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The Pawnees having remained on the Oxhide much longer than in any previous season, they began to make preparations for departure. Joe asked the chief to give a dance with his warriors at the ranche, for his parents and his sisters to see how the Indians enjoy themselves.

White Wolf said he would be sure to do so the night before they left. To-morrow, they were going to have a horse-race, and, should his father be willing, they would use that long, level stretch of prairie between the house and the creek. It was a distance of about four miles, the usual length of a race-course with the Indians.

White Wolf said that the wagers would be ten horses, and that if Young Panther wanted to bet, he would make one with him. Joe replied that neither he nor his father approved of betting, but that both of them dearly loved to see horses run. "If I believed in betting, though," said Joe to the chief, "I would bet that my sister's pony, Ginger, can outrun any pony you have." The chief smiled, and told Joe that if he would not bet, he might ride that pony in the race, and if he came out ahead, then he would know whether his sister's animal was the fastest. Joe agreed to it, and when he returned to Errolstrath he obtained Kate's permission to ride Ginger in the race the following day. Mr. Thompson had readily given his consent to the Indians to use the trail in front of the house as a race-course.

Joe went down to the camp that evening and told the warriors that they might have the use of the course. White Wolf then said: "We will be up there by the time the sun is so high," pointing with his hand to where the sun would be at eight o'clock.

"All right," replied Joe; "we will be ready for you. The folks can sit on the porch and see the whole length of the course. Be sure to come promptly."

When Joe returned to the ranche, he announced that he wanted to get up very early in the morning, and as Rob was always the first one in the house out of bed, he asked him to call him the moment he awoke.

Rob, as usual, was out before sunrise. He promptly called his brother, who lost no time in dressing, washing at the spring, and going out to the pasture to catch Ginger. He led him to the corral, gave him a most vigorous currying, after which he fed the pony an extra ration of oats, to give him heart for the race.

Shortly after breakfast was out of the way, Kate, who was on the veranda, feeding the mocking-birds, came rushing into the sitting-room, crying, "The Pawnees are coming; I can hear their tom-toms beating; they will soon be here!"

All the family went out, and sure enough, there were the Indians all dressed up in feathers, and painted in every imaginable savage manner. White Wolf had a row of white dots on one cheek, flanked on each side by a streak of vermilion, while the other was green and blue. He had on a war bonnet with eagle feathers sticking in it around the upper edge, making it look like a grotesque crown. Down his back dragged a long trail of buffalo hair plaited into his own, and at every few inches for its whole length (it reached the ground when he walked) there were fastened bright metal disks nearly as big as the top of a tomato can. Around his wrists were a dozen or more brass rings, and on his bare ankles he wore as many rings of the same material. He had an embroidered buffalo robe thrown gracefully over his shoulders, half concealing his coat of beaded buckskin. His leggings were of the same stuff, and were also gayly decorated with colored porcupine quills deftly woven in them. The other warriors were similarly dressed and painted, but wore only one eagle feather in their bonnets, which was the distinguishing feature between them and their chief.

Following the warriors were the boys of the band, each riding a pony, and leading others which had been wagered on the race.

The race animals were ridden by their owners, and came after all the others; among them was the wild coal-black stallion that White Wolf had captured on the Cimarron. He looked like himself now, as he proudly pranced along, his mouth frothing as he champed on his rawhide bit, and his neck arched as he stepped like a thoroughbred over buffalo-grass turf leading to the house.

Several of the warriors had tom-toms in front of them, which they were beating vigorously with a stick as they rode proudly along. The tom-toms, or drums, are made of tanned buffalo hide stretched over a willow hoop, and the sound resembles that of a drum, but as the pounding is simply a continuous series of strokes without any variation, it is not music, but a very monotonous noise.

When the band had arrived at the house the Indians dismounted, and after a series of "Hows?"--their customary salutation--to the family on the veranda, they dismounted and began to converse among themselves in an excited manner. Presently one of the warriors started on a run toward the creek. He soon returned with some sticks, and then he and another warrior began to mark out the course.

This took them some time, and while they were at the work, the boys who were to ride the race began to cinch up their buffalo-hide saddles, and prepare themselves for the impending struggle.

Joe was already prancing about on Ginger, and he could hardly hold the spirited little beast, so anxious was it to be off, as if it perfectly understood the meaning of all the preparations. The Indian ponies, too, seemed to enter into the spirit of the thing, for they also commenced to cavort around, and it was with much difficulty that their riders could restrain them from bolting down the track.

At last everything was in readiness, the animals in place, Joe on the outside of the four who were to run. The animals were all jumping up and down, stiff-legged, and bucking with all their strength to throw their riders.

In a few moments White Wolf gave the signal, and away they darted like meteors. Ginger kept his place well, the black stallion leading for the first half-mile until a big roan of one of the warriors took the lead; then Ginger made a dash ahead. For a moment it was nip and tuck which would keep the lead, but when the second mile was half run, the animals began to show their powers of endurance. Some flagged, others were far behind, and Ginger and the roan were going relatively slower; when all at once, just as the home stretch was reached, Ginger took a spurt and seeming to gain his second wind, like a pugilist in the ring, came in forty feet in advance of the roan, the black stallion twenty feet behind him. The other ponies were so far away, that if they had been running on a white man's course they would have been declared "distanced."

Such a shout went up from the veranda of the house, where the family were sitting, as they saw Ginger dash ahead, and Joe caught the sound of it as the wind wafted the p├Žan of victory to his ears.

White Wolf was disappointed in the result. He thought that his black horse had great powers of endurance, and as soon as they were assembled in front of the veranda, he offered Kate five of the best and youngest of his horses in exchange for Ginger. Kate hesitated for a moment, but considering that Ginger was now nearly eight years old, and after consulting with her father and Joe, she decided to make the swap.

As the chief owned the roan that had really won the race,--Ginger being a mere outsider just to test Joe's belief that he was the fastest animal,--White Wolf was, in fact, the winner, and took the ten ponies that were wagered.

With the assistance of her father and brothers, Kate selected five of the best and youngest of the chief's bunch, including the roan. The Indians then returned to their camp, promising to come up that evening and give a series of dances, as they intended to start for their reservation the next morning.

After they had left the front of the house, and Joe had taken the five new ponies to the corral, he told Kate that he would now let her have Cheyenne back, and he would take the roan, as the latter was too large a horse for her to ride. Kate agreed readily to the proposition, so she once more owned the little animal that had brought her so safely from the Indian village.

When the family had finished their supper, Joe and Rob, with a team of work horses, dragged several large logs from the creek to the front of the house to make a big bonfire, for the Pawnee dance.

Shortly after dark the redskins came up with their best toggery on, and when Joe, who had donned his Indian suit for the occasion, told White Wolf he was ready, the Indians commenced to circle around the great fire of logs, in their savage fashion. Some of them jumped stiff-legged like an antelope when he is first startled. Others, bending nearly double, shuffled in pairs, each one on his own hook, trying to see which could make the most ridiculous postures, for they have no regular figures, but keep admirable time to the drumming on the tom-toms.

When the first dance was finished, they gave a representation of the scalp dance. The chief crept along the ground, putting his ear close to it, in the attitude of listening on the trail of the enemy, then waving his hand for his warriors to come on, they rushed into a supposed Indian camp, and went through the simulation of killing their victim, and wrenching off his hair with their knives. The motions, which at times were really graceful, were carried on in perfect unison with the monotonous pounding of the drums.

The next dance was named "Make the buffalo come." The medicine-men, who claim to possess mysterious powers, tell the warriors to dance, for that will make the buffalo come, and then they can get their meat. The crafty old fellows are sure never to order the dance until about the season that the animals come to that part of the country where the tribe may happen to be. They are kept dancing night after night until the buffalo really make their appearance, then the medicine-men claim that they brought them by their incantations and the wonderful power of their medicine.

For this dance, White Wolf's warriors and himself covered their heads with the skin of a buffalo's head, horns and all, so that they looked like a lot of men with the heads of that animal as part of their anatomy. It was a long dance, and during its performance, the most indescribable antics were gone through.

The family were well pleased with the entertainment, and when it was over, Mrs. Thompson invited the Indians into the sitting-room, where the girls had prepared a little supper for them, consisting of cake and lemonade. The latter was new, and created quite a sensation, but Joe told them it was not fire-water, and they might drink a barrel full without becoming crazy.

At midnight when the dances and the supper were over, the Pawnees rode back to their camp, delighted with their evening's entertainment.

The next morning Joe was down at the Indian camp very early to see his dusky friends make ready for their departure. The chief told him that they had camped on the Oxhide for the last time; the whites had taken up all the country, and the buffalo would come there no more. Now when they needed buffalo meat, they would be obliged to go out as far as the Walnut, and in a few more years there would be no buffalo at all. His people would have to take the "white man's road" if they expected to live. He and the other warriors made their youthful friend some presents, and told him that they had to go by the house to take the trail down the Smoky Hill Fork to their distant home. He said that they would stop a moment at the ranche to say good by to all the people who had been so kind to him and the tribe every year since they had camped on the creek.

Joe returned to Errolstrath, feeling very sad, because he had become much attached to the Indians, and he knew that he would miss them so much, and feel lonely for a long time. He told the family that the Pawnees would come soon to say farewell, and that they must be sure to be out on the veranda when they came.

By nine o'clock, Kate, whose ears were well trained to faint sounds, through her vigilance when a captive in the Cheyenne camp, came into the house from the porch where she had been attending to her birds as usual, and said the Pawnees were coming; she could hear the tread of their ponies' hoofs.

Then the family took their places on the veranda, as they had promised Joe. Presently, slowly coming up the trail, with White Wolf in the lead, the band of Pawnees were seen approaching the house. Arrived in front, they all halted, and with their usual "How? How?" saluted the family.

All came down from the porch to shake hands, when Ginger, who with the other ponies was running loose in the bunch, came up to Kate and, neighing affectionately, began to rub his nose against her arm and shoulder. The salutation of her once favorite pony was too much for the warm-hearted girl, and she burst into tears as she returned the animal's love for her by throwing her arms around his neck.

"Oh, father!" said she, "why did I ever consent to part with Ginger? I am so sorry now. I would give worlds to have him back again."

White Wolf, noticing her weeping, asked in his own language why the little squaw was feeling so badly. Joe told him how she loved Ginger and how sorry she was she had ever consented to give him up.

White Wolf then said: "Tell her she shall have her pony again. I am a chief and do not like to see the white squaws cry." He dismounted from his animal, and going up to Kate, took Ginger's foretop in his hand; then taking hers, he pressed into it the bunch of hair.

Ginger neighed when the rude ceremony of returning him to his former mistress was over, seeming to understand just what had been effected.

Kate took the chief by the hand and thanked him as earnestly as she could find language to express herself, which, of course, had to be interpreted by Joe.

Then Rob brought from the stable the five other ponies that had been given for Ginger, and after a few more parting salutations the Pawnees rode down the trail.

Ginger was restored to his stall in the stable, and Kate was the happiest girl in the settlement that day.