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Don't you guess that the things we're seeing now will haunt us through the years; Heaven and hell rolled into one, glory and blood and tears; Life's pattern picked with a scarlet thread, where once we wove with a gray, To remind us all how we played our part in the shock of an epic day?
 
 --ROBERT W. SERVICE.
 
 
 However darkly the sun may go down on hope and love, the real sun shines on, day after day, with its inexorable call to duty. In less than a week after I had left Eloise and the vague hope of a home of my own under the big elm-trees of Burlingame, Governor Crawford of Kansas sent forth a call for a battalion of four companies of soldiers, and I heard the call and answered it.
 
 It was to be known as the Eighteenth Kansas Cavalry, with Col. Horace L. Moore, a veteran soldier of tried mettle, at the head. We were to go at once to Fort Harker, in the valley of the Smoky Hill River, to begin a campaign against the Indians, who were laying waste the frontier settlements and attacking wagon-trains on the Sante Fé Trail.
 
 On the evening before I left home I sat on the veranda of the Clarenden house, waiting for Uncle Esmond to join me, when suddenly Beverly Clarenden strode over the edge of the hill. The sunny smile and the merry twinkle of his eye were Bev's own, and there wasn't a line on his face to show whether it belonged to the happy lover or the rejected suitor. I thought I could always read his moods when he had any. He had none to-night.
 
 "I just got in from Burlingame. At what hour do you leave to-morrow? I'm going along to chaperon you, as usual," he declared.
 
 "Why, Beverly Clarenden, I thought you were fixed at Burlingame, selling molasses and calico by the gallon," I exclaimed, but my real thought was not given to words.
 
 "And let the Cheyennes, and Kiowas, and Arapahoes, and other desperadoes of the plains gnaw clear into the heart of us? Not your uncle Esmond Clarenden's nephew. And, Gail, this won't be anything like we have had since those six Kiowas staked you out on Pawnee Rock once. The thoroughbred Indians are bad enough, but there is a half-breed leader of a band of Dog Indians that's worst of all. He's of the yellow kind, with wolf's fangs. A Mexican on the trail told me that this half-breed ties up with the worst of every tribe from the Coast Range mountains to Tecumseh, Kansas," Beverly declared.
 
 "I remember that Mexican. I saw him at the well in Burlingame," I replied, turning to look at the Kaw winding far away, for the memory of everything in Burlingame was painful to me.
 
 Aunty Boone's huge form appearing around the corner of the house shut off my view of the river just then. Her face was glistening, but her eyes were dull as she looked us over.
 
 "You stainin' your hands again," she purred. "Yes, Aunty. We are going to lick the redskins into ribbons," Beverly replied.
 
 "You never get that done. Lickin' never settles nobody. You just hold 'em down till they strong enough to boost you off their heads again, and up they come. Whoo-ee!"
 
 The black woman gave a chuckle.
 
 "Well, I'd rather sit on their heads than have them sitting on mine, or yours, Aunty Boone," Beverly returned, laughingly.
 
 Aunty Boone's eyes narrowed and there was a strange light in them as she looked at us, saying:
 
 "You get into trouble, Mr. Bev, you see me comin', hot streaks, to help you out. Whoo-ee!"
 
 She breathed her weird, African whoop and turned away.
 
 "I'll depend on you." Beverly's face was bright, and there was no shadow in his eyes, as he called after her retreating form.
 
 We chatted long together, and I hoped--and feared--to have him tell me the story of his suit with Eloise, and why in such a day, of all the days of his life, he should choose to run away to the warfare of the frontier. He could not have failed, I thought. Never a disappointed lover wore a smile like this. But Beverly had no story to tell me that night.
 
 * * * * *
 
 The mid-July sun was shining down on a treeless landscape, across which the yellow, foam-flecked Smoky Hill River wound its sinuous way. Beside this stream was old Fort Harker, a low quadrangle of quarters, for military man and beast, grouped about a parade-ground for companionship rather than for protection. The frontier fort had little need for defensive strength. About its walls the Indian crawled submissively, fearful of munitions and authority. It was not here, but out on lonely trails, in sudden ambush, or in overwhelming numbers, or where long miles, cut off from water, or exhausting distance banished safe retreat, that the savage struck in all his fury.
 
 Eastward from Harker the scattered frontier homesteads crouched, defenseless, in the river valleys. Far to the northwest spread the desolate lengths of a silent land where the white man's foot had hardly yet been set. Miles away to the southwest the Santa Fé Trail wound among the Arkansas sand-hills, never, in all its history, less safe for freighters than in that summer of 1867.
 
 In this vast demesne the raiding Cheyenne, the cruel Kiowa, the blood-thirsty Arapahoe, with bands of Dog Indians and outlaws from every tribe, contested, foot by foot, for supremacy against the out-reaching civilization of the dominant Anglo-American. The lonely trails were measured off by white men's graves. The vagrant winds that bear the odor of alfalfa, and of orchard bloom to-day, were laden often with the smoke of burning homes, and often, too, they bore that sickening smell of human flesh, once caught, never to be forgotten. The story of that struggle for supremacy is a tragic drama of heroism and endurance. In it the Eighteenth Kansas Cavalry played a stirring part.
 
 It seems but yesterday to me now, that July day so many years ago, when our four companies, numbering fewer than four hundred men, detrained from the Union Pacific train at Fort Harker on the Smoky Hill. And the faces of the men who were to lead us are clear in memory. Our commander, Colonel Moore, always brave and able; and our captains, Henry Lindsay, and Edgar Barker, and George Jenness, and David Payne, with the shrewd, courageous scout, Allison Pliley, and the undaunted, clear-thinking, young lieutenant, Frank Stahl. Ours was not to be a record of unfading glory, as national military annals show, yet it may count mightily when the Great Records are opened for final estimates. Those men who marched two thousand miles, back and forth, upon the trackless plains in that four months' campaign, have been forgotten in the debris of uneventful years. Our long-faded trails lie buried under wide alfalfa-fields and the paved streets of western Kansas towns. From the far springs that quenched our burning thirst comes water, trickling through a nickel faucet into a marble basin, now. Where the fierce sun seared our eyeballs, in a treeless, barren waste, green groves, atune with song-birds, cast long swaths of shade on verdant sod. The perils and the hardships of the Eighteenth Kansas Cavalry are now but as a tale that is told.
 
 And yet of all the heroes whose life-trails cut my own, I account among the greatest those men under whose command, and with whose comradeship, I went out to serve the needs of my generation among the vanguards of the plains. And if in a sunset hour on the west ridge beyond the little town of Burlingame I had left a hopeless love behind me, I put a man's best energy into the thing before me.
 
 The battle-field alone is not the soldier's greatest test. I had kept step with men who charge an enemy on an open plain or storm a high defense in the face of sure defeat. I had been ordered with my company to take redoubts against the flaming throats of bellowing cannon in the life-and-death grip before Richmond. I had felt the awful thrill of carnage as my division surged back and forth across the blood-soaked lengths of Gettysburg, and I never once fell behind my comrades. The battle-field breeds courage, and self-forgetfulness, and exaltation, from the sense of duty squarely met.
 
 There were no battle-fields in 1867, where Greek met Greek in splendid gallantry, out on the Kansas plains. Over Fort Harker hung the pall of death, and in the July heat the great black plague of Asiatic cholera stalked abroad and scourged the land. Men were dying like rats, lacking everything that helps to drive death back. The volunteer who had offered himself to save the settlers from the scalping-knife had come here only to look into an open grave, and then, in agony, to drop into it. Such things test soldiers more than battle-fields. And our men turned back in fear, preferring the deserter's shame to quick, inglorious martyrdom by Asiatic cholera. I had a battle of my own the first night at Fort Harker. There was a growing moon and the night breeze was cool after the heat of the day. Beverly Clarenden and I went down to the river, whose tawny waters hardly hid the tawny sands beneath them. The plains were silent, but from all the hospital tents about the fort came the sharp, agonized cries of pain that forerun the last collapse of the plague-stricken sufferers. To get away from the sound of it all we wandered down the stream to where the banks of soft, caving earth on the farther side were higher than a man's head, and their shadow hid the current. We sat down and stared silently at the waters, scarcely whispering as they rolled along, and at the still shade of the farther bank upon them. The shadows thickened and moved a little, then grew still. We also grew still. Then they moved again just opposite us, and fell into three parts, as three men glided silently along under the bank's protecting gloom. We waited until they had reached the edge of the moonlight, and saw three soldiers pass swiftly out across the unprotected sands to other shadowy places further on.
 
 "Deserters!" Beverly said, half aloud. "You can stay here if you want to, Gail. I'd rather go up and listen to those poor wretches groan than stick down here and listen to the fiend inside of me to-night."
 
 He rose and stalked away, and I sat listening to myself. I could join those three men easily enough. The world is wide. I had no bond to hold me to one single place in it. I was young and strong, and life is sweet. Why let the black plague snuff me out of it? I had come here to serve the State. I should not serve it in a plague-marked grave. I rose to follow down the stream, to go to where the Smoky Hill joins the big Republican to make the Kaw, and on to where the Kaw reaches to the Missouri. But I would not stop there. I'd go until I reached the ocean somewhere.
 
 Would I?
 
 The memory of Jondo's eyes when they looked into mine on Pawnee Rock came unbidden across my mind. Jondo had lived a nameless man. How strong and helpful all his years had been! How starved had been my life without his love! I would be another Jondo, somewhere on earth.
 
 I stared after three faintly moving shadows down the stream. 'Twas well I waited, for Esmond Clarenden came to me now, clean-cut, honest, everybody's friend. How firm his life had been; and he had built into me a hatred of deceit and lies. And Jondo was another Uncle Esmond. In spite of the black shadow on his name, he walked the prairies like a prince always. I could not be like him if I were a deserter. Up-stream death was waiting for me; down-stream, disgrace. I turned and followed up the river's course, but the strength that forced me to it was greater than that which made me brave on battle-fields. And ever since that night beside the Smoky Hill I have felt gentler toward the man who falls.
 
 We were not idle long for Fort Harker had just been informed of an assault on a wagon-train on the Santa Fé Trail and our cavalry squadron hurried away at once to overtake and punish the assailants.
 
 We came into camp on the bank of Walnut Creek, at the close of a long summer day of blazing light and heat over the barren trails where there was no water; a day of long hours in the saddle; a day of nerve-wearing watchfulness. But we believed that we had left the plague-cursed region behind us, so we were light-hearted and good-natured; and we ate, and drank, and took our lot cheerfully.
 
 Among the men at mess that night I saw a new face which was nothing remarkable, except that something in it told me that I had already seen that face somewhere, some time. It is my gift never to forget a face, once seen, no matter how many years may pass before I see it twice. This soldier was a pleasant fellow, too, and, in a story he was telling, clever at imitating others.
 
 "Who is that man, Bev? The third one over there?" I asked my cousin.
 
 "Stranger to me. I don't believe I ever saw him before. Who is the fellow with the smile, Captain?" Beverly asked the officer beside him.
 
 "I don't know. He's not in my company. I'm finding new faces every day," the captain replied.
 
 As twilight fell I saw the man again at the edge of the camp. He smiled pleasantly as he passed me, turning to look at Beverly, who did not see him, and in a minute he was cantering down to the creek beside our camp. I saw him cross it and ride quickly out of sight. But that smile brought to the face the thing that had escaped me.
 
 "I know that fellow now," I said to Beverly and the officer who came up just then. "He's Charlie Bent, the son of Colonel Bent. Don't you remember the little sinner at old Fort Bent, Bev?"
 
 "I do, and what a vicious little reptile he was," Beverly replied. "But Uncle Esmond told me that his father took him away early and had him schooled like a gentleman in the best Saint Louis had to give. I wonder whose company he is in."
 
 The officer stared at us.
 
 "You mean to say you know that cavalryman to be Charlie Bent?" he fairly gasped.
 
 "Of course it's Charlie. I never missed a face in all my life. That's his own," I replied.
 
 "The worst Indian on the plains!" the captain declared. "He stirs up more fiendishness than a whole regiment of thoroughbred Cheyennes could ever think of. He's led in every killing here since March."
 
 "Not Colonel Bent's son!" I exclaimed.
 
 "Yes, he's the half-breed devil that we'll have to fight, and here he comes and eats with us and rides away."
 
 "He must be the fellow that the Mexican told us about back at Burlingame, Gail. I remember now he did say the brute's name was Bent, but I didn't rope him up with our Fort Bent chum. Gail would have run him down in half a minute if he had heard the name. I never could remember anything," Beverly said, in disgust. But the smile was peeping back of his frown, and he forgot the boy he was soon to have cause enough to remember.
 
 "We must run that rascal down to-night," the Captain declared, as he hurried away to consult with the other officers.
 
 But Charlie Bent was not run down that night. Before we had time to get over our surprise a scream of pain rang through the camp. Another followed, and another, and when an hour had passed a third of our forces was writhing in the clutches of the cholera.
 
 I shall never forget the long hours of that night beside the Walnut, nor Beverly Clarenden's face as he bent over the suffering men. For all of us who were well worked mightily to save our plague-stricken comrades, whose couches were of prairie grass and whose hospital roof was the starlit sky. However forgetful Beverly might be of names and faces, his strong hand had that soothing firmness that eased the agony of cramping limbs. Dear Bev! He comforted the sick, and caught the dying words, and straightened the relaxed bodies of the dead, and smiled next day, and forgot that he had done it.
 
 At last the night of horror passed, and day came, wan and hot and weary out of the east. But five of our comrades would see no earthly day again; and three dozen strong men of the day before lay stretched upon the ground, pulseless and shrunken and purple, with wrinkled skin and wide, unseeing eyes.
 
 Before the sun had risen our dead, coffined only by their army blankets, lay in unmarked graves. Our helpless living were placed in commissary wagons, and we took the trail slowly and painfully toward the Arkansas River.
 
 If Charley Bent had gathered up his band to strike that night there would have been a different chapter in the annals of the plains.
 
 I cannot follow with my pen the long marches of that campaign, and there was no honorable nor glorious warfare in it. It is a story of skirmishes, not of battles; of attack and repulse; of ambush and pursuit and retreat. It is a story of long days under burning skies, by whose fierce glare our brains seemed shriveling up and the world went black before our heat-bleared eyes. A story of hard night-rides, when weary bodies fought with watchful minds the grim struggle that drowsiness can wage, though sleep, we knew, meant death. It is a story of fevered limbs and bursting pulse in hospitals whose walls were prairie distances. A story of hunger, and exhausted rations; of choking thirst, with only alkali water mocking at us. And never could the story all be told. There is no rest for cavalrymen in the field. We did not suffer heavy loss, but here and there our comrades fell, by ones, and twos, at duty's post; and where they fell they lie, in wayside graves, waiting for glorious mention until the last reveille shall sound above the battlements of heaven.
 
 And I was one among these vanguards of the plains, making the old Santa Fé Trail safe for the feet of trade; and the wide Kansas prairies safe for homes, and happiness, and hope, and power. I lived the life, and toughened in its grind. But in my dreams sometimes my other life returned to me, and a sweet face, with a cloud of golden hair, and dark eyes looking into mine, came like a benediction to me. Another face came sometimes now--black, big, and glistening, with eyes of strange, far vision looking at me, and I heard, over and over, the words of Esmond Clarenden's cook:
 
 "If you get into trouble, Mr. Bev, I'll come, hot streaks, to help you."
 
 But trouble never stuck to "Mr. Bev," because he failed to know it when it came.
 
 Mid-August found us at Fort Hays on the Smoky Hill, beyond whose protecting guns the wilderness ruled. A wilderness checkered by faint trails of lawless feet, a wilderness set with bloody claws and poison stings and cruel fangs, and slow, agonizing death. And with all a wilderness of weird, fascinating distances and danger, charm and beauty. The thrill of the explorer of new lands possessed us as we looked far into the heart of it. Here in these August days the Cheyenne and Arapahoe and Kiowa bands were riding trails blood-stained by victims dragged from lonely homesteads, and butchered, here and there, to make an Indian holiday. The scenes along the valleys of the Sappa and the Beaver and the Prairie Dog creeks were far too brutal and revolting to belong to modern life. Against these our Eighteenth Kansas, with a small body of United States cavalry, struck northward from Fort Hays. We rested through the long, hot days and marched by night. The moon was growing toward the full, and in its clear, white splendor the prairies lay revealed for miles about us. Our command was small and meagerly equipped, and we were moving on to meet a foe of overwhelming numbers. Men took strange odds with Fate upon the plains.
 
 Beyond the open, level lands lay a rugged region hemming in the valley of the Prairie Dog Creek. Here picturesque cliffs and deep, earth-walled cañons split the hills, affording easy ambush for a regiment of red men. And here, in a triangle of a few miles area, a new Thermopylae, with no Leonidas but Kansas plainsmen, was staged through two long August days and nights. One hundred and fifty of us against fifteen hundred fighting braves.
 
 In the early morning of a long, hot August day, we came to an open plain beyond the Prairie Dog Creek. Our supply-wagons and pack-mules were separated from us somewhere among the bluffs. We had had no food since the night before, and our canteens were empty--all on account of the blundering mismanagement of the United States officer who cammanded us. I was only a private, and a private's business is not to question, but to obey. And that major over us, cashiered for cowardice later, was not a Kansas man. Thank heaven for that!
 
 A score of us, including my cousin and myself, under a sergeant, and with good Scout Pliley, were suddenly ordered back among the hills.
 
 "Where do we go, and why?" Beverly asked me as we rode along.
 
 "I don't know," I replied. "But Captain Jenness and a file of men were lost out here somewhere last night. And Indian tracks step over one another all around here. I guess we are out to find what's lost, maybe. It isn't a twenty minutes' job, I know that."
 
 "And all our canteens empty, too! Why cut off all visible means of support in a time like this? Look at these bluffs and hiding-places, will you! A handful of Indians could scoop our whole body up and pitch us into the Prairie Dog Creek, and not be missed from a set in a war-dance," Beverly insisted. "Keep it strictly in the Clarenden family, Gail, but our honorable commander is a fool and a coward, if he is a United States major."
 
 "You speak as one expecting a promotion, Bev," I suggested.
 
 "I'd know how to use it if I got it," he smiled brightly at me as we quickened our pace not to fall behind.
 
 Every day of that campaign Beverly grew dearer to me. I am glad our lives ran on together for so many years.
 
 The cañons deepened and the whole region was bewildering, but still we struggled on, lost men searching for lost men. The sun blazed hotly, and the soft yellow bluffs of bone-dry earth reached down to the dry beds of one-time streams.
 
 High noon, and still no food, no water, and no lost men discovered. We had pushed out to a little opening, ridged in on either side by high, brown bluffs, when a whoop came from the head of the line.
 
 "Yonder they are! Yonder they are!"
 
 Half a dozen men, led by Captain Jenness, were riding swiftly to join us and we shouted in our joy. For some among us that was the last joyous shout. At that moment a yell from savage throats filled the air, and the thunder of hoofs shook the ground. Over the west ridge, half a mile away, five hundred Indians came swooping like a hurricane down upon us. And we numbered, altogether, twenty-nine. I can see that charge to-day: the blinding, yellow sky, the ridge melting into a cloud of tawny dust, the surge of ponies with their riders bending low above them; fronting them, our little group of cavalrymen formed into a hollow square, on foot, about our mounts; the Indians riding, in a wide circle around us, with blankets flapping, and streamer-decked lances waving high. And as I see, I hear again that wild, unearthly shriek and taunting yell and fiendish laughter. From every point the riflle-balls poured in upon us, while out of buffalo wallow and from behind each prairie-dog hillock a surge of arrows from unmounted Indians swept up against us. I had been on battle-fields before, but this was a circle out of hell set 'round us there. And every man of of knew, as we sent back ball for ball, what capture here would mean for us before the merciful hand of death would seal our eyes.
 
 Suddenly, as we moved forward, the frantic circle halted and a hundred braves came dashing in a fierce charge upon us. Their leader, mounted on a great, white horse, rode daringly ahead, calling his men to follow him, and taunting us with cowardice. He spoke good English, and his voice rang clear and strong above the din of that strange struggle. Straight on he came, without once looking back, a revolver in each hand, firing as he rode. A volley from our carbines made his fellows stagger, then waver, break, and run. Not so the rider of the splendid white horse, who dared us to strike him down as he dashed full at us.
 
 "Come on, you coward Clarenden boys, and I'll fight you both. I've waited all these years to do it. I dare you. Oh, I dare you!"
 
 It was Charlie Bent.
 
 Nine balls from Clarenden carbines flew at him. Beverly and I were listed among the cleverest shots in Kansas, but not one ball brought harm to the daring outlaw. A score of bullets sung about his insolent face, but his seemed a charmed life. Right on he forged, over our men, and through the square to the Indian's circle on the other side, his mocking laughter ringing as he rode. A bloody scalp hung from his spear, and, turning 'round just out of range of our fire, shaking his trophy high, he shouted back:
 
 "We got all of the balance of your men. We'll get you yet."
 
 The sun glared fiercely on the bare, brown earth. A burning thirst began to parch our lips. We had had no food nor drink for more than twenty hours. Our horses, wounded with many arrows, were harder to care for than our brave, stricken men.
 
 Night came upon the cañons of the Prairie Dog, and with the darkness the firing ceased. Somewhere, not far away, there might be a wagon-train with food for us. And somewhere near there might be a hundred men or more of our command trying to reach us. But, whether the force and supplies were safe or the wagons were captured and all our comrades killed, as Charlie Bent had said, we could not know. We only knew that we had no food; that one man, and all but four of our cavalry horses lay dead out in the valley; that two men in our midst were slowly dying, and a dozen others suffering from wounds of battle, among these our captain and Scout Pliley; that we were in a wild, strange land, with Indians perching, vulture-like, on every hill-top, waiting for dawn to come to seize their starving prey.
 
 We heard an owl hoot here and there, and farther off an answering hoot; a coyote's bark, a late bird's note, another coyote, and a fainter hoot, all as night settled. And we knew that owl and coyote and twilight song-bird were only imitations--sentinel signals from point to point, where Indian videttes guarded every height, watching the trail with shadow-piercing eyes.
 
 The glossy cottonwood leaves, in the faint night breeze, rippled like pattering rain-drops on dry roofs in summertime, and the thin, willow boughs swayed gently over us. The full moon swept grandly up the heavens, pouring a flood of softened light over the valley of the Prairie Dog, whose steep bluffs were guarded by a host of blood-lusting savages, and whose cañons locked in a handful of intrepid men.
 
 If we could only slip out, undiscovered, in the dark we might find our command somewhere along the creek. It was a perilous thing to undertake, but to stay there was more perilous.
 
 "Say, Gail," Beverly whispered, when we were in motion, "somebody said once, 'There have been no great nations without processions,' but this is the darndest procession I ever saw to help to make a nation great. Hold on, comrade. There! Rest on my arm a bit. It makes it softer."
 
 The last words to a wounded soldier for whom Bev's grip eased the ride.
 
 It was a strange procession, and in that tragic gloom the boy's light-hearted words were balm to me.
 
 Silently and slowly we moved forward. The underbrush was thick on either side of the narrow, stony way that wound between sheer cliffs. We had torn up our blankets and shirts to muffle the horses' feet, that no sound of hoofs, striking upon the rocky path, might reach the ears of the Cheyenne and his allies crouching watchfully above us. At the head marched Captain Jenness and Scout Pliley, each with his carbine for a crutch and leaning on each other for support. Followed five soldiers as front guard through the defile. And then four horses, led by careful hands, bearing nine suffering, silent men upon their backs. Two of the horses carried three, and one bore two, and the last horse, one--a dying boy, whispering into my ear a message for his mother, as I held his hand. Behind us came the sergeants with the remainder, for rear-guard. And so we passed, mile after mile, winding in and out, to find some sheltering spot where, sinking in exhaustion, we might sleep.
 
 The midnight winds grew chill, and the tense strain of that slow march was maddening, but not a groan came from the wounded men. The vanguards of the plains knew how to take perilous trails and hold their peace.
 
 When the sun rose on the second day the hills about us swarmed with savages, whose demoniac yells rent the air. Leonidas had his back against a rock at old Thermopylae, but our Kansas plainsmen fought in a ring of fire.
 
 At day-dawn, our brave scout, Pliley, slipped away, and, after long hours among the barren hills, he found the main command.
 
 Men never gave up hope in the plains warfare, but each of us had saved one bullet for himself, if we must lose this game. The time for that last bullet had almost come when the sight of cavalrymen on a distant ridge told us that our scout was on its way to us again. It took a hero's heart to thread unseen the dangerous trails and find our comrades with the cavalry major and bring back aid, but Pliley did it for us--a man's part. May the sod rest lightly where he sleeps to-day.
 
 Meantime, on the day before, the main force of our cavalry, who had given us up for lost, had had their own long, fearful struggle. In the early morning, Lieutenant Stahl, scouting forward in an open plain, rushed back to give warning of Indians everywhere. And they were everywhere--a thousand strong against a feeble hundred caught in their midst. They rode like centaurs, and their aim was deadly true as they poured down, a murderous avalanche, from every hillslope. Their ponies' tails, sweeping the ground, lengthened by long horse-hair braids, with sticks thrust through at intervals by way of ornament; their waving blankets, and streamered lances held aloft; the savage roar from ten hundred throats; the mad impetus of their furious charge through clouds of dust and rifle smoke--all made the valley of the Prairie Dog seem but a seething hell bursting with fiendins shouts, shot through with quivering arrows, shattered by bullets, rocked with the thunderous beat of horses' hoofs, trampling it into one great maelstrom of blood and dirt.
 
 All day, with neither food nor water, amid bewildering bluffs and gorges, alive with savage warriors, the cavalrymen had striven desperately. Night fell, and in the clear moonlight they forced their way across the Prairie Dog, and neither man nor horse dared to stop to drink because an instant's pause meant death.
 
 And the evening and the morning were the first day. And the second was like unto it, albeit we were no longer a triangle, made up of wagon-train here and main command there, and our twenty-nine--less two lost ones--under Captain Jenness, at a third point. Before noon, our force was all united and we joined hands for the finish.
 
 Beverly and I rode side by side all day. Everywhere around us the half-breed, Charlie Bent, dashed boldly on his big, white horse calling us cowardly dogs and taunting us with lack of marksmanship.
 
 "I'm getting tired of that fellow, Gail. I'll pick his horse out from under him pretty soon, see if I don't." My cousin called to me as Bent's insolent cry burst forth:
 
 "Come out, and let me show you how to shoot."
 
 Beverly leaped out toward the Indian horde surrounding Bent. He raised his carbine, and with steady aim, fired far across the field of battle, the cleanest shot I ever saw. Years ago my cousin had urged Uncle Esmond to let him practise shooting on horseback. He was a master of the art now. Charlie Bent's splendid white steed fell headlong, hurling its rider to the ground and dragging him, face downward, in the dirt.
 
 I cannot paint that day's deeds with my pen, nor ever artist lived whose brush could reproduce it. If we should lose here, it meant the turning of the clock from morning back to midnight on the Kansas plains.
 
 Between this and the safety of the prairies stood fewer than a hundred and fifty men, against a thousand warriors, led by cunning half-breeds skilled in the white man's language and the red man's fiendishness.
 
 If we should lose--We did not go out there to lose. When each man does a man's part there is no failure possible at last.
 
 As the sun sank toward late afternoon, the savage force massed for its great, crushing blow that should annihilate us. The strong center, made up of the flower of every tribe engaged, was on the crest of a long, westward-reaching slope, a splendid company of barbaric warriors--strong, eager, vengeful, doggedly determined to finish now the struggle with the power they hated.
 
 The air was very clear, and in its crystal distances we could see every movement and hear each command.
 
 The valley rang with the taunts and jeers and threats and mocking laughter of our foes, daring us to come out and meet them face to face, like men. And we went out and met them face to face, like men.
 
 A little force of soldiery fighting, not for ourselves, but for the hearthstones of a nobler people, our cavalry swung up that long, western slope in the face of a murderous fire, into the very heart of Cheyenne strength, enforced by all the iron of the allied tribes. I marvel at it now, when, in solid phalanx, our foes might easily have mowed us down like a thin line of standing grain; for their numbers seemed unending, while flight on flight of arrows and fierce sheets of rifle-fire swept our ranks as we rode on to death or victory. But each man's face among us there was bright with courage, and with our steady force unchecked we swept right on to the very crest of the high slope, scattering the enemy, at last, like wind-blown autumn leaves, until upon our guidons victory rested and the long day was won.