« PreviousContinue »
culture, and also to gather the results of Along the California isothermal lines,
is its climate.
“ VANEETY” THE CHEROKEE MAID
BY LILLIAN MAY TROY
T WAS IN the obscure illumination Brisbane did; they knew their business which precedes the dawn that Bris- thoroughly, and if any three could succeed bane woke from an uneasy slumber they could. It was not actually the sur
in the thicket under tupelo vey for the roadbed, but the most imtrees bordering the river. The acute in- portant preliminary step in the science of stinct of a man familiar with the Indian railroad' building; the mapping out of country told him something had awakened the prospective route. It was practically him. Turning cautiously on his side, he the primal intrusion of progress into the parted the brush noiselessly, and peered great Southwest, and the wondering eyes out on the river racing swiftly along un- of the nation were upon the men who took der the canopy of overhanging boughs. the risks of death and torture in the InA minute passed; two, three; and then dian country, as well as upon the man who the listening man heard the faint dip of risked their all to further a project which a paddle. “Didn't think they would be
many wiseacres were wont to term premaafter me so soon,” he muttered, as he ad- ture. justed the sight on his rifle for close General Miles and his cavalry were kept range. Of course they would discover busy with Sitting Bull and Geronimo him; he had been too weary and exhausted some few hundred miles away, and so the night previous to cover his trail. It general was the uprising that a military was contrary to the redskin nature to escort could not be spared, and the three track at night, and he wondered grimly men had to depend upon themselves to why they should have made an exception do their own scouting and protect themin his case. Three shots left. Well, that selves as best they could. meant he would “pot” two of them; one Men had made the attempt before, but for poor Murray and the other for Nel- none had ever returned, and many of the son, his two companions they had mur- Eastern stockholders had advised delay dered yesterday. And the third shot
And the third shot- until such time as the Government could they would have his scalp, but not until make peace with the redskin braves. The after the third shot-what then was left president of the company replied that of it they were welcome to. He had been both he and the stockholders risked their so positive of success, and now this was fortunes, and while he asked no man to the end of it. The survey for the first risk his life, if men there were who were tracks over the southern part of the con- willing to do so, it was the business of tinent had cost the railroad
company the company to take advantage of every dearly in money and the lives of their opportunity; and as to peace with the Inbravest men, and Brisbane had been the dians—the company could not afford to only one who had been successful in evad- gamble in futures. ing the Indians and completing the sur- Brisbane heard the scratching of a padvey to the river. He had known the dan- dle on the rocks in the stream, as though ger, and when his chief had told him to
a canoe had approached too near their select the men to accompany him, he sharp jaws. His rifle pointed up stream, ,
, called for volunteers; refusing to order and the stock was pressed firmly against any man to go into the Indian country his shoulder and the hammer lay back with him. When Murray and the boy with his finger on the trigger. A steady Nelson stepped forward he was pleased; eye ran along the barrel, as he brought the they knew the risks to be taken as well as rifle into position for a shot as the first canoe turned the bend in the river. The guised satisfaction. He caught her by light was dim, but he was sure of himself both arms, and would have put her on the now, and he knew he would have to shoot bank, but he left her go as he saw two quickly. He heard the scraping against rows of glistening teeth in close proximthe rocks again, and he wondered why ity to his arm. She reminded him of a they didn't keep away from the rapids on kitten who, when you want to put it the side, and get into the middle, where down, hangs on with its teeth and claws. the current ran smoothly and swift.
“All right," he said, disgustedly, "you As a canoe came sweeping around the can stay—I haven't any time to remain bend, he took rapid aim, but as he would here arguing the merits of the question have pressed the trigger, he gasped with with you." amazement, and sat bolt upright. The He pointed the nose of the canoe down canoe had one occupant, a child—a girl! stream, and commenced to paddle furiousShe came perilously near to the bank ly, not knowing now where the painted where the water lashed itself into white braves were. He was surprised that the foam on the jagged rocks. Dexterously girl made no demonstration, but he she avoided them without seeming to see watched her closely nevertheless. For them; her eyes scanning the bank as she three hours they went on thus; the man gracefully balanced herself, feet apart in in the bow paddling with all his force; the frail craft. Brisbane's ears, trained twice riding unfamiliar rapids, but going to the silence, could hear no swishing of on, on, as only a man who had the repaddles up the river, and he thought the juvenation of hope in his heart could; on girl must be alone.
until he was ready to faint with exhausSuddenly she turned the canoe toward tion and fatigue. He gave no thought to the bank, jumped out and beached it. hunger, although no food had passed his With long, quick strides she reached the lips for forty-eight hours. He had all he brush and undergrowth, and scanning the had hoped for—a chance—and he was goground hastily, she came directly to where ing to get every shred out of it he could. Brisbane knelt, and parted the
bushes In his pocket were the maps the company abruptly. She looked at the man a' mo- needed—they would not attempt to lay ment, and he fancied she appeared slight- another foot of steel without them—and ly satisfied as she muttered “huh.” “Hello, he had succeeded. If he could only outyoungster,” Brisbane said cheerily, as he wit the redskins. sprang up. “I suppose your whole tribe
His stroke grew weaker, and it was is out in your wake, taking the early sheer luck that the light craft was not morning air on the river, and as I'm a dashed to pieces on the rocks that jutted trifle solicitous about my health now, too, out of the stream everywhere. I'll ask you to pardon me if I relieve you The canoe rocked ever so little, and a of the canoe. Twill help me along." brown hand grasped the paddle. Hope was once more dominant in Bris
"Let go there,” he shouted. bane, as he sprang down the incline and Five little fingers sank into the cartishoved the canoe of skins and saplings in- lege of his ear, as the other hand grasped to the stream, and sprang in.
the paddle, and Brisbane relinquished his “Huh,” said the girl, with what seemed hold. A long, slender, childish hand even more satisfaction, as she nimbly pointed to the stern; and a strong pair of climbed in after him, just as he sent the young arms held the canoe steady as the craft swiftly into midstream.
man sank down among the skins in the “Here, you ; get out,” he said, as he bottom of the canoe. When they reached paddled back to the bank: “Get out.” As a smooth stretch of the river, the girl he would have assisted her out of the drew some venison and a roasted quail canoe by the arm, a brown hand shot up, from the twigs and leaves in the bow, and and five long bleeding lines on his face pressed the food into Brisbane's hands. He marked the course of five finger nails. looked up in wonder! Her face was as "You little tigress," he said, as he winced immobile as a bronze statue, as she dipped
a slender hand into the stream and wet "Huh," answered the girl with undis- his parched lips many times.
When he had refreshed himself with straight and agile as this child, what a food, Brisbane would have taken the pad wonderfuldle, but the Indian child pressed him back "Huh!” among the skins, and threateningly held "Good afternoon, Lady-of-the-Claws, up five slender fingers near his ear, and he smiled. with a tired sigh and a smile on his lips The girl paid no attention; her body he drifted into slumber.
was bent forward in an attitude of listenMany times the Indian maiden turned ing and instantly—Brisbane was alert. He to look at him as he slept. Her face bore had heard it, too! The unmistakable the stolid look of her people, but the stomp of Indian ponies drinking by the depths of the dark eyes seemed to soften river. It was not behind them—it was and sparkle as she gazed. Was it the ahead. While he had been sleeping they great length of shapeliness and muscle of had come into a camp of Apaches! He the man that drew her admiration or the expected the girl would give the alarm, cluster of straight brown locks framing and he drew his rifle to his shoulder. He his clear-cut face? Was it the grey of lowered it instantly. Hang it all! Let the eyes or the laugh that lurked round her shout if she wanted to; maybe she was the mouth even in sleep?
doing the right thing according to her “Huh,” was all she said, as she bal
The two shots would be for anced herself in the bow, but there are men, not for a woman. As he would have many waves on the ocean that never shall snatched the paddle from her, by a quick boom on the sandy bars, and the thoughts turn the canoe shot noiselessly under the of an Indian maiden—who knows?
overhanging branches near the bank. It was late in the afternoon when the “Well, I'll be”—Brisbane muttered, as she young surveyor woke from his refreshing worked the craft up stream a little close sleep and sat up.
to the bank, and under the low branches, His eyes rested on the tall Indian child until the thick foliage completely hid it in the bow. He wondered what it all from the view of any one passing on the meant; was she taking him away from one river. Her face wore its stolid expression, hostile camp to deliver him to the Apaches but Brisbane noticed that her nostrils farther down the river? Some devilish dilated slightly. Indian ingenuity, he thought, as he won- They lay hidden there until sunset. dered why he hadn't forcibly put her out Painted braves led ponies to drink not fifty of the canoe in the beginning. Then he feet from their place of concealment, and remembered the food; trying to keep his Brisbane knew there must be a large camp strength up for some delectable jollifica- near by. There seemed to be no squaws, tion, no doubt-a tied-to-the-stake dance, children, or dogs, and he judged rightly perhaps.
that they were on the war path. He won“She certainly doesn't resemble the dered whether they were reinforcements Apaches," he soliloquized, as he noted the for Sitting Bull or only savage marauders straight nose, and splendid profile, as she preparing to attack some frontier village. turned sideways to sheer off from some At twilight, the faint sound of many padrocks. Her hair was fine, not coarse like dles broke the appressive stillness, and the Apache squaws, and hung over her through an aperture in the foliage he saw shoulders in two long braids. As she stood twenty or thirty canoes coming down the in the bow, no easy task, balancing herself river. Each canoe held four or six Ingracefully, she dipped the paddle steadily dians; their bodies and faces were painted first on one side, then the other; she re- hideously, and many were armed with minded Brisbane of—yes, a goddess. It rifles and bow and arrow. Now, surely, the was the only word fitting to the uncon- girl would give the alarm. The first scious pride and grace of her whole bear- canoe approached directly opposite their ing. He fancied she might be about fif- hiding place. There was a young, powerteen years of age, possibly more. Her ful buck in the stern, and Brisarms and shoulders were as developed as bane thought he had never seen so cruel those of a strong boy, and the man re- and rapacious a face. This fellow would flected that if all women were only as stop the first bullet. As he raised his rifle the girl put her fingers under the ham- ing mirror of a pool as she braided her mer, and her white teeth gleamed near long hair. When she had finished, she his nose, as she scarcely breathed: "No continued to gaze at her reflection critishoot-quiet."
cally. Canoe after canoe passed, and it was “Oh, woman, woman, thy name is vannot until the last one was beached down ity,” laughed Brisbane. She looked up the stream near the allies' camp that she suddenly, and the first smile the man had removed her fingers, and closed her lips seen on her face parted her lips. over the small teeth. Brisbane stared at "Vaneety, Vaneety,” she said. "Like her in amazement. “What a wonderful very much. What means ?” child it is," he muttered slowly.
"Oh,” the young man answered, “it "See here, Little Claws," he said, "you means—let's seespeak English ?”
He must be careful not to say anything Ignoring his question, she said, "Stay to drive the pleased expression from those here. When dark, Apaches no see-go.” eyes--and what pretty lips she had !
The young surveyor thanked his stars, "Why it means," she was watching him -the moon would not rise until near closely, "it means very, very nice-very morning. Here was another chance. His pretty—beautiful. Does that please you, fingers passed over the papers in his little Apache ?” breast with still more hope, and elation, "No Apache !” she hissed, as the red which only a man who has surmounted blood glowed under her bronze skin. difficulties can feel.
“Cherokee !” The night was dark, but he kept the "Whew, a Cherokee! An aristocrat!” canoe in the umbrage of the trees that “What's mean areestocrat?" she asked. banked the river, and midnight saw the “That means very proud. But what redskin encampment miles astern, and the were you doing in an Apache camp ?” tired Indian girl asleep on the skins in asked Brisbane, as the explanation of her the bottom of the canoe.
fine features and hair began to dawn upThey journeyed thus for days; hiding by day and traveling by night. The small “Big fight—many scalps. Apache steal store of food gave out, but occasionally the squaw. girl would lie for hours in the bush wait- “When did you learn to speak English, ing for a thirsty rabbit. Without a sound little Cherokee ?” the slender fingers would close about the
No answer. throat of the little animal and squeeze the “Now, don't be stubborn, child !" Sudlife from it. And she would indifferently denly she sprang up and the man backed bring it to Brisbane to skin. They dared away amusedly as he saw the slender finnot light a fire, and there are worse things gers working nervously. than raw rabbits when hunger taps insis- “No like Leetle Claws; no like Apache; tently.
no like Cherokee; no like child," she The last night on the river had passed, hissed. . and Brisbane told the girl he must take to “Oh, I see," he said, trying to look rethe trails to reach his people. The girl spectfully serious. “Now, what would you had only spoken twice, but he knew she like me to call you ?” understood. He had been sorely puzzled "Vaneety," she answered shyly, and about her. They had not seen the smoke Brisbane thought he had never seeni of signal fires for two days, and he felt sweeter eyes or lips. There was something he would be safe in leaving the river and beguilingly childlike and yet womanly taking to the trails. He was familiar with about the girl as she stood there smiling the country now, and he knew that he questioningly up at him. She moved could reach the railroad camp in two closer to him, and indicated her satisfacdays.
tion that the top of her head just reached As he approached the girl, who had been his ear. “No child," she said softly, lookscreened from him by a bush, he stopped ing at hin with clear, innocent eyes. and smiled in amusement. She was kneel- “You're a beautiful” he began im
ing on a flat rock, gazing into the reflect- petuously. “Tell me, chi-Vaneety,” he