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II red cloud Suddenly a gale That blustered rainless up the Bozeman Trail1 Was bringing June2 again; but not the dear Deep-bosomed mother of a hemisphere That other regions cherish. Flat of breast, More passionate than loving, up the West A stern June strode, lean suckler of the lean, Her rag-and-tatter robe of faded green Blown dustily about her. Afternoon Now held the dazzled prairie in a swoon; And where the Platte and Laramie unite, The naked heavens slanted blinding light Across the bare Fort Laramie parade.3 The groping shadow-arm the flag-pole swayed To nightward, served to emphasize the glare; And ’mid Saharan hollows of the air One haughty flower4 budded from the mast And bloomed and withered as the gale soughed5 past To languish in the swelter. Growing loud, When some objection wakened in the crowd, Or dwindling to a murmur of assent, Still on and on the stubborn parley went Of many treaty makers gathered here.6 Big talk there was at Laramie that year Of ’sixty-six; for lo, a mighty word The Great White Father7 spoke, and it was heard From peep of morning to the sunset fires. The southwind took it from the talking wires8 And gave it to the gusty west that blew Its meaning down the country of the Sioux Past Inyan Kara9 to Missouri’s tide. The eager eastwind took and flung it wide To where lush valleys gaze at lofty snow All summer long. And now Arapahoe The word was; now Dakota; now Cheyenne; But still one word: ‘Let grass be green again Upon the trails of war and hatred cease, For many presents and the pipe of peace Are waiting yonder at the Soldier’s Town!’ And there were some who heard it with a frown And said, remembering the White Man’s guile: “Make yet more arrows when the foemen smile.” And others, wise with many winters, said: “Life narrows, and the better days are dead. Make war upon the sunset! Will it stay?” And some who counselled with a dream would say: “Great Spirit made all peoples, White and Red, And pitched one big blue tepee overhead That men might live as brothers side by side. Behold! Is not our country very wide, With room enough for all?” And there were some Who answered scornfully: “Not so they come; Their medicine is strong, their hearts are bad; A little part of what our fathers had 319 Red Cloud They give us now, tomorrow come and take. Great Spirit also made the rattlesnake And over him the big blue tepee set!” So wrought the Great White Father’s word; and yet, Despite remembered and suspected wrong, Because the Long Knife’s10 medicine was strong, There lacked not mighty chieftains who obeyed. A thousand Ogalalas Man Afraid11 And Red Cloud marshalled on the council trail; A thousand Brulés followed Spotted Tail.12 Cheyennes, Arapahoes came riding down By hundreds; till the little Soldier Town Was big with tepees. Where the white June drowse Beat slanting through a bower13 of withered boughs That cast a fretwork travesty of shade, Now sat the peace-commissioners and made Soft words to woo the chieftains of the bands. ‘They wanted but a roadway through the lands Wherein the Rosebud, Tongue, and Powder head, That white men, seeking for the yellow lead Along the Madison, might pass that way.14 There ran the shortest trail by many a day Of weary travel. This could do no harm; Nor would there be occasion for alarm If they should wish to set a fort or two Up yonder—not against Cheyenne and Sioux, But rather that the Great White Father’s will Might be a curb upon his people still And Red Men’s rights be guarded by the laws.’ 320 the song of the indian wars Adroitly phrased, with many a studied pause, In which the half-breed spokesmen, bit by bit, Reshaped the alien speech and scattered it, The purpose of the council swept at last Across the lounging crowd. And where it passed The feathered headgear swayed and bent together With muttering, as when in droughty weather A little whirlwind sweeps the tasseled corn. Some bull-lunged Ogalala’s howl of scorn Was hurled against the few assenting “hows” Among the Brulés. Then the summer drowse Came back, the vibrant silence of the heat; For Man Afraid had gotten to his feet, His face set hard...


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