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XII high noon on the little horn Now it came to pass, That late June morning on the Greasy Grass, Two men went fishing, warriors of the Sioux; And, lonesome in the silence of the two, A youngster pictured battles on the sand.1 Once more beneath the valor of his hand The execrated2 troopers, blotted out, Became a dust. Then, troubled with a doubt, He ventured: “Uncle, will they find us here— The soldiers?” ’Twas a buzzing in the ear Of Red Hawk3 where he brooded on his cast. “The wind is coming up,” he said at last; “The sky grows dusty.” “Then the fish won’t bite,” Said Running Wolf. “There may be rain tonight,” Said Red Hawk, falling silent. Bravely then The youngster wrought himself a world of men Where nothing waited on a wind of whim, But everything, obedient to him, Fell justly.4 All the white men in the world Were huddled there, and round about them swirled More warriors than a grownup might surmise. The pony-thunder and the battle-cries, The whine of arrows eager for their marks Drowned out the music of the meadowlarks, The rising gale that teased the cottonwoods To set them grumbling in their whitened hoods, The chatter of a little waterfall. These pebbles—see!—were Crazy Horse and Gall; Here Crow King5 raged, and Black Moon6 battled there! This yellow pebble—look!—was Yellow Hair; This drab one with a little splotch of red, The Gray Fox, Crook! Ho ho! And both were dead; And white men fell about them every place— The leafage of the autumn of a race— Till all were down. And when their doom was sealed, The little victor danced across the field Amid the soundless singing of a throng. The brief joy died, for there was something wrong About this battle. Mournfully came back That other picture of a dawn attack— The giant horses rearing in the fogs Of their own breath; the yelping of the dogs; The screaming rabble swarming up the rise; The tangled terror in his mother’s eyes; The flaming lodges and the bloody snow.7 Provokingly oblivious of woe, The two8 still eyed the waters and were dumb. “But will they find us, Uncle? Will they come?” Now Red Hawk grunted, heaving at his line, And, wrought of flying spray and morning-shine, A spiral rainbow9 flashed along the brook. “Hey hey!” said Red Hawk, staring at his hook, “He got my bait!” Run yonder to the bluff And catch some hoppers, Hohay. Get enough And you shall see how fish are caught today!”10 443 High Noon on the Little Horn Half-heartedly the youngster stole away Across a brawling riffle,11 climbed the steep And gazed across the panoramic sweep Of rolling prairie, tawny in the drouth, To where the Big Horns12 loomed along the south, No more than ghosts of mountains in the dust. Up here the hot wind, booming gust on gust, Made any nook a pleasant place to dream. You could not see the fishers by the stream; And you were grown so tall that, looking down Across the trees, you saw most all the town Strung far along the valley. First you saw The Cheyennes yonder opposite the draw That yawned upon the ford—a goodly sight! So many and so mighty in a fight And always faithful brothers to the Sioux! Trees hid the Brulé village, but you knew ’Twas half a bow-shot long from end to end. The Ogalalas filled a river bend, And next the Minneconjoux did the same. A little farther south the Sans Arc came, And they were neighbors to the Hunkpapas.13 — The blackened smoke-vents, flapping in the flaws, Were like a startled crow flock taking wing.— Some Ogalalas played at toss-the-ring And many idlers crowded round to see.— The grazing ponies wandered lazily Along the flat and up the rolling west. Now, guiltily remembering his quest, He trotted farther up the naked hill, Dropped down a gully where the wind was still— 444 the song of the indian wars And came upon a hopping army there! They swarmed, they raged—but Hohay didn’t care; For suddenly it seemed the recent climb Had been a scramble up the height of time And Hohay’s name was terror in the ears Of evil peoples.14 Seizing weeds for spears, He charged the soldiers with a dreadful shout. The snapping of their rifles...


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