The Bull was taking his time, speaking a few words and then staring across the fire in long silence.
The smoke was terrible, but the old man did not seem to mind it. His granite countenance gave nothing away. Some of soldiers said it was Sitting Bull himself who killed Custer, but Maclester chalked that up to garrison malarkey. Nobody had survived that jackpot to tell the tale. Nobody white, anyway.
Maclester shifted his weight to ease the strain of sitting cross-legged for so long. He glanced at the Candanians and immediately felt better. The older Mountie was groaning while the younger one made faces like somebody was crushing his balls.
The intepreter turned to Maclester. “He says the buffalo are gone, and that the Mounties can no longer feed his people.”
“Tell him,” said Maclester, “if they come back to the United States there will be food enough for all of them.”
Dear God, he thought, let that be true for once.
On July 10, 1881, more than five years after the fateful battle at the Little Big Horn, the great chief led his last surviving followers from their Canadian refuge to the United States. After a period of confinement, Sitting Bull was assigned to the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota in 1883. Seven years later he was dead, killed by Indian police when he resisted their attempt to arrest him for his supposed participation in the Ghost Dance uprising.