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such a view of buffaloes as I never could have expected, never would enjoy again. This was all-sufficient to me. I stood and studied the host with devouring eyes, while my horse snorted and pulled at the bridle in a passion of enthusiasm.
The herd were about five minutes in passing me. During that time I saw the calves which Hunger was looking for, and Thompson's much desiderated cows, beside numerous yearlings and two-year-olds1', both bulls and heifers. There also appeared here and there a veteran bull, carrying about him the marks of battle in the form of a stiff or broken leg, or a bad scar in the flank. One old fellow made as good time on three legs as any of his comrades on four, though his useless member was in front, where most of the strain falls in running. His progress was absolutely comical. He reminded me of an aged ape hopping, with one hand on the ground to steady him, and his countenance wore the most whimsical expression, his mat of hair being torn off in places, so as to disclose more of his features than I ever saw in any other buffalo. As he scrambled past in steady-by-jerks, Dundreary style, he seemed saying, "To be bothered in this way at my time of life!"
When the herd had passed, and joined the body I had lately been chasing, the combined force stopped about half a mile ahead. I turned, as the last laggards. panted by the mound, and, for the first time since I reached my elevation, paid attention to the westward. Then I understood why the stampeders had halted so soon. They had come up with the main herd!
Yes, there, beyond peradventure, in my plain sight, grazed the entire buffalo army of Middle Kansas. As far as the western horizon the whole earth was black with them. From a point a mile in front of me their rear line extended on the north to the bluffs bounding the Republican, on the south to the very summits of the White Rock Buttes, an entire breadth of more than six miles. I had no way of measuring the unbounded plain, looking westerly; but a man on horseback, in the clear air of the region, and with a field-glass of Voigtlander's as good as mine, can recognize an object of the size of a buffalo at ten miles' distance. I will not add my name to the list of travellers who have stated undeniable truths that nobody would believe. When I say that a hundred square feet of room was an exaggerated average allowance to the individual buffalo in the close-packed herd before me, I have contributed all the elements necessary to each of my readers for his personal calculation of the number in sight. I never saw any Eastern acquaintance who would credit me when I stated my own estimate diminished by one half Let it be enough to acknowledge that it reaches millions. As for comparisons, flies on a molasses barrel, ants on an ant-hill, tadpoles in a puddle, all these strong but vulgar similitudes fail to express the ideas of multitude awakened by looking at that mighty throng. Arithmetic is as petty to the task as the lightning calculator to the expression of a hurricane. I have seen the innumerable herd of laughing waves in a broad sunny sea; I have seen the same multitude lashed to madness by a tropical cyclone; I remember my first and my succeeding impressions of Niagara; but never did I see an incarnation of vast multitude, or resistless force, which impressed me like the main herd of the buffalo. The desire to shoot, kill, and capture utterly
passed away. I only wished to look, and look till I could realize or find some speech for the greatness of Nature that silenced me.
I had gazed for nearly an hour, when it suddenly occurred to me that more than twice that time had elapsed since I saw any of my comrades. I referred to the sun, for I had no watch in my hunting-shirt, and saw that it was at least three o'clock in the afternoon. I took one last look at the buffaloes, and came down from my mount of vision. The way back I was quite certain of. It seemed the easiest thing in the world to retrace my steps. I remounted Nig, and began pushing for home.
I remembered that our camp was nearly due north from a certain characteristic butte of the White Rock range. I resolved to bring this butte abreast of me, travelling down the middle of the plain, between it and the Republican, then to strike due north for the river, over the ground which had become familiar to us through two days' hunt.
This matter was easier to promise than accomplish. I little knew the deception of which a traveller was susceptible on these endlessly uniform divides. I might almost as well have hoped to travel by foammarks on the waves of the sea as by any idiosyncrasies in this rolling sward. But as yet I was ignorant and happy.
My chief troubles were the now plainly apparent fatigue of my horse, reacting from his late enthusiasm; a pair of badly sun-burnt hands, the bridle one of which, being the more exposed, was swollen into a very respectable red velvet pincushion, and felt as if. it had been dipped in a jar of aqua-fortis. I was also exceedingly hungry, and had been unwise enough to leave camp without so much as a piece of hard-tack in my pocket. I might at least have brought out a canteen of pure water; but not having anticipated a protracted absence from the river, I had neglected even that, and began to have a tongue like a tile. My horse gradually became so used up, that I lay down with his long halter in my hand, and let him crop his dinner by piecemeal while I rested, for fifteen minutes at a time. I found a large sunflower, whose root "I pulled up and ate; but the food was rather scanty, and whetted my appetite as a relish, instead of satisfying it like a meal. But my greatest suffering presently came on in the form of intense thirst . Before I reached the point abreast of the White Rock Butts, whence I was to commence my northerly course, I was in veritable torment. I felt like a German Zwieback, dry-rusked through and through by a sun which pelted mercilessly on that shadeless waste, hot as our Eastern July. I was reduced to such a deplorable demoralization that I cheerfully, nay joyfully, consented to relieve myself, over and over again, in a way at whose very mention I had shuddered when the old hunters told me of it in camp. I lay down by the side of those stagnant rain-puddles which stand in basins of hard-pan on the top of the divides, and, plunging my face in to the very eyebrows, drank ravenously, right over the hoof-marks of the buffaloes. Sometimes the water was thicker than cream with mud; sometimes red with the dejections of the herd; always as hot as blood, — yet I thought no more of these things than if I were a buffalo myself. For the first time I fully understood the sufferings of travellers in the desert. When I afterward came to experience those sufferings my
self, I found them but little worse than that trial on the Kansas Plains.
Reaching the line of range I had selected, I struck due north for the river, sure of finding our camp and overjoyed at the prospect. I looked from the edge of the bluff, after a toilsome trudge of three miles on a tired horse, and saw everything to convince, me that my course had been correct. Between the bluff and the river stretched a swale of dry grass, bounded by two expanses of green herbage; the first bottom of the river descended by two well-marked curving terraces; there was a fine old cotton-wood grove, with a pair of gaps in it where the beavers had been felling; above this grove I saw a broad yellow sandbar running diagonally half-way across the Republican; and to the eastward the river made a short curve toward me, narrowing the view of its bank to a mere strip, which was studded thickly with new timber-growth. Every feature which I have related was the fac-simile of a corresponding environment about our camp.
I descended, as I thought, through the very draw by which we had yesterday approached the buffalo on foot. The likeness became more and more perfect as I went down. The same grotesque forms presented by the profile of a precipice of indurated sand, the same arrangement of bushes, the same puddle to which the relieved sentinel came down when we fired our first shots, the same well-worn buffalo-path leading through the draw to the river.
I chirruped cheerfully to Nig, as in assurance that we should soon reach home, and struck into the broad river-bottom with renewed patience. I reached the river without seeing any novel feature in the land