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Kiddie the Scout by Robert Leighton

Rube Carter saw but little of the battle


Sioux were not prepared for this sudden change of front, but they made the best of the situation by a quick turn, which brought them face to face with the attacking hordes, while the rear of their long column, issuing from the gap in the hills, broke off from the centre, with the purpose of surrounding the Crows' third division.

Falling Water's army might thus have been adroitly caught between two fires, had it not been for Kiddie's forethought in sending his reserves to the support of his right wing. It accordingly followed that, while numerically the inferior force, the Crows continued to hold the great advantage they had gained by concentrating their strength upon a weak point at the most fitting moment.

Rube Carter saw but little of the battle. He was not called upon to engage in the actual fighting. Instead, he acted as a messenger, or dispatch rider.

Just as the turning movement was being made, Kiddie sent him to the rear to order the reserves to break cover, and advance across the plain to the support of Short Nose. This order he delivered by means of signs and gestures, which were well understood and very promptly obeyed.

Rube then rode back to a spot where Kiddie had told him to wait, and it was from here that he watched as much as could be seen of the progress of the battle.

When the two conflicting

sides were apart, he could realize the meaning of all they did. He saw the Crows advancing to surround the van of their enemy; he saw the Sioux turn sharply to confront them. And then, with a loud thudding of horses' hoofs, the two contending armies rushed one at the other in a rising cloud of prairie dust.

There was a crackle of rifle fire, mingled with thrilling war-cries and wild, barbaric yells. Arrows flew from side to side, making a visible arch between.

As the rifle fire lessened at close quarters the yells and shouts grew louder and fiercer. And now Rube lost all power of distinguishing one side from the other, for it was all one vast mass of horses and men, swaying this way and that in wild confusion.

It seemed to Rube that even the horses were fighting, for they were rearing and plunging, kicking and biting, as they forced themselves through the crowd. Many of them fell, many were riderless. Some of them had two or even three Indians mounted on their backs, wielding their clubs and tomahawks.

Through the dust and powder-smoke Rube could see that the ground was thickly strewn with killed and wounded horses and men. There were wide gaps in what had been the ranks, but no order was kept, and the combatants broke off into dense groups. Here and there a chief or important warrior would draw off his section, rallying and forming them into line for a new attack, again to become mixed up in a grand scrimmage.

Rube could distinguish the chiefs by their feathered war bonnets, and amongst them he thought he recognized the young chief Broken Feather riding to and fro in the rear of his warriors as if urging them to new movements or increased effort.

Kiddie was not so easily to be distinguished, as he wore only a very simple head-dress, but Rube, knowing him by his piebald prairie pony, saw him once or twice in the forefront of the battle, and again leading a retirement to take up a fresh position on the field where the fighting was most severe.

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