Buffalo Palace by Terry C. Johnston (Scratch book 2)


I have continued reading the Scratch series of books with Buffalo Palace.  You can read more abou the first book, Dance on the Wind, here.  It ends with Titus Bass working in St. Louis wanting to head west.

This second book picks up with Bass 31 years old actually leaving St. Louis.  Headed west to “that land” he’s been ichin’ to see from when he left home at 15.  In this book, Bass gets to see the buffalo he’s wanted to see for so long (and he finds out they are difficult to kill).  He crosses the grass sea of the plains with no indian trouble.  Then, once he’s out west, he starts trapping.  He doesn’t have much luck because he doesn’t know how to trap.

A group of free trappers walks up on him while sleeping one morning.  He throws in with them and, at location 2727, we see them accept Titus and give him a nickname.  Here’s the quote:

“Scratchin’ is what he’s doing,” Silas said. “So—I say let’s give him a new name what’s fittin’ for all them nits he’s been digging at.” “We gonna call him nit?” Hooks asked with a silly grin. “Nawww,” Cooper growled as he stood and stepped over behind Bass with his warm tin cup of coffee in hand—which he slowly began to pour on Titus’s head. … Then Cooper flung his cup aside and spread a hand over the crown of Bass’s head, raising his eyes to the black of that winter night, his voice booming in declaration. “Henceforth and for yonder time—let all men know this here pilgrim…no longer be called Titus Bass, greenhorn … but from now on he be the free trapper we gonna know as—Scratch!”

After having some run-ins with indians, getting some pelts stolen, and having more indian run-ins Titus meets up with another group of people.  This second group of people really take Scratch in after a serious wound.  For three years, they trap together, throw in with some indians, and have even more indian battles.

All in all, if you liked the first Scratch book, you should continue the story with Buffalo Palace.  if you haven’t read it yet, go pick yourself up a copy.  Here is a link to Dance on the Wind at Amazon.

Oh, towards the end, there is a great observation on this era in American History (from location 6105):

In the span of less than two momentous years, a breed was born out here among these rich valleys sheltered and shadowed by the high and snowy places. A novice who was at first content to follow others up the Missouri River to the beaver country, William H. Ashley had ended up fathering a whole new strain of frontiersmen. Unlike their predecessors, those “longhunters” who had roamed the hardwoods forests back east of the Mississippi, these fledgling grandsons were only beginning to tramp across an unfathomable territory much more hostile in both geography and native inhabitants than anything ever before encountered by their eastern forebears. Unlike their grandfathers had ever done back east, men of this new breed would live their simple existence permanently in the mountains—but without a permanent base. Such rootlessness, such unending wandering, suited this new breed just fine. This was the dawn of a glorious era. The mountain man had been born.

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