"You shouldn't of shot at them bufflers and you sure shouldn't of shot at them Indins," said the skinner.
"It was marvelous fun," said the tall fellow, who was wearing shiny leather boots and a kind of cork helmet that I had never before seen the likes of. "Did you see them scatter? Noble redmen, what? By George, savages are all alike. Cowards every one."
I glanced over at Charlie Otter, whose dirty face had the nastiest look on it I ever saw although he couldn't have understood more than a few words of what the Englishman said. Charlie Otter was not my idea of noble, but he had dignity and pride according to anybody's view. If he had been a coward he would have been working with the women. The other hunters began to chatter at each other about what a pleasure it had been shooting at buffaloes and Indians. The skinner turned his head anxiously as if he could already smell us. So Charlie Otter shot him through the chest with an arrow and he fell threshing and squirming and was lucky, at that.
The others were game. A skinny blond boy who looked and sounded like an Easterner fired his big Sharps .45 at us pointblank as we rushed them, and the kick of it knocked him against the wagon and out cold. A fat boy, not more than 17 and on vacation from school by the looks of him, swung at Curly with a cooking pot before Curly laid him out with the side of an axe. The tall fellow shouted something I could not discern. It sounded like a regimental battle cry. He began shooting with a revolver at a warrior called Creek Slayer. Creek Slayer also had a revolver and from a distance of 30 feet the two emptied their pistols at each other without either being nicked. In my life I never saw more than a handful of Indians who could shoot a firearm with accuracy. There were many fights the Indians would have won if they hadn't shot high. But I would have expected better of the Englishman, who stood rigid, shouting his weird cry and blasting away until his ammunition was gone, whereupon he threw down his pistol and raised his hands and said, "I surrender with honor. There's a good sport." Creek Slayer hit him on the head and knocked him into the dirt.
The last member of the party was cannier than the rest. He ran for his horse, shooting back over his shoulder as he went. He was mounted before Charlie Otter put an arrow between his shoulder blades. He came down sideways into a cactus.
So now we had them all. One dead, one dying and three in assorted degrees of consciousness. I had hoped they would all be killed in a sudden fight, as I could take no pleasure in what was coming next. Charlie Otter scalped the skinner and the one who had run. The Englishman with the sideburns was awake and watching. His eyes were wide and yellow and he had a goofy look on his face, as if the blow had addled him.
"Thank the good Lord," he said, looking at me. "A white man, I believe."
I didn't answer, for I had nothing to tell that he would not almost immediately know.
"I am Colonel F——," he said and identified his British unit as if it could possibly matter to me or to the Quahadi, who were sharpening stakes out of mesquite. "These nice young chaps," he said, indicating the fat boy and the blond boy, "are my nephews from Boston. My sister married a colonial, you see, common chap but decent enough and quite rich. Those others"—he looked at the two scalps that Charlie Otter was rubbing dirt on the fleshy sides of—"were until recently commercial sorts who hired out their services to us up on the Cimarron."
Curly and Creek Slayer had finished three stakes.