By Michael Blake
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Extra info for Dances With Wolves: In Honor of the 20th Anniversary of the Academy Award-Winning Film
By the seventh day, Dunbar was only half listening to Timmons. As they ate up the last miles he was thinking more and more about arriving at his post. A light of realization, followed quickly by a frown. Goddammit. It was like a cell. Goddamn quarters. It was a true curse. And it was a bad time. That’s what hurt him. Or worse. There was nothing to sew it back on with. As he stepped into the bright sunshine, Captain Cargill allowed himself to imagine one last time that a wagon from Fort Hays would be standing there in the yard.
The Comanche bands were always a step or two ahead of the hapless Pawnee, and for two more weeks they found nothing but cold trails. In fact, it was only the worst kind of luck that had brought them to this village, for this band of Comanches had been hit hard only a few days before by a strong party of Utes, who had killed several good warriors and made off with thirty horses. In the end, however, they lost only three more warriors. So now these six disheartened men, sitting on this lonely rise, their ribbed-out ponies too tired to move underneath them, wondered what to do about a single feathery stream of smoke half a mile away.
He’d powdered the foot with antiseptic, wrapped it heavily with gauze, and somehow jammed it into his boot. Then he had snuck out a side door, stolen a horse, and, having no place else to go, rejoined his unit at dawn with a cock-and-bull story about a flesh wound to the toe. Now he smiled to himself and thought, What could I have been thinking of? When the opportunity presented itself, he took it. They were hidden behind low stone walls bordering opposite ends of the field, each unsure of the other’s strength, each unsure about mounting a charge.