Sample N04 from James D. Horan, The Shadow Catcher. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1961. Pp. 248-253. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,002 words984 (49.2%) quotesN04

Used by permission of James D. Horan.0010-1690

James D. Horan, The Shadow Catcher. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1961. Pp. 248-253.

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`` So it wasn't the earthquake that made him return to his village '' ! !

`` No . Now dammit , I don't want to go into any more explanations . Here comes Jason . Keep this to yourself '' .

Reverend Jason , looking worried , hurried toward us . `` Anything wrong , cap'n ? ? The men seem to think so '' .

`` Dirion found a large war party south of us . They'll probably attack at dawn '' , Montero said . He brushed past the clergyman and walked into the center of the camp . Using his hands as a trumpet he shouted , `` Fort up ! ! Fort up ! ! There's a large war party on their way '' ! !

For a second , engages , cooks , voyageurs appeared struck dumb . Then Little Billy began shouting orders to round up the ponies and fill the water buckets and for the cooks to hurry up with the meal . They all flew into action .

`` That was a terrible thing to do '' , I said to Oso . The Aricaras treated us like friends . And here all the time you knew the Sioux would be using our rifles on them ! ! God , what a world you people live in '' .

Oso gave me an unruffled look . `` Old Knife's got the largest war party ever seen on the river '' , he said calmly . `` What would you have done in Montero's moccasins ? ? Let Old Knife come up and kill you and your people , or would you steer him on someone else '' ? ? He shook his head . `` Mr. Manuel did that in the war . That's why the British never got the tribes to fight for the King . Mr. Manuel whispered in the ears of the Sioux that the Cheyennes were comin' to raid 'em for their horses . Then he went on to the Cheyennes and told them that the Sioux was goin' to move up . He did that with all the Nations . Hell , they were fightin' each other so hard they had no time for anyone else . The War Department wrote Mr. Manuel a letter and said he was a hero . I saw that letter . He carried it in a little wallet made of fish skin '' .

`` But that was war '' , I said . `` There's no war on now '' .

`` You're wrong , Matt . In this country there's a war on every time the grass turns green . First it was the Nations against themselves , then it was them against the whites . And it's goin' to go on like this year after year until the white people take over this land '' .

I remember being told it would happen so fast people would think it took place overnight .

`` That's why this company's important . Once we get over the mountains others will come along . That's why the Trust don't want us to make it . That bastard Chambers ! ! -- Old Knife's not the only chief he'll get to do his dirty work ! ! Before we get through he'll have the Blackfeet hankerin' for our hair and our goods . Well , talkin' ain't goin' to help -- let's fort up '' ! !

As I dug in behind one of the bales we were using as protection , I grudgingly found myself agreeing with Oso's logic , especially when I imagined what would have happened to Missy if Old Knife's large party of screeching warriors had overrun our company .

For , unlike the Sioux and the Crows , the Aricaras are not great horsemen , nor are they aggressive like the savage Blackfeet . More of an agricultural nation , they have relied on their warriors only for defense and for survival in the endless wars of the plains . Still , I was disgusted with myself for agreeing with Montero's methods .

Surprisingly , he had told the others what he had done . In the brief moment I had to talk to them before I took my post on the ring of defenses , I indicated I was sickened by the methods men employed to live and trade on the river .

`` I think Montero did right '' , Amy said firmly . `` Let the savages kill each other . What do we care '' ? ?

Reverend Jason was understandably bitter . `` It was a terrible thing to do . Those little children .

But Oso replied calmly , `` Trouble ain't easy to dodge out in this country , rev'rend '' .

28 . Attack Gray Eyes attacked our camp just as the first pink threads stitched together the hills and the sky . Our camp was in the center of a wide valley . Montero had set up a strong position , using every bale and box we had in addition to barricades of logs and brush . He had ordered the ponies brought inside the fortified circle and had assigned Pierre and a band of picked engages the job of trying to keep them steady under fire .

The pony herd was the one flaw in our defense ; ; the Rees undoubtedly would try to cut down as many of the animals as possible . Wildly bucking horses would make the position difficult to defend against charging warriors .

The cooks had prepared one of the best meals we'd had in a long time , and on Montero's orders had baked enough bread to last the day . Buckets were filled , the herd fed and watered . The worst part had been the waiting ; ; although we didn't expect the attack before dawn , the long cloudy night , filled with the sounds of the industrious insects , seemed endless . Coyotes and hunting wolves sounded like signaling Indian scouts , the whinny of a restless pony made one's skin crawl . Oso slept unconcernedly , his rifle cradled in his arms ; ; I didn't catch a wink . Every time I closed my eyes , I saw Gray Eyes rushing at me with a knife .

It was a relief when they finally came .

They poured through the opening in the valley , then spread out in a long line to come at us , brandishing their lances and filling the morning with their spine-chilling scalp cry .

`` Oso '' , Montero called `` I'll get Gray Eyes '' .

`` That'll be a pleasure to see '' , the big black murmured as he stared down the barrel of his rifle .

`` Hold your fire '' , Montero was shouting . `` Wait until my shot . I'll shoot the first man who doesn't '' .

I could see them in my sights . They were about a mile off ; ; under me the ground quivered slightly . At first they were only feathers and dark indistinguishable faces and bodies , hunched over their horses' heads . Gradually they emerged as men . Gray Eyes was in the lead . His face was split by a vermilion streak , his eyes were pools of white ; ; jagged red and black medicine symbols covered his chest . He was naked except for a clout . Next to him was a young boy I was sure had sat near me at one of the trading sessions . His mouth was open , his neck corded with the strain of his screams . I found his chest in my sights . It had a red circle . The circle came nearer and nearer .

My God , how long is he going to wait , I thought .

Montero's rifle cracked . At first I thought he had missed . Gray Eyes remained erect . The feathered lance was still above his head . As he started to slump over , another warrior swung him onto his horse .

I squeezed the trigger . At the last second I dropped my sights from the bare chest and bright red circle to the chest of his pony . I saw the pony fall like a stone and the young warrior flew over its head , bouncing like a rubber ball . He started to run but Oso's shot caught him on the wing . He jerked once in the grass and lay still .

`` If you're goin' to kill 'em -- ! ! Kill 'em '' ! ! Oso growled .

What else he said was lost in the rattle of gunfire on all sides . The Aricaras broke under the devastating fire , wheeled and retreated .

`` Lead up ! ! Lead up ! ! They'll be back '' ! ! Montero was shouting .

Far up the valley I could see the Rees circling and reorganizing . Out in front of our walls the grass was covered with dead and dying men , war shields , lances , blankets and wounded and dead horses . The morning air was filled with the sweetish odor of new-spilled blood , the acrid stench of frightened horses , and the bitterness of burned powder . A horse screamed as it twisted from side to side in a frenzy . A rifle cracked ; ; the square head fell over . One of the warriors suddenly leaped to his feet and began running across the valley to the trees that lined the small creek . His legs pumped furiously , his long black hair streamed out behind him . There was a ragged volley . He was dead before he hit the ground .

`` For Christ's sake , don't waste your powder on one of 'em '' ! ! Montero shouted furiously . `` Wait for the charge ! ! The charge , I tell you '' ! !

The sharp cries at the end of the valley were faint . They grew louder as the Indians charged again . I could see their faces glistening with sweat and bear grease , their mouths open , shouting their spine-chilling cries .

`` Gray Eyes is back , , Montero said .

The war captain had been badly wounded and was fighting to hold his seat . I could see the blood running down his chest . He was riding between two warriors , who held him erect when he started to slump .

I forgot to aim . In my sights I watched him looming bigger and bigger . Montero's shot had caught him high in the chest ; ; there was no doubt he was dying . Again we waited for Montero . This time he delayed so long that some of the engages shouted frantically , but they held their fire . The horses were only several lengths away when he fired . The bullet flung Gray Eyes from his horse . Our rolling volley swept most of the other riders from their mounts . But a few reached our wall . I heard the whir of an ax and a Canadian's face burst apart in a bloody spray . I saw Little Billy rise and fire almost point blank and an Indian's face became shattered flesh and bone . A second leaped from his horse to the top of the bale , firing four arrows in such rapid succession it didn't seem possible they were in flight . Men screamed . Oso reached up , jerked the buck from the bale and snapped his neck . Other Indians were running at the ponies , shrilling and waving blankets . Reverend Jason got one , the Canadians the others . I saw the clergyman kneel for a moment by the twitching body of the man he had shot , then run back to his position .

The ponies were almost uncontrollable . The pall of dust they raised made it difficult to see when the Aricaras charged again . This time more of them hurdled the barrier . A small Indian dived at Montero , who caught him with a swift upward stroke of his rifle butt . It sounded like a man kicking a melon . Above me a dark rider was whipping his pony with a quirt in an attempt to hurdle the bales .

Although my shot killed his horse , he rolled off the bale on top of me . I could smell woodsmoke , grease , and oil . His eyes were dark , fluid , fearful , and he gave a sigh as my knife went in . Coming over the wall he had seemed like a hideous devil . Now under me I could see him for what he really was , a boy dressed up in streaks of paint .

The Aricaras made one last desperate charge . It was pitiful to see the thin ranks of warriors , old and young , wheeling and twisting their ponies frantically from side to side only to be tumbled bleeding from their saddles by the relentless slam , slam of the cruelly efficient Hawkinses . Others , badly wounded , gripped hands in manes , knees in bellies , held on as long as possible and then , weak from ghastly wounds , slipped sideways , slowly , almost thoughtfully , to be broken under the slashing hoofs . Some gracefully soared from the backs of their wounded , screaming mounts to make one last defiant charge before the lead split their hearts or tore their guts .

None of them reached our walls again . The few survivors grudgingly turned away . In the distance we could hear the drums and the wail of the death song .