and the old men sitting in a bunch smoking, and
passing the pipe not to the left but to the right,
which means there's been a row in the camp and they
are settling it if they can, and children playing just
the same as any other children, and little boys
.shooting at a mark with bows, and I cuffed one of
them because he hit a dog with a club that wasn't
doing anything, and he resented it but before long
he wished he hadn't: but this sentence is getting
too long and I will start another. Thunder-Bird
put on his Sunday-best war outfit to let me see him,
and he was splendid to look at, with his face painted
red and bright and intense like a fire-coal and a
valance of eagle feathers from the top of his head
all down his back, and he had his tomahawk, too,
and his pipe, which has a stem which is longer than
my arm, and I never had such a good time in an
Indian camp in my life, and I learned a lot of words
of the language, and next day BB took me to the
camp out on the Plains, four miles, and I had
another good time and got acquainted with some
more Indians and dogs; and the big chief, by the
name of White Cloud, gave me a pretty little bow
and arrows and I gave him my red sash-ribbon, and
in four days I could shoot very well with it and beat
any white boy of my size at the post; and I have
been to those camps plenty of times since; and I
have learned to ride, too, BB taught me, and every
day he practises me and praises me, and every
time I do better than ever he lets me have a scamper
on Soldier Boy, and that's the last agony of pleasure!
for he is the charmingest horse, and so beautiful
and shiny and black, and hasn't another color on
him anywhere, except a white star in his forehead,
not just an imitation star, but a real one, with
four points, shaped exactly like a star that's hand-
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made, and if you should cover him all up but his
star you would know him anywhere, even in Jeru
salem or Australia, by that. And I got acquainted
with a good many of the Seventh Cavalry, and the
dragoons, and officers, and families, and horses, in
the first few days, and some more in the next few
and the next few and the next few, and now I know
more soldiers and horses than you can think, no
matter how hard you try. I am keeping up my
studies every now and then, but there isn't much
time for it. I love you so! and I send you a hug
and a kiss. CATHY.
P.S. I belong to the Seventh Cavalry and Ninth
Dragoons, I am an officer, too, and do not have to
work on account of not getting any wages.
GENERAL ALISON TO MERCEDES
SHE has been with us a good nice long time, now.
You are troubled about your sprite because
this is such a wild frontier, hundreds of miles from
civilization, and peopled only by wandering tribes
of savages? You fear for her safety? Give yourself
no uneasiness about her. Dear me, she's in a nursery !
and she's got more than eighteen hundred nurses.
It would distress the garrison to suspect that you
think they can't take care of her. They think they
can. They would tell you so themselves. You see,
the Seventh Cavalry has never had a child of its
very own before, and neither has the Ninth Dragoons;
and so they are like all new mothers, they think
there is no other child like theirs, no other child
so wonderful, none that is so worthy to be faithfully
and tenderly looked after and protected. These
bronzed veterans of mine are very good mothers, I
think, and wiser than some other mothers; for they
let her take lots of risks, and it is a good education
for her; and the more risks she takes and comes
successfully out of, the prouder they are of her.
They adopted her, with grave and formal military
ceremonies of their own invention solemnities is
the truer word; solemnities that were so profoundly
solemn and earnest, that the spectacle wculd have
been comical if it hadn't been so touching. It was
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a good show, and as stately and complex as guard-
mount and the trooping of the colors; and it had
its own special music, composed for the occasion by
the bandmaster of the Seventh; and the child was
as serious as the most serious war-worn soldier of
them all; and finally when they throned her upon
the shoulder of the oldest veteran, and pronounced
her "well and truly adopted," and the bands struck
up and all saluted and she saluted in return, it was
better and more moving than any kindred thing
I have seen on the stage, because stage things are
make-believe, but this was real and the players'
hearts were in it.
It happened several weeks ago, and was followed
by some additional solemnities. The men created
a couple of new ranks, thitherto unknown to the
army regulations, and conferred them upon Cathy,
with ceremonies suitable to a duke. So now she is
Corporal-General of the Seventh Cavalry, and Flag-
Lieutenant of the Ninth Dragoons, with the privilege
(decreed by the men) of writing U.S.A. after her
name! Also, they presented her a pair of shoulder-
straps both dark blue, the one with F. L. on it, the
other with C. G. Also, a sword. She wears them.
Finally, they granted her the salute. I am witness
that that ceremony is faithfully observed by both
parties and most gravely and decorously, too. I
have never seen a soldier smile yet, while delivering
it, nor Cathy in returning it.
Ostensibly I was not present at these proceedings,
and am ignorant of them; but I was where I could
see. I was afraid of one thing the jealousy of the
other children of the post; but there is nothing of
that, I am glad to say. On the contrary, they are
proud of liujir comrade and her honors. It is a
surprising thing, but it is true. The children are
devoted to Cathy, for she has turned their dull
frontier life into a sort of continuous festival; also
they know her for a stanch and steady friend, a
friend who can always be depended upon, and does
not change with the weather.
She has become a rather extraordinary rider, under
the tutorship of a more than extraordinary teacher
BB, which is her pet name for Buffalo Bill. She
pronounces it beeby. He has not only taught her
seventeen ways of breaking her neck, but twenty-
two ways of avoiding it. He has infused into her
the best and surest protection of a horseman con
fidence. He did it gradually, systematically, little
by little, a step at a time, and each step made sure
before the next was essayed. And so he inched her
along up through terrors that had been discounted
by training before she reached them, and therefore
were not recognizable as terrors when she got to
them. Well, she is a daring little rider, now, and is
perfect in what she knows of horsemanship. By and
by she will know the art like a West Point cadet,
and will exercise it as fearlessly. She doesn't know
anything about sidesaddles. Does that distress you?
And she is a fine performer, without any saddle at
all. Does that discomfort you? Do not let it; she
is not in any danger, I give you my word.
You said that if my heart was old and tired she
would refresh it, and you said truly. I do not know
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how I got along without her, before. I was a forlorn
old tree, but now that this blossoming vine has
wound itself about me and become the life of my
life, it is very different. As a furnisher of business
for me and for Mammy Dorcas she is exhaustlessly
competent, but I like my share of it and of course
Dorcas likes hers, for Dorcas "raised" George, and
Cathy is George over again in so many ways that
she brings back Dorcas's youth and the joys of that
long-vanished time. My father tried to set Dorcas
free twenty years ago, when we still lived in Virginia,
but without success ; she considered herself a member
of the family, and wouldn't go. And so, a member
of the family she remained, and has held that position,
unchallenged ever since, and holds it now; for when
my mother sent her here from San Bernardino when
we learned that Cathy was coming, she only changed
from one division of the family to the other. She
has the warm heart of her race, and its lavish
affections, and when Cathy arrived the pair were
mother and child in five minutes, and that is what
they are to date and will continue. Dorcas really
thinks she raised George, and that is one of her
prides, but perhaps it was a mutual raising, for their
ages were the same thirteen years short of mine.
But they were playmates, at any rate; as regards
that, there is no room for dispute.
Cathy thinks Dorcas is the best Catholic in
America except herself. She could not pay any one
a higher compliment than that, and Dorcas could
not receive one that would please her better. Dorcas
is satisfied that there has never been a more wonder-
ful child than Cathy. She has conceived the curious
idea that Cathy is twins, and that one of them is a
boy-twin and failed to get segregated got sub
merged, is the idea. To argue with her that this is
nonsense is a waste of breath her mind is made up,
and arguments do not affect it. She says :
"Look at her; she loves dolls, and girl-plays, and
everything a girl loves, and she's gentle and sweet,
and ain't cruel to dumb brutes now that's the girl-
twin, but she loves boy-plays, and drums and fifes
and soldiering, and rough-riding, and ain't afraid of
anybody or anything and that's the boy-twin;
'deed you needn't tell me she's only one child; no,
sir, she's twins, and one of them got shet up out of
sight. Out of sight, but that don't make any
difference, that boy is in there, and you can see him
look out of her eyes when her temper is up."
Then Dorcas went on, in her simple and earnest
way, to furnish illustrations.
"Look at that raven, Marse Tom. Would any
body befriend a raven but that child? Of course
they wouldn't; it ain't natural. Well, the Injun
boy had the raven tied up, and was all the time
plaguing it and starving it, and she pitied the po'
thing, and tried to buy it from the boy, and the
tears was in her eyes. That was the girl-twin, you
see. She offered him her thimble, and he flung it
down; she offered him all the doughnuts she had,
which was two, and he flung them down ; she offered
him half a paper of pins, worth forty ravens, and he
made a mouth at her and jabbed one of them in
the raven's back. That was the limit, you know.
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It called for the other twin. Her eyes blazed up,
and she jumped for him like a wild-cat, and when
she was done with him she was rags and he wasn't
anything but an allegory. That was most undoubt
edly the other twin, you see, coming to the front.
No, sir; don't tell me he ain't in there. I've seen him
with my own eyes and plenty of times, at that."
"Allegory? What is an allegory?"
"I don't know, Marse Tom, it's one of her words;
she loves the big ones, you know, and I pick them up
from her; they sound good and I can't help it."
"What happened after she had converted the boy
into an allegory?"
"Why, she untied the raven and confiscated him
by force and fetched him home, and left the dough
nuts and things on the ground. Petted him, of
course, like she does with every creature. In two
days she had him so stuck after her that she well,
you know how he follows her everywhere, and sets
on her shoulder often when she rides her breakneck
rampages all of which is the girl-twin to the front,
you see and he does what he pleases, and is up to
all kinds of devilment, and is a perfect nuisance
in the kitchen. Well, they all stand it, but they
wouldn't if it was another person's bird."
Here she began to chuckle comfortably, and
presently she said:
"Well, you know, she's a nuisance herself, Miss
Cathy is, she is so busy, and into everything, like
that bird. It's all just as innocent, you know, and
she don't mean any harm, and is so good and dear;
and it ain't her fault, it's her nature; her interest
is always a-working and always red-hot, and she
can't keep quiet. Well, yesterday it was 'Please,
Miss Cathy, don't do that'; and, 'Please, Miss
Cathy, let that alone'; and, 'Please, Miss Cathy,
don't make so much noise'; and so on and so on,
till I reckon I had found fault fourteen times in
fifteen minutes; then she looked up at me with her
big brown eyes that can plead so, and said in that
odd little foreign way that goes to your heart,
'"Please, mammy, make me a compliment. ' '
"And of course you did it, you old fool?"
"Marse Tom, I just grabbed her up to my breast
and says, 'Oh, you po' dear little motherless thing,
you ain't got a fault in the world, and you can do
anything you want to, and tear the house down, and
yo' old black mammy won't say a word !' "
"Why, of course, of course J knew you'd spoil
She brushed away her tears, and said with dignity :
"Spoil the child? spoil that child, Marse Tom?
There can't anybody spoil her. She's the king bee
of this post, and everybody pets her and is her slave,
and yet, as you know, your own self, she ain't the
least little bit spoiled." Then she eased her mind
with this retort: "Marse Tom, she makes you do
anything she wants to, and you can't deny it; so if
she could be spoilt, she'd been spoilt long ago,
because you are the very worst! Look at that pile
of cats in your chair, and you sitting on a candle-box,
just as patient; it's because they're her cats."
If Dorcas were a soldier, I could punish her for
such large frankness as that. I changed the subject,
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and made her resume her illustrations. She had
scored against me fairly, and I wasn't going to
cheapen her victory by disputing it. She proceeded
to offer this incident in evidence on her twin theory :
"Two weeks ago when she got her finger mashed
open, she turned pretty pale with the pain, but she
never said a word. I took her in my lap, and the
surgeon sponged off the blood and took a needle
and thread and began to sew it up; it had to have
a lot of stitches, and each one made her scrunch a
little, but she never let go a sound. At last the
surgeon was so full of admiration that he said, 'Well,
you are a brave little thing !' and she said, just as
ca'm and simple as if she was talking about the
weather, 'There isn't anybody braver but the Cid!'
You see? it was the boy-twin that the surgeon was
"Who is the Cid?"
"I don't know, sir at least only what she says.
She's always talking about him, and says he was the
bravest hero Spain ever had, or any other country.
They have it up and down, the children do, she
standing up for the Cid, and they working George
Washington for all he is worth."
"Do they quarrel?"
"No; it's only disputing, and bragging, the way
children do. They want her to be an American,
but she can't be anything but a Spaniard, she says.
You see, her mother was always longing for home,
po' thing! and thinking about it, and so the child
is just as much a Spaniard as if she'd always lived
there. She thinks she remembers how Spain looked,
but I reckon she don't, because she was only a baby
when they moved to France. She is very proud to
be a Spaniard."
Does that please you, Mercedes? Very well, be
content; your niece is loyal to her allegiance: her
mother laid deep the foundations of her love for
Spain, and she will go back to you as good a Spaniard
as you are yourself. She had made me promise to
take her to you for a long visit when the War Office
I attend to her studies myself; has she told you
that? Yes, I am her school-master, and she makes
pretty good progress, I think, everything considered.
Everything considered being translated means
holidays. But the fact is, she was not born for
study, and it comes hard. Hard for me, too; it
hurts me like a physical pain to see that free spirit
of the air and the sunshine laboring and grieving
over a book; and sometimes when I find her gazing
far away towards the plains and the blue mountains
with the longing in her eyes, I have to throw open
the prison doors; I can't help it. A quaint little
scholar she is, and makes plenty of blunders. Once
I put the question :
"What does the Czar govern?"
She rested her elbow on her knee and her chin on
her hand and took that problem tinder deep consid
eration. Presently she looked up and answered, with
a rising inflection implying a shade of uncertainty,
"The dative case?"
Here are a couple of her expositions which were
delivered with tranquil confidence:
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"Chaplain, diminutive of chap. Lass is masculine,
lassie is feminine."
She is not a genius, you see, but just a normal
child; they all make mistakes of that sort. There
is a glad light in her eye which is pretty to see when
she finds herself able to answer a question promptly
and accurately, without any hesitation; as, for in
stance, this morning:
"Cathy dear, what is a cube?"
"Why, a native of Cuba."
She still drops a foreign word into her talk now and
then, and there is still a subtle foreign flavor or
fragrance about even her exactest English and long
may this abide! for it has for me a charm that is
very pleasant. Sometimes her English is daintily
prim and bookish and captivating. She has a child's
sweet tooth, but for her health's sake I try to keep
its inspirations under check. She is obedient as is
proper for a titled and recognized military personage,
which she is but the chain presses sometimes. For
instance, we were out for a walk, and passed by some
bushes that were freighted with wild gooseberries.
Her face brightened and she put her hands together
and delivered herself of this speech, most feelingly:
"Oh, if I was permitted a vice it would be the
Could I resist that? No. I gave her a gooseberry.
You ask about her languages. They take care of
themselves; they will not get rusty here; our regi
ments are not made up of natives alone far from
it. And she is picking up Indian tongues diligently.
SOLDIER BOY AND THE MEXICAN PLUG
WHEN did you come?"
"Arrived at sundown."
"Are you in the service?"
"Pirate trade, I reckon."
"What do you know about it?"
"I saw you when you came. I recognized your
master. He is a bad sort. Trap-robber, horse-thief,
squaw-man, renegade Hank Butters I know him
very well. Stole you, didn't he?"
"Well, it amounted to that."
"I thought so. Where is his pard?"
"He stopped at White Cloud's camp."
"He is another of the same stripe, is Blake Has-
kins." (Aside.) They are laying for Buffalo Bill
again, I guess. (Aloud.) "What is your name?"
"Have you got more than one?"
"I get a new one every time I'm stolen. I used
to have an honest name, but that was early; I've
forgotten it. Since then I've had thirteen aliases."
"Aliases? What is alias?"
"A false name."
"Alias. It's a fine large word, and is in my line;
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it has quite a learned and cerebrospinal incandescent
sound. Are you educated?"
"Well, no, I can't claim it. I can take down bars,
I can distinguish oats from shoe-pegs, I can blas
pheme a saddle-boil with the college-bred, and I
know a few other things not many; I have had
no chance, I have always had to work; besides, I
am of low birth and no family. You speak my
dialect like a native, but you are not a Mexican
Plug, you are a gentleman, I can see that; and
educated, of course."
"Yes, I am of old family, and not illiterate. I
am a fossil."
"Fossil. The first horses were fossils. They date
back two million years."
"Gr-eat sand and sage-brush! do you mean it?"
"Yes, it is true. The bones of my ancestors are
held in reverence and worship, even by men. They
do not leave them exposed to the weather when
they find them, but carry them three thousand
miles and enshrine them in their temples of learning,
and worship them."
"It is wonderful! I knew you must be a person
of distinction, by your fine presence and courtly
address, and by the fact that you are not subjected
to the indignity of hobbles, like myself and the rest.
Would you tell me your name?"
"You have probably heard of it Soldier Boy."
"What! the renowned, the illustrious?"
"It takes my breath! Little did I dream that
ever I should stand face to face with the possessor
of that great name. Buffalo Bill's horse! Known
from the Canadian border to the deserts of Arizona,
and from the eastern marches of the Great Plains to
the foot-hills of the Sierra ! Truly this is a memorable
day. You still serve the celebrated Chief of Scouts?"
"I am still his property, but he has lent me, for a
time, to the most noble, the most gracious, the most
excellent, her Excellency Catherine, Corporal-Gen
eral Seventh Cavalry and Flag-Lieutenant Ninth
Dragoons, U. S. A., on whom be peace!"
4 'Amen. Did you say her Excellency ?"
"The same. A Spanish lady, sweet blossom of a
ducal house. And truly a wonder; knowing every
thing, capable of everything; speaking all the
languages, master of all sciences, a mind without
horizons, a heart of gold, the glory of her racel
On whom be peace!"
' ' Amen. It is marvelous !' '
"Verily. I knew many things, she has taught me
others. I am educated. I will tell you about her."
"I listen I am enchanted."
4 ' I will tell a plain tale, calmly, without excitement,
without eloquence. When she had been here four
or five weeks she was already erudite in military
things, and they made her an officer a double
officer. She rode the drill every day, like any soldier;
and she could take the bugle and direct the evolu
tions herself. Then, on a day, there was a grand
race, for prizes none to enter but the children.
Seventeen children entered, and she was the youngest
Three girls, fourteen boys good riders all. It was
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a steeplechase, with four hurdles, all pretty high.
The first prize was a most cunning half -grown silver
bugle, and mighty pretty, with red silk cord and
tassels. Buffalo Bill was very anxious; for he had
taught her to ride, and he did most dearly want her
to win that race, for the glory of it. So he wanted
her to ride me, but she wouldn't ; and she reproached
him, and said it was unfair and unright, and taking
advantage; for what horse in this post or any other
could stand a chance against me? and she was very
severe with him, and said, 'You ought to be ashamed
you are proposing to me conduct unbecoming an
officer and a gentleman.' So he just tossed her up
in the air about thirty feet and caught her as she
came down, and said he was ashamed; and put up
his handkerchief and pretended to cry, which nearly
broke her heart, and she petted him, and begged
him to forgive her, and said she would do anything
in the world he could ask but that; but he said
he ought to go hang himself, and he must, if he
could get a rope ; it was nothing but right he should,
for he never, never could forgive himself; and then
she began to cry, and they both sobbed, the way
you could hear him a mile, and she clinging around
his neck and pleading, till at last he was comforted
a little, and gave his solemn promise he wouldn't
hang himself till after the race; and wouldn't do it
at all if she won it, which made her happy, and she
said she would win it or die in the saddle; so then
everything was pleasant again and both of them
content. He can't help playing jokes on her, he is
so fond of her and she is so innocent and unsuspect-
ing; and when she finds it out she cuffs him and is in
a fury, but presently forgives him because it's him;
and maybe the very next day she's caught with
another joke; you see she can't learn any better,
because she hasn't any deceit in her, and that kind
aren't ever expecting it in another person.
"It was a' grand race. The whole post was there,
and there was such another whooping and shouting
when the seventeen kids came flying down the turf
and sailing over the hurdles oh, beautiful to see!
Half-way down, it was kind of neck and neck, and
anybody's race and nobody's. Then, what should
happen but a cow steps out and puts her head down
to munch grass, with her broadside to the battalion,
and they a-coming like the wind; they split apart
to flank her,' but. she? why, she drove the spurs
home and soared over that cow like a bird ! and on
she went, and cleared the last hurdle solitary and
alone, the army letting loose the grand yell, and she
skipped from the horse the same as if he ; had been
standing still, and made her bow, and everybody
crowded around to congratulate, and they gave her