WHEN WHITE BUFFALO took stock
of his party, ten were missing, and both himself and Snake Skin were
slightly wounded. His people had taken a goodly number of horses and many
scalps. The Blackfeet were sorely beaten, for they made no attempt to rally
or follow their assailants. White Buffalo said:
"We will wait one day at our
meeting place. It may be that some of our people will come in."
Here on guard, dressing
wounds and arranging for the return journey, they spent the day and
following night. However, none of their missing turned up. The next day they
started on the return journey. White Buffalo and Snake Skin were bound
together closer than ever, and they dressed each other's wounds and
delighted in each other's presence. Nagos was often the subject of their
conversation. The whole party was exultant. White Buffalo was a great
leader. They had attacked a large camp. Their loss was small, and their
wounds few. They had taken many scalps and horses and were going home with
much glory, and this they sang as they travelled eastward on the home
journey. Their hope was that the big camp to which they belonged would now
be out on the edge of the last timber stretches. The buffalo were plentiful,
and life was young. The seer, Kosapachecgao, had come out of the fight
without a scratch, and had several scalps in his belt, and was, when he felt
like it, astride a fine pony. His stock was up, and some of the impatient
young men easily persuaded him to attempt to find the home camp. Accordingly
he sent out his spirit, and, coming back, told the anxious crowd that the
camp was on the south bank of the Chain of Lakes River, and moving westward.
This was great news and stirred up the laggards in the party. If this was
true, they might be home in ten or twelve days time. Keeping a vigilant rear
guard, and forever watching front and flank, White Buffalo pushed his men on
the return journey. This ceaseless vigilance was well rewarded, for one day
one of his scouts came in on the jump and reported a large war party on
northern flank. "Who are these?" was the question. And, selecting a natural
basin among the hills to hold the horses and the wounded, White Buffalo
rushed to see for himself who these might be his scout had seen. Carefully
reconnoitering, he found that they were Blackfeet who, failing to come in
with any camp of Crees, had turned short and were now on the home stretch.
From his vantage ground he counted them and saw that they did not quite
number as many as his own party. So he concluded that it was too bad to let
them go home without a fight. Running back to his own people, he left the
seer in charge of horses and wounded, and took Snake Skin and a goodly squad
of his men and struck across through the hills to intercept these enemies.
Placing his men in ambush, directly in the line of the march of the coming
party, he instructed them to use the bow, and to watch and emulate himself
as the enemy came near. Said he:
"I will shoot the first
arrow. Then all pull your bows and shoot as true as you can. We must show
these people that they should be careful in coming east into our country."
These Blackfeet had gone out on the north side of the south branch, and,
failing to find a Cree camp, were now returning on the south side. Soon they
were within the range of White Buffalo's archery, and he let his arrow fly
at the foremost warrior, and pulled another and shot his second man before
his followers, who were astonished at his skill as a marksman, took their
part in the fray, and then the arrows flew, and the Blackfeet turned and
fled, leaving a number of their men dead and dying on the field. White
Buffalo forbade his men to follow.
Scalp these, and take their
weapons, and let us go. These Blackfeet will be more careful when they come
this way next time."
Once more they had struck
their enemy and suffered no loss. Jubilant and encouraged, and prouder than
ever of their leader, they took their journey homeward.
Amongst the horses they had
taken was one who, in appearance and action looked good, and by common
consent belonged to White Buffalo, and one day as they journeyed a fine herd
of buffalo came across their course. White Buffalo rushed at them on the
back of his new horse and found him so speedy and well trained that he was
prompted to do something more than the ordinary. That is, he sent his arrow
into his first pick, and, pressing the noble horse close to his victim, he
carefully withdrew it and shot the same arrow into another cow, and,
repeating the act once more, shot the same arrow into the third animal. This
was done in sight of the crowd, and was no small feat of horsemanship and
hunting skill. Indeed, it had not been known that any man had killed three
buffalo with one arrow, and both horse and rider were much admired for this
unusual feat. Said Snake Skin on the side:
"I have told you he is no
ordinary man. The spirits favor him because he is good."
And now, if their seer saw
true, they would soon find their own people. To a few their home coming
would bring sadness and sorrow. They felt this, but they reasoned that such
has always been the case. The majority would rejoice and the whole camp be
glad because of their victories.
Suddenly one day a scout came
in bringing the tidings that he had found where a hunting party had been as
late as yesterday, and this hunting party had returned eastward. This he
thought must be from their own camp. Everyone rejoiced, for if these were
not their own people, at any rate they would have tidings of them. On they
vent, and the next morning word came in "The camp is in sight!"
Our warriors were at home.
This moving home had come to meet them more than a hundred and fifty miles.
There were great rejoicings as White Buffalo and Snake Skin and Kosapachegao
rode in at the head of their victorious warriors. The whole camp sang with
them the victory song. The scalps and horses and all the glory were shared
in patriotic joy by everybody.
"Our White Buffalo, our young
men, have done brave things, and we will rejoice"; and the drums beat, and
the best singers sang, and the scalp dance went fast and furious, and in the
intervals Snake Skin took up the story of their trip and and told of their
leader's brave actions and wondrous deeds, and White Buffalo's parents
listened and were glad, and all the people rejoiced with them. But White
Buffalo's heart was in the north country, his spirit forever wandering with
Nagos. Of her he dreamed, for her he planned, and because of his engagement
with the North Wind Maker the summer days were passing slowly. Nearly three
moons must wax and wane before he would take the trip which would bring him
into the land of his queen. Snake Skin said She will be very proud of you,"
but of himself White Buffalo was still doubtful, and it was this that made
him say to Snake Skin after the home-coming:
"If I should be missing from
camp, tell my mother not to worry."
"But I must go with you,"
said his friend, and the answer came, "No, I must be alone this time." He
had reasoned thus with himself: "I have been with the crowd. On them I
depended. It is not a fair test. I must go out alone and try myself without
a friend near, except, perhaps, if I am worthy. 'the spirit of my dream '
sees fit to help me."