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By Will Henry

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He had come down to Dodge expecting a repeat of Custer's performance of last summer. After all, it was standard army procedure. There would be five winter months of rest at the respectable scout-pay rate of seventy-five dollars a month. Then a pleasant six months of Indian-chasing and buffalo-hunting across the friendly plains of the South Arkansas. A man would wind up with his hair a year longer and as safe as money in the Mastin Bank of Kansas City. He would, too, have had a government-guided tour of the best rangelands in the Indian Nation.

He was a chief by virtue of his one talentsplitting white skulls with his four-foot war club, a piece of bois d'arc thick as a man's wrist and crotching a six-pound Navajo silversmith's anvil in its forked end. Mad Wolf turned on him. "I'm tired of telling you. Naseintamo, I'm sick of you. Now hear it once more" He threw his pony into that of the hulking brave, his words grating like a Conestoga axle long without antelope tallow. "You were with us when we caught that Osage of Yellow Hair's. You heard him talk.

Maybe the situation wasn't as bad as it looked. In the ensuing half-hour with his fellow professionals and in the clay jug of Taos Lightning always party to any such gathering of the curdled cream of the frontier, he found his hopes well justified. The situation was not as bad as it looked. It was a hell of a lot worse. The whole short-grass country from old Fort Harker to Fort Lyon at the mouth of the Picketwire where it emptied into the Arkansas had been a battleground all summer. The Kiowa, Comanche, Arapahoe, Cheyenne and Apache were out, and making like they aimed to stay out.

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