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Frank Bird Linderman.

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the Sioux, each have customs that are not like those
of the Crees. But that does not mean that the
ways of those people are wrong. Let each nation
follow its own ways as its fathers did, and let any
who become members of a tribe of people conform
to its customs. That is well, for it is easier for one
man to change his ways than it is for many to
adopt those that are his. I have known many
whitemen. Some were honest. Lone Wolf is a
brave man and I would call him my friend. Let it
be as he wishes. But let him come to my lodge to



234 LIGE MOUNTS: FREE TRAPPER

talk to my daughter and know her, where all may
hear what he says, if they care to listen. I have
finished."

I was more'n half set against Mac, and fidgety.
I wanted Red Robe to know that I appreciated him
being fair, but I didn't want Bluebird to believe
that I sure wanted her, only to find out later on that
I didn't. I couldn't think of a worth-while thing
to say ; but I knowed I plumb had to say something.

Red Robe was putting away his pipe with the air
of a man who has set aside a respected custom to
oblige a friend, and Mac was looking at the lodge
wall over my head, listening, like. I reachd across
the fire and shook hands with Red Robe. "I will
go now," I told him. "But I will visit your lodge,
and I would that you come often to mine."

Mac got up to go with me. I mighty nigh stopped
to say something to Bluebird. I wanted to; but
I wa'n't sure it would be right. I saw her eyes in
the firelight, though, and I thought they looked glad.



CHAPTER XXVI

My head was sore the next morning, and I did not
go out on the plains with Mac. The cut in my
scalp had bled some, so that my hair was tangled
it was longer than Dad's now and I washed, it and
my head-silk to get rid of the medicine-smell.

Red Robe come to the lodge door soon after Mac
had gone, but he didn't come in. He asked how I
felt; but he didn't mention Bluebird nor I didn't.

I slicked up the lodge and run up a few bullets
and cleaned my rifle to pass the time. It was after
noon before I was through and sat down. I hadn't
spoke to Mac about him taking my business into his
own hands and figured that I wouldn't. He thought
he was doing me a kindness. I knowed that; and
when he told Red Robe what I had said to him he
believed what he had spoken. But he forgot part
of what I'd told himthat I didn't want Bluebird.
But there wa'n't any use arguing with Mac, nor
jangling over a woman, noway. I would overlook
it and we'd go on as before. I made up my mind
to that and felt better and easier. It would only
be a little while till I could get away and I needn't
come back. I smiled to myse'f. Come back? I
wouldn't come back to the plains once I got safe
away to St. Louis. Nobody could pester me about
Caley Byers now. I took a look at the paper Dad
had signed, though I didn't undo it. I just wanted
to make sure it was there and safe.

It was sundown before Mac come in. He had
made a good killing but he was tired and went to his

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own lodge to sleep. I broiled a fat steak and
smoked alone. It wa'n't late when I turned in, but
I slept till daylight. And it was snowing hard
when I got up. The fire ring was covered white
and it was dark, though I knowed it wa'n't early.
I was hungry as a buffalo wolf and it didn't take
me long to get a fire started.

The air was thick with snow-flakes when I went
for water and the plains was hid from sight. I
reckoned that the storm would last a spell and I
went back to my lodge feeling comfortable, like, and
satisfied. I have mostly always since then felt that
way when I had meat and a fire and the weather
was bad, especially late in the fall when Nahpee has
made his sign that the summer is dead.

Mac come in and Yellow Bear. We smoked and
talked till after noon. Then we went to visit Medi-
cine Elk for a spell. He had company already and
was gambling. But we sat down and watched.
Medicine Elk and Big Rock was playing the bone
game, and they had been at it since early morning,
I reckoned by the pile of robes and furs and fixings
that was behind Big Rock, the visitor. Medicine
Elk was pretty much interested in the game. He
said 'how' when we come in and then forgot us. It
was Big Rock's turn with the bones two sections
of a deer's shank about two and a half inches long,
one with a thong fastened about it, the other bare.
He reached behind him and drew five dressed robes
to a place between himse'f and Medicine Elk. 'Til
wager these against their worth," he said.

Medicine Elk spoke to his woman. She got up
and fetched a parfleche, painted bright with colors,
which she opened by the fire. It was a dress that
she took out, a beautiful-worked elk-skin dress all



LIGE MOUNTS: FREE TRAPPER 237

fancy with colored quills and fringe. I saw her
face as she handed it to her man, and I was plumb
sorry for her. It had taken months of work to
make that dress, and likely she hadn't even had a
chance to wear it.

"Ten tanned robes against this dress," said Medi-
cine Elk. "See, Big Rock, it is beautiful."

"No, six," objected Big Rock, "only six," and he
reached for another robe that had belonged to his
host and put it with the first five.

"Bet ten robes against it," urged Medicine Elk,
holding the pretty thing up in the firelight.

But Big Rock didn't look. "I will bet eight
dressed robes that is all," he said, and lit his pipe.
He was older than Medicine Elk and one eye was
gone. He was naked to the waist and had a scar
on his right side as wide as my hand.

Medicine Elk's face didn't change. "Good," he
said, laying the dress on top of the eight robes. "I
can beat you this time. Ho !"

He took the bones and begun to rock and sway
and sing like a woman quieting a fretting child.
His hands was so quick I couldn't see what he did.
But directly he opened one of them before Big
Rock. The marked bone, the one with the thong
around it, was there in his palm. He held it still
only a second. Then he closed his hand, passing
this other, while he sung and swayed his body in
time with the tune.

Big Rock's eye was fastened on him, and it was
lit up with excitement that no word or movement
of his hands would show. I was so tightened up I
ached. I hoped the woman wouldn't lose her dress.

Suddenly Medicine Elk sat still, both arms ex-
tended towards Big Rock, hands shut with their



238 LIGE MOUNTS: FREE TRAPPER

backs up. I could feel myse'f prickle all over. The
woman bent over her man's shoulder and her eyes
ha'nted me for days afterward. Even Mac raised
to his knees to look.

"Ho!" Big Rock struck his own right arm.
Medicine Elk opened his right hand. The marked
bone was there. The dress was lost.

"All of my horses against everything in that pile
behind you. I will end the game that way," said
Medicine Elk, offering Big Rock the bones.

"Good," he said, and took the bones. "I will bet
as you have said, the pile against all your horses."

Medicine Elk spoke again to the woman and she
put a stick on the fire. A hundred hosses! And
the pile of goods represented months of work. The
stick blazed up and Big Rock begun to sing and
juggle the bones about. Then, after he'd showed
the marked bone to Medicine Elk he begun to sway
in earnest to his song. I didn't like him. "Urn-urn
aaye-aaye aaye-aaye. Ho!" He sat straight up
with his hands held towards Medicine Elk and his
one eye boring him like an auger.

"Ho !" Medicine Elk slapped his own left arm and
right off Big Rock opened his left hand. But the
marked bone wa'n't there; only the smooth one.

I could feel my heart pounding and my mouth
Was plumb dry. But Medicine Elk smiled. "Now,"
he said, even, "I will bet this lodge against five good
horses."

I saw the woman's hand cover her mouth. She
wa'n't going to cry out. It was only the sign of
astonishment, made, most likely, without her know-
ing she did it. Then for the first time I saw the
face of a boy between the woman and Mac. His
lips was open and there was a guarded look of



UGE MOUNTS: FREE TRAPPER 239

anxiety in his black eyes. But he too was a Cree
and held onto himse'f.

Big Rock, anxious, I rckoned, to follow up his
luck, lit his own pipe and drew the smoke deep into
his lungs. When it come through his thin lips one
word come with it. "No," he said, and passed his
pipe to Medicine Elk.

I liked him better for his answer, and I could
feel the woman and the boy let down, like. I took
a better hold of myse'f. The excitement of the
game had layed hold of me ; and I let down, too.

Medicine Elk smoked, and when the pipe went
back to Big Rock you wouldn't know there had been
gambling between them. Medicine Elk joked and
laughed and seemed anxious to show Big Rock and
ourse'fs special attention. He filled his own pipe
with tobacco he borrowed from Mac and passed it
without even a look at the pile of goods behind Big
Rock that held every trinket, every bit of finery and
fur, and every robe he had owned. Besides, he had
no hosses not even one.

We left before Big Rock did. I hated to see him
pack up his winnings, especially the woman's dress ;
and we left him there to do it after we was gone.

I got to thinking of old Hi Penney at the Cross-
ing while Mac made a fire in my lodge. Hi gam-
bled, or folks said he did. He went to the river
and took trips on steamboats just to play cards,
they said. Nobody had any use for Hi, and I was
half afraid of him and never let him talk to me.
He was the only gambler in our parts. Folks bet
on hoss races and held up their heads; but to bet
on anything else, except mebby rifle-shooting, was
bad business. I begun to wonder at the way they
figured it out, but there wa'n't anybody to talk to



24Q LIGE MOUNTS: FREE TRAPPER

about it. Mac gambled. I'd seen him win a hoss.
Some Injins wouldn't drink liquor. I knowed that.
And mebby some wouldn't gamble. I reckoned we
was about even on that.

The storm quit when the sun went down, leaving
nigh a foot of snow on the plains. And then that
night the wind blew hard, so that when morning
come there was drifts and long stretches without
any snow to speak of. But it was cold as all get
out, and bright again. We traded some that day
and the next. We was beginning to get some
beaver too, though not many. We baled up the
robes as fast as we got them, and I begun to figure
what we'd make by spring. For more than a week
we traded a little every day. Big Rock offered the
dress of Medicine Elk's woman for two blankets,
but I wouldn't listen. I was counting the days till
spring, and getting more and more anxious to make
our goods count in trading.

One morning Mac come to the lodge before day-
light. "Come with us," he said, blowing coals and
kindling into a flame. "Some young men will run
buffalo today make a surround and then run the
buffalo. Eagle needs to be used and I have told
them to bring him in with the others."

I sat up. "Mac," I says, "I'm tired of being an
Injin. Let's talk English. You be a whiteman for
a spell."

He smiled. "Mak' de w'iteman hout de Hinjin?"
He slapped his knee and laughed aloud. Then he
raised up and put his hand on my shoulder. "No,
ma frien'," he said. "Hl'm never see dat, me,
nevair. Mak' de Hinjin hout de w'iteman? Oui,
Hl'm see dat planty tarn, me."

"Well, you won't see it this time," I said, I bris-



LIGE MOUNTS: FREE TRAPPER 241

tied like a porcupine. "You'll have to admit that
the whiteman is the best, the greatest of all men.
You know it, don't you?"

He rubbed his nose, while his eyes twinkled with
fun. "Well, mebby," he says, looking straight at
me. "She's mak* de gun, de w'iteman. But she's
pay nodder man por mak' de prayer por heem. Ha,
ha, ha ! She's f onny man, de w'iteman, ma f adder's
peop'. No tarn to smell de rose. She's mak' de
money, money, money; but smell de flower? No
tarn por dat dam' foolishness, by gar no tarn. Yes,
she's greatest man, mebby."

Then he says in Cree: "Come, Lone Wolf, let us
run the buffalo. I want to be a Cree again."




CHAPTER XXVII

Mac had his way, as usual.

The hosses was fat as butter, and when they was
fetched in some of them was right frisky. Eagle
was so pretty that everybody liked him and talked
about him. He knowed they admired him and cut
up and acted wild; but he was gentle as a kitten,
and just putting on dog.

It was a fine, bright morning, and more than
twenty young women was watching us as we set out.
There was thirty of us, each riding a hoss and lead-
ing another the one we was saving for the run.
Most everybody rode a pad or buffalo saddle, though
some rode bare-backed with only a rope on their
hosses' jaws. I saw Bluebird and waved my rifle
at her. She had an eagle feather in her hand and
she held it up and waved it, and looked tickled.

"We will follow you with the travois," a young
woman said. And then they all laughed, for they
knowed that if we made a killing their mothers
would be with them if they followed the hunt.

We rode around the village, the young men and
Mac singing and carrying on to show off, while the
young women laughed and joked us. A young man
named Big Sky turned around on his hoss to ride
backward, but the hoss didn't like it and before he
could get straightened out he was on the ground.
How the young women laughed! Big Sky got up
and danced while somebody caught up his hosses
again. And that's the way it went round and
round the village, everybody full of fun and frolic.
We passed close to Bluebird and she stepped put

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LIGE MOUNTS: FREE TRAPPER 243

and caught hold of Eagle's f oretop. I held up, and
she braided the feather in Eagle's mane, him pre-
tending he was afraid of her. I thanked her and
give her a smile. Then I went on to catch up with
Mac. And first I knowed I was singing, myse'f.

Directly, like it was planned to surprise the young
women, we dashed away up the Marias, looking for
a herd of buffalo. I could hear the young women
singing for more'n a mile, till the sound finally died
away. I felt right good; and the plains looked so
far-spread and free that I took back some of the
things I'd thought of them. But not all.

We talked and cut up and rode pretty fast till we
saw a herd of buffalo away off on the plains towards
the east. It was mighty pretty to see. The plains,
lit up by the morning sun, yellowish-brown, with
the dry grass striped with long narrow snow-drifts
crusted hard as ice, seemed to be without end. And
as far as I could see the Missouri's course was
clean-marked by leafless cottonwoods. I thought
of the morning I first saw it, from the hilltop nigh
St. Louis, and tried to imagine leaves on the trees,
and flowers. But I couldn't. That's the way of the
plains. They hold you to theirse'fs. There's no
time but the present on the plains, and the hour
itse'f is so plumb full of wonder or fun or beauty
or misery, or something that no other place offers
the same way, that you can't mope in the past or
dream about the future.

We stopped and divided into two parties and
then set out again towards the buffalo, one party
turning to the right a little and the other to the left,
in order to surround the herd. When we was nigh
we got down and changed hosses. Eagle was so
keen to run that he mighty nigh broke up the hunt.



244 LIGE MOUNTS: FREE TRAPPER

He bolted twice and I had all I could do to hold him
in.

But it wa'n't long till the parties was in position,
and we charged straight at the herd, closing in
around it on all sides. I killed one, a young bull;
and twenty others must have been killed before the
herd broke away and stampeded. Buffalo is fool-
ish animals. Once they get started they won't turn
but run straight ahead. That's why the Injins can
run them the way they do.

I had trouble reloading. Just as I'd managed it,
Mac called to me. He'd wheeled his hoss to run the
buffalo, and I followed.

Eagle raced away, past Mac, and alongside of a
fat cow. I poked the rifle-barrel close to her and
pulled the trigger. At the crack of the gun Eagle
sprung to one side, mighty nigh upsetting me. I
thought he'd shied at the shot; but he hadn't. He
was only looking out for himse'f . I begun to try to
reload, the wind blowing my powder away f aster'n
I could pour it out. And after a dozen tries I got
loaded. We was tight alongside of another cow,
going lickety-split. I cut loose and she went down.
Eagle dodged, and none too quick, for he'd have run
into her if he hadn't. I was ahead of all the run-
ners. Eagle, never stopping, laid himse'f close to
another buffalo. But it wa'n't worth while killing
him. I couldn't load fast enough, and I was losing
too much powder. I pulled him up. Mac sailed
past with two arrows in his mouth and one on his
bow-string. Eagle pawed and whinnied and wanted
to go on, but I got down and petted his head. He
shook his mane, mad as all get out; and the eagle-
feather come off. I picked it up and fixed it back



LIGE MOUNTS: FREE TRAPPER 245

again, while I watched the chase for more than two
miles. Then I started back.

A rifle wa'n't any account running buffalo, not
compared to a bow and arrows. I could see that.
They was too heavy and awkward to load on a run-
ning hoss. Even a pistol was better, I figured.

I passed a lot of buffalo, some not quite dead, and
some down and quiet, and others walking around
sick as all get out with three or four arrows deep in
their paunches. I shot one crippled bull that was
war-like, but most of them that was wounded I
knowed would die. I wondered how long Mac
would follow the herd, how long his hoss would last,
and if I'd ought to wait a spell.

I sat down on a dead cow. Her body was warm
and made a comfortable seat. I couldn't see the
runners any longer. They had gone over a ridge
on the plains. I begun to watch the wolves come
up to feed on the kill. There was hundreds of
them. No wonder the travois had to come quick.
One old dog-wolf, whose ears was gnawed off close
to his head, snuffling and smelling at the cow I was
sitting on, come up so close that I could see the cen-
ter spot in his yellow eyes. Likely he thought I
ought to get up and go away from there. I reck-
oned I'd kill him. But before I touched the trigger
I thought mebby he had a right to take whatever he
could get like the rest of us ; and that saved a charge
of powder and a ball.

Eagle cropped the grass while I sat there and
held the rope. But I couldn't see anything of Mac.
I was getting chilly sitting still, and finally went on
towards the place where we had rode at the herd.
Dead buffalo was plenty all the way, and when I
got to where we had made the surround I counted



246 LIGE MOUNTS: FREE TRAPPER

twenty-two on less than an acre. I found the
young bull I'd shot and skinned and dressed him.
He was fat and all I needed for myse'f. By the
time I had the job done Mac and some others was
in sight. And the travois was coming too.

Bluebird was with the first to come up. "How
many are yours, Lone Wolf ?" she asked, like she
hoped nigh all of them was mine.

I hated to tell her.

"Only three," I says. "My rifle is too hard to load
on a running horse."

She noticed the change in the eagle feather and
touched it with her fingers. "It come off and I put
it back," I told her.

She unbraided Eagle's mane and did the job over
again, so that the feather stuck up and looked
pretty.

"You will find two cows along the line of the run
cows that are shot," I says. "They are yours.
This bull will be all that I shall need. I have meat
enough. Shall I help you find them?"

"No, no," she objected. "But you are kind to
me."

Was there ever another voice like hers? I thought.

"See," she said, "the young men are waiting.
They have caught your other horse for you to ride
to the village." Her eyes looked so happy when she
said, "Men are warriors and hunters. Travois be-
long to the women. I would not have you help.
And see, my mother is coming. She will think me
lazy for talking so long."

She led the travois-hoss a little way towards the
center of the kill ; and I led Eagle to where Mac and
the others was waiting, and got on my other hoss.

The young men was happy as we rode off to the



LIGE MOUNTS: FREE TRAPPER 247

village, leaving the women and some old men to take
care of the meat they had let lie where it fell. I got
to thinking about it. They had all the fun and the
women did the work, it seemed to me.

But directly I remembered that the men had
something to do, theirse'fs. I figured that to take
care of a family, feed it and fight for it like a wolf,
was a considerable chore. And when I thought how
most In j ins used bows and arrows, even to fight, I
reckoned it took a good man to do it. To rustle a
living in all seasons and in all kinds of weather
with an arrow or a lance was more than I wanted
to tackle, let alone being jumped by enemies a dozen
times in a year.

The women worked hard. I knowed that. Dress-
ing robes, making clothes, drying meat, and raising
children ; but all that was offset by the dangers and
hardships of the hunt and war, I figured. Even to
ride as the men rode after buffalo was to take des-
perate chances, and they had to keep fit for fight
every minute, which they did. I'd seen them in the
icy water of mornings and their sweat-lodges was
too much for me. They could stand more than any
men I'd ever knowed; and only work can keep men
fit. The reason the women seemed to be doing the
biggest share was that when the men got to camp
they was through, but the women didn't ever get
through. That was it the women always had a
chore ahead. Even Bluebird's finger nails was al-
ways broke, half spoiling the prettiest-shaped hand
I ever saw, and she was always busy at something.

Then I evened it up in my mind by counting up
the blind eyes and scars and broken bones among
the men. It seemed to me that there wa'n't much
loafing on either side; but nobody was complaining.



248 LIGE MOUNTS: FREE TRAPPER

Before I let Eagle go out with the herd I took the
eagle feather from his mane and hung it on the side
of my head-silk. Then I give him a little salt and
let him go. He wa'n't tired, but was frisky as ever ;
and he had more friends in the village than I did.



CHAPTER XXVIII

Mac and I sat by the lodge-fire that night and
talked of the hunt. "You should learn to use the
bow," he says. "It is the best weapon in running
the buffalo. You have a good wrist and a strong
arm. Dad could use the bow. I have heard them
tell that his arrows sank deep. I will teach you.
The rifle is not for running buffalo. The bow is
best. It is a silent weapon, Lone Wolf. When its
arrows go upon their missions they startle none but
their victims. The rifle cries aloud that a ball is
coming. And even though one may not hear it in
time it startles the rest that are near. It even
wakes the echoes that drive the game away too soon.
It is great in war and to kill far off. But the bow
is best for running the buffalo."

I thought he was right and told him so. But I
knowed it took practice to use a bow.

"See," he said, showing his wrist that was cut
and bleeding a little. "I lost my wrist-guard and
my bow-string wounded me today. Old Crooked
Horns," he laughed, "is wonderful. He beat me,
killing fifteen buffalo. And he is old. But his arm
and wrist are like the iron of the whiteman and
feel not the strain of bending his powerful bow.
Crooked Horns will not use an iron point on his
arrow. He still makes his arrow points of bone as
did his father before the whiteman came. He is
old more than, seventy-five snows he has seen. Yet
he will use nothing made by the whiteman. His
dreams have told him that whitemen are his ene-
mies. He is a great hunter and a brave warrior,

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is Crooked Horns. He ran the buffalo alone today,
and to westward of the Marias."

That is their way, always, to own up to a beat-
ing. We do not always do it.

"How shall we go down the river with our fur
and robes?" I asked, thinking of the spring.

"We could make bull-boats, but they are not good
for such a trip. Let us travel by land to the Post
at the mouth of the Yellowstone with horses and
mules, and trade them for a mackinaw if we can."

"Two of us will not be enough for such a trip," I
says, thinking how Dad waited for Alex and Jake
before coming on to the Marias.

"That is true," he answered, "but there are Wood-
pecker and Spotted Elk and Standing Bear. They
are brothers-in-law of mine and I know that they
are good, brave men. I can get them to go with us
when the time comes."

I thought he was right. "When do you think we


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