List Of Contents | Contents of The Patrol of the Sun Dance Trail
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

up in Cameron's heart a great and admiring affection.

"No, sir," Cameron had replied, "nothing rash; we will do a little
justice, that is all," but with so stern a face that the
Superintendent had watched him away with some anxiety and had
privately ordered a strong patrol to keep the Piegan camp under
surveillance till Cameron had done his work.  But there was no call
for aid from any patrol, as it turned out; and before this bright
summer morning had half passed away Cameron shut up his glasses,
ready for action.

"I think they are all in now, Jerry, he said.  "We will go down.
Go and bring in the men.  There is that devil Eagle Feather just
riding in."  Cameron's teeth went hard together on the name of the
Chief, in whom the leniency of Police administration of justice had
bred only a deeper treachery.

Within half an hour Cameron with his three troopers and Jerry rode
jingling into the Piegan camp and disposed themselves at suitable
points of vantage.  Straight to the Chief's tent Cameron rode, and
found Trotting Wolf standing at its door.

"I want that cattle-thief, Eagle Feather," he announced in a clear,
firm voice that rang through the encampment from end to end.

"Eagle Feather not here," was Trotting Wolf's sullen but disturbed

"Trotting Wolf, I will waste no time on you," said Cameron, drawing
his gun.  "I take Eagle Feather or you.  Make your choice and quick
about it!"  There was in Cameron's voice a ring of such compelling
command that Trotting Wolf weakened visibly.

"I know not where Eagle Feather--"

"Halt there!" cried Cameron to an Indian who was seen to be
slinking away from the rear of the line of tents.

The Indian broke into a run.  Like a whirlwind Cameron was on his
trail and before he had gained the cover of the woods had overtaken

"Halt!" cried Cameron again as he reached the Indian's side.  The
Indian stopped and drew a knife.  "You would, eh?  Take that, will
you?"  Leaning down over his horse's neck Cameron struck the Indian
with the butt of his gun.  Before he could rise the three constables
in a converging rush were upon him and had him handcuffed.

"Now then, where is Eagle Feather?" cried Cameron in a furious
voice, riding his horse into the crowd that had gathered thick
about him.  "Ah, I see you," he cried, touching his horse with his
heel as on the farther edge of the crowd he caught sight of his
man.  With a single bound his horse was within touch of the
shrinking Indian.  "Stand where you are!" cried Cameron, springing
from his horse and striding to the Chief.  "Put up your hands!" he
said, covering him with his gun.  "Quick, you dog!" he added, as
Eagle Feather stood irresolute before him.  Upon the uplifted hands
Cameron slipped the handcuffs.  "Come with me, you cattle-thief,"
he said, seizing him by the gaudy handkerchief that adorned his
neck, and giving him a quick jerk.

"Trotting Wolf," said Cameron in a terrible voice, wheeling
furiously upon the Chief, "this cattle-thieving of your band must
stop.  I want the six men who were in that cattle-raid, or you come
with me.  Speak quick!" he added.

"By Gar!" said Jerry, hugging himself in his delight, to the
trooper who was in charge of the first Indian.  "Look lak' he tak'
de whole camp."

"By Jove, Jerry, it looks so to me, too!  He has got the fear of
death on these chappies.  Look at his face.  He looks like the very

It was true.  Cameron's face was gray, with purple blotches, and
distorted with passion, his eyes were blazing with fury, his manner
one of reckless savage abandon.  There was but little delay.  The
rumors of vengeance stored up for the raiders, the paralyzing
effect of the failure of the raid, the condemnation of a guilty
conscience, but above all else the overmastering rage of Cameron,
made anything like resistance simply impossible.  In a very few
minutes Cameron had his prisoners in line and was riding to the
Fort, where he handed them over to the Superintendent for justice.

That business done, he found his patrol-work pressing upon him with
a greater insistence than ever, for the runners from the half-
breeds and the Northern Indians were daily arriving at the reserves
bearing reports of rebel victories of startling magnitude.  But
even without any exaggeration tales grave enough were being carried
from lip to lip throughout the Indian tribes.  Small wonder that
the irresponsible young Chiefs, chafing under the rule of the white
man and thirsting for the mad rapture of fight, were straining
almost to the breaking point the authority of the cooler older
heads, so that even that subtle redskin statesman, Crowfoot, began
to fear for his own position in the Blackfeet confederacy.

As the days went on the Superintendent at Macleod, whose duty it
was to hold in statu quo that difficult country running up into the
mountains and down to the American boundary-line, found his task
one that would have broken a less cool-headed and stout-hearted

The situation in which he found himself seemed almost to invite
destruction.  On the eighteenth of March he had sent the best of
his men, some twenty-five of them, with his Inspector, to join the
Alberta Field Force at Calgary, whence they made that famous march
to Edmonton of over two hundred miles in four and a half marching
days.  From Calgary, too, had gone a picked body of Police with
Superintendent Strong and his scouts as part of the Alberta Field
Force under General Strange.  Thus it came that by the end of April
the Superintendent at Fort Macleod had under his command only a
handful of his trained Police, supported by two or three companies
of Militia--who, with all their ardor, were unskilled in plain-
craft, strange to the country, new to war, ignorant of the habits
and customs and temper of the Indians with whom they were supposed
to deal--to hold the vast extent of territory under his charge,
with its little scattered hamlets of settlers, safe in the presence
of the largest and most warlike of the Indian tribes in Western

Every day the strain became more intense.  A crisis appeared to be
reached when the news came that on the twenty-fourth of April
General Middleton had met a check at Fish Creek, which, though not
specially serious in itself, revealed the possibilities of the
rebel strategy and gave heart to the enemy immediately engaged.

And, though Fish Creek was no great fight, the rumor of it ran
through the Western reserves like red fire through prairie-grass,
blowing almost into flame the war-spirit of the young braves of the
Bloods, Piegans and Sarcees and even of the more stable Blackfeet.
Three days after that check, the news of it was humming through
every tepee in the West, and for a week or more it took all the
cool courage and steady nerve characteristic of the Mounted Police
to enable them to ride without flurry or hurry their daily patrols
through the reserves.

At this crisis it was that the Superintendent at Macleod gathered
together such of his officers and non-commissioned officers as he
could in council at Fort Calgary, to discuss the situation and to
plan for all possible emergencies.  The full details of the Fish
Creek affair had just come in.  They were disquieting enough,
although the Superintendent made light of them.  On the wall of the
barrack-room where the council was gathered there hung a large map
of the Territories.  The Superintendent, a man of small oratorical
powers, undertook to set forth the disposition of the various
forces now operating in the West.

"Here you observe the main line running west from Regina to the
mountains, some five hundred and fifty miles," he said.  "And here,
roughly, two hundred and fifty miles north, is the northern
boundary line of our settlements, Prince Albert at the east,
Battleford at the center, Edmonton at the west, each of these
points the center of a country ravaged by half-breeds and bands of
Indians.  To each of these points relief-expeditions have been

"This line represents the march of Commissioner Irvine from Regina
to Prince Albert--a most remarkable march that was too, gentlemen,
nearly three hundred miles over snow-bound country in about seven
days.  That march will be remembered, I venture to say.  The
Commissioner still holds Prince Albert, and we may rely upon it
will continue to hold it safe against any odds.  Meantime he is
scouting the country round about, preventing Indians from
reinforcing the enemy in any large numbers.

"Next, to the west is Battleford, which holds the central position
and is the storm-center of the rebellion at present.  This line
shows the march of Colonel Otter with Superintendent Herchmer from
Swift Current to that point.  We have just heard that Colonel Otter
has arrived at Battleford and has raised the siege.  But large
bands of Indians are in the vicinity of Battleford and the
situation there is extremely critical.  I understand that old Oo-
pee-too-korah-han-apee-wee-yin--" the Superintendent prided himself
upon his mastery of Indian names and ran off this polysyllabic
cognomen with the utmost facility--"the Pond-maker, or Pound-maker
as he has come to be called, is in the neighborhood.  He is not a
bad fellow, but he is a man of unusual ability, far more able than
of the Willow Crees, Beardy, as he is called, though not so savage,
and he has a large and compact body of Indians under him.

"Then here straight north from us some two hundred miles is
Edmonton, the center of a very wide district sparsely settled, with
a strong half-breed element in the immediate neighborhood and Big
Bear and Little Pine commanding large bodies of Indians ravaging
the country round about.  Inspector Griesbach is in command of this
district, located at Fort Saskatchewan, which is in close touch
with Edmonton.  General Strange, commanding the Alberta Field Force
and several companies of Militia, together with our own men under
Superintendent Strong and Inspector Dickson, are on the way to
relieve this post.  Inspector Dickson, I understand, has
successfully made the crossing of the Red Deer with his nine pr.
gun, a quite remarkable feat I assure you.

"But, gentlemen, you see the position in which we are placed in
this section of the country.  From the Cypress Hills here away to
the southeast, westward to the mountains and down to the boundary-
line, you have a series of reserves almost completely denuded of
Police supervision.  True, we are fortunate in having at the
Blackfoot Crossing, at Fort Calgary and at Fort Macleod, companies
of Militia; but the very presence of these troops incites the
Indians, and in some ways is a continual source of unrest among

"Every day runners from the North and East come to our reserves
with extraordinary tales of rebel victories.  This Fish Creek
business has had a tremendous influence upon the younger element.
On every reserve there are scores of young braves eager to rise.
What a general uprising would mean you know, or think you know.  An
Indian war of extermination is a horrible possibility.  The
question before us all is--what is to be done?"

After a period of conversation the Superintendent summed up the
results of the discussion in a few short sentences:

"It seems, gentlemen, there is not much more to be done than what
we are already doing.  But first of all I need not say that we must
keep our nerve.  I do not believe any Indian will see any sign of
doubt or fear in the face of any member of this Force.  Our patrols
must be regularly and carefully done.  There are a lot of things
which we must not see, a certain amount of lawbreaking which we
must not notice.  Avoid on every possible occasion pushing things
to extremes; but where it is necessary to act we must act with
promptitude and fearlessness, as Mr. Cameron here did at the Piegan
Reserve a week or so ago.  I mention this because I consider that
action of Cameron's a typically fine piece of Police work.  We must
keep on good terms with the Chiefs, tell them what good news there
is to tell.  We must intercept every runner possible.  Arrest them
and bring them to the barracks.  The situation is grave, but not
hopeless.  Great responsibilities rest upon us, gentlemen.  I do
not believe that we shall fail."

The little company broke up with resolute and grim determination
stamped on every face.  There would be no weakening at any spot
where a Mounted Policeman was on duty.

"Cameron, just a moment," said the Superintendent as he was passing
out.  "Sit down.  You were quite right in that Eagle Feather
matter.  You did the right thing in pushing that hard."

"I somehow felt I could do it, sir," replied Cameron simply.  "I
had the feeling in my bones that we could have taken the whole camp
that day."

The Superintendent nodded.  "I understand.  And that is the way we
should feel.  But don't do anything rash this week.  This is a week
of crisis.  If any further reverse should happen to our troops it
will be extremely difficult, if indeed possible, to hold back the
younger braves.  If there should be a rising--which may God forbid--
my plan then would be to back right on to the Blackfeet Reserve.
If old Crowfoot keeps steady--and with our presence to support him
I believe he would--we could hold things safe for a while.  But,
Cameron, that Sioux devil Copperhead must be got rid of.  It is he
that is responsible for this restless spirit among the younger
Chiefs.  He has been in the East, you say, for the last three
weeks, but he will soon be back.  His runners are everywhere.  His
work lies here, and the only hope for the rebellion lies here, and
he knows it.  My scouts inform me that there is something big
immediately on.  A powwow is arranged somewhere before final
action.  I have reason to suspect that if we sustain another
reverse and if the minor Chiefs from all the reserves come to an
agreement, Crowfoot will yield.  That is the game that the Sioux is
working on now."

"I know that quite well, sir," replied Cameron.  "Copperhead has
captured practically all the minor Chiefs."

"The checking of that big cattle-run, Cameron, was a mighty good
stroke for us.  You did that magnificently."

"No, sir," replied Cameron firmly.  "We owe that to Raven."

"Yes, yes, we do owe a good deal to--to--that--to Raven.  Fine
fellow gone wrong.  Yes, we owe a lot to him, but we owe a lot to
you as well, Cameron.  I am not saying you will ever get any credit
for it, but--well--who cares so long as the thing is done?  But
this Sioux must be got at all costs--at all costs, Cameron,
remember.  I have never asked you to push this thing to the limit,
but now at all costs, dead or alive, that Sioux must be got rid

"I could have potted him several times," replied Cameron, "but did
not wish to push matters to extremes."

"Quite right.  Quite right.  That has been our policy hitherto, but
now things have reached such a crisis that we can take no further
chances.  The Sioux must be eliminated."

"All right, sir," said Cameron, and a new purpose shaped itself in
his heart.  At all costs he would get the Sioux, alive if possible,

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: