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Profile of Mac Waller
Beginning of the story
REMINISCENCES OF H.M. WALLER . . . Continued
They pass through Missouri and over the river into Nebraska. Here two other families join them. Nearly all in this train are members of the Church of Christ.
Mac was in his bed till they crossed over into the territory country. Then he begins to ride out a little, and soon he is strong enough to ride anywhere.
This train, with others who followed them, brought with them much fine stock -- cows, horses, sheep, geese, chickens, etc. They also bring the first orchard trees from Iowa. The trees grew in boxes, which were fastened on behind the wagons all the journey through. They bring farm implements -- hoes, plows, shovels, harrows, etc.
It was quite a treat, away out on the desert, to hear the quaint screech of geese, and the crowing of the cock. A picket-and-cord fence securely enclosed the sheep from the ravages of wolves and coyotes. The wagons corral every night, and thus form their works of defense. Guards kept watch through the stilly night.
When they passed a United States fort, the soldiers inform them that the Mormons are on the war path, and they had better wait for another band, and unite with a train immediately succeeding them, whose leader gives it the cognomen of "Kerl's train."
They are now combined, and travel and camp with military precision for about ten or twelve days. With the great herd of cattle they now have in the combination, they find it difficult to secure sufficient grass for all in any one place. So they separate again; the Waller train taking the lead, as before.
When they arrive at Fort Laramie, the soldiers warn them of danger, both from Mormons and Indians. The soldiers inquire if they had any parties with them from Nauvoo. They replied there were two such with them. "Then," say the soldiers, "they will either kill them or you all if you attempt to pass that way in such a small body."
They drive on, however, and soon cross the Platte. While crossing the Platte, Mac gets wet, and has a temporary relapse, and takes his bed again for a few days; but soon he rallies, and is roaming about on his favorite saddle-horse again.
Here some heavily armed Mormons come up and ask for stray cattle. They are informed that they have one stray, belonging to Mr. Miller of "Kerl's train." They get a description of this fine cow, and at last get the cow away from the train. Soon a number of men go after them and capture the cow and bring her back, amid the threats of blood from the Mormons.
They now soon cross into the land of the Sioux and Pawnees. One day, while eating dinner, a band of the Sioux, numbering 800 warriors, come up, and the train orders them to halt; but do not do so till the men are about ready to fire upon them. They then slip down on the opposite side if their horses, and in a moment they are all dismounted, stack their tomahawks, and run up a white flag.
The chief wants to see inside the corral; but the men won't let him, knowing he means something evil. The pipe of peace is smoked, and presents passed. The train men give the Indians a vast amount of "grub," and the 800 warriors set themselves in a semi-circle across the road, and proceed to eat their dinner. The emigrants want to start on, so they ask the Sioux to give them the road. They refuse, saying that if they are obliged to break the semi-circle, then the peace would be broken.
Here our hero has a thought. There are several of those old "pepper-box" pistols in the crowd, and he orders one of the men to load one carefully, so not a single load would fail. Then he orders him to hold it up in the air, and pull up his sleeve, so there might be no possible seeming of deception. He them orders him to shoot, and "bang!" goes the old pistol. While the arm and pistol are still up in the air, he commands "fire," again. "Bang," goes the old thing again. The Indians' eyes begin to stare.
Again he commands "fire," and again the pistol "bangs." This is repeated twice more, and the Indians are just about to conclude this is the devil, or some other terrible thing. For the sixth time the command comes, "fire." And for the sixth time the old "pepper-box" goes "bang."
The Indians ask how long that thing would shoot, and they receive the reply: "As often as we want it to."
Says the chief: "How many you got?"
"All we want," says the leader.
This about brings them to time. He now steps towards the Indians with his loaded whip-stock and says: "Get out of the way! or I'll kill everyone of you."
He draws the whip stock on them and they scatter. They drive through, and the Indians depart. The chief concludes they are a brave band, and lets them depart in peace. He also sends two of his braves to pilot them through the territory of the Sioux. They bade the migrants "good bye" and return to their people as soon as they bring them to the border of the Pawnee territory
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