Montana Authors Project

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First there was the smoke, only slightly darker than the gray air. It rose from behind a bluff where the river curved to the south. The sun was behind it, and it looked orange and sharp-edged.... Then the black horse smelled it and stiffened beneath the rider. It was a smell not of smoke but of burnt things, and the smell was heavy in the air. Even though the bluff stood between the horse and the smell, he stopped, his shoulders and forelegs trembling. (379)…

Dad covered the two miles from our ranch to Albion quickly, parking the pickup amongst the herd of similar mud-splattered vehicles, and we piled out. Albion consisted of only three buildings—the school, the post office, which also had a small store and rooms in the back for the postmaster-storekeeper, and the town hall. (84)…

She liked to hold Paul with one arm and me with the other and walk down Last Chance Gulch on Saturday night, forcing people into the gutter to get around us, and when they wouldn't give up the sidewalk she would shove Paul or me into them. You didn't have to go very far down Last Chance Gulch on Saturday night shoving people into the gutter before you were into a hell of a big fight.... When her hair glistened, though, she was worth it. (25-26)…

I decided this when we were lying up there on the hill. I said to myself that if Dave Quigley came for you I wouldn't let him take you. I did it and don't give a damn...I did it because it's so good to be with you—the way we were on the hill— (295)…

I told [In-who-lise] that I heap savvied Sap-tan, which is what the Nez Perce tongue was called, but I knew better than to tell her I was at the Bear Paws the day Chief Joseph had surrendered. I had been with them when they went as prisoners to Fort Keough and had helped to drive their large band of horses along with them; the horses the Nez Perce never got back. I had seen her people driven on flatboats in the cold like cattle to be floated down the Yellowstone to Fort Buford without any shelter from the storms. (127)…

...White Man's Dog stood on a bluff overlooking the trading house on the Bear River. It was built in the shape of a rectangle, a series of squat buildings arranged around a central trading area. The log structures looked heavy and dark to White Man's Dog. In the dusty yard five men stood around a pair of horses laden with robes. He recognized Riplinger, the trader, and Old Horn of the Grease Melters. (91)…

I was always amazed when anyone drowned in the Little Missouri River, which was only twenty-five or thirty feet across, not even big enough to rate a name of its own. It just didn't seem possible that someone, especially an adult, could not find a way to crawl out once they fell in. But every couple of years, some unfortunate soul would plunge into its muddy flow and not emerge until their lungs filled with water. (81)…

The Elkhorn looks just like what it is—a crack in the earth to mark where the Rocky Mountains end and the Great Plains begin. The giant mountains are black-backed with nearly the last of mountain pines. Their eastern sides turn brown and yellow as the tall prairie grasses begin, but there are occasional black spots where the pines scatter themselves out to get a last look back. The mythological Brown Trout and the canyon harmonized in my thoughts. (40-41)…

He clucked to the skeleton and shook the oats. He meant to put a rope on her, feed her, and trim her tail. It was the least thing a creature of feeling could do. the mare would not be caught. (238)…

Like the fool I was, just to show off, I stepped out on the edge of the bank above them, where they could see me well and not fifty feet away from them. I raised the Injun blanket up over my shoulders, and up over the lower part of my face. Assuming a dramatic pose, straight as a ramrod with my broad-brimmed hat pulled down so they could not see the rest of my face, I stood erect as a statue, gazing sternly down at them, with my rifle resting in the hollow of my arm…. The one who was washing the pan of wash...gets a good sight of me. He stands looking at me…finds his voice and yells to the other, "Get, Bill, Injuns, Injuns." His partner fairly leaped. (314-315)…
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