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[428] had seemed bitterest enemies six years before. Human nature is not half so bad as it sometimes pretends to be. As a rule, it would be pretty good all the time if men could only keep cool. Among all the enjoyments of that season in St. Louis, that which left the deepest impression on my memory, as has always been the case with me, was the sport at Hat Island, under the management of that most genial of companions, Ben Stickney. We hunted with hounds before breakfast every morning, and shot water-fowl from breakfast till supper. What was done after supper has never been told. What conclusive evidence of the ‘reversionary’ tendency in civilized man to a humbler state! He never feels so happy as when he throws off a large part of his civilization and reverts to the life of a semi-savage. The only thing that saves him from total relapse is the fact that he takes with him those little comforts, both liquid and solid, which cannot be found in the woods. He thus keeps up the taste that finally draws him back again to a civilized, or, more accurately, semi-civilized life. If any sportsman knows any better reason than that for not living like a savage when in his hunting-camp, I would like him to give that reason to me!

We returned to Fort Leavenworth in the spring, and expected to make that our permanent home. Some necessary improvements had been made in the quarters during the winter, and no one could have desired a more comfortable residence, more congenial companionship, or more agreeable occupation than that of guarding and protecting the infant settlements of industrious but unarmed and confiding people rapidly spreading far out upon the plains. With my cavalry and carbined artillery encamped in front, I wanted no other occupation in life than to ward off the savage and kill off his food until there should no longer be an Indian frontier in our beautiful country.

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