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

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Riding at ease in the lazy afternoon sunshine a single troop of cavalry was threading its way in long column of twos through the bold and beautiful foothills of the Big Horn. Behind them, glinting in the slanting rays, Cloud Peak, snow clad still although it was late in May, towered above the pine-crested summits of the range. To the right and left of the winding trail bare shoulders of bluff, covered only by the dense carpet of bunch grass, jutted out into the comparative level of the eastward plain. A clear, cold, sparkling stream, on whose banks the little command had halted for a noontide rest, went rollicking away northeastward, and many a veteran trooper looked longingly, even regretfully, after it, and then cast a gloomy glance over the barren and desolate stretch ahead. Far as the eye could reach in that direction the earth waves heaved and rolled in unrelieved monotony to the very sky line, save where here and there along the slopes black herds or scattered dots of buffalo were grazing unvexed by hunters red or white, for this was thirty years ago, when, in countless thousands, the bison covered the westward prairies, and there were officers who forbade their senseless slaughter to make food only for the worthless, prowling coyotes. No wonder the trooper hated to leave the foothills of the mountains, with the cold, clear trout streams and the bracing air, to take to long days' marching over dull waste and treeless prairie, covered only by sage brush, rent and torn by dry ravines, shadeless, springless, almost waterless, save where in unwholesome hollows dull pools of stagnant water still held out against the sun, or, further still southeast among the "breaks" of the many forks of the South Cheyenne, on the sandy flats men dug for water for their suffering horses, yet shrank from drinking it themselves lest their lips should crack and bleed through the shriveling touch of the alkali.

Barely two years a commissioned officer, the young lieutenant at the head of column rode buoyantly along, caring little for the landscape, since with every traversed mile he found himself just that much nearer home. Twenty-five summers, counting this one coming, had rolled over his curly head, and each one had seemed brighter, happier than the last, all but the one he spent as a hard-worked "plebe" at the military academy. His graduation summer two years previous was a glory to him, as well as to a pretty sister, young and enthusiastic enough to think a brother in the regulars, just out of West Point, something to be made much of, and Jessie Dean had lost no opportunity of spoiling her soldier or of wearying her school friends through telling of his manifold perfections. He was a manly, stalwart, handsome fellow as young graduates go, and old ones wish they might go over again. He was a fond and not too teasing kind of brother. He wasn't the brightest fellow in the class by thirty odd, and had barely scraped through one or two of his examinations, but Jessie proudly pointed to the fact that much more than half the class had "scraped off" entirely, and therefore that those who succeeded in getting through at all were paragons, especially Brother Marshall. But girls at that school had brothers of their own, girls who had never seen West Point or had the cadet fever, and were not impressed with young officers as painted by so indulgent a sister. Most of the girls had tired of Jessie's talks, and some had told her so, but there was one who had been sympathetic from the start—a far Western, friendless sort of girl she was when first she entered school, uncouthly dressed, wretchedly homesick and anything but companionable, and yet Jessie Dean's kind heart had warmed to this friendless waif and she became her champion, her ally, and later, much to her genuine surprise, almost her idol. It presently transpired that "the Pappoose," as the girls nicknamed her because it was learned that she had been rocked in an Indian cradle and had long worn moccasins instead of shoes (which accounted for her feet being so much finer in their shape than those of her fellows), was quick and intelligent beyond her years, that, though apparently hopelessly behind in all their studies at the start, and provoking ridicule and sneers during the many weeks of her loneliness and home-longing, she suddenly began settling to her work with grim determination, surprising her teachers and amazing her mates by the vim and originality of her methods, and, before the end of the year, climbing for the laurels with a mental strength and agility that put other efforts to the blush. Then came weeks of bliss spent with a doting father at Niagara, the seashore and the Point—a dear old dad as ill at ease in Eastern circles as his daughter had been at first at school, until he found himself welcomed with open arms to the officers' mess-rooms at the Point, for John Folsom was as noted a frontiersman as ever trod the plains, a man old officers of the cavalry and infantry knew and honored as "a square trader" in the Indian country—a man whom the Indians themselves loved and trusted far and wide, and when a man has won the trust and faith of an Indian let him grapple it to his breast as a treasure worth the having, great even as "the heart love of a child." Sioux, Shoshone and Cheyenne, they would turn to "Old John" in their councils, their dealings, their treaties, their perplexities, for when he said a thing was right and square their doubts were gone, and there at the Point the now well-to-do old trader met men who had known him in by-gone days at Laramie and Omaha, and there his pretty schoolgirl daughter met her bosom friend's big brother Marshall, a first classman in all his glory, dancing with damsels in society, while she was but a maiden shy in short dresses....