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Wa-pee Moos-tooch
Chapter IX
Triumphant Return of the War Party


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."


 


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