Well, what did you find?" he asked. "Anything 
besides tracks of animals?*' 

"I found an animal himself," replied the lad. "I 
scared him up in the bushes at the brook's edge. It 
was a mountain lion and he ran away, just as I felt 
like doing at first." 

The hunter laughed with genuine pleasure. 

20 



THE SIOUX WARNING 

"I'm glad you kept down the feeling and didn't 
run," he said. "You'll get over such tremors in time. 
Everybody feels 'em, no matter how brave, unless he 
has a lot of experience. Now, since you've been 
scouting about, what do you think we ought to do?" 

"I looked from a hill and saw open plains, extend- 
ing maybe forty or fifty miles. Red Cloud and his 
men may have gone that way and I'm in favor of 
giving 'em a good start. Suppose we stay here an- 
other night and day and let 'em reach the moun- 
tains." 

"Seems a good plan to me." 

"Besides, there's some fish in a pool farther down 
that I want to catch." 

"That settles it. We stay. Everything else must 
stand aside when a real fisherman wants to show what 
he can do." 

Will took the fishing tackle from his pack, and re- 
turned in a short time with three splendid trout. It 
was now nearly sunset and Boyd thought it safe to 
build a fire after dark and cook the catch. 

"I think there's no doubt that Red Cloud and his 
warriors are now a full day's journey ahead," he said, 
"but, as a wandering Indian might come into the val- 
ley, we'll take no more chances than we can help." 

A low fire of dead sticks was lighted in a gulch, 
well screened by bushes, and the fish were broiled, 
proving very welcome, as they were the first warm food 
Will and Boyd had tasted since their flight from the 
troops. The hunter made coffee again, and they were 
well satisfied with their supper. 

21 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"It's a good idea to help ourselves out with as much 
fish and game as we can," he said, "and it's likely 
that we can find plenty of it up here. The horses, too, 
have had all the grass they want and we'll tether 'em 
for the night, though there's not one chance in a 
thousand that they'll wander from the valley. Animals 
have instinct, and if there's no powerful enemy near 
they always stay where food and water are to be had. 
I tell you what, Will, if a man could only have all his 
own senses coupled with those of a deer or a wolf, what 
a mighty scout and hunter he could be. Suppose you 
could smell a trail like a wolf, and then think about it 
like a man! Maybe men did have those powers a 
hundred thousand years ago." 

"Maybe they did, Jim, but they didn't have rifles 
and all the modern weapons and tools that help us so 
much." 

"You're right, Will. You can't have everything, 
all at the same time, and just now you and me are 
not so bad off, lying here comfortable and easy in 
our own particular valley, having just finished some 
fine trout that would have cost us four or five dollars 
in a fine New York restaurant, but for which we paid 
nothing." 

"You don't have any fear that the troops will come 
after us and make us go back ?" 

"You can clear your mind of that trouble and keep 
it cleared. We're in the Indian country, and Captain 
Kenyon has orders to make no invasion. So he can't 
pursue. Missing us he'll just have to give us up as a 
bad job." 

22 



THE SIOUX WARNING 

"Then we'll have only the Indians to guard against, 
and your opinion, Jim, that they're far ahead, seems 
mighty good to me. Perhaps we ought to stay three 
or four days here." 

The hunter laughed. 

"I see you're falling in love with the valley/' he said, 
"but maybe you're right. It will depend on circum- 
stances. To-morrow we'll get out those big field 
glasses of yours, go to the highest hill, and examine 
all the country." 

"Suppose it should rain, Jim. Then we wouldn't 
think so much of our fine valley." 

"Right you are, Will. But lucky for us, it doesn't 
rain much up here at this time of the year, and we can 
call ourselves safe on that score. Full night is 
at hand, and there isn't a cloud in the heavens. 
We'll both sleep, and build up our nerves and 
strength." 

"Don't we need to keep a watch ?" 

"Not now, I think, at least not either of our two 
selves. That horse of mine, that I ride, Selim, is a 
sentinel of the first class. He's been with me so much 
and I've trained him so long that he's sure to 
give an alarm if anything alarming comes, though 
he'll pay no attention to small game, or even to a 
deer." 

Selim was at the end of a long lariat about fifty 
feet away, and having eaten for a long time and having 
rested fully he had taken position as if he realized 
thoroughly his duties as watcher of the little camp. 
He was a powerful bay with brilliant, alert eyes that 

23 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

young Clarke saw shining through the dusk, and he 
walked slowly back and forth within the range allowed 
by his tether. 

"Didn't I tell you ?" said Boyd, with delight. "Look 
at him now, taking up his duties as a man. That horse 
can do everything but talk, and for that reason, while 
he does many wise things, he never says a foolish one. 
Doesn't he fill you chock full of confidence, Will?" 

"He certainly does, Jim. I know he'll be a much 
better sentinel than I could make of myself. I'll go 
to sleep, sure that we'll be well protected." 

Although the hunter found sleep soon, Will, who 
did not need it so badly, lay awake long and he was 
interested in watching Selim, who was justifying his 
master's praise. The horse, for all the world like a 
vigilant sentinel, walked back and forth, and whenever 
his head was turned toward the little camp the lad 
saw the great eyes shining. 

"Good Selim!" he said to himself. "Good and 
watchful Selim!" 

In all the immensity and loneliness of the wilder- 
ness he felt himself drawn to the animals, at least to 
those that were not beasts of prey. It was true not 
only of Selim but of the other horses that they could do 
everything but talk, and they were the best friends of 
Boyd and himself. 

His trust in the sentinel now absolute, he followed 
Boyd into peaceful oblivion, and he did not come out 
of it until dawn. 



CHAPTER II 

THE NARROW ESCAPE 

WHEN he awoke a sun of great brilliancy was 
shining, and over him arched the high skies of 
the great west. The air was thin and cool, 
easy to breathe and uplifting, and in the bracing morn- 
ing he did not feel the loneliness and immensity of the 
wilderness. Boyd had already built a little fire among 
the bushes, and was warming some strips of dried beef 
over the flames. 

"Here's your breakfast, Will," he said. "Beef, a 
few crackers, and water. Coffee would taste mighty 
good, but we can't afford to be taking it every morn- 
ing, or we'd soon use up all we have. This is one of 
the mornings we skip it." 

"I can stand it if you can," said Will cheerfully, 
"and it seems to me we ought to be saving our other 
stores, too. You'll have to kill a deer or a buffalo 
soon, Jim." 

"Not until we leave the valley. Now fall on, and 
when we finish the beef we'll take another look at that 
map of yours." 

They ate quickly and when they were done Will 
produced from an inside pocket of his waistcoat, where 

25 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

he always carried it, the map which was his most pre- 
cious possession. It was on parchment, with all the 
lines very distinct, and the two bent over it and studied 
it, as they had done so often before. 

It showed the Mississippi, flowing almost due south 
from Minnesota, and the Missouri, which was in real- 
ity the upper Mississippi, thrusting its mighty arm far 
out into the unknown wilderness of the Northwest. It 
showed its formation by the meeting of the Jefferson, 
the Madison and the Gallatin, but these three rivers 
themselves were indicated by vague and faint traces. 
Extensive dark spaces meant high mountains. 

"My father served in the northwest before the great 
Civil War," said Will, telling it for the fiftieth time, 
"and he was a man of inquiring mind. If he was in 
a country he always wished to know all about it that 
was to be known, particularly if it happened to be a 
wild region. He had the mind of a geographer and 
explorer, and the vast plains and huge mountains up 
here fascinated him. If there was a chance to make a 
great journey to treat with the Indians or to fight them 
he always took it." 

"And he'd been in California in '49," said Boyd, 
saying, like Will, what he had said fifty times before. 
"It was there I first met him, and a fine, upstanding 
young officer he was." 

The lad sighed, and for a moment or two his sorrow 
was so deep that it gave him an actual thrill of physical 
pain. 

"That's so, Jim. I've often heard him speak of the 
first time he saw you," he resumed. "He was tempted 

26 



THE NARROW ESCAPE 

to resign and hunt gold in California with the crowd, 
and he did have some experience in the mines and 
workings there, but he concluded, at last, to remain in 
the army, and was finally sent into the Northwest with 
his command to deal with the Indians." 

"And it was on the longest of his journeys into the 
mountains that he found it!" 

"Yes. He noticed in a wild place among the ridges 
that the earth and rock formations were like those of 
California where the richest gold finds were made. 
He was alone at the time, though the rest of his com- 
mand was only a few miles away, but he picked among 
the rocks and saw enough to prove that it was a mother 
lode, a great gold seam that would make many men 
millionaires. It was his intention to resign from the 
army, get permission from the Sioux to come in, organ- 
ize a company, and work what he meant to be the 
Clarke mine. But you know what happened, Jim." 

"Aye, Will, I do. By the time he got back to civili- 
zation the Civil War broke like a storm, and he went 
east to fight for his country." 

"He could do no less, and he never thought of doing 
anything else. Bearing in mind the risks of war, he 
drew this map which he carried on his person and 
which when he was dying he sent by you to me." 

"Aye, Will, he died in my arms at the Wilderness 
before the Bloody Angle. It was a glorious death. 
He was one of the bravest men I ever saw. He gave 
me the map, told me to be sure to reach you when the 
war was over, and then help you to find the great 



mine." 



27 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

Water came again into Will's eyes. Though the 
wounds of youth heal fast, the hurt made by the death 
of his heroic father had not yet healed. The hunter 
respected his emotion and was silent while he waited. 

"If we find the great mother lode and take out the 
treasure, part of it is to be yours, of course," said the 
boy. 

"You can pay me for my work and let it go at that. 
Your father found the lode and the map telling the 
way to it, drawn by him, is yours now." 

"But we are partners. I could never get through 
these mountains and past the Indian tribes without 
you. We're partners and there'll be plenty for all, if 
we ever get it. Say right now, Jim, that you share and 
share alike with me, or I won't be easy in my mind." 

"Well, then, if you will have it that way. I sup- 
pose from all your brave father, the Captain, said, 
there's so much of it we needn't trouble ourselves 
about the shares if we ever get there. It would be 
better if we had another trusty friend or two." 

"Maybe we'll pick 'em up before we're through 
with this job, which is going to last a long time. I 
think we're still on the right trail, Jim. This line leads 
straight west by north from the Mississippi river far 
into western Montana, where it strikes a narrow but 
deep mountain stream, which it crosses. Then it goes 
over a ridge, leads by a lake which must be several 
miles long, goes over another ridge, crosses another 
stream, and then winding many ways, as if penetrating 
a maze, comes to a creek, with high mountains rising 
on either side of it. But the mine is there, Jim, and 

28 



THE NARROW ESCAPE 

we've got to follow all these lines, if we ever reach it." 

"We'll follow 'em, Will, don't you worry about 
that. Gold draws men anywhere. Through blizzards, 
over mountains, across deserts, right into the face of 
the warlike Indian tribes, and the danger of death 
can't break the spell. Haven't I seen 'em going to 
California, men, women and children pressing on in 
the face of every peril that any army ever faced, and 
it's not likely, Will, that you and me will turn back, 
when women and children wouldn't." 

"No, Jim, we couldn't do that. We're in this hunt 
to stay, and I for one have the best of reasons for 
risking everything to carry it to a successful end." 

"And I'm with you because the Northwest is my 
natural stamping ground, because I wouldn't mind 
being rich either, and because I like you, Will. You're 
a good and brave boy, and if you can have the advan- 
tage of my teaching and training for about fifty years 
you'll make a first rate man." 

"Thanks for the endorsement," laughed Will, "and 
so we stick together 'till everything is over." 

"That's it." 

The boy continued to look at the map. 

"We've got a long journey over plains," he said, "but 
it seems to me that when we pass 'em we'll enter moun- 
tains without ending. All the west side of the map 
is covered with the black outlines that mean ridges and 
peaks." 

"It's right, too. I've been in that region. There 
are mountains, mountains everywhere, and then more 
mountains, not the puny mountains they have east of 

29 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

the Missip, a mile, or at best, a mile and a half high, 
but crests shooting up so far that they hit right against 
the stars, and dozens and dozens of 'em, with snow- 
fields and glaciers, and ice cold lakes here and there in 
the valleys. It's a grand country, a wonderful coun- 
try, Will, and there's no end to it. The old fur hunters 
knew about it, but they've always kept it as secret as 
they could, because they didn't want other people to 
learn about the beaver in there." 

"But we're going to visit it," exclaimed young 
Clarke with enthusiasm, "and we're going to find some- 
thing the fur hunters have never found. I feel, Jim, 
that we're going to stand where my father stood and 
get out the gold." 

"I've feelings of that kind, too, but we've got to 
prop up feeling with a power of work and patience 
and danger, and it's likely too, Will, that it will be a 
long time before we reach the end of the line on 
that map." 

Young Clarke folded up the parchment again and 
put it back in the inside pocket of his waistcoat, the 
hunter watching him and remarking: 

"Be sure it's in your pocket tight and fast, Will. 
We couldn't afford to lose it. Maybe it would be a 
good idea to make a copy of it." 

"I could draw every line on it from memory." 

"That being the case we don't exactly need a du- 
plicate, and, as you're a young fellow, Will, and ought 
to work, you can take the horses down to the brook 
and let 'em drink." 

The lad was willing enough to do the task and the 

30 



THE NARROW ESCAPE 

horses drank eagerly and long of the pure stream that 
had its source in melting snows. All four had been 
selected for size, power and endurance, and they were 
in splendid condition, the rich and abundant grass of 
the valley restoring promptly the waste of travel. 

Boyd's great horse, Selim, rubbed his nose in the 
most friendly manner against Will's arm, and the lad 
returned his advances by stroking it. 

"I've heard the truth about you," he said. "You 
can do everything but talk, and you'll be a most valu- 
able ally of ours on this expedition." 

The horse whinnied gently as if he understood and 
Will, leading the four back to the rich grass, tethered 
them at the ends of their long lariats. 

"Now, suppose you get out your big glasses," said 
the hunter, "and we'll go to the top of the hill for a 
look. The day is well advanced, the sky is brilliant 
and in the thin, clear atmosphere of the great plateau 
we'll be able to see a tremendous distance." 

Will was proud of his glasses, an unusually fine 
and powerful pair, and from the loftiest crest they ob- 
tained a splendid view over the rolling plain. The 
hunter at his request took the first look. Will watched 
him as he slowly moved the glasses from side to side, 
until they finally rested on a point at the right edge 
of the plain. 

"Your gaze is fixed at last," the boy said. "What 
do you see ?" 

"I wasn't sure at first, but I've made 'em out now." 

"Something living then?" 

"Buffaloes. They're miles and miles away, but 

31 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

they've been lying down and rolling and scratching 
themselves until they make the wallows you see all 
over the plains. It's not a big band, two or three 
hundred, perhaps. Well, they don't mean anything 
to us, except a possible supply of provisions later on. 
No wonder the Indians hate to see the buffaloes driven 
back, because the big beasts are breakfast, dinner and 
supper on the hoof to them." 

"And maybe to us, too, Jim. I've an idea that we'll 
live a lot on the buffalo." 

"More'n likely. Well, we could do worse." 

"What are you looking at now, Jim? I see that 
you've shifted your objective." 

"Yes, I've caught some moving black dots to the 
left of the herd. They're obscured a little by a swell, 
but they look to me like horsemen, Sioux probably." 

"If so then they must be hunters, taking advantage 
of the swell to attack the buffalo herd." 

"Good, sound reasoning. You're learning to think 
as a scout and hunter. Yes, they're Sioux, and they're 
aiming for the herd. Now they've thrown out flank- 
ers, and they're galloping their ponies to the attack. 
There'll be plenty of good buffalo meat in some Sioux 
village before long." 

"That means little to us, because after the hunt the 
warriors will pass on. What do you see elsewhere 
on the plain, Jim ?" 

"I can make out a trace of water. It's one of the 
little, shallow, sandy rivers, a long distance from here, 
but the presence of water is probably the reason why 
game is grazing in the neighborhood." 

32 



THE NARROW ESCAPE 

"You don't see any more Indians ?" 
"No, Will. To the west the horizon comes plumb 
in that direction are a long way off, which agrees with 
your map. But in the north the glasses have brought 
the ridges and peaks a sight nearer. They're all cov- 
ered with forest, except the crests of some of the high- 
er peaks, which are white with snow. I'm thinking, 
too, that in the woods at the bottom of one of the 
slopes I can see a trace of smoke rising. Here you, 
Will, you've uncommon keen eyes of your own. Take 
the glasses and look! There, where the mountains 
seem to part and make a pass! Is that smoke or is 
it just mist?" 

Young Clarke looked a long time. He had already 
learned from Boyd not to advance an opinion until he 
had something with which to buttress it, and he kept 
his glasses glued upon the great cleft in the mountains, 
where the trees grew so thick and high. At last he 
saw a column of grayish vapor rising against the green 
leaves, and, following it with the glasses to its base, 
he thought he was able to trace the outlines of tepees. 
Another and longer look and, being quite sure, he 
said: 

"There's an Indian village in the pass, Jim." 

"That's what I thought, but I wanted you to say so, 
too. Now my last doubt is taken away. They're 
mountain Sioux, of course. I had an idea that we 
could go through that way and then curve to the west, 
but since the village is there, maybe it will be better 
to strike out straight across the plains." 

"Perhaps those buffalo hunters will come in here 

33 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

to jerk their meat. They know of the valley, of 
course. Have you thought of that, Jim?" 

"Yes, I have, and it troubles me. It seems to me 
that dangers we didn't expect are gathering, and that 
we're about to be surrounded. Maybe we'd better put 
the packs on the horses, and be ready to start to-night. 
What do you think?" 

"You know what's best, Jim." 

"Not always. We're full partners, now, and in all 
councils of war, though there are but two of us, both 
must speak." 

"Then I'm for getting ready to leave to-night, as 
soon as it's dark. I suppose it's just chance, but ene- 
mies are converging on us. It's a fine valley, one that 
I could stay in a long time, but we'd better leave it." 

"As the two who make up the council are agreed 
that settles it. When the full dark comes we'll go." 

Boyd, who resumed the glasses, turned them back 
on the buffalo hunters, saw them chase the game to- 
ward the valley, and then bring down a half-dozen. 

"They're nearer now to us than they are to the 
mountains," he said, "and they're sure to bring the 
meat in here, where they can hang it on the trees, or 
find plenty of firewood. If we had any doubts before, 
Will, we've got an order now to go and not be slow 
stbout our going." 

They watched the Indians a long time, and saw 
them cleaning and cutting up the slain buffaloes. Then 
they retreated to the depths of the valley, put the packs 
on the horses, and made ready for flight at the first 
coming of dusk. Luckily the night gave promise 

34 



THE NARROW ESCAPE 

of being dark, and, when the sun had set and its last 
afterglow was gone they mounted, and, each followed 
by his packhorse, rode for the western edge of the rim. 
There they halted and took a last glance at a retreat 
in which their stay had been so brief but so welcome. 

"A fine little valley," said Boyd. "It must have 
been hunted out years ago, but if it's left alone a few 
years longer the beaver will return and build along 
that brook. Those pools will just suit 'em. If we 
don't find the gold we may turn to looking for beaver 
skins. There are worse trades." 

"At least it provides a lot of fresh air," said Will. 

"And you see heaps and heaps of splendid country, 
all kinds, mountains, rivers, lakes, valleys, plains. Fur 
hunters can't complain of the lack of scenery." 

"Which course will we take, Jim ?" 

"I think we'd better ride due west. That Indian 
village shuts us off from the mountains. It's true we 
may meet 'em on the plains, but likely we can escape 
J em, and then when we've gone far enough we'll turn 
north and seek the ranges, where the cover is good. 
Now, hark to that, will you!" 

From a point to the northward rose a long, quaver- 
ing shout, shrill in its texture, and piercing the night 
like a call. A quiver ran along the lad's spine. 

"A Sioux made that cry!" he exclaimed. 

"Beyond a doubt," replied Boyd, "but why he did 
so I can't tell. Wait." 

They sat, silent, on their horses, and in a minute 
or two the cry was repeated, but farther toward the 
east. Will could have mistaken the note for the howl 

35 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

of a wolf, it contained so much animal quality, but 
since the nature of the first had been told to him he 
knew that the second was a reply to it. 

"It's signals," said Boyd with conviction. "They're 
talking to one another, though I don't know what 
they're saying. But it means the sooner we get out 
of the valley the better for this white army of two." 

"There's nothing to keep us from starting now." 

"That's true. Because, if they find us here, all 
knowledge of the mine for which we are looking is 
likely to perish with us. I don't suppose the Sioux 
have made any formal declaration of war, but the 
warning of Red Cloud is enough. They wouldn't 
hesitate to put out of the way two wandering fellows 
like ourselves." 

As they talked they rode slowly toward the west, the 
sound of their horses' hoofs deadened on the turf, and 
both watching among the trees for any^ hostile appear- 
ance. Young Clarke was rapidly learning the ways 
of the wilderness, from experience, and also because 
he had in Boyd a teacher not excelled anywhere in the 
West. The calls, the long, dying cries, came again and 
again, showing the Sioux were steadily approaching the 
valley, but the two were leaving it at an equal pace. 

Will clutched the reins in his left hand and held the 
splendid repeating rifle across the saddle bow with the 
other. The pack horse, unled, but obedient to his 
training, followed close after. Boyd, just ahead of 
him, proceeded in the same manner, and now they be- 
gan to descend the slope that ended in the open plain. 
In ten more minutes they would leave the cover of the 

36 



THE NARROW ESCAPE 

last tree. Before them rolled the bare country, swell 
on swell, touched but faintly by the moon, yet keen 
eyes such as those of the Sioux could trace the figures 
of horses and men on it for a considerable distance. 

Will felt little shivers as they were about to leave 
the final row of trees. He could not help it, knowing 
that they were going to give up shelter for those open 
spaces which, dusky though they were, were yet re- 
vealing. 

"It's likely, in any event, that we'll be followed, isn't 
it?" he said. "If the Sioux search the valley, and 
they will, they're sure to find our traces. Then they'll 
come over the rim of the hills on our tracks." 

"Well reasoned, Will," said the hunter. "You'll 
learn to be a great scout and trailer, if you live long 
enough. That's just what they'll do, and they'll hang 
on to our trail with a patience that a white man seldom 
shows, because time means little to the Indian. As I 
said before, when we're far out on the plains we 
must make an abrupt turn toward the north, and 
lose ourselves among the ranges. For a long time to 
come the mountains will be our best friends. I love 
mountains anyway, Will. They mean shelter in a wild 
country. They mean trees, for which the eyes often 
ache. They mean grass on the slopes, and cool run- 
ning water. The great plains are fine, and they lift 
you up, but you can have too much of 'em." 

They rode now into t the open country and in its 
dusky moonlight Will could not at first restrain the 
feeling that in reality it was as bright as day. A few 
hundred yards and both gazed back at the circle of 

37 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

hills enclosing the valley, hills and forest alike looking 
like a great black blur upon the face of the earth. But 
from the depths of that circling island came a long, 
piercing note, instinct with anger and menace. 

"Now that was plain talk," said Boyd. "It said 
that they had found our trail, that they knew we were 
white, that they wanted our scalps, and that they meant 
to follow us until they got 'em." 

> "Which being the case," said Will defiantly, "we 
have to say to them in reply, though our syllables are 
unuttered, that we're not afraid, that they may follow, 
but they will not take us, that our scalps are the only 
scalps we have and we like 'em, that we mean to keep 
'em squarely on top of our heads, where they belong, 
and, numerous and powerful though the Sioux nation 
may be, and brave and skillful though its warriors are, 
they won't be able to keep us from finding our mine." 

"That's the talk, Will, my boy. It sounds like Red 
Cloud, the great Ogalala, Mahpeyalute himself. Fling 
'em your glove, as the knights did in the old time, but 
while you're flinging it we'll have to do something 
besides talking. We must act. Trailers like the Sioux 
can follow us even in the night over the plains, and 
the more ground we gain in the beginning the better." 

He urged his horses into a long, easy gallop and Will 
promptly followed at the same gait. The night dark- 
ened somewhat, at which they rejoiced, and then light- 
ened again, at which they were sad, but they continued 
the long, swinging pace, which the horses could main- 
tain for hours. 

"Try your glasses again, Will," said the hunter. 

38 



THE NARROW ESCAPE 

"They will cut through the dark a long way, and maybe 
they can tell if the Sioux are now in the plain." 

Young Clarke slowed his pace, and bending in the 
saddle took a long look. 

"I see nothing," he said. "Do you want to try 
'em too, Jim?" 

"No. Your eyes are of the best, and your news is 
good. It's likely that we've got a lead of seven or 
eight miles at least. Two or three miles more and 
we'd better turn for the mountains. Our horses are 
a lot bigger than those of the Sioux, but their ponies,, 
though not much to look at, are made out of steel. 
They'd follow for days, and if we stuck to the plains 
they'd be sure to run us down at last." 

"And we'd have little chance against a big Sioux 
band?" 

"That's the ugly truth, and it's bound to be the 
mountains for us. I see a line on the prairie, Will. 
What do your glasses tell us about it?" 

Young Clarke turned his gaze to the front, and 
after a single glance said : 

"Water. It's one of those shallow prairie streams, I 
suppose, a foot of sand, and an inch of water on top." 

"If there's not too much alkali in it it'll be mighty 
welcome to the horses. Ah, Selim smells it now !" 

His great mount raised his head and neighed. Boyd 
smoothed his long, silky mane. 

"Yes, old friend," he .said, as if he were talking to 
a man, "I'm quite sure it won't have much alkali, you're 
going to have a nice, big drink, so are your friends > 
and then, ho! for the mountains!" 

39 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

The stream was just what Will predicted it would 
be, a foot of sand and an inch of water, but it was 
only slightly brackish, and both horses and horsemen 
drank freely from it, took a rest and then drank as 
freely again. Another half hour and the two re- 
mounted. 

"Now, Will," said Boyd, "the ridges are our target, 
and we'll shoot as straight at 'em as our horses can 
go, though we'll make the pace slow for the present. 
Nothing to be gained by tiring out our mounts before 
the race begins." 

"And so you look for a real chase ?" 

"Surely. Those Sioux on their ponies will hang on 
like grim death and mighty glad I'll be when the trees 
on the first slopes reach out their boughs to hide us. 
About midnight now, isn't it, Will?" 

The lad was able to see the face of his watch and 
announced that it was midnight and a half hour more. 

"That's good," said Boyd, "because the darkest part 
of the night is now coming, and maybe some clouds 
floating up from the south will help us. Yes, I think 
I notice a change already. Three stars that I counted 
a little while ago have gone away." 

"And about five million are left." 

"Still, every little counts. Maybe in an hour or so 
two or three more will go away." 

"You're certainly an optimist, Jim. You draw hope 
from very little things." 

"It pays. Hope not only makes you stronger, it 
also makes you happier. There, didn't I tell you? I 
said that two or three stars might go away, but it's far 

40 



THE NARROW ESCAPE 

better than two or three. All the skirmishers have left 
and now troops and battalions are departing, too. 
Maybe whole armies will leave before long, and give 
us an entirely black sky." 

It grew visibly darker, although many of the stars 
remained twinkling in their places, but they were much 
encouraged, nevertheless, and trusting in the aid of the 
night, still saved the strength of their horses. 

"It will make it a little harder for the Sioux to trail 
us," said Boyd, "and if, by any chance they should get 
near enough for a shot, the odds are about twenty to 
one they can't hit us. Suppose we stop here, give the 
horses another short rest, and you search the blackness 
back there with your glasses again." 

Will was able to discern nothing but the sombre 
crests of the swells, and Boyd, dismounting, put his ear 
to the ground. 

"I hear something moving," he said at last, and 
then, after a short pause, "it's the beat of hoofs." 

"Can they be so near as that?" asked Will in alarm. 

"At first I thought it was the Sioux, but now I'm 
sure it's running buffalo. I wonder why they're stam- 
peding at this time of the night. Maybe a hunting 
party of Northern Cheyennes has wandered in here 
and knows nothing about the presence of the Sioux." 

"That won't help us, since the Sioux and Northern 
Cheyennes are allies." 

"No, it won't. If the Cheyennes meet the Sioux 
they'll join 'em in the pursuit of us. It's a new dan- 
ger and I don't like it." 

Boyd remounted and they rode on slowly. Pres- 

41 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

ently he stopped, and Will, of course, stopped too. 

"Listen, boy," he said, "and you'll hear the thunder 
of the buffalo. It's a big herd and they're running our 
way. I'm as sure as I sit here in this saddle that 
they're being driven by hunters." 

Will heard a low, rolling sound like that of distant 
thunder. It was approaching rapidly, too, and it 
seemed to his heightened imagination that it was bear- 
ing straight down upon them. 

"If they are Cheyennes we may be in the middle of 
'em soon," he said. 

"If we sit still here," said Boyd, "but that's just 
what we won't do. We'll gallop ahead until we come 
to a deep dip between the swells." 

"And then?" 

"Dismount, keep low, and let the storm drive by." 

They did not have much time to spare, as the rumb- 
ling sound was growing fast beneath the tread of the 
flying herd, and they urged their horses into a gallop 
until they came to a dip, which they thought was deep 
enough to hide them. Here they dismounted and hold- 
ing the lariats, watched as the thunder of the run- 
ning herd increased, until they saw its van of lowered 
heads, short, curved horns and great, shaggy manes, 
and then the dark mass stretching back out of sight. 

"There are tens of thousands of 'em," said the 
hunter. "They'll be some time in going by, and then, 
I think, we'll see the Indians hanging on the rear." 

The multitude drove on for a period somewhat 
longer than Boyd had predicted, and then Will saw 
naked horsemen crouched low on ponies, some firing 

42 



THE NARROW ESCAPE 

with rifles and others with bows and arrows. 

"They're Cheyennes, as I thought," said Boyd, "and 
they're enjoying a mighty killing. There'll be huge 
feasts for days and days in their lodges. They're so 
intent on it, too, that there isn't one chance in a thou- 
sand they'll see us." 

"But I'm glad I see them," said Will. "It's a won- 
derful sight. I never thought I'd look upon its like, 
the chase of the buffalo herd under a midnight moon. 
It makes my blood leap." 

"And mine, too, though I've seen it before. This 
wild country with its vast plains and its high moun- 
tains takes hold of you, Will. It grips you with fet- 
ters of steel. Maybe, when you find the gold you 
won't want to go back to civilization." 

"If we find it, it will be easy enough to decide what 
we wish to do. But the whole herd is disappearing in 
the moonlight in the west, and I can barely make out 
the last of the Indian hunters who are following 'em. I 
can see, though, a lot of beasts running low." 

"The wolves. They're always hanging on the rear 
of a herd, hoping to cut out calves or buffaloes weak 
from old age. Now they're expecting to reap a little 
from the harvest made by the hunters. There, they've 
gone too, though for a long time you'll hear the herd 
thundering away to the west. But we don't mind the 
sound of a danger when the danger itself has passed. 
We'll mount and start again on our particular little 
excursion to the mountains, where we hope the fresh, 
cool air will help two fellows like ourselves, in failing 
health, no strength, no appetite, no anything." 

43 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

The big hunter laughed aloud in pleasure. 

"That herd was a help to us," he said. "It passed 
to the south of us, and so cut across our trail. If the 
Sioux are pursuing, as we think they are, it'll take 'em 
a long time to find our traces again. We'll take ad- 
vantage of it, as our horses are thoroughly rested, 
and make some speed." 

They swung into an easy gallop, and went on with- 
out further talk for a long time. When two or three 
hours had passed Will raised his glasses and gazed 
into the north. 

"I think I see there a blur which is not of the night 
itself," he announced. "It may be the loom of the 
mountains that we're so anxious to reach." 

"But a long way off yet," said the hunter. "Day 
will come hours before we can strike the first slopes, 
and we may have the Sioux hanging on our trail." 

As a faint, gray light in the east told of the coming 
dawn, they came to another of the shallow streams 
of the plains and both horses and horsemen drank 
again. Will and Boyd also ate a little food. 

"Now turn your glasses to the south and tell me 
what you see," said the hunter. 

Will gazed and then lowered the glasses, a look of 
alarm on his face. 

"I know from your eyes what you've seen without 
your telling me," said Boyd. "The Sioux are there. 
In some way they've picked up our trail and are com- 
ing. It's a mighty good thing that we've saved our 
horses. They're in splendid trim now for a long run, 
and we'll need every ounce of their speed and courage." 

44 



THE NARROW ESCAPE 

He did not seek to disguise the full measure of the 
danger from Will, who, he knew, would summon his 
utmost courage to meet it. The lad looked again 
through the glasses, and was able now to see a full 
score of men coming on their ponies. The dawn had 
just spread to the south and against its red and gold 
they were shown sharply, a long line of black figures 
on the crest of a swell. 

"Take a look, Jim," said young Clarke, handing him 
the glasses. "You'll be able to tell more about 'em 
than I can." 

Boyd studied the picture carefully it was in reality 
a picture to him and after due deliberation, said : 

"They are thirty-two, because I've counted 'em. 
They're comparatively fresh, because their ponies are 
running straight and true. They're Sioux, as I know 
from the style of their war bonnets, and they're after 
us, as I know from the way they're riding." 

"But look the other way, Jim, and see how much 
nearer the mountains have come !" 

"Aye, lad! They stand up like a fort, and if we 
reach 'em in time we may stave off our pursuers. 
They're coming fast, and they're spreading out in a 
long line now. That helps 'em, because it's impossible 
for fugitives to run exactly straight, and every time 
we deviate from the true course some part of their line 
gains on us." 

"I see a huge, rocky outcrop on the mountain side. 
Suppose we always ride for that." 

"Something to steer by, so to speak. A good idea. 
We won't push the horses hard at first, because it will 

45 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

be a long time before they come within rifle shot of 
us. Then maybe we'll show 'em a spurt that'll count." 

But it was hard for Will not to use the utmost speed 
at once, as every time he looked back he saw that the 
Sioux were gaining, their figures and those of their 
horses, horse and rider seemingly one, always standing 
out black and clear against the rosy dawn. But he knew 
that Boyd was right, and he tried hard to calm the 
heavy beating of his pulses. 

The whole horizon was now lighted by a* brilliant 
sun and the earth was bathed in its beams. Flight and 
pursuit went on, unabated, and the hunter and the boy 
began to increase the speed of their horses, as they 
saw that the Sioux were gaining. They had been rid- 
ing straight as they could toward the stony outcrop, 
but in spite of everything they curved a little now 
and then, and some portion of the following line drew 
closer. But they were yet a full two miles away, and 
the mountains were drawing much nearer. Trees on 
the slopes detached themselves from the general mass, 
and became separate and individual. Once Will 
thought he caught a flash of water from a mountain 
torrent, and it increased the desirability of those slopes 
and ridges. How sheltered and protecting they looked ! 
Surely Boyd and he could evade the Sioux in there! 

"We'll make it easily," said Boyd, and then he added 
with sudden violence. "No, we won't! Look, there 
on your right, Will !" 

Four warriors on swift ponies suddenly emerged 
from a swell scarcely a quarter of a mile away, and 
uttered a shout of triumph. Perhaps they were stray 

46 



THE NARROW ESCAPE 

hunters drawn by the spectacle of the pursuit, but it 
was obvious that, in any event, they meant to co-operate 
with the pursuers. 

"They're Sioux, too," said Boyd. "Now, steady, 
Will. It's a new and pressing danger, of course, but 
it may help us, too." 

"How so?" 

"I think I can give 'em a healthy lesson. We all 
learn by experience, and they'll take notice, if I make 
a good example. They're bearing down on our flank. 
You lead, Will, and keep straight for our rock. The 
four will soon be within range, as this repeating rifle 
of mine is a beauty, and it carries mighty far. The old 
muzzle loader is just a pistol by the side of it. Come 
on, my fine fellows! The nearer you are the better! 
I learned long ago to shoot from a running horse, and 
that's more than many Sioux can do." 

The four Sioux on the right, bent low, were urging 
their ponies forward at their utmost speed. From the 
band behind came a tremendous yell, which, despite 
the distance, reached Boyd and young Clarke, and, 
apparently, they had full warrant in thus giving utter- 
ance to their feeling of triumph. The sudden ap- 
pearance of the warriors coming down the dip was like 
the closing of a trap and it seemed that all chance of 
escape was cut off from the two who rode so des- 
perately for the mountains. 

The hunter shut his teeth tightly and smiled in ironic 
fashion. Whenever he was highly pleased he grew 
rather talkative, and now he had much to say for 
a man whose life was about to turn on a hair. 

47 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"If the four on the ponies off there knew the peril 
into which they were riding they wouldn't ride so 
hard/' he said. "But the Sioux are not yet acquainted 
with the full merits of a long range repeating rifle, nor 
do they understand how well I can shoot. I'm as good 
a marksman as there is in the West, if I do say it 
myself, and lest you may think me a boaster, Will, I'll 
soon prove it." 

He dropped the reins on the neck of Selim, who, 
though unguided, ran on straight and true, and grasped 
the splendid rifle with both hands. Will ceased to 
think of the band behind them and began to watch the 
hunter, who, though still smiling, had become one of 
the most dangerous of human beings. 

"Yes, my four friends, you're overhauling us fast/' 
murmured the hunter, "and I'm glad of it, because then 
I don't have to do so much waiting, and, when there's 
ugly work at hand, one likes to get it over. Ah, I 
think they're near enough now!" 

The rifle sprang to his shoulder, a jet of flame leaped 
'from the muzzle, and, with the sharp crack, the fore- 
most Sioux rolled to the ground and lay still, his fright- 
ened pony galloping off at an angle. The hunter 
quickly pulled the trigger again and the second Sioux 
also was smitten by sudden death. The other two 
turned, but one of them was wounded by the terrible 
marksman, and the pony of the fourth was slain, his 
rider hiding behind the body. A dismal wail came 
from the Sioux far back. The hunter lowered his 
great weapon, and one hand resumed the bridle rein. 

"A rifle like mine is worth more than its weight in 

48 





The rifle sprang to his shoulder, a jet of flame leaped from 
the muzzle. 



THE NARROW ESCAPE 

gold," he said. "It's worth its weight in diamonds, 
rubies, emeralds and all the other precious jewels at 
a time like this. I can say, too, that's about the best 
shooting I ever did, and I think it'll save us. Even 
the band behind, thirty or so in number, won't want to 
ride full tilt into rifles like ours." 

"The first slopes are not more than three or four 
miles away now," said young Clarke, "and no matter 
how hard they push they can't overtake us before we 
reach the trees. But Jim, how are we to ride through 
those high mountains, and, if we abandon the horses, 
we might as well give up our quest." 

"I chose these horses myself, Will," said Boyd, 
"and I knew what I was about. I trained Selim, and, 
of course, he's the best, but the others are real prize 
packages, too. Why, they can walk up the side of a 
cliff. They can climb trees, and they can jump chasms 
fifty feet wide." 

"Come down to earth, Jim. Stay somewhere in the 
neighborhood of truth." 

"Well, maybe I do draw a rather long bow, but 
horses learn to be mountain climbers, and ours are the 
very best of that kind. They'll take us up through 
the ridges, never fear. The Sioux will follow, for a 
while, at least, but in the deep forest you see up there 
we'll shake 'em off." 

"Hear 'em shouting now! What are they up to?" 

"Making a last rush to overtake us, while we're yet 
in the plain. But it is too late, my gay scalp hunt- 
ers!" 

Jhe mountains were now drawing near very fast, 

49 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

and with the heavy forest along their slopes they 
seemed to Will to eome forward of themselves to 
welcome them. He became suddenly aware that his 
body ached from the long gallop, and that the dust 
raised by the beating hoofs was caked thickly on his 
face. His lips were dry and burning, and he longed 
for water. 

"In five more minutes we'll be on the first slope," 
said Boyd, "and as we'll soon be hidden in the forest I 
think I'll say farewell to our pursuers." 

"I don't understand you, Jim." 

"I'm going to say only one word, and it'll be short 
and sharp." 

He turned suddenly in his saddle, raised the repeat- 
ing rifle and fired once at the band. 

He had elevated the sight for a very long shot, re- 
garding it as a mere chance, but the bullet struck a 
pony and a few moments of confusion in the band 
followed. Now Boyd and young Clarke made their 
horses use the reserves of strength they had saved so 
prudently, and with a fine spurt soon gained the shel- 
ter of the woods, in which they disappeared from the 
sight of the pursuing horde. 

They found themselves among oaks, aspens, pines, 
cedars, and birch, and they rode on a turf that was 
thick, soft and springy. But Selim neighed his ap- 
proval and Boyd pulled down to a walk. A little 
farther on both dismounted at his suggestion. 

"It'll limber us up and at the same time help the 
horses," he said. "Knowing what kind of rifles we 
carry and how we can shoot, the Sioux won't be in 

50 



THE NARROW ESCAPE 

any hurry to ride into the forest directly after us. 
.We've a big advantage now in being able to see with- 
out being seen. As we needn't hurry, suppose we stop 
and take another look with those glasses of yours, 
[Will. I never thought they'd prove so useful, when 
you insisted on bringing 'em." 

Will obeyed at once. 

"They're a mile or so away," he said, " and they've 
stopped. They're gathered in a semi-circle about one 
man who seems to be a chief, and I suppose he's talk- 
ing to 'em." 

"Likely! Most likely. I can read their minds. 
They're a little bit bashful about riding on our trail, 
when we have the cover of the forest. Repeating rifles 
don't encourage you to get acquainted with those who 
don't want to know you. I can tell you what they'll 
do." 

"What, Jim?" 

"The band will split into about two equal parts. 
One will ride to the right and the other to the left. 
Then, knowing that we can't meet both with the rifles, 
they'll cautiously enter the mountains and try to pick 
up our trail. Am I right or am I wrong?" 

"Right, O, true prophet! They've divided and al- 
ready they're riding off in opposite directions. And 
what's the best thing for us to do?" 

"We'll lead the horses up this valley. I see through 
leaves a little mountain stream, and we'll drink there 
all the water we want. Then we'll push on deeper 
and deeper into the mountains, and when we think 
we're clear out of their reach we'll push on." 

51 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

They drank plentifully at the brook, and even took 
the time to bathe their hands and faces. Then they 
mounted and rode up the slopes, the pack horses fol- 
lowing. 

"Didn't I tell you they were first class mountain 
climbers ?" said Boyd with pride. "Why, mules them- 
selves couldn't beat 'em at it." 

When twilight came they were high on the slopes 
under the cover of the forest, pushing forward with 
unabated zeal. 



CHAPTER III 

THE LITTLE GIANT 

BOYD rode in front, Will was just behind, and 
then came the two heavily laden pack horses, 
following their masters with a faith that noth- 
ing could shake. The hunter seemed to have an in- 
stinct for choosing the right way, or else his eyes, like 
those of an owl, were able to pierce the dark. He 
avoided chasms and cliffs, chose the best places on the 
slopes, and wherever he wound he always led deeper 
and deeper into the vast maze of high mountains. 

Will looked back toward the plains, but he could 
see no trace of them now, and he did not believe that 
the Sioux, however skilled they might be, could fol- 
low their trail up the ridges in the dark. Meanwhile 
the stars came out, and a half moon rode in a medium 
sky. The boy's eyes, grown used to the night, were 
now able to see quite clearly, and he noticed that the 
region into which they were riding was steadily grow- 
ing wilder. Now and then they passed so close to 
the edge of chasms that he shivered a little, as he 
looked down into the dark wells. Then they passed up 
ravines where the lofty cliffs, clothed in stunted pine 
and cedar, rose high above them, and far in the north 

53 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

he caught the occasional glimpses of white crests on 
which the snow lay deep. 

Boyd became quite cheerful, and, for a while, hum- 
med a little air under his breath. When he ceased 
singing he said: 

"I don't know where we're going, Will, but I do 
know that we're going away from the Sioux. They'll 
try to trail us tomorrow when the light comes, and 
they may be able to do it, but we'll be moving on 
again, and, however patient trailers may be, a trail 
that lengthens forever will wear out the most patient 
trailer of them all." 

"Isn't that a creek down there?" asked Will, point- 
ing to a silver flash in the dusk. 

"So it is, and while these mountain streams usually 
have rough beds, scattered with boulders, we'll ride 
up it as far as we can. It may be a great help in 
hiding our trail." 

They rode down the slope and urged the horses into 
the water, although the good beasts showed reluc- 
tance, fearful of the bowlders and the rough footing, 
but, when they were in, the two riders allowed them 
to pick the way, and thus they advanced slowly and 
with extreme caution a distance of five full miles. 
They heard a roaring and approached a fine fall of 
about thirty feet, over which the creek tumbled, send- 
ing up much white foam. 

"This watery road is now blocked, that's quite sure," 
said Boyd. "But we've been able to use it a much 
greater distance than I thought, and it may throw off 
the Sioux entirely." 

54 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

They emerged from the water and the horses 
climbed a steep slope to the crest of a ridge, where 
they stood panting. Boyd and young Clarke slipped 
from the saddles and stood by. The half moon and 
clusters of stars still made in the sky a partial light, 
enabling them to see that they stood upon a sort of 
broad shelf, sprinkled with large trees without under- 
growth, but well covered with long grass. The only 
way of approach from the south was the rocky brook, 
along the bed of which they had come. What lay to 
the north they did not know, but the shelf seemed 
to narrow there. 

"A large part of the night is spent," said Boyd, 
"and as it's not possible for the Sioux to overtake us 
before dawn I vote we camp here, because we're 
pretty well worn out, and the horses are dead tired. 
What does the other half of the army say?" 

"It says this place was just made for us," replied 
Will, "and we shouldn't go forward another inch to- 
night." 

"Then we'll unsaddle, tether the horses and take 
to our blankets, though, if you say so, we will first 
draw a little on the commisariat." 

"No. I'm too tired to eat. I'd rather go to sleep." 

"The two halves of the army are in agreement. So 
will I." 

The horses fell to cropping the rich grass, but their 
riders, seeking the softest place they could find, folded 
themselves in their blankets and soon slumbered as 
soundly as if they were in the softest beds civilization 
could furnish. 

55 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

awoke before dawn, and instantly remembered 
where he was. But while all had been strife and strain 
and anxiety before he slept, he felt now an immense 
peace, the great peace of the mountains. The horses 
having eaten their fill were lying down. The murmurs 
of the swift brook below came up to his ears, and 
with it the sound of a faint breeze playing in just 
a whisper among the leaves. Far above him soared 
peaks and ridges, so many and high that they seemed 
to prop up the eternal blue. 

Will realized that he loved the mountains. Why 
shouldn't he? They had given him refuge when he 
needed it most, saving him and Boyd from dreadful 
torture and certain death. Somewhere in the heart of 
them lay the great treasure that he meant to find, and 
they possessed a majesty that appealed not merely to 
his sense of beauty, but to a spiritual feeling that was 
in truth an uplift to the soul. 

He was awake scarcely a minute, but all the events 
of the last few days passed in a swift panorama before 
his mind the warning of Red Cloud, the silent depart- 
ure by night from the camp of the troops, the pur- 
suit by the Sioux, and the escape into the high ranges. 
Rapidly as it passed it was almost as vivid as if it 
were happening again, and then he was asleep once 
more. 

When he awoke the dawn was an hour old, and 
Boyd was kindling a low fire down by the edge of the 
stream. 

"We'll draw on the coffee once more this morn- 
ing," he said. "After all that we've passed through 

56 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

we're entitled to two cups of it apiece. I'll make 
bread and warm some of the dried beef, too. Sup- 
pose, while I'm doing it you climb to the crest over 
there, and use those glasses of yours for all they're 
worth." 

It was a stiff climb to the summit, but once there 
Will had a tremendous view in all directions. Far to 
the south he was able to catch through the powerful 
lenses the dim line of the plains, but on all other sides 
were mountains, and yet more mountains. In the 
north they seemed very high, but far to the west was 
a mighty rounded peak, robed at the top in white, tow- 
ering over every other. The narrow valley and the 
ridges were heavy with forest, but the glasses could 
find no sign of human life. 

He descended with his report, and found the coffee, 
the bread and the meat ready, and while he had been 
too tired to eat the night before he had a tremendous 
appetite now. When breakfast was over they sat by 
the stream and considered the future. Boyd was quite 
sure the Sioux were still following, and that they would 
eventually strike the trail, though they might be two 
or three days in doing so. He was of the opinion that 
they should go farther into the high ranges. 

"And what becomes of our quest?" asked Will. 

"You know, lad," responded the hunter, whimsically, 
"that the longest way round is sometimes the shortest 
way through, and those that are in too great a hurry 
often fall over their own feet. If you are careful 
about your health and don't get shot you ought to live 
sixty or seventy years yet, because you are surely a 

57 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

robust youngster, and so you're richer in time than 
in anything else. I am, too, and for these reasons we 
can afford to go into the very heart of the high moun- 
tains, where we'll be well hidden, and bide until the 
danger of the Sioux pursuit has passed." 

"A long speech, Jim, but probably a true one. Do 
we start right away?" 

"Aye, lad, the sooner the better. Both the horses 
and ourselves are fed and refreshed. We don't know 
what this shelf leads to, but we can soon find out." 

They resaddled, but did not mount, letting the well- 
trained horses follow, and proceeded along the shelf, 
until they entered a narrow pass, where they were 
compelled to go in single file, the hunter leading the 
way. Far below him Will heard the creek roaring 
as it foamed forward in rapids, and he was glad that 
the horses were, what Boyd had declared them to be, 
trained mountain climbers, walking on with even step, 
although he felt an instinctive desire to keep as far as 
he could from the cliff's edge, and lean against the slope 
on the other side. But Boyd, made familiar with such 
trails by his years of experience in the mountains, 
whistled gaily. 

"Everything comes our way," he said. "If we were 
at the head of a trail like this we could hold it against 
the entire Sioux nation, if we had cartridges enough." 

"I hope it won't go on forever," said Will. "It 
makes me feel a little dizzy." 

"It won't. It's opening out now. The level land 
is widening on either side of the creek and that means 
another valley not much farther on." 

58 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

But it was a good four miles before they emerged 
into a dip, covering perhaps two square miles, covered 
heavily with forest and with a beautiful little blue lake 
at the corner. Will uttered a cry of pleasure at the 
sight of the level land, the great trees green with 
foliage, and the gem of a lake. 

"We couldn't have found a finer place for a camp/' 
he said. "We're the children of luck." 

But the wise hunter shook his head. 

"When the morning's cold we hate to pull ourselves 
out of comfortable beds," he said, "and for mountain- 
eers such as we've become I'll admit that this valley 
looks like the Garden of Eden, but here we do not 
bide." 

"Why not?" 

"Because it's too good for us to live in. The Sioux, 
of course, know of it, and what draws us draws them, 
too. For a long time the finer a spot becomes the more 
dangerous it is for us. No, we'll ride on past this 
happy valley straight into the mountains." 

"But at least let me take a little swim in that blue 
lake." 

"Well, there's no harm in that, provided you're quick 
about it. When you come out I'll take one myself." 

Will undressed in a couple of minutes and sprang 
into the water, which he found extremely cold, but 
he swam joyously for five minutes or so, when he 
emerged and was followed by Boyd. When they were 
in the saddle again both felt that their strength had 
been renewed and Will waved one hand in farewell 
to the little blue lake. 

59 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"Good-bye, Friend Lake," he said. "You're not 
large, but you're very beautiful, and some day I hope 
to come back and bathe in you again." 

"The great ranges of mountains which run all about 
over the western part of the continent are full of such 
pleasant valleys and cool little lakes," said the hunter. 
"Often the lakes are far up the slopes, many thousands 
of feet above the sea, and sometimes you don't see 
'em until you break right through the trees and bushes 
and come square up against the water. If,_we keep on, 
as I intend we shall, it's likely that we'll see a lot of 



'em." 



The lad's eyes kindled. 

"That being so," he said, "I don't mind turning aside 
a while from our real hunt, because then we'll be ex- 
plorers. It will be glorious to find new lakes and 
streams." 

"Yes, it'll make the waiting easier, provided, of 
course, that we don't have rain and storms. Rain can 
turn a wilderness paradise in fifteen minutes into a 
regular place for the condemned. We've almost as 
much to fear now from the sky as we have from the 
Indians on the ground. When you see a little cloud 
up there you can begin to worry." 

"But I don't see any, and so I refuse to worry yet." 

They reached the farther edge of the valley and 
began to climb a slope, which, easier at first, soon be- 
came rather stiff. But the horses once more justified 
the hunter's praise and pressed forward nobly. He 
and Will dismounted again, and they let Selim lead 
where he would. 

60 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

"All horses have wilderness sense," said Boyd, "and 
Selim, having both an educated sense and a wild sense, 
is sure to pick out the best way." 

His confidence was not misplaced, as the horse in- 
stinctively chose the easiest path, and, before the twi- 
light came, they reached the crest of a lofty ridge, 
from which they saw a sea of mountains in all direc- 
tions, a scene so majestic that it made Will draw a 
sharp breath. 

"I think we'd better go down the slope until it be- 
comes too dark for us to see a way," said Boyd, "be- 
cause we're up so high now that the night is sure to 
be biting cold here on the very top of the ridge." 

In an hour they found a glen sheltered well by high 
trees all about and with a pool of icy cold water at the 
edge. It was a replica on a small scale of the valley 
and lake they had left behind, and glad enough they 
were to find it. They drank of the pool, and the 
horses followed them there with eagerness. Then, 
eating only cold food, they made ready for the night. 

"Get an extra pair of blankets from your pack, 
Will," said Boyd. "You don't yet know how cold the 
night can be on these mountains, at any time of the 
year." 

The hunter's advice was good, as Will the next 
morning, despite two blankets beneath him and two 
above him, felt cold, and when he sprang up he pounded 
his chest vigorously to make the circulation brisk. 
Boyd laughed. 

"Pm about as cold as you are," he said, "and, in 
view of the winter into which we've suddenly dropped, 

61 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

we'll have hot coffee and hot food for breakfast. I 
don't think we risk anything by building a fire here. 
What's the matter with our horses ?" 

They had tethered the horses in the night, and all 
four of them suddenly began to rear and stamp in 
terror. 

"There's a scout watching us !" exclaimed Will. 

"A scout?" said Boyd, startled. 

"Yes! See him standing on the big rock, far off 
there to the right/' 

The hunter looked and then drew a breath of re- 
lief. 

"OldEphraimP'hesaid. 

A gigantic grizzly bear was upreared on a great 
rocky outcrop about three hundred yards away, and 
the opalescent light of the morning magnified him in 
the boy's eyes, until he was the largest beast in the 
world. Monstrous and sinister he stood there, un- 
moving, gazing at the strange creatures in the little 
camp. He seemed to Will a symbol of this vast and 
primeval new world into which he had come. Re- 
membering his glasses he took them and brought the 
great grizzly almost before his eyes. 

"He appears to be showing anger and a certain cu- 
riosity because we're here," he said. "I don't think 
he understands us, but he resents our invasion of his 
territory." 

"Well, we're not going to explain who we are. If 
he don't meddle with us we won't meddle with him." 

The grizzly did not stay long, retreating from the 
rock, then disappearing in the underbrush. Will had 

62 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

qualms now and then lest he should break through tHe 
bushes and appear in their little glen, but Boyd knew 
him better. He was content to leave alone those who 
left him alone. 

The breakfast with its hot coffee and hot food was 
very grateful, and continuing the descent of the slope 
they passed through other narrow passes and over 
other ridges, but all the while ascending gradually, the 
world about them growing in majesty and beauty. 
Four days and a large part of four nights they traveled 
thus after leaving the little valley with the blue lake, 
and the bright air was growing steadily colder as 
they rose. Boyd talked a little now of stopping, but 
he did not yet see a place that fulfilled all his ideas 
of a good and safe camp, though he said they would 
soon find it. 

"How far do you think we've come into the moun- 
tains?" asked Will. 

"About a hundred miles, more or less," replied the 
hunter. 

"Seems to me more like a thousand, chiefly more. 
If the Sioux find us here they'll have to be the finest 
mountain climbers and ravine crossers the world has 
ever seen. Just what are you looking for, Jim ?" 

"Four things, wood, water, grass and shelter. 
We've got to have 'em, both for ourselves and the 
horses, and we've got to find 'em soon, because, d'you 
see, Will, we've been wonderfully favored by Provi- 
dence. The rains and storms have held off longer than 
they usually do in the high mountains, but we can't 
expect 'em to hold off forever just for our sakes. Be- 

63 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

sides, the hoofs of the horses are getting sore, and it's 
time to give 'em a long rest." 

They were now far up the high slopes, but not be- 
yond the timber range. The air was thin and cold, 
and at night they always used two pairs of blankets, 
spreading the under pair on thick beds of dry leaves. 
In the morning the pools would be frozen over, but to- 
ward noon the ice under the slanting rays of the sun 
would melt. The march itself, and the air laden with 
odors of pine and spruce, and cedar and balsam, was 
healthful and invigorating. Will felt his chest expand. 
He knew that his lung power, already good, was in- 
creasing remarkably and that his muscles were both 
growing and hardening. 

Another day and crossing a ridge so sharp that they 
were barely able to pull the horses over it, they came 
to a valley set close around by high mountains, a val- 
ley about three miles long and a mile wide, one-third 
of its surface covered by a lake, usually silver in color, 
but varying with the sky above it. Another third of 
the valley was open and heavy in grass, the remainder 
being in forest with little undergrowth. 

"Here," said Boyd, "we'll find the four things we 
need, wood, water, grass and shelter, and since it's 
practically impossible for the original band of Sioux 
to trail us into this cleft, here we will stay until such 
time as we wish to resume our great hunt. What say 
you?" 

"Seems to me, Jim, that we're coming home. This 
valley has been waiting for us a great many years, but 
the true tenants have arrived at last." 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

"That's the right spirit. Hark to Selim, now ! He, 
too, approves." 

The great horse, probably moved by the sight of 
grass and water, raised his head and neighed. 

"If we had felt any doubts the horses would have 
settled it for us," said Will. "I understand their lan- 
guage and they say in the most correct English that 
here we are to bide and rest, as long as we wish. The 
presence of the lake indicates a running stream, an 
entrance and exit, so to speak. I think, Jim, it's about 
the most beautiful valley I ever saw." 

They descended the last slope, and came to the creek 
that drained the lake, a fine, clear, cold current, flowing 
swiftly over a rocky bottom. After letting the horses 
drink they forded it, and rode on into the valley. Will 
noticed something white on the opposite slope, and ex- 
amining it through his glasses saw that it was a foam- 
ing cascade. 

"It's the stream that feeds the lake," he said. "It 
rushes down from the higher mountains, and here we 
have a beautiful waterfall. Nature has neglected noth- 
ing in preparing our happy valley, providing not only 
comfort and security but scenic beauty as well." 

The hunter looked a moment or two at the waterfall, 
and the tremendous mountains about them with a care- 
ful eye. 

"What is it, Jim?" asked Will. 

"I'm looking for tracks." 

"What tracks? You said we wouldn't find any 
Sioux in here." 

"Not the footprints of the Sioux." 

65 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"It's not in the range of the Crows, Blackfeet or 
Assiniboines. Surely you don't expect them." 

"I don't expect Crows, Blackfeet or Assiniboines." 

"Then what do you expect ?" 

"Wild animals." 

"Why bother about wild animals? Armed as we 
are we've nothing to fear from them." 

"Nothing to fear, but a lot to hope. I think we're 
likely to stay here quite a spell, and we'll need 'em 
in our business. Remember that for the present, Will, 
we're wild men, and we'll have to live as wild men 
have lived since the world began. We want their 
meat and their skins." 

"The meat I understand, because I'd like to bite 
into a juicy piece of it now, but we're not fur hunt- 
ers." 

"No, but we need the skins of big animals, and we 
need 'em right away. This weather can't last forever. 
We're bound to have a storm sometime soon. We 
must first make a wickiup. It's quite simple. The 
Sioux always do it. A Sioux warrior never sleeps in 
the open if he can help it, and as they've lived this sort 
of life for more hundreds of years than anybody knows 
they ought to know something about it." 

"But I don't see that cloud you told me several days 
ago to watch for." 

"It will come. It's bound to come. Now here's 
the lake ahead of us. Isn't it a beauty? I told you 
we'd find a lot of these fine little lakes all along the 
slopes of the ridges, but this seems to be the gem of 
them all. See how the water breaks into waves and 

66 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

looks like melted silver! And the banks sloping and 
firm, covered with thick green turf, run right down 
to the water's edge, like a gentleman's park." 

"It's all that you claim for it," said Will, making 
a wide, sweeping gesture, "and, bright new lake, I 
christen thee Lake Boyd !" 

"The lake accepts the name," said the hunter with 
a pleased smile, and then he added, also making a 
wide, sweeping gesture: 

"Green and sheltered valley, I christen thee Clarke 
Valley." 

"I, too, accept the compliment," said Will. 

"The far side of the valley is much the steeper," 
said the hunter, "and I think it would be a good idea 
for us to build the wickiup over there. It would be 
sheltered thoroughly on one side at least by the lofty 
cliffs." 

"Going back a moment to the search you were mak- 
ing a little while ago, have you noticed the footprints 
of any wild animals?" 

"Aye, Will, my lad, so I have. I've seen tracks of 
elk, buffalo and bear, and of many smaller beasts." 

"Then, that burden off your mind, we might as well 
locate the site of our house." 

"Correct. I think I see it now in an open space 
under the shelter of the cliff." 

They had ridden across the valley, and both marked 
a slight elevation under the shadow of the cliff, a 
glen forty or fifty yards across, protected by thick 
forest both to east and west, and by thin forest on the 
south, from which point they were approaching. 

67 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"It's the building site that's been reserved for us 
five hundred years, maybe," said the hunter. "The 
mountain and the trees will shelter us from most of 
the big winds, and if any of the trees should blow 
down their falling bodies would not reach us here in 
the center of the open space. There is grass every- 
where for the horses, and water, both lake and run- 
ning, for all of us." 

They unsaddled the riding horses, took the packs off 
the others and turned them loose. All four neighed 
gratefully, and set to work on the grass. 

"They've done a tremendous lot of mountain climb- 
ing, and they've carried heavy burdens," said Boyd, 
"and they're entitled to a long rest, long enough to 
heal up their sore feet and fill out their sides again. 
Now, Will, you'll make a great hunter some day, but 
suppose, for the present, you guard the packs while I 
look for an elk and maybe a bear. Two of them would 
furnish more meat than we could use in a long time, 
but we need their skins." 

"I'm content to wait," said Will, who was saddle- 
tired. 

He sat down on the thick, soft grass by the side 
of the packs, and his physical system, keyed up so 
long, suffered a collapse, complete but not unpleasant. 
Every nerve relaxed and he sank back against his pack, 
content to be idle as long as Boyd was away. But 
while his body was weak then, his mind was content. 
Clarke Valley, which had been named after him, was 
surely wonderful. It was green and fresh everywhere 
and Boyd Lake was molten silver. Not far away 

68 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

the cataract showed white against the mountainside, 
and its roar came in a pleasant murmur to his ears. 

He heard a distant shot, but it did not disturb him. 
He knew it was Boyd, shooting something, probably 
the elk he wished. After a while he heard another re- 
port, and he put that down as the bear. His surmise 
was correct in both instances. 

Boyd, with his help, skinned both the bear and the 
elk, and they hung great quantities of the flesh of both 
in the trees to dry. Boyd carefully scraped the skins 
with his hunting knife, and they, too, were hung out 
to dry. While they were hanging there Will also shot 
a bear, and his hairy covering was added to the others. 

A few days later Boyd built the wickiup, called by 
the Sioux tipiowinja. Taking one of the sharp axes 
he quickly cut a number of slender, green poles, the 
larger ends of which he sharpened well and thrust 
deep into the ground, until he had made with them 
a complete circle. The smaller ends were bent toward 
a common center and fastened tightly with withes of 
skin. The space between was thatched with brush, 
and the whole was covered with the skins of elk and 
bear, which Boyd stitched together closely and firmly. 
Then they cut out a small doorway, which they could 
enter by stooping. The floor was of poles, made 
smooth and soft with a covering of dead leaves. 

It was rude and primitive, but Will saw at once that 
in need it would protect both their stores and them- 
selves. 

"I learned that from the Sioux long ago," said 
Boyd, not without some admiration of his handiwork. 

69 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"It's close and hot, and after we've put the stores in 
we'll have to tuck ourselves away in the last space left. 
But it will feel mighty good in a storm." 

The second night after the wickiup was finished his 
words came true. A great storm gathered in the south- 
west, the first that Will had seen in the high moun- 
tains, and it was a tremendous and terrifying mani- 
festation of nature. 

The mountains fairly shook with the explosions of 
thunder, and the play of lightning was dazzling on the 
ridges. When thunder and lightning subsided some- 
what, the hunter and the lad crept into the wickiup 
and listened to the roaring of the rain as it came. 
Will, curled against the side upon his pack, heard the 
fierce wind moaning as if the gods themselves were 
in pain, and the rain beating in gust after gust. The 
stout poles bent a little before both wind and rain, but 
their elasticity merely added to their power of re- 
sistance, as the wickiup, so simple in its structure and 
yet so serviceable, stood fast, and Boyd had put on 
its skin covering so well that not a single drop of 
water entered. 

In civilization he might have found the wickiup toa 
close to be supportable, but in that raging wilderness, 
raging then at least, it was snug beyond compare. He 
had a thought or two for the horses, but he knew they 
would find shelter in the forest. Boyd, who was curled 
on the other side of the wickiup, was already asleep, 
but the lad's sense of safety and shelter was so great 
that he lay awake, and listened to the shrieking of the 
elements, separated from him only by poles and a bear- 

70 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

skin. The power of contrast was so great that he had 
never felt more comfortable in his life, and after listen- 
ing awhile he, too, fell asleep, sleeping soundly until 
day, when the storm had passed, leaving the air crisper 
and fresher, and the earth washed afresh and clean. 

They found the horses already grazing, and their 
bear and elk steaks, which they had fastened securely, 
safe on the boughs. The valley itself, so keen and 
penetrating was the odor of balsam and pine, seemed 
redolent with perfume, and the lake itself had taken 
on a new and brighter tint of silver. 

"Boyd Lake and Clarke Valley are putting on their 
best in our honor," said Will. 

Then they ate a huge breakfast, mostly of elk and 
bear meat, and afterward considered the situation. 
Will had the natural impatience of youth, but Boyd 
was all for staying on a couple of weeks at least. They 
might not find another such secure place, one that fur- 
nished its own food, and nothing would be lost while 
much could be gained by waiting. It was easy enough 
to persuade the lad, who was, on the whole, rather 
glad to be convinced, and then they turned their 
thoughts toward the improvement of a camp which had 
some of the elements of permanency. 

"We could, of course, build a good, strong cabin," 
said Boyd, "and with our stout axes it would not take 
long to do it, but I don't think we'll need the protec- 
tion of logs. The wickiup ought to serve. We may 
not have another storm while we're here, but showers 
are pretty sure to come." 

To provide against contingencies they strengthened 

71 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

the wickiup with another layer of poles, and Boyd 
spread over the leaves on the floor the skin of a huge 
grizzly bear that he killed on one of the slopes. They 
felt now that it was secure against any blizzard that 
might sweep through the mountains, and that within 
its shelter they could keep warm and dry in the very 
worst of times. But they did not sleep in it again for 
a full week, no rain falling at night during that period. 
Instead they spread their blankets under the trees. 

"It's odd, and I don't pretend to account for it," 
said Boyd, "but it's only progressive white men who 
understand the value of fresh air. As I told you, the 
Sioux never sleep outside, when they can help it. 
Neither do the other Indians. In the day they live 
outdoors, but at night they like to seal themselves up 
in a box, so to speak." 

"Rushing from extreme to extreme." 

"Maybe, but as for me, I want no better bed than 
the soft boughs of balsam, with blankets and the un- 
limited blue sky, provided, of course, that it isn't rain- 
ing or hailing or sleeting or snowing. It's powerful 
healthy. Since we've come into Clarke Valley I can 
see, Will, that you've grown about two inches in height 
and that you're at least six inches bigger around the 
chest." 

"You're a pretty big exaggerator !" laughed Will, 
"but I certainly do feel bigger and stronger than I was 
when I arrived here. If the Sioux will only let us 
bide in peace awhile I think I may keep on growing. 
Tell me more about the Sioux, Jim. They're a tre- 
mendous league, and I suppose you know as much 

72 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

about 'em as any white man in this part of the world." 
"I've been in their country long enough to learn a 
a lot, and there's a lot to learn. The Sioux are to the 
West what the Iroquois were to the East, that is, so 
far as their power is concerned, though their range 
of territory is far larger than that of the Iroquois 
ever was. They roam over an extent of mountain and 
plain, hundreds and hundreds of miles either way. 
I've heard that they can put thirty thousand warriors 
in the field, though I don't know whether it's true or 
not, but I do know that they are more numerous and 
warlike than any other Indian nation in the West, and 
that they have leaders who are really big men, men 
who think as well as fight. There's Mahpeyalute, 
whom you saw and whom we call Red Cloud, and 
Tatanka Yotanka, whom we call Sitting Bull, and Gray 
Wolf and War Eagle and lots of others. 

"Besides, the Sioux, or, in their own language, the 
Dakotas, are a great nation made up of smaller na- 
tions, all of the same warlike stock. There is the tribe 
of the Mendewakaton, which means Spirit Lake Vil- 
lage, then you have the Wahpekute or Leaf Shooters ; 
the Wahpeton, the Leaf Village; the Sisseton, the 
Swamp Village; the Yankton, the End Village, the 
Yanktonnais, the Upper End Village, and the Teton, 
the Prairie Village. The Teton tribe, which is very 
formidable, is subdivided into the Ogalala, the Brule, 
and the Hunkpapa. Red Cloud, as I've told you be- 
fore, is an Ogalala. And that's a long enough lesson 
for you for one day. Now, like a good boy, go catch 
some fish." 

73 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

Will had discovered very early that Lake Boyd, 
which was quite deep, contained fine lake trout and also 
other fish almost as good to the taste. As their packs 
included strong fishing tackle it was not difficult to 
obtain all the fish they wanted, and the task generally 
fell to the lad. Now, at Boyd's suggestion, he fulfilled 
it once more with the usual success. 

Game of all kinds, large and small, was abundant, 
the valley being fairly overrun with it. Boyd said 
that it had come in through the narrow passes, and 
its numbers indicated that no hunters had been there 
in a long time. Will even found a small herd of about 
a dozen buffaloes grazing at the south end of the 
valley, but the next day they disappeared, evidently 
alarmed by the invasion of human beings. But the 
deer continued numerous and there were both bears 
and mountain lions along the slopes. 

Will, who had a certain turn for solitude, being of 
a thoughtful, serious nature, ceased to find the wait- 
ing in the valley irksome. He began to think less of 
the treasure for which he had come so far and through 
such dangers. They had found a happy valley, and 
he did not care how long they stayed in it, all nature 
being so propitious. He had never before breathed 
an air so fine, and always it was redolent with the odor 
of pine and balsam. He began to feel that Boyd had 
not exaggerated much when he talked about his in- 
crease in height and chest expansion. 

Both he and the hunter bathed every morning in 
Lake Boyd. At first Will could not endure its cold 
water more than five minutes, but at the end of ten 

74 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

days he was able to splash and swim in it as long as 
he liked. 

Their days were not all passed in idleness, as they 
replenished their stores by jerking the meat of both 
bear and deer. At the end of two weeks the hunter 
began to talk of departure, and he and Will walked 
toward the western end of the valley, where the creek 
issued in a narrow pass, the only road by which they 
could leave. 

"It's likely to be a mighty rough path/' said Boyd, 
"but our horses are still mountain climbers and we'll 
be sure to make it." 

They went a little nearer and listened to the music 
of the singing waters, as the creek rushed through the 
cleft. It was a fine, soothing note, but presently an- 
other rose above it, clear and melodious. 

It was a whistle, and it had such a penetrating qual- 
ity that Will, at first, thought it was a bird. Then he 
knew it sprang from the throat of a man, hidden by the 
bushes and coming up the pass. Nearer and nearer it 
came and mellower and mellower it grew. He had 
never before heard anyone whistle so beautifully. It 
was like a song, but it was evident that someone was 
entering their happy valley, and in that wilderness who 
could come but an enemy? Nearer and nearer the 
whistler drew and the musical note of the whistling 
and its echoes filled all the pass. 

"Wouldn't it be better for us to draw back a little 
where we can remain hidden among the brakes ?" said 
Will. 

"Yes, do it," replied the hunter, "just for precaution 

75 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

against any possible mistake, but I don't think we really 
need to do so. In all the world there's net another such 
whistler ! It's bound to be Giant Tom, Giant Tom his 
very self, and none other!" 

"Giant Tom ! Giant Tom ! Whom do you mean ?" 
exclaimed Will. 

"Just wait a minute and you'll see." 

The whistler was now very near, though hidden from 
sight by the bushes, and he was trilling forth old airs 
of home that made the pulses in the lad's throat beat 
hard. 

"It's Giant Tom. There's no other such in the 
world," repeated Boyd more to himself than to Will. 
"In another minute you'll see him. You can hear him 
now brushing past the bushes. Ah, there he is ! God 
bless him!" 

The figure of an extraordinary man now came into 
view. He was not more than five feet tall, nor was 
he particularly broad for his height. He was just the 
opposite of a giant in size, but there was something 
about him that suggested the power of a giant. He 
had a wonderfully quick and light step, and it was 
Will's first impression that he was made of steel, in- 
stead of flesh and blood. His face, shaven smoothly, 
told little of his age. He was dressed in weather- 
beaten brown, rifle on shoulder, and two mules, loaded 
with the usual packs and miner's tools, followed him in 
single file and with sure step. 

Will's heart warmed at once to the little man who 
continued to whistle forth a volume of clear song, and 
whose face was perhaps the happiest he had ever seen. 

76 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

Boyd stepped suddenly from the shielding brushwood 
and extended his hand. 

"Tom Bent," he said, "put 'er there!" 

"Thar she is," said Giant Tom, placing his palm 
squarely in Boyd's. 

"My young friend, Mr. William Clarke," said the 
hunter, nodding at the lad, "and this is Mr. Thomas 
Bent, better known to me and others as Giant Tom." 

"Glad to meet you, William," said the little man, 
and ever afterward he called the boy William. "Any- 
body that I find with Jim, here, has got on 'im the 
stamp an' seal o' high approval. I don't ask your 
name, whar you come from or why you're here, or 
whar you're goin', but I take you fur a frien' o' Jim's, 
an' so just 'bout all right. Now put 'er thar." 

He grinned a wide grin and extended a wide palm, 
into which Will put his to have it enclosed at once in 
a grasp so mighty that he was convinced his first 
impression about the man being made of steel was cor- 
rect. He uttered an exclamation and Giant Tom 
dropped his hand at once. 

"I never do that to a feller more than once," he said, 
"an' it's always the first time I meet him. Even then 
I don't do it 'less I'm sure he's all right, an' I'm goin' 
to like 'im. It's jest my way o' puttin' a stamp on 'im 
to show that he's passed Tom Bent's ordeal, an' is 
good fur the best the world has to offer. Now, Wil- 
liam, you're one o' us." 

He smiled so engagingly that Will was compelled 
to laugh, and he felt, too, that he had a new and pow- 
erful friend. 

77 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"That's right, laugh," said Giant Tom. "You take 
it the way a feller orter, an* you an' me are goin' to 
be mighty good pards. An' that bein' settled I want to 
know from you, Jim Boyd, what are you doin' in my 
valley." 

"Your valley, Giant! Why, you never saw it be- 
fore," said the hunter. 

"What's that got to do with it? I wuz comin' here 
an' any place that I'm goin' to come to out here in 
the wilderness is mine, o' course." 

"Coming here, I suppose, to hunt for gold! And 
you've been hunting for it for fifteen years, you've trod 
along thousands and thousands of miles and never 
found a speck of it yet." 

The little man laughed joyously. 

"That's true," he said. "I've worked years an* 
years an' I never yet had a particle o' luck. But a dry 
spell, no matter how long, is always broke some time 
or other by a rain, an' when my luck does come, it's 
goin' to bust all over my face. Gold will just rain on 
me. I'll stand in it knee-deep an' then shoulder deep, 
an' then right up to my mouth." 

"You haven't changed a bit," said Boyd, grinning 
also. "You're the same Giant Tom, a real giant in 
strength and courage, that I've met off and on through 
the years. It's been a long time since I first saw you." 

"It was in Calif orny in '49. I was only fourteen 
then, but I went out with my uncle in the first rush. 
Seventeen years I've hunted the yellow stuff, in the 
streams, in the mountains, all up an' down the coast, 
in the British territories, an' way back in the Rockies, 

78 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

but I've yet to see its color. Uncle Pete found some, 
and when he died he left what money he had to me. 
'Jest you take it an* keep on huntin', Tom, my boy/ he 
said. 'Now an* then I think I've seen traces o* im- 
patience in you. When you'd been lookin' only six or 
seven years, an 1 found nothin', I heard you speak in 
a tone of disappointment, once. Don't you do it ag'in. 
That ain't the way things are won. It takes sperrit 
an' patience to be victor'us. Hang on to the job you've 
set fur yourse'f, an' thirty or forty years from now 
you'll be shore to reap a full reward, though it might 
come sooner.' An' here I am, fresh, strong, only a 
little past thirty, and I kin afford to hunt an' wait for 
my pay 'bout thirty years more. I've never forgot 
what Uncle Pete told me just afore he died. A mighty 
smart man was Uncle Pete, an' he had my future in 
mind. Don't you think so, young William?" 

"Of course," replied Will, looking at him in won- 
der and admiration. "I don't think a man of your 
cheerful and patient temperament could possibly fail." 

"And maybe his reward will come much sooner than 
he thinks," said the hunter, glancing at the lad. 

Will understood what Boyd meant, and he was much 
taken with the idea. The Little Giant seemed to be sent 
by Providence, but he said nothing, waiting until such 
time as the hunter thought fit to broach the subject. 

"How long have you been here?" asked the Little 
Giant, looking at the valley with approving eyes. 

"Quite a little while," replied Boyd. "It belonged 
to us two until a few minutes ago, but now it belongs 
to us three. We've been needing a third man badly, 

79 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

and while I didn't know it, you must have been in my 
mind all the time." 

"An 1 what do you happen to need me fur, Jim 
Boyd?" 

"We'll let that wait awhile, at least, until we intro- 
duce you to our home." 

"All right. Patience is my strong suit. Do you 
mean to say you've got a home here?" 

"Certainly." 

"Then I'll be your guest until you take me into the 
pardnership you're talkin' 'bout. Do you know that 
you two are the first faces o' human bein's that I've 
seen in two months, an' it gives me a kind o' pleasure 
to look at you, Jim Boyd, an' young William." 

"Come on then to our camp." 

He whistled to his two mules, strong, patient ani- 
mals, and then he whistled on his own account the 
gayest and most extraordinary variation that Will had 
ever heard, a medley of airs, clear, pure and birdlike, 
that would have made the feet of any young man dance 
to the music. It expressed cheerfulness, hope and the 
sheer joy of living. 

"You could go on the stage and earn fine pay with 
that whistling of yours," said Will, when he finished. 

"Others have told me so, too," said the Little Giant, 
"but I'll never do it. Do you think I'd forget what 
Uncle Pete said to me on his dyin' bed, an' get out o' 
patience ? What's a matter o' twenty or thirty years ? 
I'll keep on lookin' an' in the end I'll find plenty o' 
gold as a matter o' course. Then I won't have to whis- 
tle fur a livin'. I'll hire others to whistle fur me." 

80 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

"He's got another accomplishment, Will, one that 
he never brags about," said the hunter. 

"What is it?" 

"I told you once that I was as good a rifle shot as 
there was in the West, over a range of a million and 
a half square miles of mountain and plain, but I forgot, 
for a moment, about one exception. That exception 
is Giant Tom, here. He has one of the fine repeating 
rifles like ours, and whether with that or a muzzle 
loader he's quicker and surer than any other." 

The face of Giant Tom turned red through his tan. 

"See here, Jim Boyd, I'm a modest man, I'm no 
boaster, don't be telling wild tales about me to young 
William. I don't know him yet so well as I do you, 
an' I vally his good opinion." 

"What I say is true every word of it. If his bullet 
would only carry that far he'd pick off a deer at five 
miles every time, and you needn't deny it, Giant Tom." 

"Well, mebbe thar is some truth in what you say. 
When the Lord sawed me off a foot, so I'd hev to look 
up in the faces o' men whenever I talked to 'em, He 
looked at me an' He felt sorry fur the little feller He'd 
created. I'll have to make it up to him somehow, He 
said to Hisself, an' to he'p me along He give me mus- 
cles o' steel, not your cast steel, but your wrought steel 
that never breaks, then He put a mockin* bird in my 
throat, an* give me eyes like an eagle's an' nerves o' 
the steadiest. Last, He give me patience, the knowin' 
how to wait years an' years fur what I want, an' lookin' 
back to it now I think He more than made up fur the 
foot He sawed off. Leastways I ain't seen yet the man 

81 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

I want to change with, not even with you, Jim Boyd, 
tall as you think you are, nor with you, young William, 
for all your red cheeks an* your youth an* your heart 
full o' hope, though it ain't any fuller than mine." 

"Long but mighty interesting," said Boyd. "Now, 
you can see our wickiup, over there in the open. We 
use it only when it rains. We'll help you take the 
packs off your mules and they can go grazing for them- 
selves with our horses. You are not saying much about 
it, but I imagine that you and the mules, too, are pretty 
nearly worn out." 

"Them's good mules, mighty good mules, but them 
an* me, I don't mind tellin' it to you, Jim Boyd, won't 
fight ag'inst restin* an' eatin' awhile." 

"I'll light the fire and warm food for you/' said 
Will. "It's a pleasure for me to do it. Sit down on the 
log and before you know it I'll have ready for you the 
finest lake trout into which you ever put your teeth." 

"Young William, I accept your invite." 

Will quickly had his fire going, and he served not 
only trout, but bear steaks and hot coffee to the Little 
Giant, who ate with a tremendous appetite. 

"I've got provisions of my own in my packs," he 
said, "but sometimes the other feller's feed tastes a 
heap better than your own, an' this that you're of- 
ferin' me is, I take it, the cream o' the mountains, 
young William. A couple more o' them trout, if you 
don't mind, four or five more pounds o' that bear meat, 
an' a gallon o' coffee, if you've got it to spare. With 
them I think I kin make out. How are my mules 
gettin' on, Jim?" 

82 



THE LITTLE GIANT 

"First rate. They've already introduced themselves 
to the horses, which have given their names, pedigrees 
and the stories of their lives. The mules also have 
furnished their histories, and, everybody being satis- 
fied with everybody else's social station and past, 
they're now grazing together in perfect friendship, all 
six of 'em, just beyond that belt of woodland. And 
that being the case, I'll now give you the history of 
Will and myself, and I'll tell you about the biggest 
thing that we expect from the future." 

"Go ahead," said the Little Giant, settling himself 
into a comfortable position. 



CHAPTER IV 

THE FLIGHT 

BOYD had no mean powers as a narrator. He 
did not speak at first of their own immediate 
search, but alluded to the great belief that gold 
was scattered all through the West, although it sel- 
dom had a trace or trail leading to it. Then he spoke 
of Clarke's father, and what he had discovered, re- 
turning soon afterward to the civil war, in which he 
had fallen. 

The Little Giant's eyes brightened with the flame of 
pursuit as the hunter talked. He who had sought gold 
for so many years without finding a particle of it was 
seeing it now, in pockets, and in almost solid ledges, 
beyond anything he had ever dreamed. But when Boyd 
told of the officer's death on the battlefield he sighed 
deeply and his face clouded. 

"That's always the way," he said. "Jest when you've 
got it, it slips through your fingers, though I will say 
to you, young William, that it's not the lost gold only 
I'm mournin* 'bout. I'm sorry, too, for the death of 
your brave father." 

"But, knowing the uncertainties of war, he took 
thought for the future," said Boyd. "He drew a map 

84 



THE FLIGHT 

showing where his great mine is, and it's now in the 
possession of his son, Will, who sits before you/' 

The shadow left the face of the Little Giant, and his 
eyes glistened as Will produced the precious map, 
spreading it before him. After examining it care- 
fully, he said: 

"Ef you fight off many thousand Sioux, run through 
fifty or a hundred mountain blizzards, starve a dozen 
times, freeze twenty times an' stick to it three or four 
years you'll git that thar gold." 

Then the Little Giant sighed, and his face clouded 
again it had perhaps been years since his face had 
clouded twice in one day. 

"You fellers are in great luck. I wish you well." 

"We wish ourselves well," said Boyd, watching him 
closely. 

A sudden thought seemed to occur to the Little Giant 
and his face brightened greatly. 

"Do you two fellers want a hired man.?" he asked. 

"What kind of a hired man?" said Boyd. 

"A likely feller, not very tall, but strong an* with a 
willin' heart, handy with spade an' shovel, under- 
standin' hosses an' mules, an' able to whistle fur you 
gay an' lively tunes in the evenin', when you're all tired 
out from the day's work in the richest mine in the 
world." 

"No, we don't want any hired man." 

"Not even the kind I'm tellin' you 'bout?" 

"Not even that, nor any other." 

"An' both o' you hev got your minds plum' made up 
'bout it?" 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"Plumb made up." 

The Little Giant's face fell for the third time in one 
day, an absolute record for him. 

"I reckon thar ain't no more to say/' he said. 

Boyd was still watching him closely, but now his look 
was one of sympathy. 

"We don't want any hired man," he said. "We've 
no use for hired men, but we do want something." 

"What's that, Jim Boyd?" 

"We want a partner." 

"Why, each of you has got one. You hev young 
William and young William hez you." 

"Well, young William and me have talked about 
this some, not much, but we came straight to the point. 
For such a big hunt as ours, through dangers piled on 
dangers, we need a third man, one that's got a strong 
heart and a cheerful soul, one that can shoot straighter 
than anybody else in the world, one whose picture, if 
I could take it, would be the exact picture of you, Tom 
Bent." 

"But I ain't done nothin' to come in as a pardner." 

"Neither did I, but Will took me in as a guide, hunter 
and fighting man. Don't you understand, Giant, that 
to get the Clarke gold we'll have to pay the price? 
We'll have to fight and fight, and we'll have to risk 
our lives a thousand times apiece. Why, in a case like 
this, you're worth a cool hundred thousand dollars." 

"Then I come in fur a tenth ef we git it." 

"You come in for the same share as the rest, share 
and share alike, but I will say this to you, Little Giant, 
that we expect you to do the most tremendous fighting 

86 



THE FLIGHT 

the world has ever seen, we expect you to wipe out 
whole bands of Sioux and Blackfeet by yourself while 
Will and me stand by and rest, and, after it's all over, 
we expect you to sit down and whistle an hour or two, 
until you soothe us to sleep." 

"Then, on them conditions I come in as a full pard- 
ner," said Giant Tom, and he grinned with pleasure, 
the most amazing grin that Will had ever seen. It 
spread slowly across his face, until the great crack 
seemed to reach almost to each ear, revealing a splen- 
did set of powerful white teeth, without a flaw. Above 
the chasm two large blue eyes glistened and glowed 
with delight. It was all so infectious, so contagious 
that both Will and Boyd grinned in return. They were 
not only securing for a perilous quest a man who was 
beyond compare, but they were also giving the most 
exquisite mental pleasure to a likable human being. 

"It Shorely does look," said the Little Giant, "ez ef 
my luck wuz goin' to hev a turn. At any rate, I'll be 
with you boys, in the best company I've had fur 
years." 

"You and the mules rest a day," said Boyd, "and 
then we'll be off. We'll keep to the mountains for a 
while, and then we'll curve back to the plains, where 
we'll take up the line laid down on the map, and where 
the going is easier. Maybe we can dodge the Sioux." 

The Little Giant made his bed under one of the 
trees, and he slept very soundly that night, eating pro- 
digiously in the morning. The three were discussing 
the advisability of leaving at once or of waiting until 
the dusk for departure, when Will, happening to look 

87 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

toward the east, saw what he took at first to be a tiny 
cloud in the clear blue sky. He carried his glasses over 
his shoulders, and he raised them at once. The hunter 
and the Little Giant had noticed his act. 

"What is it, Will?" asked Boyd anxiously. 

"Smoke! A big puff of it!" 

"And it came from the top of that mountain to the 
east of the valley." 

"It rose straight and fast, as if it had been sent up 
by some human agency." 

"And so it was. It's a signal !" 

"Indians!" 

"Yes, Will." 

"What does it mean?" 

"It means 'Attention, watch !' They've got a code 
almost as complete as that of our armies when they use 
the signal flags. Look at that other crest off to the 
north. Maybe an answer will come from it." 

"There is an answer. I can see it rising now from 
the very place you indicate, Jim. What does the an- 
swer signify?" 

"I can see it now with the naked eye. It merely 
says to the first, Tve seen you, I'm waiting. Go 
ahead/ Look back to the other crest." 

"Two smokes are now going up there." 

"They say 'Come/ It's two bands wanting to meet. 
Now, the other place." 

"Three smokes there." 

"Three means, 'We come/ " 

"Now back to the other." 

"Four smokes." 

88 



THE FLIGHT 

"Which says in good, plain English, 'We are follow- 
ing the enemy.' That settles it. They've found out, 
some way or other, that we're here, and the two bands 
mean to meet and capture or destroy us. They never 
suspected that we could read their writing against the 
sky. We don't wait until tonight. We leave as soon 
as we can get our packs on our horses and mules." 

"I'd like to make a suggestion first," said the Little 
Giant with some diffidence. 

"What is it?" asked Boyd. 

"Suppose we stay an' have acrack at 'em before we 
go, jest kinder to temper their zeal a little. I'd like to 
show young William that I kin really shoot, an' sorter 
live up to the braggin' you've been doinV 

"No, you ferocious little man-killer. We can't think 
of it. We'd have a hundred Sioux warriors on our 
heels in no time. Now hustle, you two ! Pack faster 
than you ever packed before, and we'll start inside of 
two hours. Do you see any more smokes, Will ?" 

"No, the sky is now without a blemish." 

"Which means they've talked enough and now 
they're traveling straight toward our valley. It's lucky 
they've got such rough country to cross before they 
reach us." 

Inside the two hours they were headed for the west- 
ern end of the valley, the Little Giant riding one of 
his mules, the other following. The wickiup was aban- 
doned, but they brought much of the jerked meat with 
them, thinking wisely of their commissariat. 

It was with genuine regret that Will looked back 
from his saddle upon Clarke Valley and Boyd Lake,. 

89 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

shimmering and beautiful now in the opalescent sun- 
shine. They had found peace and plenty there. It 
was a good place in which to live, if wild men would 
let one alone, and, loving solitude at times, he could 
have stayed there several weeks longer in perfect con- 
tent. He caught the last gleam of the lake as they en- 
tered the pass. It had the deep sheen of melted sil- 
ver, as the waters moved before the slow wind, and he 
sighed a little when a curve of the cliff cut it wholly 
from view. 

"Never mind, young William," said the Little Giant, 
"you'll see other lakes and other valleys as fine, an* 
this wouldn't look so beautiful, after all, tomorrow, 
filled with ragin' Sioux huntin' our ha'r right whar it 
grows, squar' on top o' our heads." 

Young Clarke laughed and threw off his melancholy. 

"You're right," he said briskly. "The lake wouldn't 
look very beautiful if a half dozen Sioux were shoot- 
ing at me. You came through this pass, now tell us 
what kind of a place it is." 

"We ride along by the creek, an* sometimes the ledge 
is jest wide enough fur the horses an' mules. We go 
on that way four or five miles, provided we don't fall 
down the cliff into the creek an' bust ourselves apart. 
Then, ag'in, purvided we're still livin', we come out 
into a valley, narrow but steep, the water rushin* down 
it in rapids like somethin' mad. Then we keep on down 
the valley with our hosses lookin' ez ef they wuz 
walkin* on their heads, an' in four or five miles more, 
purvided, o* course, once more that we ain't been busted 
apart by falls, we come out into some woods. These 

90 



THE FLIGHT 

woods are cut by gulleys an' ravines an* they have stony 
outcrops, but they'll look good by the side o' what you 
hev passed through." 

"Encouraging, Giant !" laughed Will. "But hard as 
all this will be for us to pass over, it will be just as hard 
for the Sioux, our pursuers." 

"Young William," said the Little Giant approvingly, 
"I like to hear you talk that way. It shows that you 
hev all the makin's o' them opty-mists, the bunch o' 
people to which I belong. I never heard that word 
till three or four years ago, when I wuz listenin' to 
a preacher in a minin* camp, an 1 it kinder appealed to 
me. So I reckoned I would try to live up to it an' 
make o' myself a real opty-mist. I been workin' hard 
at it ever sence, an' I think I'm qualifyin'." 

"You're right at the head of the class, that's where 
you are, Giant," said Boyd heartily. "You've already 
earned a thousand dollars out of the mine that we're 
going to find, you with your whistling and cheerfulness 
bracing us up so that we're ready to meet anything." 

"What's the use o' bein' an opty-mist ef you don't 
optymize ?" asked the Little Giant, coining a word for 
himself. "Now, ain't this a nice, narrow pass? You 
kin see the water in the creek down thar, 'bout two hun- 
dred feet below, a-rushin' an' a-roarin' over the stones, 
an' then you look up an' see the cliff risin' five or six 
hundred feet over your head, an' here you are betwixt 
an' between, on a shelf less'n three feet broad, jest 
givin' room enough fur the horses an' mules an' our- 
selves, all so trim an' cosy, everythin' fittin' close an' 
tight in its place." 

91 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"It's a lot too close and tight for me, Giant!" ex- 
claimed Will. "I've a terrible fear that I'll go tumb- 
ling off the path and into the creek two hundred feet 
below." 

"Oh, no, you won't, young William. The people 
who fall off cliffs are mighty few compared with them 
that git skeered 'bout it. Ef you feel a-tall dizzy, 
jest ketch holt o' the tail o' that rear mule o' mine. 
He won't kick, an' he won't mind it, a-tall, a-tall. In- 
stead o' that it'll give him a kind o' home-like feelin', 
bein' ez I've hung on to his tail myself so many times 
when we wuz goin' along paths not more'n three inches 
wide in the mountain side. You won't bother or up- 
set him. The biggest cannon that wuz ever forged 
couldn't blast him out o' the path." 

Thus encouraged, young Clarke seized the tail of 
the mule, which plodded unconcernedly on, and for the 
rest of the distance along the dizzying heights he felt 
secure. Nevertheless his relief was great when they 
emerged into the rough valley of which the Little Giant 
had spoken, and yet more when, still pressing on, they 
came to the rocky and hilly forest. Here they were all 
exhausted, animals and human beings alike, and they 
stopped a long time in the shade of the trees. 

At that point there was no sign of the valley from 
which they had fled, unless one could infer its exist- 
ence from the creek that flowed by. Looking back, 
Will saw nothing but a mass of forest and mountain, 
and then looking back a second time he saw rings of 
smoke rising from points which he knew must be 
in their valley. He examined and counted them 

92 



THE FLIGHT 

through his glasses and described them to the hunter 
and the Little Giant. 

"The Sioux have come down and invaded our pleas- 
ant home," said Boyd. "There's no doubt about it, and 
I can make a good guess that they're mad clean 
through, because they found us gone. They may be 
signaling now to another band to come up, and then 
they'll give chase. You've got to know, Will, that 
nothing will make the Sioux pursue like the prospect 
of scalps, white scalps. A Sioux warrior would be per- 
fectly willing to go on a month's trail if he found a 
white scalp at the end of it." 

"They'll naturally think that we'll turn off toward 
the south so as to hit the plains ez soon ez we kin," 
said the Little Giant. 

"And for that reason, you think we should turn to 
the north instead, and go deeper into the mountains?" 
said Boyd. 

" Tears sound reasonin' to me." 

"Then we'll do it." 

"But we don't go fur, leastways not today. It 
wouldn't be more'n two or three hours till night any- 
how, an' see them clouds in thar to the south, all thick- 
enin* up. We're going to hev rain on the mountains, 
an' I think we'd better make another wickiup, ez one 
o' them terrible sleets may come on." 

Boyd and Will agreed with him and a mile farther 
they found a place that they considered suitable, 
an opening in which they would not be exposed to any 
tree blown down by a blizzard, but with a heavy growth 
of short pines near by, among which the horses and 

93 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

mules might find shelter. Then the three worked with 
amazing speed, and by the time the full dark had come 
the wickiup was done, the skins that they had brought 
with them being stretched tightly over the poles. Then, 
munching their cald food, they crawled in and coiled 
themselves about the walls, wrapped deep in their blan- 
kets. Contrary to the Indian custom, they left the low 
door open for air, and just when Will felt himself 
well disposed for the night he heard the first patter of 
the sleet. 

It was almost pitch dark in the wickiup, but, through 
the opening, he could see the hail beating upon the 
earth in streams of white. The old feeling of com- 
fort and security in face of the wildest that the wilder- 
ness had to offer returned to him. When they reached 
Clarke Valley and built their wickiup he had one pow- 
erful friend, but now when the Sioux were once more 
in pursuit, he had two. The Little Giant had made 
upon him an ineffaceable impression of courage, skill 
and loyalty that would stand any test. 

"The hail's goin* to drive all through the night," 
Giant Tom called out in the darkness. 

"Right you are," said the hunter, "and the Sioux 
won't think of trying that pass on such a night. 
They're back in the valley, in wickiups of their own." 

"Might it not stop them entirely?" asked Will. 

"No, young William, it won't," said the Little Giant. 
"They'll come through the pass tomorrow, knowin* 
thar's only one way by which we kin go, an' then try to 
pick up our trail when the sleet melts. But tonight, 
at least, nobody's goin' to find us." 

94 



THE FLIGHT 

They slept late the next morning, and when they 
crawled out of the wickiup they found the sleet packed 
about an inch deep on the ground. The horses and 
mules, protected by the pines, had not suffered much, 
and, in order that their trail might be hidden by the 
melting sleet, they packed and departed before break- 
fast, choosing a northwesterly direction. They picked 
the best ground, but it was all rough. Nevertheless the 
three were cheerful, and the Little Giant whistled like 
a nightingale. 

"Ef I remember right," he said, "we'll soon be de- 
scendin', droppin' down fast so to speak, an* then the 
weather will grow a heap warmer. The sun's out now, 
though, an* by noon anyway all the sleet will be gone, 
which will help us a lot." 

They had been walking most of the time, allowing 
their animals to follow, which both horses and mules 
did, not only through long training but because they 
had become used to the companionship of men. The 
three might have abandoned them, escaping pursuit in 
the almost inaccessible mazes of the mountains, but no 
such thought entered their minds. The horses and 
mules not only carried their supplies, chief among 
which being the ammunition, but also the tools with 
which to work the mine, and then, in Will's mind at 
least, they and more of them would be needed to bring 
back to civilization the tons of gold. 

They were now in a fairly level, though narrow, val- 
ley, and all three of them were riding. Once more they 
saw far behind them smoke signals rising, and Boyd 
felt sure that the Sioux somehow had blundered upon 

95 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

the trail anew. Then he and the Little Giant spoke 
together earnestly. 

"The longest way 'roun' is sometimes the shortest 
way through," said Giant Tom. "It's no plains for 
us, not fur many days to come. I'm thinkin' that what 
we've got to do is to keep on goin' deeper an' deeper 
into the mountains, an* higher an' higher, too, plum' 
up among them glaciers, whar the Sioux won't keer to 
f oiler. Then, when we winter a while thar we kin turn 
back toward the plains an* our search." 

"Looks like good reasoning to me," said Boyd. "As 
I toid the boy here, once, we're richer in time than 
anything else. We must make for the heights. What 
say you, Will?" 

"I'm learning patience," replied the lad. "It's better 
to wait than to spill all the beans at once. Let's head 
straight for the glaciers." 

Will felt that there was something terrible about the 
Sioux pursuit. He was beginning to realize to the full 
the power of Indian tenacity, and he was anxious to 
shake off the warriors, no matter how high they had 
to go. He knew nothing of the region about them, but 
he had heard that mountains in many portions of the 
West rose to a height of nearly three miles. He could 
well believe it, as he looked north and south to tre- 
mendous peaks with white domes, standing like vast, 
silent sentinels in the sky. They were majestic to him, 
but not terrifying, because they held out the promise of 
safety. 

"If the worst came to the worst, could we live up 
there on one of those slopes, a while r" he asked. 

96 



THE FLIGHT 

"Do you mean by that could we find game enough?" 
said Boyd. 

"Game and shelter both." 

"We could. Like as not the mountain deer are plen- 
tiful. And there's a kind of buffalo called the wood 
bison, even bigger than the regular buffalo of the 
plains, not often found south of Canada, but to be met 
with now and then in our country. We might run 
across one of them, and he'd supply meat enough to 
feed an army. Besides, there are bears and deer and 
smaller game. Oh, we'd make out, wouldn't we, 
Tom?" 

"We shorely would," replied the Little Giant, "but 
between you an* me an* the gate post, Jim, I think I 
see somethin' movin' on the slope acrost thar to the 
right. Young William, take your glasses an' study that 
spot whar the bushes are so thick." 

"I can just barely make out the figures of men among 
the bushes," announced Will, after a good look. 

"Then they're Indians," said Boyd with emphasis. 
"You wouldn't find white men lurking here in the un- 
dergrowth. It's a fresh band, hunters maybe, but dan- 
gerous just the same. We'd better push on for all 
we're worth." 

They urged forward the horses and mules, seeking 
cover in the deep forest along the slope, but without 
success, as a faint yell soon told them. At the sug- 
gestion of Boyd, they stopped and examined the 
ground. The way was steadily growing steeper and 
more difficult, and the warriors, who were on foot 
could make greater speed than the fugitives. 

97 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"Lend me your glasses a minute, young William," 
said the Little Giant. 

But he did not turn the lenses upon the Indians. In- 
stead, he looked upward. 

"Thar's a narrow pass not fur ahead," he said. "I 
think we'd better draw into it an' make a stand. The 
pass is deep, an* they can't assail us on either flank. It- 
will have to be a straightaway attack." 

'That's lucky, mighty lucky," said Boyd with heart- 
felt thankfulness. "Will, you push on with the ani- 
mals, and maybe if you look back you'll see that what 
I told you about Giant Tom's sharpshooting is true." 

Will hurried the horses and mules ahead, following 
a shallow dip that was the outlet of the deep pass they 
were seeking. Behind them he heard again the yells 
of the Indian warriors, hopeful now of an unexpected 
triumph. He saw their figures emerging from cover 
and he judged that they were at least twenty in num- 
ber. He saw also that the Little Giant had stopped 
and was looking at the pursuers with a speculative eye, 
while his repeating rifle lay easily in the hollow of his 
arm. Then he urged the animals on and presently he 
looked back a second time. 

He was just in time to see the breech of the rifle 
leap to the Little Giant's shoulder. "Leap" was the 
only word to describe it, his action was so swift and 
so little time did he waste in taking aim. It all passed 
in an instant, as he pulled the trigger, and the fore- 
most Indian far down the slope threw up his arms, 
falling backward without a cry. In another instant 
he pulled the trigger again and another Indian fell 

98 



THE FLIGHT 

beside the first. The whole band stopped, uttered a 
tremendous cry of rage, and then darted into the un- 
dergrowth for cover. 

"Two," said Boyd. "Didn't I tell you, Will, that 
he was a wonder with the rifle?" 

"I had to do it. I call you both to witness that I 
had to do it," said the Little Giant in a melancholy 
voice. "I'm a hunter o' gold an* not properly a killer 
o' men, even o' savage men. An* yet I find no gold, 
but I do kill. Sometimes I'm sorry that I happened 
to be born jest a natcherly good shot. I reckon we'd 
better whoop up our speed ez much ez we kin now, 
'cause after that lesson they'll hang back a while afore 
follerin'." 

"That's good generalship," said Boyd. 

Will was already urging forward the animals, which, 
frightened by the shots, were making speed of their 
own accord toward the pass. The hunter and the 
Little Giant followed at a more leisurely gait, with 
their rifles ready to beat off pursuit. Some shots were 
fired from the bushes, but they fell short, and the two 
laughed in disdain. 

"They'll have to do a lot better than that, won't 
they, Giant?" said the hunter. 

"A powerful sight better, but they'll hope to slip 
up on us in the dark. It hurts my feelin's to hev to 
shoot any more of 'em, or to shoot anybody, but I'm 
af card I'll hev to do it, Jim Boyd, afore we git through 
with this here piece o' business." 

"In that case, Giant, just let your feelings go and 
shoot your best." 

99 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

Will still led on, and, though his heart beat as hard 
as ever, it was more from the exertion of climbing than 
from apprehension. He had seen the two wonderful 
shots of the Little Giant, he knew what a wonderful 
marksman Boyd was also, and he felt since they were 
within the shelter of the pass, their three rifles might 
keep off any number of Sioux. 

The shallow gully up which they were travelling 
now narrowed rapidly, and soon they were deep in 
the looming shadow of the pass, which seemed to end 
blindly farther on. But for the present it was a 
Heaven-sent refuge. At one point, where it widened 
somewhat, the horses and mules could stand, and there 
was even a little grass for them. A rill of water from 
the high rocks was a protection against what they had 
to fear most of all, thirst, and the three human beings 
in turn drank freely from it, letting the animals follow. 

Boyd deftly tethered the horses and mules to bushes 
that grew at the foot of the cliff in the wide space, and 
then he joined the other two, who, lying almost flat, 
were watching at the entrance to the pass. The rocks 
there also gave them fine protection, and they felt they 
had reached a fort which would test all the ingenuity, 
patience and courage of the Sioux. 

Will drew back behind a stony upthrust, sat up and 
used his glasses, searching everywhere among the 
rocks and bushes down the pass. 

"What do you see, Young William?" asked the 
Little Giant. 

"Nothing yet, Tom, except the bushes, the stones 
and the slopes of the mountains far across the valley." 

100 



THE FLIGHT. 


**< 

"Nor you won't see nothin' fur some time. Took 
to cover, they hev. An* I don't blame 'em, either. 
We wouldn't be anxious ourselves to walk up against 
the mouths o' rifles that don't miss, an* Indians, bein' 
smart people, don't risk their lives when thar's nothin' 
to be gained." 

"Then how are they going to get at us ?" 

"Not straight-away, but by means o' tricks." 

"What tricks?" 

"I don't know. Ef they wuz so plain ez all that 
they wouldn't be tricks. We'll hev to be patient." 

All three of them drew back into the mouth of the 
pass, where they found abundant shelter behind the 
stony outcrops, while the Sioux, who lay hidden in the 
undergrowth farther down the slope, would be com- 
pelled to advance over open ground, if they made a 
rush. Young Clarke's confidence grew. That won- 
derful sharpshooting feat of the Little Giant was still 
in his mind. In such a position and with such marks- 
men as Boyd and Bent, they could not be overwhelmed. 

"Take them glasses o' yourn, young William," said 
the Little Giant, "an* see ef you can pick out any o' 
the Sioux down the slope." 

Will was able to trace three or four warriors lying 
down among the short cedars, apparently waiting with 
illimitable patience for any good idea that might sug- 
gest itself. The others, though out of sight, were 
certainly near and he was wondering what plan might 
occur to them. 

"Do you think it likely that they know the pass ?" 
he asked Boyd. 

101 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"Hardly," replied the hunter. "They are mountain 
Sioux, but on the whole they prefer the plains." 

"Maybe they think then that they can wait, or at 
least hold us until we are overcome by thirst!" 

"No, the little stream of water breaks a way down 
the slope somewhere, and when they find it they'll 
know that it comes from the pass. I think they'll at- 
tack, but just how and when is more'n I can say. 
Now, Will, will you go back where the animals are 
and cook us a good supper, including coffee? When 
you're besieged it's best to keep yourself well fed and 
strong. I saw plenty of dead wood there, tumbled 
from the cliffs above." 

Young Clarke, knowing that he was not needed now 
at the mouth of the pass, was more than glad to under- 
take the task, since waiting was hard work. 

He found the horses and mules lying down, and 
they regarded him with large, contemplative eyes as 
he lighted the fire and began to cook supper. The 
animals were on the best of terms, constituting a happy 
family, and the eyes with which they regarded Will 
seemed to him to be the eyes of wisdom. 

"Shall we get safely out of this?" he asked, ad- 
dressing himself to the animal circle. 

Either it was fact, or his imagination was uncom- 
monly lively, as he saw six large heads nod slowly and 
with dignity, but with emphasis. 

"All of us?" 

The six heads again moved slowly and with dignity. 

"And with you, our faithful four-footed friends, 
and with the packs that are so needful to us?" 

102 



THE FLIGHT 

The six heads nodded a little faster, but with the 
same dignity. Will was just putting the coffee on to, 
boil when he asked the last question and received the 
last answer, and he stopped for a moment to stare at 
the six animals, which were still regarding him with 
their large, contemplative eyes. Could he refuse to 
believe what he thought he saw? If fancy were not 
fact it often became fact a little later. Those were 
certainly honest beasts and he knew by experience, 
that they were truthful, too, because he had never yet 
caught them in a lie. Animals did not know how to 
lie, wherein they were different from human beings, 
and while human beings were not prophets, at least in 
modern times, animals, for all he knew, might be, and 
he certainly intended to believe that the six, for the 
present, enjoyed the prophetic afflatus. 

"I accept the omens as you give them," he said 
aloud. "From this moment I dismiss from my mind 
all doubt concerning the present affair." 

Then he found himself believing his own words. 
The omens continued to be favorable. The coffee 
boiled with uncommon readiness and the strips of 
venison that he fried over the coals gave forth an 
aroma of unparalleled richness. Filling two large 
tin cups with the brown fluid he carried them to the 
watchers at the mouth of the pass, who drained them, 
each at a single draught. 

"Best you ever made, Will," said Boyd. 

"Ez good ez anybody ever made, young William," 
said the Little Giant. 

"Now I'll bring you strips of venison and crackers,"- 
103 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

said Will, much pleased, "and after you've eaten them 
you can have another cup of coffee apiece." 

His little task, his success at it, and the praise of 
his comrades cheered him wonderfully. When he 
had taken- them the second cups of coffee and had also 
served himself, he put out the coals, picked up his 
rifle and rejoined the others. The first faint breath 
of the twilight was appearing over the mountains. 
The great ridges and peaks* were growing dim and afar 
the wind of night was moaning. 

"It'll be dark soon," said the Little Giant, "an* then 
we'll hev to watch with all our eyes an' all our ears. 
Onless the Sioux attack under kiver o' the night they 
won't attack at all." 

"They'll come. Don't you worry about that, Tom," 
said Boyd. "The Sioux are as brave fighters as any 
that tread the earth, and they want our scalps bad, 
particularly yours. If I was an Indian and loved 
scalps as they do, I'd never rest until I got yours. The 
hair is so thick and it stands up so much, I'd give it a 
place of honor in my tepee, and whenever my warrior 
friends came in for a sociable evening's talk I'd tell 
'em how I defeated you in battle and took your scalp, 
which is the king scalp." 

"It's a comply-ment you make me to call my scalp 
the king scalp, but no Indian will ever take it. Do 
you see something stirring down thar 'mong the little 
cedars? Young William, them glasses o' yourn a 
minute or two." 

He made a careful study with the glasses, and, when 
he handed them back, he announced: 

104 



THE FLIGHT 

"They're movin' 'mong the cedars. I made out at 
least a half dozen thar. Ez soon ez it's good an* 
dark they're goin' to try to creep up on us. Well, let 
'em. We kin see pretty nigh ez good in the dark ez 
in the light, can't we, Jim Boyd?" 

"I reckon we can see good enough, Giant, to draw 
a bead on anything that comes creeping, creeping after 
our hair." 

Again Will felt pride that he was associated with 
two such formidable champions of the wild, but he 
did not let pride keep him from selecting a good high 
stony outcrop behind which he lay with his rifle ready 
and his revolver loose in his belt. Now and then, 
however, he held his rifle in only one hand and used 
the glasses so valuable to him, and which he was 
beginning to prize so highly. 

Much time passed, however, and it passed slowly. 
Young Clarke realized that the other name for the 
Sioux was patience, but it was hard on his nerves, 
nevertheless. He wanted to talk, he longed to ask 
questions of the two borderers, but his will kept him 
from doing so. He was resolved not to appear nerv- 
ous or garrulous at such a time. 

The night deepened. The twilight had passed long 
since. Many of the stars did not come out and heavy 
waves of dusk rolled up the valley. The slopes of the 
opposite mountain became invisible, nor did Will see 
the dwarf cedars in which his glasses told him a por- 
tion of the Sioux band had lain hidden. 

The time was so long that his muscles felt stiff and 
sore, and he stretched arms and legs vigorously to re- 

105 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

store the circulation. Moreover the elevation was so 
great that it was growing quite cold in the pass, and 
he became eager for the warriors to attack if they 
were going to attack at all. But he remembered the 
saying that patience was only another name for Sioux 
and steeled his heart to endure. 

The three were lying close together, all behind rocky 
upthrusts, and after a space that seemed a thousand 
years or so to Will the Little Giant edged toward him 
and whispered : 

"Young William, you wouldn't mind lendin' me them 
glasses o' yourn once more?" 

"As often as you like, Giant." 

"Hand 'em over, then. Even ef it's night they've 
got a way o' cuttin' through the dark, an' I feel it's 
'bout time now fur the Sioux to be comin'. They like 
to jump on an unsuspectin' foe 'bout midnight." 

He took an unusually long look and handed the 
glasses back to Will. Then he whispered to both the 
lad and the hunter : 

"I could make 'em out snakin' theirselves up the 
pass nigh flat on the rock." 

"They hope to get so near in the dark that they can 
spring up and rush us." 

"I reckon that's jest 'bout thar game, but them 
glasses o' young William's hev done give them away 
already. The Sioux hev fixed everythin' mighty care- 
ful, an' jest one thing that chance hez give us, young 
William's glasses, is goin' to upset 'em. Take a look, 
Jim." 

"I can see 'em, so many dark spots moving, always 
106 



THE FLIGHT 

moving up the pass and making no noise at all. Now, 
Will, you look, and after that we'll make ready with 
the rifles." 

Will through the glasses saw them quite plainly now, 
more than a score of dark figures, advancing slowly 
but quite steadily. He threw the glasses over his 
shoulder and took up his rifle with both hands. 

"Not yet, young William," said the Little Giant. 
"We don't want to waste any bullets, and so we'll wait 
until Jim gives the word. Ev'ry army needs a leader. 
Thar ain't but three in this army, but it hez to hev a 
leader jest the same and Jim Boyd is the man." 

Will waited motionless, but he could not keep his 
heart from beating hard, as the Sioux, ruthless and 
bold, came forward silently to the attack. He did not 
have the infinite wilderness experience of the older two 
which had hardened them to every form of danger, and 
his imagination was alive and leaping. The dusky 
forms which he could now faintly see with the naked 
eye were increased by fancy threefold and four, and 
his eager finger slipped to the trigger of his rifle. He 
was sure they ought to fire now. The Sioux were cer- 
tainly near enough! If they came any closer before 
meeting the bullets of the defense they would have 
a good chance to spring , up and make a victorious 
rush. But the word to fire did not come. He glanced 
at their leader, and Boyd was still calmly watching. 

The three lay very close together, and Will heard 
the hunter whisper to the Little Giant: 

"How much nearer do you think I ought to let 'em 
come, Tom?" 

107 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

" 'Bout ten feet more, I reckon, Jim. Then though 
it's night, thar would be no chance fur a feller to miss, 
onless he shet his eyes, an* we want all our bullets to 
hit. Indians, even the bravest, don't like to rush rifle- 
men that are ez good ez a batt'ry. Ef we strike 'em 
mighty hard the first time they'll fall back on tricks an' 
waitin'." 

"Good sound reasoning, Tom. You hear, Will. 
Be sure you don't miss." 

"1 won't," replied the lad. Nevertheless those ten 
minutes, every one of them, had a way of spinning 
themselves out in such an extraordinary manner that 
his nerves began to jump again, and it required a 
great effort of the will to keep them quiet. The black 
shadows were approaching. They had passed over 
a stretch of rough ground that he had marked four 
or five minutes before, and the outlines of the figures 
were growing more distinct. He chose one on the 
extreme right for his aim. He could not yet see his 
features, of course, but he was quite certain that they 
were ugly and that the man was a warrior wicked 
beyond belief. Before he could fire upon anyone from 
ambush it was necessary for him to believe the man at 
whom he aimed to be utterly depraved, and the situa- 
tion created at once such a belief in his mind. 

He kept his eye steadily upon the ugly and wicked 
warrior, and as he watched for his chance and awaited 
the word from Boyd all scruples about firing disap- 
peared from his mind. It was that warrior's life or 
his, and the law of self-preservation controlled. Near- 
er and yet nearer they came and the time had grown 

108 



THE FLIGHT 

interminable when the hunter suddenly said in a low 
voice : 

"Fire!" 

Young Clarke pulled the trigger with a sure aim. 
He saw the hideous warrior draw himself into a bunch 
that sprang convulsively upward, but which, when it 
fell, lay back, outspread and quiet. Then he fired at a 
second figure, but he was not sure that he hit. The 
hunter and the Little Giant were already sending in 
their third and fourth bullets, with deadly aim, Will 
was sure, and the Sioux, after one mighty yell, 
wrenched from them by rage, surprise and fear, were 
fleeing down the pass under the fierce hail from the 
repeating rifles. 

In a half minute all the shadows, save those outlined 
darkly on the ground, were gone, and there was com- 
plete and utter silence, while the light smoke from the 
rifles drifted about aimlessly, there being no wind. 
The three did not speak, but slipping in fresh cartridges 
continued to gaze down the pass. Then Will heard a 
wild, shrill scream behind him that made him leap a 
foot from the ground, and that set all his nerves 
trembling. The next moment he was laughing at him- 
self. One of the horses had neighed in terror at the 
firing, and there are few things more terrifying than 
the terrified shriek of a horse. 

"Maybe you'd better go back and see 'em, Will," 
said Boyd. "They may need quieting. I've noticed 
that you've a gentle hand with horses, and that they 
like you." 

"And mules too," said the Little Giant. "Mine hev 
109 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

already taken a fancy for young William. But mules 
are much abused critters. You treat 'em well an* 
they'll treat you well, which is true of all tame ani- 
mals." 

Young Clarke suspected that they were sending him 
back to steady his own nerves as well as those of the 
animals after such a fierce encounter, but if so he was 
glad they had the thought. He was willing enough to 
go. 

"Nothing will happen while you' re gone," said Boyd 
Cheerfully. "The Sioux, of course, would try to rush 
us again if they knew you were away, but they won't 
know it." 

Will crawled until he came to a curve of the cliff 
that would hide him from any hidden Indian marks- 
man, and then he rose to his feet, glad that he was able 
to stand upright. He found the horses and mules 
walking about uneasily at the ends of their lariats, but 
a few consoling strokes from him upon their manes 
quieted all of them, and, if they found comfort in his 
presence, he also found comfort in theirs. 

Then he kneeled and drank at the rill, as if he had 
been parching in a desert for days. 



CHAPTER V 

THE WHITE DOME 



THE tide of cool water restored Will's nerves. 
After drinking he bathed his face in it, and then 
poured it over his neck. Good as he knew water 
to be he had never known that it could be so very good. 
It was in truth the wine of life. He shook out his 
thick hair, wet from the rill, and said triumphantly and 
aloud to the animals : 

"We beat 'em back, Jim Boyd, the Little Giant and 
me, and we can do it again. We beat back a whole 
band of the Sioux nation, and we defy 'em to come 
on again. And you predicted it, all six of you ! And 
you predict that we'll do it a second time, don't you ?" 

He was in a state of great spiritual exaltation, see- 
ing things that others might not have seen, and he 
distinctly saw the six wise heads of the brutes, dumb 
but knowing so much, nod in affirmation. 

"I accept the omen!" he said, some old scrap of 
Latin translation coming into his mind, "and await 
the future with absolute confidence!" 

The horses and mules, stirred at first by the shots, 
and then not caring, perhaps, to rest, began to graze. 
All sign of alarm was gone from them and Will's 

111 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

heart resumed its normal beat. He listened atten- 
tively, but no sound came from the pass where his 
comrades, those deadly sharpshooters, watched. Far 
overhead the cliffs towered, and over them a sky 
darkly blue. He looked at it a little while, and then 
went back to the pass. 

He had left his glasses with them, and they had not 
been able to discover anything suspicious. 

"They won't come again into the mouth of the 
pass," said Boyd with confidence. "That rush cost 
'em too much. They'll spend a long time thinking up 
some sort of trick, and that being the case you go 
now, Giant, and have a drink at the stream, and pour 
water over your head and face as Will has done." 

"So I will, Jim. I'm noticing that young William 
has a lot o' sense, an* after I've 'tended to myself fine 
I'll come back, an' you kin do ez much fur yourself. 
A good bathin' o' your face won't hurt your beauty, 
Jim." 

He was gone a half hour, not hurrying back, because 
he felt there was no need to do so. Meanwhile Will 
lay behind his rock and watched the dusky pass. 
Wisps of vapor and thin clouds were floating across 
the heavens, hiding some of the stars, and the light was 
not as good as it had been earlier in the night, but 
constant use and habit enable one to see through the 
shadows, and he also had the glasses to fall back 
upon. But even with their aid he could discern noth- 
ing save the stony steep. 

"They won't come again, not that way, as I told you 
before," said Boyd, when young Clarke put down his 

112 



THE WHITE DOME 

glasses after the tenth searching look. "When they 
made the rush they expected to have a warrior or two 
hit, but they didn't know the greatest marksman in all 
the world, the Little Giant, was here waiting for 'em, 
and if I do say it myself, I'm as good with the rifle as 
anybody in the west, except Tom, and you're 'way 
above the average too, Will. No, they've had enough 
of charging, but I wish to heaven I knew what wicked 
trick they're thinking out now." 

The Little Giant returned, bathed, refreshed and 
joyous. 

"Your turn now, Jim," he said, "an' you soak your 
head an* face good in the water. Don't dodge it 
because you think thar ain't plenty o' water, 'cause 
thar is. It keeps on a-runnin' an' a-runnin', an' it 
never runs out. Stay ez long ez you want to, 'cause 
young William an' me kin hold the pass ag'inst all the 
confederated tribes o' the Sioux nation, an* the Crows 
an' the Cheyennes an' the Blackfeet throwed in." 

Boyd departed and presently he too returned, 
strengthened anew for any task. 

"Now, Will," he said, "you being the youngest, and 
it's only because you're the youngest, you'd better go 
back there where the horses and mules are. They've 
got over their fright and are taking their rest again. 
They appear to like you, to look upon you as a kind of 
comrade, and I think it's about time you took a bit 
of rest with them." 

"But don't hev a nightmare an' kick one o' my 
mules," said the Little Giant, " 'cause the best tem- 
pered mule in the world is likely to kick back ag'in." 

113 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

Will smiled. He knew their raillery was meant 
to cheer him up, because of his inexperience, and 
their desperate situation. He recognized, too, that it 
would be better for him to sleep if he could, as they 
were more than sufficient to guard the pass. 

"All right," he said. "I obey orders." 

"Good night to you," said the hunter. 

"Good night," said the Little Giant, "an' remember 
not to kick one o' my mules in your sleep." 

"I won't," replied Will, cheerfully, as he went around 
the curve of the wall. 

He found the horses and mules at rest, and every- 
thing very quiet and peaceful in the alcove. The rill 
murmured a little in its stony bed, and, far overhead, 
he heard the wind sighing among the trees on the 
mountain. He chose a place close to the wall, spread 
two blankets there, on which he expected to lie, and 
prepared to cover himself with two more. He realized 
now that he was tired to the bone, but it was not a 
nervous weariness and sleep would cure it almost at 
once. 

He was arranging the two blankets that were to 
cover him, when he heard a rumbling noise far over 
his head. At first he thought it was distant thunder 
echoing along the ridges, but the wisps of cloud were 
too light and thin to indicate any storm. He saw the 
horses and mules rise in alarm, and then not one but 
several of them gave out shrill and terrible neighs of 
terror, a volume of frightened sound that made young 
Clarke's heart stand still for a moment. 

The sound which was not that of thunder, but of 



THE WHITE DOME 

something rolling and crashing, increased with terrific 
rapidity, stopped abruptly for a moment or two and 
then a huge dark object shooting down in front of 
his eyes, struck the ground with mighty impact. It 
seemed to him that the earth trembled. He sprang 
back several feet and all the horses and mules, rearing 
in alarm, crouched against the cliff. 

A great bowlder lay partly buried. It had rolled 
from the edge of the cliff high above, and he divined 
at once that the Sioux had made it roll. They had 
climbed the stony mountains enclosing the defile, and 
were opening a bombardment, necessarily at random, 
but nevertheless terrible in its nature. While he 
hesitated, not knowing what to do, a second bowlder 
thundered, bounded and crashed into the chasm. But 
it struck much farther away. 

The Little Giant came running at the sound, leaving 
Boyd on guard at the mouth of the pass, and as he 
arrived a third rock struck, though, like the second, 
at a distance, and he knew without any words from 
Will, what the Sioux were now trying to do. As 
he looked up, a fourth crashed down, and it fell very 
near. 

"So that's thar trick?" exclaimed the Little Giant. 
"Simple ez you please, but ez dang'rous ez a batt'ry o' 
cannon. Look out, young William, thar's another." 

It struck so close to Will that he felt the shock and 
ran back to the shelter of the overhanging cliff, where, 
driven by instinct, the horses and mules were already 
crowding. Nor did the Little Giant, brave as he 
was, hesitate to follow him. 

115 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"When you're shot at out o' the sky," he said, "the 
best thing to do is to go into hidin'. One ain't wholly 
under cover here, but it ud be a long chance ef any o* 
them rocks got us." 

"What about Jim, watching at the mouth of the 
pass?" 

"He won't stir until he hears from me. He'll set 
thar, unmoved, with his rifle ready, waitin* fur the 
Sioux jest ez ef he expected them to come. I'll slip 
back an' tell him to keep on waitin,' also what's goin' 
on in here." 

"Skip fast then! Look out! That barely missed 
you! They're sending the rocks down in showers 
now." 

The Little Giant, as agile as a greyhound, vanished 
around the curve, and Will instinctively crowded him- 
self closely and more closely against the stone wall 
while the dangerous bombardment went on. The ani- 
mals, their instinct still guiding them, were doing the 
same, and Boyd's brave Selim, which was next to him, 
reached out his head and nuzzled Will's hand, as if 
he found strength and protection in the presence of 
the human being, who knew so much more about some 
things than he or his comrades did. Will responded 
at once. 

"I don't think they can get us here, Selim, old boy," 
he said. "The projection of the wall is slight, but it 
sends every rock out toward the center. Now, if you 
and your comrades will only be intelligent you'll keep 
safe." 

He arranged them in a row along the waH, where 
116 







THE WHITE DOME 

none would interfere with the protection of another, 
and standing with Selim's nose in his hand, watched 
the great rocks strike. Luckily at that particular 
point the bottom of the defile was soft earth and they 
sank into it, but farther up they fell with a crash 
on a stony floor, and when they did not split to pieces 
they bounded and rebounded like ricochetting cannon 
balls. 

The tittle Giant returned presently, but as yet no 
damage had been done, although the bombardment 
was going on as furiously as ever. 

"They'll keep it up awhile," he said, as he huddled 
against the wall by the side of Will. "I knowed they 
would be up to some trick, but I didn't think 'bout 
them bowlders that lay thick on the mounting. They 
hev got 'nuff ammunition o' that kind to last a year, 
but arter a while thar arms will grow tired, an' then 
they'll grow tired too, o' not knowin' whether they hit 
or not. It wears out the best man in the world to 
keep on workin* forever an' forever without knowin' 
whether he's accomplishin' anything or not. All we've 
got to do is to hug the wall an' set tight." 

"Wouldn't it be well, Giant, when the bombardment 
lets up, to gather together our own little army and 
take to flight -up the pass ?" 

"An' whar would we fetch up?" 

"It's not likely to be a box canyon. I've /ead that 
they abound more in the southern mountains, and are 
not met with very often he^e. And even if the pass 
itself didn't take us out we might find a cross canyon 
or a slope tha* vye tould climb." 

117 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"Sounds good, young William. We'll git the 
hosses an* mules ready, packs on 'em, and bridles in 
thar mouths, an' ez soon ez the arms an' sperrits o* 
the Sioux git tired, I'll hot foot after Jim, an' then 
we'll gallop up the pass." 

The Little Giant's psychology was correct. In a 
half hour the bombardment began to decrease in vio- 
lence, and in ten more minutes it ceased entirely. Then, 
according to plan, he ran to the mouth of the pass and 
returned with the hunter, who had promptly accepted 
their plan. Coaxing forth the reluctant animals, which 
were still in fear, they set off up the great defile, passing 
among the bowlders, some of great size, which had 
been tumbled down in search of their heads. 

"Thar's one consolation," said the Little Giant, 
philosophically, "ef any o' them big rocks had hit our 
heads we wouldn't hev been troubled with wounds. 
My skull's hard, but it would hev been shattered like 
an eggshell." 

"They may begin again," said Boyd, "but by then 
we ought to be far away." 

It was a venture largely at random, but the three 
were agreed that it must be made. The Sioux un- 
doubtedly would resume the bombardment later on, 
and they might also receive reinforcements sufficient 
to resume the attack at the mouth of the pass, or at 
least to keep up there a distant fire that would prove 
troublesome. Every motive prompted to farther 
flight, and they pushed on as fast as they could, al- 
though the bottom of the defile became rough, sown 
with bowlders and dangerous to the fugitives. 

118 



THE WHITE DOME 

They made no attempt to ride, but led the horses 
and mules at the ends of their lariats, all the animals 
becoming exceedingly wary at the bad footing. 

"It's a blind canyon after all !" suddenly exclaimed 
the Little Giant in deep disgust. "The stream comes 
down that mountain wall thar, droppin' from ledge to 
ledge, an' here we are headed off." 

"Then there's nothing to do," said the hunter, "but 
choose a good place among the rocks and fight for 
our lives when they come." 

Will looked up at the steep and lofty slopes on either 
side. The one on the right seemed less steep and lofty 
than the other, and upon it hung a short growth of 
pine and cedar, characteristic of the region. His spirit, 
which danger had made bold and venturesome, seized 
upon an idea. 

"Why not go up the slope on the right?" he asked. 

"It's like the side of a house, only many times as 
high," said Boyd in amazement. 

"But it isn't," said the lad. "It merely looks so 
in the dark. We can climb it." 

"Of course we could, but we'd have to abandon the 
horses and mules and all our packs and stores, and 
then where would we be?" 

"But we won't have to leave 'em. They can climb 
too. You know how you boasted of our horses, and 
the Giant's horses are mules which can go anywhere." 

"I believe the boy's right," said the Little Giant. 
"By our pullin' on the lariats an' thar takin' advan- 
tage o' ev'ry footgrip, they might do it. Leastways 
we kin try it." 

119 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"It's a desperate chance," said the hunter, "but I 
think with you, Tom, that it's worth trying. Now, 
boys, make fast the packs to the last strap, and up we 

go." 

"Bein' as my hosses are mules," said the Little Giant, 
"I'll lead the way, an' you f oiler, each feller pullin* on 
two lariats." 

He started up the slope, whistling gayly but 
low to his mules, and, after some hesitation, they at- 
tacked the ascent, Tom still whistling to them in his 
most cheerful and engaging manner. There was a 
sound of scrambling feet, and small stones rolled down, 
but not the mules, which disappeared from sight 
among the cedars. 

"Thunderation ! I wouldn't have thought it!" ex- 
claimed the hunter, "but I believe you're right, Will! 
The mules are climbing the wall. Now, we'll see if 
the horses can do it !" 

"Let me start with 'em!" 

"All right! But pull hard on the lariat, whenever 
you feel one of 'em slipping." 

Will attacked the steep wall with vigor, but he had 
to pull very hard indeed on the lariats before he could 
make the horses try it. Finally they made the effort, 
and, though slipping and sliding at times, they crept 
up the slope. Behind him he heard Boyd, coming 
with the last two and speaking in encouraging tones 
to Selim. 

The lariats were a great help, and if Will had not 
hung on to them so hard his horses would have fallen. 
But he was right in his judgment that the face of the 

120 



THE WHITE DOME 

wall was not so steep as it looked. Moreover there 
were little shelves and gullies, and the tough clumps of 
cedar were a wonderful aid. The horses justified their 
reputation as climbers, and, although Will's heart was 
in his mouth more than once, and his hands and wrists 
were cut and bleeding by the pull on the lariats, they 
did not fall. Always he heard in front of him the 
low and cheerful whistling of the Little Giant, to his 
mules, which, sure-footed, went on almost without a 
slip. 

At last they drew out upon the crest of the slope and 
the three human beings and the six animals stood there 
trembling violently from exertion, the perspiration 
pouring from them. 

"My legs are shaking under me," said the hunter. 
"I'd never have believed that it could have been done, 
and I know it couldn't, but here we are, anyhow." 

"It wuz young William who thought of it, and who 
dared to speak of it," said the Little Giant, "an' so 
it's his win." 

"Right you are, Giant," said the hunter heartily. 
"When I looked at that cliff it stood up straight as a 
wall to me. It was like most other things, it wasn't 
as hard when you attacked it as you thought it was, 
but I still don't see how we ever got the animals up, 
and if I didn't see 'em standing here I wouldn't be- 
lieve it." 

Will, holding to a cedar, looked into the gulf from 
which they had climbed. As more of the stars had 
gone away he could not now see the bottom. The 
great defile had all the aspects of a vast and bottomless 

121 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

abyss, and he felt that their emergence from it was a 
marvel, a miracle in which they had been assisted by 
some greater power. He was assailed by a weakness 
and, trembling, he drew back from the ledge. But 
neither the hunter nor the Little Giant had seen his 
momentary collapse and he was glad, pardonable 
though it was. 

"The ground back o' the cliff seems to be pretty 
well covered with forest," said the Little Giant, "an* 
I reckon we'd- better stay here a spell 'til everybody, 
men an* animals, git rested up a bit." 

"You never spoke truer words, Tom Bent," said 
Boyd. "I can make out a fairly level stretch of ground 
just ahead, and I'll lead the way to it." 

They crouched there. "Crouch" is the only word 
that describes it, as the horses and mules themselves 
sank down through weariness, and their masters, too, 
were glad enough to lie on the earth and wait for 
their strength to come back. Will's senses, despite his 
exhaustion, were nevertheless acute. He heard a 
heavy, lumbering form shuffling through a thicket, 
and he knew that it was an alarmed bear moving from 
the vicinity of the intruders. He heard also the light 
tread of small animals. 

"I judge from these sounds," said Boyd, "that we 
must be on a sort of plateau of some extent. If it 
was just a knife edge ridge between two chasms you 
wouldn't find so many animals here. Maybe we'd 
better lay by until day, or until it's light enough to see. 
In the dark we might tumble into some place a thousand 
feet deep." 

122 



THE WHITE DOME 

"What about the Sioux who were on the heights 
throwing down the rocks?" asked Will. "Mightn't 
they come along the cliff and find us here ?" 

"No. The way may be so cut by dips and ravines 
that it's all but impassable. The chances are a thou- 
sand to one in favor of it, as this is one of the rough- 
est countries in the world." 

"A thousand to one is good enough for me," said 
Will, stretching himself luxuriously on the ground. 
Presently he saw Boyd and Bent wrapping themselves 
in the blankets and he promptly imitated them, as a 
cold wind was beginning to blow down from the north- 
west, a wind that cut, and, at such a time, a lack of 
protection from the weather might be fatal. 

The warmth from the blankets pervaded his _.ame, 
and with the heat came the restoration of his nerves. 
There was also a buoyancy caused by the escape from 
the Sioux, and, for the time being at least, he felt a 
certain freedom from care. His comrades and the 
animals did not stir, and, while not thinking of sleep, 
he fell asleep just the same. 

He was awakened by a long, fierce shout, much like 
the howl of hungry wolves, and full of rage and dis- 
appointment. He sat up on his blankets, and was 
amazed to hear the two men laughing softly. 

"It's them thar Sioux, Will," said the Little Giant. 
"They've found out at last that thar was no outlet at 
the end o' the pass, an' they've come up it to the end, 
jest to run ag'inst a blank wall, an' to find that we've 
plum' vanished, flew away, hosses an' mules an' all." 

"But won't they find our trail up the cliff?" 
123 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

'No, they won't dream o' sech a thing, but in case 
they do dream o' it we'll all three creep to the edge 
an' set thar with our repeatin* rifles. A fine time 
they'd hev climbin* up thar in the face o' three sharp- 
shooters armed with sech weapons ez ours." 

Will saw at once that their position was well nigh 
impregnable, at least against foes in the defile, and he 
crept with the others to the edge, not forgetting his 
invaluable glasses. A lot of the stars had come back 
and with the aid of the powerful lenses, he was able 
to penetrate the depths of the pass, seeing there at least 
a score of Sioux in a group, apparently taking counsel 
with one another. He could not discern their faces, 
and, of course, their words were inaudible at the dis- 
tance, but their gestures expressed perplexity. Their 
savage minds might well believe that witchcraft had 
been at work, and he hoped that they had some such 
idea. The climbing of the cliff by the animals was an 
achievement bordering so closely upon the impossible 
that even if they saw traces of the hoofs on the lower 
slopes they would think the spirits of the air had come 
down to help the fugitives. 

"What are they doing, young William?" asked the 
Little Giant. 

"Nothing that I can see except to talk as if puzzled." 

"I almost wish they would strike our trail and start 
up the cliff. We could pick off every one of 'em before 
they reached the top." 

"I'd rather they went back." 

That's what they're likely to do, young William. 
Even if they saw our trail going up the cliff, they 

124 



THE WHITE DOME 

won't follow it. They've had a taste of our martcs- 
manship, an* they know it would be certain death. It 
looks to me ez if they wuz goin' to drift back down 
the trail." 

"You judge right, Tom. There they go. I wish I 
could read the expression on their faces. They must 
be wild with rage. They're moving a little faster 
now, and the sooner they disappear from my sight the 
better." 

He handed the glasses to the Little Giant, who, 
after taking a look, passed them to Boyd. 7*he hunter 
had the last glimpse of them as they turned a curve 
and were hidden by the rocky wall. 

"That settles 'em, for the time, anyway," he said, 
"and now I think we'd better see what kind of a 
country we've come into. You stay here with the 
animals, Will, they like you and it's easy for you to 
keep 'em quiet, while Giant and me scout about and 
see the lay of the land." 

Will promptly accepted his part of the task. The 
horses and mules, alarmed perhaps by such a wild 
and lonely situation, and tremulous, too, from mem- 
ories of that frightful climb up the cliff, crowded close 
about him, while he stroked their noses and manes, 
and felt himself their protector. 

The hunter and the Little Giant vanished without 
noise, and Will waited a full hour before either re- 
turned. But he was not lonesome. The horses and 
mules rubbed their noses against him, and in the 
dark and the wilderness they made evident their feel- 
ing that he was the one who would guard them. 

125 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

The noise of a light footstep sounded and the hunter, 
who had gone south, stood before him. 

"It's good news I bring," said Boyd. "We're cut 
off to the south by a cliff that no one can climb, and it 
seems to run away toward the west for countless miles. 
The Sioux can't reach us from that direction. Ah, 
here is Tom ! What has he to say ?" 

"What I hev to say is always important," replied 
the Little Giant, "but this time its importance is 
speshul. A couple o' miles to the north a great trans- 
verse pass runs out o' the main one, an' cuts off toward 
the west. It's deep an' steep an' I reckon it bars the 
way than" 

"That being the case, we're on a peninsula," said 
Boyd, "and this peninsula rises in the west toward 
very high mountains. I can see a white dome off in 
that direction." 

"All these facts now bein' diskivered," said the 
Little Giant, "I think we've shook off them Sioux fur 
good, though thar ain't no tellin' when we'll run afoul 
another bunch. But we'll take the good things the 
moment hez give us, an* look fur what we need, wood, 
water an' grass." 

"Wood we have all about us," said Will. "Water 
is bound to be plentiful in these forested mountains, 
and we may strike grass by daylight." 

They began an advance, making it very cautious, 
owing to the extremely rough nature of the country, 
and all their caution was needed, as they had to cross 
several ravines, and the ground was so broken that a 
misstep at any time might have proved serious. In 

126 



THE WHITE DOME 

this manner they made several miles and the general 
trend of the ground was a rapid ascent. Toward 
dawn they came to a 1 brook flowing very fast, and they 
found its waters almost as cold as ice. Will judged it 
to be a glacial stream issuing from the great white 
dome, now plainly visible, though far ahead. 

A short distance beyond the stream they found an 
open space with grass for the animals, and very glad, 
too, they were to reach it, as they were shaken by 
their immense exertions and the hard trail in the dark. 

"This valley jest had to be here," said the Little 
Giant, " 'cause we couldn't hev stood goin' on any 
more. The hosses an' mules theirselves are too tired 
to eat, but they will begin croppin* afore long." 

"And it's so cold up here I think we'd better light 
a fire and have warm food," said Boyd. "We can 
smother the smoke, and anyway it will pay us to run 
the risk." 

It was a task soon done, and long before breakfast 
was finished the horses and mules were peacefully 
grazing. Will then took his rifle and examined the 
country himself in some detail, going as far as the 
great precipice on the south. It was not a gulch or 
ravine, but the ground dropped down suddenly three 
or four hundred feet. Beyond that the forest ex- 
tended as before. 

The view to the west was magnificent and majestic 
beyond description. Up, up rose the slope, cliff on 
cliff and the imperial white dome beyond ! That way, 
too, apparently, they had to go, as they were cut off 
by the precipices on all other sides, and at the moment 

127 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

Will felt no particular sorrow because of it The 
gold had taken a second place in his mind, and with 
these two wise and brave comrades of his he would 
penetrate the great mysteries of the west. The south- 
ward turn into the plains, following the diagram of the 
map, could wait. 

When he returned to the camp he found the animals 
still grazing and his comrades sitting by the fire, which 
had now burned down to a bed of coals. 

"I don't see anything for us to do except to go 
straight on toward the great snow mountain," he said. 

"That's about the same conclusion that Tom and I 
have come to," said Boyd. "We're likely to get up 
pretty high, where it's winter all the year 'round, but 
it's better than running into the hands of the Sioux, 
or any of the mountain tribes. I vote, though, that 
this army of three spend the rest of the day here, and 
since storms gather at any time on these uplands, 
we'd better build another wickiup." 

"An' make brush shelters for the animals, too," said 
the Little Giant. 

The wickiup was built and they arranged crude, but 
nevertheless excellent, protection for the horses, a 
precaution that was soon justified, as it began to rain 
the following night, and they had alternating rain, 
snow and sleet for two days and two nights. The 
animals were able to dig enough grass from under the 
snow for sustenance, but most of the time they spent 
in the shelter devised for them. When the lair 
weather returned and the snow melted, they left the 
second wickiup, resuming the ascent of the mighty 

128 



THE WHITE DOME 

slopes. They were all restored by their rest, and de- 
spite the elevation and the wildness they were able 
to find plenty of forage for the animals. 

"We've got to be mighty partic'ler with them hosses 
an' mules," said the Little Giant, " 'cause even ef we 
should reach the mine without 'em we're bound to hev 
'em to pack out the gold fur us. I expect we'll hev 
to ketch an' train 'bout twenty wild hosses, too, ez we'll 
need 'em fur all the gold that I'm countin' on findin*. 
Didn't you say thar was that much, young William?" 

"I didn't give the exact amount," replied the lad, 
"nor do I suppose anyone can tell from surface in- 
dications how much gold there is in a mine, but from 
the word my father brought we'll need the twenty wild 
horses and more." 

"O' course we will. I knowed it afore you said it. 
I've hunted gold fifteen to twenty years without findin' 
a speck, an' so it stands to reason that when I do find 
it I'll find a mountain of it." 

Although the slope rose steadily, the ground, for the 
present, was not much cut up, and they were able to 
ride in comfort. Much of the country was beautiful 
and parklike. While far below there were endless 
brown plains, here were great forests, without much 
undergrowth, and cold, clear streams, running down 
from the vast snowy dome that always loomed ahead, 
and that never seemed to come any nearer. 

"How high would you say that peak wuz, young 
William?" asked the Little Giant. "You're an eddi- 
cated lad, an' I reckon you know 'bout these things." 

"You give me too much credit," laughed Will in 
129 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

reply. "One has to have instruments with which to 
calculate the height of mountains, and I couldn't do it 
even if I had the instruments, but I should say from 
what I've heard about the country and the tales of 
explorers that the peak we're looking at is about 
14,000 feet high." 

"I've seen it once before, though from the south," 
said Boyd, "and I've also met an exploring geographer 
kind of fellow who had seen it and who told me it 
rose close on to three miles above the sea. Different 
Indian tribes have different names for it, but I don't 
remember any of 'em." 

"I think I'll call it the White Dome," said Will, 
examining it for the hundredth time through his 
glasses. "From here it looks like a round mountain, 
though it may have another shape, of course, on the 
other three sides. It's a fine mountain and as it's the 
first time I ever saw it I'm going to call it my peak. 
The forest is heavy and green clear up to the snow 
line, and beyond that I think I see a vast glacier." 

Two days later they made another stop in a shel- 
tered valley through which ran a mountain torrent. 
The hunter and the Little Giant shot two mule deer 
and a mountain sheep, and they considered the addi- 
tion to their larder very welcome, as they had been 
making large inroads on their stores. The weather, 
too, had grown so cold that they kept a fire burning 
both day and night. Far over their heads they heard 
a bitter wind of the mountains blowing, and when 
Will climbed out of the valley and turned his glasses 
toward the White Dome he could not see the peak, it 

130 



THE WHITE DOME 

was wrapped around so thoroughly by mists and vapors 
and falling snow: 

They built the fire large and high on the second 
night, and as they sat around it they held a serious con- 
sultation. They feared incessant storms and blizzards 
if they rose to still higher levels, and attempted to pass 
around on the lofty slopes of the peak. It would, 
perhaps, be wiser to follow the torrent, and enter the 
plains below, braving the dangers of the Sioux. 

"What good will the gold be to us if we're all froze 
to death under fifty feet o' snow?" asked the Little 
Giant. 

"None at all," replied the hunter, "and it wouldn't 
be any good to us, either, if we was to slip down a 
precipice a thousand feet and fall on the rocks below." 

Will shivered. 

"I believe I'd rather be frozen to death in Tom's 
way," he said. 

"Then I vote that in the morning, if the wind dies, 
we turn down the gorge and hunt the plains. What 
say you, Will?" 

"It seems the wise thing to do." 

"And you, Giant?" 

"Me votin' last, the vote is unany-mous, an' I reckon 
ef we wuz to put it to the four hosses an' two mules 
they'd vote jest ez we're votin'. Tomorrow mornin', 
bright an' early, we start on our farewell journey from 
the mountings." 

They had saved and tanned the skins of three black 
bears they had slain, and with big needles and pack 
thread they had turned them into crude overcoats with 

131 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

the hair inside. Now when they put them on they 
found them serviceable but heavy. At any rate, 
wrapped in furs they ceased to shiver, though the 
wind of the mountains was still exceedingly bitter. 

Fortunately the gorge down which the stream flowed 
was wide, and, the descent not being too rapid, they 
were able to follow it a long time, though the pace was 
very slow. At points where the gorge narrowed, they 
took to the water, and were compelled to lead the ani- 
mals with great care, lest they slip on the bowlders that 
were thick in the bed of the stream. 

When night came they were far down the mountain 
and there had been no accident, but they were wet to 
the waist, and as quickly as they could they kindled 
a big and roaring fire in the lee of a cliff, careless 
whether or not it was seen by enemies. Then they 
roasted themselves before it, until every thread of 
clothing they wore was dry, ate heavily of their food 
and drank two or three cups of coffee apiece. 

Only then did Will feel warmed thoroughly. The 
older men found a fairly level place with sparse grass 
for the horses, and then they put out their fire. They 
told the lad there was no need to keep a watch, and, 
wrapped in his bear overcoat and blankets, he slept in 
the shadow of the cliff. But the hunter had seen a 
trace which he believed to be a human footprint. 
When the Little Giant knelt in the dusk and looked at 
it he was of the same opinion. 

"It's too faint, Jim," he said, "fur us to tell whether 
it wuz made by a white man or a red man." 

"We don't care to meet either. If it's a white man 
132 



THE WHITE DOME 

it may be an outlaw, horse thief or murderer, and 
that's not the kind of people we want to join us on 
this gold hunt. If it's Indians, they're enemies, no 
matter to what tribe they belong." 

"An* then, whichever it is, our repeatin' rifles are 
our best friends." 



CHAPTER VI 

THE OUTLAW 

WHEN Will awoke the next morning he did not 
open his eyes at once. The air was very 
cold, but he felt so snug in his bearskin and 
blankets that he had an immense temptation to turn 
on his other side and sleep a little more. Then, hear- 
ing the hum of voices he opened his eyes wide and 
sat up, seeing, to his great surprise, that the little party 
in the camp now numbered four instead of three. 

He stared at the addition, who proved to be a man 
about thirty, tall and well built, with dark hair and 
dark eyes. He, too, carried a fine repeating rifle, but 
his dress was incongruous and striking. He wore a 
felt hat, broad of brim, with a heavy gilt cord around 
the crown. A jacket of dark red velvet with broad 
brass buttons enclosed his strong shoulders and body, 
but his costume was finished off with trousers, leggings 
and moccasins of tanned deerskin. Will saw the butt 
of a pistol and the hilt of a knife peeping from under 
the velvet jacket. 

A strange costume, he thought, and, when he looked 
at the man more closely, his face also looked strange. 
It was that of a civilized human being, of a man who 

134 



THE OUTLAW 

had come from the old, settled eastern regions, and 
yet it was not. The eyes, set rather close together, 
now and then showed green in the early dawn. Will 
judged that he was one who had become habituated to 
the wilderness, and, as he sat in a graceful attitude on 
a great stone, he certainly showed no signs that his 
surroundings oppressed him. 

"Mr. Martin Felton, Will," said the hunter. "Mr. 
Felton, this is Mr. William Clarke, who is traveling 
with us." 

Will stood up, the last trace of sleep gone from his 
eyes, and gazed at Felton. Perhaps this was a new 
comrade, turning their band to four, and strengthening 
it greatly. But when he glanced at the hunter and 
the Little Giant he did not see any great warmth of 
welcome in their eyes. 

"Traveling, young sir !" said Felton in a lightly ironic 
tone. "You seem to prefer paths of peril. I would 
not say that this is exactly a safe region for tourists." 

Now Will was quite sure he would be no addition 
to their party. He liked neither his tone nor his 
manner. 

"It's true there is plenty of danger," he replied. 
"But, as I take it, there is no more for me than there 
is for you." 

"The lad has put it very well, Mr. Felton," said the 
hunter. "However much we may be seeing the sights 
in these regions, our risks are no greater than 
yours are." 

Felton, seeming not to notice him, continued, looking 
directly at Will : 

135 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"You're right to ask the question, but I can say in 
answer that your dangers are greater than mine. I 
have no trouble with the Sioux. I don't think any 
Indian warrior within a thousand miles of us wants 
my scalp." 

"It was our information that they had declared war 
upon all white people who entered this country. How 
does it happen that you're immune?" 

Felton smiled, and, in the lad's opinion, it was not 
a pleasant smile. 

"I've been among the Sioux when they were not 
at war with us," he replied. "I've done them some 
good deeds. I've set a broken bone or two for them 
I've a little surgical skill and Mahpeyalute, whom 
we call Red Cloud, has assured me that no harm will 
ever be done to me. For that reason I'm wandering 
among these mountains and on the plains. I noticed 
on one of your horses picks> shovels and other mining 
implements, and I thought you might combine gold 
hunting with sight seeing. I'm something of a gold 
hunter myself and it occurred to me that we could com- 
bine forces. I've heard vaguely about a huge gold 
lead much farther west, and we four might make a 
strong party, able to reach it despite the Indian 
troubles." 

The lad's heart beat the note of alarm and of hos- 
tility- Was it possible that this man knew anything 
of his father's great mine? He had to exchange only 
a few sentences with him to understand that he was 
not wanted as a fourth partner in the venture. 

"Mr. Bent looks for gold casually," he replied, "but 
136 



THE OUTLAW 

our main object is hunting and exploration. I doubt 
whether we'd want to take on anything else, though 
we thank you for your offer, Mr. Felton." 

Felton did not seem at all disconcerted. He made 
upon Will the impression of persistency and of great 
strength, although the strength might be for evil. 

"And so you don't think four are better than three," 
he said. 

"That was not what I implied," replied Will. 
"What I meant to say was that our party was made 
up. Isn't that the way you feel about it, Mr. Boyd ?"' 

"My feelings to a T," replied the hunter. 

"And yours, Mr. Bent?" 

"You express my state o' mind to perfection, young 
William. Mr. Felton is the finest gentleman we hev 
met in the mountings since we met that band o' Sioux, 
but when a band is made up it's made up." 

"Very well, gentlemen," said Felton, no anger show- 
ing in his tone. "I will not force myself upon any- 
body, but I'm no egotist, even if I do say you're the 
losers. My knowledge of the region and my friend- 
ship with the Sioux would be of great advantage to 
you, would be of so much advantage, in fact, that it 
would make me worth more than a fourth share in all 
the gold we might find. But, as I said, I will not stay 
where I'm not wanted. Good day!" 

He strode away among the bushes, and for some 
distance they saw him descending the side of the 
mountain, to disappear at last in a forest of ash. Then 
the hunter and the Little Giant looked at each other 
significantly. 

137 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"We saw a footprint of his last night, Will," said 
Boyd, "but he came himself this morning, just at 
dawn. We can't quite make him out. Why does he 
talk of a great mine for which we're looking? Do you 
think your father ever mentioned it to anyone else?" 

"Not that I ever heard. It must be only a guess, 
based on the sight of the Little Giant's tools. Did you 
ever see or hear of this man before?" 

"No, but I know he's no friend of ours. There are 
renegades and desperadoes in these mountains, who 
make friends with the Indians, and I judge he's one 
of that kind. I'm mighty sorry we've run across him. 
He may have a band of his own somewhere, or he 
may go straight to the Sioux with news of us." 

"He suspects us of a great gold hunt, so great that 
we are ready to risk anything for it. He showed it." 

"So he did, and in my opinion the band, that he 
almost certainly has, will undertake to follow us." 

"I didn't like him the first minute I saw him," said 
the Little Giant. "The reason why I cannot tell, but I 
do not like thee, Mr. Felton. Haven't I heard a rhyme 
like that somewhere, young William?" 

"Almost like it, Giant, and just like you, the first 
moment I laid eyes on him, I disliked him. I think 
he's a danger, a big danger, and so do both of you. 
I can tell it by the way you act. Now, what do you 
think we ought to do?" 

"We're not to go down into the plains, that's sure," 
replied Boyd, "because then we'd run into Felton 
and his gang and maybe a band of Sioux also. There's 
only one thing open to us." 

138 



THE OUTLAW 

"Go back up the mountain ?" 

'That and nothing else. Felton will expect us to 
come on down, but we'll fool him by going the other 
way. There's always hiding in rough country and 
under the cover of great forests. In my opinion, 
we've both Indians and white men now to fight. We 
must meet their cunning united, and the nearer we get 
to Will's White Dome the safer we'll be." 

"An* it's not so bad, after all !" exclaimed the Little 
Giant. "We'll go back and climb and climb till neither 
reds nor whites kin foller us." 

"We'll have to go well above the snow line, and 
camp there awhile." said Boyd. "And if we were 
snowed in for a few weeks it wouldn't hurt, provided 
we find a well protected hollow. Then we'd be sure 
to shake off all pursuit." 

"Come on, then," said Will, with enthusiasm, "It's 
the White Dome that offers us safety." 

"The White Dome it is !" said the Little Giant, with 
energy. 

They put back the packs and saddles and turned 
once more into the depths of the mountains, riding 
whenever it was possible, but when the way grew 
steep, leading the animals at the ends of the lariats. 
Will was rather glad, for many reasons, that they had 
abandoned the journey into the plains, as the gold 
mine, for the present at least, seemed scarcely a real- 
ity, and the vast peaks and ridges were far more inter- 
esting than the brown swells below, besides being safer. 
Moreover, the great White Dome loomed before him 
continually, and he had a certain pride in the thought 

139 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

that they would pass over its towering shoulder. 

"I've been thinkin' mighty hard," said the Little 
Giant. 

"Does it make your head ache much?" asked the 
hunter. 

"Not in this case. It hurts sometimes, when I try 
to think forward, but not when I try to think back 
an* remember things. Then I've got somethin' to go 
on. I'm tryin' to rec'lect whether I ever met a feller 
who wuz ez unpleasant to my feelin's ez that thar 
Felton." 

"I know I never did," said Will, with emphasis. 

"Me neither," said the hunter. "I don't like men 
who wear velvet jackets with big brass buttons on 'em. 
Now I think the way is going to be pretty steep for a 
long distance, and I guess we'll have to walk. Lucky 
these horses and mules of ours are having so much 
experience in climbing mountains. They go up 'em 
like goats now." 

Despite the skill of men and beasts as climbers they 
could not ascend at any great rate, although Will no- 
ticed that both his comrades were eager to get on. 
He fancied that the image of Felton was in their minds, 
just as it was in his, and the farther they advanced the 
more sinister became the memory of the velvet-coated 
intruder. 

They passed out upon a great projecting, bald rock, 
where they paused for many long breaths, and Will, 
through his glasses, was able to see the brown plains 
far below, sweeping away in swell on swell until they 
died under a dim horizon. But the distance was so 

140 



THE OUTLAW 

great that he could make out nothing on their surface. 

Night found them on a ridge, where there was 
enough grass for the horses, and trees still grew, 
though much dwarfed and stunted. They kept close 
in the lee of the trees and did not build any fire, al- 
though it was very cold, so cold that the bearskin coats 
again formed a welcome addition to the blankets. 
Boyd said it would be best for them to keep watch, 
although little danger was anticipated. Still, they 
could not be too cautious, and Will, who insisted on 
mounting guard in his turn, was permitted to do so. 
The Little Giant kept the first watch and Will the 
second, beginning about midnight. Giant Tom, who 
awakened him for it, went almost instantly to sleep 
himself, and the lad was left alone. 

He lay upon a rather wide shelf, with his two com- 
rades only a few feet away, while the horses and 
mules were back of them, having withdrawn as much 
as they could into the stubbly pines and cedars in order 
to protect themselves from the cold wind. Will heard 
one of them stir now and then, or draw a deep breath 
like a sigh, but it merely formed an under note in the 
steady whistling of the wind, which at that height 
seemed to have an edge of ice, making him shiver in 
all his wrappings. Nevertheless, he watched as well 
as one might under such circumstances, feeling himself 
but a mote on the side of a great mountain in all the 
immensity of the wilderness. 

Surely the hunter was right when he said there was 
little danger. He did not know from what point in so 
much blackness and loneliness could danger be appre- 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

hended, but he believed, nevertheless, that danger was 
near. The whistling of the bitter wind seemed to him 
sinister and threatening, and yet a wind was only a 
wind. It must be circumstances going before that had 
given it that threat. He knew the mind could be so 
prepared by events that it became a sensitive plate, re- 
ceiving upon its surface impressions that were, in real- 
ity, warnings. 

Stronger and shriller grew the wind, and stronger 
and shriller was its warning. He had been lying upon 
his side with his rifle thrust forward, and now he sat 
up. Some unknown sense within him had taken 
cognizance of a threatening note. Listening intently 
he heard only the wind, but the wind itself seemed 
always to bear a menace on its front. 

He rose to his knees, and used all his powers of 
eye and ear. The animals did not stir, and the hunter 
and the Little Giant slept in deep peace. Yet Will's 
own pulses were beating hard. He began to denounce 
himself as one who took alarm because of the darkness 
and desolation, but it did not make his pulses grow 
quiet. 

Still keeping his rifle ready for instant use, he 
crawled noiselessly toward the edge of the ledge, which 
was not more than twenty feet away. Half the dis- 
tance, and he stopped suddenly, because his ears had 
distinctly brought to him a light sound, as if a pebble 
had fallen. Will was not a son of the wilderness by 
birth, but he was fast becoming one of its adopted 
children, making its ways second nature, and, when 
the light note of the falling pebble was registered upon 

142 



THE OUTLAW 

his ear, he flattened himself upon the ground, thrusting 
forward a little the muzzle of his rifle. It is doubtful 
if the keen eyes of a trailing Indian could have seen 
him there in the dark as he waited patiently until such 
time as a second pebble might fall. 

The second sound did not come, but the sensitive 
plate that was his mind registered an impression. 
Something new and strange appeared upon its sur- 
face, and he felt that it was a hostile figure. At last 
it detached itself from the general dusk, darker and 
almost formless, and resolved itself into a head, that 
is a part of a head, from the eyes up. The eyes, set 
a little near together, were staring intently at the 
camp, trying to separate it into details, and Will, un- 
seen himself, was able to recognize the eyes and fore- 
head of Felton. He could also trace the glittering gold 
band around the crown of the wide-brimmed hat that 
surmounted the head, and, if he had felt any doubts 
before, the yellow cord would have convinced him 
that it was the sinister intruder of the morning. 

He saw one hand steal up over the ledge. The 
other, holding a revolver, followed in an instant, and 
then the lad, knowing in his heart that treacherous and 
black murder was intended, threw up his own rifle and 
pulled the trigger. He fired practically at random, 
doubting that the bullet would hit, but there was the 
sound of an oath, of scraping feet and a thud, while 
the gorges and ravines of the mountain sent back the 
crack of the rifle in many echoes. 

The hunter and the Little Giant were awake in a 
flash, but they did not spring to their feet. They 

143 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

were far too alert and experienced to expose them- 
selves in such a manner, but they crawled forward, 
fully armed, and lay beside Will. 

"What was it?" whispered Boyd. 

"It was the man of the morning, Felton. He was 
about to pull himself up on the cliff. He had a pistol 
in one hand and he meant to murder us." 

"I didn't see him, but I haven't the slightest doubt 
you are right. And of course he had men as black- 
hearted as himself with him. He wouldn't have dared 
such a thing alone. Don't you see it that way, Giant?" 

"Thar's no other way to see it, Jim. Felton is the 
leader of a band, a heap wuss than the Sioux, but 
young William, here, has been smart 'nough to block 
his game." 

"That is, it's blocked for the time. He's down there 
with his band, waiting for another chance at us. 
Now, Will, you slip back and see that the horses and 
mules are secure, that they can't break their lariats, 
when they get scared at the shooting that's going to 
happen mighty soon. Keep down on your hands and 
knees. Don't give 'em a chance to send a bullet at 
you in the dark." 

The lad obeyed orders and found the animals now 
fairly quiet. They had stamped and reared somewhat 
at the sound of his shot, but their alarm had soon 
subsided. He went among them, stroking their noses 
and manes, showing all the power over animals that the 
hunter and the Little Giant had soon detected in him, 
and they signified their gladness at his presence. 
While he stroked them he whispered to them gently, 

144) 



THE OUTLAW 

speaking words of courage in their ears, but at the 
same time, he did not neglect to see that the lariats 
were fastened securely. 

Then, confident that the animals would not fall 
into a panic no matter what happened, he went back 
and found that Boyd and Bent were creeping toward 
the edge of the cliff. Lying almost flat, he joined 
them, and the hunter explained their plan of battle. 

"I take it that they're all on foot," he said, "and 
even so they can come only by the path we followed. 
It's too steep everywhere else for them to make a 
rush upon men armed as we are." 

"An* we, hid here on the ledge, may get a chance 
to pick 'em off," said the Little Giant. "Look, the 
night's beginnin' to favor us. More stars are comin' 
out, an' it's lighter all along the mountain. Lend me 
them glasses o' yourn, young William." 

Will passed them to him, and the man, who was 
now at the edge of the ledge, made a very minute 
examination of the slopes. Then he handed the 
glasses back to the lad, and pushed his rifle a little 
farther forward. Will, in the increasing light, caught 
a glimpse of his face, and he was startled by its look 
of deadly hate. 

"You've seen one of them?" he said. 

"Yes," replied the Little Giant. "He's a-layin' 
among the rocks on the other side o' that deep ravine, 
too fur away fur any ordinary bullet, but ef thar's one 
thing I'm proud of it's my rifle shootin'. I hate to do 
it, but they've come here to murder us an' we've got 
to teach 'em it's dang'rous business." 

145 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

Will, putting the glasses to his own eyes, was able 
to pick out the man whom the Little Giant had seen. 
It was not Felton, but a fellow in deerskins who 
crouched in fancied security in a sort of shallow alcove 
of the cliff. Will regarded him as one already dead, 
and his opinion was only a moment or two before 
fact, as the Little Giant pulled the trigger of his great 
repeating rifle, the mountain burst into many echoes, 
and the brigand, rolling from his alcove, fell like a 
stone into the depths of the chasm. Will, listening in 
awe, heard his body strike far below. Then came a 
terrible silence, in which his heart beat heavily. 

"It was a great shot, Giant," whispered Boyd, at 
length, "but you make no other kind. It wasn't Fel- 
ton, was it?" 

"No." 

"I didn't think it would be. After Will gave the 
alarm I knew he'd keep well out of sight. His kind 
when they're leaders always do. You've given 'em a 
hint, Giant, that they can't pass this way, the kind of 
hint that means most with brigands." 

"But two hints will be better than one, Jim," said 
Tom. "I'm thinkin' they're still down thar 'mong 
the rocks, hopin' to pick us off when we ain't watchin'. 
But we'll be watchin' all the time. In an hour mebbe 
we'll get a chance to tell 'em a second time they can't 
pass, an' then I think we'd better light out afore 
day." 

"So do I. Will, take your glasses and keep search- 
ing among the rocks." 

The lad, who saw that he could now serve best as 



THE OUTLAW 

the eyes of the little army of three, picked out every 
crag and hollow with the glasses, but he did not find 
any human beings. A half hour later several shots 
were fired from distant points by concealed marks- 
men, and Will heard the bullets chipping on the stones, 
although none of them struck near. Evidently the 
rifles had been discharged almost at random. Mean- 
while, the number of stars in the heavens increased and 
new peaks and ridges swam into the light. 

Will began another minute examination with the 
glasses, and he finally became convinced that he saw 
a human figure outstretched on a small shelf. As he 
looked longer the details became more clear. It was 
undoubtedly a man seeking a shot at them. He called 
the attention of the Little Giant, who took the glasses 
himself, gazed a while and then resumed his rifle. 
Will saw that look of menace come over his face 
again and he also regarded the man on the shelf as 
already dead. 

The Little Giant pulled the trigger and Will, watch- 
ing through the glasses, saw the outlaw quiver convul- 
sively and then lie quite still. The shelf had become 
his grave. The lad shivered a little. His lot truly 
was cast among wild and terrible scenes. 

'Tm thinking the double hint will be enough," said 
Boyd. "If Felton is the man I took him to be when 
I saw him in the morning, he won't care to risk his 
skin too much. Nor can any leader of desperadoes 
keep on bringing up his men against shooting like 
yours, Giant. And I want to say again, Tom, that 
you're certainly the greatest marksman in the world. 

147 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

You're so great that there's no occasion to be modest 
about it. It's evident to anybody that you're the best 
on all this round globe." 

The Little Giant said nothing, but in the dim light 
L Will saw his face flush with gratification. 

"The stars are still gathering," said the lad, "and 
every minute there is more light on the mountains. 
Suppose we take advantage of Tom's double hint and 
make at once for the higher ridges." 

"We can do so," said Boyd. "It's not so dark now 
that we can't see the way, and if they still have any 
notion of besieging us we may be hours ahead before 
they discover our absence. Will, you talk a little to 
the animals and loose the lariats, while Giant and I 
watch here. Then we'll join you and make the start." 

Will was among the horses and mules in an instant, 
stroking them, whispering to them, and soothing them. 
He was also half through with the task of replacing the 
packs when Boyd and Bent came. The rest done, 
they started up the steep natural trail, fortunately 
hidden at that point from any watchers below. Boyd 
led, picking the way, Will was among the animals 
and the Little Giant, with the rifle that never missed, 
covered the rear. 

Higher and higher they went, and, when day broke, 
they were once more in the scrub pines and cedars, 
with a cold wind blowing and nipping at their ears 
and noses. But Boyd, who went far back on the 
trail, could discover no sign of Felton's band, and 
they concluded to make camp. 

"We've all been tried enough for one night," said 
148 



THE OUTLAW 

Boyd. "Men, horses and mules alike need fresh 
breath and new nerves/' 

But before they could find a suitable place it began 
to rain, not a sweeping storm, but the cold, penetrating 
drizzle of great heights. Now their bearskin coats 
protected them in part, but the animals shivered, and 
the way became so slippery that they had to advance 
on those heights with exceeding caution and slowness. 
The rain soon turned to snow, and then back to rain 
again, but the happy temperament of the Little Giant 
was able to extract consolation from it. 

"Snow and rain together will hide what trace of a 
trail we may leave," he said. "Ef this keeps up, 
Felton and his gang will never be able to find us 
again." 

Despite the great dangers of the advance they pushed 
on upward until they came to a region that Will be- 
lieved must be above the clouds. At least, it was free 
there from both rain and snow, and below him he saw 
such vast areas of mists and vapors that the top of 
the ridge seemed to swim in the air. It was now about 
noon, and, at last,- finding a nearly level place, they 
sank dbwn upon it, exhausted. 

Nevertheless, the Little Giant was cheerful. 

"I'm clean furgittin' all 'bout that gold," he said, 
"my time now bein' devoted mostly to foot races, trym' 
to beat out Indians, outlaws an' all sorts o' desprit 
characters, in which I hev been successful so fur. My 
real trade jest now is that o' runner an' mounting 
climber, an' I expect to git a gold medal fur the same." 

He began to whistle in the most wonderful, bird- 
149 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

like fashion, a clear, sweet volume of sound, one popu- 
lar air of the time following another, every one de- 
livered in such perfect fashion that Will forgot the 
wet and the cold in the pleasure of listening. 

"Now," said Boyd, "there's nothing for it but to 
start a fire, even though it may show where we are. 
But we have an advantage in being above the clouds 
and mists. Then, if the outlaws come we can see 
'em coming, though I think our trail is wholly lost 
to 'em." 

Skilled as the two men were in building fires, they 
had a hard task now, as the wood, besides being 
scarce, was thoroughly soaked with wet, but they per- 
sisted, using flint and steel in order to save their 
matches. Just when a little blaze began to show signs 
of living and growing, Will, in his search for fallen 
and dead wood, turned into a narrow way that led 
among lofty rocks. It was wet and slippery and he 
followed it a full hundred yards, but seeing that it was 
going to end in a deep recess or cavern he turned back. 
He had just started the other way when he heard a 
fierce growling sound behind him and the beat of 
heavy feet. Whirling about he saw an enormous beast 
charging down upon him. It would scarcely be cor- 
rect to say that he saw, instead he had a blurred vision 
of a huge, shaggy form, red eyes, a vast red mouth, 
armed with teeth of amazing length and thickness, and 
claws of glistening steel, huge and formidable. Every- 
thing was magnified, exaggerated and infinitely ter- 
rible. 

The lad knew that it was a grizzly bear, roused from 
150 



THE OUTLAW 

its lair, and charging directly upon him. He shouted 
an alarm, fired once, twice and thrice with the repeat-, 
ing rifle, but the bear came on as fiercely as ever. He 
felt, or imagined he felt, its hot breath upon him,, and, 
leaping aside he scrambled up the rocks for dear Hfe v 
The bear ran on, and settling himself in place he fired 
at it twice more. The hunter and the Little Giant, 
who appeared at the head of the pass, also gave it 
two bullets apiece, and then the monster toppled over 
not far from their fire, and after panting a little, lay 
still. 

The Little Giant surveyed the great beast with 
wonder. 

"The biggest I ever saw," he said, "an* it took nine: 
bullets to bring him down, provided you hit him ev'ry 
time you fired, young William. Ef this is what you're 
goin* to bring on us whenever you leave the camp I 
'low you'd better stick close to the fire." 

"He came out of a cavern at the end of the little 
ravine," said the lad. "Of course, when I went visit" 
ing up that way I didn't know he had a home there." 

"It 'pears that he did have a home thar, an' that 
he was at home, too. Now, I 'low you'd better talk a 
little to your friends, the hosses and mules. They're 
pow-ful stirred up over the stranger you've brought 
'mong us. Hear 'em neighin' an' chargin'." 

Will went among the animals, but it took him a 
long time to soothe them. To them the grizzly bear 
smell was so strong and it was so strongly suffused 
with danger that they still panted and moved uneasily 
after he left them. 

181 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 1 

"Now, what are you goin' to do with him?" asked 
the Little Giant, looking at the huge form. "We ain't 
b'ar huntin' on this trip, but it 'pears a shame to leave 
a skin like that fur the wolves to t'ar to pieces. |We 
may need it later." 

"We don't have to leave it," said Boyd. "A big 
)bearskin weighs a lot, but one o-f the horses will be 
able to carry it." 

He and the Little Giant, using their strong hunting 
knives, took off the great skin with amazing dexterity, 
and then hung it on a stout bough to dry. As they 
turned away from their task and left the body of the 
bear, they heard the rush of feet and long, slinking 
forms appeared in the narrow pass where the denuded 
body of the monster lay. 

"The mountain wolves," said the Little Giant. "It's 
not likely that they've had such a feast in a long time. 
I'd like to send a bullet among 'em, but it's no use. 
Besides, they're actin' 'cordin' to their lights. The 
Lord made 'em eaters o' other creeturs, an' eat they 
must to live." 

Will heard the fierce snarling and growling as the 
wolves fought for places at the body of the bear, and, 
although he knew as the Little Giant had said, that 
they were only obeying the call of nature, he could 
not repress a shudder at the eagerness and ferocity 
in their voices. Once, he climbed a high rock and 
looked down at them. They were mountain wolves 
of the largest and most dangerous kind, some reach- 
ing a length of seven feet. He watched them with a 
sort of fascinated awe, and long after he left the rock 

152 



THE OUTLAW 

he still heard the growling. When it ceased he went 
back to his perch again and saw only the great skele- 
ton of the bear, picked clean, and the last wolf 
gone. 

That afternoon the two men took down the vast skin 
of the grizzly and scraped it with their hunting knives, 
working on it a long time, and also admiring the 
length and luxuriance of the hair. 

"It shows that this big fellow lived high upon the 
mountains where there's lots of cold," said Boyd. 
"Why, this is really fur, not hair. Maybe he never 
saw a human being before, and being king of all his 
range he couldn't have dreamed that he would have 
been killed by something flying through the air, and 
that his body would find a scattered grave in the 
stomachs of wolves." 

"Ef the worst comes to the worst, an' it grows too 
awful cold," said the Little Giant, "this will make a 
splendid sleeping robe, big enough fur all three of 
us at the same time." 

They kept their fire going all day and all night, and 
they also maintained a continuous watch, the three 
taking turns. More snow fell and then melted, and 
they were glad that it was so, as they felt that the 
trail was now hidden completely. They also kept 
down the blaze from their fire, a great bed of coals now 
having formed, and, as they were in a bowl, the glow 
from it could not be seen more than ten or fifteen yards 
away. 

At dawn they set out again under cloudy skies with 
a raw, cold wind always blowing, and advanced slowly, 

153 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

owing to the steep and dangerous nature of the way. 
Once more they replenished their larder with moun- 
tain sheep and mule deer, and packed upon the horses 
all they could carry. The hunter and the Little Giant 
agreed now that the sky was ominous, and they had 
more to fear from it than from pursuit by either In- 
dians or Felton's outlaws. 

"I tell you, Jim, an* you too, young William," said 
the Little Giant, "that we'd better do what would have 
been done by the big grizzly that's now runnin' in the 
stomachs o' mounting wolves." 

"What's that?" asked Will. 

"Hole up! When you can't do anythin' else hole 
up an* wait 'til the skies clear." 

"That would be simple," said Boyd, "if only we 
three human beings had to hole up, but while we might 
drive the horses and mules into a cave shelter they'd 
have nothing to eat." 

"What you want to do, Jim Boyd, is to cultivate 
hope. I won't say you're a grouchy man, 'cause you 
ain't, but mighty few men are hopeful enough. Now, 
I want you to hope that we'll not only find a cave 
shelter for the beasts, but water an' grass fur 'em." 

"Well, I hope it." 

"That bein' the case, I want to tell you that I've been 
ahead a little, an' the ground begins to slope off fast. 
I think we'll soon strike a canyon or valley a few miles 
deep, more or less. That canyon or valley will hev 
water in it, an' bein' so sheltered it's bound to hev 
grass, too. What more could you ask? Thar we'll 
stay till times grow better." 

154 



THE OUTLAW 

"You've arranged it all mighty well in your 
mind/ 1 

"An* that bein' the case, let's go on, an' see ef I 
hevn't arranged it right." 

The Little Giant soon proved that he had read the 
mountain signs aright, as they came to a great descent, 
the steep walls enclosing a valley of vast depth. Far 
down Will was able to see the glimmer of a little lake 
and the green of grass. 

"It's our home for a spell," said Boyd. "You 
were right, Giant. You're the only prophet I've ever 
loiown." 

"You'd do a heap better, Jim Boyd, ef you'd pay 
more attention. I told you awhile ago to cheer up 
an' you cheered, then I told you we'd find a nice home- 
like valley, an' here it is, a couple o' thousan' feet 
deep, an' with water an' grass, ez young William's 
glasses tell us, an* with cave shelter, too, ez my feelin's 
ez a prophet tell me." 

The hunter laughed, and the Little Giant burst into 
a flood of cheerful, whistling song. In his optimistic 
mind all affairs were already arranged to the satis- 
faction of everybody. Nevertheless, it took them a 
long time to find a way by which the horses could 
descend, and it required their utmost skill to prevent 
falls. When they finally stood upon the floor of the 
valley, animals and human beings alike were weak 
from nervous strain, and the Little Giant, wiping his 
perspiring brow, said: 

"We're here, but lookin' back I kin hardly see how 
we ever got here." 

155 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"But being here," said Boyd, "we'll now scout 
around and find the fine house that you as a prophet 
have promised to us." 

The three, agreeing, began at once the task. 



CHAPTER VII 

THE BEAVER HUNTER 

IT WAS perhaps fortunate for the explorers and 
fur hunters that the great mountains of north- 
western America abounded in swift, clear streams 
and little lakes, many of the lakes being set at a great 
height in tiny valleys, enclosed by forests and lofty 
cliffs. There was no dying of thirst, and about the 
water they always found the beaver. Wood, too, was 
sure to be plentiful and, in the fierce cold of the north- 
western winters they needed much of it. If the val- 
leys were not visited for a long period, and often 
the Indians themselves did not come to them in years, 
elk and other game, large and small, made a home 
there. 

It was into one of these most striking nooks that 
the three had now come. They had been in a valley 
of the same type before, but this was far deeper and 
far bolder. There were several acres of good grass, 
on which the horses and mules might find forage, even 
under the snow, and the lake, two or three acres in 
extent, was sure to contain fish good for eating. 

But the two men examined with the most care the 
rocky, western cliff, weathered and honeycombed by 

157 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

the storms of a thousand centuries. As they had ex- 
pected, they found great cave-like openings at its base, 
and after much hunting they decided upon one running 
back about fifty feet, with a width half as great, and 
a roof varying from seven to twenty feet in height. 
The floor, fairly level, sloped rather sharply toward 
the doorway, which would protect them against floods 
from melting snows. The interior could be fitted 
up in a considerable degree of comfort with the 
material from their packs and furs they might take. 

They found about fifty yards away another, though 
shallower, cavern which Will, with his gift for deal- 
ing with animals, could induce the horses and mules 
to use in bad weather. He proved his competency 
for the task a few hours after their arrival by leading 
them into it, tolling them on with wisps of fresh grass. 

"That settles it so far as they are concerned," said 
Boyd, "and we had to think of them first. If we're 
snowed in here it's of the last importance to us to save 
our animals." 

"An* we're goin' to be snowed in, I think," said 
the Little Giant, looking at the sombre heavens. "How 
high up did you say we wuz here, young William, ten 
miles above the level o' the sea?" 

"Not ten miles, but we're certainly high, high 
enough for it to be winter here any time it feels like 
it. Now I'm going to rake and scrape as many old 
dead leaves as I can find into the new stone stable. 
The floor is pretty rough in places, and we don't want 
any of our beasts to break a leg there." 

"All right, you set to work on it," said Boyd, "and 
158 



THE BEAVER HUNTER 

Giant and me will labor on our own house." 
Will toiled all the day on the new stable, and he en- 
joyed the homely work. Sometimes he filled in the 
deeper places in the floor with chunks of dead wood 
and then heaped the leaves on top. When it was 
finished it was all in such condition that the animals 
could occupy it without danger, and he also set up a 
thick hedge of boughs about the entrance, allowing only 
four or five feet for the doorway. Even if the snow 
should be driving hard in that direction the animals 
would yet be protected. Then he led them inside 
and barred them there for the night. 

He was so much absorbed in his own task that he 
paid small heed to that of the men, but he was en- 
thusiastic when he took a little rest. They had un- 
packed everything, and had put all the extra weapons 
and ammunition on shelves in the stone. They had 
made three wooden stools and they had smoothed 
a good place for cooking near the entrance, whence 
the smoke could pass out. They had also cut great 
quantities of firewood which they had stored along 
the sides of the cavern. 

About nightfall the hunter shot an elk on the 
northern slope, and all three worked far into the 
night at the task of cleaning and cutting up the body, 
resolving to save every edible part for needs which 
might be long. All of it was stored in the cavern 
or on the boughs of trees, and leaving the horses to 
graze at their leisure on the grassy acres they lay 
down on their blankets in the cavern and slept the 
sleep of the little death, that is the sleep of ex- 

159 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

haustion, without a dream or a waking moment. 

Will did not awake until the sun of dawn was shin- 
ing in the cavern, although it was at its best a some- 
what obscure sun, and the dawn itself was full of 
chill. When he went outside he found that heavy 
clouds were floating above the mountains and masses 
of vapor hung low over the valley, almost hiding the 
forest, which was thickest at the northern end and the 
lake which cuddled against the western side. 

"I look for a mighty storm, maybe a great snow," 
said Boyd. "All the signs are here, but it may hang 
about for several days before coming, and the more 
time is left before it hits the better for us. It was big 
luck for us to find so deep a valley just when we did. 
Now, Will, suppose you take the beasts out to pasture 
and by the time you get back Giant and me will have 
breakfast ready." 

Will found the horses and mules quite comfortable 
in the new stable and they welcomed him with neighs 
and whinnies and other sounds, the best of which their 
vocal cords were capable. The friendship that he had 
established with them was wonderful. As the Little 
Giant truly said, he could have been a brilliant success 
as an animal trainer. Perhaps they divined the great 
sympathy and kindness he felt for them, or he had a 
way of showing it given to only a few mortals. What- 
ever it may have been, they began to rub their noses 
against him, the big horse, Selim, finally thrusting his 
head under his arm, while the mules proudly marched 
on either side of him as he led the way down to the 
pasture. 

160 



THE BEAVER HUNTER 

"Ain't it wonderful," said the Little Giant, who saw 
them from the mouth of the cavern where he and Boyd 
were cooking, "the way the boy has with animals? 
My mules like me, but I know they'd leave me any 
minute at a whistle from young William, an* follow 
him wherever he went." 

"Same way with that horse of mine, Selim. He'd 
throw me over right away for Will. He's a good 
lad, with a clean soul and a pure heart, and maybe 
the animals, having gifts that we don't have, to make 
up for gifts that we have and they haven't, can look 
straight into 'em. Do you think, Giant, that Felton 
could have had a line on our mine?" 

"What's your drift, Jim?" 

"Could he have been out here somewhere when the 
Captain, Will's father, found it, and have got some 
hint about its discovery? Maybe he guesses that 
Will's got a map, and that's what he's after. He 
wouldn't have followed us at such terrible risks, un- 
less he had a mighty big motive." 

"That's good reasonin', Jim, an' I think thar's some- 
thin' in your notion. Ef it's so, Felton will hang on 
to the chase o' us ez long ez he's livin,' an' fur the 
present, with Sioux on one side o' us an' outlaws on the 
other, I'm mighty glad we're hid away here in so deep 
a cut in the mountings." 

"So am I, Giant. I think that coffee is boiling now. 
Call the lad." 

"Young William! Young William!" cried the 
Little Giant. "Don't you dare to keep breakfus' wait- 
in' the fust mornin' we've moved into our new home." 

161 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

After breakfast Will and Bent worked on the cav- 
ern, while Boyd went hunting on the slopes. They 
cut many poles and made a palisade at the entrance 
to the great hollow, leaving a doorway only about two 
feet wide, over which they could hang the big bear- 
skin in case heavy wind, rain or snow came. Then 
they packed the whole floor of the cavern with dry 
leaves, making a kind of matting, over which they 
intended to spread furs or skins as they obtained them. 

"Caves are cold when left to theirselves," said the 
Little Giant, "an* it's lucky thar's a good nateral place 
fur our fire jest beside the door. We'll have lots o' 
meat in here, too, 'cause Jim's a fine hunter an* the 
valley is full o* game. Thar must be a lot o' grizzly 
bears roun' in these mountings, too, Young William. 
Wouldn't it be funny ef we went out some day an* 
come back to find our new house occupied by a whole 
family o' fightin' grizzlies, every one o' them with 
iron claws, ten inches long?" 

"No, it wouldn't be funny, Giant, it would be 
tragic." 

"Ef you jest knew it, Young William, we're mighty 
well off. Many a trappin' outfit hez been froze in in 
the mountings, in quarters not half so good ez ours." 

Boyd shot another elk and smaller deer, and on 
the next day secured more game, which they cured, 
concluding now that they had enough to last them in- 
definitely. Will and the Little Giant, meanwhile, had 
been working on the house, and Boyd, his hunting over, 
joined them. The cured skins of the animals were 
put over the leaf thatch of the floor as they had planned, 

162 



THE BEAVER HUNTER 

and as they procured them they intended to hang 
more on the walls, for the sake of dryness and warmth. 

Although the clouds threatened continuously the 
storm still held off. They expected every morning to 
wake up and find the snow drifting, but the sun always 
showed, although dim and obscured by vapors. Will 
still led the horses and mules down to the grass every 
morning, and, every night, led them back to the new 
stone stable. The valley began to wear the aspect of 
home, of a home by no means uncomfortable, but on 
the sixth night there Will was awakened by something 
cold and wet striking upon his face. He went to the 
door, looked out and saw that the snow they had been 
expecting so long had come at last. It was thick, 
driving hard, and for the first time he hung in place 
the great bearskin, securing it tightly with the fasten- 
ings they had arranged and then went back to sleep. 

He was the first to awake the next morning, and 
pushing aside the bearskin, he looked out to see snow 
still falling and apparently a good six inches in depth 
already. 

"Wake up, Jim, and you, too, Giant!" he called. 
"Here's our storm at last, and lucky it is that we're 
holed up so well." 

Boyd joined him. The snow was so dense that they 
could not see across the valley, but it was not driving 
now, merely floating down lazily and persistently. 

"That means it will come for a long time," said 
Boyd. "Snow clouds are like men. If they begin to 
pour out their energy in vast quantities they're soon 
exhausted, but if they work in deliberate fashion they 

163 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

do much more. I take it that this snow won't stop 
today, nor maybe tonight, nor the next day either." 

"We can stand it," said Will. "We're well housed 
up and we're safe from invasion. If you and Tom 
will get breakfast I'll feed the horses and mules." 

They had employed a large part of the time cutting 
the thick grass with their hunting knives, and it was 
now stored in the stable in a considerable quantity, 
out of the reach of the longest neck among the horses 
and mules. They were responsive as usual when he 
came among them, and nuzzled him, because they liked 
him and because they knew he was the provider of 
food, that is, he was in effect a god to them. 

Will talked to the animals and gave to every one 
his portion of hay, watching them with pleasure as 
they ate it, and returned thanks in their own way. 
When he made his way back through the snow, break- 
fast was ready and, although they were sparing with 
the coffee and bread, every one could have all the meat 
he wished. 

"Now, there'll be nothing for us to do but sit 
around the house," said Boyd, the breakfast over. 

"Which means that I kin put in a lot o' my spare 
time readin'," said the Little Giant. "Young William, 
bring me my Shakespeare ! What, you say I f urgot to 
put it in my pack! Well, then bring me my copy o* 
the Declaration o' Independence. I always like them 
words in it, 'Give me lib'ty or give me death!' 'Sic 
semper tyrannis!' " 

" 'Give me liberty or give me death' is not in 
the Declaration of Independence, Giant. Those 

164 



THE BEAVER HUNTER 

words were used by Patrick Henry in an address." 

"Well, they ought to hev been thar, an* ef Patrick 
Henry hadn't been so fresh an* used 'em first they 
would a-been. But you can't go back on 'sic semper 
tyrannis!' " 

"They couldn't possibly be in the declaration, Giant, 
because they're Latin." 

"I reckon the signers o' the Declaration wuz good 
enough to write Latin an' talk it, too, ef they wanted 
to." 

"They were used eighteen or nineteen hundred years 
ago by a Roman." 

"I guess that's one advantage o' livin* early. You 
kin git the fust chance at what's best. Anyway, they 
did say a lot o' rousin' things in the Declaration, though 
I don't remember exactly what they wuz. But I see 
I won't hev no chance to git on with my lit'ry pursuits, 
so I think I'll jest do chores about the house inside." 

He went to work in the best of spirits. Will had 
seldom seen a happier man. He fixed shelves in the 
stone, arranged the materials from their packs, and 
all the time he whistled airs, until the cavern seemed 
to be filled with the singing of nightingales, mocking 
birds and skylarks. Will and Boyd began to help 
him, though Will stopped at times to look out. 

On every occasion he reported that the snow was still 
drifting down in a steady, thick, white stream, and that 
he could not see more than thirty or forty yards from 
the door. About eleven o'clock in the morning, when 
he pulled the bearskin aside for perhaps the sixth time, 
he heard a sound which at first he took to be the dis- 

165 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

tant moan of the wind through a gorge. But he had 
not heard it on his previous visits, although the wind 
had been blowing all the morning, and he stood there 
a little while, listening. As he did not hear it again 
just yet, he thought his fancy had deceived him, but 
in a minute or so the sound came once more. It was 
a weird note, carrying far, but he seemed to detect a 
human quality in it. And yet what human being 
could be out there in that lone mountain valley in the 
wild snow storm? It seemed impossible, but when 
he heard it a third time the human quality seemed 
stronger. He beckoned to the hunter and Little Giant. 

"Come here," he said, "and tell me if my imagina- 
tion is playing tricks with me. It seems to me that 
I've heard a human voice in the storm." 

The two came to the doorway and, standing beside 
him, listened. Once more Will discerned that note 
and he turned an inquiring face to them. 

"There!" he exclaimed. "Did you hear it? It 
sounded to me like a man's voice !" 

Neither Boyd nor Bent replied until the call came 
once more and then Boyd said : 

"It's not your imagination, Will. It's a man out 
there in the snow, and he's shouting for help. Why 
he should expect anybody to come to his aid in a 
place like this is more'n I can understand." 

"He's drawin' nearer," said the Little Giant. "I 
kin make out the word 'hello' said over an' over ag'in. 
Maybe Felton's band has wondered on a long chase 
into our valley, an' it's some o' them lost from the 
others in the storm, callin* to em." 

166 



THE BEAVER HUNTER 

"Like as not," said the hunter. "The snow has cov- 
ered up most of the traces and trails we've left, and 
anyway they couldn't rush this cavern in the face of 
our rifles." 

"It's no member of Felton's gang," said Will, with 
great emphasis. 

"How do you know that?" asked Boyd in surprise. 

"I can scarcely tell. Instinct, I suppose. It doesn't 
sound like the voice of an outlaw, though I don't know 
how I know that, either. Hark, he's coming much 
nearer! I've an idea the man's alone." 

"In the storm," said the Little Giant, "he's likely 
to pass by the cavern, same ez ef it wuzn't here." 

"But we mustn't let him do that," exclaimed Will. 
"I tell you it's a friend coming! a man we want! Be- 
sides, it's no Indian! It's a white man's voice, and 
we couldn't let him wander around and perish in a 
wilderness storm!" 

The hunter and the Little Giant glanced at each 
other. 

"A feller that kin talk with hosses an 1 mules, an* 
hev the toughest mule eat out o' his hand the fust time 
he ever saw him may be able to tell more about a voice 
in the wilderness than we kin," said the Little Giant. 

"I don't believe you're wrong," said the hunter with 
equal conviction. 

Will threw aside the bearskin and dashed out. The 
two men followed, their rifles under their fur coats, 
where they were protected from the storm. The voice 
could now be heard very plainly calling, and Boyd and 
Bent were quite sure also that it was not one of Fel- 

167 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

ton's band. It truly sounded like the voice of an 
honest man crying aloud in the wilderness. 

Will still led the way and, as he approached, he gave 
a long, clear shout, to which the owner of the voice 
replied instantly, not a hundred yards away. Then 
the three pressed forward and they saw the figure of 
a man, exaggerated and gigantic in the falling snow. 
Behind him stood three horses, loaded heavily but 
drooping and apparently almost frozen. He gave a 
cry of joy when the three drew near, and said : 

"I called upon the Lord when all seemed lost, but 
I did not call in vain." 

He was tall, clothed wholly in deerskin, and with a 
fur cap upon his head. His figure was one of great 
strength, but it was bent somewhat now with weari- 
ness. The Little Giant uttered an exclamation. 

"By all that's wonderful, it's Steve Brady!" he 
said. "Steve Brady, the seeker after the lost beaver 
horde!" 

The man extended a hand, clothed in a deerskin 
gauntlet. 

"And it's you, Tom Bent, the Little Giant," he said. 
"I surely did not dream that when you and I met 
again it would be in such a place as this. Providence 
moves in a mysterious way its wonders to perform, 
and it's a good thing for us it does, or I'd have frozen 
or starved to death in this valley. That quotation 
may not be strictly correct, but I mean well." 

The Little Giant seized his hand and shook it vio- 
lently. It was evident that the stranger was one whom 
he admired and liked. 

168 



THE BEAVER HUNTER 

"Ef we'd knowed it wuz you callin/ Steve Brady," 
he said, "we'd hev come sooner. But hev you found 
that huge beaver colony you say is somewhar in 
the northwestern mountings, the biggest colony the 
world hez ever knowed ?" 

"I have not, Tom Bent. 'Search and ye shall find' 
says the Book, and I have searched years and years, 
but I have never found. If I had found, you would 
not see me here in this valley, a frozen man with three 
frozen horses, and I ask you, Tom Bent, if you have 
ever yet discovered a particle of the gold for which 
you've been looking all the years since you were a boy." 

"Not a speck, Steve, not a speck of it. If I had 
I wouldn't be here. I'd be in old St. Looey, the 
grandest city in the world, stoppin' in the finest room 
at the Planters' House, an' tilted back in a rockin' 
chair pickin' my teeth with a gold tooth pick, after 
hevin' et a dinner that cost a hull five dollars. But 
you come into our house, Steve, an* warm up an' 
eat hot food, while Young William, here, takes your 
hosses to the stable, an' quite a good hoss boy is young 
William, too." 

"House ! Fire ! Food ! Stable ! What do you mean ?" 

"Jest what I say. These are my friends, Thomas 
Boyd and William Clarke, young William. Boys, this 
is Stephen Brady, who has been a fur hunter all his 
life but who hasn't been findin' much o' late. Come 
on, Steve." 

Will took the three horses and led them to the 
stable, into which he pushed them without much 
trouble, and where they received a fair welcome. He 

169 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

also threw them a quantity of the hay, and then he 
ran back to the house, where Boyd and Bent were 
rapidly fanning the coals into a blaze and were warm- 
ing food. Brady's outer garments were steaming be- 
fore the fire, and he was sitting on a stone outcrop, a 
look of solemn satisfaction on his face. 

"It is truly a habitation in the wilderness," he said, 
"and friends the best and bravest in the world. It 
is more, far more, than I, a lone fur hunter, had a 
right to expect. Truly it is more than any humble 
mortal such as I had a right to hope for. But as the 
sun stood still over Gibeon, and as the moon stood still 
over the vale of Ajalon at the command of Joshua, so 
the wilderness and the storm opened at the command 
of the Lord, and disclosed to me those who would 
save me." 

There was nothing of the unctuously pious about his 
tone and manner, instead it was sternly enthusiastic, 
full of courage and devotion. He made to Will a 
mental picture of one of Cromwell's Ironsides, or of 
the early New England Puritans, and his Biblical lan- 
guage and allusions heightened the impression. The 
lad felt instinctively that he was a strong man, great 
in the strength of body, mind and spirit. 

"Take another slice o* the elk steak, Steve," said 
the hospitable Little Giant, who was broiling them over 
coals. "You've et only six, an' a man o' your build 
an' hunger ought to eat at least twelve. We've got 
plenty of it, you won't exhaust the supply, never fear. 
An* take another cup o' coffee; it will warm your in- 
sides right down to your toes. I'm mighty glad to 

170 



THE BEAVER HUNTER 

see you, an* young William's mighty glad to see you." 

"You couldn't have been as glad to see me as I 
was to see you," said Brady with a solemn smile. 
"Truly it seems that one may be saved when apparently 
his last hour has come, if he will only hope and persist. 
It may be that you will yet find your gold, Thomas 
Bent, that you, James Boyd and William Clarke, will 
find whatever you seek, though I know not what it 
is, nor ask to know, and that I, too, will find some day 
the great beaver colony of which I have dreamed, a 
colony ten times as large as any other ever seen even 
in these mountains." 

Boyd and Bent exchanged glances, but said nothing. 
It was evident that they had the same thought and 
Will's quick and active mind leaped up too. In their 
great quest they needed at least another man, a man 
honest, brave and resourceful, and such a man in the 
emergency was beyond price. But for the present 
they said nothing. 

"Thar's one thing I'd like fur you to explain to me, 
Steve," said the Little Giant, who was enjoying the 
hospitality he gave, "why wuz you callin' so much 
through the storm? Wuz it jest a faint hope, one 
chance in a million that trappers might be here in the 
valley?" 

"No, Thomas, it was not a hope. A sign was 
vouchsafed to me. When I knew the storm was com- 
ing I started for this valley, which I visited once, years 
ago, and, although the snow caught me before I 
could reach it, I managed, owing to my former knowl- 
edge, to get down the slope without losing any of my 

171 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

horses. Then in the valley I saw saplings cut freshly 
by the axe, cut so recently in truth that I knew the 
wielders of the steel must still be here, and in all 
likelihood were white men. Strong in that faith I 
called aloud and you answered, but I did not dream 
that one whom I knew long ago, and one, moreover, 
whom I knew to be honest and true, was here. It is 
a lesson to us that hope should never be wholly lost." 

All were silent for a little space, feeling deeply the 
truth of the man's words and manner, and then, when 
Brady finished his last elk steak and his last cup of 
coffee, Boyd said : 

"I think, Mr. Brady, that you've had a terrible time 
and that you need sleep. You can roll in dry blan- 
kets in the corner there, and we'll arrange your packs 
for you. Will reports that your animals have made 
friends with ours, as you and we have surely made 
friends, and there's nothing left for you now but to 
take a big sleep." 

"That I'll surely do," said Brady, smiling a solemn 
smile, "but first promise me one thing." 

"What is that?" 

"Don't call me Mr. Brady. It doesn't sound right 
coming from men of my own age. To you I'm Steve, 
just as I am to our friend Thomas." 

"All right, Steve, but into the blankets with you. 
Even a fur hunter can catch pneumonia, if he's just 
bent on doing it." 

Brady rolled himself in the blankets and soon slept. 
The hunter, the Little Giant and Will drew to the 
other side of the cavern, and before a word was spoken 

172 



THE BEAVER HUNTER 

every one of the three was conscious of what was in the 
minds of the others. Will was the first to speak. 

"He's the man," he said. 

"We shorely need him," said the Little Giant. 

"I don't think we could do better," said Boyd. 

"It's luck, big luck, that we found him or he found 
us," continued the Little Giant. "When these solemn, 
prayin* men are real, they're real all over. He's as 
brave as a lion, he'll hang on like a grizzly bear, an* 
he's as honest as they ever make 'em. He's a fightin' 
man from start to finish. From what you say thar 
must be more'n a million in that mine, an' in huntin' 
fur it an' keepin' it after we find it, Steve Brady is 
wuth at least a quarter o' a million to us." 

"All of that," said the hunter. "But the mine really 
belongs to Will, here, and it's for him to bring in a 
new partner." 

"It belongs to us all now," said the lad, "though 
I'll admit I was the original owner, I think Mr. 
Brady will just round out our band. I'm for offering 
him a full partnership." 

"Then you do the talkin'," said the Little Giant. 
"It's right that it should come from you." 

When Brady awoke many hours later three very 
serious faces confronted him, and his acute mind saw 
at once that he was about to receive a communication 
of weight. 

"It looks like a committee," he said with solemn im- 
portance. "Who is the spokesman ?" 

"I am," replied Will, "and what we have to say to 
you is really of importance, of vast importance. Mr. 

173 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

Bent has been looking many years for gold, but has 
never yet found a grain of it. Now he has given 
up his independent search, and is joining with Mr. 
Boyd and me in a far bigger hunt. You've been 
looking eight or ten years, you say, for the gigantic 
beaver colony, but have never found it. Now we 
want you to give up that hunt for the time, and join 
us, because we need you much." 

"Your words have an earnest sound, young man, and 
I know that you and your comrades are honest, but 
I do not take your full meaning." 

"It is this," said Will, and he produced from his se- 
cret pocket the precious map. "My father, who was a 
captain in the army, found a great mine of gold, but 
before he could work it, or even make any preparations 
to do so, he was called for the Civil War, in which he 
fell. But he left this map that tells me how to reach 
it somewhere in the vast northwestern mountains. To 
locate it and get out the treasure I need fighting men, 
the best fighting men the world can furnish, wilder- 
ness fighters, patient, enduring and full of knowledge. 
I have two such in Mr. Boyd and Mr. Bent, but we 
need just one more, and we have agreed that you should 
be the fourth, if you will favor us by entering into the 
partnership. It is full of danger, as you know. We 
have already had a fight with the Sioux, and another 
with a band of outlaws, led by Martin Felton." 

A spark leaped up in the stern eye of Stephen Brady. 

"I am a fur hunter," he said, "though there is little 
prospect of success for me now, owing to the Indian 
wars, but I have spent all my manhood years among 



THE BEAVER HUNTER 

dangers. Perhaps I should feel lonely if they were 
absent, and you may dismiss that idea/' 

"I thought so. Will you enter into full partnership 
with us in this great enterprise? Mr. Bent has ap- 
praised your full value as a fighting man in this crisis 
at a quarter of a million dollars, and we know that the 
mine contains at least a million. I beg you not to re- 
fuse. We need your strong arm and great heart. 
You will be conferring the favor upon us." 

"And the vast beaver colony that I'm going to find 
some day?" 

"It can wait. It will be there after we get out the 
gold." 

"And you are in full agreement with this, James 
Boyd?" " 

"I am." 

"And you are in full agreement with this, too, 
Thomas Bent?" 

"I am." 

"Then I accept. A quarter of a million dollars is 
a great sum. I scarcely thought there was so much 
money in the world, but one may do much with it. 
I am already forming certain plans in my mind. Will 
you let me take another and thorough look at your 
map, William?" 

He studied it long and attentively, and then as he 
handed it back to the owner, he said : 

"It will be a long journey, as you have said, full of 
dangers, but I think I am not boasting when I say we 
be four who know how to meet hardship and peril. I 
make the prediction that after unparalleled dangers we 

175 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

will find the mine. Yet a quarter of a million is too 
vast a sum for my services. I could not accept such 
an amount. Make it about ten thousand dollars." 

Will laughed. 

"You must bear in mind, Mr. Brady," he said, "that 
we haven't all this gold yet, and it will be a long time 
before we do get it. We're all to be comrades and 
full partners, and you must be on exactly the same 
terms as the others. We've probably saved your life, 
and we demand, therefore, that you accept. Stand- 
ing squarely on our rights, we'll take no refusal." 

The stern eyes of Brady gleamed. 

"Since you give me no choice, I accept," he said. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE MOUNTAIN RAM 

IT SNOWED for two days and two nights without 
ceasing, and then turned so cold that the snow 
froze over, a covering like glass forming upon it. 
Will broke a way to the stable, where he talked to the 
animals and fed them with the hay which had been cut 
with forethought. With the help of the others he 
also opened a path down to a little stream flowing into 
the lake, where the horses and mules were able to 
obtain water, spending the rest of the time in the 
cavern. 

The men usually had a small fire and they passed 
the time while they were snowed in in jerking more 
meat, repairing their clothes and doing a hundred other 
things that would be of service later on. Brady stored 
his traps in a remote corner of the cavern, hiding them 
so artfully that it was not likely anyone save the four 
would ever find them. 

"I shall have no further use for them for a long 
time," he said, "but after we reach our gold I mean to 
return here and get them." 

Will, who noticed his grammatical and good Eng- 
lish, rather unusual on the border, asked him how he 
came to be a fur hunter. 

177 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"Drift," he replied. "You would not think it, but 
it was my original intention to become a schoolmaster. 
An excursion into the west made me fall in love with 
the forest, the mountains, solitude and independence. 
I've always taken enough furs for a good living, and 
I'm absolutely my own master. Moreover, I'm an 
explorer and it gives me a keen pleasure to find a new 
river or a new mountain. And this northwest is 
filled with wonders. After we find the gold and my 
beaver colony, I'm going to write a book of a thousand 
pages about the wonders^ I've seen." 

"I never saw anybody that wrote a book," said the 
Little Giant with the respect of the unlettered for the 
lettered, "an' I confess I ain't much of a.hand at read- 
in' 'em, but when I'm rich ez I expect to be a year or 
two from now, an' I build my fine house in St. Looey, 
I mean to have a room full of 'em, in fine leather an* 
morocco bindin's." 

"Will you read them?" asked Will. 

"Me read 'em! O' course not!" replied the. Little 
Giant. "I'll hire a man to read 'em, an' he kin keep 
-busy on them books while I'm away on my long hunt- 
in' trips." 

"But that won't be you reading 'em." 

"What diff'unce does that make? All a book asks 
is to be read by somebody, en' ef it's read by my 
reader 'stead o' me it's jest the same." 

The days confirmed them in their choice of Brady 
as the fourth partner in the great hunt. Despite his 
rather stern and solemn manner he was at heart a 
man of most cheerful and optimistic temperament. 

178 



THE MOUNTAIN RAM 

He had, too, a vast fund of experience and he knew 
much of the wilderness that was unknown to others. 

"What do you think of our plan of going straight 
ahead as soon as we can travel, and passing over the 
left shoulder of the White Dome?" asked Boyd. 

"It's wisest," replied Brady thoughtfully. "I've 
heard something of this Felton, with whom you had 
such a sanguinary encounter, and I'm inclined to think 
from all you tell me that he has had a hint about the 
mine. He has affiliated with the Indians and he can 
command a large band of his own, white men, mostly 
murderous refugees from the border, and the worst 
type of half breeds. It's better for us to keep as long 
as we can in the depths of the mountains despite all the 
difficulties of travel there." 

On the fifth day it turned much warmer and rained 
heavily, and so violent were the changes in the high 
mountains that there was a tremendous manifestation 
of thunder and lightning. They watched the display 
of electricity with awe from the door of the cavern, 
and Will saw the great sword blades of light strike 
more than once on the rocks of the topmost peaks. 

"I think," said Brady devoutly, "that we have been 
watched over. Where else in the mountains could we 
have found such a refuge for our animals and our- 
selves ?" 

"Nowhere," said the Little Giant, cheerfully, "an* 
I want to say that I'm enjoyin' myself right here. We 
four hev got more o' time than anythin' else, an' I 
ain't goin' to stir from our nice, comf'table home 'til 
the travelings good." 

179 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

The others were in full agreement with him, and, in 
truth, delay was absolutely necessary as a march now 
would have been accompanied by new and great dan- 
gers, snow slides, avalanches, and the best of the paths 
slippery with mud and water. When the rain ceased, 
although a warm sun that followed it hastened the 
melting of the snow, Will released the animals from 
the stable and with pleasure saw them run about among 
the trees, where the snow had melted and sprigs of 
hardy grass were again showing green against the 
earth. After they had drunk at the lake and gal- 
loped up and down awhile, they began to nibble the 
grass, while Will walked among them and stroked their 
manes or noses, and was as pleased as they were. 
Brady's three horses were already as firm friends of 
his as the earlier animals. 

"Did you ever notice that boy's ways with hosses 
an 1 mules?" said the Little Giant to Brady. "He's 
shorely a wonder. I think he's got some kind o* talk 
that we don't understand but which they do. My 
critters and Boyd's would quit us at any time fur him, 
an* so will yours." 

"I perceive it is true, my friend, and so far as my 
horses are concerned I don't grudge him his power. 
Now that the snow has gone and the greenness is 
returning this valley truly looks like the land of 
Canaan. And it is well for us to be outside again. 
People who live the lives that we do flourish best in 
the open air." 

The warm days lasted and all the snow melted, save 
where it lay perpetually on the crest of the White 

180 



THE MOUNTAIN RAM 

Dome. Often they heard it thundering in masses 
down the slopes. The whole earth was soaked with 
water, and swift streams ran in every gulch and ravine 
and canyon. Will, although he was impatient to be 
up and away, recognized now how thoroughly neces- 
sary it was to wait. The mountains in such a condi- 
tion were impassable, and the valley was safe, too, be- 
cause for the time nobody could come there either. 

Big game wandered down again and Brady shot an- 
other large grizzly bear, the skin of which they saved 
and tanned, thinking it might prove in time as useful 
as the first. Another deer was added to their larder, 
and they also shot a number of wild fowl. But as 
the hills began to dry their minds returned with in- 
creasing strength to the great mine, hidden among 
far-away peaks. All were eager to be off, and it 
was only the patience coming from experience that de- 
layed the start. 

The valley dried out rapidly. The snow, deep as 
it had been, did not seem to have done any harm to the 
grass, which reappeared fresher and stronger than 
ever, forming a perfect harvest for the horses and 
mules. Then the time for departure came and they 
began to pack, having added considerably to their 
stores of skins and cured meats. 

Brady also had been exceedingly well equipped for 
a long journey, and the temporary abandonment of 
his traps gave them a chance to add further to their 
food supplies. All four of them, in addition to their 
food, carried extra weapons, including revolvers, 
rifles, and a fine double-barrelled shotgun for every 

181 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

one. The two caverns, the one for the men and the 
other for the horses, they left almost as they had 
fitted them up. 

"We may come here ag'in," said the Little Giant. 
"It's true that Felton's men an' the Sioux also may 
come, but I don't think it's ez likely, 'cause the Sioux 
are mostly plains warriors, an' them that ain't are 
goin' down thar anyhow to fight, while the outlaws 
likely are ridin' to the west huntin' fur us." 

"Anyway," said Stephen Brady, in his deep, bass 
voice, "we'll trust to Providence. It's amazing how 
events happen in your favor when you really trust." 

Although eager to be on their way, they felt regret 
at leaving the valley. It had given them a snug home 
and shelter during the storm, and the melting of the 
snow had acted like a gigantic irrigation scheme, mak- 
ing it greener and fresher than before. As they climbed 
the western slope it looked more than ever a gem in its 
mountain setting. Will saw far beneath him the blue 
of lake and the green of grass, and he waved his hand 
in a good-bye, but not a good-bye forever. 

"I expect to sleep there again some day," he said. 

"It's a fine home," said Brady, "but we'll find other 
lakes and other valleys. As I have told you before, 
I have trapped for years through these regions, and 
they contain many such places." 

They pressed forward three more days and three 
more nights toward the left shoulder of the White 
Dome, which now rose before them clear and dazzlingly 
bright against the shining blue of the sky. The air 
was steadily growing colder, owing to their increasing 

182 



THE MOUNTAIN RAM 

elevation, but they had no more storms of rain, sleet 
or snow. They were not above the timber line, and 
the vegetation, although dwarfed, was abundant. 
There was also plenty of game, and in order to save 
their supplies they shot a deer or two. On the third 
day Will through his glasses saw a smoke, much lower 
down on their left, and he and the Little Giant, de- 
scending a considerable distance to discover what it 
meant, were able to discern a deep valley, perhaps ten 
miles long and two miles broad, filled with fine pastures 
and noble forest, and with a large Indian village in 
the centre. Smoke was rising from at least a hundred 
tall tepees, and several hundred horses were grazing on 
the meadows. 

"Tell me what you can about them," said the lad, 
handing the glasses to the Little Giant. 

"I think they're Teton Sioux," said Bent, "an* ez well 
ez I kin make out they're livin' a life o' plenty. I kin 
see game hangin' up everywhar to be cured. Some- 
times, young William, I envy the Indians. When the 
weather's right, an' the village is in a good place an' 
thar's plenty to eat you never see any happier fellers. 
The day's work an' huntin' over, they skylark 'roun' 
like boys havin' fun with all sorts o' little things. You 
wouldn't think they wuz the same men who could 
enjoy roastin' an enemy alive. Then, they ain't 
troubled a bit 'bout the future, either. Termorrer kin 
take care o' itself. I s'pose that's what downs 'em, 
an' gives all the land some day to the white man. 
Though I hev to fight the Indian, I've a lot o' sym- 
pathy with him, too." 

183 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"I feel the same way about it," said Will. "Maybe 
we won't have any more trouble with them." 

The Little Giant shook his head. 

"We may dodge 'em in the mountains, though that 
ain't shore," he said, "but when we go down into the 
plains, ez we've got to do sooner or later, the fur will 
fly. I'm mighty glad we picked up Steve Brady, 'cause 
fur all his solemn ways he's a pow'ful good fightin' 
man. Now, I think we'd better git back up the slope, 
'cause warriors from that village may be huntin' 'long 
here an', however much we may sympathize with the 
Indians we're boun' to lose a hull lot o' that sympathy 
when they come at us, burnin' fur our scalps." 

"Correct," laughed Will, and as fast as they could 
climb they rejoined the others, telling what they had 
seen. Brady showed some apprehension over their 
report. 

"I've noticed that mountain sheep and goats are 
numerous through here, and while Indians live mostly 
on the buffalo, yet they have many daring hunters in 
the mountains, looking for goats and sheep, and maybe 
in the ravines for the smaller bears, the meat of which 
they love." 

"And you think we may be seen by some such 
hunters?" said Will. 

"Perhaps so, and in order to avoid such bad luck I 
suggest that we seek still greater height." 

They agreed upon it, though the Little Giant grum- 
bled at the hard luck that compelled them to scale the 
tops of high mountains, and they began at once a 
perilous ascent, which would not have been possible 

184 



THE MOUNTAIN RAM 

for the horses had they not been trained by long ex- 
perience. They also entered a domain of bad weather, 
being troubled much by rain, heavy winds and occa- 
sional snows, and at night it was so cold that they 
invariably built a fire in some ravine or deep gully. 

Will calculated that they were at least ten thousand 
feet above the sea level, and that the White Dome, 
which was now straight ahead, must be between three 
and four thousand feet higher. They reckoned that 
they could circle the peak on the left at their present 
height, and they made good progress, as there seemed 
to be fewer ravines and canyons close to the dome. 

Nevertheless, as they approached they came to a 
dip much deeper than usual, but it was worth the de- 
scent into it, as they found there in the sheltered spaces 
plenty of grass for the horses, and they were quite will- 
ing to rest also, as every nerve and muscle was racked 
by the mountain climbing. Still holding that time was 
their most abundant possession, the hunter suggested 
that they spend a full day and night in the dip, and all 
the others welcomed the idea. 

Will, being younger than the others, had more phy- 
sical elasticity, and a few hours restored him perfectly. 
Then he decided to take his rifle and go up the dip 
looking for a mountain sheep, and the others being 
quite willing, he was soon making his way through the 
short bushes toward the north. He prided himself 
on having become a good hunter and trailer, and 
even here in the heart of the high mountains he neg- 
lected no precaution. 

The dip extended about two miles into the north 
185 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

and then it began to rise rapidly, ending at last in huge, 
craggy rocks, towering a thousand feet overhead, and 
Will considered himself in great luck when he saw a 
splendid ram standing upon one of these stony pin- 
nacles. 

The sheep, sharply outlined against the rock and the 
clear sky, looked at least double his real size, and Will, 
anxious to procure fresh game, and feeling some of 
the hunter's ambition, resolved to stalk him. The 
animal reminded him of a lookout, and perhaps he was, 
as he stood on his dizzy perch, gazing over the vast 
range of valley, and the White Dome that now seemed 
so near. 

The lad reached the first rocky slope and began 
slowly to creep in a diagonal line that took him up- 
ward and also toward the sheep. It was difficult work 
to keep one's footing and carry one's rifle also, but 
his pride was up and he clung to his task, until his 
muscles began to ache and the perspiration came out 
on his face. He was in fear lest the sheep would 
go away, but the great ram stood there, immovable, 
his head haughtily erect, a monarch of his tribe, and 
Will became thoroughly convinced that he was a 
watchman. 

His repeating rifle carried a long distance, but he 
did not want to make an uncertain shot, and he con- 
tinued his laborious task of climbing which yielded 
such slow results. The sheep took no notice of him, 
still gazing over valley and ranges and at the White 
Dome. If he saw him, the lad was evidently in his 
eyes a speck in a vast world and not worth notice. 

186 



THE MOUNTAIN RAM 

[Will felt a sort of chagrin that he was not considered 
more dangerous, and, patting his rifle, he resolved to 
make the ram realize that a real hunter was after him. 

He crawled painfully and cautiously around a big 
rock and something whirring by his ear rang sharply 
on the stone. He saw to his amazement a long 
feathered arrow dropping away from the target on 
which it had struck in vain, and then roll down the 
side of the mountain. 

He knew, too, that the arrow had passed within a 
few inches of his ear, aimed with deadly purpose, and 
for a moment or two his blood was cold within his 
veins. Instantly he turned aside and flattened him- 
self against a stony upthrust. As he did so he heard 
the ring on the rock again and a second feathered 
arrow tumbled into the void. 

His first emotion was thankfulness. He lay in a 
shallow hollow now and it was not easy for any arrow 
to reach him there. He was unharmed as yet, and he 
had the great repeating rifle which should be a com- 
petent answer to arrows. Some loose stones were 
lying in the hollow, and he cautiously built them into 
a low parapet, which increased his protection. Then, 
peeping over the stones, he tried to discover the loca- 
tion of his enemy or enemies, if they should be plural, 
but he saw only the valley below with its touch of 
sheltered green, the vast rocky sides about it, and 
over all the towering summit of the White Dome. 
There was nothing, save the flight of the feathered ar- 
rows, to indicate that a human being was near. Far 
out on the jutting crag the mountain sheep still stood, 

187 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

a magnificent ram, showing no consciousness of dan- 
ger or, if conscious of it, defying it. Will suddenly 
lost all desire to take his life, due, perhaps, to his own 
resentment at the effort of somebody to take his own. 

He believed that the arrows had come from above, 
but whether from a point directly overhead or to the 
right or to the left he had no way of telling. It was 
a hidden foe that he had to combat, and this ignorance 
was the worst feature of his position. He did not 
know which way to turn, he did not know which road 
led to escape, but must lie in his narrow groove until 
the enemy attacked. 

He had learned from his comrades, experienced in 
the wilderness and in Indian warfare, that perhaps 
the greatest of all qualities in such surroundings was 
patience, and if it had not been for such knowledge 
he might have risked a third arrow long ago, but, 
as it was, he kept perfectly still, flattening himself 
against the cliff, sheltered by the edge of the natural 
bowl and the little terrace of stones he had built. He 
might have fired his rifle to attract the attention of his 
comrades, but he judged that they were at the camp 
and would not hear his shot. He would fight it out 
himself, especially as he believed that he was menaced 
by but a single Indian, a warrior who perhaps had been 
stalking the mountain sheep also, when he had beheld 
the creeping lad. 

Great as was the strength of the youth's will and 
patience, he began to twist his body a little in the 
stony bowl and seek here and there for a sight of his 
besieger. He could make out stony outcrops and 

188 



THE MOUNTAIN RAM 

projections above him, every one of which might shel- 
ter a warrior, and he was about to give up the quest 
when a third arrow whistled, struck upon the ledge 
that he had built and, instead of falling into the 
chasm, rebounded into the bowl wherein he lay. 

The barb had been broken by the rock against which 
it struck so hard, though the shaft, long, polished and 
feathered, showed that it had been made by an artist 
But he did not know enough about arrows to tell 
whether it was that of a Sioux or of a warrior belong- 
ing to some other tribe. Looking at it a little while, 
he threw it into the chasm, and settled back to more 
waiting. 

The day was now well advanced and a brilliant sun 
in the slope of the heavens began to pour fiery shafts 
upon the side of the cliff. Will had usually found it 
cold at such a height, but now the beams struck directly 
upon him and his face was soon covered with perspira- 
tion. He was assailed also by a fierce, burning thirst, 
and a great anger lay hold of him. It was a terrible 
joke that he should be held there in the hole of the 
cliff by an invisible warrior who used only arrows 
against him, perhaps because he feared a shot from a 
rifle would bring the white lad's comrades. 

If the Indian would not use a rifle because of the 
report, then the case was the reverse with Will. He 
had thought that the men were too far away to hear, 
but perhaps the warrior was right, and raising the 
repeating rifle he sent a bullet into the void. The 
sharp report came back in many echoes, but he heard 
no reply from the valley. A second shot, and still 

189 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

no answer. It was evident that the three were too 
distant to hear, and, for the present, he thought it 
wise to waste no more bullets. 

The power of the sun increased, seeming to con- 
centrate its rays in the little hollow in which Will 
lay. His face was scorched and his burning thirst 
was almost intolerable. Yet he reflected that the heat 
must be at the zenith. Soon the sun would decline, and 
then would come night, under the cover of which he 
might escape. 

He heard a heavy, rolling sound and a great rock 
crashed into the valley below. Will shuddered and 
crowded himself back for every inch of shelter he 
could obtain. A second rock rolled down, but did 
not come so near, then a third bounded directly over 
his head, followed quickly by another in almost the 
same place. 

It was a hideous bombardment, but he realized that 
so long as he kept close in his little den he was safe. 
It also told him that his opponent was directly above 
him, and when the volleys of rocks ceased he might get 
a shot. 

The missiles poured down for several minutes and 
then ceased abruptly. Evidently the warrior had real- 
ized the futility of his avalanche and must now be 
seeking some other mode of attack. It caused Will 
chagrin that he had not seen him once during all the 
long attack, but he noticed with relief that the sun 
would soon set beyond the great White Dome. The 
snow on the Dome itself was tinged now with fire, but 
it looked cool even at the distance, and assuaged a 

190 




The body of a warrior shot downward, striking on the 

ledges. 



THE MOUNTAIN RAM 

little his heat and thirst. He knew that bye and bye 
the long shadows would fall, and then the grateful 
cold of the night would come. 

He moved a little, flexed his muscles, grown stiff 
by his cramped position, and as he did so he caught a 
glimpse of a figure on the south face of the wall. 
But it was so fleeting he was not sure. If he had only 
brought his glasses with him he might have decided, 
but he was without them, and he concluded finally 
that it was merely an optical illusion. He and the 
Indian had the mountain walls to themselves, and 
the warrior could not have moved around to that point. 

In spite of his decision his eyes at length wandered 
again to that side of the wall, and a second time he 
thought he caught a glimpse of a human figure creep- 
ing among the rocks, but much nearer now. Then 
he realized that it was no illusion. He had, in very 
truth, seen a man, and as he still looked a rifle was 
thrust over a ledge, a puff of fire leaping from its 
muzzle. From a point above him came a cry that he 
knew to be a death yell, and the body of a warrior 
shot downward, striking on the ledges until it bounded 
clear of them and crashed into the valley below. 

Then the figure of the man who had fired the shot 
stepped upon a rocky shelf, held aloft the weapon with 
he had dealt sudden and terrible death, and cried in 
a tremendous voice : 

"Come forth, young William! Your besieger will 
besiege no more! Ef I do say it myself, I've never 
made a better shot." 

It was the Little Giant. Never had the sight of him 
191 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

been more welcome, and raising himself stiffly to his 
feet and moving his own rifle about his head, Will 
shouted in reply: 

"It was not only your greatest shot, but the greatest 
shot ever made by anybody." 

"Stay whar you are," cried Bent. "You're too stiff 
an* sore to risk climbin' jest yet. I'll be with you 



soon." 



But it was almost dark before the Little Giant crept 
around the face of the cliff and reached the hollow in 
which the lad lay. Then he told him that he had 
seen some of the rocks falling and as he was carrying 
Will's glasses he was able to pick out the warrior at 
the top of the cliff. The successful shot followed and 
the siege was over. 

Night had now come and it was an extremely deli- 
cate task to find their way back to the valley, but they 
made the trip at last without mishap. Once again on 
level ground Will was forced to sit down and rest 
until a sudden faintness passed. The Little Giant 
regarded him with sympathy. 

"You had a pretty tough time, young William, 
thar's no denyin' that," he said. "It's hard to be 
cooped up in a hole in a mountainside, with an enemy 
shootin' at you an' sendin' avalanches down on you, 
an* you never seein' him a-tall." 

"I never saw him once until he plunged from the 
cliff with your bullet through him." 

"Wa'al, it's all over now, an' we'll go back to the 
camp. The boys had been worryin' 'bout you some, 
and I concluded I'd come out an' look fur you, an' ef 

192 



THE MOUNTAIN RAM 

it hadn't been fur my concludin' so I guess you'd been 
settin' thar in that holler a month from now, an' the 
Indian would hev been settin' in a holler above you. 
At least I hev saved you from a long waitin' spell." 

"You have," said Will with heartfelt emphasis, "and 
again I thank you." 

"Come on, then. I kin see the fire shinin' through 
the trees an* Jim an' Steve cookin' our supper." 

Will hurried along, but his knees grew weak again 
and objects swam before his eyes. He had not yet 
recovered his strength fully after passing through 
the tremendous test of mental and physical endurance, 
when he lay so long in that little hollow in the side of 
the mountain. The Little Giant was about to thrust 
out a hand and help sustain him, but he did not do 
so, remembering that it would hurt the lad's pride. 
The gold hunter, uneducated, spending his life in the 
wilds, had nevertheless a delicacy of feeling worthy 
of the finest flower of civilization. 

Will was near to the fire now and the pleasant aroma 
of broiling venison came to him. Boyd and Brady 
were moving about the flames, engaged in pleasant 
homely tasks, and all his strength returned. Once more 
his head was steady and his muscles strong. 

"I made a long stay," he called cheerfully to them, 
"too long, I fear, nor do I bring a mountain sheep 
back with me." 

The sharp eyes of the hunter and the trapper saw 
at once in his pallid face and exaggerated manner that 
something unusual had happened, but they pretended 
to take no notice. 

193 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"Did you see any sheep?" asked Boyd. 

"Yes," replied the lad, "I had a splendid view of a 
grand ram, standing high on a jutting stone over the 
great valley." 

"What became of him?" 

"I don't know. I became so busy with something 
else that I forgot all about him, and he must have 
gone away in the twilight. An Indian in a niche 
above me began firing arrows at me, and I had to stick 
close in a little hollow in the stone so he couldn't reach 
me. If the Little Giant hadn't come along, and made 
another of his wonderful shots I suppose I'd be stay- 
ing there for a week to come." 

"Tom can shoot a little," said Boyd, divining the 
whole story from the lad's few sentences, "and he 
also has a way of shooting at the right time. Now, 
you sit down here, Will, and eat these steaks I'm 
broiling, and I'll give you a cup of coffee, too, just one 
cup though, because we're sparing our coffee as much 



as we can now." 



Will ate and drank with a great appetite, and then 
he told more fully of his adventure with the foe 
whom he had never seen until the Little Giant's bullet 
sent him spinning into the void. 

"He'd have got you," said Brady thoughtfully, "if 
Tom hadn't come along." 

"You know we wuz worried 'bout him stayin' so 
long," said the Little Giant, "an' so I went out to look 
fur him. It wuz lucky that I took his glasses along, or 
I might never hev seen him or the Sioux. I don't want 
to brag, but that wuz one o' my happy thoughts." 

194. 



THE MOUNTAIN RAM 

"You had nothing to do with taking the glasses, 
Tom Bent," said Brady seriously. 

"Why, it wuz my own idee!" 

"Not at all. The idea was in your head but it was 
not put there by your own mind. It was put there 
by the Infinite, and it was put there because Will's 
time had not yet come. You were merely an instru- 
ment, Tom Bent." 

"Mebbe I wuz. I'm not takin' any credit to myself 
fur deep thinkin' an' I 'low you know more 'bout these 
things than I do, Steve Brady, since you've had your 
mind on 'em so much an' so long. An' ef I wuz used 
ez an instrument to save Will, I'm proud that it wuz 



so." 



Will, who was lying on the turf propped up by his 
elbow before the fire, looked up at the skies, which 
were now a clear silver, in which countless stars ap- 
peared to hang, lower and larger than he had ever 
seen them before. It was a beautiful sky, and whether 
it was merely fate or chance that had sent the Little 
Giant to his aid he felt with the poet that God was 
in his heaven, and, for the time at least, all was right 
with his world. 

"You got a good sight of the Indian, did you, Tom ?" 
asked Boyd. 

"I saw him plain through the glasses. He wuz a 
Sioux. I couldn't make no mistake. Like ez not he 
wuz a hunter from the village we saw on the slope 
below, an' whar one hunter is another may not be fur 
away." 

"Thinking as you do," said Boyd, "and thinking 
195 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

as I do the same way you do, I think we'd better put 
out our fire and shift to another part of the val- 
ley." 

"That's a lot of 'thinks/ " said Brady, "but it seems 
to me that you're both right, and I've no doubt such 
thoughts are put into our minds to save our lives. 
Perhaps it would be best for us to start up the slopes 
at once, but if our time is coming tonight it will come 
and no flight of ours will alter it." 

Nevertheless they took the precaution to stamp out 
the last coal, and then moved silently with the animals 
to another part of the dip. While they were tethering 
their horses and mules there in a little glade all the 
animals began to tremble violently and it required 
Will's utmost efforts to soothe them. The acute ears 
of Brady detected a low growling on their right, not 
far from the base of the cliff. 

"Come, Tom," he said to the Little Giant. "You 
and I will see what it is, and be sure you're ready with 
that rifle of yours. You ought to shoot beautifully in 
this clear moonlight." 

They disappeared among the bushes, but returned 
in a few minutes, although the growling had become 
louder and was continuous. Both men had lost a 
little of their ruddiness. 

"What was it?" asked Will. 

"It wuz your friend, the Sioux warrior who held 
you in the cliff so long," replied the Little Giant, shud- 
dering. "Half a dozen big mountain wolves are quar- 
relin' 'bout the right place to bury him in. But, any- 
way, he's bein' buried, an* mighty fast too." 

196 



THE MOUNTAIN RAM 

Will shuddered also, and over and over again. In 
fact, his nervous system had been so shaken that it 
would not recover its full force for a day, and the 
others, trained to see all things, noticed it. 

"You soothe them animals ag'in, young William," 
said the Little Giant, "an' we'll spread the blankets 
fur our beds here in the bushes." 

Bent again showed supreme judgment, as in quiet- 
ing the fears of the horses and mules for the second 
time Will found that renewed strength flowed back into 
his own nervous system, and when he returned to the 
fireless camp his hand and voice were once more quite 
steady. 

"There is your bed, William," said Brady. "You 
lie on one blanket, put the other over you, and also one 
of the bearskins. It's likely to be a dry and cold 
night, but anyway, whether it rains or snows, it will 
rain or snow on the just and the unjust, and blankets 
and bearskin should keep you dry. That growling 
in the bushes, too, has ceased, and our friend, the 
Sioux, who sought your life, has found a dreadful 
grave." 

Will shuddered once more, but when he crept be- 
tween the blankets his nerves were soothed rapidly 
and he soon fell asleep. 

The three men kept watch and watch through the 
night, and they saw no Indian foe. Once Boyd heard 
a rustling in the bushes, and he made out the figure of 
a huge mountain wolf that stood staring at them for a 
moment. The horses and mules began to stir uneasily, 
and, picking up a stone, the hunter threw it with such 

197 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

good aim that the wolf, struck smartly on the body, 
ran away. 

The animals relapsed into quiet, and nothing more 
stirred in the bushes, until the leaves began to move 
under the light breeze that came at dawn. 



CHAPTER IX 

THE BUFFALO MARCH 

DRAWN by an impulse that he tried to check but 
could not, Will went in the morning to the 
point in the bushes whence the growling had 
come the night before, finding there nothing but the 
bones of the Sioux, from which every trace of flesh 
had been removed. He shuddered once more. He, in- 
stead of the warrior, might have been the victim. His 
eyes, trained now to look upon the earth as a book 
and to read what might be printed there, saw clearly 
the tracks of the wolves among the grass and leaves. 
After finishing what they had come to do they had 
gone away some distance and had gathered together 
in a close group, as if they had meditated an attack, 
possibly upon the horses and mules. 

Will knew how great and fierce the mountain wolves 
of the north were, and he was glad to note that, after 
their council, they had gone on and perhaps had left 
the valley. At least, he was able to follow their tracks 
as far as the lower rocks, where they disappeared. 
When he returned to the little camp he told what he 
had seen. 

"We're in no danger of a surprise from the big 
199 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

wolves," said Brady. "They'd have killed and eaten 
some of the horses and mules if we hadn't been here, 
but wolves are smart, real smart. Like as not they saw 
Thomas shoot the Sioux, and they knew that the long 
stick he carried, from which fire spouted, slaying the 
warrior, was like the long sticks all of us carry, and 
that to attack us here was death for them. Oh, I 
know I'm guessing a lot, but I've observed 'em a long 
time and I'm convinced wolves can reason that far." 

"All animals are smarter than we think they are," 
said the Little Giant. "I've lived among 'em a heap, 
an' know a lot o' their ways. Only they've a difFrent 
set o' intellectooals from ours. What we're smart in 
they ain't, an' what they're smart in we ain't. Now, ef 
I had joined to what I am myself the strength o' a 
grizzly bear, the cunnin' o' a wolf an' the fleetness o' 
an antelope I reckon I'd be 'bout the best man that 
ever trod 'roun' on this planet." 

"I've one thing to suggest before we start," said 
Will, "and I think it's important." 

"What is it?" asked Boyd. 

"That we make copies of the map. We may become 
separated for long periods everything indicates that 
we will I might fall into the hands of Felton, who 
seems to have a hint about the mine, and, if I saw such 
a thing about to occur, I would destroy the map, and 
then you would have the copies. Each of you faced 
by a similar misfortune could make away with his 
copy, and if the worst came to the worst I could re- 
draw it from memory." 

"Good idee! Good idee!" exclaimed the Little 
200 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

Giant with enthusiasm. "I've been tellin' Jim an* 
Steve that though they mightn't think it, you had the 
beginnin's o' intelleck in that head o' yours." 

"Thank you," said Will, and they all laughed. 

"It's a good thought," said Boyd, "and we'd better 
do it at once." 

Will carried in his pack some pens and a small bottle 
of indelible ink, and with these they drew with the 
greatest care three more maps on fine deerskin, small 
but very clear, and then every man stored one in a 
secure place about his person. 

"Now, remember," said Boyd, "if any one of us is 
in danger of capture he must get rid of his map." 

Then, their breakfast over, they began the ascent of 
the slope, leading toward the White Dome, finding it 
easier than they had thought. As always, difficulties 
decreased when they faced them boldly, and even the 
animals, refreshed by their stay in the valley, showed 
renewed vigor, climbing like goats. The Little Giant 
whistled merrily, mostly battle songs of the late war 
which was still so fresh in the minds of all men. 

"I notice that you whistle songs of both sides," said 
Brady. "Musically, at least, you have no feeling about 
our great Civil War." 

"Nor any other way, either," rejoined the Little 
Giant. "I may hev hed my feelin's once, though I 
ain't sayin' now what they wuz, but fur me the war is 
all over, done fit clean out. They say six or seven 
hundred thousand men wuz lost in it, an* now that 
it's over it's got to stop right than I'm lookin' to the 
future, I am, to the quarter of a million in gold that's 

201 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

comin' to me, an* the gorgeous ways in which I'm 
goin' to spend it. Young William, see that big moun- 
tain ram standin' out on the side o' the peak over thar. 
I believe he's the same feller that you tried to stalk 
yesterday, an* that he's laughin' at you. He's a good 
mile away, but I kin see the twinkle in his eye, an' ez 
shore ez I stan' here he lifted his left foot to his nose 
an' twisted it 'bout in a gesture which among us boys 
allers meant fight. Do you stan' his dare, young Wil- 
liam, or are you goin' to climb over thar whar he is 
an' hev it out with him?" 

"I'll let him alone," laughed William, looking at the 
splendid ram, outlined so sharply in the clear moun- 
tain light. "I meant to do him harm, but I'm glad I 
didn't. Maybe that Indian was engaged in the same 
task, when he saw me and changed his hunting." 

Then he shuddered once more at the growling he 
had heard and what he had seen in the bushes the next 
morning, but his feeling of horror did not last long, 
because they were now climbing well upon the shoulder 
of the White Dome and the spectacle, magnificent and 
inspiring, claimed all their attention. 

The last bushes and dwarfed vegetation disappeared. 
Before them rose terrace on terrace, slope on slope of 
rock, golden or red in the sun, and beyond them the 
great snow fields and the glaciers. Over it all towered 
the White Dome, round and pure, the finest mountain 
Will had ever seen. He never again saw anything that 
made a more deep and solemn impression upon him. 
Far above all the strife and trouble of the world swam 
the white peak. 

202 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

Meanwhile the Little Giant continued to whistle 
merrily. He was not awed, and he was not solemn. 
Prone to see the best in everything, he enjoyed the 
magnificent panorama outspread before them, and 
also drew from it arguments most favorable for their 
quest. 

"We're absolutely safe from the warriors," he said. 
"We're above the timber line, and they'd never come 
up here huntin'. An Indian doesn't do anythin' more 
than he has to. He ain't goin' to wear hisself out 
climbin' to the top o' a mounting ten miles high in 
order to hev a look at the scenery. We won't be 
troubled by no warriors 'til we go down the shoulder 
o' your White Dome on the other side." 

He resumed his clear, musical whistling, pouring out 
in a most wonderful manner the strains of "Dixie," 
changing impartially to "Yankee Doodle," shifting 1 
back to "The Bonnie Blue Flag," and then, with the 
same lack of prejudice, careering into "Marching 
Through Georgia." 

The horses and mules that they were now leading 
felt the uplifting influence, raised their heads and 
marched forward more sturdily. 

"What makes you so happy?" asked Will. 

"The kindness o' natur' what gave me that kind 
o' a disposition," replied the Little Giant, "an' added 
to it the feelin' that all the time I'm drawin' closer 
to my gold. What did you say my share would be, 
young William, a matter o' a million or a half million ?" 

"A quarter of a million." 

"Seems to me it wuz a half million, but somehow 
203 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

it grows ez we go 'long. When you git rich, even 
in the mind, you keep on gittin' richer." 

Then he began to whistle a gallant battle stave with 
extraordinary richness and variety of tone, and when 
he had finished Will asked : 

"What was that song, Tom? It's a new one to 
me." 

"It's new to most people," replied the Little Giant, 
"but it's old jest the same. It wuz writ 'way back 
in the last war with England, an* I'll quote you the 
first two verses, words an' grammar both correct: 

"Britannia's gallant streamers 
Float proudly o'er the tide, 
And fairly wave Columbia's stripes 
In battle side by side, 
And ne'er did bolder seamen meet 
Where ocean surges pour 
O'er the tide now they ride 
While the bell'wing thunders roar 
While the cannon's fire is flashing fast 
And the bell'wing thunders roar. 

"When Yankee meets the Briton 
Whose blood congenial flows, 
By Heaven created to be friends 
By fortune reckoned foes: 
Hard then must be the battle fray 
E'er well the fight is o'er, 
Now they ride, side by side, 
While the bell'wing thunders roar, 
While the cannon's fire is flashing fast 
And the bell'wing thunders roar. 

204. 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

"That's a lot more verses, young William, an* it's 
all 'bout them great naval duels o' the war o' 1812, 
an* you'll notice that whoever writ 'em had no ill 
feelin' in his natur*, an* give heaps o' credit to the 
British. It does seem that we an' the British ought 
to be friends, bein' so close kin, actin' so much alike, 
an' havin* institutions just the same, 'cept that whar 
they hev a king we hev a president. Yet here we are 
quarrelin' with 'em a lot, though not more than they 
quarrel with us." 

"The trouble lies in the fact that we speak the same 
language," said Will. "Every word of abuse spoken 
by one is understood by the other. Now, if the 
French or the Spanish or the Russians denounce us we 
never hear anything about it, don't know even that it's 
been done." 

"That's good ez fur ez it goes," said the Little Giant. 
"I've seen a lot o' English that don't speak any Eng- 
lish, a-tall, fellers that come out o' the minin' regions 
in England an' some from London, too, that talked a 
lingo soundin' ez much like English ez Sioux does, 
but it doesn't alter the fact that them an' us ought to 
be friends. An' I reckon we will be now, 'cause 
I hear they're claimin' that our Washington wuz an 
Englishman, the same immortal George that they would 
hev hung in the Revolution along with his little hatchet, 
too, ef they could hev caught him." 

Will laughed with relish. 

"In a way Washington was an Englishman," he 
said. "That is, he was of pure English stock, trans- 
planted to another land. The Athenians were Greeks, 

205 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

the most famous of the Greeks, but they were not the 
oldest of the Greeks by any means. They were a 
colony from Asia Minor, just as we were a colony 
from England." 

"I don't know much 'bout the Greeks, young Wil- 
liam, my lad, but ef the English kin lay claim to 
Washington ez one o' their sons, 'cause he wuz of pure 
English blood, then me an* most o' the Americans kin 
lay jest ez good a claim to Shakespeare 'cause, we 
bein' o' pure British blood, he wuz one o' our an- 
cestors." 

"Your claim is perfectly good, Giant. By and 
by, both Washington and Shakespeare will belong 
to the whole English-speaking world." 

"Its proudest ornyments, so to speak. Now, that 
bein' settled, I'd like to go back to a p'int that troubles 
me." 

"If I can help call on me." 

"It's 'bout that song I wuz jest singin'. At the last 
line o' each verse it says : 'An* the bell' wing thunders 
roar/ I've thought it over a heap o' times, but I've 
never rightly made out what a bell'wing thunder is. 
Thar ain't nothin' 'bout thunder that reminds me o' 
bells. Now what is it, young William?" 

Will began to laugh. 

"What do you find so funny?" asked the Little 
Giant suspiciously. 

"Nothing at all! Nothing at all!" replied Will 
hastily. " 'Bell' wing' is bellowing. The writer meant 
the bellowing thunders, and it's cut off to bell'wing 
for the sake of rhyme and metre, a poetical liberty, 

206 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

so to speak. You see, poets have liberties denied to 
other people." 

"Wa'al, I reckon they need a few. All that I ever 
seed did. But I'm mighty glad the p'int hez been 
settled. It's been botherin' me fur years. Thank 
you, young William." 

"I think now," said Boyd, "that we'd better be 
looking for a camp." 

"Among all these canyons and valleys," said Will, 
"it shouldn't be hard to find a suitable place." 

Canyons were too abundant for easy traveling, and 
finding a fairly level though narrow place in one of the 
deepest, they pitched camp there, building a fire with 
wood which they had added to their packs for this 
purpose, and feeding to the animals grass which they 
had cut on the lowef slopes. With the warm food 
and the fire it was not so bad, although the wind 
began to whistle fiercely far above their heads. The 
animals hovered near the fire for warmth, looking 
to the human beings who guided them for protec- 
tion. 

"I think we shall pass the highest point of our jour- 
ney tomorrow," said Brady, "and then for the de- 
scent along the shoulder of the White Dome. Truly 
the stars have fought for us and I cannot believe that, 
after having escaped so many perils, we will succumb 
to others to come." 

"O' course we won't," said the Little Giant cheer- 
fully, "an* all the dangers we've passed through will 
make our gold all the more to us. Things ain't much 
to you 'less you earn 'em. When I git my million, 

207 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

which is to be my share o' that mine, I'll feel like I 
earned it." 

"A quarter of a million, Tom," laughed Will. 
"You're getting avaricious as we go on. You raised 
it to a half million and now you make it a million." 

"It does look ez ef my fancy grew more heated 
the nearer we come to the gold. I do hev big ex- 
pectations fur a feller that never found a speck of it. 
How that wind does howl! Do you think, young 
William, that a glacier is comin' right squar' down 
on us?" 

"No, Tom. Glaciers, like tortoises, move slowly. 
We'll have time to get out of the way of any glacier. 
It's easy to outrun the fastest one on the globe." 

"I've heard tell that the earth was mostly covered 
with 'em once. Is that so?" 

"They say there was an Ice Age fifty thousand or so 
years ago, when everything that lived had to huddle 
along the equator. I don't vouch for it. I'm merely 
telling what the scholars tell." 

"I'll take your word for it, young William, an* all 
the same I'm glad I didn't live then. Think o' bein* 
froze to death all your life. Ez it is I'm ez cold ez 
I keer to be, layin' here right now in this canyon." 

"If we were not hunting for gold," said Brady, 
"I'd try to climb to the top of this mountain. I take 
it to be close on to fourteen thousand feet in height 
and I often feel the ambition of the explorer. Per- 
haps that's why I've been willing to search so long and 
in vain for the great beaver horde. I find so many 
interesting things by the way, lakes, rivers, mountains, 

208 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

valleys, game, hot springs, noble forests and many 
other things that help to make up a splendid world. 
It's worth while for a man like me, without any ties, 
just to wander up and down the face of the earth." 

"Do you know anything about the country beyond 
the White Dome?" asked Will. 

"Very little, except that it slopes down rapidly to a 
much lower range of mountains, mostly forested, then 
to hills, forested also, and after that we have the great 
plains again." 

"Now you've talked enough, young William," said 
the Little Giant. "It's time for you to sleep, but ez 
this is goin* to be a mighty cold night up here, fifteen or 
twenty miles 'bove the clouds, I reckon we'd better 
git blankets, an' wrap up the hosses an' mules too." 

Having enough to go around they tied one blanket 
around the body of every animal, and Will was the 
most proficient in the task. 

"It's 'cause they help him an* they don't help us," 
said the Little Giant. "Seein' that you've got such 
a touch with animals we're goin' to use you the next 
time we meet a grizzly bear. 'Stead o' wastin' bullets 
on him an' runnin' the chance o' some o' us gittin' hurt, 
we'll jest send you forrard to talk to him an 'say, 
'Ephraim! Old Eph, kindly move out o' the path. 
You're obstructin' some good men an' scarin' some 
good hosses an' mules.' Then he'll go right away." 

Despite their jesting they pitched the camp for that 
critical night with the greatest care, making sure that 
they had the most sheltered place in th canyon, and 
ranging the horses and mules almost by the side of 

209 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

them. More clothing was brought from the packs 
and every man was wrapped up like a mummy, the fur 
coats they had made for themselves proving the best 
protection. Although the manifold wrappings kept 
.Will's blood warm in his veins, the night itself and 
their situation created upon his mind the effect of 
intense cold. 

The wind rose all the time, as if it were determined 
to blow away the side of the mountain, and it howled 
and shrieked over their heads in all the keys of terror. 
None of them could sleep for a long time. 

"It's real skeery," said the Little Giant. "Mebbe 
nobody hez ever been up here so high before, an' this 
old giant of a mountain don't like our settin' here on 
his neck. I've seen a lot o' the big peaks in the 
Rockies, w'arin' thar white hats o' snow, an' they 
allers 'pear to me to be alive, lookin' down so solemn 
an' sometimes so threatenin*. Hark to that, will you ! 
I know it wuz jest the screamin' o' the wind, but it 
sounded to me like the howlin' o' a thousand demons. 
Are you shore, young William, that thar ain't imps 
an' critters o' that kind on the tops o' high mountings, 
waitin' fur innocent fellers like us ?" 

Will slept at last, but the mind that can remain 
troubled and uneasy through sleep awoke him several 
times in the course of the night, and always he heard 
the fierce, threatening blasts shrieking and howling 
over the mountain. His eyes yet heavy with sleep, it 
seemed to him in spite of himself that there must be 
something in the Little Giant's suggestion that imps 
and demons on the great peaks resented their 

210 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

presence. He knew that it could not be true, but he 
felt as if it were, and once he rose all swathed in 
many garments and stroked the noses of the horses 
and mules, which were moving uneasily and showing 
other signs of alarm. 

Dawn came, clear, with the wind not so high, but 
icily cold. They fed the last of the little store of 
hay to the animals, ate cold food themselves, and then 
crept out of the canyon, leading their horses and mules 
with the most extreme care, a care that nevertheless 
would have been in vain had not all the beasts been 
trained to mountain climbing. It was a most perilous 
day, but the next night found them so far down on the 
western slope of the White Dome that they had reached 
the timber line again. 

The trees were dwarfed and scraggly, but they were 
trees just the same, affording shelter from wind and 
cold, and fuel for a fire, which the travelers built, pro- 
viding themselves once more with warm food and 
coffee as sizzling hot as they could stand it. The ani- 
mals found a little solace for their hunger by chewing 
on the tender est parts of the bushes. 

After the meal they built the fire higher, deciding 
that they would watch by turns and keep it going 
through the night. As the wind was not so threat- 
ening and the glow of the coals was cheerful they 
slept well, in their turns, and all felt fresh and vigor- 
ous when they renewed the journey the next morning. 
They descended rapidly now among the lower ranges 
of the mountains and came into heavy forests and 
grassy openings where the animals ate their fill. Game 

211 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

also was abundant, and they treated themselves to 
fresh deer meat, the product this time of Brady's 
rifle. They were all enveloped by a great sense of 
luxury and rest, and still having the feeling that time 
was their most abundant commodity, they lingered 
among the hills and in the timber, where there were 
clear, cold lakelets and brooks and creeks that later 
lost themselves on the plains. 

It gave Will a great mental stimulus after so many 
dangers and such tremendous hardships, the survival 
of which without a wound seemed incredible. He 
looked back at the vast peak of the White Dome, sol- 
emn and majestic, piercing the sky, and it seemed to 
him at times that it had been a living thing and that 
it had watched over them in their gigantic flight. 

Despite the increased danger there from Indian 
raids they lingered longer than they had intended 
among the pleasant hills. The animals, which had 
been much worn in the passage of the great moun- 
tains, and two that became lame in the descent recov- 
ered entirely. The Little Giant and the hunter 
scouted in wide circles, and, seeing no sign of Indian 
bands, most of their apprehension on that score dis- 
appeared, leaving to them a certain sense of luxury 
as they delayed among the trees, and in the pleasant 
hills. Will caught some fine trout in one of the larger 
brooks, and Brady cooked them with extraordinary- 
culinary skill. The lad had never tasted anything 
finer. 

"Come here, young William," said the Little Giant, 
"an' stand up by the side o' me. No, you haven't 

212 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

grown a foot in height, since I met you, so many days 
since, but you've grown jest the same. Your chest 
is bigger, too, an* you eat twice ez much ez you did. 
I hope that what's inside your head hez done growed 
too." 

"Thomas Bent," said Brady, "y u should not talk 
in such a manner about what's inside his head to the 
one who is the real leader of this expedition, as the 
mine is his. He might be insulted, cast you off, and 
let you go eat corn husks with the prodigal son." 

"No, he won't," replied the Little Giant, confidently. 
"Will, hevin' done tuk me in ez pardner, would never 
want to put me out ag'in, nor thar ain't no corn husks 
nor no prodigal son. Besides, he likes fur me to 
compliment him on his growth. You're older than 
I am, Steve Brady, but I want to tell you that the man 
or woman wuz never born who didn't like a little well- 
placed flattery now an' then, though what I've been 
sayin' to young William ain't flattery." 

"In that matter I'm agreeing with you, Thomas 
Bent. You're dipping from a well of truth, when 
you're saying all men are accessible to flattery and 
all women too, though perhaps more so." 

"Mebbe women are more so an' mebbe men are 
more so. I reckon it depends on whether a man or 
woman is tellin' it." 

"Which is as near as we'll ever come to a decision," 
said Brady, "but of one thing I'm sure." 

"What's that, Steve?" 

"We've dallied long enough with the flesh pots of 
Egypt. If William will take his glasses he can see 

918 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

the land of Canaan outspread far below us. It is 
there that we must go." 

"An' that thar land o' Canaan/' said the Little 
Giant, "is rid over by Sioux warriors, ready to shoot 
us with rifles or stick us through with lances. I'd 
hate to die hangin' on a Sioux lance. Sech a death 
makes me shiver. Ef I've got to die a violent death, 
give me a good, honest bullet ev'ry time. You hevn't 
seen the Sioux at work with lances, hev you, young 
.William?" 

"No, Tom." 

"Well, I hev. They fight with 'em, o' course, an' 
they hev a whole code o' signals with 'em, too. In 
battle everybody must obey the head chief, who gives 
the orders to the sub-chiefs, who then direct their 
men accordin'. Often thar ain't a chance to tell by 
words an' then they use the lances fur signallin*. In 
a Sioux army, an', fur the matter o' that, in any In- 
dian army, the hoss Indians is divided into two col- 
umns, the right an' the left. When the battle comes 
on, the head war chief rides to the top o' a ridge or 
hill, gen'ally 'bout half a mile 'way from the scrap. 
The columns on the right an' the left are led by the 
under chiefs. 

"Then the big chief begins to tell 'em things with 
his lance. He ain't goin' to fight with that lance, 
an' fur other purposes he hez fastened on it near 
the blade a big piece o' dressed skin a yard squar' an* 
painted black. Now he stretches the lance straight 
out in front o' him an* waves it, which means fur botK 
columns to attack all at once an' right away, lickety- 

214 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

split. Ef he stretches the lance out to his right and 
waves it forward it means fur the right column alone 
to jump inter the middle o' things, the same move- 
ment on the left apply in' to the left column, an' thar's 
a lot more which I could tell you 'bout lance signallin* 
which I hope you won't hev to see." 

"We will not disguise from ourselves," said Brady, 
in his usual grave tone, "that we must confront 
peril when we descend into the plains, yet descend 
we must, because these mountains and hills won't go 
on with us. It will be a long time before we strike 
another high range. On the plains we've got to think 
of Indians, and then we've got to look out for water, 
too." 

"Our march often makes me think of Xenophon, 
whom I studied in the high school," said Will. 

"What's Xenophon?" asked the Little Giant sus- 
piciously. "I ain't heard o' no sich country." 

"Xenophon is not a country. Xenophon was a man, 
and a good deal of a man. He led a lot of Greeks, 
along with a lot of Persians, to help a Persian over- 
throw his brother and seize the throne of the Persian 
empire. In the battle the Greeks were victorious wher- 
ever they were righting, but the Persian whom they 
were supporting was killed, and having no more busi- 
ness there they concluded to go away." 

"Lost their paymaster, eh?" 

"Well, I suppose you could put it that way. Any- 
way they resolved to go back to their homes in 
Greece, across mountains, rivers and deserts. Xeno- 
phon, who led them, wrote the account of it." 

215 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"Then I'll bet that Xenophon looms up pretty big 
in the tellin' o' it." 

"No, he was a modest man, Tom. But what x re- 
member best about the story, they were always march- 
ing so many parasangs, so many days' journey to a 
well of water. It gets to be a sort of fascination with 
you. You are always wondering how many parasangs 
they'll march before they come to water. And some- 
times you've a kind of horrible fear that there won't be 
any water to come to, and it keeps you keyed up." 

"Same ez ef you wuz in that sort o' condition your- 
self." 

"Something like it." 

"Well, mebbe we will be, an' jest you remember, 
young William, since them Greeks allers come to water, 
else Xenophon who led them never would hev lived 
fur the tellin' o' it, that we'll allers come to water, 
too, even of we do hev to wait a week or two fur it. 
Cur'us how long you kin live after your tongue hez 
baked, your throat hez turned to an oven, an* your 
lips hev curled up with the heat." 

"I imagine, Tom," said Boyd, "we're not going to 
suffer like that." 

"I jest wanted to let young William know the worst 
fust an' he kin fortify himself accordin'." 

"I'm prepared to suffer what the rest of you suf- 
fer," said the lad. 

"The right spirit," said Brady, heartily. "We'll be 
Davids and Jonathans, cleaving the one unto the other, 
and now, as we're about to emerge from the last bit of 
forest I suggest that we fill all our water bottles from 

216 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

this brook among the trees. Thomas has talked so 
feelingly about thirst that I want to provide against 
it. We will not strike here the deserts that are to be 
found in the far south, but we may well have long pe- 
riods without water free from alkali." 

They had many leather water bottles, their packs 
having been prepared with all the skill of experience 
and sound judgment, and they filled all of them at the 
brook, which was pure and cold, flowing down from 
the mountains. At one of the deeper pools which had 
a fine bottom of gravel they bathed thoroughly, and 
afterward let the horses and mules wade into the 
water and take plunges they seemed to enjoy greatly. 

"An' now," said the Little Giant, taking off his hat 
and looking back, "good-bye trees, good-bye hills, good- 
bye, high mountains, good-bye all clear, cold streams 
like this, an* good-bye, you grand White Dome. Say 
them words after me, young William, 'cause when we 
git out on the great plains we're likely to miss these 
friends o* ourn." 

He spoke with evident feeling, and Will, taking off 
his hat, said the words after him, though with more 
regard to grammar. 

"And now, after leading them most of the way," 
said Boyd, "we'll ride on the backs of our horses." 

The four mounted, and, while they regretted the 
woods and the running water they were about to leave 
behind them, they were glad to ride once more, and 
they felt the freedom and exhilaration that would come 
with the swift, easy motion of their horses. The pack 
animals, knowing the hands that fed and protected 

217 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

them, would follow with certainty close behind them, 
and Will, in particular, could lead them as if he had 
been training them for years. 

The vast sweep of the plains into which they now 
emerged showed great natural beauty, that is, to those 
who loved freedom and space, and the winds came 
untarnished a thousand miles. Before them stretched 
the country, not flat, but in swell on swell, tinted a 
delicate green, and with wild flowers growing in the 
tufts of grass. 

"I've roamed over 'em for years," said Brady, "and 
after a while they take a mighty grip on you. It may 
be all the stronger for me, because I'm somewhat soli- 
tary by nature." 

"You're shorely not troubled by neighbors out here," 
said the Little Giant. "I've passed three or four 
months at a time in the mountings without a soul to 
speak to but myself. The great West suits a man, 
who don't want to talk, clean down to the groun'." 

Will, the reins lying upon the pommel of his sad- 
dle, was surveying the horizon with the powerful 
glasses which he was so proud to possess, and far in the 
southeast he noticed a dim blur which did not seem 
to be a natural part of the plain. It grew as he watched 
it, assuming the shape of a cloud that moved westward 
along one side of a triangle, while the four were rid- 
ing along the other side. If they did not veer from 
their course they would meet, in time, and the cloud, 
seemingly of dust, was, therefore, a matter of living 
interest. 

"What are you looking at so long?" asked Boyd. 
218 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

"A cloud of dust that grows and grows and grows." 

"Where?" 

"In the southeast." 

"I can't see it and I have pretty keen eyes." 

"The naked eye won't reach so far, but the dust 
cloud is there just the same. It's moving in a course 
almost parallel with us and it grows every second I 
look at it. It may be the dust kicked up by a band of 
Sioux horsemen. Take a look, Jim, and tell us what 
you make of it." 

Boyd looked through the glasses, at first with ap- 
prehension that soon changed to satisfaction. 

"The cloud of dust is growing fast, just as you 
told us, Will," he said, "and, while it did look for a 
moment or two like Indian horsemen, it isn't. It's a 
buffalo herd, and the tail of it runs off into the south- 
east, clean down under the horizon. Buffaloes move 
in two kinds of herds, the giant herds, and the little 
ones. This is a giant, and no mistake. In a few minutes 
you'll be able to see 'em, plain, with your own eyes." 

"I kin see thar dust cloud now," exclaimed the Lit- 
tle Giant. "Looks ez ef they wuz cuttin' 'cross our 
right o' way." 

They rode forward at ease and gradually a mighty 
cloud of dust, many miles in length and of great width, 
emerged from the plain, moving steadily toward the 
northwest. Will, with his glasses, now saw the my- 
riads of black forms that trampled up the dusty ty- 
phoons, and was even able to discern the fierce wolves 
hanging on the flanks in the hope of pulling down a 
calf or a decrepit old bull. 

219 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"They must number millions," he said. 

"Like ez not they do," said the Little Giant. "You 
kin tell tales 'bout the big herds o' bufflers on the 
plains that nobody will b'lieve, but they're true jest the 
same. Once at the Platte I saw a herd crossin' fur 
five days, an* it stretched up an' down the river ez 
fur ez the eye could see." 

"How do they all live ? Where do they find enough 
grass to eat?" asked Will. 

"I dunno, but bunch grass is pow'ful fillin' an' fat- 
tenin', an' when a country runs fifteen or eighteen hun- 
dred miles each way, thar's a lot o' grass in it. The 
Sioux, the Cheyennes, the Pawnees an' all the plains 
Indians live on the buffler." 

"And in my opinion," said Brady, "the buffalo must 
have been increasing until the white man came with 
firearms. Their increase was greater than the toll taken 
by Indians with bows and arrows and by the wolves. 
No wonder the Indians fight so hard to retain the 
plains and the buffalo. With an unlimited meat sup- 
ply on the hoof, and with limited needs, they undoubt- 
edly lived a happy, nomadic life. If your health is 
good and your wants are few it's not hard to be happy. 
fThe Biblical people were nomadic for a long time, and 
some of the world's greatest men and women moved 
with herds and lived in tents. My mind often reverts 
to those old days and the simplicity of life." 

"I've allers thought thar wuz somethin' o' the old 
Bible 'bout you, Steve," said the Little Giant. "You 
ain't no prophet. Nobody is nowadays, but you talk 
like them fightin' an' prayin' old fellers, an' you wan- 

220 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

der 'roun' the West jest ez they wandered 'bout the 
land o' Canaan, but shore that you will git to your 
journey's end at last. An* I know, too, Steve, that 
when you come to a fight you're jest ez fierce an* ter- 
rible ez old Joshua hisself ever wuz, an' ef I ain't mis- 
took it wuz him that wuz called the sword o' the Lord. 
Ain't I right, young William ?" 

"I'm not sure," replied the lad, "but if you'll read 
the Book of Joshua you'll .find his sword was a great 
and terrible weapon indeed." 

"What do you think we'd better do, Boyd," asked 
Brady. "If we keep going we'll find the herd crossing 
our path, and it will be no use fur us to try to break 
through it." 

"We can move on until we come close up," replied 
the hunter, "and then wait for the herd to go by. 
Maybe we might strike a clump of trees in which we 
could camp. Pick out the country with your glasses, 
Will, and see if you can find any trees on our side of 
the moving buffalo line." 

Will, after much searching, was able to identify 
the tops of some trees standing in a dip where, shel- 
tered from the winds that blew unceasingly, they had 
been able to obtain good size. 

"We'll ride fur 'em," said Boyd. "There may be a 
pool of water in the dip, too." 

"But won't the buffaloes stop and drink it up ?" asked 
Will. 

"No, they're bearing straight ahead, looking neither 
to the right nor to the left, going I've no idea where." 

"Two million hearts that beat as one," said Will. 
221 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

They reached the dip in due time, finding it a shal- 
low depression- of a half acre, well grown with sub- 
stantial cottonwoods and containing, as they had sur- 
mised, a pool of good water, perhaps twenty feet each 
way, and two feet deep. Here the animals drank freely, 
enabling them to save the store they carried for more 
stringent times, and then all rested among the trees, 
while myriads of buffaloes thundered by. 

Hour after hour they marched past, not a single 
one stopping for the water and deep grass they must 
have smelled so near. At times, they were half hid- 
den by the vast cloud of dust in which they moved, and 
which was of their own making, and at other times 
the wind of the plains blew it away, revealing the low- 
ered heads and huge black forms, pressing on with 
some sort of instinct to their unknown destination. 

Will watched them a long time and the tremendous 
sight at last laid a spell upon him. Apparently they 
had no leaders. What power moved them out of a 
vast and unknown region into another region, alike 
vast and unknown ? Leaderless though they were, they 
advanced like the columns of an army and with a sin- 
gle purpose. He climbed into a fork of one of the 
cottonwoods and used his glasses once more. 

First he looked into the northwest, where they were 
going, and he could not now see the head of the shaggy 
army or of the dust column that hung above it, as 
both had passed long since under the horizon. And 
looking into the southeast he could not see, either, the 
end of the coming army or of its dust cloud. 
It emerged continually from under the rim of the hori- 

222 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

zon, and there was such an effect of steadiness and per- 
manency that it seemed to the lad as if that vast col- 
umn, black and wide, would be coming on forever. 

Then he caught a glimpse of something .glinting 
through .the dust and from the other side of the herd 
a full two miles away. Only good eyes and the most 
powerful glasses of the time could have detected it at 
such a moment, but he saw it twice, and then thrice 
and once more. Then, waiting for the dust to lift a 
little, he discerned a brilliant ray of sunlight striking 
on the head af a lance. Looking further and search- 
ingly he was able to note the figures of Indians on 
their ponies > armed with lances, and cutting out from 
the herd as many of its choicest members as they 
wanted, which were always the young and fat cows. 

He descended the tree hastily and related what he 
had seen to the others, who, however, were not stirred 
greatly by the narration. 

"The buffaloes are a river, two miles wide, flowing 
between us and the savage hunters," said Boyd, "and 
not having trees to climb and glasses to look through 
they won't see us." 

"Besides, they're taking meat for their village, 
wherever it may be," said Brady, "and they're not 
dreaming that white men whose heads can furnish nice 
scalps are near." 

Will shivered a little, and clapped one hand to his 
hair, which was uncommonly thick and fine. 

"Your scalp is thar, right an' tight, young William," 
said the Little Giant, "but ef the Sioux got up close 
to you, you'd hev to hold it on with both han's 'stead 

223 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

o' one. Hev any o' you fellers noticed that all of us 
hev pow'ful thick, strong hair that would make splen- 
did scalps fit to hang in the tepees o' the head chiefs 
theirselves? It's remarkyble how fine they are, spe- 
shully on the heads o' old men like Jim an' Steve." 

"Thomas Bent, you irreverent and chunky imp/' 
said Brady, "I, the oldest of this party, am but thirty- 
eight. I have not yet reached the full prime of my 
physical powers, and if I should be put to it I could 
administer to you the thrashing you need." 

"And I'm only thirty-six," said Boyd, "and I've 
licked Tom often and often, though sometimes, when 
he's feeling right peart, I'd have to use both hands to 
do it. But I don't have any feeling against him when 
I do the job. It's just to improve his language and 
manners. These boys of thirty-two or three are so 
pesky full of life and f riskiness that you have to treat 
'em as you would young lions. Before we met you 
in the mountains, Steve, I generally gave him his 
thrashing in the morning before breakfast." 

He reached a large palm for the Little Giant, who 
leaped lightly away and laughed. 

"Lend me your glasses, young William," he said. 
"I'd like to climb one o' the cottonwoods myself an' 
take a look at the Indian hunters. O' course you're 
a bright boy, young William, an' Jim an' Steve are so 
old they're boun' to hev some intelligence forced upon 
'em, but ez fur me brightness an* intelligence come nat- 
eral, an* though mighty modest 'bout k, I reckon I'm a 
kind o' Napoleon o' the West. They say our figgers 
are tremenjeously alike, though, o' course, I'm thicker 

224 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

an* much stronger than he wuz, an* perhaps a lot 
.brighter in some ways." 

"Go on, you supreme egotist," said Brady in his 
usual solemn tones, "climb the tree, where I cannot 
hear your voice, and stay there a long time." 

The Little Giant was more serious than he pre- 
tended to be. He was fully aware that they had lost 
at least seventy-five per cent of their security when they 
descended from the high mountains. On the plains 
it was difficult to fortify against attack, and he did 
not like the appearance of the Indians, even as hunters 
on the far side of the buffalo herd. Hence, when he 
had made himself comfortable in one of the highest 
forks of a cotton wood, his examination through the 
glasses was long and critical. He saw, just as Will 
had seen, the herd coming forever from under the 
southeastern rim of the horizon and disappearing for- 
ever under the northwestern rim. Then he caught 
glimpses of the hunters still pursuing and cutting out 
the fat young cows, but instead of being parallel with 
the little party in the dip they had now passed far 
beyond it. Then he descended the tree and spoke what 
he thought. 

"Jim Boyd, hunter, Steve Brady, trapper, an* young 
William," he said, "I'm of the opinion that we'd better 
stay here at least one day an* night. The river o' buf- 
faloes will be flowin* by at least that long, but ef we 
wuz to go on an* they wuz to pass us, we might meet 
the warriors with no river in between, an* we ain't 
looking fur that." 

"Good advice," said Brady. "When the conquerors 
225 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

went down into the land of Canaan they used every 
chance that nature or circumstance offered them, and 
why shouldn't we, even though three thousand years 
or so have elapsed? We will build no fire, but repose 
calmly in our little clump of trees." 

"Good judgment," said Boyd. 

"Pleases me," said Will. 

All day long and all .that night the herd, as wide and 
dense as ever, was passing. They might have slain 
enough to feed a great army, but they did not fire a 
shot. The sight, whether by daylight or moonlight, did 
not lose its romance and majesty for the lad. It was 
a black sea, flowing and living, one of the greatest 
spectacles of the mighty western wilderness, and it 
was given to him to look upon it. 

He grew so used to it by and by that he had no 
thought af its turning from its course or of its throw- 
ing out stragglers like little, diverging currents. It 
would go on in a vast flood, straight into the unknown, 
wherever it intended to go. 

The horses and mules themselves, though at first 
uneasy, soon grew used to the passage of the living 
river, and, since no harm came from it, evidently 
concluded that none would come. Will walked among 
them more than once and stroked their manes and 
then their noses, which they rubbed confidingly against 
him. 

The moon shining that night was very bright, and, 
the heavens being starred in such brilliant splendor, 
they saw almost as well as by day. Will, to whom the 
romantic and majestic appealed with supreme force, 

226 



THE BUFFALO MARCH 

began to find a certain enjoyment, or rather a mental 
uplift? in his extraordinary position. Before him was 
the great, black and living river, flowing steadily from 
the unknown into the unknown, to north and to south 
the rolling plains stretched away to infinity, and be- 
hind him, piercing the skies, rose the misty White 
Dome, a vast peak; now friendly, that seemed to watch 
over these faithful comrades of his and himself. 

None of them slept until late, and they divided the 
remainder of the night into watches of two hours 
apiece, Will's running from two until four in the morn- 
ing. It was Brady whom he succeeded and it required 
some effort of the will fof him to leap at once from his 
warm blankets and take the place of sentinel in the 
night, which was now cold, as usual on the plains. 
But, while averse to bloodshed, he had drilled himself 
into soldiership in action, always prompt, accurate and 
thorough, and in less than a minute he was walking up 
and down, rifle on shoulder, eyes open to everything 
that was to be seen and ears ready for everything that* 
was to be heard. Stephen Brady, the philosopher, 
looked at him with approval. 

"A prompt and obedient lad is sure to be a good 
and useful man," he said. "You're as big as a man 
now, but you haven't, the years and the experience. I 
like you, William, and you are entitled to your share 
of the Land of Canaan, which, in these later days, 
may be interpreted variously as the treasures of the 
spirit and the soul. And now, good-night." 

He wrapped himself in his blankets and, sound of 
body and conscience, he slept at once. Will, walking 

227 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

back and forth, alert, eager, found that nothing had 
changed while he was in slumber. The buffalo herd 
flowed on, its speed and its flood the same, while the 
White Dome towered far into the sky, almost above 
them, serene, majestic and protecting. It seemed to 
Will that all the omens were good, that, great though 
the dangers and hardships might be, they would tri- 
umph surely in the end. And the feeling of victory 
and confidence was still strong upon him when his 
watch of two hours was finished and he, too, in his 
turn, slept again. 



CHAPTER X 

THE WAR CLUB'S FALL 

WHEN Will awoke in the cold dawn he found 
the herd still passing, though it showed signs 
of diminution in both breadth and density. 
After breakfast he climbed the cottonwood again, and 
took another long and searching look through the 
glasses. 

"I can't yet see the end of the advancing herd under 
the rim of the horizon," he announced when he de- 
scended, "but, as you can tell from the ground, it's 
thinning out." 

"Which means thar'll no longer be a river cutting 
us off from the hoss Indians on the south," said the 
Little Giant, "an' which means, too, that it's time fur 
us to light out from here an' foller the trail." 

Curving considerably toward the north for fear of 
the Indian hunters, who were likely to be where the 
buffaloes were, they rode at a good pace over the plain, 
the pack horses and mules following readily without 
leading. Their curve finally took them so far toward 
the north that the* swells of the plain hid the buffalo 
herd only Will's glasses disclosing traces of the dust 
cloud and the thunder of its passage no longer 
reached their ears. 

229 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

Near sundown they came to a low ridge covered 
with bushes, and deciding that it was an excellent place 
for a camp they rode into the thick of it until sure 
also from the presence of tree growth that they would 
find water not far away. Will was the first to dis- 
mount and as he went over the crest and down the 
slope in search of a stream or pool, he uttered a cry 
of horror. 

He had come upon a sight, alas ! too familiar at that 
time upon the plains. Scattered about a little grassy 
opening were seven or eight human skeletons, picked 
so clean by the wolves that they were white and glis- 
tening. But the lad knew that wolves had not caused 
their deaths. Bullet, arrow and lance had done the 
work. He shuddered again and again, but he was too 
much of the mountain ranger and plainsman now to 
turn aside because of horror. 

He concluded that the skeletons represented per- 
haps two families, surprised and slaughtered by the 
Sioux. Several of them were small, evidently those 
of children, and he arrived at the number two because 
he saw in the bushes near by two of the great wagons 
of the emigrant camp, overturned and sacked. Just 
beyond was a small, clear stream which obviously had 
caused the victims to stop there. 

Will walked back slowly and gravely to his com- 
rades. 

"Did you find water, young William?" asked the 
Little Giant jovially. 

"I did," replied the lad briefly. 

"Then why does that gloom set upon your brow?" 
230 



THE WAR CLUB'S FALL 

"Because I found something else, too." 

"What else do we need? Water fur ourselves an* 
the animals is all we want." 

"But I found something else, I tell you, Tom Bent, 
and it was not a sight pleasant to see." 

The Little Giant noticed the shudder in the lad's 
tones, and he asked more seriously: 

"Signs of hostile bands comin', young William?" 

"No, not that, but signs where they have passed, 
skeletons of those whom they have slain, just beyond 
the bushes there, picked clean, white and glistening. 
Come with me and see !" 

The others, who heard, went also, and the men 
looked reflectively at the scene. 

"I've seen its like often," said Boyd. "The emigrants 
push on, straight into the Indian country. Neither 
hardships, nor troops, nor the Indians themselves can 
stop 'em. Wherever a party is cut off, two come to 
take its place. I guess this group was surprised, and 
killed without a chance to fight back." 

"How do you know that?" asked Will. 

" 'Cause the wagons are turned over. That shows 
that the horses were still hitched to 'em, when the 
firm' from ambush began, and in their frightened 
struggles tipped 'em on one side. Suppose we go 
through 'em." 

"What for, Jim?" 

"This must have been done at least a couplerbf 
months ago. The weather-beaten canvas covers and 
the general condition of the wagons show that. War 
not being then an open matter the Indians might have 

231 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

hurried away without making a thorough overhaul- 
ing. Then, too, it might have been done by wandering 
Piegans or Blackfeet or Northern Cheyennes, who, 
knowing they were on Sioux territory, were anxious 
to get away with their spoil as quickly as they could." 

"Good sound reasoning Jim," said the Little Giant, 
"an* we'll shorely take a good look througn them wag- 
ons." 

The wagons, as usual with those crossing the plains, 
contained many little boxes and lockers and secret 
places, needful on such long journeys, and they 
searched minutely through every square inch of the 
interior space. The Indians had not been so bad at the 
sack themselves, but they found several things of 
value, some medicines in a small locker, two saws, sev- 
eral gimlets and other tools, and under a false bottom 
in one of the wagons, which the sharp eye of the Lit- 
tle Giant detected, a great mat filled with coffee, con- 
taining at least one hundred pounds. 

They could have discovered nothing that would have 
pleased them more, since coffee was always precious to 
the frontiersman, and together they uttered a shout 
of triumph. Then they divided it among their own 
sacks and continued the search looking for more false 
bottoms. They were rewarded in only a single in- 
stance ^and in that they found an excellent pocket com- 
pass, which they assigned to Bent. 

Their gleanings finished, they made camp and passed 
a peaueful night, resuming the journey early the next 
morning. They would have buried the bones of the 
slain, as they had spades and picks for mining work, 

232 






THE WAR CLUB'S FALL 

but they felt they should not linger, as they were now 
in country infested by the Sioux and it was not well to 
remain long in one place. Hence, they rode away 
under an early sun, and soon the memory of the slaugh- 
ter by the little stream faded from their minds. Events 
were too great and pressing for them to dwell long 
upon anything detached from their own lives. 

On the second day afterward they curved back to- 
ward the south and struck the great buffalo trail. But 
the herd, which did have an end after all, had now 
passed, and they saw only stragglers. As the trail led 
into the northwest and their own trail must be more 
nearly west, they crossed it and did not stop until 
half the night had gone, as they knew the Indians were 
most to be dreaded near the herd or in its path. 

When they camped now Will could no longer see 
the White Dome, which had followed them so long, 
watching over them like a great and majestic friend. 
He missed that lofty white signal in the sky, feeling 
as if a good omen had gone, and that the signs would 
not now be so favorable. But the depression was only 
momentary. He had cultivated too strong and cour- 
ageous a will ever to allow himself to be depressed 
long. 

At noon they were far from the hills and out on 
the open plains, which spread swell on swell before 
them, seemingly to infinity, with only a lone tree here 
and there, and at rare intervals a sluggish stream an 
inch or two deep and dangerous with quicksands. The 
water of these little creeks was not good, touched at 
times with alkali, but they made the horses and mules 

233 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

drink it, saving the pure supply they carried for a 
period of greater need. 

. Will used his glasses almost continually, watching 
for a possible enemy or anything else that might ap- 
pear upon the plain, and he saw occasional groups of 
the buffalo, a dozen or so, at which he expressed sur- 
prise. 

"And why are you surprised, young William?" 
asked Brady. "Don't you know enough of this mighty 
West not to be surprised at anything?" 

"I saw so many millions in that herd going into the 
northwest," replied the lad, "that I thought it must 
have included all the buffaloes in the world. Yet here 
are more, scattered in little groups." 

"And there are other herds millions strong far down 
in the south, and still others just as strong, Montana 
way. It may be in this great hunt of ours that we 
can live on the buffalo, just as the Indians do." 

They slept that night on the open plain, warm in 
their blankets and lulled by the eternal winds, and the 
next morning they were off again at the first upshoot 
of dawn. It now grew very warm, the sun's rays 
coming down vertically, while the plain itself seemed 
to act as a burnished shield, reflecting them and doub- 
ling the heat. Careful of their animals, they gave them 
a long rest at noon, and then resumed the march at a 
slow pace. Before sundown Will saw through his 
glasses a long line of trees, apparently cottonwoods, 
running almost due north and south. 

"Means a creek," said the Little Giant, "a creek 
mebbe a leetle bigger than them make-believe creeks 

234 



THE WAR CLUB'S FALL 

we've crossed. I like the plains. They kinder git hold 
o' you with thar sweep an* thar freedom, but I ain't 
braggin' any 'bout thar water courses. I've seen some 
o' the maps in which the rivers cut big an' black an* 
bold an' long 'cross the plains, same ez ef they wuz 
ragin' an* t'arin' Chios an' Missips, an' then I've seen 
the rivers tharselves, more sand than water. An' I 
love fine, clear streams, runnin' fast, but you hev to 
go into the mountains to git 'em, whar, ez you've seen, 
Will, thar are lots o' sparklin' leetle ones, clean full 
o' pure water, silver, or blue, or gold, or gray, 'cordin' 
to the way the sun shines. But I say ag'in when brag- 
gin' o' the great plains I keep dark 'bout the rivers an* 
lakes." 

The cottonwoods were six or seven miles away, and 
when they reached them they found all of the Little 
Giant's predictions to be true. The stream, a full foot 
in depth, flowed between banks higher than usual, and 
its waters, cold and sweet, were entirely devoid of al- 
kali. Following it some distance, they found sloping 
banks free from the danger of quicksand, and crossed 
to the other side, where they made a camp among the 
cottonwoods. 

Will, weary from the long ride, went to sleep as soon 
as dusk came, but he was awakened somewhere near the 
middle of the night by the hand of Boyd on his shoul- 
der. 

"What is it ?" he asked, sitting up and not yet wholly 
awake. 

"Quiet!" whispered Boyd. "Reach for your rifle, 
and then don't stir. The Sioux are out on the plain 

235 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

to the west, in front of us. Tom, who was on watch, 
heard 'em, and then he saw 'em. There's a band of at 
least fifty on their ponies. We think they know we're 
here. Likely they heard our animals moving about." 

The lad's heart contracted. It seemed a hideous 
irony of fate that, after having escaped so many dan- 
gers by their skill and courage, blind chance should 
bring such a great menace against them here upon 
the plains. He drew himself from his blankets, and 
propping himself upon his elbows pushed forward his 
repeating rifle. Then he changed his mind, put down 
his rifle again, and brought to his eyes the precious 
glasses, with which he seldom parted. 

He was able to see through the cottonwoods and 
in the moonlight the Sioux band, about a third of a 
mile away, gathered in a group on the crest of a swell, 
strong warriors, heavily painted, nearly all of them 
wearing splendid war bonnets. They were sitting on 
their ponies and two, whom Will took to be chiefs, 
were talking together. 

"What do you make out, young William ?" asked the 
Little Giant. 

"A conference, I suppose." 

"Then they know beyond a doubt that we're here," 
said Boyd. 'They must have heard the stamp of a 
horse or a mule. It's bad luck, but we've had so much 
of the good that we've got to look for a little of the 
bad. What more do you see through those glasses 
of yours, Will?" 

"Ten men from the band have gone to the right, 
and ten have gone to the left. All are bent low on 

236 



THE WAR CLUB'S FALL 

their ponies, and they are moving slowly. Some carry 
lances and some rifles." 

"That settles it. They're sure we're here and they 
mean to take us. What about those who are left in 
the center?" 

"They've come a little nearer, but not much." 

"Waiting for the two wings to close in before they 
attack. That's your crafty Indian. They never waste 
their own lives if they can help it, nor does an Indian 
consider it any disgrace to run when the running is 
of profit. I don't know but what they're right. Can 
you still see the two wings, Will?' 1 

"The one on the left is hid by a swell, but the other 
on the right is bearing in toward the creek." 

"Then we'd better make our field of battle and for- 
tify as fast as we can." 

The horses and mules were tethered in the lowest 
ground they could find among the cottonwoods near 
the edge of the creek, where the four hoped they 
would escape the bullets. Then they built in all haste 
a circular breastwork of fallen wood and of their own 
packs. 

"Thar's one satisfaction 'bout it," said the Little 
Giant grimly. "Ef we're besieged here a long time 
we'll hev water only a few feet away. Many a man 
on the plains could hev held his own ag'inst the painted 
imps ef he could hev reached water. What do you see 
now, young William ?" 

"Both horns of their crescent. They're on top of 
the swells, but have come almost to the cottonwoods. 
Do you look for 'em to cross the creek ?" 

237 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"Sooner or later they will, an' we'll have to guard 
from all directions, but I reckon the attack jest now 
will come straight in front an* 'long the stream on the 
flanks." 

"And the hardest push will be on the flanks?" 

"Yes, that would be good strategy. They mean, 
while the warriors in front are keeping us busy, to 
press in from both sides. What do you see now, young 
William?" 

"The forces on the flanks have passed out of sight 
among the cottonwoods, and the one in front is still 
advancing slowly. The warriors there seem to be 
armed chiefly with bows and arrows." 

"Meant mostly to draw our attention. The rifles 
are carried by the men on the flanks. B'ars out what 
we said 'bout thar plan. These warriors, like some 
others we met, hev got to learn a lot 'bout the new 
an* pow'ful repeatin' rifles. Do you think, Jim, them 
in front hev now rid within range?" 

"In a minute or two they'll be within your range, 
Giant." 

"Then do you think I'd better?" 

"Yes. They've made their semi-circle for attack. 
Tell 'em in mighty plain language they oughtn't to do 
such a thing without consulting us." 

"Give 'em a hint, so to speak, Jim?" 

"That's what I mean." 

The Little Giant levelled his rifle at the approach- 
ing horsemen. The moonlight was silvery and bril- 
liant, giving him fine chance for aim, and not in vain 
had his friend, Boyd, called him the greatest shot in 

238 



THE WAR CLUB'S FALL 

the West. The rifle cracked, there was a little spit of 
fire in the moonlight, and the foremost Indian fell 
from his pony. The band uttered a single shout of 
rage, but did not charge. Instead, the warriors drew 
back hastily. 

"That settles it," said Brady. "It's just a feint in 
front, but they didn't dream we could reach J em at 
such long range. We've got to do our main watching 
now among the cottonwoods, up and down the stream. 
Of course, they'll dismount there, and try to creep up 
on us. Will, you keep an eye on those warriors out 
there and we'll take care of the cottonwoods, but every- 
body stay down as close as possible. We're only four 
and we can't afford the loss of a single man." 

Will was lying almost flat, and he could put away 
the glasses, fastening them securely over his shoulder, 
as the warriors in front were plainly visible now to 
the naked eye. They were beyond the range of the 
deadly repeating rifles, but the moonlight was so in- 
tense that he saw them distinctly, even imagining that 
he could discern their features, and his fancy cer- 
tainly did not diminish the horror and repulsion they 
inspired. 

They rode slowly back and forth, shaking long lances 
or waving heavy war clubs, and suddenly they burst 
into a series of yells that made the lad's blood run 
cold. At length he distinguished the word, "wini- 
hinca" shouted over and over again. Boyd, lying be- 
side him, was laughing low. 

"What does 'winihinca* mean, and why do you 
laugh?" asked Will. 

239 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

" 'Winihinca' is the Sioux word for women," re- 
plied the hunter, "and they're trying to taunt us be- 
cause we're lying in hiding. It will take more than a 
taunt or two to draw us out of these cotton woods. 
They can shout 'winihinca' all night if they wish." 

But the warriors riding back and forth in the moon- 
light on the crest of the low swell were good shout- 
ers. Yellers, Will would have called them. Their 
throats and lungs seemed to be as tough as the inside 
of a bear's hide, and also they threw into their work 
a zest and flavor that showed they were enjoying it. 
Presently their yelling changed its key note, and Will 
discerned the word, "wamdadan." Again the hunter 
lying by his side laughed low. 

"What does 'wamdadan' mean?" he asked. "Just 
now we were 'winihinca' and now we are 'wamda- 
dan/ " 

"We've gone down in the scale," replied Boyd. "In 
fact, we've sunk pretty far. A little while ago we were 
women, but now we are worms. 'Wamdadan' means 
worm. We're 'wamdadans' because we won't come 
out of our burrows and stand up straight and tall, 
where the Sioux can shoot us to pieces at their 
leisure." 

"I intend to remain a 'wamdadan' as long as I can," 
said Will. "If lying close to the earth, burrowing into 
it in fact, makes you a worm then a worm am I for 
the present." 

"No, you're not. You were for a while, but they've 
changed their cry now. Listen closely! Can't you 
make out a new word?" 

240 



THE WAR CLUB'S FALL 

"Now that you call my attention to it, I do. It 
sounds like 'canwanka.' ' 

" 'Canwanka' it is. That's the new name they're 
calling us and it's not complimentary. 'Canwanka' 
means coward. First we were women, then worms and 
now cowards, because we won't give up the aid of our 
fortifications and allow ourselves to be overpowered 
by the Sioux numbers. Do you hear anything among 
the cottonwoods on the creek, Giant ?" 

"Nothing yet, Jim. They keep up such an infernal 
yelling out thar in front that it will drown out any light 
sound." 

"Doubtless that's what it's for." 

"I think so, too. You don't hev to .see them imps 
among the cottonwoods to know what they're up to. 
They hev dismounted on both wings, an' they're 
creepin' forward from the north an' from the south 
close to the banks o' the creek, hopin' to ketch us nap- 
pin'." 

The Little Giant was facing the south and sud- 
denly his figure became taut. 

"See something?" whispered Boyd. 

"I think so, but I ain't quite sure yet. Yes, it's the 
head o' a warrior, stickin' up 'bout a foot from the 
ground, an' he'll be the fust to go." 

Will was startled by the sharp crack of a rifle almost 
at his elbow, and he heard the Little Giant's sigh of 
satisfaction. 

"Straight an' true," muttered the terrible marks- 
man. 

Then the rifle of Brady, who faced the south, spoke 
241 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

also and his aim was no less deadly. Boyd, meanwhile, 
held his fire, as the advancing bands among the cot- 
tonwoods sank from view. But the band in front in 



the open uttered a tremendous shout and galloped about 
wildly. Will, watching them cautiously, thought one 
of the riders in his curvetings had come within range, 
and, taking good aim, he fired. The rider fell to the 
ground, and his pony ran away over the plain. 

"Good shot, Will," said Boyd approvingly. "And it 
speaks all the better for you because you were watch- 
ing for your chance and were ready when it came." 

After such a hint the shouting band drew back and 
shouted less. Then the four listened with all their 
ears for any sound that might pass among the cotton- 
woods, though they felt that the attack would not 
come again there for a long time, as the first result 
had been so deadly. Will took advantage of the inter- 
lude, and, creeping past the barrier they had built, 
went among the horses and mules, soothing them with 
low voice and stroke of hand. They pressed against 
him, pushed their noses into his palm, and showed a 
confidence in him that did not fail to move the lad de- 
spite the terrible nature of their situation. 

"Good lads!" he whispered when he left them and 
crawled back within the barricade. 

"How're they behavin' ?" asked the Little Giant. 

"Fine," responded Will. "Human beings couldn't 
do better. They're standing well under fire, when 
they're not able to fire back." 

"Which gives more credit to them than to us, be- 
cause we can and do fire back." 

242 



THE WAR CLUB'S FALL 

"Will," said Boyd, "you resume your watch of that 
band in front while we devote all our attention to the 
cottonwoods. It's a good thing we've got this creek 
with the high banks back of us. Now, we're in for 
a long wait. When warriors are besieging, they al- 
ways try to wear out the patience of those they besiege 
and tempt 'em into some rash act." 

"Those in front are riding beyond the swell and 
out of sight," said Will. 

The Little Giant laughed with the most intense satis- 
faction. 

"They're skeered o' our rifles," he said. "We've got 
lightnin' that strikes at pretty long range, an' they 
ain't so shore that it ain't a lot longer than it is." 

Will had learned the philosophy of making himself 
comfortable whenever he could, and lying with his hand 
on one arm he watched the cottonwoods, trusting mean- 
while more to ear than to eye. Since the Indians in 
front, disappearing over the swell, had ceased to shout, 
the night became quiet. The wind was light and the 
cottonwoods did not catch enough of it to give back a 
song, while the creek was too sluggish to murmur as 
it flowed. His comrades also were moveless, although 
he knew that they were watching. 

He looked up at the heavens, and the moon and the 
stars were so bright that they seemed to be surcharged 
with silver. The whole world, in such misty glow, was 
supremely beautiful, and it was hard to realize, as he 
lay there in silence and peace, that they were sur- 
rounded by savage foes, seeking their lives, men who, 
whatever their primitive virtues, knew little of 

243 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

mercy. He understood and respected the wish of the 
Sioux and the other tribes to preserve for themselves 
the great buffalo ranges and the mountains, but he 
was not able to feel very friendly toward them when 
they lay in the cottonwoods not far away, seeking his 
scalp and his life, or, if taken alive, to subject him to 
all the hideous tortures that primeval man has invented. 
The distant view of the Indian as a wronged individual 
often came into violent contact with another view of 
him near at hand, seeking to inflict a death with hid- 
eous pain. 

The night did not darken as it wore on, still starred 
brilliantly and lighted by a full, silver moon, which 
seemed to Will on these lone plains of the great West 
to have a size and splendor that he had never noticed 
in the East. He and the Little Giant now faced the 
north, while Boyd and Brady, of the Biblical voice and 
speech, looked toward the south. All of them, when 
they gazed that way, could see the plain from which 
the force, intending to attract their attention by shout- 
ing and yelling, had retreated. But they knew the 
danger was still to be apprehended from the cotton- 
woods, and despite the long stillness they never ceased 
to watch with every faculty they could bring to bear. 

The dip in which the horses and mules stood was 
only a short distance from the little fortification and 
unless the Sioux in attacking came very near their 
bullets were likely to pass over the heads of the ani- 
mals. The four, resolved not to abandon the horses 
and mules under any circumstances, nevertheless felt 
rather easy on that score. 

244 



THE WAR CLUB'S FALL 

About three o'clock in the morning some shots were 
fired from the cottonwoods in the south, but they flew 
wild and the four did not reply. 

"They came from a distance/' said Boyd. "They're 
probably intended to provoke our fire and tell just 
where we're lying." 

After a while more shots were fired, now from the 
north, but as they were obviously intended for the 
same purpose the four still remained quiet. A little 
later Will heard a movement, a stamping of hoofs 
among the animals, indicating alarm, and once more 
he crawled out of the breastwork to soothe them. 

The horses and mules responded as always to his 
whispered words of encouragement and strokings of 
manes and noses, and he was about to return when his 
attention was attracted by a slight noise in the bushes 
on the farther side of the animals. Every motive of 
frontier caution and thoroughness inclined him to see 
what it was. It might be and most probably was a 
coyote hiding there in fear, but that did not prevent 
him from stooping low and entering the bushes. 

The growth of scrub, watered by seepage from the 
stream, was rather dense, and he pushed his way in 
gently, lest a rustling of twigs and leaves reach the 
Sioux, lurking among the cottonwoods. He did not 
hear the noise again, and he went a little farther. Then 
he heard a sound by his side almost as light as that 
of a leaf that falls, and he whirled about, but it was 
too late. A war club descended upon his head and he 
fell unconscious to the ground. 



CHAPTER XI 

THE YOUNG SLAVE 

WILL'S first sign of returning consciousness was 
a frightful headache, and he did not open his 
eyes, but, instead, moved his hand toward the 
pain as one is tempted to bite down on a sore tooth. 
It was in the top of his head, and his fingers touched 
a bandage. Without thinking he pulled at it, and the 
pain, so far from being confined to one spot, shot 
through his whole body. Then he lay still, with his 
eyes yet shut, and the agony decreased until it was 
confined to a dull throbbing in the original spot. 

He tried to gather together his scattered and wan- 
dering faculties and coordinate them to such an extent 
that he could produce thought. It required a severe 
effort, and made his head ache worse than ever, but he 
persisted until he remembered that he had been creep- 
ing through bushes in search of a sound, or the cause 
of a sound. But memory stopped there and presently 
faded quite away. Another effort and he lifted his 
mind back on the track. Then he remembered the 
slight sound in the bushes near him, the shadow of a 
igure and a stunning blow. Beyond that his memory 
despite all his whipping and driving, would not go, be- 
cause there was nothing on which to build. 

246 



THE YOUNG SLAVE 

He opened his eyes which were heavy-lidded and 
painful for the time, and saw the figures of Indians 
that seemed to be standing far above him. Then he 
knew that he was lying flat upon his back, and that his 
sick brain was exaggerating their height, because they 
truly appeared to him in the guise of giants. He tried 
to move his feet but found that they were bound tightly 
together, and the effort gave him much pain. Then he 
was in truth a captive, the captjve of those who cared 
little for his sufferings. It was true they had bound 
up his head, but Indians often gave temporary re- 
lief to the wounds of their prisoners in order that 
they might have more strength to. make the torture 
long. 

His vision cleared gradually, and he saw that he was 
lying on a small grassy knoll. A fire was burning a lit- 
tle distance to his left, and besides the warriors who 
stood up others were lying* down, or sitting in Turkish 
fashion, gnawing the meat off buffalo bones that they 
roalted at the fire. The whole scene was wild and bar- 
baric to the last degree and Will shuddered at the 
fate which he was sure awaited him. 

Beyond the Indians he saw trees, but they were not 
cottonwoods. Instead he noted oak and pine and aspen 
and he knew he was not lying where he had fallen, 
or in any region very near it. Straining his eyes he 
saw a dim line of foothills and forest. He must have 
been brought there on a pony and dreadful thoughts 
about his comrades assailed him. Since the Sioux had 
come away with him as a prisoner they might have 
fallen in a general massacre. In truth, that was the 

247 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

most* likely theory, by far, and he shuddered violently 
again and again. 

Those three had been true and loyal friends of his, 
the finest of comrades, hearts of steel, and yet as gentle 
and kindly as women. Hardships and dangers in 
common had bound the four together, and the differ- 
ence in years did not matter. It seemed that he had 
known them and been associated with them always. 
He could hear now the joyous whistling of the Little 
Giant, the terse, intelligent talk of Boyd, and the firm 
Biblical allusions of the beaver hunter. They could 
not be dead ! It could not be so ! And yet in his heart 
he believed that it was so. 

He turned painfully on his side, groaned, shut his 
eyes, and opened them again to see a tall warrior 
standing over him, gazing down at him with a cynical 
look. He was instantly ashamed that he had groaned 
and said in apology: 

"It was pain of the spirit and not of the body that 
caused me to make lament." 

"It must be so," replied the warrior in English, "be- 
cause you have come back to the world much quicker 
than we believed possible. The vital forces in you are 
strong." 

He spoke like an educated Indian, but his face, his 
manner and his whole appearance were those of the 
typical wild man. 

"I see that I'm at least alive," said Will with a faint 
touch of humor, "though I can scarcely describe my 
condition as cheerful. Who are you?" 

"I am Heraka, a Sioux chief. Heraka in your lan- 
248 



THE YOUNG SLAVE 

guage means the Elk, and I am proud of the name." 

Will looked again at him, and much more closely 
now, because, despite his condition, he was impressed 
by the manner and appearance. Heraka was a man 
of middle years, of uncommon height and of a broad, 
full countenance, the width between the eyes being 
great. It was a countenance at once dignified, serene 
and penetrating. He wore brilliantly embroidered 
moccasins, leggings and waist band, and a long green 
blanket, harmonizing with the foliage at that period 
of the year, hung from his shoulders. He carried a 
rifle and there were other weapons in his belt. 

Will felt with increasing force that he was in the 
presence of a great Sioux chief. The Sioux, who were 
to the West what the Iroquois were to the East, some- 
times produced men of high intellectual rank, their 
development being hampered by time and place. The 
famous chief, Gall, who planned Custer's defeat, and 
who led the forces upon the field, had the head of a 
Jupiter, and Will felt now as he stared up at Heraka 
that he had never beheld a more imposing figure. The 
gaze of the man that met his own was stern and de- 
nunciatory. The lad felt that he was about to be 
charged with a great crime, and that the charge would 
be true. 

"Why have you come here?" asked the stern war- 
rior. 

In spite of himself, in spite of his terrible situation, 
the youth's sense of humor sparkled up a moment. 

"I don't know why I came here," he replied, "nor 
do I know how, nor do I know where I am." 

249 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

The chief's gaze flickered a moment, but he replied 
with little modification of his sternness: 

"You were brought here on the back of a pony. 
You are miles from where you were taken, and you 
are the prisoner of these warriors of the Dakota whom 
I lead." 

Will knew well enough that the Sioux called them- 
selves in their own language the Dakota, and that the 
chief would take a pride in so naming them to him. 

"The Dakotas are a great nation," he said. 

Heraka nodded, not as if it were a compliment, but 
as a mere statement of fact. Will considered. Would 
it be wise to ask about his friends ? Might he not in 
doing so give some hint that could be used against 
them? The fierce gaze of the chief seemed actually 
to penetrate his physical body and read his mind. 

"You are thinking of those who were with you," 
he said. 

"My thoughts had turned to them." 

"Call them back. It is a waste." 

"Why do you say that, Heraka?" 

"Because they are all dead. Their scalps are drying 
at the belts of the warriors. You alone live as 
we had to strike you down in silence before we slew 
the others." 

Will shuddered over and over again. He was sick 
at both heart and brain. Could it be true? Could 
those men be dead ? The wise Boyd, the cheerful Lit- 
tle Giant, and the grave and kindly Brady ? Once more 
he looked Heraka straight in the eye, but the gaze 
of the chief did not waver. 

250 



THE YOUNG SLAVE 

"I have hope, though but a little hope," he said, "that 
it pleases the chief to test me. He would see whether 
I can bear such news." 

"If the belief helps you then Heraka will not try 
again to make you see the truth. What is your name ?" 

"Clarke, William Clarke." 

"Why have you come to the land of the Dakotas?" 

"Not to take it. Not to kill the buffalo. Not to 
drive away any of your people." 

"But you are captured upon it. The great chief, 
Mahpeyalute, warned the American captain and the 
soldiers that they must not let the white people come 
any farther." 

"That is true. I was there, and I heard Red Cloud 
give the warning." 

"And yet you came against the threat of Mahpeya- 
lute." 

"Mine was an errand of a nature almost sacred. 
I tell you again there was no harm in it to your coun- 
try and your people." 

"Many times have the white people told to the Da- 
kotas things that were lies." 

"It is true, but the sins of others are not mine." 

Will spoke with all his heart in his words. De- 
spite the terrible disaster that had befallen, even if the 
chief's words were true, and all his friends were dead, 
he wished, nevertheless, to live. He was young, strong, 
of great vitality, and nothing could crush the love of 
life in him. 

"What do you intend to do with me ?" he asked. 

Heraka smiled, but the smile contained nothing of 
251 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

gentleness or mercy, rather it was amusement at the 
anxiety of one who was wholly in his power. 

"Your fate shall not be known to you until it 
comes," he said. 

Will felt a chill running down his spine. It was 
the primal instinct to' torture and slay the enemy and 
the Sioux lived up to it. It was keen torture already 
to hear that his fate would surely come, but not to 
know how or where or when was worse. But it ap- 
peared that it was not to come at once, and with that 
thought he felt the thrill of hope. His was unquench- 
able youth and the vital spark in him flamed up. 

"Would you mind untying my ankles?" he said. 
"You can save your torture for later on." 

Heraka signed to a warrior, who cut the thongs and 
Will, sitting up, rubbed them carefully until the blood 
flowed back in its natural channels. Meanwhile he 
observed the band and counted sixteen warriors, all 
but Heraka seeming to be the wildest of wild Indians, 
most of them entirely naked save for moccasins and 
the breech cloth. They carried muzzle-loading rifles, 
bows and arrows hung from the bushes and lances 
leaned against the trees. Beyond the bushes he caught 
glimpses of their ponies grazing, and these glimpses 
were sufficient to show him that they had many extra 
animals for the packs. When he saw them better, then 
he would know whether his friends were really dead, 
because if they were their packs and the animals would 
be there, too. But the chief, Heraka, broke in upon 
the thought he seemed able to read Will's mind. 

"This is but part of the force that besieged you," 
252 



THE YOUNG SLAVE 

he said. "There were three bands joined. The others 
with the spoil have gone west, leaving as our share the 
prisoner. A living captive is worth more than two 
scalps." 

Will tried to remember all he had ever heard or read 
about the necessity of stoicism when in the hands of 
savage races and by a* supreme effort of the will he 
was able to put a little of it into practice. Pretending 
to indifference, he asked if he might have something 
to eat, and received roasted meat of the buffalo. He 
had a good appetite, despite his weakness and head- 
ache, and when he had eaten in abundance and had 
drunk a gourd of water they gave him he felt better. 

"I thank you for binding up my -wounded head," he 
said to Heraka. "I don't know your motive in doing 
so, but I thank you just the same." 

The Dakota chief smiled grimly. 

"We do not wish you to die yet," he said, speak- 
ing his English in the precise, measured manner of one 
to whom it is a foreign language. "Inmutanka, the 
Panther, bound it up, and he is one of the best healers 
we have." 

"Then I thank also Inmutanka, or the Panther, 
whichever he prefers to be called. I can't see the top 
of my head, but I know he made a good job of it." 

Inmutanka proved to be an elderly but robust Sioux 
warrior, and however he may have been when torture 
was going forward he wore just then a bland smile, al- 
though not much else. With wonderfully light and 
skilful hands he took off Will's bandage and replaced 
it with another. Will never knew what it was made 

253 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

of, but it seemed to be lined with leaves steeped in the 
juices of herbs. 

The Indians had some simple remedies of great 
power, and he felt the effect of the new bandage at 
once. His headache began to abate rapidly, and with 
the departure of pain his views of life became much 
more cheerful. 

"I never saw you before, Dr. Inmutanka," he said, 
"but I know you're one of the finest physicians in all 
the West. Whatever school you graduated from 
should give you all the degrees it has to give. Again, 
I thank you." 

The Indian seemed not to understand a word he said, 
but no one could mistake the sincerity of the lad's tone. 
Inmutanka, otherwise the Panther, smiled, and the 
smile was not cruel, nor yet cynical. He stepped back 
a little, regarded his handiwork with satisfaction, and 
then merged himself into the band. 

"That's a good Sioux! I know he is!" said Will 
warmly to Heraka. "Hereafter Dr. Inmutanka shall 
be my personal and private physician." 

Heraka' s face was touched by a faint smile. It was 
the first mild emotion he had shown and Will rejoiced 
to see it. He found himself wishing to please this wild 
chief, not in any desire to seek favor, but he felt that, 
in its way, the approval of Heraka was approval worth 
having. 

"Yon eat, you drink, you feel strong again," said 
Heraka. 

"Yes, that's it." 

"Then we go. We are mountain Sioux. We have a 
254 



THE YOUNG SLAVE 

village deep in the high mountains that white men can 
never find. We will take you there, where you will 
await your fate, never knowing what it is nor when it 
will come." 

Will was shaken once more by a terrible shudder. 
This constant harping upon the mysterious but fearful 
end that was sure to overtake him was having its ef- 
fect. Heraka had reckoned right when he began the 
torture of the mind. The chief spoke sharply to the 
warriors and putting out the fire they gathered up their 
weapons and the horses. Will was mounted on one of 
the ponies and his ankles were tied together beneath 
the animal's body, but loosely only, enough to prevent 
a sudden flight though not enough to cause pain. 
There was no saddle, but as he was used to riding bare- 
backed he could endure it indefinitely. 

Then the chief did a surprising thing, binding a 
piece of soft deerskin over Will's eyes so tightly that 
not a ray of light entered. 

"Why do you do that, Heraka?" asked the lad. 

"That you may not see which way you go, nor what 
is by the path as you ride. Soon, with your eyes cov- 
ered you will lose the sense of direction and you will 
not be able to tell whether you go north or south or 
east or west." 

He spoke sharply to the warriors and the group set 
off. The direction at first was toward the north, as 
Will well knew, but the band presently made many 
curves and changes of course, and, as Heraka had 
truly said, he ceased to have any idea of the course 
they were taking. He saw nothing, but he heard all 

255 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

around him the footfalls of the ponies, and, now and 
then, the word of one warrior to another. He might 
have raised his hands to tear loose the bandage over his 
eyes, but he knew that the Sioux would interfere at 
once, and he would only bring upon himself some 
greater pain. 

Will felt that a warrior was riding on either side of 
him and presently he was aware also that the one on 
the right had moved up more swiftly, giving way to 
somebody else. A sort of mental telepathy told him 
that the first warrior had been replaced by a stronger 
and more dominant one. Instinct said that it was 
Heraka, and he was not mistaken. The chief rode on 
in silence for at least ten minutes and then he asked : 

"Which way do you ride, Wayaka (captive) ? Is 
it north, or south, or is it east or west?" 

"I don't know," confessed Will. "I tried to keep 
the sense of direction, but we twisted and turned so 
much I've lost it." 

"I knew that it would be so. Wayaka will ride many 
hundreds of miles, he knows not whither. And 
whether he is to die soon or late he will see his own 
people again never more. If he ever looks upon a 
white face again it will be the face of one who is a 
friend of the Sioux and not of his own race, or the 
face of a captive like himself." 

Will shuddered. The threat coming from a man 
like Heraka, who spoke in a tone at once charged with 
malice and power, was full of evil portent. Had an 
ordinary Indian threatened him thus he might not have 
been affected so deeply, but with the decree of Heraka 

256 



I 




"If he ever looks upon a white face again it will be the 
face of one who is a friend of the Sioux." 



THE YOUNG SLAVE 

he seemed to vanish completely from the face of the 
earth, or, at least, from his world and all those that 
knew him. His will, however, was still strong. He 
felt instinctively that Heraka was looking at him, and 
he would show no sign of flinching or of weakness. 
He straightened himself up on the pony, threw back 
his shoulders and replied defiantly: 

"I have a star that protects me, Heraka. Nearly 
every man has a star, but mine is a most powerful 
one, and it will save me. Even now, though I cannot 
see and I do not know whether it is daylight or twi- 
light, I know that my star, invisible though it may be 
in the heavens, is watching over me." 

He spoke purposely in the lofty and somewhat al- 
legorical style, used sometimes by the higher class of 
Indians, and he could not see its effect. But Heraka, 
strong though his mind was, felt a touch of supersti- 
tious awe, and looking up at the heavens, all blue 
though they were, almost believed that he saw in them 
a star looking down at Wayaka, the prisoner. 

"Wayaka may have a star," he said, "but it will be 
of no avail, because the stars of the Sioux, being so 
much the stronger, will overcome it." 

"We shall see," replied the lad. Yet, despite all his 
brave bearing, his heart was faint within him. Heraka 
did not speak to him again, and by the same sort of 
mental telepathy he felt, after a while, that the chief 
had dropped away from his side, and had been re- 
placed by the original warrior. 

Although eyes were denied to him, for the present, 
all his other faculties became heightened as a conse- 

257 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

quence, and he began to use them. He was sure that 
they were still traveling on the plains, so much dust 
rose, and now and then he coughed to clear it from his 
throat. But they were not advancing into the deeps 
of the great plains, because twice they crossed shallow 
streams, and on each occasion all the ponies were al- 
lowed to stop and drink. 

Will knew that his own pony at the second stream 
drank eagerly, in fact, gulped down the water. Such 
zest in drinking showed that the creek was not alka- 
line, and hence he inferred that they could not be very 
far from hills, and perhaps from forest. He surmised 
that they were going either west or north. A growing 
coolness, by and by, indicated to him that twilight was 
coming. Upon the vast western plateau the nights were 
nearly always cold, whatever the day may have been. 

Yet they went on another hour, and then he heard 
the voice of Heraka, raised in a tone of command, 
followed by a halt. An Indian unbound his feet and 
said something to him in Sioux, which he did not un- 
derstand, but he knew what the action signified, and 
he swung off the pony. He was so stiff from the long 
ride that he fell to the ground, but he sprang up in- 
stantly when he heard a sneering laugh from one of 
the Indians. 

"Bear in mind, Heraka," he said, "that I cannot see 
and so it was not so easy for me to balance myself. 
Even you, O chief, might have fallen." 

"It is true," said Heraka. "Inmutanka, take the 
bandage from his eyes." 

They were welcome words to Will, who had endured 
258 



THE YOUNG SLAVE 

all the tortures of blindness without being blind. He 
felt the hands of the elderly Indian plucking at the 
bandage, and then it was drawn aside. 

"Thank you, Dr. Inmutanka," he said, but for a 
few moments a dark veil was before his eyes. Then it 
drifted aside, and he saw that it was night, a night in 
which the figures around him appeared dimly. Heraka 
stood a few feet away, gazing at him maliciously, but 
during that long "and terrible ride, the prisoner had 
taken several resolutions, and first of them was to ap- 
pear always bold and hardy among the Indians. He 
stretched his arms and legs to restore the circulation, 
and also took a few steps back and forth. 

He saw that they were in a small open space, sur- 
rounded by low bushes and he surmised that there was 
a pool just beyond the bushes as he heard the ponies 
drinking and gurgling their satisfaction. 

"The ride has been long and hard," he said to 
Heraka, "and I am now ready to eat and drink. Bid 
some warrior bring me food and water/' 

Then he sat down and rejoiced in the use of his 
eyes. Had they been faced by a dazzling light when 
the bandage was taken off he might not have been able 
to see for a little while, but the darkness was tender 
and soothing. Gradually he was able to see all the war- 
riors at work making a camp, and Heraka, as if the 
captive's command had appealed to his sense of humor, 
had one man bring him an abundance of water in a 
gourd, and then, when a fire was lighted and deer and 
buffalo meat were broiled, he ate with the rest as much 
as he liked. 

259 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

After supper Inmutanka replaced with a fresh one 
the bandage upon his head, from which the pain had 
now departed. Will was really grateful. 

"I want to tell you, Dr. Inmutanka," he said, "that 
there are worse physicians than you, where I come 
from." 

The old Sioux understood his tone and smiled. 
Then all the Indians, most of them reclining on the 
earth, relapsed into silence. Will felt a curious kind 
of peace. A prisoner with an unknown and perhaps 
a terrible fate close at hand, the present alone, never- 
theless, concerned him. After so much hardship his 
body was comfortable. They had not rebound him, 
and they had even allowed him to walk once to the 
bushes, from which he could see beyond the clear pool 
at which the Indians had filled their gourds and from 
which the ponies drank. 

One of these ponies, Heraka's own, was standing 
near, and Will with a pang saw bound to it his own 
fine repeating rifle, belt of cartridges and the leather 
case containing his field glasses. Heraka's look fol- 
lowed his and in the light of the fire the smile of the 
chief was so malicious that the great pulse in Will's 
throat beat hard with anger. 

"They were yours once," said Heraka, "the great 
rifle that fires many times without reloading, the cart- 
ridges to fit, and the strong glasses that bring the far 
near. Now they are mine." 

"They are yours for the present. I admit that," 
said the lad, "but I shall get them back again. Mean- 
while, if you're willing, I'll go to sleep. 

260 



(THE YOUNG SLAVE 

He thought it best to assume a perfect coolness, 
even if he did not feel it, and Heraka said that he 
might sleep, although they bound his arms and ankles 
again, loosely, however, so that he suffered no pain 
and but little inconvenience. He fell asleep almost at 
once, and did not awake until old Inmutanka aroused 
him at dawn. 

After breakfast he was put on the pony again, blind- 
folded, and they rode all day long in a direction of 
which he was ignorant, but, as he believed, over low 
hills, and, as he knew, among bushes, because they 
often reached out and pulled at his legs. Neverthe- 
less his sense of an infinite distance being created be- 
tween him and his own world increased. All this 
traveling through the dark was like widening a gulf. 
It had not distance only, but depth, and the weight it 
pressed upon him was cumulative, making him feel 
that he had been riding in invisible regions for weeks, 
instead of two days. 

Being deprived of his eyes for the time being, the 
other four primal senses again became more acute. He 
heard a wind blowing but it was not the free wind of 
the plains that meets no obstacle. Instead, it brought 
back to him a song that was made by the moving air 
playing softly upon leaf and bough. Hence, he in- 
ferred that they were still ascending, and had come 
into better watered regions where the bushes had grown 
to the height of trees now in full leaf. 

Once they crossed a rather deep creek, and deliber- 
ately letting his foot drop down into it, he found the 
water quite cold, which was proof to him that they were 

261 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

going back toward the ridges, and that this current 
was chill, because it flowed from great heights, per- 
haps from a glacier. They made no stop at noon, 
merely eating a little pemmican, Will's share being 
handed to him by Inmutanka. He ate it as he rode 
along still blindfolded. 

The ponies, wiry and strong though they were, soon 
began to go much more slowly, and the captive was 
sure that the ascent was growing steeper. He was con- 
firmed in this by the fact that the wind, although it 
was mid-afternoon, the hottest part of the day, had 
quite a touch of coolness. They must have been as- 
cending steadily ever since they began the march. 

He soon noticed another fact. The ears that had 
grown uncommonly acute discerned fewer hoofbeats 
about him. He was firm in the belief that the band 
had divided and to determine whether the chief was 
still with them, he said : 

"Heraka, we're climbing the mountains. I know it 
by the wind among the leaves and the cool air." 

"Wayaka is learning to see even though his eyes are 
shut," said the voice of the chief on his right. 

"And a part of your force has left us. I count the 
hoofbeats, and they're not as many as they were be- 
fore." 

"You are right, the mind of Wayaka grows. Some 
day if you live you will know enough to be a war- 



rior." 



Will pondered these words and their bearing on his 
fate, and, being able to make nothing of them, he aban- 
doned the subjective for the objective, seeking again 

262 



THE YOUNG SLAVE 

with the four unsuppressed senses to observe the coun- 
try through which they were passing. 

The next night was much like the one that had gone 
before. They did not stop until after twilight, and the 
darkness was heavier than usual. The camp was made 
in a forest, and the wind, now quite chill, rustled among 
the trees. Although the bandage was removed, Will 
could not see far in the darkness, but he was confi- 
dent that high mountains were straight ahead. 

A small brook furnished water for men and ponies, 
and the Indians built a big fire. They were now but 
eight in number. Inmutanka removed the last bandage 
from Will's head, which could now take care of itself, 
and as the Sioux permitted him to share on equal 
terms with themselves, he ate with a great appetite. 
Heraka regarded him intently. 

"Do you know where you are, Wayaka ?" he asked. 

"No," replied Will, carelessly, "I don't. Neither 
am I disturbed about it. You say that I shall never see 
my own people, but that is more than you or I or any- 
one else can possibly know." 

A flicker of admiration appeared in the eyes of 
Heraka, but his voice was even and cold as he said: 

"It is well that you have a light heart, because to- 
morrow will be as to-day to you, and the next day will 
be the same, and the next and many more." 

The Sioux chief spoke the truth. They rode on for 
days, Will blindfolded in the day, his eyes free at 
night. He thought of himself as the Man in the Deer- 
skin Mask, but much of the apprehension that must 
overtake the boldest at such a moment began to dis- 

263 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

appear, being replaced by an intense curiosity, all the 
greater because everything was shut from his eyes save 
in the dusk. 

But he knew they were in high mountains, because 
the cold was great, and now and then he felt flurries 
of snow on his face, and at night he saw the loom of 
lofty peaks. But they did not treat him unkindly. Old 
Inmutanka threw a heavy fur robe over his shoulders, 
and when they camped they always built big fires, be- 
fore which he slept, wrapped in blankets like the oth- 
ers. 

Heraka said but little. Will heard him now and 
then giving a brief order to the warriors, but he 
scarcely ever spoke to the lad directly. Once in their 
mountain camp when the night was clear Will saw a 
vast panorama of ridges and peaks white with snow, 
and he realized with a sudden and overwhelming sink- 
ing of the heart that he was in very truth and fact lost 
to his world, and as the Sioux chief had threatened, he 
might never again look upon a white face save his own. 
It was a terrifying thought. Sometimes when he 
awoke in the night the cold chill that he felt was not 
from the air. His arms were always bound when he 
lay down between the blankets and, once or twice, he 
tried to pull them free, but he knew while he was mak- 
ing it that the effort was vain and, even were it suc- 
cessful and the thongs were loosened, he could not es- 
cape. 

At -the end of about a week they descended rapidly. 
The air grew warmer, the snow flurries no longer 
struck him in the face and the odors of forest, heavy 

264 



THE YOUNG SLAVE 

and green, came to his nostrils. One morning they 
did not put the bandage upon his face and he looked 
forth upon a wild world of hills and woods and knew 
it not, nor did he know what barrier of time and space 
shut him from his own people. 



CHAPTER XII 
THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 

WLL did not know just how long they had been 
traveling, having lost count of the days, but 
he knew they had come an immense distance, 
perhaps a thousand miles, maybe more, because the 
hardy Indian ponies always went at a good pace, and 
he felt that the distance between him and every white 
settlement must be vast. 

The sun at first hurt the eyes that had been bandaged 
so long in daylight, but as the optic nerves grew less 
sensitive and they could take in all the splendor of the 
world, he had never before seen it so beautiful. He 
was like one really and truly blind for years who had 
suddenly recovered his sight. Everything was magni- 
fied, made more vivid, more intense, and his joy, cap- 
tive though he was, was so keen that he could not keep 
from showing it. 

"You find it pleasant to live/' said Heraka. 

"Yes," replied the lad frankly, "I don't mind ad- 
mitting to you that I like living. And I like seeing, 
too, in the bright sunshine, when I've been so long 
without it. You warned me, Heraka, that I would not 
know my fate, nor whence nor when it might come, 

266 



THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 

but instinct tells me that it's not coming yet, and as one 
who. can see again I mean to enjoy the bright days." 

"Wayaka is but a youth. If he were older he would 
fear more." 

"But I'm not older. This, I suppose, is where we 
mean to stay awhile?" 

"It is. It is one of our hidden valleys. Beyond the 
stretch of forest is a Sioux village, and there you will 
stay until your fate befalls you." 

"I imagine, Heraka, that you did not come here 
merely to escort me. So great a chief would not take 
so long a ride for one so insignificant as I am. You 
must have had another motive." 

"Though Wayaka is a youth he is also keen. It is 
part of a great plan, of which I will tell you nothing,' 
save that the Sioux are a mighty nation, their lands 
extending hundreds of miles in every direction, and 
they gather all their forces to push back the whites." 

"Then your long journey must be diplomatic. You 
travel to the farthest outskirt in order to gather your 
utmost forces for the conflict." 

Heraka smiled rather grimly. 

"Wayaka may be right," he said. "He is a youth of 
understanding, but in the village beyond the wood you 
are to stay until you leave it, but you will not know in 
what manner or when you will depart from it." 

Will inferred that his departure might be for the 
happy hunting grounds rather than for some other 
place, but it could not depress him. He was too much 
suffused with joy over his release from his long blind- 
ness and with the splendor of the new world about him 

267 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

to feel sadness. For a while nothing can weigh down 
the blind who see again. It was surely the finest valley 
in the world into which they had come! 

Heraka gave the word and he and his men rode 
forward toward the strip of wood that he had indi- 
cated. All the ponies, although strong and wiry, were 
thin and worn by their long journey, and some of the 
Indians, despite their great endurance, showed signs 
of weariness. Little as they displayed emotion, their 
own eyes had lighted up at sight of the pleasant place 
into which they had come. 

Will could not tell the length of the valley owing to 
its curving nature, but he surmised that it might pos- 
sibly be twenty miles, with a general average width 
of perhaps two or three. All around it were high 
mountains, and on the distant and loftier ones the snow 
line seemed to come further down than on those he had 
seen with his comrades. Quick to observe and to draw 
conclusions the fact was another proof to him that 
they had been traveling mostly north. The trees in 
the valley were chiefly of the coniferous type, fir, pine 
and spruce. Despite the warmth of the air all things 
wore for him a northern aspect, but he made no com- 
ment to Heraka. 

They reached the strip of wood, and one of the war- 
riors uttered a long cry that was answered instantly 
from a point not far ahead. Then young Indian lads 
came running, welcoming them with shouts of joy, 
and, with this escort, they rode into the village, which 
was well placed in a grassy opening in the very center 
of the forest. 

268 



THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 

Will saw an irregular collection of about a hundred 
tepees, all conical, most of them made from the skin 
of the buffalo, though in some cases the hides of bear 
and elk had been used. All were supported on a 
framework of poles stripped of their bark. The poles 
were about twenty feet in length, fastened in a circle 
at the bottom and leaning toward a common center, 
where they crossed at a height of twelve or thirteen 
feet. The diameter of the tepees at the bottom was 
anywhere from fifteen to twenty feet, and hence they 
were somewhat larger than the usual Sioux lodges. 

All the tepees had an uncommon air of solidity, as if 
the poles that made their framework were large, strong, 
and thrust deep in the earth. The covering skins were 
sewed together with rawhide strings as tight and se- 
cure as the work of any sailor. One seam reaching 
about six feet from the ground was left open and this 
was the doorway, over which a buffalo hide or other 
skin could be lashed in wintry or stormy weather. 

At present all the tepees were open, and Will saw 
many squaws and children about. Just beyond the 
village and at the edge of the forest ran a considerable 
creek, evidently fed by the melting snows on the high 
mountains, and, on extensive meadows of high grass 
beyond the creek, grazed a great herd of ponies, fat 
and in good condition. Will decided at once that it 
was a village of security and abundance. The moun- 
tains must be filled with game, and the creek was deep 
enough for large fish. 

He had been left unbound as they descended into 
the valley and, deciding that he must follow a policy 

269 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

of boldness, he leaped off the pony when they entered 
the village, just as if he were coming back home. But 
the old squaws and the children did not give him peace. 
They crowded around him, uttering cries that he knew 
must be taunts or jeers. Then they began to push and 
pull him and to snatch at his hair. Finally an old 
squaw thrust a splinter clean through his coat and into 
his arm. The pain was exquisite, but, turning, he took 
her chin firmly in one hand and with the other slapped 
her cheeks so severely that she would have fallen to 
the ground if it had not been for the detaining grasp 
on her chin. 

The crowd, with the instinct for the rough that 
dwells in all primitive breasts, roared with laughter, 
and Will knew that his bold act had brought him a 
certain measure of public favor. Heraka with a sharp 
word or two sent all the women and children flying, 
and then said in tones of great gravity to Will : 

"Here you are to remain a prisoner, the prisoner of 
all the village, until we choose your fate. You will stay 
in a tepee with Inmutanka, but everybody will watch 
you, the men, the women, the girls and the boys. 
Nothing that you do can escape their notice, and you 
will not have the slightest chance of flight." 

"If I am to be anybody's guest," said Will, "I'd 
choose to be old Dr. Inmutanka's. He has a soul in his 
body." 

"You are not a guest, you are a slave," said Heraka. 

Will did not appreciate the full significance of his 
words then, because Inmutanka was showing the way 
to one of the smaller tepees and he entered it, finding 

270 



THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 

it clean and commodious. The ground was covered 
with bark, over which furs and skins were spread and 
there was a place in the center for a fire, the smoke 
to ascend through a triangular opening in the top, 
where it was regulated by a wing worked from the 
outside. 

Inmutanka, who undoubtedly had a kind heart, 
pointed to a heap of buffalo robes in the corner, and 
Will threw himself upon them. All the enormous ex- 
haustion of such a tremendous journey suddenly be- 
came cumulative and he slept until Inmutanka awoke 
trim a full fifteen hours later. Then he discovered that 
the old Indian really knew a little English, though he 
had hidden the fact before. 

"You eat," he said, and gave him fish, venison and 
some bread of Indian corn, which Will ate with the 
huge appetite of the young and strong. 

"Now you work," said Inmutanka, when he had fin- 
ished. 

Will stared at him, and then he remembered Hera- 
ka's words of the day before that he was a slave. He 
was assailed by a sickening sensation but he pulled him- 
self together bravely, and, having become a wise youth, 
he resolved that he would not make his fate worse by 
vain resistance. 

"All right," he said, "what am I to do?" 

"You be pony herd now." 

"Well, that isn't so bad." 

Inmutanka led the way across the creek, or rather 
river, and Will saw that the herd on the meadows was 
quite large, numbering at least a thousand ponies, and 

271 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL, 

also many large American horses, captured or stolen. 
They grazed at will on the deep grass, but small In- 
dian boys carrying sticks watched them continually. 

"You take your place here with boys/' said Inmu- 
tanka, "and see that ponies don't run up and down 
valley." 

He gave him a stick and left him with the little 
Sioux lads. Will considered the task extremely light, 
certainly not one that had a savor of slavery, but he 
soon found that he was surrounded by pests. The In- 
dian boys began to torment him, slipping up behind 
him, pulling his hair and then darting away again, 
throwing stones or clods of earth at him, and seeking 
to drive ponies upon him. 

Will's heart was suffused with anger. They were 
younger and smaller than he, but they had an infinite 
power to vex or cause pain. Nevertheless he clung to 
his resolution. He refused to show anger, and while 
ft was by no means his disposition to turn one cheek 
when the other was smitten, he exhibited a patience of 
which he had not believed himself capable. He also 
showed a power that they did not possess. When some 
of the younger and friskier ponies sought to break 
away from the main herd and race up the river he 
soothed them by voice and touch and turned them back 
in such an amazing manner that the Indian boys 
brought some of the older warriors to observe his 
magic with horses. 

Will saw the men watching, but he pretended not to 
notice. Nevertheless he felt that fate, after playing 
him so many bad tricks, was now doing him a good 

272 



THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 

turn. He would exploit his power with animals to the 
utmost. Indians were always impressed with an un- 
usual display of ability of any kind, and they felt that 
its possessor was endowed with magic. He walked 
freely among the ponies, which would have turned 
their heels on the Indian lads, and stroked their manes 
and noses. 

The warriors went away without saying anything. 
The Indian boys returned to the village shortly after 
noon, but their place was taken by a fresh band, while 
Will remained on duty. Nor was he allowed to leave 
until long after twilight, when, surprised to find how 
weary he was, he dragged his feet to the tepee of In- 
mutanka, where he had venison, pemmican and water. 

"Not so bad," he said to the old Indian. "I believe 
I'm a good herd for ponies, though I'd rather do it 
riding than walking." 

"To-morrow you scrape hides with squaws," said 
Inmutanka. 

Will was disappointed, but he recalled that after 
the threat of Heraka he should not expect to get off 
with such an easy task as the continual herding of 
ponies. Scraping hides would be terribly wearying and 
it would be a humiliation to put him with the old 
squaws. Nevertheless his heart was light. The fate 
of the white captive too often was speedy and horrible 
torture and death. He felt that the longer they were 
delayed, less was the likelihood that he would ever 
have to suffer them at all. 

He was awakened at dawn, and as soon as he had 
eaten he was put to his task. Fresh buffalo hides were 

273 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

stretched tightly and staked upon the ground, the inner 
side up, and he and a dozen old squaws began the labor 
of scraping from them the last particles of flesh with 
small knives of bone. 

He cut his hands, his back ached, the perspiration 
streamed from his face, and the squaws, far more ex- 
pert than he, jeered at him continually. Warriors also 
passed and uttered contemptuous words in an unknown 
language. But Will, clinging to his resolution, pre- 
tended to take no notice. Long before the day was 
over every bone in him was aching and his hands were 
bleeding, but he made no complaint. When he re- 
turned to the tepee Inmutanka put a lotion on his 
hands. 

"It good for you, but must not tell," he said. 

"I wouldn't dream of telling," said Will fervently. 
"God bless you, Inmutanka. If there's any finer doc- 
tor than you anywhere in the world I never heard of 
him." 

But he had to go back to the task of scraping the 
skins early in the morning, and for a week he labored 
at it, until he thought his back would never straighten 
out again. He recalled that first day with the pony 
herd. The labor there was heaven compared with that 
which he was now doing. Perhaps he had been wrong 
to show his power with animals: If he had pretended 
to be awkward and ignorant with horses they might 
have kept him there. 

He made no sign, nor did he give any hint to In- 
mutanka that he would like a change. He judged, too, 
that he had inspired a certain degree of respect and 

274 



THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 

liking in the old Indian who put such effective ointment 
on his hands every night that at the end of a week all 
the cuts and bruises were healed. Moreover, he had 
learned how to use the bone scrapers with a sufficient 
degree of skill not to cut himself. 

But he was still a daily subject of derision for the 
warriors, women and children. It was the little In- 
dian boys who annoyed him most, often trying to 
thrust splinters into his arms or legs, although he in- 
variably pushed them away. He never struck any of 
them, however, and he saw that his forbearance was 
beginning to win from the warriors, at least, a certain 
degree of toleration. 

When the scraping of the skins was finished he was 
set to work with some of the old men making lances. 
These were formidable weapons, at least twelve feet 
long, an inch to an inch and a half in diameter, ending 
in a two-edged blade made of flint, elk horn or bone, 
and five or six inches in length. The wood, constitut- 
ing the body of the lance, had to be scraped down with 
great care, and the prisoner toiled over them for many 
days. 

Then he began to make shields from the hide that 
grew on the neck of the buffalo, where it was thickest. 
When it was denuded of hair the hide was a full quar- 
ter of an inch through. Then it was cut in a circle two 
or two and a half feet in diameter and two of the circles 
were joined together, making a thickness of a full half 
inch. Dried thoroughly the shield became almost as 
hard as iron, and the bullet of the old-fashioned rifle 
would not penetrate it. 

275 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

He also helped to make bows, the favorite wood 
being of osage orange, although pine, oak, elm, elder 
and many other kinds were used, and he was one of the 
toilers, too, at the making of arrows. Mounted on his 
wiry pony with his strong shield, his long lance, his 
powerful bow and quiver of arrows, the Sioux was a 
formidable warrior, and Will understood how he had 
won the overlordship of such a vast area. 

A month, in which he was subjected to the most un- 
remitting toil, passed, yet his spirit and body triumphed 
over it, and both grew stronger. He felt now as if he 
could endure anything and he knew that he would be 
called upon to endure much. 

His youth and his plastic nature caused him to imi- 
tate to a certain extent, and almost unconsciously, the 
manners and customs of those around him. He became 
stoical, he pretended to an indifference which often he 
did not feel, and he never spoke of the friends who had 
disappeared so suddenly from his life, even to old In- 
mutanka. The "doctor," as Will called him, was im- 
proving his English by practice, and Will in return was 
learning Sioux fast both from Inmutanka and from the 
people in the village. He knew the names of many ani- 
mals. The buffalo was Pteha, the bear was Warankxi, 
the badger, Roka ; the deer, Tarinca ; the wolf, Xunk- 
tokeca. 

One can get along with a surprisingly small vocabu- 
lary, and one also learns fast when he is surrounded 
by people who do not speak his own language. In six 
weeks Will had quite a smattering of the Sioux tongue. 
He still lived in the lodge of Inmutanka, who was in- 

276 



THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 

variably kind and helpful, and Will soon had a gen- 
uine liking for the good old doctor. It pleased him to 
wait upon Inmutanka as if he were a son. 

It was, on the whole, well for the lad that he was 
compelled to work, because after the day's labors were 
over and he had eaten his supper, he fell asleep from 
exhaustion, and slept without dreams. Thus he was 
not able to think as much as he would have done about 
his present condition, the great quest that he had been 
compelled to abandon, and those whom he had lost. 
Yet he could not believe, despite what Heraka had 
said, that Boyd, Brady and the Little Giant were lost. 
But he had many bitter moments. Often the humilia- 
tions were almost greater than he could bear, and it 
seemed that his quest was over forever. 

These thoughts came most at night, but renewed 
courage would always reappear in the morning. He 
was too young, too strong, to feel permanent despair, 
and his body was growing so tough and enduring that, 
in his belief, if a time to escape ever came, he would 
be equal to it. But it was obvious that no such time 
was at hand. There were several hundred pairs of 
eyes in the village and he knew that every pair above 
five years of age watched him. Nothing that he did 
escaped their attention. Somebody was always near 
him, and, if he attempted flight, the alarm would be 
given before he went ten yards, and the whole village 
would come swarming upon him. So he wisely made 
no such trial, and seemed to settle down into a sort 
of content. 

He saw no more then of Heraka, who had evidently 
277 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIE 

gone away to the great war with the white men, But 
he saw a good deal of the chief of the village, an old 
man named Xingudan, which in Sioux meant the Fox. 
Xingudan's face was seamed with years, though his 
tall figure was not bent, and Will soon learned that his 
name had been earned. Xingudan, though he seldom 
went on the war path now, was full of craft and guile 
and cunning. The village under his rule was orderly 
and more far-seeing than Indians usually are. 

The Sioux began to strengthen their lodges and to 
accumulate stores of pemmican. The maize in sev- 
eral small, sheltered fields farther down the valley was 
gathered carefully. The boys brought in bushels of 
nuts, and Will admired the industry and ability of 
Xingudan. It was evident that winter was com- 
ing, although the touch as yet was only that of 
autumn. 

It was a magnificent autumn that the lad witnessed. 
The foliage in the mountains glowed in the deepest and 
most intense colors that he had ever seen, reds, yellows, 
browns and shades between. Far up on the slopes he 
saw great splotches of color blazing in scarlet, and far 
beyond them in the north the white crests of dim and 
towering mountains. He was strengthened in his be- 
lief that he was far to the north of the fighting line, 
although his conclusion was based only upon his own 
observations. No Indian, not even a child, had ever 
spoken to him a word to indicate where he was. He 
inferred that silence upon that point had been en- 
joined and that old Xingudan would punish severely 
any infraction of the law. Even Inmutanka, so kind 

278 



THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 

in other respects, would never give forth a word of 
information. 

As the autumn deepened, the lad's mind underwent 
another strange change, or perhaps it was not so 
strange at all. Youth must adapt itself, and he began 
to feel a certain sympathy and friendliness with the 
young Sioux of his own age. He also began to see 
wild life at its best, that is, under the circumstances 
most favorable to happiness. 

The village was full of food, the hunting had never 
been better, and the forest had yielded an uncommon 
quantity of fruits and nuts. All the primitive wants 
were satisfied, and there was no sickness. After dark 
the youths of the village roamed about, playing and 
skylarking like so many white lads of their own age, 
but the girls as soon as the twilight came remained 
close in the lodges. Will saw a kind of happiness he 
had never looked upon before, a happiness that was 
wholly of the moment, untroubled by any thoughts of 
the future, and therefore without alloy. He saw that 
the primitive man when his stomach was full, and the 
shelter was good could have absolute physical joy. 
Strangely enough he found himself taking an interest 
in these pleasures, and by and by he began to share 
in them to a minor degree. 

The river afforded a fine stretch of water, and the 
Indians had large canoes which they now used freely 
for purposes of sport. These boats were made of 
strong rawhide, generally about thirty feet long, al- 
though one was a full fifty feet, and they also had sev- 
eral boats shaped like huge bowls, made with a frame 

279 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

of wicker and covering it, the strongest buffalo hide, 
sewed together with unbreakable rawhide strings. 
They called these round boats watta tatankaha, which 
Will learnt meant in English bull boats. Just such 
boats as these were used on the Tigris, and the Eu- 
phrates, the oldest of rivers known to civilized man. 

The first sign of relenting toward the captive lad 
was when he was allowed to withdraw from the hard 
work of strengthening a lodge to take a place alone 
in one of the bull boats and navigate it with a paddle 
down the river, at a place where it had a depth past 
fording. The stream was swift here and, despite his 
knowledge of ordinary curves, the round craft over- 
turned with him before he had gone twenty feet, amid 
shouts of laughter from the Sioux gathered on either 
bank. 

The water flowing down from the mountains was 
very cold, but Will scorned to cry for help. He was 
a powerful swimmer and he struck out boldly for the 
round boat, which was floating ahead. He had held 
on to the paddle all the while and, by a desperate 
struggle, he managed to right his craft and pull him- 
self into it again. He was so much immersed in his 
physical struggle that he did not know the Indian 
children were pelting him with sticks and clods of 
earth, and were shouting in amusement and derision. 
But the warriors were grave and silent. 

Another struggle and the round boat overturned 
again. But he held on to the paddle and recovered it 
a second time. A new and desperate contest between 
him and the boat followed, but in the end he was 

280 



THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 

victor and paddled it both down and up-stream in a 
fairly steady manner. Then he brought it into the 
landing where he was received in a respectful silence. 

In his struggles to succeed Will had taken little 
notice of the coldness of the waters, but when he went 
back to the lodge he had a severe chill, followed by a 
high fever. Then old Inmutanka proved himself the 
doctor that Will called him by using a remedy that 
either killed or cured. 

Inmutanka gave the lad a sweat bath. He made a 
heap of stones and built a big fire upon them, feeding 
it until their heat was very great. Then he scraped 
away the fuel and put up a framework made of poles, 
covered with layers of skins. These layers were six 
or seven feet above the stones. Will was placed in a 
skin hammock under the layers and suspended about 
two feet above the hot stones. Water was then poured 
on these, until a dense steam arose. When Inmutanka 
thought that Will had stood it as long as he could, he 
withdrew him from the hot steam bath, although medi- 
cine men sometimes left their patients in too long, 
allowing them to be scalded to death. 

In Will's case it was cure, not kill. The fever 
quickly disappeared from his system and though it 
left him very weak he recovered so rapidly that in a 
few days he was as strong as ever, in fact, stronger, 
because all the impurities had been steamed out of 
his system, and the new blood generated was better 
than the old. He learned, too, from Inmutanka that 
he had won respect in the village by his courage and 
tenacity, and that many were in favor of lightening 

281 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

his labors, although the Fox was as stern as ever. 

Will was still compelled to realize that he was a 
slave ; that he, a white lad, the heir of untold centuries 
of civilization and culture, was the slave of a people 
who, despite all their courage and other virtues, were 
savages. They stood where, in many respects, his 
ancestors had stood ten or twenty thousand years ago. 
Again and again, the thought was so bitter that he felt 
like making a run for freedom and ending it all on 
the Indian spear. But the thought would change, 
and with it came the hope that some day or other the 
moment of escape would appear, and there was a lurk- 
ing feeling, too, that his present life was not wholly 
unpleasant, or, at least, there were compensations. 

An increased strength came with the rapid recovery 
from his illness. Beyond any question he had grown 
in both height and breadth since he had been in the 
mountains, and his muscles were as hard as iron. 
Not one of the Indian youths could exert as much 
direct strength as he, or endure as much. 

His patience, which was now largely the result of 
calculation and will, began to have its visible effect 
upon the people. There is nothing that an Indian 
admires more than stoicism. The fortitude that can 
endure pain without a groan is to him the highest of 
attributes. Will had never complained, no matter 
how great his hardships or labors, and gradually they 
began to look upon him as one of their own. His face 
was tanned heavily by continuous exposure to all kinds 
of weather, his original garments were worn out, and 
he was now clad wholly in deerskins. A casual ob- 

282 



THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 

server would have passed him at any time as a tall 
Indian youth. 

One day as a mark of favor he was put back as a 
guard upon the herd of ponies, now considerably in- 
creased in numbers, probably by raids upon other 
tribes, and full of life, as they had done little all the 
autumn but crop the rich grass of the valley. Will 
found himself busy keeping them within bounds, but 
his old, happy touch soon returned, and the Indians, 
to their renewed amazement, soon saw the animals 
obeying him instinctively. 

"It is magic," said old Xingudan. 

"Then it is good magic," said Inmutanka, "and 
Wayaka is a good lad. He does not know it yet, but 
he is beginning to like our life. Think of that, O, 
Xingudan." 

"You were ever of soft heart, O, Inmutanka," said 
Xingudan, as he turned away. 

Will's tasks were as long as ever, but they changed 
greatly in character. He was no longer compelled to 
work with the women and children, save when the 
tending of the herds brought him into contact with 
the boys, but there he was now an acknowledged chief. 
A distemper appeared among the ponies and the Sioux 
were greatly alarmed, but Will, with some simple reme- 
dies he had learned in the East, stopped it quickly 
and with the loss of but two or three ponies. Old 
Xingudan gave him no thanks save a brief, "It is well," 
but the lad knew that he had done them a great service 
and that they were not wholly ungrateful. 

He had proof of it a little later, when he was allowed 
283 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

to take part in the trapping and snaring of wild beasts, 
although he was always accompanied by three or 
four Indian youths, and was never permitted to have 
any weapon. 

But he showed zeal, and he enjoyed the freedom, 
although it was only that of the valley and the slopes. 
He learned to set traps with the best of them, and 
became an adept in the taking and curing of game. 
All the while the autumn was deepening and wild life 
was becoming more endurable. The foliage on slopes 
and in the valley that had burned in fiery hues, now 
began to fade into yellow and brown. The winds out 
of the north grew fierce and cutting, and on the vast 
and distant peaks the snow line came down farther and 
farther. 

"Waniyetu (winter) will soon be here," said old 
Inmutanka. 

"The village is in good condition to meet it," said 
Will. 

"Better than most villages of our people," said In- 
mutanka. "The white man presses back the red man 
because the red man thinks only of today, while the 
white man thinks of tomorrow too. The white man 
is not any braver than the red man, often he is not as 
brave, and he is not as cunning, but when the Indian's 
stomach is full his head goes to sleep. While the 
plains are covered with the buffalo in the summer, 
sometimes our people starve to death in the winter." 

"I suppose, doctor," said Will, "that one can't have 
everything. If he is anxious about the future he 
can't enjoy the present." 

284 



THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 

The old Sioux shook his head and remained dissat- 
isfied. 

"The buffalo is our life," he said, "or, at least, the 
life of the Sioux tribes that ride the Great Plains. 
Manitou sends the buffalo to us. Buffaloes, in num- 
bers past all human counting, are born by the will of 
Manitou under the ground and in the winter. When 
the spring winds begin to blow they come from beneath 
the earth through great caves and they begin their 
march northward. If the Sioux and the other Indian 
nations were to displease Manitou he might not send 
the buffalo herds out through the great caves, and then 
we should perish." 

Will afterward discovered that this was a common 
belief among the Indians of the plains. Some old men 
claimed to have seen these caves far down in Texas, 
and it was quite common for the ancients of the tribes 
to aver that their fathers or grandfathers had seen 
them. Most of them held, too, to the consoling belief 
that however great the slaughter of buffaloes by white 
man and red, Manitou would continue to send them 
in such vast numbers that the supply could never be 
exhausted, although a few such as Inmutanka had a 
fear to the contrary. 

Inmutanka, as became his nature, was provident. 
The lodge that he and Will inhabited was well stored 
with pemmican, with nuts and a good store of shelled 
corn. It also held many dried herbs and to Will's eyes, 
now long unused to civilization, it was a comfortable 
and cheerful place. A fire was nearly always kept burn- 
ing in the centre, and he managed to improve the little 

285 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

vent and wind vane at the top in such a manner that 
the smoke was carried off well, and his eyes did not 
suffer from it. 

Then a fierce, cold rain came, blown by bitter winds 
and stripping the last leaf from the trees. At Will's 
own suggestion, vast brush shelters had been thrown 
up near the slopes. Crude and partial though they 
were, they gave the great pony herd much protection, 
and when old Xingudan inspected them carefully he 
looked at Will and said briefly : "It is good." 

Will felt that he had taken another step into favor, 
and it was soon proved by a lightening of his labors 
and an increase in his share of the general amusements. 
Life was continually growing more tolerable. The 
black periods were becoming shorter and the bright pe- 
riods were growing longer. The evenings had now 
grown so cold that the young Sioux spent them mostly 
in the lodges, Will devoting a large part of his time 
to learning the language from Inmutanka, who was a 
willing teacher. As he had much leisure and the Sioux 
vocabulary was limited he could soon talk it fluently. 

All the while the winter deepened and Will, seeing 
that he would have no possible chance of escape for 
many months, resigned himself to his captivity. The 
fierce rain that lasted two days, was followed by snow, 
but the Indians still hunted and brought in much game, 
particularly several fine elk of the great size found only 
in the far northwest. They stood as tall as a horse, 
and Will judged that they weighed more than a thou- 
sand pounds apiece. 

Then deeper snow came and he could hear it thun- 
286 



THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 

dering in avalanches on the distant slopes. He was 
quite sure now that they were even farther north than 
he had at first supposed, and that probably they would 
be snowed in all the winter in the valley, a condition 
to which the Indians were indifferent, as they had 
good shelter and plenty of food. They began to make 
snow-shoes, but Will judged that they would be used 
for hunting rather than for travel. There was no 
reason on earth that he knew why the village should 
move, or any of its people abandon it. 

The warriors spent a part of their time making 
lances, bows, arrows and shields, sometimes working 
in a cave-like opening in the slope a little distance from 
the village. Will did his share of this work and grew 
exceedingly skilful. One very cold morning he and 
several others were toiling hard at the task under 
the critical eye of old Xingudan, who sat on a ledge 
wrapped in a pair of heavy blankets, Will's fine re- 
peating rifle lying across his knees. 

Two of the warriors were sent back to the village 
for more materials, the others were dispatched on 
different tasks until finally only Will was left at work, 
with Xingudan watching. The Fox had seen many 
winters and summers, and his wilderness wisdom was 
great, but he was an Indian and a Sioux to the bone. 
He had noted the steady march of the white man to- 
ward the west, and even if the buffalo continued to 
come forever in countless numbers out of the vast 
caves in the south, they might come, in time, for the 
white man only and not for the red. 

He regarded Will with a yellow and evil eye. 
287 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

Wayaka was a good lad he had proved it more than 
once but he was a representative of the conquering 
and hated race. Heraka had said that his fate, the 
most terrible that could be devised, must come some 
day, but Wayaka was not to know the hour of its 
coming ; no sign that it was at hand must be given. 

Xingudan went over again the words of Heraka, who 
was higher in rank than he, and he pursed his lips 
thoughtfully, trying to decide what he would do. 
Then he heard a woof and a snort, and a sudden lurch 
of a heavy body. He sprang to his feet in alarm. 
While he was thinking and inattentive, Rota (the 
grizzly bear), not yet gone into his winter sleep, vast 
and hungry, was upon him. 

Xingudan was no coward, but he was not so agile 
as a younger man. He sprang to his feet and hastily 
leveling the repeating rifle fired once, twice. The In- 
dian is not a good marksman, least of all when in 
great haste. One of the bullets flew wild, the other 
struck him in the shoulder, and to Rota that was merely 
the thrust of a needle, stinging but not dangerous. A 
stroke of a great paw and the rifle was dashed from 
the hands of the old chief. Then he upreared himself 
in his mighty and terrible height, one of the most 
powerful and ferocious beasts, when wounded, that 
the world has ever known. 

Will had seen the rush of the grizzly and the defense 
of the chief. He snatched up a great spear, a weapon 
full ten feet long and with a point and blade as keen 
as a razor. He thrust it past Xingudan and, with all 
his might, full into the chest of the upreared bear. 

288 



THE CAPTIVE'S RISE 

Strength and a prodigious effort driven on by nervous 
force sped the blow, and the bear, huge as he was, was 
fairly impaled. But Will still hung to the lance and 
continued to push. 

Terrific roars of pain and anger came from the 
throat of the bear. A bloody foam gushed from his 
mouth and he fell heavily, wrenching the spear from 
the boy's grasp and breaking the shaft as he fell. His 
great sides heaved, but presently he lay quite still, and 
Will, quivering from his immense nervous effort, knew 
that he was dead. 

Old Xingudan, who had been half stunned, rose 
to his feet, steadied himself, and said with great 
dignity : 

"You have saved my life, Wayaka. It was a great 
deed to slay Rota with only capa (a spear) and the 
beast, too, is one of the most monstrous that has 
ever come into this valley. You are no longer Wayaka, 
but you shall be known as Waditaka (The Brave), nor 
shall I forget to be grateful." 

Will steadied himself and sat down on a rock, be- 
cause he was somewhat dizzy after such a frightful 
encounter. But he was glad that it had occurred. He 
had no doubt that Xingudan had spoken with the 
utmost sincerity, and now the ruler of the village was 
his staunch friend. 



CHAPTER XIII 

THE REWARD OF MERIT 

WHILE he was yet dizzy and the motes were 
flying in millions before his eyes, he heard 
shouts, and warriors came running, attracted 
by the sound of the shots. They cried out in amaze- 
ment and delight at the monstrous grizzly lying slain 
upon the ground, and then turned to Xingudan to 
compliment him upon his achievement. But the old 
warrior spoke tersely : 

"It was not I," said he, "it was Wayaka, who has 
now become Waditaka, who slew the great grizzly with 
a spear. Rarely has such a deed been done. The 
life of your chief, Xingudan, has been saved by a 
slave." 

Will, who now understood Sioux well, heard every 
word and his heart began to beat. The motes ceased 
to dance before his eyes and the blood flowed back 
into his veins. It was a strange thing, but he had be- 
gun to acquire a liking for these Indians, savage and 
wild though they were, and, as he judged, so far re- 
moved from the white people that they came into con- 
tact with them but seldom. Perhaps a lucky chance, a 
valiant impulse, was about to put him on their social 
plane, that is, he might be raised from the condition 

290 



THE REWARD OF MERIT 

of a slave to that of a freeman, free, at least, to go 
about the village as he pleased, and not to do the work 
of a menial. 

Several of the young warriors turned to him and 
spoke their approval. The trace of a liking that had 
appeared in him had found a response in them. 
Friendship replies to friendship, and Will, who six 
months ago would have laughed at the endorsement 
of blanketed wild men, now felt a thrill of pleasure. 
But Xingudan as yet said little more. He pointed to 
the great bear and said : 

"The skin belongs to Waditaka and Inmutanka. 
Jhe flesh will be divided among the people/' 

Will and the old warrior, with the help of some of 
the young men, removed the monstrous hide. He did 
not care for any of the flesh, although he knew that 
the people would use large portions of it. Then he and 
Inmutanka scraped it carefully, and, when it was well 
cured until it was soft and flexible, they put it in their 
lodge, where it spread so far over the bark floor that 
they were compelled to roll it back partly, to keep it 
out of the fire in the centre. It was the finest trophy 
in the village, and many came to admire it. 

"Rota was the largest that any of us has ever seen," 
said Inmutanka, "but the farther north we go the 
larger grow the great bears. Far up near the frozen 
seas it is said they are so large that they are almost 
as heavy as a buffalo. It is true, too, of Ta (the 
moose). Word comes out of the far north that he 
has been found there having the weight of at least 
three of our ponies." 

291 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

Will did not doubt what Inmutanka said, but his 
interest in his words was due chiefly to the inferences 
he drew from them. Inmutanka spoke of the im- 
mensity of the bear because they were in the far north, 
and it was only another confirmation of his belief that 
the great march after he was taken captive had been 
made almost due north. They must be in some valley 
in the vast range of mountains that ran in an unbroken 
chain from the Arctic to the Antarctic, more than ten 
thousand miles. Perhaps they had gone much beyond 
the American line, and this was the last outlying vil- 
lage of the Sioux. 

But he did not bother himself about it now, 
knowing that he could do nothing until next spring, 
as the snow fell heavily and almost continuously. It 
was three or four feet deep about the lodges and he 
knew that it lay in unmeasured depths in the passes. 
All the world was gleaming white, but the crests of 
the mountains were seldom visible, owing to the driv- 
ing storms. 

Plenty and cheerfulness prevailed in the village. 
Will had an idea that he was seeing savage life under 
the most favorable conditions. It was too true that 
the Indian coming in contact with the white man gen- 
erally learned his vices and not his virtues, and too 
often forgot his own virtues also, until he became 
wholly bad. But this village, save for its firearms and 
metal tomahawks, was in much the same condition that 
other Indian villages must have been four or five hun- 
dred years earlier. 

Old Xingudan ruled with the alternate severity and 
292 



THE REWARD OF MERIT 

forbearance of a patriarch, and now he showed his 
kindly side to Will, treating him almost as one of their 
own young warriors. The "almost" was soon turned 
to a fact, as old Inmutanka formally adopted Will as 
his son with the ceremonies customary on such occa- 
sions, and he knew therefore that his struggle had 
been achieved at last, that he had now attained a 
plane of social equality with the Indians of the village. 

Whatever it may have seemed six months before, 
it was no small triumph now. His task was chiefly 
in the making of arms, along with the other warriors, 
and he soon become the equal of any of them. He 
also practiced with them the throwing of the tomahawk 
at trees, in which he acquired wonderful dexterity. 
But his best work was done among the ponies. Often 
in jest he called himself the horse doctor of the camp. 
He had studied their ailments and he knew how to 
cure them, but above all was his extraordinary gift of 
reaching into the horse nature, a power, derived he 
knew not whence or how, of conveying to them the 
sympathy for them in his nature. They responded 
as human beings do to such a feeling, and, with a 
word and a sign, he could lead a whole herd from one 
field to another. 

This power of his impressed the Sioux even more 
than his slaying of the monstrous grizzly bear with 
only a spear. It was a gift direct from Manitou, and 
they were proud that an adopted warrior of their vil- 
lage should have such a mysterious strength. Will 
knew now that he was no longer in danger of torture 
by fire or otherwise. Old Xingudan would not do it. 

293 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

Heraka, who was his superior chief, might return and 
command it, but Xingudan and the whole village would 
disobey. Moreover, he was now the adopted son of 
Inmutanka, a young Sioux warrior with all the rights 
of a Sioux, and the law forbade them to torture him 
or put him to death. And Indian laws were often 
better obeyed than white man's laws. 

Xingudan kept his repeating rifle, his revolver and 
his field glasses, but a bow and arrows were permitted 
to him, and he learned to use them as well as any 
of the Indians. The valley and the slopes that were 
not too high and steep, afforded an extensive hunting 
range, despite the deep snow, and Will brought down 
with a lucky arrow a fine elk that made for him a 
position yet better in the village, as he and Inmutanka, 
his father, were entitled to the body, but instead divided 
at least half of it among the older and weaker men 
and women. 

Despite the favor into which he had come, Will 
could learn nothing of his location or of the progress 
of the war between the great Sioux nation and the 
whites. Yet of the latter he had a hint. Just before 
the winter closed in on them finally, a young warrior, 
evidently a runner because he bore all the signs of hav- 
ing travelled far and fast, arrived in the valley. He 
was taken into the lodge of Xingudan and he departed 
the next morning with five of the young warriors of 
the village, the best men they had. When Will re- 
ferred to their absence he received either no answer or 
an ambiguous one. Inmutanka himself would say 
nothing about them, but Will made a shrewd surmise 

294. 



THE REWARD OF MERIT 

that the runner had come for help in the great war 
and that the last and uttermost village would be stripped 
in the attempt to turn back the white tide. 

His growing appreciation of wild life caused him 
to have an increasing feeling of sympathy for the 
Sioux. The white flood would engulf them some day. 
He knew that just as well as he knew that he was in 
the valley, but as for himself, he had no wish to see. 
the buffalo disappear from the plains. If his own per- 
sonal desires were consulted the west would remain 
a wilderness and a land of romance. It was pleasant 
to think that there was an immense region in which 
one could always discover a towering peak, a noble 
river or a splendid lake. 

Adopted now into the tribe, and far from the battle 
line, he might have drifted on indefinitely with the 
Indians, but there was the memory of his white com- 
rades, whom he could hot believe dead, and also the 
mission upon which he had started, the hunt for the 
great mine which his father had found. The reasons 
why he should continue the search were overwhelming, 
and despite the kindness of Inmutanka and the 
others he meant to escape from them whenever he 
could. 

The winter shut down fierce and hard. Will had 
never before known cold so intense and continuous. 
In the valley itself the snow lay deep and its surface 
was frozen hard, but the Indians moved over it easily 
on their snowshoes, the use of which Will learned 
with much pain and tribulation. The river was cov- 
ered with ice of great thickness, but the Indians cut 

295 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

holes in it and caught many excellent fish, which added 
a pleasant variety to their diet. 

One of their hardest struggles was to keep alive the 
herd of ponies. At the suggestion of Will and of 
Xingudan, who was a wise man beyond his race, much 
forage had been cut for them before the winter fell, 
and in the alcoves of the mountains where the snow 
was thin they were continually seeking grass, which 
grew despite everything. Will led in the work of 
saving the herd, and gradually he directed almost his 
whole time to it. He insisted upon gathering any- 
thing they could eat, even twigs, and Indian ponies 
are very tough. The young boys, the old men and 
the old women helped him and were directed by him. 

Scarcely any young warriors were left in the village 
and Will's strength and intelligence fitted him for 
leadership. The weaker people began to rely upon 
him and, as he learned the ways of the wild and fused 
them with the ways of civilization, he became a great 
source of strength in the village. He wore a beautiful 
deerskin suit which several of the old women had made 
for him in gratitude for large supplies of food that he 
had given to them, and he had a splendid overcoat 
which Inmutanka and he had made of a buffalo robe. 

The lodge of Inmutanka and Waditaka, who had 
once been known as Wayaka, became the most attrac- 
tive in the village. Will lined the fire hole in the 
centre with stones, and in the roof he made a sort 
of flue which caused the vent to draw so much better 
that they were not troubled by smoke. He reinforced 
the bark floor with more bark, o\ T er which the great 

296 



THE REWARD OF MERIT 

bear robe was spread on oiie side of the fire, while 
the other side was covered with the skins of smaller 
bears, wolves and wildcats. Many small articles of 
decoration or adornment hung about the walls. Inmu- 
tanka had been in the habit of shutting the door tightly 
at night, but as Will insisted upon leaving it open 
partly, no matter how bitter the weather, they always 
had plenty of fresh air and suffered from no colds. 
Will, too, insisted upon the utmost cleanliness and 
neatness, qualities in which the Indian does not always 
excel, and his example raised the tone of the vil- 
lage. 

A period of very great cold came. Will reckoned 
that the mercury must be at least forty degrees below 
zero, and, for a week, the people scarcely stirred from 
their lodges. Then occurred the terrible invasion of 
the mountain wolves, the like of which the oldest man 
could not recall. Will and Inmutanka were awakened 
at dawn by a distant but ferocious whining. 

"Wolves," said Inmutanka, "and they are hungry, 
but they will not attack a village." 

He turned over in his warm buffalo robes and pre- 
pared to go to sleep again, but the whining grew louder 
and more ferocious, increasing to such an extent that 
Inmutanka became alarmed and went to the door. 
When he pulled back the flap yet farther the howling 
seemed very near and inexpressibly fierce. 

"It is a great pack," said the old Sioux. "I have 
never before heard so many wolves howl together, and 
their voices are so big and fierce that they must be 
those of the great wolves of the northern mountains." 

297 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"They're going to attack the village," said Will. "I 
can tell that by the way they're coming on/' 

"It is so," said Inmutanka. "They run on the snow, 
which is frozen so deep that it can bear their weight." 

Will threw on rapidly his deerskin suit, his buffalo 
overcoat and took down his bow and quiver of arrows. 
Inmutanka meanwhile beat heavily on a war drum, 
and in the bitter cold and darkness all who were able 
to fight poured out of the lodges, Xingudan at their 
head, carrying Will's rifle and revolver. 

Several of the Indian women brought torches and 
held them aloft, casting vivid lines of red upon the 
frozen snow. From the great corral came frightened 
neighs and whinnies from the ponies, that knew a ter- 
rible foe was at hand. It was probably the ponies 
that would have been attacked first, but it was not in 
the character of the Sioux to stay in their lodges and 
let their animals be devoured. Valiantly, they had 
rushed forth to meet the most formidable wolf pack 
that had ever come out of the north, and by the light 
of the torches Will presently saw the great, gaunt, 
shadowy forms and the fiery eyes of the huge wolves 
which, driven by hunger, had boldly attacked a village. 

It was impossible for him to estimate even their 
approximate numbers, but he believed they could not 
be less than several hundred. They hovered a while 
at the north side of the village, and then old Xingudan 
opened fire with the repeating rifle. Howling sav- 
agely, the wolves made their rush. The Indians who 
had rifles fired as fast as they could, but the bows, 
much more numerous, did the deadlier work. Will, 

298 



THE REWARD OF MERIT 

remembering to keep his nerves steady, and standing 
by the side of his foster father, Inmutanka, sent arrow 
after arrow, generally at the throats of the wolves, 
and he rarely missed. 

But the great pack, evidently driven by the fiercest 
hunger, did not give way for bullet or arrows. Huge 
slavering beasts, they pressed on continually. Two 
or three of the older men were pulled down and de- 
voured before the very eyes of the people, and Will, 
who was rapidly shooting away his last arrows, felt 
himself seized by an immense horror. If the savage 
brutes should break through their line they would 
all be killed and eaten. Save for 'a rifle or two, time 
had turned back ten or twenty thousand years, when 
men fought continually with the great flesh-eaters for 
a place on earth. 

Seized by an idea, he rushed to the center of the 
village where a great fire was burning, and snatched 
up a torch, calling to others to do likewise. It was 
the old squaws who were the quickest witted and they 
obeyed him at once. Twenty women held aloft the 
flaming wood, and they rushed directly in the faces 
of the wolves, which gave back as they had not given 
back before either rifle or arrow. Then the arrows 
sang in swarms, and the pack, fierce though its hunger 
might be, was unable to withstand more and fled. 

Xingudan urged forward a pursuit. Will had ex- 
hausted his arrows, but an old warrior loaned him a 
long lance, and with it he slew two of the brutes which 
were now panic stricken. Yet the chief, like a good 
general, still pressed the fleeing horde, although the 

299 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

wolves turned once and another old man was killed. 
Inmutanka himself came very near losing his life, as 
a monster whirled and sprang for him, but Will re- 
ceived the throat of the wolf on the point of the lance, 
and although he was borne to the earth, the raging 
brute was killed instantly. 

When the wintry dawn came, none of the great pack 
was left alive near the village. At least half were 
slain, and the others had scrambled away in some fash- 
ion among the mountains. 

The village had escaped a great danger, but it re- 
joiced in victory. The old men, or what was left of 
them, were buried decently and then there was an im- 
mense taking of wolf-skins, the fine pelts of the huge 
northern beasts, which would long adorn the lodges of 
the Sioux, and Will again received approval for his 
quick and .timely attack with fire. Xingudan knew in 
his heart that the village might have been overpowered 
and devoured had it not been for the wit and courage 
of Waditaka. But he merely said "Waditaka has 
done well." Will, however, knew that the four words 
meant much and that the liberty of the village was 
his. He was a sharer of all things save one that, 
however, being much namely, the knowledge of their 
location, which was kept from him as thoroughly as 
in the beginning. 

But for a day or two he did not have much time 
to think of the question, as the whole village was 
busily engaged in skinning the slaughtered wolves and 
dressing the hides. Never before had so many been 
obtained at once by a single Indian village, and they 

300 



THE REWARD OF MERIT 

secured every one, scraping them carefully and then 
drying them on high platforms or the boughs of trees. 
Often at night they heard a distant growling and they 
knew that a few wolves, still hiding in the valley, 
came out at night to devour the bodies of their dead 
comrades. 

Will, lying between the furs in the strong lodge, 
would hear sometimes the sound of these faint growls, 
but they troubled him not at all. He would draw the 
buffalo robes more closely about him, as the child 
in the farmhouse pulls up the covers when he hears 
the patter of rain on the roof, and feels an immense 
sense of comfort. The compulsion of the life he was 
leading was fast sending him back to the primitive. 
He would have read had there been anything to read, 
but, despite the limited world of the valley in which 
he now lived, his daily activities were very great. 

There was the pony herd, of which he was the 
chief guardian. Food must be found for it, though 
the hardy animals could and did do a great deal for 
themselves under the most adverse conditions. They 
ate twigs, they dug under the snow with their sharp 
hoofs for grass that yet lived in sheltered nooks, and 
Will and the Indians, by persistent seeking, were able 
to add to their supplies. They also had to break the 
ice on the river that they might drink, and, under the 
severe and continuous cold, the ice was now a foot 
thick. 

Will also helped with the fishing through holes in 
the ice, and acquired all the Indian skill. The fish 
formed a most welcome addition to their diet of dried 

301 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

tneat and the occasional bread made from Indian corn. 
He helped, too, with the continual strengthening of 
the lodges, because all the old Indians foresaw the 
fiercest winter in a generation. 

As Will reverted farther and farther into the primi- 
tive he retained a virtue which is the product of civili- 
zation. He was respectful and helpful to the very 
old and weak^ The percentage of such in the village 
was much larger than usual, as nearly all the warriors 
had gone to the war. He invariably took food to 
the weazened old squaws and the decrepit old men, 
who presented him with another suit of beautifully 
decorated deerskin, and a coat of the softest and finest 
buffalo robe that he had ever seen. 

"Waditaka big favorite," said Inmutanka when Will 
showed him the buffalo overcoat. "By and by all old 
squaws marry him." 

"What?" exclaimed Will in horror. 

"Of course," said Inmutanka, grinning slyly. "He 
make old squaws many presents. Leave venison, buf- 
falo meat, bear meat at doors of their lodges. They 
marry him in the spring." 

But Will caught the twinkle in Inmutanka's eyes. 

"If they propose," he said, 'Til offer good old Dr. 
Inmutanka in my place. He's nearer their age, and 
with his medical skill he'll be able to take care of 
them." 

"Inmutanka never had a wife. He always what 
you call in your language bachelor. Too late to 
change now." 

"But since you've raised this question I'll insist," 
302 



THE REWARD OF MERIT 

said Will formidably. "You've been a bachelor too 
long, and you a great medical man too. Men are 
scarce in this village, and you must have at least a 
dozen wives." 

"You stop, I stop," said Inmutanka in a tone of 
entreaty. 

"Very good, honored foster-father. It's a closed 
subject forever. I don't think I'd care to have a 
dozen stepmothers just now." 

The cold remained intense. Everything was frozen 
up, but game, nevertheless, still wandered - into the 
valley and the warriors continually hunted it. All 
their bullets, never in great supply, had been fired away 
in the battle with the wolves, and they relied now upon 
bow and arrow. Two of the old warriors, attacking 
a fierce grizzly with these weapons, were slain by it, 
and though a party led by Xingudan, with Will as one 
of his lieutenants, killed the monster, there was mourn- 
ing in the village for several days. Then it ceased 
abruptly. The dead were the dead. They had gone 
to the happy hunting grounds, where in time all must 
go, and it was foolish and unmanly to mourn so long. 
Will did not believe that the primitive retain grief as 
the civilized do. It was a provision to protect those 
among whom life was so uncertain. 

A few days later a warrior of the Sioux nation ar- 
rived in the valley, suffering from a wound and on 
the point of death from cold and starvation. He was 
put in one of the warmest lodges, his wounds were 
dressed carefully and when he had revived sufficiently 
he asked for the old chief, Xingudan. 

303 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIU 

"I was hurt in battle with the white men many, 
many days' journey away," he said, "and the great 
chief Heraka, knowing I would not be fit for march 
and fight for a long time, sent me here to recover and 
he also sent with me a message for you." 

"What was the message, Roka (Badger) ?" 

"It was in regard to the white youth, Wayaka, our 
prisoner." 

"Wayaka has become Waditaka, owing to his great 
bravery. With only a spear he fought and slew a 
monstrous grizzly bear that would have killed me the 
next instant. When we drove off the huge pack of 
giant mountain wolves his service was the greatest." 

"Even so, Xingudan. Those are brave deeds, but 
they cannot alter the command I brought from 
Heraka." 

"What was the command, Roka?" 

"That Waditaka be burned to death with slow fire 
at the stake, and that other tortures of which we know 
be inflicted upon him. We lost many warriors in battle 
with the whites and the soul of Heraka was bitter." 

Old Xingudan leaned his chin on his hand and 
looked very thoughtfully at the fire that blazed in the 
centre of the lodge. 

"The command of Heraka is unjust," he said. 

"I cannot help that, as you know, Xingudan." 

"I do not blame you, but there is something of 
which Heraka is ignorant." 

"What is it?" 

"Waditaka is now the adopted son of the wise and 
good Inmutanka." 

304 



THE REWARD OF MERIT 

"But the orders of Heraka are strict and stern." 

"The rite of adoption is sacred. Until Waditaka 
himself chooses to change he is a Sioux and must be 
treated as a Sioux." 

"The consent of Heraka was not secured for the 
adoption." 

"It was impossible to reach him. The laws of the 
Sioux have not been violated. Waditaka is a brave 
young warrior. The fire shall not touch him. A 
winter great and terrible is upon us and it may be 
before it is over that we shall need him much. He 
is a brave young warrior and few of them are left 
now in the village. I am old, Roka, and the old as 
they draw near to Manitou and all the gods and spirits 
that people the air, hear many whispers of the future. 
A voice coming from afar tells low in my ear that 
before the snow and ice have gone Waditaka, who was 
born white but who is now a Sioux, the adopted son 
of Inmutanka, will save us all." 

"And does Xingudan see that?" 

"Yes, Roka, I see it." 

The wounded warrior raised himself on his pallet 
and a look of awe appeared on his face. 

"If thou readest the future aright, Xingudan," he 
said, "it would be well to save this lad and brave the 
anger of Heraka, if he be so bold as to defy the law 
of adoption." 

"I am old and my bones are old, but even though 
he is a chief above me I do not fear Heraka. Wadi- 
taka shall not burn. I have said it." 

"I have but delivered my message, Xingudan. Now 
805 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

I will sleep, as my wound is sore. I have traveled far 
and the cold is great." 

Will little knew how his fate had been discussed 
in the lodge, and how his good humor, his acceptance 
of conditions and his zeal to help had saved him from 
a lingering and horrible death. Old Xingudan, taci- 
turn though he was and seve-re of manner, was his 
firm friend and would defend him against Heraka, or 
the great war chief, Red Cloud, himself. Will was 
not only by formal rite of adoption a Sioux, but in 
the present crisis he was, on the whole, the most 
valuable young warrior in a village where young war- 
riors were so scarce, owing to the distant war with 
the whites. 

"You have delivered your message, Roka," said 
Xingudan, finally, "and you have no right to deliver 
it to anybody but me. Therefore your duty is done. 
Do not mention it again while you are with us." 

"I obey, O Xingudan," said Roka. "Here I am 
under your command, and now I will exert all my 
energies to get well of my wound." 

Will, meanwhile, relapsed farther and farther into 
the primitive, all the conditions of extreme wildness 
exerting upon him a powerful influence. They no 
longer had bullets and gunpowder or cartridges, but 
must fight with bow and arrow, lance and war club. 
It was necessary, too, to defend themselves, as the tre- 
mendous cold was driving into the valley more beasts 
of prey, ravening with hunger. 

And yet the primitive state of the youth and those 
around him was not ignoble. Just as the people of 

306 



THE REWARD OF MERIT 

a village twenty thousand years before may have Been 
drawn together by common dangers and the needs of 
mutual help, so were these. The women worked dili- 
gently on the wolf skins, making heavier and warmer 
clothing, the food supply was placed under the dicta- 
torship of Xingudan, who saw that nothing was 
wasted. Will, with the superior foresight of the white 
man's brain, was really at the back of this measure. 

To the most active and vigorous men was assigned 
the task of hunting the great wild beasts which now 
wandered into the valley, driven by cold and fierce, 
growing hunger. 

The wolves were but the forerunners. Mountain 
lions of uncommon size and ferocity appeared. An 
old woman was struck down in the night and de- 
voured, and in broad daylight a child standing at the 
brink of the river was killed and carried away. Then 
the grizzly bears or other bears, huge beyond any that 
they had ever seen before, appeared. A group came 
in the night and attacked the pony herd, slaying and 
partly devouring at least a dozen. All in the village 
were awakened by the stamping of the horses and 
in the bitter cold and darkness the brave children of 
the wild rushed to the rescue, the women snatching 
torches and hurrying with them to furnish light by 
which their men could fight. 

The battle that ensued was fully as terrible as that 
with the wolves. The bears, although far fewer than 
the wolves had been, were the greatest of all the 
American carnivora, and they resented savagely the 
attempt to drive them from their food, turning with 

307 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

foaming mouths upon their assailants, who could not 
meet them now with bullets, but who fought with the 
weapons of an earlier time. 

Will plied the bow and arrow, and, when the arrows 
were exhausted, used a long lance. He and Xingudan 
were really the leaders, marshalling their hosts with 
such skill and effect that they gradually drove the 
bears away from the ponies, leaving the animals to 
be quieted by the women and old men, while the war- 
riors fought the bears. Among these men was Roka, 
now recovered from his wound, and using a great 
bow with deadly accuracy. He and Will at length 
drew up side by side, and the stout Indian planted an 
arrow deep in the side of a bear. Yet the wound 
was not fatal, and the animal, first biting at the arrow, 
then charged. Will struck with the lance so fiercely 
that it entered the animal's heart and, wrenched from 
his hands, was broken as the great beast fell. 

"Behold!" shouted Xingudan in Roka's ear, "he 
has saved your life even as he saved mine!" 

Not one of the bears escaped, but two of the men 
lost their lives in the terrible combat, and the strength 
of the village was reduced yet further. The two men, 
however, had perished nobly and the people felt tri- 
umphant. Will examined the bears by the numerous 
torchlights. He and Xingudan and Inmutanka agreed 
that they were not the true grizzly of the Montana or 
Idaho mountains, but, like the first one, much larger 
beasts coming out of the far north. Will judged that 
the largest of them all weighed a full three-quarters 
of a ton or more, and a most terrific creature he was, 

308 



THE REWARD OF MERIT 

with great hooked claws as hard as steel and nearly 
a foot in length. 

"One blow of those would destroy the stoutest war- 
or, Waditaka," said Xingudan. 

"Our bows and arrows and lances have saved us," 
said Will. "I think they've been driven out of the 
Arctic by the great cold, and have migrated south in 
search of food." 

"Then they smelled the horses and attacked them." 

"Truly so, Xingudan, and they or other wild beasts 
will come again. The ponies are our weakest point. 
The great meat-eating animals will always attack 
them." 

"But we must keep our ponies, Waditaka. We will 
need them in the spring to hunt the buffalo." 

"Of course, Xingudan, we must save the ponies." 

"How, O Waditaka?" 

The youth felt a thrill. The chief was appealing 
to him to show the way and he felt that he must do 
it. He had already the germ of an idea. 

"I think I shall have a plan tomorrow, O Xingu- 
dan," he said. 

When Will departed for their lodge with Inmu- 
tanka, Xingudan said to Roka : 

"What think you now, Roka, of Waditaka, once 
Wayaka, a captive youth, but now Waditaka, the 
brave young Sioux warrior, the adopted son of Inmu- 
tanka, who is the greatest curer of sickness among 
us?" 

"He was as brave as any, as well as the most skill- 
ful of all those who fought against the great beasts," 

309 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

replied Roka, "and you spoke truly, Xingudan, when 
you said the village needed him. I make no demand 
that the command of Heraka be carried out. But 
can we keep him, Xingudan? Will he not go back 
to his own people when the chance conies ?" 

"That I know not, Roka, but it will be many a day 
before he has a chance to return to them. The dis- 
tance is great, as you know, and we concealed from 
him the way we came. The knowledge of the region 
in which this village stands is hidden from him." 

Will's idea, as he had promised, was developed the 
next day. The corral for the ponies, with one side 
of it against the overhanging cliff, was strengthened 
greatly with stakes and brush, and at night fires were 
lighted all about it, tended by relays. He knew that 
wild beasts dreaded nothing so much as fire, and if 
any of them appeared the guards were to beat the 
alarm on the war drum. There were enough people 
in the village to make it easy for the watchers, and 
the fires would keep them warm. 

Xingudan expressed his full approval of the plan, 
and the watch was set that very night, Will, at his own 
request, being put in charge of it. Heavily wrapped 
in his buffalo coat over his deerskin suit, with two pairs 
of moccasins on his feet, a fur cap on his head and 
thick ear muffs, he walked from fire to fire and saw 
that they were well fed. There was no need to spare 
the wood, the valley having a great supply of timber. 

His assistants were small boys, old men and old 
women. The intelligence, activity and strength of 
these ancient squaws always surprised William. They 

310 



THE REWARD OF MERIT 

were terribly weazened and withered, and far from 
beautiful to look upon, but once having arrived at that 
condition they seemed able to live forever, and to take 
a healthy interest in life as they went along. Owing 
to the lack of men in the village their importance had 
increased also, and they liked it. Under Will's eye 
they worked with remarkable zeal, and a band of living 
light surrounded the entire corral. Other lights blazed 
at points about the village, as they intended to make 
everything safe. 

Will was chief of the watch, until about three o'clock 
in the morning. Often he went among the ponies 
and soothed them with voice and touch, for they were 
generally restless. Out of the darkness, well beyond 
the light of the flames, came growls and the noises of 
fierce combat. They had skinned all the bears, and 
also had taken away all the eatable portions of their 
bodies, but other beasts had come for what was left. 
The Indians distinguished the voices of bear, moun- 
tain lion and wolf. From the slopes also came fierce 
whines, and the old squaws, shuddering, built the fires 
yet higher. 

"Son of Inmutanka," said Xingudan at last to Will, 
"go to your lodge and sleep. You have proved anew 
that you are a man and worthy to belong to the great 
Dakota nation. The fires will be kept burning all 
through the night and see you, Inmutanka, that no one 
awakens him. Let his sleep go of its own accord to its 
full measure/' 

A year earlier Will would have been so much ex- 
cited that sleep would have been impossible to him, 

311 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

But the primitive life he was leading had hardened all 
his nerves so thoroughly that he slumbered at once be- 
tween the buffalo robes. 

Old Inmutanka did not awaken him when the dawn 
came, although most of the people were already at 
work, curing the meat of the bears and scraping and 
drying the huge hides. They were also putting more 
brush and stakes around the great corral for the 
ponies, and many were already saying it was Waditaka 
who had saved their horses for them the night before. 
But the day had all the intense cold of extreme winter 
in the great mountains of North America. The mer- 
cury was a full forty degrees below zero, and the 
Indians who worked with the spoils had only chin, 
eyes and mouth exposed. Among them came old 
Inmutanka, very erect and strong despite his years, 
and full of honest pride. He thumped himself twice 
upon the chest, and then said in a loud, clear voice : 

"Does anyone here wish to question the merit of 
my son, Waditaka ? Is he not as brave as the bravest, 
and does he not think further ahead than any other 
warrior in the village?" 

Then up spoke old Xingudan and he was sincere. 

"Your words are as true as if they had been spoken 
by Manitou himself," he said. "The youth, Wadi- 
taka, the son of Inmutanka, was the greatest warrior 
of us all when the bears came, and his deeds stand 
jprst" 

Then up spoke the messenger, Roka, also. 

"It is true," he said. "I witnessed with my own 
eyes the great deeds of Waditaka. Our chief, Xingu- 

312 



THE REWARD OF MERIT 

dan, must be proud to have such a brave and wise 
young warrior in his village." 

The two talked later on about the matter and Roka 
fully agreed with Xingudan that the command of 
Heraka should be disregarded. Red Cloud, the great 
Mahpeyalute, would support them in it and, in any 
event, it was quite sure that the village itself would 
not allow it. 

Will did not awake until the afternoon, and then 
he yawned and stretched himself a minute or two be- 
tween the warm covers before he opened his eyes. He 
saw a low fire of big coals burning in the centre of 
the lodge, neutralizing the intensely cold air that came 
in where the door of the lodge was left open for a 
foot or more. 

He surmised from the angle of the sun's rays that 
the day was far advanced. Pemmican, strips of veni- 
son and some corn cakes lay by the edge of the fire 
and he knew that good old Inmutanka had left them 
there for him. He began to feel hungry. He would 
rise in a few minutes and warm the bread and meat 
by the fire, but he first listened to a chant that came 
from the outside, low at first, though swelling grad- 
ually. His attention was specially attracted, because 
he caught the sound of his own name in a recurring 
note. At length he made out the song, something 
like this : 

Lo, in the night the great bears came 
Our horses they would crush and devour. 
Mighty were they in their size and strength 
313 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

And hunger fierce and terrible drove them on. 
Bullets we had none, only the edge of steel and bone, 
But the fires of Waditaka filled their souls with fear, 
Waditaka, the wise, the brave son of Inmutanka, 
Without him our herd would have been lost, and we, too. 

Waditaka, the valiant and wise, showed us the way. 
Young, but his arrow sings true, his lance strikes deep, 
Waditaka, the thoughtful, the bold, the son of Inmutanka, 
Proud we are that he belongs to us ano? fights for us. 

Young Clarke lay back between the buffalo covers. 
!The song, crude though it was, and without rhyme or 
metre in the Indian fashion, gave him a strange and 
deep thrill. It was in just such manner that the 
Greeks chanted the praises of some hero who had 
saved them from great disaster, or who had done 
a mighty deed against dragons. From his early read- 
ing came visions of Hercules and Theseus, of Perseus 
and Bellerophon. But he did not put himself with 
such champions. He was merely serving a primitive 
little village, carried by its primitive state farther back 
than that world in which the more or less legendary 
Greek heroes lived. 

But it was pleasant, wonderfully pleasant, to hear 
the chant. This was his world and to know, for a 
time at least, that he was first among the people, was 
very grateful to young ears. Listening a while he 
rose, dressed, warmed his food, and ate it with the 
appetite of a young lion. 



CHAPTER XIV 

THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

WHEN Will came out of the lodge he witnessed 
such a scene as one might have looked upon 
ten thousand years ago. The cold was bitter, 
but there were many fires. Vast icicles hung from 
the slopes of the mountains, glittering in the sun like 
gigantic spears. The trees were sheathed in ice, and, 
when the wind shook the boughs, pieces fell like silver 
mail. It was an icy world, narrow and enclosed, but 
it was a cheerful world just the same. 

The squaws were pounding the bear meat, much as 
the white housewife would pound a steak, but with 
more vigor. Grizzly or any other kind of big bear was 
exceedingly tough, even after treatment, but, in the 
last resort, the Indians would eat it, and, despite their 
great stores of ordinary food, Xingudan feared they 
would not last through the long and bitter winter now 
promised. 

The huge skins which had all the quality of fur 
were welcome. Will believed the bears were not 
grizzlies, and later, when he heard of the mighty 
Alaskan bears, he was sure of it. Great portions of 
the animals could not be used, and, as Xingudan knew 

315 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

that the odor would draw the fierce carnivora at night, 
he ordered it all carried to a point far up the valley 
and dumped there. Then the night was filled with 
howlings as the big wolves came down again and 
fought and ate. 

Will listened with many a shudder as, heavily 
clothed and armed, he helped to keep the guard about 
the village and the corral, and, as he listened, he re- 
verted by another great stage back into the primitive. 
He was with his friends, those who had fought be- 
side him, those who cared for him, and those who 
looked upon him as a leader. For the present, at least, 
he was content. His hours were full of useful labor, 
of excitement, and of rewards. He knew that another 
of the great bearskins would be placed in the lodge 
that belonged to himself and Inmutanka, and that 
the best of the food would always be theirs if they 
were willing to take it. 

The most difficult of their tasks was to procure 
enough food for the ponies, and they were continually 
turning up the snow in secluded alcoves in search of it. 
Once the weather moderated considerably for a week, 
and the snow melting in vast volume freshened all the 
grass and foliage. Heavy and continuous rains for 
several days renewed much vegetation, apparently dead 
in this secluded valley, and the ponies, which were 
permitted to graze freely in the course of the day, al- 
though they were driven back to the corral at night, 
regained much of their lost flesh. The Indians also 
used this interval to gather and store much forage 
for them. 

316 



THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

With the cessation of the rain however, the fierce 
cold returned. Everything froze up tight and fast 
again, and once more at night they heard the fierce 
howlings of the wild beasts. The fires around the 
corral were renewed and were never permitted to die, 
and it was necessary also to keep them burning con- 
tinually about the village. A wolf stole in between 
the lodges, killed and carried off a little child. He 
was trailed by Will, Roka, now his fast friend, and a 
young warrior named Pehansan, the Crane, because 
of his extreme height and thinness. But Pehansan's 
figure, despite its slenderness, was so tough that he 
seemed able to endure anything, and on this expedi- 
tion he was the leader. They tracked the wolf up 
the mountain side, slew it with arrows and recovered 
the body of the child, to which they gave proper 
burial, thus making sure of the immortality of its soul. 

The danger from the wild beasts remained. It was 
the theory of the old and wise Xingudan that the 
pony herd drew them. The fierce winter made the 
hunting bad, but the word had been passed on by 
wolves, mountain lions and bears that a certain valley 
was filled with fine, toothsome horses, little able to 
protect themselves, and all of the fierce meat-eaters 
were coming to claim their share. 

"We shall have to fight them until the spring," said 
the wise old chief, "and since we have neither car- 
tridges nor powder and lead, we must make hundreds 
and hundreds of arrows." 

This was hard and tedious labor, but nearly all in 
the village, who were able, devoted most of their 

317 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

time to it. They used various kinds of wood, scrap- 
ing the shafts until they were perfectly round, and 
making on every one three fine grooves which kept 
them from warping. The arrows were of two differ- 
ent kinds, those for hunting and those for war. The 
barb of the war arrow was short, and it was not fas- 
tened very tightly to the shaft. When it struck the 
enemy, it would become detached and remain in the 
wound, while the shaft fell away. A cruel device, 
but not worse than has since been shown by highly 
civilized people in a universal war. 

The head of the hunting arrow was longer, more 
tapering and it was fastened securely. The people 
of the village made these in much greater numbers 
than the war arrows, as they certainly expected no 
fighting with men before the spring, and then they 
would procure ammunition for their rifles. The 
Sioux were not good marksmen at long range, but 
they shot their arrows with amazing swiftness. Will 
noted that a man holding a dozen arrows in his left 
hand could fire them all in as many seconds, and they 
could be discharged with such power that at very close 
range one would pass entirely through the body of a 
buffalo. 

While Will did not learn to shoot the arrows as 
fast as the Indians, he was soon a better marksman 
at long range than anybody else in the village. Then 
Xingudan gave him the most beautiful bow he had 
ever seen. It was made of pieces of elkhorn that 
had been wrapped minutely and as tightly as possible 
with the fresh intestines of a deer. When the intes- 

318 



THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

tines dried the bow became to all purposes a single 
piece of powerful horn, yet with the flexibility and 
elasticity that one horn did not have. It was unbreak- 
able, it did not suffer from weather, and it had among 
the Sioux the same value that a jewel of great price has 
among white people. Will knew that old Xingudan 
considered it a full equivalent for his repeating rifle, 
revolver and field glasses that the old chief kept in 
his lodge. 

Will and the Crane, otherwise Pehansan, formed 
a warm friendship, and he found a similar friend in 
Roka, the stalwart warrior who had come with the 
order for his death by torture. Soon after he re- 
ceived the gift of the great bow the three decided on 
a hunting expedition toward the upper end of the 
valley, all traveling on snowshoes. 

"Beware of the wild beasts, my son," said Inmu- 
tanka. 

"We have heard nothing of them for a week past," 
said Will. 

"The greater reason to expect them, because the 
word has been sent over a thousand miles of snow 
fields that we are here to be eaten. I know you are 
brave, watchful and quick, but take many arrows and 
see that Roka and Pehansan do the same." 

Will was gay and light of heart, but he obeyed the 
injunction of Inmutanka and filled the quiver. He 
saw that Roka and Pehansan had an abundance, also, 
and the three, wrapped in furs, departed on their 
snowshoes. The Indians had not gone much toward 
the upper end of the valley. The slopes were less 

319 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

precipitous there and the forest heavier, giving better 
hiding for the great wild beasts, and hence making 
them much more dangerous. But with his magnifi- 
cent new bow on his shoulder and his stout comrades 
beside him Will was not afraid. 

The cold was less intense than it had been for some 
time and the exercise of walking with the snowshoes 
gave them plenty of warmth. The snow itself, which 
had now begun to soften at the surface, lay to a 
depth of about three feet, hiding the river save where 
the Indians had cut holes through ice and snow to 
capture fish. 

Pehansan, an inveterate hunter who would willingly 
have passed a thousand years of good life in such 
pursuits, had an idea that elk might be found in some 
of the secluded alcoves to the north. His mind was 
full of such thoughts, but Will, exhilarated by motion, 
was looking at the mountain tops which, like vast 
white pillars, were supporting a sky of glittering blue. 
He swept his hand in a wide gesture. 

"It's a fit place up there for Manitou to live/' he 
said. 

"Beyond the blue the hunting grounds go on for- 
ever," said Pehansan. 

"I can understand and appreciate your belief," said 
Will in his enthusiasm. "Think of it, Pehansan, to 
be strong and young forever and forever; never to 
know wounds or weariness; to hunt the game over 
thousands and tens of thousands of miles; to find 
buffaloes and bears and elk and moose twice, yes, three 
times as big as any here on earth; to discover and 

320 



THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

cross rivers and lakes and seas and always to come 
back safe! To sleep well every night and to wake 
every morning as keen for the chase as ever! to have 
your friends with you always, and to strive with them 
in the hunt in generous emulation! Aye, Pehansan, 
that would be the life!" 

"Some day I shall find the life of which you speak 
so well, Waditaka! A happy death on the battlefield 
and lo ! I have it !" 

"Think you that the snow is now too soft to bear 
the weight of the wolves?" asked Roka, breaking into 
plain prose. 

"Not yet," replied Pehansan, the mighty hunter, 
"but it may be soon. Hark to their howling on the 
slopes among the dwarf trees !" 

Will heard a long, weird moaning sound, but he 
only laughed. It was the voice of the great wolves, 
but they and the bears had been defeated so often that 
he did not fear them. He swung the magnificent bow 
jauntily and was more than willing to put it to deadly 
use. 

As the bird flies, the valley might have had a length 
of twenty miles, but following its curves it was nearer 
forty, and as the three had no reason for haste they 
took their time, traveling over the river bed, because 
it was free from obstruction. At noon they ate pem- 
mican, and, after a rest of a half hour, pushed on again. 
The valley at this point was not more than two miles 
wide, and Pehansan had his eyes set on a deep gorge 
to the left, where the cedars and pines sheltered from 
the winds seemed to have grown to an uncommon size. 

321 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"May find elk in here, where snow is not deep. 
Best place to look. Don't you think?" he said. 

"I agree with you," replied Will. 

"Pehansan speaks well," said Roka. 

Then they left the river bed and, bearing away to- 
ward the west, approached the gorge which Will could 
now see was very deep, and with a comparatively easy 
slope. He had an idea that many of the great carnivora 
came into the valley by this road, but he did not speak 
of it to the other two. 

About an hour after noon they came to the edge of 
the forest and Pehansan, searching in the snow, found 
large tracks which were evidently those of hoofs. 

"Elk ?" said Will, "and a big one, too, I suppose. 

"No," replied Pehansan, "not elk. Something big- 
ger." 

"What can it be? Moose, then?" 

"No, not moose. Bigger still !" 

"I give it up. What is it?" 

"A mountain buffalo, a bigger beast than those we 
find in the great herds on the plains, which you know, 
Waditaka, are very big, too." 

"Then this giant is ours. He has come in here for 
food and shelter, and we ought not to have much 
trouble in finding him. Lead on, Pehansan, and Til 
get a chance to use this grand bow sooner than I had 
thought." 

The tracks were deep sunken in the snow, but he 
was not yet expert enough to tell their probable age. 

"How old would you say they are, Pehansan?" he 
asked. 

322 



THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

"Made to-day," replied the Indian, bending his glow- 
ing eyes upon the trail. "Two, three hour ago. He 
not far away." 

"Then he's ours. A big mountain buffalo fresh on 
the hoof will be welcome in the village." 

"Be careful about the snowshoes," said Roka. "The 
buffalo will be among the trees and bushes and when 
we wound him he will charge. The snowshoes must 
not become entangled." 

Will knew that it was excellent advice and he re- 
solved to be exceedingly cautious. He could walk 
well on the snowshoes though he was not as expert as 
the Indians, but he held himself steady and made no 
noise among the bushes as they advanced, Pehansan 
leading, with Roka next. 

"Very near now," whispered Pehansan, looking at 
the deep tracks, his eyes still glowing. It was a great 
triumph to kill a mountain buffalo, above all at such 
a time, and it was he, Pehansan, who led the way. If 
the other two shared in the triumph so much the better. 
There was no jealous streak in the Crane. 

Pehansan knew also that the quest was not without 
danger. Wounded, the buffalo could become very dan- 
gerous and on snowshoes, among the thick bushes, it 
would be difficult for the hunters to evade the crashing 
charges of that mighty beast. 

He came to a wide and deep depression in the snow. 

"He lie down here and rest a while," he said. "Just 
beyond he dig in the snow for bunches of the sweet 
grass that grow here in summer and that keep alive 
under the snow." 

323 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"Then he is not a half hour away," said Roka. 

"Not more than that/ 1 said Pehansan. "We barely 
creep now." 

Will began to feel excitement. He had killed big 
buffaloes before, but then he had his repeating rifle, 
now he was to meet a monster of the mountains only 
with the bow and arrow. Even in that moment he 
remembered that man did not always have the bow 
and arrow. His primitive ancestors were compelled to 
face not only buffaloes but the fierce carnivora with 
the stone axe and nothing more. 

The great trail rapidly grew fresher. Among the 
pines and cedars, the snow was not more than a foot 
deep and the three hunters had much difficulty in mak- 
ing their way noiselessly where the brush was so dense. 
But the footprints were monstrous. The great hoofs 
had crushed down through the snow, and had even bit- 
ten into the earth. Will had a curious idea that it 
might not be a mountain buffalo, large as they grew, but 
some primordial beast, a survivor of a prehistoric 
time, a mammoth or mastodon, the pictures of which 
he recalled in his youthful geography. If America it- 
self had so long passed unknown to the white man, why 
could not these vast animals also be still living, hidden 
in the secluded valleys of the great Northwest? 

Pehansan paused and turned upon the other two eyes 
that glowed from internal fires. He, too, had been 
impressed by the enormous size of the hoof prints, the 
largest that he had ever seen, but there was no fear, 
nor even apprehension in his valiant soul. 

"It is the king of them all," he said. "Pteha (the 
324 



THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

buffalo) in these mountains has grown to twice the 
usual size, and attacked by cold and hunger he has the 
temper of the grizzly bear. He is but a little distance 
away, and we need rifles to go against him, but we do 
not turn back! Do we, Roka? Do we, Waditaka?" 

"We do not," whispered Roka. 

"Not thinking of such a thing," whispered Will. 

They pushed their way farther, crossed a small ra- 
vine and, resting a moment or two on the other side, 
heard a puffing, a low sound but of great volume. 

"Pteha," whispered Pehansan. 

"Among the cedars, scarce fifty yards away," said 
Roka. "Now suppose we separate and approach from 
three points. It will give us a better chance to plant 
our arrows in him, and he cannot charge more than 
one at a time." 

"Good tactics, Roka," whispered Will. 

Roka, as the oldest, took the center, Pahansan turned 
to the right and Will to the left. The white youth held 
his great elkhorn bow ready and the quiver of arrows 
was over his shoulder, but, after the Sioux fashion, he 
carried five or six also in his left hand that he might 
fire them as quickly as one pulls the trigger of a re- 
peating rifle. The figures of Roka and Pehansan were 
hidden from him almost instantly by the bushes and 
he went forward slowly, picking his dangerous way 
on the snowshoes, his heart beating hard. He still had 
the feeling that he was creeping upon a mammoth or 
mastodon, and the low puffing and blowing increased 
in volume, indicating very clearly that it came from 
mighty lungs. 

325 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

The feeling that he had been thrown back into a 
distant past grew upon Will. He was in the deep 
snow, armed only with bow and arrows, around him 
were the huge, frozen mountains, desolate and awful 
in their majesty, and before him, only a few yards 
away, was the great beast, the puffings and blowings 
of which filled his ears. He fingered the elkhorn bow 
and then recalled his steadiness and courage. A few 
steps farther and he caught a glimpse of a vast hairy 
back. Evidently the animal was lying down and it 
would give the hunters an advantage, as they could fire 
at least one arrow apiece before it rose to its feet. 

Another long, sliding step on the snowshoes and he 
saw more clearly the beast, on its side in a great hol- 
low it had made for itself in the snow. But as he 
looked the huge bull lurched upward and charged to- 
ward the right, from which point Pehansan was com- 
ing. Evidently a shift of the wind had brought it 
the odor of the Crane, and it attacked at once with 
all the ferocity of a mad elephant. 

Will had a clear view of a vast body, great humped 
shoulders, and sharp, crooked horns. But now that the 
danger had come his pulses ceased to leap and hand and 
heart were steady. The arrow sang from the bow and 
buried itself deep in the great bull's neck. Another and 
another followed until a full dozen were gone, every 
one sunk to the feather in the animal's body. Roka 
and Pehansan were firing at the same time, sending in 
arrows with powerful arms and at such close range 
that not one missed. They stood. out all over his 
body and he streamed with blood. 

326 



THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

But the bull did not fall. No arrow had yet touched 
a vital spot. Bellowing with pain and rage, he whirled, 
and catching sight of Will, who was only a few yards 
away, charged. Pehansan and Roka uttered warn- 
ing shouts, and the youth, who in his enthusiasm had 
gone too near, made a convulsive leap to one side. 
Had he been on hard ground and in his moccasins he 
might easily have escaped that maddened rush, but 
the long and delicate snowshoes caught in a bush, and 
he fell at full length on his side. Then it was the 
very completeness of his fall that saved him. The in- 
furiated beast charged directly over him, trampling 
on the point of one snowshoe and breaking it, but miss- 
ing the foot. Will was conscious of a huge black 
shape passing above him and of blood dripping down 
on his body, but he was not hurt and he remembered 
to cling to his bow. 

The raging bull, feeling that he had missed his prey, 
turned and was about to charge again. Will would 
not have been missed by him a second time. The youth 
would have been cut to pieces as he struggled for his 
balance, but Pehansan did a deed worthy of the brav- 
est of the brave. Far more agile on the snowshoes 
than Will, he thrust himself in front of the animal, 
waved his bow and shouted to attract his attention. 
The bull, uttering a mighty bellow, charged, but the 
brave Crane half leaped, half glided aside, and his 
arrows thudded in the great rough neck as the beast 
rushed by. 

When the monster turned again, Will, although he 
was compelled to lean against a bush for support, had 

327 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

drawn a fresh sheaf of arrows from the quiver, and 
he sent them home in a stream. Roka from another 
point was doing the same and Pehansan from a third 
place was discharging a volley. The great beast, en- 
circled by stinging death, threw up his head, uttered 
a tremendous bellow of agony and despair and crashed 
to the earth, where he breathed out his life. 

Will, trembling from his exertions and limping from 
the oroken snowshoe approached cautiously, still view- 
ing that huge, hairy form with wonder and some ap- 
prehension. Nor were Roka and Pehansan free from 
the same nervous strain and awe. 

"What is it?" asked Will, "a mammoth or a masto- 
don?" 

"Don't know mammoth and don't know mastodon," 
replied Pehansan, shaking his head, "but do know it 
is the biggest of all animals my eyes have ever seen." 

"It is a woods or mountain buffalo that has far out- 
grown its kind, just as there are giants among men," 
said Roka. 

"If this were a man and he bore the same relation 
to his species he would be thirteen or fourteen feet 
tall," said Will, his voice still shaking a little. "Why, 
he'd make most elephants ashamed to be so puny and 
small." 

"He, too, like the bears, came out of the far North," 
said Pehansan. "Maybe there is not another in the 
world like him." 

"That hide of his is thick with arrows," said Will, 
"but in so big a skin I don't think the arrow holes will 
amount to much. We ought to have it. We must 

328 



THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

carry so grand a trophy back to the village to-night." 

Roka shook his head. 

"Not to-night," he said. "We three be strong, but 
we cannot move the body of this mighty beast, and so 
we cannot take off the skin." 

"I will go to the village and bring many people," 
said Pehansan. 

Again the wise Roka shook his head. 

"No," he said, "we three will stay by the bull. You 
are fast on your snowshoes, Pehansan, and you can 
shoot your arrows swift, hard and true, but you would 
never reach the village, which is many miles from 
here. The fierce wild animals would devour you. We 
must clear the snow away as fast as we can and build 
fires all about us. The beasts have already scented 
the dead bull, and will come to eat him and us." 

The shadows of the twilight were falling already, 
and they heard the faint howls of the meat-eaters on 
the slopes. Will and his comrades, taking off their 
snowshoes, worked with frantic energy, clearing away 
the snow with their mittened hands, bringing vast 
quantities of the dead wood, lighting several fires in a 
circle about the bull, and keeping themselves, with the 
surplus wood, inside the circle. Then, while Will fed 
the fires, Roka and Pehansan carefully cut the arrows 
out of the body. 

"We may need them all before morning," said Roka. 

"It is so, if the growling be a true sign," said Pe- 
hansan. 

The two warriors partly skinned the body and cut 
off great chunks of meat, which they broiled over the 

329 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

fires, and all three ate. Meanwhile, Will, bow and ar- 
rows ready, watched the bushes beyond the circle of 
flame. If his situation had been nearly primitive in 
the day it was wholly primitive at night. The mighty 
bull buffalo was to him truly a mammoth, and beyond 
the circle of fire, which they dreaded most of all things, 
the fierce carnivora were waiting to devour the hunt- 
ers and their giant prize alike. When a pair of green 
eyes came unusually near Will fired an arrow at a 
point midway between them, and a terrific howling and 
shrieking followed. 

"It was one of the great wolves, I think," said Roka, 
"and your arrow sped true. The others are devouring 
him now. Listen, you can hear his big bones cracking !" 

Will shuddered and threw more wood on the fires. 
What a blessed thing fire was! It saved them from 
the freezing night and it saved them from the teeth 
of the wild beasts, which he knew were gathering in 
a great circle, mad with hunger. The flames leaped 
higher, and he caught glimpses of dusky figures hov- 
ering among the bushes, wolves, bears and he knew 
not what, because imagination was very lively within 
him then and he had traveled back to a primordial 
time. 

The night became very dark and the snow hardened 
again under the cold that came with it. Will, crouched 
by one of the fires with his bow and arrows ever ready 
in his hands, heard the sounds of heavy bodies, either 
sinking into the snow or crushing their way through 
it. The wind rose and cut like a knife. De- 
spite his heavy buffalo robe overcoat he moved a little 

330 



THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

closer to the fire, and Pehansan and Roka almost un- 
consciously did the same. They were all sitting, and 
the great body of the slain bull towered above them. 
The sound of the wind, as it swept through the gorges, 
was ferocious like the growling of the beasts with 
which it mingled. 

"The spirits of evil are abroad to-night," said Roka. 
"The air is full of them and they rush to destroy us, 
but Manitou has given us the fire with which to defend 



us." 



A long yell like that of a cat, but many times louder, 
came from a point beyond and above them, where a 
tree of good size grew about fifty yards away. Roka 
seized a piece of burning wood and held it aloft. 

"It's a monstrous mountain lion stretched along a 
bough," he said. "Look closely, Waditaka, and you 
will see. At a long distance you are the best bowman 
of us all. Can you not reach him with an arrow from 
your great elkhorn bow ?" 

"I think so," replied Will, concentrating his gaze 
until he could make out clearly the outlines of the 
giant cat. "He's a monster of his kind. All the ani- 
mals in this region seem to be about twice the size of 
ordinary types." 

"But if the arrow touches the heart the big as well 
as the little will fall." 

"True, Roka, and while you hold that torch aloft I 
can mark the spot on his yellowish hide beneath which 
his heart lies. Steady, now, don't let the light waver 
and I think I can reach the place." 

He fitted the arrow to the string, bent the great bow 
331 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

and let fly. The arrow sang a moment through the 
air, and then it stood out, buried to the feathers in 
the body of the lion. The wounded beast uttered a 
scream so fierce that all three shuddered and drew a 
little closer together, and then launched itself through 
the air like a projectile. It struck in the snow some- 
where, disappeared from their sight, and they heard 
terrible sounds of growling and fighting. 

"Your arrow went straight to its heart," said Roka. 
"The spring was its last convulsion of the muscles and 
now the other beasts are fighting over its body as they 
eat it." 

"I don't care how soon this night is over," said Will. 
"All the meat-eating wild beasts in the mountains must 
be gathering about us." 

"It is not a time for sleep," said Roka gravely. 
"While Manitou has given us the fire to serve as a 
wall around us, he tells us also that we must watch 
every minute of the night with the bows and arrows 
always in our hands, or we die." 

"Aye," said Pehansan, "there is one that comes too 
near now !" 

He sent an arrow slithering at a bulky figure dimly 
outlined not more than ten yards away. At so short 
a distance a Sioux could shoot an arrow with tremen- 
dous force, and there followed at once a roar of pain, 
a rush of heavy feet, and a wild threshing among the 
bushes. 

"I know not what beast it was," said Pehansan 
proudly, "but like the other it will soon find a grave in 
the stomachs of the great wolves." 

332 



THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

They did not see any more figures for an hour or 
two, but a dreadful howling came from the great 
beasts, from every point in the complete circle about 
them. The three watched closely, tager to speed more 
arrows, but evidently the carnivora had taken tem- 
porary alarm and would not come too near lest the 
flying death reach them again. Roka cut fresh pieces 
from the buffalo and roasted them over one of the 
fires. 

"Eat," he said to his comrades. "It is as wearing to 
watch and wait as it is to march and fight. Eat, even 
if you are not hungry, that your strength may be pre- 
served." 

Will, who at any other time would have found the 
meat of the bull too tough before pounding, ate, and 
he ate, too, with an appetite, Roka and Pehansan join- 
ing with vigor. 

The odor of the cooking steak penetrated the dark- 
ness about them and they heard the fierce growling 
of bears and the screaming of great cats. Will was 
growing so much used to these terrible noises, he felt 
so much confidence in their ring of fire that he laughed, 
and his laugh had a light trace of mockery. 

"Wouldn't they be glad to get at us ?" he said, "and 
wouldn't they like to sink their teeth in the giant bull 
here? Why, there's enough of him to feed a whole 
gang of 'em !" 

"But he'll feed our people down in the village," said 
Pehansan, who was also in good spirits. "Still the 
wild beasts are coming nearer. It is great luck that we 
have so much wood for the fires." 

333 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

He and Will built the fires higher, while Roka sent 
two or three arrows at the green or yellow eyes in the 
dark. The roars or fierce yells showed that he had hit, 
and they heard the sound of heavy bodies being 
threshed about in the dusk. 

"We are not eaten but some of our enemies are," 
said Will. "It would be a good plan, wouldn't it, to 
slay them whenever we can in order that they may be 
food for one another?" 

"It is wisely spoken," said Roka. "We will shoot 
whenever we see a target, but we will never neglect the 
fires because they are more important even than the 
arrows." 

All through that dark, primordial night, in which 
they were carried back, in effect, at least ten thousand 
years, they never relaxed the watch for a moment. 
Now and then they sent arrows into the dusk, some- 
times missing and sometimes hitting, and the growling 
of the bears and wolves and the screaming of the great 
cats was almost continuous. The darkness seemed 
eternal, but at length, with infinite joy, they saw the 
first pale streak of dawn over the eastern mountains. 

"Now the fierce animals will withdraw farther into 
the forest," said Roka. "Beyond the reach of our ar- 
rows they will be, but they will not depart wholly." 

"Someone must go to the village for help," said Will, 
"help not only for us, but to take away two or three 
tons of this good meat. Why, the bull looks even big- 
ger this morning than he did last night. One of my 
snowshoes is broken, but, if Pehansan will lend me 
his, I'll make the trip." 

334 



THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

"You will not," said Roka. "Despite your skill with 
the bow and arrow you would be devoured before you 
had gone a mile. The fierce beasts would be in wait- 
ing for you and you would no longer have a ring of 
fire to protect you." 

"Then what are we to do, Roka? We can't stay 
here forever within the ring of fire, living on steaks cut 
from the bull." 

"Waditaka has become a great young warrior and 
he thinks much. Few as young as he is think as much 
as he does." 

"I don't grasp your meaning, Roka." 

"Perhaps it would be better to say that no one thinks 
of everything." 

"I'm still astray." 

"We'll call the people of the village to us." 

"If you had the voice of old Stentor himself, of 
whom you never heard, you couldn't reach the village, 
which you know is more than twenty miles away." 

"We will not call with our voices, Waditaka. Be- 
hold how clear the morning comes! It is the light 
of bright winter and there is no light brighter. The 
sun is rising over the mountains in a circle of burning 
gold and all the heavens are filled with its rays." 

"You're a poet, Roka. The spell has fallen upon 
you." 

"Against the shining blaze of the sky the smallest 
object will show, and a large object will be seen at a 
vast distance. Bring our blankets, Pehansan, and we 
will spread them over the little fire here." 

Will laughed at himself. 
335 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

"The smoke signals !" he exclaimed. "How simple 
the plan and how foolish I was not to think of it !" 

"As I told you," said Roka, "one young warrior, no 
matter how wise, cannot think of everything. We will 
talk not with our mouths but with the blankets." 

In this case the signals were quite simple. Pehansan 
passed the blanket twice rapidly over the fire, allowing 
two great coils of smoke to ascend high in the air, and 
then dissipate themselves there. After five minutes he 
sent up the two smoky circles again. The signal meant 
"Come." 

"We will soon see the answer," said Roka, "because 
they are anxious about us and will be looking for a 
sign." 

All three gazed in the direction of the village, the 
only point from which the reply could be sent, and 
presently a circle of smoke, then two, then three, rose 
there. Pehansan, in order to be sure, sent up the two 
circles again, and the three promptly replied. 

"It is enough," said Roka joyfully. "Now they will 
come in great force on their snowshoes, and we will be 
saved with our huge prize." 

They waited in the utmost confidence and af times 
Pehansan sent up the two rings again to guide the re- 
lief band. But the people from the village had a long 
distance to travel, antl it was noon when they saw the 
dark figures among the undergrowth and hailed them 
with joyous cries. At least thirty had come, a few 
young warriors there were few in the village but 
mostly old men, and the dauntless, wiry old squaws. 

They exclaimed in wonder and admiration over the 
336 



THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

mighty beast the three had killed, and among the bushes 
about the campfire they found great skeletons, all 
eaten clean by the huge mountain wolves. 

"Truly you were saved by fire/' said old Xingudan, 
who had himself headed the relieving party. 

With so many to lift and pull they were able to re- 
move the entire robe from the giant buffalo, the finest 
skin that many of them had ever seen. It was so vast 
that it was a cause of great wonder and admiration. 

"It belongs," said Xingudan, "to Waditaka, Pehan- 
san and Roka, the three brave warriors who slew the 
buffalo." 

"The three live in different lodges and they will 
have to pass it one to another for use," said In- 
mutanka. 

Will glanced at Roka, who understood him, and 
then he glanced at Pehansan, who also understood 
him. 

"It is the wish of the three of us," said the youth, 
"that this great skin be accepted by the brave and wise 
Xingudan, whose knowledge and skill have kept the 
village unhurt and happy under conditions that might 
well have overcome any man." 

A look of gratification, swift but deep, passed over 
the face of Xingudan, but he declined the magnificent 
offer. Nevertheless the three insisted, and old In- 
mutanka observed wisely that the skin should go only 
in the lodge of the head chief. At last Xingudan ac- 
cepted, and Will, although he had not made the offer 
for that purpose, had a friend for life. 

The band began to cut up the vast body, which, when 
337 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

the flesh was well pounded and softened by the squaws, 
would alone feed the village for quite a period. The 
task could not be finished that day, but they built such 
a ring of great fires for the night that the fierce car- 
nivora did not dare to come near. The next day they 
reached the village with the great bull, carried in many 
sections. 

Will's nerves had been attuned so highly during the 
terrible siege that he collapsed to a certain extent after 
his return to the village, but he suffered no loss of 
prestige because of it, as everybody believed that he and 
his comrades had been besieged by evil spirits, and 
Pehansan and Roka as well were compelled to take a 
long rest. He remained in the lodge a whole day, and 
Inmutanka brought him the tenderest of food and the 
juices of medicinal herbs to drink, telling him it was 
said on every side that the prophecy had come true, and 
his craft and skill had saved the village in the terrible 
winter. 

The second day he was in the village, where the 
women and old men were pounding and drying the 
flesh of the buffalo, but only the most skilful were per- 
mitted to scrape the vast skin, which, when it was fi- 
nally cured, would make such an ornament as was never 
before seen in the lodge of a Sioux chief. But Will, 
Pehansan and Roka were not allowed to have a share 
in any work for a long time. They were three heroes 
who had fought with demons and who had triumphed, 
and for a space they were looked upon as demi-gods. 

Nevertheless, they had their full share in the hunt. 
The wise old Xingudan, backed by the equally wise 

338 



THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

old Inmutanka, forbade any expeditions far from the 
village unless they were made in great force, and their 
judgment was soon proved by the fact that many bears, 
wolves and mountain lions of the greatest size were 
slain. Numerous fires, however, made the region im- 
mediately about the lodges safe, and as the river flowed 
almost at their feet the women could break the thick 
ice and catch fish, without fear of the wild beasts. 

It was during this interval that Will began to think 
again very much of the faithful white friends whom he 
had lost, the redoubtable scout, the whistling and cheer- 
ful Little Giant, and the brave and serious Brady. He- 
raka had told him that they were dead, but he could 
not believe it. He began to feel that he would see them 
again, and that they would renew the great quest. He 
had preserved the map with care, but he had not 
looked at it for a long time. Yet he remembered the 
lines upon it as well as ever. As he had reflected be- 
fore, if it were destroyed, he could easily reproduce it 
from memory. 

Then his three lost friends became vague again. The 
months that had passed since his capture seemed years, 
and he was so far away from all the paths of civi- 
lization that it was like being on another planet. He 
had never yet learned exactly where he was, but he 
knew it must be in the high mountains of the far north, 
and therefore toward the Pacific coast. 

Then all these memories and mental questions faded, 
as the life of the village became absorbing again. 
Frightened herds of elk and moose, evidently chased 
by the great carnivora or in search of food, came into 

339 



THE GREAT SIOUX TRAIL 

the valley and the Indians killed as many as they 
needed. They might have killed more, but Xingudan 
forbade them. 

"Let them take shelter here/' he said, "and grow 
more numerous. It is not to the interest of our peo- 
ple that the big deer should decrease in numbers, and 
if we are wise we will let live that which we do not 
need to eat." 

They saw the wisdom of Xingudan's words and 
obeyed him. Perhaps there was not another Indian 
village in all North America which had greater plenty 
than Xingudan's in that winter, so long and terrible, 
in the northern mountains. Big game was abundant, 
and fish could always be obtained through holes in 
the thick ice that invariably covered the river. Their 
greatest difficulty was in keeping the horses, but they 
met the emergency. Not only did the horses dig under 
the snow with their sharp feet, but the Indians them- 
selves, with Will at their head, uncovered or brought 
much forage for them. 

Will understood why such sedulous care was be- 
stowed upon the ponies, which could be of little use 
among the great mountains. When spring was fully 
come they would go eastward out of the mountains, 
and upon the vast plains, where they would hunt the 
buffalo. Then he must escape. Although he was an 
adopted Sioux, the son of Inmutanka, and had adapted 
himself to the life of the village, where he was not un- 
happy, he felt at times the call of his own people. 

The call was especially strong when he was alone in 
the lodge, and the snow was driving heavily outside. 

340 



THE DREADFUL NIGHT 

Then the faces of the scout, the Little Giant and the 
beaver hunter appeared very clearly before him. His 
place was with them, if they were still alive, and in 
the spring, when the doors of ice that closed the valley 
were opened, he would go, if he could. 

But the spring was long in coming. Xingudan him- 
self could not recall when it had ever before been so 
late. But come at last it did, with mighty rains, the 
sliding of avalanches, the breaking up of the ice, floods 
in the river and countless torrents. When the waters 
subsided and the slopes were clear of snow Xingudan 
talked of moving. The lodges were struck and the 
whole village passed out of the valley. The tall youth, 
dressed fike the others and almost as brown as they, 
who had been known among white people as Will 
Clarke, but whom the Indians called Waditaka, won- 
dered what the spring was going to bring to him, and 
he awaited the future with intense curiosity and eager- 
ness. 

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