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Wa-pee Moos-tooch
Chapter XVII
What Transpires on the Long Warpath


IT WAS a most enthusiastic following which went out with White Buffalo, and while many hearts were sad, still the multitude sang the war song until the whole party had disappeared behind the timber bluff. White Buffalos arrangement with the senior chief and council was that these should move on out to the great plains, and, as the buffalo herds might permit, go to the west, up the Chain of Lakes river, or even over to the open water, the south branch, and in these vicinities await the return of the warriors.

As per appointment, our hero led his men straight to the scene of the autumn massacre of Crees. He made the Seer and Snake Skin his seconds in command. He said to the seer:

"Never mind venturing your spirit until the others join us," and himself sought a sign of approbation from his Pawakun, who appeared in his usual form when White Buffalo and Snake Skin were away far in advance of their party, and after a long run had stopped on the brow of a small knoll to rest, when behold! on the summit of another hill, a short distance away, there appeared the big wolf, and as the latter silently looked upon the young men, these could not but feel that his blessing was upon them.

"Ah, said Snake Skin, "you, my friend, are indeed greatly favored among men."

"Yes," was the answer, "when that I have won the love and true friendship of such men as you and Kosopachckao, and my Pawakun gives his blessing on our enterprises."

And, as if to give emphasis, White Buffalo saved the life of one of his followers that very afternoon. This man had tracked a big cinnamon bear, and coming close enough, as he thought, he had let an arrow fly at the bear, but only succeeded in wounding the brute, and the bear in turn attacked the Indian. He was having the best of the fight when White Buffalo and a few of his men came upon the scene, and before the others could think what to do our hero was in the tussle with only his knife, and succeeded in killing the bear and saving his man. The leader's great agility and strength very much impressed his followers, and was looked upon by all as a significant and prophetic sign of the success of their party.

On the fourth day out they neared the scene of the massacre, and saw that the western men were here before them, and these now hailed them with gladness. This western contingent was under the command of the champion runner whom White Buffalo had left the summer before. This man at once gave himself and party over to White Buffalo, who made the Antelope, which was the runner's name, like the seer and Snake Skin, a member of his council.

Here they spent the rest of the day in religious and war dances, and singing consecration hymns, and with the dawn of the next morning set their faces to the distant mountains, and the sunset. White Buffalo now found himself at the head of some three hundred men, and to train and discipline these he made them into four companies, the seer and Snake Skin and Antelope and himself each commanding a fourth, and each to take the scouting and guarding of the whole party in daily and nightly succession. Moreover, each guard was to do the hunting of the time. Fortunately, the buffalo were pretty well scattered over the country through which their line of march took them. At one of their camps the seer went into a trance, and sent his spirit out in advance, and when he came to he told the listening crowd that their road would he a long one, that not until they would have travelled several nights beyond the place of the fight of last season would they come to fresh signs of the enemy. However, while all this might be true, White Buffalo kept his men under strict rule, and was forever watchful of their whole movement, and himself was constantly on the vanguard, and oftentimes scouting alone. While Snake Skin had brought the gun he took from the Beaver, he had also his bow and quiver, and was thus doubly armed, but White Buffalo still depended on his bow. And it was while on this trip, and when they were on the north side of the beautiful woods range of hills now named the Cypress, that he performed the wonderful archery which made him famous as the great expert shot of his day and time. While scouting ahead as usual he encountered and killed three immense grizzlies, and did this by killing one on each day for three consecutive days. The first one was leisurely crossing the plain between two little islands of scrub timber when White Buffalo saw him and ran to intercept him, and now feeling almost sure of his aim and strength, he called to the big bear:

"Hello, you great father of bears, where are you going?" And the huge fellow raised on to his hind feet, and standing erect peered around to discover the strange calls he had heard, and then our hunter took his chance and let his arrow fly and it went straight into the heart of the grizzly and in a little while he laid him down and died. And White Buffalo, running to a knoll, signalled to some of his following, who, coming to the spot, marvelled at their leader's pluck and skill, and then went to work to skin and cut up the bear, and packed the best part of the meat into camp, and the monster feet and claws were beheld by the whole party. These were trophies any man might be proud of even in these days of strong and rapid shooting firearms.

The next day Snake Skin was with White Buffalo, and they came on the fresh tracks of a giant grizzly, and Snake Skin said: "You had better let this one pass." But White Buffalo picked a couple of arrows, and gave his bow a strong pull, and answered:

"Our men are fond of bear's meat. and it is good for a change. I will run on this one's track for a little way. You can watch for men, while I see where this big one has gone."

And away he went on the quick run after the grizzly, and Snake Skin scouted and also kept his friend in sight. And around the camp that night he told the story.

"We had run perhaps twenty arrows flight, when from the top of a little hill there was the bear crossing the valley ahead of us. White Buffalo was now some four or five arrows flight ahead of me, and we were both in full view of the bear if he should turn and look, and to make him do this my friend shouted:

"'Yo ho, you ancient chief of bears! Stop and let us exchange the news!' And White Buffalo began to sing a hunting song, and the bear turned around and came straight for him, and then White Buffalo shouted, and the bear stood up, and my friend sent his arrow right into his heart. Oh, it was a great shot, and the bear jumped towards us, but fell and died when he had come but a little way. I tell you young men, there is no man in all this land who can shoot as straight or kill as far as our young chief."

The next day the Antelope and the seer were with the leader away on in advance, and the seer went aside into a clump of scrub, and presently came out on the jump with another big grizzly at his heels. And again White Buffalo came to the rescue and killed the bear, and saved the prophet's life.

That night the killing of the third bear was told by the Antelope. Said he:

"We were moving along in the shade of the hill and in the coulée which ran up its side there were woods, and the seer said, 'I will look for red willows,' and he went into the woods and then in a little while we heard a crashing and noise, and here was our friend running for his life, and close behind him there came a Mistaya, the first one I had seen. I tell you he looked fierce and big, and I felt like running, but this man beside me pulled his bow so quick, and shot the bear and made him stumble, and again he shot the bear, and then handing me his bow ran in between the Seer and the bear. But so true and strong had been his shots that by this time the hear was dying, and soon he fell and was dead. I can tell you, young men, this is no common man we are following. He is gifted above his fellows. I am proud to be in his company, and now am truly glad that such a man as he did win the race from me last summer."

Thus White Buffalo was all the while strengthening himself with his people, and Snake Skin and the seer were loyally enhancing his prestige every day. All this time our hero was acting under a sense of duty, and not from choice. His Nagos, his home lodge, his own land of forest and plain, the interminglings of the fountainheads of the Beaver and Swan, and their multiple tributaries, these were the voices calling him. But his people needed him and the ideals and creeds of the time demanded this service, and he was obedient thereunto.

Steadily, day after day, our party climbed the easy slope of the great continent, always keeping to the south side of the big river system which makes the south branch, or as the Crees termed it, the open water. They were now in the country of the cactus and rattlesnake, and many of these young men had never seen either of these until now, and while the older men cautioned them to be watchful, nevertheless one was bitten by a rattler. But the seer opened his medicine bag and sang his medicine song, and in the meantime had his patient to eat some of a strange root, and also pounding up some other of his medicine roots, he applied this as a poultice to the bite, and in a little while the young man was himself again. The seer told the crowd that this medicine was discovered by a war party of Crees whose attention was drawn to a battle between a rattler and a lizard, and they saw the lizard when bitten by the snake rush for a certain root, and digging this up eat it, and come back and renew the fight, and eventually kill the snake. Thus this antidote to the snake's venom was discovered by the Crees.

Niska, who was now for the first time in the history of the Muskegoes, as also in his own life, making one in this war party, felt that this was indeed a new world. Everything was strange but Snake Skin was faithfully watching over him, and then he had his own brother-in-law, his Neesta, this great man, who if not for his own sake, would for the sake of the Little Mother forever look after him; he, like White Buffalo, was testing himself, and wondering what would happen when they came upon the enemy. However, unlike our hero's first war expedition, there were none to scoff at Niska. He was too near the leader and his friend Snake Skin and was thus favorably circumstanced. But nevertheless, the lad wondered within himself what might be his experience. In the meantime he was most obedient to both White Buffalo and Snake Skin, and was gaining in knowledge and experience every day.

It came to pass that a trial of his courage was close at hand. "Niska, you scout away ahead this morning. Be very careful, and come back to us if you find anything strange."

And the young man ran off, glad to have the opportunity of possibly discovering some sign of the enemy, and learning in this new field what these older men are now so familiar with. He had gone a long distance and had not seen a sign, and was hiding in a dust pan near the brow of a bill, watching keenly, when presently he saw something moving. At first what he saw seemed a part of the next hill, but focusing his vision he saw that if it was the hill that portion of it was moving. Then he waited until whatever it was was out of sight. Then he made his way across the valley as quick as he could, and scouted up where he could command the country beyond, and he saw a man. And he watched him until he made sure that this was no one in his party, and he followed this man until the shape of the country and the many little hills permitted him to approach him close. And he saw that he was not a Cree, he must be a Blackfoot. He was an enemy. He was one of these himself and party had come out to look for. And now his heart throbbed within him. Here he was alone. He did not know whether this man had seen any of his party. If he was sure that this Blackfoot had not seen any of the Crees, he would gladly have let him alone, but he said to himself:

"Perhaps he has discovered our party. If he has, then our presence in this country will very soon be known in any camp that may be ahead of us."

Thus Niska puzzled, somewhat afraid to attack the Blackfoot, and yet even more afraid to risk the Blackfoot bearing tidings of the Crees into the Blackfoot camp. He knew very well what either White Buffalo or Snake Skin would do in such a case, and at last he said:

"And I must do the same. Keyam [Never mind] even if he kills me, I must try to kill him."

And now he began to croon to himself his war song, and look for a place where he might intercept the Blackfoot, and thus he crouched and ran, and crawled and drew himself along the ground and ran until he passed the Blackfoot and was athwart his course, and with his bow strung, and several arrows ready, he made his stand and watched his chance, and as the Blackfoot came near he pulled his bow and shot his man. While he mortally wounded the Blackfoot, still the Blackfoot had strength enough to pull his bow and send several arrows at Niska. One of these slightly wounded him, but in the meantime he let fly another arrow, and this time his aim was surer, for his blood was up, and the Blackfoot fell, and Niska ran in and stood beside him as he died. He had heard about men being scalped, but he had never seen one scalped. He had never known any of his people to do any scalping, and he shrank from it, and he said:

"I will leave this man here now, and I will run further on, and take a circle and find out if I can whether there are any more Blackfeet in this vicinity." And so he left the dead man without touching him, and made a big circle, and discovered no sign of any other human being. Then he came back, and this time he took the weapons of the Blackfoot, and some of his apparel, but did not touch his scalp. Then he retraced his way until he met his party, and told them what he had seen, and the weapons and the clothing were evidences of what he had done.

And Snake Skin praised his pluck, and White Buffalo coming up said, "My Neesta has a brave heart." and Niska felt greatly comforted. And still his whole being was under the shock of having killed a man. He felt in measure even as Nagos had when she killed a man.

However, the boy's experience gave him a standing. He had scoured a vast country. He had covered immense ground. Whether this Blackfoot had discovered this war party or not, they did not know, but now they were sure that he could not bear the tidings of their approach. That evening they came to the spot, and some of the old warriors at once said:

"Niska, scalp this man. You killed him fairly, his scalp is your trophy." And Niska held back and Snake Skin said:

"Let him alone. If you want this man's scalp, take it yourselves." And thus the environment of men's natures was plainly seen. What was commonplace to one was an awful thing to another. And now White Buffalo felt the necessity of great caution, and he sent his best men on into the front, and himself scouted in advance, and the main body of the party moved during the night. And when they were up in that country near the mouth of the river that comes from the chief mountain which is now called the St. Mary's, they felt that they were in the proximity of a camp. And here again White Buffalo, by his extra swiftness and wonderful archery prevented their being discovered by a large camp. Two of the Blackfeet stumbled upon them, and then, recognizing the Cree, made a detour for their camp, and they were seen by one of the Cree scouts, and he gave the alarm, and though the Blackfeet were now far in the lead, White Buffalo and some other took after them, but he outdistanced the rest, and was alone when he came within arrow-shot of the Blackfeet. And they, seeing that he was alone, and so far ahead of his companions, turned to fight him, but they knew not that this man's arrow flew far, and was sent straight. And while their arrows fell short of him he presently shot both of them so that they, like their companions on other trips, became not the bearers of tidings to their friends.

"And now," said White Buffalo, as he stood beside the scouts of his enemy, we must be careful, we have come so far that we cannot let these people know of our approach, and make a failure of this expedition."

So he redoubled his vigilance and moved his party with all care. And soon in came the news of a large camp. They were across the chief mountain river, and camped in the bottom, and the hillside was covered with their ponies, and the lodges were many. This was the report. So White Buffalo, gathering his party under cover, said to them:

"Doubtless all three men that we have found and have killed belonged to this camp, and it would appear that notwithstanding all our care they discovered us, and were going home to tell the news. We have stopped them. But their absence will soon be missed, so we must make haste and attack this camp as quickly as we can."

And he and Antelope scouted as near as they could and took in the size of the camp, and its situation, and White Buffalo made up his mind as to how they might approach it. And then they returned to their following and determined to make the charge the next morning.

From what they saw at the camp they felt that thus far their presence in that country was not known. When night came they moved up close and then White Buffalo told his men of the plan. Snake Skin and Antelope were to approach this end of the camp and himself and the seer were to come around to the far end, and thus they were to await the coming day. Said he to his men:

"They are stronger than we are in numbers. But if the spirits help us, and we can dash at them before they discover our presence, then we will have the advantage. So be brave, my men, we have come far, many nights farther than I have ever been from the land of our fathers. Very few in this party have ever come so far away from the lodges of our people as we are now. Let us remember why we have come, to punish our enemies, to avenge the death of our friends, and if we live take home glory to our people. Let every man commune with himself tonight, and in quietness let us go to our places and with the break of the day tomorrow we will charge our enemies."

And all listened and all were hushed and all felt that the struggle was near. During the night they made ready, and by the first dawning of the coining day they were placed and all this time there was no sign that the enemy had any knowledge of their presence. The seer sang his hymn, and took out his war cap and walked in and out among the warriors and encouraged them with quiet words, and White Buffalo sat and thought of Nagos, and felt that his heart was with her, and said to himself:

"I am not a fighting man, and yet I must call in my wandering spirit, and for the sake of my people and for the sake of my manhood, and for the sake of Nagos I must be brave."

And Snake Skin away across the valley said to himself "If I live tomorrow, and the Spirits help me, I will feel that I am worthy, and with a brave heart will go into the north land this coming autumn and claim the Little Star."

Indeed, he was thinking more about the Little Star than he was about the battle. And not until some one said:

"Ah, there is the morning star," did Snake Skin come back from following the Little Star in thought to the duty that was now upon him, for in a little while he would have to lead his men in the rush upon the camp.

It was a quiet night, and up and down the valley the tramping of horses and the occasional neighing of one here and there, and the bark of a dog, and out on the hills the howling of wolves and the shrill calls of the coyotes, and then intervals of stillness. And in these did our party send signs across from one division to another. The owl hooted, and was answered. The wolf howled, the coyote barked. Thus White Buffalo and Snake Skin and Antelope and the Seer sent their messages one to the other. And the day sky appeared, and every minute made the scene lighter, and now objects could be discerned. The painted lodges, the spotless white on some, and presently the whole valley rang with the war cry from hundreds of throats and dashing down upon the camp on every side came the Crees, and the Blackfoot warriors signalled to each other, and the whole camp was aroused, and the battle was on.

The Blackfeet, as was their plan and purpose, had the cut banks of the river to rush down and use as barricades. But long ere many of them reached these favored spots they were caught, and with war club and knife they were slain. The Blackfeet fought bravely, but the Crees rush was fierce and the Blackfeet lost heavily. But, as before, when the enemy got under shelter the battle ceased. It would be foolish bravery, was the thought of the warrior of those days, to rush in on men who are behind a barricade. Only occasionally in the history of Indian fights was this done, and then it was when the attacking party was in great multitudes. Our war party was satisfied with their slaying of the enemy ere these could reach shelter. And so with scalps, and loot, and horses, and as the sun was climbing the heavens, they retired from the battlefield, and gathering up over the hill, they began to count their number. And then they found that some of their friends were absent. They had many scalps, but they had bought them dearly.

As the warriors gathered up here were White Buffalo and Snake Skin, but look as they would, neither Antelope nor the Seer nor yet Niska could be found. This created a great feeling of consternation in the minds of both White Buffalo and Snake Skin. Their brother leaders, had they been killed in the fray? And young Niska, how could either of them go back to the Little Mother and her brother missing? And they thought of the people in the farther north to whom they both felt in large sense responsible, and while they troubled and were in great sorrow, suddenly there appeared, approaching through the hills, a single rider, driving a bunch of horses before him.

Who can this be? was the exclamation, and Snake Skin, jumping on a horse, made him fairly fly out in the direction of the approaching rider. Then he whirled his horse and sent him to and fro as a signal to White Buffalo and the crowd that this was one of their own party, and then he came back on the jump even as he had gone, and shouted to White Buffalo:

"It is your brother-in-law. The foolish boy has been away alone And sure enough, here was Niska, with a hunch of horses, and no scalps.

"What!" said White Buffalo, "were you not in the fight? Did you not rush into our enemy's camp with the rest of us?"

"Yes I did," said Niska, but after fighting some, I saw these two horses," and he pointed to a pair of ponies that were charms in horseflesh, "and when I saw them I coveted them. So I stopped fighting and drove this bunch of horses out, and now I am glad to be with you again."

"Well, we are all glad to have you back," was the answer that came from many mouths. But where are the scalps you should have taken?"

"Oh, I did not take any scalps. If you go down into the camp, and see any Blackfeet dead with their scalps on, you can say Niska killed these."

And now everybody became concerned as to the other two leaders. And White Buffalo quickly determined to return to the scene of the fight. He left his party to remain on guard with the horses and loot they had taken and himself and Snake Skin scouted down into the camp, and hunting around among the tents they did see several dead Blackfeet with their scalps on, and Snake Skin very quickly and deftly removed these and stuck them in his belt. "For," said he, "I want to prove to our people that Niska did in no wise shun the fight. These are his victims."

While they were searching for their friends, they heard an owl hoot up a coulee, and White Buffalo answered it, and again the owl hooted. Then they ran over to where the sound came from, and here, to their joy, they found the Antelope, severely wounded, but quite alive. Several arrows had pierced him, and one had entered so near the joint of his knee as that he could not do more than drag himself along the ground. And thus he had crawled away from the scene of the fight, and hidden for the time being where his friends found him.

"I am all right," said he, "but for this wound in my leg. As to the rest of the wounds the enemy gave me, all the harm they have done me is that I have lost a lot of blood, and I was both weak and lame when I came here."

And White Buffalo said, "Snake Skin, you go back and bring some young men to help carry our friend, and I will go to the river and bring him some water to drink."

And this they proceeded to do quickly, for they were close to where the enemy was in barricade, and no one could tell how soon these might make a sally.

While White Buffalo was scouting to the river for water, he thought he heard peculiar singing where the Blackfeet were, and listening keenly, he said to himself:

"This is strange. That voice is exactly like Kosopachekao's voice, but surely he cannot be alive in the enemy's camp. If they have taken him prisoner it is very strange."

However, he determined to wait for the arrival of Snake Skin with help, and then, securing the water, he scouted back to assuage the thirst of his friend. Having given the Antelope the drink, and thus strengthening him, he proceeded to bind up his wounds as best he could. Then he told the Antelope about the strange singing he had heard over among the Blackfeet. He did not think there could be two voices exactly alike, and he was almost sure that he had heard the Seer chanting one of his hymns.

"Well," said Antelope, "I would not be surprised, for he is a wonderful man in his way. He may have cast a spell over those Blackfeet."

"Perhaps he has," said White Buffalo, "and when our party comes up, and we have you safely away, I am going to find out, for if our prophet is alive, we must rescue him if we can."

And now Snake Skin came up with his relief party, and White Buffalo told off four young men who, taking the corners of a robe, lifted the wounded Antelope therein, and proceeded with the double duty of carrying him to the rendezvous, and scouting their way in so doing. And now White Buffalo and Snake Skin, and the rest of the young men he had brought with him, stealthily approached the Blackfeet and silently listened. And again they heard the tones of this voice, and Snake Skin said to White Buffalo:

"That must be Kosopachekao."

"Bark like a coyote," said White Buffalo to Snake Skin, and a low, quiet bark was the answer, thrown in between the notes of his chanting. Thus the Seer was now conscious of the presence in the vicinity of his friends. Then White Buffalo determined to challenge the Blackfeet, and he called out:

"Are you there, Kosopachckao?" And now in distinct tone came back the answer:

"Yes, I am here."

"Are you well?" was the next question.

"Yes, as well as one can be in the hands of his enemies."

"Are you wounded?"

"No. not a scratch on me."

"Well, why don't you come out then and come to us?"

"Just wait a little. perhaps I will," was the answer. And now, in strong, sonorous tones, the Seer began to intone a hymn, and as his voice grew louder and more solemn, presently those listening could tell that the Prophet was moving about among the enemy. And while they listened and wondered what this strange man would do, presently his head appeared above the bank. Presently he was out in full view and approaching them, and then they saw the Blackfeet here and there looking at the Prophet, and verily these seemed to be spellbound, and did not raise a weapon or an arm to stay his course, and thus the Seer came towards his friends, and soon was once more among them.

And now White Buffalo saw fit to send his voice in turn across in to the enemy's camp.

"We thank you, O brave men of the Blackfeet people, for giving us our friend alive and untouched. Even as he was with us yesterday, so he is now today unharmed. We thank you for sparing his life, and while we are enemies and doubtless may come together in battle in the future, yet I pledge you my word who am the leader of the Crees who attacked your camp this morning, that we will never forget your act of kindness today."

And then the Seer began to sing and White Buffalo and Snake Skin and the young men who had come with him joined in the song, and thus in full view of the Blackfeet warriors they wended their way up the hill to their party, and reaching these there was great rejoicing. All the leaders were here: Antelope was badly wounded, but not unto death, unless any of his wounds should prove to have been poisoned, and to offset this possibility the Seer went to work immediately with his poultices and herbs and incantations. In the meanwhile White Buffalo and Snake Skin counted up their party, and found that their total loss so far was fifteen. They had killed and scalped more than a hundred of the enemy, and now they made preparation for the start homeward. Those who were wounded and could not travel on horseback were put on travois. The Antelope was placed on one of these, and several young men took it in turn to lead the horse that drew him and also lift the end of the travois in rough places. Because of the wounded, their movement was necessarily slow, and White Buffalo kept a strong rear guard as they journeyed, and because of his previous experiences he had scouts out on both front and flank. Slowly and carefully they journeyed eastward, caring for their wounded, and losing as little time as possible, for every man was anxious to reach home.

They hoped that their people might have come a good long ways westward. The signs were that the buffalo had travelled northward and therefore the chance was that their people might now be somewhere along the banks of the south branch, the Open Water River. They had very little trouble as to commissariat. Every day buffalo and antelope and deer were their prey. Snake Skin had very soon made known to the company that these scalps were taken from the heads of men whom Niska had slain. And the latter was interviewed around the camp fire as to why he had killed men and yet had not scalped them, and he answered:

"So far as I know, my people never scalped any man, and I could not bring myself to do it. I was even sorry to kill anybody, but I came with my brother-in-law and my friend, Snake Skin, on this war party, and I went into the battle with you, and almost before I could think I was killing men. But I did not scalp them, and if ever I go on the warpath again and should happen to kill anybody I believe I will not scalp them."

And no man derided Niska or laughed at him as a tenderling, for they knew he was brave, and they accepted his feeling in this matter.

Snake Skin said: "White Buffalo's wife will never paint, and her brother Niska will never scalp," and as was the condition of the thought of these men, they took no exception. We have said before in this narrative that perhaps nowhere among men have we found more consideration for the other's faith than among these Indian peoples. At one of their camps the Seer told the story of his being made prisoner.

Said he: "I was in a group of Blackfeet, and I began to sing, and one of them must have hit me on the head, for when I came to I was with them behind their barricade. They had dragged me into it, and I was alive. Because of this I was greatly surprised, that I should be with these people alone and alive, filled me with wonderment, and as soon as I became fully conscious of where I was, I began to sing. And they looked at me, and I expected every moment that they would kill me, but they did not. Some of the chiefs and leading men, as I thought, came around where I was, and they looked at me, and I looked at them, and I sang, and I never stopped singing, and I looked at them and they looked at me, and then as the (lay passed I kept singing and looking at them, and presently I heard Snake Skin's call, and I answered. Then I heard White Buffalo's voice in question, and I sang louder, and answered as I sang. Then I rose tip and they made way for me and I carne out from among them, and not one tried to stop me. And here I am with you."

And the young men looked at him, and the older men looked at each other, and it was accepted by all that Kosopachekao was in favor among the strong spirits.

They had taken a large number of horses, and articles of apparel, and some splendid robes, and saddles and many lines, and thus with scalps and much loot they journeyed homeward, White Buffalo forever watchful and every man in his party strictly obedient unto him. Among the horses they had taken were some splendid buffalo runners. Both of those which had caught Niska's fancy turned out to be well trained hunting horses, and Snake Skin said to him:

"You are very lucky, my young brother. You have done brave deeds, and you have now in possession some good horses, and you are still a boy. What will you do when you become a man?"

And Niska laughed. "What are you going to do, Snake Skin, this fall? Are you not going away north? Are you not even now thinking about the smallest and littlest star in the heavens? Well, if you will make long journeys, and go to war and run many risks, and do what you call brave deeds for the sake of somebody, perhaps I will do the same."

And Snake Skin patted his protege on the shoulder and said:

"You are wonderful people, you children of the forest and water."

Nothing strangely stirring took place as they travelled eastward. Hunting their way, living on the moving game which did abound in the land. Buffalo by the thousands, sometimes by the scores of thousands; antelope in flocks and in small bands covering the plain; black and white-tailed deer along the streams, and wherever there were patches of timber: moulting ducks and porcupines; thus these men hunted and feasted and travelled across the vast stretches of this upland country. Owing to their one diet life, the wounded were healing quickly. Out in the open, and flesh cooked for the most part over the fire without any kettle or pan, thus these men seemed to have clean blood, and it was remarkable how quickly their wounds healed. Already the Antelope was moving around camp on crutches. As soon as they had come to timber, White Buffalo had made for him a pair of crutches. And now, with the wounded healing they were hopefully travelling homeward, and making good time, and one day an advance scout came rushing back with the news that hunters from the east had been running buffalo two nights before beyond those hills. This inspired everyone with hope. "These may be our people," and they moved on quickly. But as all experienced warriors knew they must now watch more keenly, for in all probability war parties might be seeking the very camp which was their home. However, three days afterwards a scout came in and told them that a large camp of Crees was in sight. Said he:

"I did not go near enough to make sure, but I think they are our people."

And sure enough, so it happened, that this was the camp from which they had come. Indeed, two large camps had joined, and here were our friends of last season once more together, and eagerly awaiting the return of their warriors. Three days before they arrived White Buffalo's mother laughingly said to Nagos:

"Why, my child, what makes you so bright today? You are singing all the time. You have been running here and there, you seem full of life. What is the matter with you?"

And Nagos said: "My husband is coming. I saw him. He is not hurt. A number have been slain, but he is well, and Snake Skin is well, and before many nights they will be here."

"Oh," said the mother, I do hope your dream will come true."

"Nay, nay, my mother," said Nagos, "it was not a dream. I was awake, and in a little time my spirit went far, and I saw my husband, and I tell you they are near."

And the mother told her husband, and their hearts were cheered, and sure enough one of their scouts came in and said:

"A large party is approaching, and they are all on horseback. I do not know whether they are friends or foes." And the chief said:

"Make ready!" And the camp made ready, and then another scout came in and his story was definite.

Our friends are coming, our warriors have been successful. They went forth on foot, I saw them and they are all on horseback, and they are driving more horses. They have been victorious!"

And the whole camp, which a little while ago was on the defensive, was now full of expectant joy. And in came the warriors singing their song of victory, which sounded all through the lodges, and the sick and the faint and the aged, and the little ones all took part. Their men had been victorious. The spirits had smiled upon them, and brought the most of them home. Here and there there was a wail. Here and there the mother lifted up her voice in anguish, and other mothers took up the cry in sympathetic note, but the volume of the camp ever and anon would break out in triumphant song. "White Buffalo and our young men have brought us glory! White Buffalo and our young men have brought many scalps! White Buffalo and our young men have brought in many horses! We are avenged on our enemies! Let us sing, let us dance, and be glad!"

These were the words of the senior chief of the large camp, and everyone said:

"It is true, let us be glad!"


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