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the height, with the noble fellow scrambling up after me as deftly and almost as perpendicularly as a climbing monkey. Inever saw a horse east of the Mississippi that could have comprehended and met the situation like Nig. Whoever came after us to our bridge of fascines, must have thought that a very badly educated company of beavers had been there. I wandered for a quarter of a mile down the river. The banks grew higher and higher with every rod. I found no sign of human life anywhere, save the remains of a Sioux camp. The occupants had not been long gone; some of their lodge-poles lay in a bundle near the fire-place, and around it were still standing the crotched sticks on which they hung their pots. I had no anxiety to meet Sioux; and as the hope of encountering my companions seemed increasingly slight in this direction, I turned and began retracing my steps, leading my horse by the bridle. Poor Nig was so battered by his day's strain and hunger that I could make better time in this way than on his back. A new misfortune now appeared to me. What scriptural writer says that trouble does not come out of the ground 2 He had never contemplated a series of draws, with precipitous sides, running a mile into the heart of a bluff upon whose edge he was travelling, with a tired horse, and used-up personality. Here was a trouble resulting from the ground, which might well excuse imprecation. Did none of my readers ever get into a situation where Nature's obstacles seemed to have been created on purpose for him 2 I had descended one of these reëntrant draws at imminent peril to my neck, and climbed the other side with a difficulty only conquered by desperation; I had made a detour of at least a mile, to get around another one, which looked absolutely untraversable; I now came to a third, with sides literally precipitous. Its walls were fifty feet high, and ran sinuously, eating about into the plain further than I could see, with numerous lateral ramifications. After several vain attempts to flank these trenches of Nature, I came back to the edge of the bluff, and considered myself. I was lost, faint, sick; my horse quite worn out, and the sun not an hour high. I was uncomfortably near the Sioux, who a few days before had taken a Colorado soldier, on a hunt from Fort Kearney and lost like myself; had robbed him of horse, ammunition, arms, all he had in the world; pulled out his beard, and left him naked as he was born, forty miles from the nearest white trapper. I made up my mind that I would descend the first practicable draw, cross the river, picket my horse, make a supper of sunflower-roots and wild onions, and camp down under my saddle-blankets, and with the returning light renew my search for our camp, along the northern and more level bank of the Republican. I was pretty sure that I could find the ford we had crossed, by hunting for our wheel-tracks. I accordingly led my horse down the nearest ramification of the great draw, and with great difficulty, for the bottom was a perfect slough, escaped from my embarrassments upon the low level of the river bank.

Before I leave this entanglement of horrors, I must not omit to say that just before descending, I shot my first antelope. He was grazing on the side of a divide, quite six hundred yards off, to the naked eye appearing only a small brown spot in the sunshine. I wanted meat so badly that I never asked myself

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BUFFALO CALVES. See page 70

wolves ATTACKING

A WOUNDED BUFFAL0.

See page 86.

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the question how I was going to get round to him, and pack him home. He had not seen or scented me when I lay down in the grass and poised my Ballard, which nominally put up for five hundred yards, but at that distance invariably threw the ball above, unless allowance was made for its habits. I spent as much time in calculating my aim as a boy of ten over a sum in division, and fired resting on my elbows. My brown spot went up into the air with one convulsive spring, turned a cart-wheel, and fell on his side in his tracks. The next moment I saw how impossible it was to get him, but went down the draw excusing the murder by a promise to go after him to-morrow. When that morrow came, he was a clean skeleton, picked by the wolves. Though I had not the meat, I had gained a pride and a confidence in my weapon which were everything to a man in my position, — and hugged it close to my breast ere I swung it round to my back, not knowing how often it might have to save my life before I saw camp again. I had many occasions to love that rifle afterwards; and I should be ungrateful indeed, if I did not say that the Ballard breech-loader is, without a single exception, the best arm for Western work that was ever invented. In good hands, it fires seven balls a minute-with perfect accuracy, having all the advantages ever practically used in a repeater; it is the simplest in its mechanism of all breech-loading weapons, and never once got out of order during a daily use of eight months. Its breech is absolutely powder-tight, through the very construction of its cartridge; this cartridge is an entire load, including percussion material, and cleans the bore in leaving it; nothing can be more portable, simpler, safer. The

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