INDIAN TRAGEDIES AND ROMANCES.
his troops, now four hundred in number, plunged into the mountains and wilderness, only to be heard of by the outside world at occasional intervals. Now they hurried on by steep and slippery paths toward the crest of a mountain range. Now, along crooked and narrow trails, deep with slimy mud, they slipped and floundered for hours at a time. Sometimes the trail led them into vast masses of fallen timber, inextricably interlaced so that no passage could be had until a way had been chopped with axes. In crossing from range to range, the descent and ascent were often so precipitous that no human being could make the journey. In such cases they kept to the "Hog Back," a narrow, crooked ridge connecting the two ranges.
Along these almost impassable paths the Indians had fled. They had jammed their ponies between rocks and over trees, leaving many a splotch of blood and dead animal to mark their way. Meanwhile a tall messenger reached the camp of the pursuers. General Gibbon, from Helena, Montana, had started west with two hundred men, and sent an urgent call for re-enforcements. Joseph was now between the two forces, one from the east, the other pursuing him from the west. A sergeant named Sutherland with an Indian guide was at once dispatched on the strongest horse in the command to inform Gibbon of the progress of the pursuers. His journey was solitary and dangerous; he was to rest neither by night nor day. Once he came to a perpendicular mountain blocking his way. The trail led along a narrow shelf in the side of the precipice, covered with loose rocks, and scarcely eighteen inches wide. Below him yawned an awful abyss, hundreds of feet in depth. Dismounting, the white man and his guide slowly and cautiously led their sure-footed animals around this narrow pathway, without slipping off the shelving rock, till, at last, they reached the other side: It had taken half the night to make the passage. The Indian guide soon deserted Sutherland, but the latter pressed on his way, lame and sore, bearing the news to General Gibbon.
Meanwhile the two hundred cavalry, pressing forward to co-