Saturday, 17 September 2011

Life with the apaches and commanches part 4

The wind being favorable, we commenced the advance; slowly at first, but gradually increasing our speed, until the horses were straining every muscle in their headlong race
 Lances were slung, and bows and arrows got in readiness with an ease and expertness that was truly wonderful, considering our rapid riding. The bridles were dropped on the necks of the mustangs, the riders using their knees both as a steering apparatus and a means of holding on. As near as I could understand, our guard was to keep as close to the hunters as was consistent with our safety, without joining in the fun. Everything went on smoothly, and we had approached to within a half mile of the herd before they noticed us. Soon, however, the old bulls scented the party, and with a snort and plunge they tore headlong towards the head of the drove, communicating the alarm as they ran. With a yell the savages dashed on, horse and rider worked up to the highest pitch of excitement; arrows began to fly, and here and there a cow would fall, or an enraged bull goaded to fury by a wound rush madly at his enemy, evidently bent on revenge of a most
[Pg 28]sanguinary character. Our little party kept on the flank of the advancing drove, and our escort seemed to find it very irksome doing duty as guards, as with oft-repeated ughs! plainly expressive of disgust, they deprecated the luck that had singled them out to perform such womanly duty.
Comanche Station (1960)
Suddenly, and with kaleidoscopic rapidity, the aspect of affairs was changed; for some unknown reason and without apparent cause, the buffaloes made a flank movement, and in a twinkling were dashing right toward us; the mustangs, warned by experience, turned and ran as if their lives were at stake, as they certainly were; and the mule on which my wife was mounted, with an imitation that did her great credit, followed their example. My horse, being unused to such scenes, seemed to lose his senses, and stood looking at the advancing animals in the most abject terror. Realizing at a glance my position, and feeling that instant action was demanded, I turned his head, and by word and heel urged him to run. On came these black brutes, sweeping over the ground like an animated hurricane. My poor horse was laboring fearfully, and I knew that our destruction was a matter of a few moments time only. Suddenly my horse stumbled and flung me headlong to the ground, then all was bewilderment. I have an indistinct notion of lying on the prairie, and then like a great black wave, this surging mass of buffaloes seem to hover over me; I was conscious of a sharp [Pg 29]and severe pain in my side, and then of being suddenly lifted into space. When sufficiently collected to note my position, I found myself on the back of a huge buffalo bull, who, unaccustomed to this strange weight, was making frantic endeavors to clear himself of the herd, which were wedged together with as much compactness as if they were one animal
If I had chosen to fall to the ground, it would have been impossible to do so; but as such a feat would have been almost instant death, my readers will easily understand I had no intention of trying the experiment. I turned my attention exclusively to seating myself firmly on my novel steed, and grasping my hands into the shaggy hair which covered his shoulders, braced myself for the most thrilling ride I had ever experienced. After a few violent plunges the bull cleared the herd, and tore at tremendous speed; on, on until objects lost their character, and all seemed to be an indistinct haze. The buffalo had by this time carried me some distance from the main body, and was beginning to show signs of fatigue. If I was going to leave him, this was my opportunity; and quietly loosening my hold, I slipped off his rump on to the ground, and betook myself in an opposite direction as fast as I could go, and it was with feelings of relief and thankfulness that I had escaped so luckily from my first and only buffalo ride.

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