Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Facing the Indians

After traveling no more than three miles we arrived at Big Soldier Creek. As Susan and I were riding on in advance to make certain the ford was safe for heavy wagons, I saw coming down over a slight incline a band of mounted Indians, who immediately, on seeing our company, came forward at full speed, brandishing bows and arrows, or guns, accordingly as they were armed, and yelling furiously.

Susan Mitchell screamed with fear, as well she might; but I had already seen just such an Indian maneuver and knew what it meant. I hurriedly told her to ride back and join the company, while I held Napoleon steady.

Their intention was to stampede the cattle, as I well knew, and although it would have been unwise for me to have sent a bullet among them, it was my purpose to do so if I failed in checking their advance otherwise.

Then Napoleon took the matter into his own hands, or, I should say, his own feet, for when the Indians were perhaps thirty yards away he wheeled about, flinging up his heels as if he counted on kicking the entire band over the ridge.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

Do what I might I could not get the stubborn animal wheeled around before the savages had rushed by me, whooping and yelling in such a manner as caused a panic among our company and a stampede of the beasts.

The oxen wheeled around in the yokes until they were so mixed up that the most expert would have found it difficult to untangle them, while the cows, their tails straight up in the air, fled back over the trail, bellowing with fright.