The heavy wagon came directly to camp, of
course. There is nothing remarkable to be seen at the agency - just a
number of ordinary buildings, a few huts, and Indians standing around
the door of a store that resembles a post trader's. Every Indian had
on a blanket, although Major Stokes said there were several among them
who had been to the Carlisle School.
Along the road before we reached the agency, and for some distance
after we had left it, we passed a number of little one-room log huts
occupied by Indians, often with two squaws and large families of
children; and at some of these we saw wretched attempts at gardening.
Those Indians are provided with plows, spades, and all sorts of
implements necessary for the making of proper gardens, and they are
given grain and seeds to plant, but seldom are any of these things
made use of. An Indian scorns work of any kind - that is only for
squaws. The squaws will scratch up a bit of ground with sticks, put a
little seed in, and then leave it for the sun and rain to do with as
it sees fit. No more attention will be paid to it, and half the time
the seed is not covered.
One old chief raised some wheat one year - I presume his squaws did all
the work - and he gathered several sackfuls, which was made into flour
at the agency mill. The chief was very proud. But when the next
quarterly issue came around, his ration of flour was lessened just the
amount his wheat had made, which decided all future farming for him!
Why should he, a chief, trouble himself about learning to farm and
then gain nothing in the end! There is a fine threshing machine at the
agency, but the Indians will have nothing whatever to do with it. They
cannot understand its workings and call it the "Devil Machine."
As we were nearing the Indian village across the creek from us, we
came to a most revolting spectacle. Two or three Indians had just
killed an ox, and were slashing and cutting off pieces of the almost
quivering flesh, in a way that left little pools of blood in places on
the side. There were two squaws with them, squatted on the ground by
the dead animal, and those hideous, fiendish creatures were scooping
up the warm blood with their hands and greedily drinking it! Can one
imagine anything more horrible? We stopped only a second, but the
scene was too repulsive to be forgotten. It makes me shiver even now
when I think of the flashing of those big knives and of how each one
of the savages seemed to be reveling in the smell and taste of blood!
I feel that they could have slashed and cut into one of us with the
same relish. It was much like seeing a murder committed.
Major Stokes told us last evening that when he returned from the East
a few weeks ago, he discovered that one of a pair of beautiful pistols
that had been presented to him had been stolen, that some one had gone
upstairs and taken it out of the case that was in a closet
corresponding to mine, so that accounts for the footsteps I heard in
that house the night the man entered Mrs. Norton's house. But how did
the man know just where to get a pistol? The hospital attendant who
was suspected that night got his discharge a few days later. He stayed
around the garrison so long that finally Colonel Gregory ordered him
to leave the reservation, and just before coming from the post we
heard that he had shot a man and was in jail. A very good place for
him, I think.
We expect to return to the post in a few days. I would like to remain
longer, but as everybody and everything will go, I can't very well.
The trout fishing in Birch Creek is very good, and I often go for a
little fish, sometimes alone and sometimes Mrs. Stokes will go with
me. I do not go far, because of the dreadful Indians that are always
wandering about. They have a small village across the creek from us,
and every evening we hear their "tom-toms" as they chant and dance,
and when the wind is from that direction we get a smell now and then
of their dirty tepees. Major Stokes and Mrs. Stokes, also, see the
noble side of Indians, but that side has always been so covered with
blankets and other dirty things I have never found it!
FORT SHAW, MONTANA TERRITORY,
YOU will be shocked, I know, when you hear that we are
houseless - homeless - that for the second time Faye has been ranked out
of quarters! At Camp Supply the turn out was swift, but this time it
has been long drawn out and most vexatious. Last month Major Bagley
came here from Fort Maginnis, and as we had rather expected that he
would select our house, we made no preparations for winter previous to
his coming. But as soon as he reached the post, and many times after,
he assured Faye that nothing could possibly induce him to disturb us,
and said many more sweet things.
Unfortunately for us, he was ordered to return to Fort Maginnis to
straighten out some of his accounts while quartermaster, and Mrs.
Bagley decided to remain as she was until Major Bagley's return. He
was away one month, and during that time the gardener stored away in
our little cellar our vegetables for the winter, including quantities
of beautiful celery that was packed in boxes.