The Sound of the Firing Guns

PART 7

There were so many white soldiers that day. It was a hot day – so much so that the red war paint staining his bare arms was beginning to drip and smudge – and the young warrior was surprised that the bluecoats could keep pouring into the valley in their masses, so thick and endless. Like grasshoppers falling from the sky. The vision was unfolding before his eyes, the drawing on the buffalo skin running straight past him in neat lines.

He readied the Winchester resting heavy in his hands, aiming it at the tidy column and the red and white flag which was shivering like a leaf in the wind.

For a moment or two, he humoured them. The braves had become impatient with him earlier because of his long prayers to Wakantanka in his lodge but it made his medicine strong. Waiting for merely a minute longer would reap a good and healthy harvest for them that day.

The soldiers were blind as they rode their ponies through the hills bobbing in a sea of petrified grass. The warriors surrounded them and listened to their hooves pounding the ground. War drums. He could hear his cousin, Flying Hawk, matching the beat with his hands. In his ears, the sound became louder and louder, echoing over hill and mountain and prairie and plain. The dust began to rise, yellow clouds bursting before the white sun, and the land was dancing, a wave of invisible promises distorting it.

It was time.

The first shot he fired he aimed at a dark haired man, riding in the middle with only one hand on the reins. They slipped entirely from his hand as a bullet smashed into the side of his horse. The animal reared and for a moment, it hung there as if suspended and controlled by strings, a dark magnificent silhouette in the wilderness. And then the soldier tumbled like a child's doll off its back, the red spray of blood the same colour as the running war paint on Crazy Horse's arms.

He hit the ground and all hell broke loose.

Every horse started to dance, fiercer and fiercer, wilder and wilder, until the soldiers were caught in a mad ceremony of kicking legs and thrashing heads. They tried to calm them but none of the men had a soothing touch, many being stilled by bullet and arrow. As Crazy Horse looked up, he saw the warriors starting to cascade down the slopes onto the bluecoats like a rushing current that couldn't be stopped by red or white man.

The swarms were starting to lose flight.