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قراءة كتاب Warrior Gap: A Story of the Sioux Outbreak of '68.

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‏اللغة: English
Warrior Gap: A Story of the Sioux Outbreak of '68.

Warrior Gap: A Story of the Sioux Outbreak of '68.

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 3

it might all have been so much sweeter if it hadn't been for that odious Miss Brockway, about whom Marshall hovered altogether too much, but, like the little Indian the girls sometimes said she was, Pappoose looked on and said nothing.

All the same, Mr. Dean had had a glorious graduation summer of it, though Jessie saw too little of him, and Pappoose nothing at all after the breakup of the class. In September the girls returned to school, friends as close as ever, even though a little cloud overshadowed the hitherto unbroken confidences, and Marshall joined the cavalry, as old Folsom had suggested, and took to the saddle, the prairie, the bivouac, and buffalo hunt as though native and to the manner born. They were building the Union Pacific then, and he and his troop, with dozens of others scattered along the line, were busy scouting the neighborhood, guarding the surveyors, the engineers, and finally the track-layers, for the jealous red men swarmed in myriads all along the way, lacking only unanimity, organization, and leadership to enable them to defeat the enterprise. And then when the whistling engines passed the forks of the Platte and began to climb up the long slope of the Rockies to Cheyenne and Sherman Pass, the trouble and disaffection spread to tribes far more numerous and powerful further to the north and northwest; and there rose above the hordes of warriors a chief whose name became the synonym for deep rooted and determined hostility to the whites—Machpealota (Red Cloud)—and old John Folsom, he whom the Indians loved and trusted, grew anxious and troubled, and went from post to post with words of warning on his tongue.

"Gentlemen," he said to the commissioners who came to treat with the Sioux whose hunting grounds adjoined the line of the railway, "it's all very well to have peace with these people here. It is wise to cultivate the friendship of such chiefs as Spotted Tail and Old-Man-Afraid-of-His-Horses but there are irreconcilables beyond them, far more numerous and powerful, who are planning, preaching war this minute. Watch Red Cloud, Red Dog, Little Big Man. Double, treble your garrisons at the posts along the Big Horn; get your women and children out of them, or else abandon the forts entirely. I know those warriors well. They outnumber you twenty to one. Reinforce your garrisons without delay or get out of that country, one of the two. Draw everything south of the Platte while yet there is time."

But wiseacres at Washington said the Indians were peaceable, and all that was needed was a new post and another little garrison at Warrior Gap, in the eastward foothills of the range. Eight hundred thousand dollars would build it, "provided the labor of the troops was utilized," and leave a good margin for the contractors and "the Bureau." And it was to escort the quartermaster and engineer officer and an aide-de-camp on preliminary survey that "C" Troop of the cavalry, Captain Brooks commanding, had been sent on the march from the North Platte at Frayne to the headwaters of the Powder River in the Hills, and with it went its new first lieutenant, Marshall Dean.


Promotion was rapid in the cavalry in those days, so soon after the war. Indians contributed largely to the general move, but there were other causes, too. Dean had served little over a year as second lieutenant in a troop doing duty along the lower Platte, when vacancies occurring gave him speedy and unlooked-for lift. He had met Mr. Folsom only once. The veteran trader had embarked much of his capital in business at Gate City beyond the Rockies, but officers from Fort Emory, close to the new frontier town, occasionally told him he had won a stanch friend in that solid citizen.

"You ought to get transferred to Emory," they said. "Here's the band, half a dozen pretty girls, hops twice a week, hunts and picnics all through the spring and summer in the mountains, fishing ad libitum, and lots of fun all the year around." But Dean's ears were oddly deaf. A classmate let fall the observation that it was because of a New York girl who had jilted him that Dean had forsworn society and stuck to a troop in the field: but men who knew and served with the young fellow found him an enthusiast in his profession, passionately fond of cavalry life in the open, a bold rider, a keen shot and a born hunter. Up with the dawn day after day, in saddle long hours, scouting the divides and ridges, stalking antelope and black-tail deer, chasing buffalo, he lived a life that hardened every muscle, bronzed the skin, cleared the eye and brain, and gave to even monotonous existence a "verve" and zest the dawdlers in those old-time garrisons never knew.

All the long summer of the year after his graduation, from mid-April until November, he never once slept beneath a wooden roof, and more often than not the sky was his only canopy. That summer, too, Jessie spent at home, Pappoose with her most of the time, and one year more would finish them at the reliable old Ohio school. By that time Folsom's handsome new home would be in readiness to receive his daughter at Gate City. By that time, too, Marshall might hope to have a leave and come in to Illinois to welcome his sister and gladden his mother's eyes. But until then, the boy had said to himself, he'd stick to the field, and the troop that had the roughest work to do was the one that best suited him, and so it had happened that by the second spring of his service in the regiment no subaltern was held in higher esteem by senior officers or regarded with more envy by the lazy ones among the juniors than the young graduate, for those, too, were days in which graduates were few and far between, except in higher grades. Twice had he ridden in the dead of winter the devious trail through the Medicine Bow range to Frayne. Once already had he been sent the long march to and from the Big Horn, and when certain officers were ordered to the mountains early in the spring to locate the site of the new post at Warrior Gap, Brooks's troop, as has been said, went along as escort and Brooks caught mountain fever in the Hills, or some such ailment, and made the home trip in the ambulance, leaving the active command of "C" Troop to his subaltern.

With the selection of the site Dean had nothing to do. Silently he looked on as the quartermaster, the engineer, and a staff officer from Omaha paced off certain lines, took shots with their instruments at neighboring heights, and sampled the sparkling waters of the Fork. Two companies of infantry, sent down from further posts along the northern slopes of the range, had stacked their arms and pitched their "dog tents," and vigilant vedettes and sentries peered over every commanding height and ridge to secure the invaders against surprise. Invaders they certainly were from the Indian point of view, for this was Indian Story Land, the most prized, the most beautiful, the most prolific in fish and game in all the continent. Never had the red man clung with such tenacity to any section of his hunting grounds as did the Northern Sioux to this, the north and northeast watershed of the Big Horn Range. Old Indian fighters among the men shook their heads when the quartermaster selected a level bench as the site on which to begin the stockade that was to enclose the officers' quarters and the barracks, storehouse and magazine, and ominously they glanced at one another and then at the pine-skirted ridge that rose, sharp and sudden, against the sky, not four hundred yards away, dominating the site entirely.

"I shouldn't like the job of clearing away the gang of Indians that might seize that ridge," said Dean, when later asked by the engineer what he thought of it, and Dean had twice by that time been called upon to help "hustle" Indians out of threatening positions, and knew whereof he spoke.

"I shouldn't worry over things you're never likely to have to do," said the quartermaster, with sarcastic emphasis, and he was a man who never yet had had to face a foeman in the field, and Dean