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pling like steady thunder. My horse was crazy with enthusiasm. He snorted as he ran, and his eyes bulged full of. fire. I had got within a distance of my game where I should have been ashamed to miss a hai>crown at standing fire. I whirled my carbine round from my back, and dropping the reins let drive for the back of the foreshoulder. Good intention! The slug went harmlessly far over my old monster's neck, as the plunge of my horse threw the muzzle into the air. I was disgusted with the world, but sought to retrieve myself by one more effort. My breech-loading Ballard, the best arm for sport of all kinds that is made on the continent, had another cartridge in it within ten seconds. I was still within fifty yards of my buffalo, and again I fired. This time, in spite of my greenness at shooting on the gallop, I put a ball home, but not in the right place. It struck too low in the flank, and just bled the buffalo without stopping him. A third time I fired, and without any more valuable effect. The one or two places in which an ounce ball will stop a buffalo-bull, bear a charmed life to the tyro in saddle-shooting. My horse began to be fearfully winded, — this was his first time out during the season; he was a generous loan; and though the buffalo was rapidly tiring, I desisted from the chase in a state of dissatisfaction with myself only commensurate with my previous enthusiasm.
As I sat, the Knight of the Rueful Countenance translated to Kansas (I omitted to say that our ride from Comstock's had once more taken us out of Nebraska), Thompson rode up, and invited me to go and look at his success. Well, I never wished to be mean; it was pleasant to see somebody's success; and I accordingly rode with him a mile away, to find a mag
nificent bull stretched dead as a smelt on a high grassy knoll where he had fallen with one unerring shot, right through the heart. Through the right portion of the heart, it is necessary to add; for I felt a little less ashamed of myself on learning that a buffalo will travel, and get clear of capture, with a slug through the apex of that organ, nothing short of disturbing its valvular arrangement having the immediate effect to bring him down. For the first time I came close enough to a wild native buffalo to examine him minutely, and was obliged to confess that he was one of the noblest specimens of the brute creation. Upright, the hump of this bull must have stood over five feet high. It was the hair-shedding season, and all abaft the Inimp his body was as bare, . save in two or three isolated patches of frowzy, faded wool, as a Chinese dog. This fact was advantageous to the examination of his anatomy; and though he carried a head and chest only less ponderous than a young elephant's, I found a beautiful shapeliness of curve about his haunches, a cleanness of line, and even slenderness in his hind legs, that looked rather like a member of the deer or elk family than any of the bovine tribes.
I stood admiring him and felicitating Thompson, when Hunger appeared upon a distant divide, beckoning me to him. I left the dead bull, and rode to ask what was wanted. When I got within ear-shot, Munger hollowed his hand before his mouth and roared, "Bring along your painter." Glad to be of more use to somebody than I had been to myself, I set out in search of the buggy. About a mile away, I found it rolling placidly along through the grass, after the well-meaning but veteran wagon-team. I told our artist that Hunger had something for him. At the news the buggy axles creaked joyfully; the little old horses sprang forward on a gallop, with all the recalled freshness ofmtheir youth; and in something less than a quarter of an hour, we stood, or sat, beside Munger and the champing Ben Holladay.
That makes two: there were three of his company. He had ridden upon as big a bull as ever ran the Plains, stopped him with a series of shots from a Colt's army revolver, and was holding him at bay in a grassy basin, for our artist's especial behoof. He, on his part, did not need three words to show him his opportunity. He leapt from the buggy; out came the materials of success following him, and in a trifle over three minutes from his first halt, the big blue umbrella was pointed and pitched, and he sat under it on his camp-stool, with his color-box on his knees, his brush and palette in hand, and a clean board pinned in the cover of his color-box.
Hunger's old giant glowered and flashed fire from two great wells of angry brown and red, burning up like a pair-of lighted naphtha-springs, through a footdeep environment of shaggy hair. The old fellow had been shot in half a dozen places. He was wounded in the haunch, through the lower ribs, through the lungs, and elsewhere. Still he stood his ground like a Spartacus. He was too much distressed to run with the herd; at every plunge he was easily headed off by a turn of Hunger's bridle; he had trampled a circle of twenty feet diameter, in his sallies to get away, yet he would not lie down. From both his nostrils the blood was flowing, mixed with glare and foam. His breath was like a blacksmith's bellows. His great sides heaved laboriously, as if he were breathing with his whole body. I never could be enough of a hunter not to regard this as a distressing sight. Yet I could understand how Parrhasius might have been driven by the devil of his genius to do the deed of horror and power which has come down to us through the centuries. I seemed to see Prometheus on his rock, defying the gods. Kill a deer, and he pleads with you out of his wet, dying eye; a bear falls headlong with a grunt, and gives up his stolid ghost without more ado, if the bullet is mortal; but here was a monster whose body contained at least four deathly bullets, yet who stood as unflinching as adamant, with his face to the foe. It was the first time I had seen moral grandeur in a brute.
Hunger, Thompson, and I rode slowly round the bull, attracting his attention by feigned assaults, that our artist might see him in action. As each of us came to a point where the artist saw him sideways, the rider advanced his horse, and menaced the bull with his weapon. The old giant lowered his head till his great beard swept the dust; out of his immense fell of hair his eyes glared fiercer and redder; he drew in his breath with a hollow roar and a painful hiss, and charged madly at the aggressor. A mere twist of the rein threw the splendidly trained horse out of harm's way, and the bull almost went headlong with his unspent impetus. For nearly fifteen minutes, this process was continued, while the artist's hand and eye followed each other at the double-quick over the board. The signs of exhaustion increased with every charge of the bull; the blood streamed faster from wounds and nostrils; yet he showed no signs of surrender, and an almost human devil of impotent revenge looked out of his fiery, unblinking eyeballs.
But our Parrhasius was merciful. As soon as he had transferred the splendid action of the buffalo to his study, he called on us to put an end to the distress, which, for aught else than art's sake, was terrible to see. All of us who had weapons drew up in line, while the artist attracted the bull's attention by a final feigned assault . We aimed right for the heart, and fired. A hat might have covered the chasm which poured blood from his side when our smoke blew away. All the balls had sped home; but the unconquerable would not fall with his side to the foe. He turned himself painfully around on his quivering legs; he stiffened his tail in one last fury; he shook his mighty head, and then, lowering it to the ground, concentrated all the life that lasted in him for a mad onset. He rushed forward at his persecutors with all the elan of his first charges; but strength failed him half way. Ten feet from where we stood, he tumbled to his knees, made heroic efforts to rise again, and came up on one leg; but the death-tremor possessed the other, and with a great panting groan, in which all of brute power and beauty went forth at ouce, he fell prone on the trampled turf, and a glaze hid the anger of his eyes. Even in death those eyes were wide open on the foe, as he lay grand, like Cnesar before Pompey's statue, at the feet of his assassins.
We then returned to Thompson's bull, where our artist sat down to make another study, leaving the buggy to return to camp and send out a wagon for our meat, and ourselves to set forth in search of new adventures.
One of Thompson's intensest yearnings was to get