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First Visit To The Valley Of The Big Horn
MY brother was again bereaved in 1880 by the death of his little daughter Orra. At her
own request, Orra's body was interred in Rochester, in beautiful Mount Hope Cemetery,
by the side of little Kit Carson.
But joy follows upon sadness, and the summer before Will spent his last season on the
stage was a memorable one for him. It marked the birth of another daughter, who was
christened Irma. This daughter is the very apple of her father's eye; to her he gives the
affection that is her due, and round her clings the halo of the tender memories of the other
two that have departed this life.
This year, 1882, was also the one in which Will paid his first visit to the valley of the Big
Horn. He had often traversed the outskirts of that region, and heard incredible tales from
Indians and trappers of its wonders and beauties, but he had yet to explore it himself. In
his early experience as Pony Express rider, California Joe had related to him the first
story he had heard of the enchanted basin, and in 1875, when he was in charge of a large
body of Arapahoe Indians that had been permitted to leave their reservation for a big
hunt, he obtained more details.
The agent warned Will that some of the Indians were dissatisfied, and might attempt to
escape, but to all appearances, though he watched them sharply, they were entirely
content. Game was plentiful, the weather fine, and nothing seemed omitted from the red
man's happiness.
One night about twelve o'clock Will was aroused by an Indian guide, who informed him
that a party of some two hundred Arapahoes had started away some two hours before,
and were on a journey northward. The red man does not wear his heart upon his sleeve
for government daws to peck at. One knows what he proposes to do after he has done it.
The red man is conspicuously among the things that are not always what they seem.
Pursuit was immediately set on foot, and the entire body of truant warriors were brought
back without bloodshed. One of them, a young warrior, came to Will's tent to beg for
tobacco. The Indian--as all know who have made his acquaintance-- has no difficulty in
reconciling begging with his native dignity. To work may be beneath him, to beg is a
different matter, and there is frequently a delightful hauteur about his mendicancy. In this
respect he is not unlike some of his white brothers. Will gave the young chief the desired
tobacco, and then questioned him closely concerning the attempted escape.
"Surely," said he, "you cannot find a more beautiful spot than this. The streams are full of
fish, the grazing is good, the game is plentiful, and the weather is fine. What more could
you desire?"