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    Chapter 4

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    Chapter 4
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    CHAPTER IV - CATHY TO HER AUNT MERCEDES

    Oh, it is wonderful here, aunty dear, just paradise! Oh, if you
    could only see it! everything so wild and lovely; such grand
    plains, stretching such miles and miles and miles, all the most
    delicious velvety sand and sage-brush, and rabbits as big as a dog,
    and such tall and noble jackassful ears that that is what they name
    them by; and such vast mountains, and so rugged and craggy and
    lofty, with cloud-shawls wrapped around their shoulders, and
    looking so solemn and awful and satisfied; and the charming
    Indians, oh, how you would dote on them, aunty dear, and they would
    on you, too, and they would let you hold their babies, the way they
    do me, and they ARE the fattest, and brownest, and sweetest little
    things, and never cry, and wouldn't if they had pins sticking in
    them, which they haven't, because they are poor and can't afford
    it; and the horses and mules and cattle and dogs - hundreds and
    hundreds and hundreds, and not an animal that you can't do what you
    please with, except uncle Thomas, but I don't mind him, he's
    lovely; and oh, if you could hear the bugles: TOO - TOO - TOO-TOO
    - TOO - TOO, and so on - perfectly beautiful! Do you recognize
    that one? It's the first toots of the REVEILLE; it goes, dear me,
    SO early in the morning! - then I and every other soldier on the
    whole place are up and out in a minute, except uncle Thomas, who is
    most unaccountably lazy, I don't know why, but I have talked to him
    about it, and I reckon it will be better, now. He hasn't any
    faults much, and is charming and sweet, like Buffalo Bill, and
    Thunder-Bird, and Mammy Dorcas, and Soldier Boy, and Shekels, and
    Potter, and Sour-Mash, and - well, they're ALL that, just angels,
    as you may say.

    The very first day I came, I don't know how long ago it was,
    Buffalo Bill took me on Soldier Boy to Thunder-Bird's camp, not the
    big one which is out on the plain, which is White Cloud's, he took
    me to THAT one next day, but this one is four or five miles up in
    the hills and crags, where there is a great shut-in meadow, full of
    Indian lodges and dogs and squaws and everything that is
    interesting, and a brook of the clearest water running through it,
    with white pebbles on the bottom and trees all along the banks cool
    and shady and good to wade in, and as the sun goes down it is
    dimmish in there, but away up against the sky you see the big peaks
    towering up and shining bright and vivid in the sun, and sometimes
    an eagle sailing by them, not flapping a wing, the same as if he
    was asleep; and young Indians and girls romping and laughing and
    carrying on, around the spring and the pool, and not much clothes
    on except the girls, and dogs fighting, and the squaws busy at
    work, and the bucks busy resting, and the old men sitting in a
    bunch smoking, and passing the pipe not to the left but to the
    right, which means there's been a row in the camp and they are
    settling it if they can, and children playing JUST the same as any
    other children, and little boys shooting at a mark with bows, and I
    cuffed one of them because he hit a dog with a club that wasn't
    doing anything, and he resented it but before long he wished he
    hadn't: but this sentence is getting too long and I will start
    another. Thunder-Bird put on his Sunday-best war outfit to let me
    see him, and he was splendid to look at, with his face painted red
    and bright and intense like a fire-coal and a valance of eagle
    feathers from the top of his head all down his back, and he had his
    tomahawk, too, and his pipe, which has a stem which is longer than
    my arm, and I never had such a good time in an Indian camp in my
    life, and I learned a lot of words of the language, and next day BB
    took me to the camp out on the Plains, four miles, and I had
    another good time and got acquainted with some more Indians and
    dogs; and the big chief, by the name of White Cloud, gave me a
    pretty little bow and arrows and I gave him my red sash-ribbon, and
    in four days I could shoot very well with it and beat any white boy
    of my size at the post; and I have been to those camps plenty of
    times since; and I have learned to ride, too, BB taught me, and
    every day he practises me and praises me, and every time I do
    better than ever he lets me have a scamper on Soldier Boy, and
    THAT'S the last agony of pleasure! for he is the charmingest horse,
    and so beautiful and shiny and black, and hasn't another color on
    him anywhere, except a white star in his forehead, not just an
    imitation star, but a real one, with four points, shaped exactly
    like a star that's hand-made, and if you should cover him all up
    but his star you would know him anywhere, even in Jerusalem or
    Australia, by that. And I got acquainted with a good many of the
    Seventh Cavalry, and the dragoons, and officers, and families, and
    horses, in the first few days, and some more in the next few and
    the next few and the next few, and now I know more soldiers and
    horses than you can think, no matter how hard you try. I am
    keeping up my studies every now and then, but there isn't much time
    for it. I love you so! and I send you a hug and a kiss.

    CATHY.

    P.S. - I belong to the Seventh Cavalry and Ninth Dragoons, I am an
    officer, too, and do not have to work on account of not getting any
    wages.
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