Bordeaux greeted me very cordially, and shouted to the cook. This functionary was a new acquisition, having lately come from Fort Pierre with the trading wagons. Whatever skill he might have boasted, he had not the most promising materials to exercise it upon. He set before me, however, a breakfast of biscuit, coffee, and salt pork. It seemed like a new phase of existence, to be seated once more on a bench, with a knife and fork, a plate and teacup, and something resembling a table before me. The coffee seemed delicious, and the bread was a most welcome novelty, since for three weeks I had eaten scarcely anything but meat, and that for the most part without salt. The meal also had the relish of good company, for opposite to me sat Shaw in elegant dishabille. If one is anxious thoroughly to appreciate the value of a congenial companion, he has only to spend a few weeks by himself in an Ogallalla village. And if he can contrive to add to his seclusion a debilitating and somewhat critical illness, his perceptions upon this subject will be rendered considerably more vivid.
Shaw had been upward of two weeks at the Fort. I found him established in his old quarters, a large apartment usually occupied by the absent bourgeois. In one corner was a soft and luxuriant pile of excellent buffalo robes, and here I lay down. Shaw brought me three books.
“Here,” said he, “is your Shakespeare and Byron, and here is the Old Testament, which has as much poetry in it as the other two put together.”
I chose the worst of the three, and for the greater part of that day lay on the buffalo robes, fairly reveling in the creations of that resplendent genius which has achieved no more signal triumph than that of half beguiling us to forget the pitiful and unmanly character of its possessor.
THE LONELY JOURNEY
On the day of my arrival at Fort Laramie, Shaw and I were lounging on two buffalo robes in the large apartment hospitably assigned to us; Henry Chatillon also was present, busy about the harness and weapons, which had been brought into the room, and two or three Indians were crouching on the floor, eyeing us with their fixed, unwavering gaze.