368 FAIRY RINGS
side so that, at the moment of passing, the rider can turn in his saddle and aim at the shoulder. Directly the horse feels that his master has had time to give the deathblow he sheers off at once, without giving a chance for a second shot, for horses are- very nervous and timid creatures, and have a very keen sense of possible danger.
If the hunters are many, and the herd a large one, there are sure to be a number of accidents both to men and horses, and indeed the thick dust often makes it difficult to see clearly till it is too late. Often, too, both men and horses get so excited that they forget their prudence, and at last have to fling themselves from their horses and trust to their own legs, or save themselves only by tearing off the buffalo skin which forms a waist-belt, and dashing it over the eyes of the buffalo.
When a great hunt of this kind is over—and it is wonderful how short a time it lasts—the Indians lead their horses through the battlefield, drawing out their arrows from their dead prey, and seeing by the private marks on the arrows themselves how much of the spoil belongs to each man. This business settled, a council is called, and the hunters seat themselves in a ring on the ground, smoking their long, gaily decorated pipes. Then, men and horses having had a rest, they ride quietly back to the encampment.
The first thing to be done on reaching the village is to choose out some of the braves to inform the chief of the success of the expedition—how many buffaloes have been killed, and how many horses or men have been lost. Next, all the women and children are sent off to bring back the meat, and a hard task it is, for they have to skin the animals and cut them up, besides carrying them home, and it seems as if the weaker ones might die on the way.
In the winter, when the Indian is in need of meat, he has to trust to his own cunning to get it, for in the colder parts of the country the horse cannot be used at all for