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potent 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 once, 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 Caesar 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 some cow-meat. This laudable desire had been frustrated in all the hunts he had joined since the buffalo left the Arkansas this season. He liked hump and tongue very well, but naturally preferred game which he could use more economically than simply to cut out these, and leave the carcass. So he proposed a flank movement, by which we might get nearer to the herd. Munger had an equal anxiety to lasso some young calves. He had been very successful in this sport several summers before, and secured some capital specimens to send East, for curiosity, or to domesticate among the ranches for breeding. I was surprised to learn how frequent was the latter practice in this region. Numbers of the settlers between Atchison and Fort Kearney had reared buffalo calves, and crossed ... them with domestic cattle, the hybrids proving very serviceable working-cattle, somewhat surly and unmanageable at times, but possessing greater speed and endurance than the common ox. I was further told, on excellent authority, what seemed hard of belief, and under the circumstances was impossible of tangible demonstration, that this hybrid had been found perpetuable. This is a curious fact, when we recollect how much more the cow and the buffalo differ from each other than the horse and the ass, whose mules are still sterile. I was equally anxious with Munger to get a nice pair of calves, as we were sufficiently near railroad communication to have sent them East to await our return. Accordingly John Gilbert and ourselves set out in a nearly southwesterly direction, leading diagonally between the main course of the Republican and a line of tall, conical mounds, called the White Rock
Buttes, parallel with the river six miles further south. We had gone about three miles across a rolling country, much like the plain traversed from Comstock's, without seeing anything but the rear of the herd lately stampeded by us, when John Gilbert caught sight of a much larger herd, feeding a little nearer the Republican than our line of march. He proposed that we should separate, and, by alarming this herd at different points, stampede them in such confusion as to break up their order, make them spread out and open their centre to attack. Munger looked through his field-glass, and was sure he saw calves; Thompson took a look, and beheld the cows necessarily accompanying; I saw buffalo of some description or other, which was all that was needed to make me join the rest in assent to John Gilbert's proposition. Munger, Thompson, and myself went to the southerly; John Gilbert alone took toward the river side, with the intention of stampeding the herd back into our hands. We had gone a little over a mile when the thundering of hoofs announced that John had succeeded, and the next minute the herd came tearing over a high divide right toward us. As they saw us, they checked their impetus; but so near us did they get that each of us might have shot his bull without difficulty, had our design been so childish and murderous. As it was, we left our rifles alone, not intending to use them again till we could use the lasso with them. Still, no calves nor cows were visible. I began to despair of ever seeing them. As the herd reached us, it swung its front round at right angles, and made about westerly. Munger, Thompson, and I immediately rushed at it with all speed, and it separated into roughly divided detachments, one of which each of us selected to chase down. The herd was larger than any we had yet seen. It was impossible that our glasses should have deceived us. There were cows and calves somewhere in the herd, and this was the way to find them.
In five minutes after I had selected my squad for attack, I was entirely separated from my companions. The ground was in splendid order for running; the lay of the land as favorable; my horse had acquired his “second wind,” and his enthusiasm fully equaled my own. I never knew the ecstasy of the mad gallop until now. Like young Lochinvar, “We stayed not for brake, we stopped not for stone.” Some draws which we crossed, made me shudder afterward as I thought of them. Now we were plunging with headlong bounds down bluffs of caving sand, fifty feet high, and steep as a fortress glacis, while the buffalo, crazy with terror, were scrambling halfway up to the top of the opposite side. Now we were following them in the ascent, my noble Nig using his fore-hoofs more like hands than any horse I ever saw before, fairly clawing his way up, with every muscle tense through passionate emulation. Now we were on the very haunches of our game, with a fair field before us, and no end to pluck and bottom for the rest of the chase, the buffalo laboring heavily, and their immense fore-parts coming down on their hoofs with a harder shock at every jump. Now we saw a broad, slippery buffalo-wallow just in time to leap it clear; now we plunged into the very middle of one, but Nig dug himself out of the mud with one frantic tug, and kept on. Still we came closer to our buffaloes, and suddenly I heard a loud thunder of trampling behind Isle.
I looked over my shoulder: there in plain sight was another herd, tearing down on our rear. As I afterward discovered, this was the herd stampeded in separate columns by Munger and Thompson, joined again after making their detour. For nearly a mile in width stretched a line of angry faces, a rolling surf of wind-blown hair, a row of quivering lanterns, burning reddish-brown. The column was as deep as the line. I quickly bethought myself: It is death to get involved in a herd if my horse stumbles. If I have both pluck and luck to ride steadily in the line of the stampede until I can insinuate myself laterally, and make a break out through the side of the herd, all may go well with me, as it has with several hunters of my acquaintance, caught in this predicament. It was death to turn back. I should be trampled and gored to death. I should be wiped out like a grease-spot, and Nig with me, for the terror of the herd was too extreme for me to hope to restampede them, with Munger and Thompson probably somewhere close on their rear.
All this flashed through my mind in an instant. Nig was steadily shortening the distance between me and the herd ahead. I had just made up my mind to ride as long as he would stand in the line of the stampede, when the herd before me divided into two columns to pass around a low butte I had seen before. Quick as lightning this providential move of theirs suggested the means of my salvation. I made for the mound, reached its summit, and to Nig's great disgust, though he was fearfully short-breathed, and trickling with rivulets of sweat, halted him instantly to await the rear column. I had not many minutes of anxiety. The herd saw me fifty rods off, but, as I expected,