FOR as much as a year Satan continued these
visits, but at last he came less often, and then
for a long time he did not come at all. This always
made me lonely and melancholy. I felt that he was
losing interest in our tiny world and might at any
time abandon his visits entirely. When one day he
finally came to me I was overjoyed, but only for a
little while. He had come to say good-by, he told
me, and for the last time. He had investigations
and undertakings in other corners of the universe,
he said, that would keep him busy for a longer period
than I could wait for his return.
"And you are going away, and will not come back
"Yes," he said. "We have comraded long to
gether, and it has been pleasant pleasant for both;
but I must go now, and we shall not see each other
"In this life, Satan, but in another? We shall
meet in another, surely?"
Then, all tranquilly and soberly, he made the
strange answer, "There is no other."
A subtle influence blew upon my spirit from his,
bringing with it a vague, dim, but blessed and hope
ful feeling that the incredible words might be true
even must be true.
"Have you never suspected this, Theodor?"
"No. How could I? But if it can only be true "
"It is true."
A gust of thankfulness rose in my breast, but a
doubt checked it before it could issue in words, and
I said, "But but we have seen that future life
seen it in its actuality, and so "
"It was a vision it had no existence."
I could hardly breathe for the great hope that was
struggling in me. "A vision? a vi "
"Life itself is only a vision, a dream."
It was electrical. By God! I had had that very
thought a thousand times in my musings !
"Nothing exists; all is a dream. God man the
world the sun, the moon, the wilderness of stars a
dream, all a dream; they have no existence. Nothing
exists save empty space and you!"
"And you are not you you have no body, no
blood, no bones, you are but a thought. I myself
have no existence; I am but a dream your dream,
creature of your imagination. In a moment you will
have realized this, then you will banish me from
your visions and I shall dissolve into the nothingness
out of which you made me. . . .
"I am perishing already I am failing I am
passing away. In a little while you will be alone
in shoreless space, to wander its limitless solitudes
without friend or comrade forever for you will
remain a thought, the only existent thought, and
by your nature inextinguishable, indestructible. But
I, your poor servant, have revealed you to your
self and set you free. Dream other dreams, and
THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER
"Strange! that you should not have suspected
years ago centuries, ages, eons, ago ! for you have
existed, companionless, through all the eternities.
Strange, indeed, that you should not have suspected
that your universe and its contents were only dreams,
visions, fiction ! Strange, because they are so frankly
and hysterically insane like all dreams : a God who
could make good children as easily as bad, yet pre
ferred to make bad ones; who could have made
every one of them happy, yet never made a single
happy one; who made them prize their bitter life,
yet stingily cut it short; who gave his angels eternal
happiness unearned, yet required his other children
to earn it; who gave his angels painless lives, yet
cursed his other children with biting miseries and
maladies of mind and body; who mouths justice
and invented hell mouths mercy and invented hell
mouths Golden Rules, and forgiveness multiplied
by seventy times seven, and invented hell; who
mouths morals to other people and has none him
self; who frowns upon crimes, yet commits them
all; who created man without invitation, then tries
to shuffle the responsibility for man's acts upon
man, instead of honorably placing it where it belongs,
upon himself; and finally, with altogether divine
obtuseness, invites this poor, abused slave to wor
ship him! . . .
"You perceive, now, that these things are all impos
sible except in a dream. You perceive that they are
pure and puerile insanities, the silly creations of an
imagination that is not conscious of its freaks in a
word, that they are a dream, and you the maker of
it. The dream-marks are all present; you should
have recognized them earlier.
"It is true, that which I have revealed to you;
there is no God, no universe, no human race, no
earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream a
grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but
you. And you are but a thought a vagrant thought,
a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering
forlorn among the empty eternities!"
He vanished, and left me appalled; for I knew,
and realized, that all he had said was true.
A HORSE'S TALE
ALTHOUGH I have had several opportunities to see
a bull-fight, I have never seen one; but I needed a
bull-fight in this story, and a trustworthy one will be
found in it. I got it out of John Hay's Castilian
Days, reducing and condensing it to fit the require
ments of this small story. Mr. Hay and I were
friends from early times, and if he were still with us
he would not rebuke me for the liberty I have taken.
The knowledge of military minutiae exhibited in
this story will be found to be correct, but it is not
mine; I took it from Army Regulations , ed. 1904;
Hardy's Tactics Cavalry, revised ed., 1861; and
Jomini's Handbook of Military Etiquette, West Point
It would not be honest in me to encourage by
silence the inference that I composed the Horse's
private bugle-call, for I did not. I lifted it, as
Aristotle says. It is the opening strain in The
Pizzicato in Sylvia, by Delibes. When that master
was composing it he did not know it was a bugle-call,
it was I that found it out.
Along through the story I have distributed a few
anachronisms and unborn historical incidents and
such things, so as to help the tale over the difficult
places. This idea is not original with me; I got it
out of Herodotus. Herodotus says, * ' Very few things
happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen
at all: the conscientious historian will correct these
The cats in the chair do not belong to me, but to
These are all the exceptions. What is left of the
story is mine.
LONE TREE HILL, DUBLIN,
NEW HAMPSHIRE, October, 1905.
A HORSE'S TALE*
SOLDIER BOY PRIVATELY TO HIMSELF
I AM Buffalo Bill's horse. I have spent my life
under his saddle with him in it, too, and he is
good for two hundred pounds, without his clothes;
and there is no telling how much he does weigh when
he is out on the war-path and has his batteries belted
on. He is over six feet, is young, hasn't an ounce
of waste flesh, is straight, graceful, springy in his
motions, quick as a cat, and has a handsome face,
and black hair dangling down on his shoulders, and
is beautiful to look at; and nobody is braver than
he is, and nobody is stronger, except myself. Yes,
a person that doubts that he is fine to see should see
him in his beaded buckskins, on my back and his
rifle peeping above his shoulder, chasing a hostile
trail, with me going like the wind and his hair
streaming out behind from the shelter of his broad
slouch. Yes, he is a sight to look at then and I'm
part of it myself.
I am his favorite horse, out of dozens. Big as he
is, I have carried him eighty-one miles between
nightfall and sunrise on the scout; and I am good
* Copyright. 1906. by Harper & Brothers.
for fifty, day in and day out, and all the time. I am
not large, but I am built on a business basis. I
have carried him thousands and thousands of miles
on scout duty for the army, and there's not a gorge,
nor a pass, nor a valley, nor a fort, nor a trading
post, nor a buffalo-range in the whole sweep of the
Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains that we
don't know as well as we know the bugle-calls. He
is Chief of Scouts to the Army of the Frontier, and
it makes us very important. In such a position as I
hold in the military service one needs to be of good
family and possess an education much above the com
mon to be worthy of the place. I am the best-
educated horse outside of the hippodrome, every
body says, and the best-mannered. It may be so, it
is not for me to say; modesty is the best policy, I
think. Buffalo Bill taught me the most of what I
know, my mother taught me much, and I taught
myself the rest. Lay a row of moccasins before
me Pawnee, Sioux, Shoshone, Cheyenne, Blackfoot,
and as many other tribes as you please and I can
name the tribe every moccasin belongs to by the
make of it. Name it in horse-talk, and could do it
in American if I had speech.
I know some of the Indian signs the signs they
make with their hands, and by signal-fires at night
and columns of smoke by day. Buffalo Bill taught
me how to drag wounded soldiers out of the line of
fire with my teeth; and I've done it, too; at least
I've dragged him out of the battle when he was
wounded. And not just once, but twice. Yes, I
know a lot of things. I remember forms, and gaits,
A HORSE'S TALE
and faces ; and you can't disguise a person that's done
me a kindness so that I won't know him thereafter
wherever I find him. I know the art of searching
for a trail, and I know the stale track from the fresh.
I can keep a trail all by myself, with Buffalo Bill
asleep in the saddle; ask him he will tell you so.
Many a time, when he has ridden all night, he has
said to me at dawn, "Take the watch, Boy; if the
trail freshens, call me." Then he goes to sleep. He
knows he can trust me, because I have a reputation.
A scout horse that has a reputation does not play
My mother was all American no alkali-spider
about her, I can tell you; she was of the best blood
of Kentucky, the bluest Blue-grass aristocracy, very
proud and acrimonious or maybe it is ceremonious.
I don't know which it is. But it is no matter; size
is the main thing about a word, and that one's up to
standard. She spent her military life as colonel of
the Tenth Dragoons, and saw a deal of rough service
distinguished service it was, too. I mean, she
carried the Colonel; but it's all the same. Where
would he be without his horse? He wouldn't arrive.
It takes two to make a colonel of dragoons. She was
a fine dragoon horse, but never got above that. She
was strong enough for the scout service, and had the
endurance, too, but she couldn't quite come up to
the speed required; a scout horse has to have steel
in his muscle and lightning in his blood.
My father was a bronco. Nothing as to lineage
that is, nothing as to recent lineage but plenty good
enough when you go a good way back. When
Professor Marsh was out here hunting bones for the
chapel of Yale University he found skeletons of
horses no bigger than a fox, bedded in the rocks, and
he said they were ancestors of my father. My
mother heard him say it ; and he said those skeletons
were two million years old, which astonished her and
made her Kentucky pretensions look small and pretty
antiphonal, not to say oblique. Let me see. ... I
used to know the meaning of those words, but . . .
well, it was years ago, and 'tisn't as vivid now as it
was when they were fresh. That sort of words
doesn't keep, in the kind of climate we have out
here. Professor Marsh said those skeletons were
fossils. So that makes me part blue grass and part
fossil; if there is any older or better stock, you will
have to look for it among the Four Hundred, I
reckon. I am satisfied with it. And am a happy
horse, too, though born out of wedlock.
And now we are back at Fort Paxton once more,
after a forty-day scout, away up as far as the Big
Horn. Everything quiet. Crows and Blackfeet
squabbling as usual but no outbreaks, and settlers
feeling fairly easy.
The Seventh Cavalry still in garrison, here; also
the Ninth Dragoons, two artillery companies, and
some infantry. All glad to see me, including Gen
eral Alison, commandant. The officers' ladies and
children well, and called upon me with sugar.
Colonel Drake, Seventh Cavalry, said some pleasant
things; Mrs. Drake was very complimentary; also
Captain and Mrs. Marsh, Company B, Seventh
Cavalry; also the Chaplain, who is always kind and
A HORSE'S TALE
pleasant to me, because I kicked the lungs out of a
trader once. It was Tommy Drake and Fanny
Marsh that furnished the sugar nice children, the
nicest at the post, I think.
That poor orphan child is on her way from France
everybody is full of the subject. Her father was
General Alison's brother; married a beautiful young
Spanish lady ten years ago, and has never been in
America since. They lived in Spain a year or two,
then went to France. Both died some months ago.
This little girl that is coming is the only child.
General Alison is glad to have her. He has never
seen her. He is a very nice old bachelor, but is an
old bachelor just the same and isn't more than about
a year this side of retirement by age limit; and so
what does he know about taking care of a little maid
nine years old? If I could have her it would be
another matter, for I know all about children, and
they adore me. Buffalo Bill will tell you so himself.
I have some of this news from overhearing the
garrison-gossip, the rest of it I got from Potter, the
General's dog. Potter is the great Dane. He is
privileged, all over the post, like Shekels, the Seventh
Cavalry's dog, and visits everybody's quarters and
picks up everything that is going, in the way of news.
Potter has no imagination, and no great deal of
culture, perhaps, but he has a historical mind and a
good memory, and so he is the person I depend upon
mainly to post me up when I get back from a scout.
That is, if Shekels is out on depredation and I can't
get hold of him.
LETTER FROM ROUEN TO GENERAL ALISON
7j /TV dear Brother-in-law, Please let me write
-/ wJL again in Spanish, I cannot trust my English,
and I am aware, from what your brother used to say,
that army officers educated at the Military Academy
of the United States are taught our tongue. It is
as I told you in my other letter: both my poor
sister and her husband, when they found they could
not recover, expressed the wish that you should
have their little Catherine as knowing that you
would presently be retired from the army rather
than that she should remain with me, who am
broken in health, or go to your mother in California,
whose health is also frail.
You do not know the child, therefore I must tell
you something about her. You will not be ashamed
of her looks, for she is a copy in little of her beautiful
mother and it is that Andalusian beauty which is
not surpassable, even in your country. She has her
mother's charm and grace and good heart and sense
of justice, and she has her father's vivacity and
cheerfulness and pluck and spirit of enterprise, with
the affectionate disposition and sincerity of both
My sister pined for her Spanish home all these
years of exile ; she was always talking of Spain to the
child, and tending and nourishing the love of Spain
A HORSE'S TALE
in the little thing's heart as a precious flower; and
she died happy in the knowledge that the fruitage of
her patriotic labors was as rich as even she could
Cathy is a sufficiently good little scholar, for her
nine years; her mother taught her Spanish herself,
and kept it always fresh upon her ear and her tongue
by hardly ever speaking with her in any other tongue ;
her father was her English teacher, and talked with
her in that language almost exclusively; French has
been her everyday speech for more than seven years
among her playmates here; she has a good working
use of governess German and Italian. It is true
that there is always a faint foreign fragrance about
her speech, no matter what language she is talking,
but it is only just noticeable, nothing more, and is
rather a charm than a mar, I think. In the ordinary
child-studies Cathy is neither before nor behind the
average child of nine, I should say. But I can say
this for her: in love for her friends and in high-
mindedness and good-heartedness she has not many
equals, and in my opinion no superiors. And I beg
of you, let her have her way with the dumb animals
they are her worship. It is an inheritance from
her mother. She knows but little of cruelties and
oppressions keep them from her sight if you can.
She would flare up at them and make trouble, in
her small but quite decided and resolute way; for
she has a character of her own, and lacks neither
promptness nor initiative. Sometimes her judgment
is at fault, but I think her intentions are always
right. Once when she was a little creature of three
or four years she suddenly brought her tiny foot
down upon the floor in an apparent outbreak of
indignation, then fetched it a backward wipe, and
stooped down to examine the result. Her mother
"Why, what is it, child? What has stirred you
"Mamma, the big ant was trying to kill the little
"And so you protected the little one."
"Yes, mamma, because he had no friend, and I
wouldn't let the big one kill him."
"But you have killed them both."
Cathy was distressed, and her lip trembled. She
picked up the remains and laid them upon her palm,
"Poor little anty, I'm so sorry; and I didn't
mean to kill you, but there wasn't any other way to
save you, it was such a hurry."
She is a dear and sweet little lady, and when she
goes it will give me a sore heart. But she will be
happy with you, and if your heart is old and tired,
give it into her keeping; she will make it young
again, she will refresh it, she will make it sing. Be
good to her, for all our sakes!
My exile will soon be over now. As soon as I
am a little stronger I shall see my Spain again ; and
that will make me young again !
GENERAL ALISON TO HIS MOTHER
I AM glad to know that you are all well, in San
. . . That grandchild of yours has been here well,
I do not quite know how many days it is; nobody
can keep account of days or anything else where she
is! Mother, she did what the Indians were never
able to do. She took the Fort took it the first
day! Took me, too; took the colonels, the captains,
the women, the children, and the dumb brutes; took
Buffalo Bill, and all his scouts; took the garrison to
the last man; and in forty-eight hours the Indian
encampment was hers, illustrious old Thunder-Bird
and all. Do I seem to have lost my solemnity, my
gravity, my poise, my dignity? You would lose your
own, in my circumstances. Mother, you never saw
such a winning little devil. She is all energy, and
spirit, and sunshine, and interest in everybody and
everything, and pours out her prodigal love upon
every creature that will take it, high or low, Christian
or pagan, feathered or furred; and none has declined
it to date, and none ever will, I think. But she has
a temper, and sometimes it catches fire and flames
up, and is likely to burn whatever is near it; but it
is soon over, the passion goes as quickly as it comes.
Of course she has an Indian name already; Indiana
always rechristen a stranger early. Thunder-Bird
attended to her case. He gave her the Indian
equivalent for firebug, or firefly. He said:
" 'Times, ver' quiet, ver' soft, like summer night,
but when she mad she blaze."
Isn't it good? Can't you see the flare? She's
beautiful, mother, beautiful as a picture; and there
is a touch of you in her face, and of her father poor
George! and in her unresting activities, and her
fearless ways, and her sunbursts and cloudbursts,
she is always bringing George back to me. These
impulsive natures are dramatic. George was dra
matic, so is this Lightning-Bug, so is Buffalo Bill.
When Cathy first arrived it was in the forenoon
Buffalo Bill was away, carrying orders to Major
Fuller, at Five Forks, up in the Clayton Hills. At
mid-afternoon I was at my desk, trying to work,
and this sprite had been making it impossible for
half an hour. At last I said:
"Oh, you bewitching little scamp, can't you be
quiet just a minute or two, and let your poor old
uncle attend to a part of his duties?"
"I'll try, uncle; I will, indeed," she said.
"Well, then, that's a good child kiss me. Now,
then, sit up in that ^ chair, and set your eye on that
clock. There that's right. If you stir if you so
much as wink for four whole minutes, I'll bite you !"
It was very sweet and humble and obedient she
looked, sitting there, still as a mouse; I could hardly
keep from setting her free and telling her to make as
much racket as she wanted to. During as much as
two minutes there was a most unnatural and heavenly
quiet and repose, then Buffalo Bill came thundering
A HORSE'S TALE
up to the door in all his scout finery, flung himself
out of the saddle, said to his horse, "Wait for me,
Boy," and stepped in, and stopped dead in his
tracks gazing at the child. She forgot orders, and
was on the floor in a moment, saying:
"Oh, you are so beautiful! Do you like me?"
"No, I don't, I love you!" and he gathered her up
with a hug, and then set her on his shoulder
apparently nine feet from the floor.
She was at home. She played with his long hair,
and admired his big hands and his clothes and his
carbine, and asked question after question, as fast
as he could answer, until I excused them both for
half an hour, in order to have a chance to finish my
work. Then I heard Cathy exclaiming over Soldier
Boy; and he was worthy of her raptures, for he is
a wonder of a horse, and has a reputation which is
as shining as his own silken hide.
CATHY TO HER AUNT MERCEDES
OH, it is wonderful here, aunty dear, just para
dise! Oh, if you could only see it! everything
so wild and lovely; such grand plains, stretching
such miles and miles and miles, all the most delicious
velvety sand and sage-brush, and rabbits as big as a
dog, and such tall and noble jackassful ears that that
is what they name them by; and such vast moun
tains, and so rugged and craggy and lofty, with
cloud-shawls wrapped around their shoulders, and
looking so solemn and awful and satisfied; and the
charming Indians, oh, how you would dote on them,
aunty dear, and they would on you, too, and they
would let you hold their babies, the way they do
me, and they are the fattest, and brownest, and
sweetest little things, and never cry, and wouldn't
if they had pins sticking in them, which they haven't,
because they are poor and can't afford it; and the
horses and mules and cattle and dogs hundreds and
hundreds and hundreds, and not an animal that you
can't do what you please with, except uncle Thomas,
but I don't mind him, he's lovely; and oh, if you
could hear the bugles: too too too-too too too,
and so on per-fectly beautiful! Do you recognize
that one? It's the first toots of the reveille; it goes,
dear me, so early in the morning ! then I and every
other soldier on the whole place are up and out in a
A HORSE'S TALE
minute, except uncle Thomas, who is most unaccount
ably lazy, I don't know why, but I have talked to
him about it, and I reckon it will be better, now. He
hasn't any faults much, and is charming and sweet,
like Buffalo Bill, and Thunder-Bird, and Mammy
Dorcas, and Soldier Boy, and Shekels, and Potter,
and Sour-Mash, and well, they're all that, just
angels, as you may say.
The very first day I came, I don't know how long
ago it was, Buffalo Bill took me on Soldier Boy to
Thunder-Bird's camp, not the big one which is out
on the plain, which is White Cloud's, he took me to
that one next day, but this one is four or five miles
up in the hills and crags, where there is a great
shut-in meadow, full of Indian lodges and dogs and
squaws and everything that is interesting, and a
brook of the clearest water running through it, with
white pebbles on the bottom and trees all along the
banks cool and shady and good to wade in, and as the
sun goes down it is dimmish in there, but away up
against the sky you see the big peaks towering up
and shining bright and vivid in the sun, and some
times an eagle sailing by them, not flapping a
wing, the same as if he was asleep; and young
Indians and girls romping and laughing and carrying
on,' around the spring and the pool, and not much
clothes on except the girls, and dogs fighting, and
the squaws busy at work, and the bucks busy resting,