The Stories Of Buffalo And Bison

: The Sa'-zada Tales

This evening the whole Buffalo herd had come out of the park to the

meeting-place in front of Chita's cage; even their brother, the Indian

Bison, was there, as also was the true Buffalo, Bos Bubalus.

Said Sa'-zada, opening his book: "We should learn much this evening,

for Buffalo and Bison are to tell us of their lives. But first, let me

put you all right as to their names. Those we have called Buffalo, from

/> our own western prairies, are not Buffalo at all, but Bison,

half-brother of Gaur, who also lives in India, where the true Buffalo

comes from."

"It does not matter," said Buff, the prairie Bison, "it does not matter

what I'm called, seems to me, for all my life I have been most badly

treated. Why, it seems no time since I was a calf, one of a mighty

herd, on the sweet-grassed prairie, and in those days I thought there

was nothing in the world like being a Buffalo.

"The first touch of danger I remember came in this way. The herd had

tracked, one after another, all walking in the same narrow path, down

to a hollow in which was water. I was feeling frisky, and, seeing

something move, something that seemed very like a calf, smaller than

myself, I ran after it, cocking my tail, kicking my heels in the air,

and thinking it great sport; for, Comrades, the great weakness of all

grass-feeders is an idle curiosity."

"And did all this happen when you had your tail kinked in the air, that

time you were a silly calf?" jibed Magh, holding a peanut out on her

under lip, and looking down at it very sedately, as though the subject

were of little interest.

"I'll tell you my story in my own way," declared Buff. "The thing that

I followed was like a grey shadow, and slipped about with no noise, but

when I came close to it, with a vicious snarl it sprang up, and also

there were three others hidden in the grass. Much milk! but I became

afraid, and I believe I bawled. Just then I felt the ground tremble,

and a dozen of the herd galloped towards me with their heads down. It

was a wolf, and help came just in time, for the big fangs of the fierce

brute cut my hind leg a little where he sought to hamstring me.

"Then Mother explained, first bunting me soundly with her forehead,

then licking me with her coarse tongue, that these Wolves were always

following up the Herd, trying to catch a Calf, or sick Cow, or old

Bull, to one side."

"We have Wolves in India, too," said Arna, "and Chita the Leopard, and

Bagh the Tiger. Blood drinkers! but we have many enemies there; even

Cobra will hardly get out of the way seeking to carry to one's blood

his sudden death. There are no animals so ill used, I believe, as


"One has need of big Horns in the heart of the Jungle. Why, mine

measure nine feet and a half from tip to tip across my forehead. And

see the strength of them, fully the size of Bagh's leg--for I am a

Curly Horn, which means one of great strength. Never have I locked

Horns with a Bull that I have not twisted his neck till he bellowed.

Eugh-hu, eugh! Next to lying in muddy water with one's nose just

peeping out, there's nothing so pleasant as a trial of strength. And

with all respect to Hathi's handiness of trunk, I must say I prefer

good, stout Horns. When Bagh or Pardus come sneaking about, there's

nothing like a long reach.

"Hear that, friends," said Magh. "Here's a traveler from Panther's own

land calls him a sneak. He, he he! now we shall get at the truth."

"Yes," said Gaur, the Bison; "Panther and all his tribe are sneaks.

They murdered a Calf of mine. To be sure, it was the Wife's Calf, for

had I been there at the time I'd have fixed him. She had just lain down

to rest for the night, and the Calf was a little to one side, and this

evil-spotted thing, Panther of the Red Kind, came sneaking up the wind

like a proper Jungle Cat. He knew I was away, for he has the cunning of

Cobra, and how was the mother to know that any danger threatened? He

stole like a shadow close to the poor little Calf, and with a rush

jumped on his back and bit his neck, breaking it, and cutting it so the

red blood ran his life all out in a little while."

"I was born in Mardian," remarked Arna, the Buffalo, "many years ago;

and save for the loss of a Calf, through Chita or Bagh's treachery, or

perhaps a lone Cow at times, our herd feared no Dweller of the Jungles.

Mine is a big family," he ruminated, "for we wander over almost all

India and Burma. Before I had grown up our Bull leader had taught us

all the method of battle. When it was Bagh, we formed up, heads out,

with the Calves behind, and if we but saw him in time, he surely was

slain, if he sought strongly for a Kill.

"I learned all the different sounds that come far ahead of danger.

One's ears get wondrous sharp in the Jungle, I can tell you, where the

little Gonds hunt. If a stone went singing down the hillside, that

meant Men, and Men meant the worst kind of danger. No Animal starts a

stone rolling; we are too careful for that.

"Also do the Jungle Dwellers not break sticks as they travel. The crack

of a broken twig meant Men Hunters; and when a beat was on, the Jungle

was, indeed, possessed of great sounds. All the Dwellers ran mad with

fear--the fear-madness that is like unto the way of Baola Kutta, the

Mad Dog. There is nothing so terrible in the life of an Animal as the

drive of the Hunters. 'Tap, tap, tap,' like the knocking of Horns

together, meant the strike of Beaters against the trees, and then the

Men's voices crying, 'Aree ho teri.'

"I, who tremble not at the roar of a Tiger, shivered when I heard that,

and lost all knowledge of which way I should run--that was in the first

drive, of course, before I became possessed of much Jungle wisdom.

Surely it drove us all mad. Like the sound of rain falling on leaves

was the rush of Python's little feet as even he flew from the


"Our best food was down in the jhils, also the nice soft mud to lie

in, and in the early spring, after the fires had passed, the young

bamboo shot up and we ate them. Then when we took it into our heads, we

went up into the deep, cool sal forest and rested in peace. But in the

Dry Time was the time of danger, for we had to travel far to find

water. We are not like Antelope or Nilgai, who go without water for

days and days.

"I remember once when we had crept down out of the hills, leaving the

big sal trees behind, and passing through tamarind, and mango, and

pipal, and just as we were coming to the pool, which was almost hidden

in the jamin bushes, I heard a roar--there was a rush and a Bagh of

ferocious strength sprang on one of our Cows and sought to break her


"But worse than Bagh's cruel charge was the silent method of the

little, dark Men-kind--the Mariahs. Like Magh's people, they would sit

quiet in the trees, and as we came slowly back from the water would

shoot arrows into us. Of this we could have no warning, neither any

chance to fight for our lives, only the noise of the arrow coming like

the hiss of King Cobra, and the cruel sting of its sharp end. Our Bull

leader got one this way not strong enough to bring him to his death,

and for days and days it stayed in his side, and made him of such a

vile temper that the Herd had to cast him forth, and he became what is

known as a Solitary Bull.

"There is some kindness in Bagh's method, more than in the way of these

evil Men, for when he kills he kills, and there is no more sickness;

but of the Men, when they hunt us with their arrows or a thunder-stick

which strikes with a loud noise, many of our kind are struck and die at

the end of much time.

"Strong as the fire-stick is----"

"Arna means by the fire-stick a gun," explained Sa'-zada.

"Strong as it is," continued Arna, "we Buffalo are also of great

strength. Why, the skin on my neck and withers would stop its strike

any time."

"Stop the Bullet?" queried Sa'-zada.

"Yes," asserted the Bull. "I have at least three buried in the thick

skin of my neck, and I hardly know they are there. Why, it has been

known in my Herd for a Bull to be struck fifteen times by one of these

fire-sticks, and then the Men did not get him. But just behind the

shoulders we are weak. My mother taught me a trick of this sort--'Never

stand sideways to an enemy,' she told me. Yes, though it is good to be

of great strength, a little wisdom is also of much use, even to a


"It was so with us," concurred Prairie Bison. "From all the other

animals we suffered little compared with the misery that came from the

Men--the Redmen; and worse still were the Palefaces; it was, as you

say, Brother, all because of the fire-stick."

"Even I was struck by it," continued Arna; "it was this way. Early one

morning I had gone down to a jhil, being alone at that time of the

year, for our wives were busy with the Calves, and, as I was going to

the uplands, to a favorite nulla of mine, in which to rest, suddenly

I caught sight of an evil-faced Gond; these same Gonds being of all

Shikaris (hunters) the most strong in their thirst for blood. I rushed

away for the hills, thinking to leave him behind. I traveled far, and

thought to myself, now surely I have lost this small killer. Being

hungry, I fed on the rich grass, but, as I fed, suddenly a dry twig

broke in the Jungle, and I knew that it was either Hathi or the little

Gond. Looking back, I saw with the Shikari another of a white face.

Again I galloped, and trotted, and walked, up a long nulla, over a

hill, around by the side of it, turned, and went far back, much the way

I had come, only to one side. Then I sought the top of a hill where the

bamboos grew thick, thinking to hide. As I rested, an evil smell, that

was not of the Jungle, came to me as the wind turned in its course and

blew up the hill. I stood perfectly still, even ceased to flap my ears

against the wicked Flies. As I watched, suddenly this Man of the white

face stood up from the grass just the shortest of gallops away, his

thunder-stick roared, and something I could not see struck me most

viciously in the shoulder. I was mad. Lashing my hips with my tail, and

throwing my nose straight out, I charged him.

"Again his thunder-stick spoke loud, but there was no sting--nothing,

and he turned from me and ran down the hill. Just as I was almost upon

him, he looked back, his foot caught in a bush and he fell. Now, as I

have said, my big Horns are of great use when Bagh charges, or when

another Bull disputes the right to command the Herd, but as for the

small enemy lying on the ground, I could not get at him at all;

besides, I was rushing down hill at great speed, so, though I lowered

my head till my forehead almost crushed him into the earth, yet I had

him not on the Horns, as, carried by my weight, I was forced to the

very bottom. Before I could turn he was up and away, and I never saw

him again."


"We are also killed by the Men," added Muskwa, the Bear. "They take off

our black coats, and I thought, perhaps, that was lest we might come to

life again. Yes, I think they mean to kill all Animals."

"They have killed nearly all my people," sighed Prairie Cow--"nearly

all of them. I know that is true, for one day Sa'-zada came into our

corral, and, rubbing his nice soft hand on my forehead--I was sick that

day, I remember--said, 'Poor old girl! we must take care of you, for

there are not many of your sort left now.' Then he said it was a shame

that the brutes had slaughtered us so."

"Ghurr-ah!" barked Wolf, "tell of this thing, O Buffalo Cow, for to me

it has been much of a mystery where the many of your kind could have


"Lu-ah!" sighed Prairie Cow, "it makes me sad to even think of it. As I

have said, in my young life we were many, many in numbers like you have

seen our enemies, the Men, here at times. All through the long, warm

days of sun, we ate the grass that grew again as fast as we cropped it.

Our humps became big and full of rich fat for the cold time. Not that

I had the hump on my back as a Calf, not needing it as food, for my

mother's milk kept my stomach at peace when the winds were cold, and

the grass perhaps under a white cover. Sometimes when the days were

harsh we had to travel far in search of feed grass, but that was

nothing: few of us died because of this. Even when the Red-faced ones

sought us, they killed but few, for their hunger was soon stayed. But

suddenly there came to us a time of much fear. Wherever we went we were

chased by the Palefaces, and their fire-sticks were forever driving the

fire that kills into our faces. Our Bull leader was always taking us

farther and farther away, and our Herd was getting smaller and smaller.

It was a miserable life, for there was never any rest.

"At last our Bull said that we must go on a long trail, for the prairie

wind was talking of nothing but danger; so we trailed far to the south.

For days and days we passed across hot sand deserts in which there was

little grass and hardly any drinking. It was terrible. My hump melted

to nothing; we were all like that, worse than we had ever been after

the coldest time of little sun.

"Then we came to a land in which there was grass and water, and none of

the Men-kind; and once more we were content, only for thinking of our

friends that had been killed. I don't remember how long we were

there--I think I had raised two Calves, when one day the evil that

comes of the Men was once more with us----"

"Yes, it is even as I have said," interrupted Arna; "when one thinks he

has got away safely, and stops for a little rest, he will see that evil

Gond, or some other of the Men-kind, waiting to do him harm."

"Just so," commented Prairie Cow; "the Palefaces had found us out. But

I must say there was less use of the fire-sticks than before, and I

soon came to know why they had trailed us across the Texas desert--they

had come to steal our Calves. Never were any poor Animals so troubled

by Man's evil ways as were we Buffalo. At first I thought they had not

fire-sticks with them, and meant to kill and eat the Calves, they being

less able to fight. I remember the very day my Calf was taken. As the

Herd fed in a little valley, we saw three Wild Horses coming toward

us--we thought they were Wild Horses, but it was an evil trick of the

Palefaces, for beside each Horse walked one of the Men. They were down

wind from us, so we did not discover this. Suddenly our Herd leader--he

was a great Bull, too--gave a grunt of warning--much like Bear grunts,

only louder; but still we could see nothing to put fear into our

hearts. Then our leader commenced to throw sand up against his sides

with his forefeet, and, lowering his head, shook it savagely. 'Why does

he wish to battle?' I wondered, for the Wild Horses had never made

trouble for my people.

"Just then the Men jumped on their animals, and away we raced. I

remember as I ran wondering why there was no loud bark of the

fire-stick, for I could see the Hunters galloping fast after us; in

fact one of them was close at my heels, for my youngest Calf, not two

months old, could not run as swiftly as I wished. I was keeping him

close; and on my other side galloped my Calf that was a year old.

"Suddenly I heard a 'swisp' in the air, and my little curly-haired pet

gave a choking gasp and fell in the grass. Of course, I could not stop

at once, and he bawled much as I did when the Wolf was at my hock. When

I turned in great haste I saw the Paleface on top of him. I was just

crazy with rage. I charged full at the Man and his Horse, and it almost

makes me laugh now to think how I kept him jumping about. He did use a

small firestick on me, but I am sure it was because of the Man-fear, of

which Hathi told us; I saw it in his eyes plain enough. But who can

stand against the fire-stick? Not even Bagh or Hathi, as we know, so I

was forced to flee with the Herd.


"We galloped far, far, before we stopped; and that night there were

many mothers in the Herd bawling and crying for their lost Calves, for

these evil Men had stolen a great number. I felt so sad thinking of my

little one's trouble that I could stand it no longer, so I went back on

our trail, and, following up the scene of the Men-kind, came to where

they had my Calf and the others. It was night. I soon found him, for a

Cow Mother's nose is most wise when looking for her young. But I could

not get him away with me, for he was held fast by something; so I

stayed there and let him drink of my milk.

"Even with the fear of a fire-stick on me I stayed with him, and in the

morning when the Pale-faces saw me their eyes were full of much wonder.

But I did not try to run away, and one of them, making many motions and

noises to the other two, I think, commanded them not to harm me. Well,

good Comrades," sighed the Cow, regretfully, "mine has been a very long

story, I'm afraid, but when one talks of her Babe there is so much to

be said."

"And did they bring you here with the Calf?" asked Magh.

"Most surely," answered Prairie Cow; "and because of my milk he grew

big and strong, much faster than grew the other Calves, and is now big

Bull of the Herd."

"But how fared the others with no mothers?" asked Chita.

"They gave them Cow mothers of the tame kind," answered the Cow.

Said Arna, scratching his back with the point of his long horn: "It is

not quite this way with us in India. We stick pretty well to the

jhils and Jungles, so the Men cannot kill many of us at one time; but

still we are becoming fewer. Even those of the black kind now have the

thunder-stick, and kill my comrades to sell their heads to the horn

merchants. Think of that, Brothers, having a price on one's head, like

a Bhil robber."

Said Sa'-zada: "I wish all the Men who slay Animals, calling it sport,

might have sat here to-night with us, that their hearts might be

inclined more kindly toward you, Brothers, who war not against my


"Sa'-zada," cried Hathi, in a gentle voice, "could you not put all

these things in a new book, and lend it to each one of your people so

that they might know of these true things? Surely then they would not

seek for the life of each one of us that has done them no harm."

"I have a notion to try it, good Comrade," said the Keeper. "But in the

meantime it is late, and now you must all go back to your corrals and


"Good-night, Prairie Cow," trumpeted Hathi, softly, caressing her

forehead with his trunk; "your people most certainly have been badly

treated by the Men."

Soon silence reigned over the home of these outcasts from the different

quarters of the world.