Page:My Life and Loves.djvu/196

This page has been validated.

tain of winning, one of Charlie's wild swings caught him on the point of the jaw and to our amazement he went, down like a log and could not be brought to for some ten minutes. It was the first time I had seen this blow and naturally we all exaggerated the force of it not knowing that a light blow up against the chin jars the spinal cord and knocks any man insensible. In fact, in many cases, such a blow results in partial paralysis and life-long weakness.

Charlie was inclined to brag of his victory but Bob told him the truth and on reflection Bent's purpose and fighting power made the deeper impression on all of us and he himself took pains next day to warn Charlie:

"Don't get in my way again", he said to him drily, "or I'll make meat of you."

The dire menace in his hard, face was convincing. "Oh, Hell", replied Charlie, "who wants to get in your way!"

Reflection teaches me that all the worst toughs on the border in my time were ex-soldiers: it was the Civil war that had bred those men to violence and the use of the revolver; it was the civil war that produced the "Wild Bills" and Bents who forced the good-humored Westerners to hold life cheaply and to use their guns instead of fists.

One evening we noticed a large increase in the force of Indians besieging us: one chief too on a pie-bald mustang appeared to be urging an immediate attack and soon we found some of the "braves" stealing down the creek to outflank us, while a hundred others streamed past us at four hundred yards' distance firing wildly. Bob and I went under the creek banks to stop the flankers while Bent and Charlie and Jo brought down more than one horse and man