Guard Duty

“Guard duty at night was now [crossing Kansas] a necessity. No one liked it, and very few were efficient, but nevertheless the hours were divided into watches and each able-bodied man took his turn. This was never an idle precaution. Even when the Pawnees were friendliest, they manifested a guileless interest in their white brothers’ horseflesh resulting in an occasional nocturnal raid. At one of these crises the safety of the entire wagon train rested with the guard who was watching the horses, and he—poor man—was only too apt to be a peaceful soul who had never been used to firearms. As uneasy night followed weary day, each unwilling watcher with the grazing horses found himself the only waking soul within speaking distance. Except during the gold-rush years he was practically alone in the limitless prairie night. ‘A few glimmering fires around the camps of distant emigrants, and the almost incessant howl of wolves, were the only things which showed aught living upon the ocean of grass.'”