Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 1.djvu/137

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gallop. We had rifles with us, and could have brought down numbers of them, but we forbore, as it would have been a useless slaughter, the stations being well provided with fresh meat. I had read of the steady pursuit of buffalo herds by wolves, and now saw confirmation of it. We counted scores of a large light-gray species hovering singly, like a chain of cowherd dogs, about the rear of the herd, ready to swoop down upon any unlucky laggard.

It took an hour to get through the herd. In the course of the afternoon, we passed another, and enjoyed the same spectacle repeatedly on the two following days. Some of the drivers, who had passed a long time on the Plains, asserted that we had struck the advance-guards of the millions starting early in the year from Texas and following the well-defined “buffalo range” to the British dominions during the spring and summer, returning in the fall and early winter. It was no exaggeration to say that we travelled for days amid buffaloes. At the end of the fifth day, we had passed beyond the belt of buffalo grass, and had gradually reached an altitude of nearly four thousand feet, the air steadily growing drier. Signs appeared that we had entered a more arid stretch of country. The soil turned gravelly. A species of short cactus began to prevail. The streams became mere streaks of red sand, so that water could be had only by digging for it. Willow bushes took the place of the belts of cottonwood trees along them, and finally even the willows disappeared. Prairie-dog villages, guarded by their comical barking occupants, abounded. Swarms of antelope came in sight, some of which scampered off as soon as they saw the coach, but others fell under the charm, as the drivers said, of its red color, and stood motionless while we came quite close to them. It was a delight to breathe the dry, fresh, and bracing air. The transparency of the atmosphere greatly widened the range of vision, and brought forth one mirage after another. Lakes lined with timber and dotted with