It was already becoming dusk when they swept down into a little nest of green trees and grass. It appeared so suddenly, and was such an unexpected oasis amid that surrounding wilderness, that Hampton gave vent to a sudden exclamation of delight. But that was all. Instantly he perceived numerous dark forms leaping from out the shrubbery, and he wheeled his horses to the left, lashing them into a rapid run. It was all over in a moment—a sputtering of rifles, a wild medley of cries, a glimpse of savage figures, and the two were tearing down the rocks, the din of pursuit dying away behind them. The band were evidently all on foot, yet Hampton continued to press his mount at a swift pace, taking turn after turn about the sharp hills, confident that the hard earth would leave no trace of their passage.
Then suddenly the horse he rode sank like a log, but his tight grip upon the rein of the other landed him on his feet. Murphy laughed, in fiendish merriment; but Hampton looked down on the dead horse, noting the stream of blood oozing out from behind the shoulder. A stray Sioux bullet had found its mark, but the gallant animal had struggled on until it dropped lifeless; and the brave man it had borne so long and so well bent down and stroked tenderly the unconscious head. Then he shifted the provisions to the back of the other horse, grasped the loose rein once more in his left hand, and started forward on foot.
ON THE LITTLE BIG HORN
N Troop, guarding, much to their emphatically expressed disgust, the more slowly moving pack-train, were following Custer’s advancing column of horsemen down the right bank of the Little Big Horn. The troopers, carbines at knee, sitting erect in their saddles, their faces browned by the hot winds of the plains, were riding steadily northward. Beside them, mounted upon a rangy chestnut, Brant kept his watchful eyes on those scattered flankers dotting the summit of the near-by bluff. Suddenly one of these waved his hand eagerly, and the lieutenant went dashing up the sharp ascent.
“What is it, now, Lane?”
“Somethin’ movin’ jist out yonder, sir,” and the trooper pointed into the southeast. “They’re down in a coulee now, I reckon; but will be up on a ridge agin in a minute. I got sight of ’em twice afore I waved.”
The officer gazed earnestly in the direction indicated, and was almost immediately rewarded by the glimpse of some indistinct, dark figures dimly showing against the lighter background of sky. He brought his field-glasses to a focus.
“White men,” he announced, shortly. “Come with me.”