We encamped close to the river. The night was dark, and as we lay down we could hear mingled with the howling of wolves the hoarse bellowing of the buffalo, like the ocean beating upon a distant coast.
THE BUFFALO CAMP
No one in the camp was more active than Jim Gurney, and no one half so lazy as Ellis. Between these two there was a great antipathy. Ellis never stirred in the morning until he was compelled to, but Jim was always on his feet before daybreak; and this morning as usual the sound of his voice awakened the party.
“Get up, you booby! up with you now, you’re fit for nothing but eating and sleeping. Stop your grumbling and come out of that buffalo robe or I’ll pull it off for you.”
Jim’s words were interspersed with numerous expletives, which gave them great additional effect. Ellis drawled out something in a nasal tone from among the folds of his buffalo robe; then slowly disengaged himself, rose into sitting posture, stretched his long arms, yawned hideously, and finally, raising his tall person erect, stood staring round him to all the four quarters of the horizon. Delorier’s fire was soon blazing, and the horses and mules, loosened from their pickets, were feeding in the neighboring meadow. When we sat down to breakfast the prairie was still in the dusky light of morning; and as the sun rose we were mounted and on our way again.
“A white buffalo!” exclaimed Munroe.
“I’ll have that fellow,” said Shaw, “if I run my horse to death after him.”
He threw the cover of his gun to Delorier and galloped out upon the prairie.
“Stop, Mr. Shaw, stop!” called out Henry Chatillon, “you’ll run down your horse for nothing; it’s only a white ox.”
But Shaw was already out of hearing. The ox, who had no doubt strayed away from some of the government wagon trains, was standing beneath some low hills which bounded the plain in the distance. Not far from him a band of veritable buffalo bulls were grazing; and startled at Shaw’s approach, they all broke into a run, and went scrambling up the hillsides to gain the high prairie above. One of them in his haste and terror involved himself in a fatal catastrophe. Along the foot of the hills was a narrow strip of deep marshy soil, into which the bull plunged and hopelessly entangled himself. We all rode up to the spot. The huge carcass was half sunk in the mud, which flowed to his very chin, and his shaggy mane was outspread upon the surface. As we came near the bull began to struggle with convulsive strength; he writhed to and fro, and in the energy of his fright and desperation would lift himself for a moment half out of the slough, while the reluctant mire returned a sucking sound as he strained to drag his limbs from its tenacious depths. We stimulated his exertions by getting behind him and twisting his tail; nothing