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Wa-pee Moos-tooch
Chapter V
He Joins His First War Party


NOT LONG AFTER there came the opportunity for the second. The camp had scattered, and again had convened, but some were missing, and one day a lone woman came in wailing and weeping, and in full mourning costume. Her story was sad. She alone of the lodges she represented had escaped to tell her people. The Blackfeet had come upon them in great numbers, and all were dead. The enemy had taken every scalp. and all their horses and everything, from her people. She had been away from camp when she heard the war-whoop, and she hid and when all was quiet she scouted to the camp and found what she had feared. Her friends were slain, alas! alas! and who will avenge their death? Yes, who will avenge their death?

And White Buffalo heard the cry. and though of mild nature and instinctively a man of peace, his heart was stirred, and his blood boiled within him, and he said to himself "Perhaps this is my opportunity, perhaps this is to be the time of my second testing." And if there had been any hesitation in his mind about joining the war party, hearing Snake Skin say in a flippant way: " Oh, yes; every man that can be spared will go, and White Buffalo will keep the camp. He has no heart for war!"

And White Buffalo bit his lip and said to himself:

"Hold on, Snake Skin, do not be too sure. However, I as yet do not know myself, and therefore I will not boast."

This woman who had arrived in the camp as the sole survivor of quite a number of lodges of her people, which had been rushed by a war party of Blackfeet while the Crees were camped in the valley of the Chain of Lakes River, had come a long way alone, and her story of death, and her wailings through between the lodges so stirred the hearts of the warriors that an expedition for the purpose of revenge was organized. And in every lodge preparations went quickly forward, for the season was now well advanced, and it was necessary that the warriors should be back from crossing the great plains before the winter would strongly set in.

The baggage and equipment and commissariat of an Indian camp on the war path did not take long to prepare. A good bow with a quiver full of shod arrows, a lariat, either a chawed line or one plaited out of
woven buffalo hair, a few pairs of moccasins, possibly a shoe needle and an awl, a scalping knife, a light fall robe, and the warrior's equipment was complete. If he was the fortunate owner of a flintlock gun, and had a powder horn full of powder, and thirty or forty trade balls, then these took the place of the bow and quiver, and thus on foot and in parties ranging from one to several hundred, these people were accustomed to take to the war path.

On the third day from the arrival of the lone woman, a party numbering between fifty and sixty left this camp and started westward. Opapamotao, the traveller, led the party. This man's name was truly significant of his life. He had seen the great mountains. He had crossed the divide over into the Peigan country, now known as the Missouri. He had scouted up to the lodges of the Sioux. He had fought Blackfeet and Bloods on the big tributaries of the great Saskatchewan. He had, on the other hand, accompanied the Hudson's Bay trader down to the shores of the Kechegame—the sea. He alone of all his people had brought a gun and a blanket and a fathom of cloth from the depot post Fort York on the shores of the Hudson's Bay. He was the adventurous spirit. One hundred years ago there were but few of his kind that had travelled as far in the great northwest in America. Opapamotao, because of his knowledge of the country, became the leader of this war expedition. Singing a war song he issued from his lodge, and without even a look back as his wife and children wept, he strode forth, and immediately his song was taken up by all who had waited for the signal, and thus these men. without food, with simple armor. and very little of that, set out to avenge the death of their people on their enemies.

As was natural and logical, the first part of their journey took them directly to the spot the woman had described as the scene of the massacre. The third day out they approached the place. Up to this time they had lived on rabbits and duck and chicken. rather precarious commissariat. They had killed one elk and two small deer, and hastily around the camp fire at night some of them more provident than the rest, had cut up pieces of the meat of these animals and, improvising staging made of poles. and placing these leeward of the camp fire, they had thus dried the meat and repeatedly turning it by the morning of the next day had it very much lightened and ready to carry with them.

Now they approach the spot indicated by the woman as the scene of slaughter. Sure enough. away down the valley some of the lodges were still standing. Other than this there was no sign of humanity. As they came nearer, wolves and coyotes and myriad carrion birds were direct evidence of the truth of the woman's tale. Reaching the spot, alas, it was too true. Here are the bones and mutilated remains of their friends and relatives. Opapamotao sent a scout up the hill the way they would travel and left another on the hill from whence they had come. Then himself and the rest of his company began a silent and minute inspection of the massacre. After reading into the horrible scene before them the many tragedies therein written, the mother and the infant child, the husband and wife, the little grandchild and the aged grandparent, all dead, and horribly dead. and these were their friends beloved, the people with whom they had been bred, and for whose return a few days ago they had been looking with joyful anticipation. And thus thinking and in silence they set them down. and after a long time they sang the death song, and strong men wept. And in the psychological moment Opapmotao, who was experienced in humanity, arose, and in eloquence, and with effect, wrought upon his little audience until every man jumped to his feet singing. And now with vengeance in the song they stepped simultaneously as with one movement on the trail of the enemy.

We believe we are safe in saying that there were no better trailers than the Indians of the North American continent one hundred years ago. They were born to it. They inherited this faculty. Out of centuries it had come almost as a distinct sense into the life of this people. Observation was the catechism of their childhood. One of their philosophers did say:

"Never ask a question concerning that which you can find out for yourself. Open your eves, quicken your mind. Think and know."

Therefore these people were observant, and intensely perceptive. In a twinkling they would have a correct understanding of the case, while the man in other lands, because of his own school of environment, would take long periods of time to perceive what was the matter. Therefore, within his limit, every man in this little company of sixty men was an army in himself. Opapamotao knew this, but he also knew that he had better knowledge of the country than any man with him. In this he was the chosen leader. It was not necessary for him to give a signal or to shout a command to his scouts on the rear or in the advance. They knew what to do and did it.

The trail was now more than ten days old. Rain had fallen, winds had blown, the sun had shone, but without doubt the trail was kept. There had been quite a few horses in the camp that had been destroyed. All these were taken by the victors.

Our war party followed up the valley of what is today the Qu'Appelle. Then they struck across to the south branch of the Saskatchewan, and followed it up on the south side. Here they met some of the great herds which had come in behind the enemy in the intervening time. Now they feasted, and also became more careful in their scouting. All this was fresh and entirely new as an experience in the life of our hero. It is one thing to sit beside the camp fire or astride your horse as you ride side by side with heroes from many battles and listen to their experience. It is another thing to be out on the trail after your enemies, to have burning in your breast the lust for blood, the omnipresent and intense desire for vengeance, to picture the massacre and its horrible details. To think of men and women you have respected and the companions of your youth, and the terrible death they died at the hands of the enemy. And all this and much more was in White Buffalos thought by day and by night, for he never forgot that this was his testing time. When he thought of this, he also always thought of the young maiden, of the Little Mother, Nagos, away down in the northland beside the great waters in the camp of the North Wind Maker. She was never absent from his heart and thought. He questioned would he find himself at the front, the true man, brave and strong, worthy to he the mate of such a girl as he had found, when the north wind called him, and he had gone in answer on the quest? As yet, as with every man, White Buffalo in the dawn of his strong manhood was a problem to himself. When off duty and mingling with the crowd of warriors, and listening to their talk, and often hearing the braggart boast, and sometimes noticing a covert sneer which would fall from the lips of young fellows like Snake Skin and his kind, and which seemed to say:

"And what about this baby man, who never left his mother far until now? What can he do? Why, we can see him run when the first war whoop sounds."

And White Buffalo did not make answer, for as yet he did not know.

Steady westward, up the valley of the south branch the trail led. Buffalo everywhere, but humanity nowhere. This was the great lone land. The manner of travel with this war party was as follows: A few experienced men, with as many more fresh recruits, young men like White Buffalo, were sent on in advance, and out on to the flanks of the party. These would go out in turn day by day, and fall back upon the main party in the evening, unless some sign or surprise drove them in earlier in the day. It was on one of these advance expeditions that White Buffalo, being away alone, suddenly encountered a big grizzly. He had a fine opportunity of taking stock of this monster. The brute was coming slowly up a coulée and the wind was favorable for our scout, and he leisurely watched the great animal as the bear followed a buffalo trail up the valley. He saw his immense claws, and said to himself:

"What a fine trophy these would make!"

He had heard terrible tales of the grizzly's ferocity, and he questioned the wisdom of tackling the bear. Then again he longed for those claws. He felt it would be something to do to kill one of these far-famed Mistayas—great ones. His strong desire to try his skill on the bear overcame his prudence, and he crept near where the big fellow must pass, and selecting a couple of his best arrows, and testing his bow, he crawled nearer still. and when the bear was opposite to him he pulled and let his arrow fly, and greatly to his joy he saw it go through the hide and flesh right into the very vitals of his prey. He knew that his shot was fatal, but he had heard so much about the toughness and tenacity to life of these strange big animals, and how when they seemed as dead yet nevertheless they would resurrect and kill their man or men. So with great care he watched the bear, who, taken by surprise, peered around for whence the shot had come, and looked so big and fierce that our hero's heart all but failed him. Yet all the same he strung another arrow, and as the bear was standing, looking for his enemy, he pulled his bow, and again into vital places went his unerring shot, and the big bear with a growl and a whine did bite at the protruding arrows, and sought to pull them out, but all the while was dying fast, and presently fell over. White Buffalo saw with a hunter's gladness that his first encounter with a monster grizzly was a complete victory for himself, and running up the hill to watch for the nearest scout, he signalled to him, who in turn sent the signal to another, and in the meanwhile hurried over to White Buffalo, and very soon there were a number of his companions who stood and looked their astonishment at his skill and pluck. They saw the dead monster; they saw the two arrows with only the feathered parts sticking out from the huge body, which was now stretched in death. Without White Buffalo telling them they saw the spot from whence he had sent those fatal arrows. They looked at this young lad and said to themselves, even as they had said in the camp before:

"This is no common man. His arm is strong. His eye is quick. His heart is brave."

And at once away up in their estimation they placed White Buffalo. The bear was very fat, and soon they had skinned him, and White Buffalo had the feet strung together, to be carefully skinned when in camp, where he could stretch the skins and dry them with the claws thereon. For if he should live to return from this expedition, these great claws would grace his father's lodge, and his mother would say:

"Oh, my son killed the first one of these great beasts that he ever saw."

That night in the war party camp Snake Skin tried once more to turn the tide, while the bear meat and the buffalo meat were sizzling on the roasting sticks around the fire, and lips and throat were oilier than they had been for many days,

"Oh, said Snake Skin. You know White Buffalo found this bear asleep today, and he killed him as he slept. Poor bear, not to know what killed him !"

But there was no laugh in response to this. White Buffalo's stock had gone up. It was no small thing for a tenderling warrior with only bow and quiver and small hunting knife to tackle one of these big grizzlies, even if he was asleep. Many a man with a good gun had met his death in such an encounter as this.

On up the river, steadily towards the setting sun, travelled our party. They had passed the Swift Current Creek. They had come up opposite the mouth of the Wawaskesew, now called the Red Deer, and not till then did they find fresh traces of their enemies, and the trail still went westward, and they hurried on after it. And again it was White Buffalo's fate to be far on the lead and alone. Carefully scouting as he went, for these Indians knew that the enemies would leave some of their scouts far in the rear, especially as but now some of their warriors had come home triumphant with scalps and spoils and horses from the land of their foes.

Suddenly White Buffalo, with his keen eye, saw away in the distance on the summit of a hill which covered the country to the rear of the camp the trail of which they were following, what he seemed instinctively to know was the outstretched body of a man. From his vantage ground he felt pretty sure that he had not been seen, so carefully had he came, so wisely had he chosen the course of his approach, and now he said to himself:

"Let me see how close I can go without this man feeling my presence." White Buffalo knew that the camp to which this man belonged could not be very far away, and he also thought:

"If I can kill this scout and he does not return to camp tonight, it will be late in the night or perhaps tomorrow before our enemies will have any tidings of our vicinity."

In the meanwhile White Buffalo was conscious that a strange feeling was coming into his being, such as he had never known, that surely the lust of blood was now stirring his veins and coursing through his heart. And he, remembering the lone woman's wail, and the fearful sight of yonder camp, to which himself and party had come, had but one desire.

"Let me but near to yonder man, and if he is awake it will be which is the quicker, which is the stronger, and if he is asleep then perhaps he will awake no more."

Thus White Buffalo communed with himself, and all the while studied the country between him and the outstretched man, its undulations, its small ravines, its general topography, even the (lust pan hollows and buffalo trails, the work of countless herds throughout the ages, were keenly and closely taken stock of by this young hunter-warrior, who started in this life with the generations of such work behind him, and whose life thus far in the making of the scout had been full of magnificent opportunity, watching everything possible to human vision, forever watching the outstretched form that seemed as part of the hilltop. This speck upon the summit, but which White Buffalo, as if by instinct, knew was not the hill, but a man on the hill. Slowly, carefully, persistently he crept nearer. By and by he said to himself:

"That poor fellow is asleep. How foolish for any man when on duty to go asleep!" This thought seemed to comfort him. This man deserved to die. He had abused his trust. "Even his own people should demand his death. How much more I who am here to avenge the death of so many of my people."

Thus White Buffalo, who had somewhat hesitated, began to encourage himself in the work of death he was about to perform. Closer he crawled, and looked and watched and listened, and now he saw the movement of the man's body as he breathed. A little closer and he beard his breathing. With bow strung and arrow in his left hand, and with his scalping knife in his right, silently he approached his victim. The man was stretched with his face down on the ground. He also had his bow and arrow in his hand, and his knife lay there beside him. All this White Buffalo took in at a glance, barely breathing, and now full of strong desire to overcome, to kill, thirsting for this, his first opportunity at the foe of his people. He raised his arm, and sent the knife right through the sleeping man's heart. The Blackfoot hardly stirred, he merely looked and saw his enemy and died.

And White Buffalo, knowing that this man was there alone, and it mattered not if he stood up and stretched himself, for if he should be seen he would be thought to be the scout the camp had left to watch its rear. Thus he stood and looked ahead, and away in the distance he saw the camp. Then he took the man's bow and quiver and knife, and for the first time in his life he scalped his foe, and throwing the dead man's bow and quiver over his shoulder and sticking the scalp lock in his belt he went slowly down the hill towards whence he had come. When he met his party, they saw at once what he had done. He told then that the camp of their enemy was in sight from yonder hill. He said that if the Blackfeet depended on this man, whom he had slain, to watch the trail for them, they would not know that we are near, unless it will be that spirits speak and carry tidings on.

In silence his friends heard. They looked at White Buffalo, and again they said to themselves:

"He is not like other men. Perhaps before we return from this trip, instead of being the youngest in the party, he will have already become our leader and our chief."

Papamatao, the great traveller, as he came up and saw what White Buffalo had done, said:

"Well, what do you think? How should we approach this camp?"

And White Buffalo modestly said: "It is not for me to speak. I am yet young. I never did charge the lodges of our enemies."

But Papamotao answered: "Never mind your youth, speak up and tell us what you think."

Thus being urged, White Buffalo said: "Let your best scouts approach the camp as near as they can, count the lodges, make sure of the position of the camp. Then if we find the number of our enemies very large, it would be foolish for us, who are but a few, to charge it. We should then be content with taking as many of their horses as possible, and killing any of their stragglers we may find. But should our scouts in counting the lodges find out that the camp is not large, then I would say let us make ready and in the break of the (lawn of tomorrow morning let us rush the camp, and perhaps we can do even unto them as they have done to our people."

Papamotao answered: "Your words are wise, and as you advise, so will we do."

To all this Snake Skin listened, and his heart grew cold, and his mind became full of envy, but he saw that at this time he could not do anything. Papamotao selected four of his best scouts, and appointed a rendezvous, and carefully instructing them, he sent them away, and strictly enjoined them if living to be back at the rendezvous shortly after dark that night. Away went the scouts, and soon were lost to all human view, having with wonderful deftness covered themselves with the topography of the land around them. Then in solemn silence and under cover, the whole party moved to the appointed place of meeting. Every heart was beating with excitement, and even the old warriors felt the thrill of nearness to their enemy. Reaching the spot, they spent the rest of the day in looking to their weapons, in testing their bows and bow strings, in carefully overhauling their quivers, straightening their arrows, keenly inspecting the wrappings of the shods and feathers, sharpening their knives, unwinding and taking away every kink out of their lariats and horse lines, which they had packed all the way from yonder distant camp in the land of their own people. These lines they carefully re-coiled to avoid anything like a tangle when they might need them in a hurry. Thus the day waned, and the night dropped, and darkness covered the land, and they sat and listened, and presently there came on the still air the bark of a coyote.

"Ha!" said Opapamotao, "there is one of our scouts. Answer him, Snake Skin." And Snake Skin gave a bark and a whoop, and again there came a bark and a whoop, even as a coyote does. And soon there was heard the coyote's cry near by, and Snake Skin barked once more.

"That will do," said Opapamatao, and in a few minutes quietly and stealthily there came among them one of the scouts. His story was soon told.

"They are not many. I counted thirty lodges. I believe that some if not all of the slayers of our people are in this camp. Fresh scalps were hanging on the poles."

Soon a wolf howled, and Opapamotao howled also, and in a little while in came the second scout, and told his story.

"They are few, and their camp is easy. We are sufficient to rush them. That is what I think."

Just then all hooted. and Opapamotao answered hack an owl cry to all cry, and a third scout came in out of the darkness, and he said:

"A small camp, a few people, only three times ten did I count as the number of their lodges."

Then a coyote bark was heard and responded to by Snake Skin, and the fourth scout was in their midst, and his story was the same. And as none of these four men had any communication with his fellows since they separated during the day, and as each and every one in fact and story corroborated the other, the whole party felt they knew the truth, and in a quiet clear voice Opapamotao spoke as follows:

"We will do even as White Buffalo proposed today. You have seen the camp, and you have told us how it is situated. We will divide our company, and half will go with me, and the other half will follow White Buffalo."

And as White Buffalo was about to protest all did respond: "Yes, yes! Let White Buffalo lead half of our company!"

So he, embarrassed, and feeling his unfitness, had to consent to take the place given to him.

"And now, young men," said Opapamotao, "it is still early, and the night is long. We will rest, and at midnight move up close. Then each party will take its place."

And so they did. And it was midnight, and in quiet they moved near to the camp of their enemy, and they divided their little company, and appointed the place where White Buffalo had come to them the day before as their rendezvous and waiting spot, should they become separated in the struggle. Then each party went to its alloted place.

Have you stood guard all night during the late autumn of the year? Have you as with telepathic sense felt the nearness of your enemies, and waited with keen expectancy for the struggle that was coming? If so, you have felt even as these men did feel as they waited for the faint glimmer of the coming dawn. But our war party felt more than this. Were they not here on a specific purpose? Had they not left their homes and their people, commissioned by their history and by all their traditions, and by what they had heard and seen themselves to avenge the massacre of their friends? From the viewpoint of these men, it was as if the master spirit had sent them forth. Thus their hearts were stirred.

White Buffalo, as he sat apart from the little company, who had of their own volition and unanimous selection made him their chief pro tem, felt that in some way he was discovering himself. He recognized that he could face danger and death and brave it out. His encounter with the grizzly had helped him a great deal. His consciousness of himself as he had the day before approached the sleeping scout, had made him to know that he could risk and dare. So now he did not fear for himself, but this new position of suddenly becoming leader he felt the weight of intensely. This he had not bargained for. When he left his father's lodge, 'twas as if the words were thrown after him: "Watch, listen, learn and do."

But here he found himself placed in command, and this perplexed him and he was worried. Just then there came up and sat down beside him one of the oldest men in his company, who said to him:

"My son, let not your youth trouble you this morning. Let your mind have free way. Then tell us what to do and we will obey you as we can. My son, think upon the spirit of your dream. If you are in doubt let your prayer go out to him. Be strong, my son; I will not say be brave, for now we know that you are brave. I will say, be wise, my son."

These words whispered in his ear greatly comforted White Buffalo, and presently he spake as his little following gathered around:

"We will spread out two by two, and circle our side of the camp. I will be in the centre of the circle. With the first peep of the dawn we will approach as close as we can without being seen, and then when it is light enough I will give the signal and we will rush upon the camp. Remember we are here to take vengeance upon our enemies. Let every man's heart be true. If we are not killed, then having done our part let us not forget the place of gathering."

Then each one took his place, and all was quiet. The wolf howled, the coyote barked, the dogs in the camp howled also. Occasionally the wolf howled and another answered. These were the signals. Across the camp through the night and darkness there went the cry, of the wolf and the shrill call of the coyote, and in intervals the hoot of the owl. And now and then a horse neighed. Scouts of the camp were moving to and fro. Silently, they on their part were watching and listening for an enemy. They did not expect one on the back trail, for they had left, as they thought, a good man to take care of that. Others had come in. He had not come, but of this they were not anxious. Indeed, the fact that he had not come made them feel the more secure. They little knew that their scout was stiff in death. Nevertheless, they keenly watched. Oh, the long, weary night, when the dawn seems as if it is never coming, and the watcher's eyes are heavy, and he longs for a time when he will be relieved and take his rest for a little while ere the camp is all astir and possibly on the march again!

White Buffalo's thoughts are mixed. Here he is on his avenging mission. Here is the enemy before him. Suddenly he had been thrust into prominence among his fellows. He feels a responsibility. This was his first war venture. All these things came and went through his mind, but amid them all, omnipresent through them all, he thought of Nagos. He saw her flitting in and out and around that lone lodge in the far northern wilderness. He wondered where she was now, and what she might be doing. Was she thinking of him, even as he was of her? And away across the miles and over the great expanse of country and up through the long valley of the Saskatchewan there seemed to come the answer:

"Yes, I am thinking of you."

And it made him thrill through his being, and it nerved his full resolve: "For her sake, for the sake of the Little Mother, I will be brave. I will do my best this morning. I will lead these men in the onslaught, for Nagos, for my own manhood, for revenge. I will fight and kill, and, if I can, conquer today."

Thus he sat and mused and resolved. And now it was near morning and the coyotes from all the hills and lands in the vicinity sent up their morning halleujah chorus. Darkness was thick as yet, but soon the day glimmer would appear, and under cover of the general noise the warriors signalled to each other, and drew nearer, each party converging in its place upon the camp, every man tense, every man grasping his weapons, every man nerving himself for the charge that was near. Suddenly, as if a telepathic message had come to Opapamotao from White Buffalo across the camp, and the answer had been returned and the words "Are you ready?" were answered "Yes, give the signal," and almost simultaneously there came from the throats of the two leaders the war-whoop signal to charge, and from the throats of all their following came the exultant response, and the camp was startled from its dreams, and in the first flush of the sudden rush most of the scouts were killed and scalped as in a twinkling, and on to the lodges rushed the invading host. The battle was short. A few escaped in the darkness to the bank of the creek, where they made a stand, and the natural position was to them as a stronghold. The wounded and maimed, and those who had escaped free were there suddenly brought together. And while their enemies were devastating their camp, these had time to gather their wits, and with all energy helped nature in creating a barricade. Fully half of the camp fell victims to the fierce charge of these men who had come all this way to take revenge, and also in answer to their thirst for the glory and spoils of war. They took no prisoners, they slaughtered all that fell into their hands. They scalped those whose scalp locks were worth taking. They gathered up the horses, and to White Buffalo's great satisfaction, found among these the most of those which belonged to the Cree camp, and this fact clearly indicated that their vengeance had fallen on the right party. To White Buffalo's mind this was most satisfactory, for as we have seen, he had his own sense of justice. Yesterday he felt that the scout whom he killed deserved death, inasmuch as he had found him sleeping at his post. Today he finds the slayers and robbers with the goods on them. Horses and saddles and equipment are in this camp. Therefore this is but the meting out of common justice. Thus this young warrior-hunter reasons, and his conscience is satisfied. He is not a savage any more than other men are savage.

In the meantime Opapamotao and White Buffalo confer together. Near by are the rest of these camp of people. These have recovered from their fright. They are now, in comparison with the weapons of their enemies, well fortified.

"Shall we charge these people or not?" Taking stock of their loss, they found it had been very small. The enemy was so much taken by surprise that the victory had been theirs without much loss to themselves. Opapamotao very well knew that if they charged the stronghold of the remnant, in all probability there would be quite a number of dead in their party. However, of this he, for the moment, did not say anything. He was waiting for what this young man, this new leader, might suggest. And patiently he waited. White Buffalo at length spoke:

"Why should we seek to kill further? Already we have more than avenged the death of our people. Already we have gathered more horses and material, far more, than they took from the camp of our friends. We should be satisfied. As for myself, my heart is sick with so much killing. I would say, leave these people alone. Let us gather up our spoil and return."

Opapamotao was glad that White Buffalo did thus speak. It relieved him very much. He quickly responded: "Your words are wise, my son, and I am with you in what you have said."

And there was not a man in the company to protest. White Buffalo had done most valiantly. He had fairly borne down the strongest of his enemies. His belt was full of scalps, and they were not the scalps of women and children. Therefore his words had weight. It was not that he was afraid that he had thus spoken. All men knew that. Snake Skin was saying to himself:

"Nevermore shall the word of derision or disrespect pass my lips against White Buffalo." For he well remembered that only a little while since that morning when a monster Blackfoot had him down and was about to brain him with his war club, it was White Buffalo's strong grip that caught the uplifted arm and struck in his turn a death blow to his enemy. And thus Snake Skin knew he owed his life to the man whom he would fain have hated, and had so often scorned.

Hurriedly our party made ready for the return, rounding up the horses, packing up as much of the spoil of the camp as they thought fit, and selecting two or three of the largest of the Blackfoot lodges, for winter was near, and they might need this shelter before reaching home. They packed all the stuff on some ponies, and leisurely began their homeward journey, of course all the while carefully guarding their rear. Every scout that was left to watch the back trail kept in mind what had happened to the Blackfoot scout the other day, and said to himself:

"Ah, that was White Buffalo's quick thought and brave act which let us into the camp without our enemies feeling our coming." And thus stimulated, he worked well nor ever slept at his post.

As we said before, our party had discovered some of the horses belonging to their friends. These animals had been rushed from yonder camp in the valley of the Chain of Lakes River, and across the long distance to the Blackfoot camp, and now within a short time, being re-captured, were not fit for rapid travel. Therefore the homeward journey must be made if possible with care for the well-being and safe return to their own home camp of all this stock. Among the horses of the Blackfeet were some fine animals, one in particular which Snake Skin had taken, a magnificent red roan. And the Crees at once gave the name to this horse of Moosobewyh, Moose Hair. And when the party came to buffalo, Snake Skin came up and said to his old enemy, but now his most admired friend: "White Buffalo, come run this horse, and see what there is in him."

And White Buffalo had quickly shot a couple of fine cows from Moose Hair's back, and came in with the gratifying report that this horse was a splendid buffalo runner, and Snake Skin was proud, and the whole party felt glad, for now the camp to which they belonged could claim that they had two first-class horses in it. Blackfoot, the original Blackfoot, than whom there was no better, and they were taking home another famous horse, Moose Hair.

It was in these days a source of great pride to the people of a large area of country, a people who during periods of the year scattered far and wide, yet held allegiance to one another, these distinct camps coming together occasionally and forming one large camp, and if it should come to pass that in the aggregation some one had a phenomenal horse, the whole big camp took a share in the pride of ownership.

Thus, our war party was exultant. It did not signify which was the best horse, Blackfoot or Moose Hair, nevertheless their camp would be the possessor of both horses, and already they felt large prospective interest in the meeting with some other big camp, and then taking part in some great races which must inevitably come to pass.

Steadily eastward our warriors made their journey, nursing the poorest horse in the party, gauging their day's travel by his strength and condition. Sometimes they moved all night across the plain making distance in length of time rather than rushing, which is the only way to bring one's stock in in good shape. There was no trouble about provisions, day after day they travelled through buffalo. The great herd was making its northern migration and tens of thousands of these wild cattle were crossing the south branch and going north every few hours.

White Buffalo, not satisfied with buffalo meat alone as a constant bill of fare, killed several deer and some antelope, and before they left the south branch to strike across to the Chain of Lakes River, he killed some fine black bear. The skins of these were in splendid condition for domestic use and for the adornment of the hunter's lodge, also for the trappings of a horse, and in camp at night he stretched, and with the help of his companions he cleaned and dried these bear skins. Already the beginnings of winter were upon them. The Penaskowepesim., the falling leaf moon, had gone, and the beginning of the winter moon was now shining, and the nights were cold when our party, having left the Chain of Lakes valley and gone on into that wonderful park region between the Chain of Lakes River and the Beaver, travelled along eastward and north, and all the while were growing in their intense longing for home, and wondering where they would find the camp. One evening White Buffalo came in and told them that he thought that by tomorrow night they would reach home. He said:

"I found fresh tracks this evening, and unless I am very much mistaken they are the tracks of the people of our camp. I found where they had killed some elk, and had gone back and again come with horses, and returned with the meat, and I expect we will find our friends tomorrow."

This was welcome news to everybody. They had gone out and accomplished, and were nearing home victorious. They had plenty of evidence of their accomplishment with them, scalps and weapons of war, and horses and saddles, and the lodges of their enemies. All these they had with them. More than this, they had the conscious exultant thought of having done their people's bidding. Blood had cried out for blood, even as in all human history this had been the case, and the people had said: "Go forth and avenge for us in the blood of our enemies, their shedding of our blood."

Today we deprecate such actions, in theory, we say it is wrong, so did White Buffalo in heart. Even then he felt that all this was wrong. Nevertheless you and I, my gentle reader, being thus tested, might even now go and do likewise.

When the sun had reached the meridian the next day our travellers were met by one of their advance scouts who had run away on in the early morning, and who had quadrupled the journey of his companions by this fast running, and who told them as they gathered up on the prairie knoll where he met them:

"I have seen the lodges of our people; we will reach them tonight," and listening to this good news they sat them down on the hill and as with one impulse sang a song of gratitude.. Then they arranged the order of their coming. Opapamotao spoke:

"Now we know where our people are we can approach them unseen, and not until our song of victory is sounding in the centre of the camp will they see us. We will go on until the afternoon of the day is half spent. Then we will stop and array ourselves in the garbs of our own making and also those of our enemies. It will be for you, my companions and young men, to say who shall lead."

Other scouts came in corroborating the good news of their camp's vicinity. Soon the whole party had assembled with the exception of two or three whose duty it was to safeguard the trail. About the middle of the afternoon Opapamotao signalled these to come in also, and very soon the whole party came to a full stop, and Opapamotao gave the order to make ready and to be quick about it, "so that ere the sun goes down we will have entered the lodges of our people." Just then Snake Skin spoke up and said:

"Opapamotao and White Buffalo will lead our entry. They will ride the two best horses we have brought. My friend and brother, White Buffalo, shall ride Moose Hair, then will come some young men carrying on poles the scalps of our enemies. The rest of us will fall in behind according to rank and age. Say, men, does this arrangement suit your will?"

And there came unanimous consent to Snake Skin's programme. Very soon with the little mirrors and the small paint bags our warriors were busy making up. If one had been present and looked upon this party a little while ago in their dishabille one would hardly think it possible that in so short a time so marvellous a transformation as now was seen could have taken place. Here they are in all the paraphernalia and gorgeousness of the aboriginal man on the upland portions of the North American continent in the early years of the nineteenth century. All being ready, each took his place, and quietly and under cover they approach the lodges, and a little while before the sun went down, they came to the camp. Then Opapamotao sounded the first note of the victory song, and the whole band took up the hymn and in a moment the camp had heard and conflicting emotions filled every mind. "Our warriors are coming, are they all here, who have been left, never to return? Shall we see our loved ones?" Thus fathers, mothers, wives, sisters, sweethearts, questioned. Joy and sorrow mingled in their thought. "Nevertheless, they are singing the victory song. Let us hope and be glad."

White Buffalo's mother, mending her husband's moccasins, and sitting in her place in the lodge, had been thinking of her boy, her much-loved son, when upon her ear there came the exultant strains, now nearer, the clear sounds approach. Her ear, attuned to the faintest noise, soon caught the tones of her son's voice, and in gladness she thanked the Great Spirit and all the spirits for his return, and dropping her work she sprang out of the lodge and lifted her voice in tune with the victor's song. Then every mother in the camp and every daughter and all the people took up the song and thus in loud and triumphant strain all did sing, and as they sang our war party filed in between the lodges. Who are these on the lead and the fond mother saw her boy side by side with Opapamotao, the great traveller. See, he looks whole and strong. that was the first thought. Then behold where he rides, at the head of the column, side by side with the leader. Surely he must have done gloriously to be so honored. And her heart filled with pride as any mother's heart would. The son of her womb had gone forth on his first war expedition, and had come home with glory.

There was great rejoicing in that camp that night and the chief had it announced that on the morrow there would take place a great feast and a big dance in celebration of the victory achieved by his warriors. Early the next day preparations were in force and several of the larger lodges in association with the Blackfoot lodges which our party had brought home, were made into a great pavilion, and when finished this pavilion was consecrated by religious rite and ceremony. This ritual being performed by the priests and conjurors of the camp. Soon after midday found our war party seated in the place of honor, and all the head men and fathers were there likewise, and the women and children were gathered and the provisions were brought in. Some kinds were always ready, such as pemmican and dried meat and pounded meat and marrow-fat. These, unless the days of famine came, were forever ready, and all partook in gladness. The feast being over, the chief arose and spoke:

"My people, this is a bright day for us. This autumn while the leaves were still on the trees, our hearts were made very sad, our tears were made to flow, our lives were made miserable because of the slaughter of our friends. We mourned their death, it is true are are mourning still. Even on this glad day there are many sad hearts in our lodges. It became our duty to avenge the death of our people. Opapamotao and some of the choicest of our warriors and young men went forth to perform this work for us, to take away from the history of our people that which would have been a stain upon it. Yesterday our brave men returned. The many scalps they brought, the horses, the goods of our enemies they brought with them, all speak in loud voice and say, 'Vengeance has been accomplished, our honor as a people is made sure.' For this we are thankful and because of the safe return of the most of our young men we are grateful. We sorrow from our hearts with those whose friends came not back, but today it is for us to rejoice and to raise the song of praise. Let the drums heat, let the warriors sing, let everyone take part, let every heart be glad," and his words ending, the drums rattled, and the warriors led the people in the anthem of thanksgiving. Vengeance accomplished, lives spared, safe home again in the lodges of their people. Thus the leaders improvised and led in song and all the camp took up the refrain, and again the chief held up his hand, and the silence was profound:

"And now Opapamotao will tell us the story of their adventure," and Opapamotao in turn stood up and related the events of their expedition. He gave a graphic and terrible account of the scene of the slaughtered camp. He told how White Buffalo had killed the grizzly. He told how White Buffalo had taken the life of the rear guard of the Blackfoot camp. He pointed to the scalp lock of one that was caught sleeping at his post. He told them how he was constrained to take our hero into his council. He told them how he further was made to feel that it would be wise for him, Papamotao, the man of many adventures, who had travelled farther than most of his people, how he felt it was prudent for him to make White Buffalo full partner in the command of this expedition. He gave a graphic description of the charge on the camp. He wove in the incidents of battle. He told of the valor and prowess of the new warrior, White Buffalo. He told of the council that he had with him as to the continuance of the fight, when that a portion of the Blackfeet had secured shelter. He gave credit to all that deserved it for careful scouting and prompt obedience. Then he wound up with a wonderful eulogy of the new leader, he, Papamofao, had discovered, "For," said he, "White Buffalo will surely henceforth be the war chief of our people." And the drums beat, and the song of victory rang out, and again the Chief held up his hand, and this time he said:

"Before the dance begins, there is one of our young men, who asks the favor to be permitted to speak a word in the ears of the people." Then Snake Skin arose in his place and with becoming modesty said
Fathers and mothers, and comrades and people, you all know how White Buffalo and myself were children together. You all know how in all things which were brave and manly and for the well-being of our friends and camp, he outstripped me, he forever excelled me, and you all know how this made me jealous, how my spirit was filled with envy, how I did and said many nasty and mean things against White Buffalo; how I laughed in scorn and made great fun him when we set out on this expedition, from which we have just returned. But I want to say so all may hear that for all this I am sorry. An evil spirit possessed me. I had no right to envy him because he was stronger than I, because he could run faster than I could, because he could shoot straighter than I can, because he can ride a horse in a race or after buffalo with better success than I can, because his heart is better than mine, because his whole being is braver and greater than mine. I say to you today, I had no right to envy him in all this, and because I did foolishly envy him, I want now openly to tell you I am sorry. His conduct on this trip was ever kind. I was ever mean and cowardly. When he killed the grizzly, the great bear, I felt a shock. I said to myself, your whole life is a mistake, Snake Skin. And when we charged the camp, and when in the middle of the fight I was about to be killed by one of our enemies, White Buffalo came to my rescue. He saved my life, his heart is so big that he forgave his enemy and willingly risked his life to save mine. And now I want to tell you, you, my people, that henceforth White Buffalo shall be my chief. Nevermore will you hear me say a word—for I will not even think it— against him who has always borne with my folly and forgiven it, and to whom I owe my life."

And as he sat down the drums beat and another anthem of thanksgiving came from the hearts and voices of the people. They were grateful that the Good Spirit had not forgotten them, and that in their camp and of their race had sprung one destined to be their leader. You can imagine the joy of the mother. You can feel the thrill of pride that filled the heart of the father. In great embarrassment, our hero sat beside Papamotao and listened to this recital and praise of his conduct and deeds. And yet forever his heart was away in the northland, and he thought "All this which has come to me would be as nothing compared to my gaining the heart and life of Nagos."

And the drums beat and the dancers sprang to their feet and the whole camp was in motion. But White Buffalo sat and thought and his affections were away in the North Wind Maker's lodge. He wondered where this might be, and he vowed unto himself that when the rivers and lakes would set fast he would again go on the quest and search until he found.


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