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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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