We got Andrew Jackson back into the ranks. His mother stepped to him and took him by the hand, as though for the first time she recognized him as a man.
“Now, boy, that’s somethin’ like.” Presently she turned to me. “Some says it’s in the Paw,” she remarked. “I reckon it’s some in the Maw; an’ a leetle in the trainin’.”
Cut up badly by our fire, the Sioux scattered and hugged the shelter of the river bank, beyond which they rode along the sand or in the shallow water, scrambling up the bank after they had gotten out of fire. Our men were firing less, frequently at the last of the line, who came swiftly down from the bluff and charged across behind us, sending in a scattering flight of arrows as they rode.
I looked about me now at the interior of our barricade. I saw Ellen Meriwether on her knees, lifting the shoulders of a wounded man who lay back, his hair dropping from his forehead, now gone bluish gray. She pulled him to the shelter of a wagon, where there had been drawn four others of the wounded. I saw tears falling from her eyes—saw the same pity on her face which I had noted once before when a wounded creature lay in her hands. I had been proud of Mandy McGovern. I was proud of Ellen Meriwether now. They were two generations of our women, the women of America, whom may God ever have in his keeping.
I say I had turned my head; but almost as I did so I felt a sudden jar as though some one had taken a board and struck me over the head with all his might. Then, as I slowly became aware, my head was utterly and entirely detached from my body, and went sailing off, deliberately, in front of me. I could see it going distinctly, and yet, oddly enough, I could also see a sudden change come on the face of the girl who was stooping before me, and who at the moment raised her eyes.
“It is strange,” thought I, “but my head, thus detached, is going to pass directly above her, right there!”
Then I ceased to take interest in anything, and sank back into the arms of that from which we come, calmly taking bold of the hand of Mystery.
I awoke, I knew not how much later, into a world which at first had a certain warm comfort and languid luxury about it. Then I felt a sharp wrenching and a great pain in my neck, to which it seemed my departed head had, after all, returned. Stimulated by this pain, I turned and looked up into the face of Auberry. He stood frowning, holding in his hand a feathered arrow shaft of willow, grooved along its sides to let the blood run free, sinew-wrapped to hold its feathers tight—a typical arrow of the buffalo tribes. But, as I joined Auberry’s gaze, I saw the arrow was headless! Dully I argued that, therefore, this head must be somewhere in my neck. I also saw that the sun was bright. I realized that there must have been a fight of some sort, but did not trouble to know whence the arrow had come to me, for my mind could grasp nothing more than simple things.