366 FAIRY RINGS
and a better fighter than any of the other bulls) comes forward, and goes straight into the bath that has been prepared for him. The remainder of the herd stand humbly by till he has had enough, and the moment he steps out, the bull of next importance steps in, and so on till all have had their turn. By this time the hole is often fifteen or twenty feet across, and two feet deep, and into this the water gradually bubbles up. In a few years' time the place is covered with fresh green grass, that looks even greener by the contrast with the burnt-up stuff that surrounds it.
And this is how the fairy rings are made !
Perhaps the finest of all the bisons or buffaloes are those which inhabit the country now known as Dakota, where, fifty or sixty years ago, dwelt the Sioux Indians, a nation of mighty hunters. The animals are very useful for many purposes, and while their skins are of great value as beds or coverings, the flesh forms the principal food of the tribe. The hunting is almost always done on horseback, and the first thing necessary is to catch one of the small breed of horses which formerly roamed in bands over the prairies. This little creature—it never grows much larger than a pony—is carefully trained for some years in racing and jumping and other exercises, and in the end is able to outrun any other wild animal to be found on these western plains.
Sometimes it happens—or did, fifty or sixty years ago— that for a long time together no buffaloes will pass along a certain tract of country, and then the Indians of the district suffer from famine, and are even in danger of dying of starvation. Then what joy in the camp when a scout comes in one day with the news that a herd of buffaloes are grazing not many miles off. In a moment a hundred young' braves' have thrown aside their shields and every other heavy thing they have about them, especially any part of their dress that might be a hindrance in running—for no one knows how a buffalo hunt may end.