Stránka:book 1913.djvu/547

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Gimpfire Stories of Indian Qiaracter 525 die. They were starving, too, for the promised rations were never delivered. Nearly half were sick of fevers and malaria, for medicine was refused them. The two hun- dred and thirty-fi.ve warriors were reduced to sixty-nine. The extermination of the tribe was being effected. They begged for succor; they asked only to go home to their own land, but, as usual, no notice was taken of their prayers. They could not live where they were. The American Government was obviously bent on killing them off, so they decided that it would be better to die at home — taking the chance of bullets rather than the certainty of fever. On the ninth of September, 1878, therefore. Dull Knife, their head chief, gathered in his ponies, packed up his camp, burned the last bridge, and, with warriors, women, and children, set out for home, in defiance of the soldiers of a corrupt government. At dawn his departure was discovered, troops were ordered out, telegraph wires were busied, and then began a flight and a pursuit the story of which should thrill the world for the heroism of the fugitives, and shock humanity for the diabolical brutality of the American authorities. Two thousand troops were sent against this handful of some sixty-nine warriors, sick and weak with starvation, and encumbered with about two hundred and fifty, more or less, sick women and children. I do not believe there was an American soldier who was not ashamed of his job. But he had no right to an opinion. He was under orders to run down and capture or kill this band of starving Indians, whose abominable crime was that they loved their homes. We have had fragmentary accounts of that awful flight. Night and day the warriors rode and fought. Some days they covered seventy miles and when their horses gave out,