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upland and foothill. As early as last summer the stage coach that crosses the reservation from Ravalli to the Flathead Lake, bore strange passengers, each with keen, commercial eye measuring the wild grain, taking note of the quality of the soil, of everything, indeed, but the majesty of nature and the Indians shrinking back in their tepees. It was a motley company. A Yale instructor with red vandyke, checked cap and collegiate air, sat beside the driver and exhibited his ignorance of things Western by naive questions that stirred the aforesaid driver's sullen scorn. Moreover, the professor could not solve the problem of western gates, no two of which ever seem to be alike, and he was secretly afraid of the Indians, weaknesses which brought him continually into disgrace. There were besides, two Canadian women, a mother and daughter from the Saskatchewan, who calculated mentally, the largeness of prospective crops (always comparing the possibilities here disparagingly with those across the border), and by way of diversion looking for desperadoes who might hold up the coach. They, too, were afraid of the Indians, never seeing the humor of the situation, and how it was the Indians who had cause to fear them and their predatory kind.
The one self-evident fact was this: the home-seekers were not oppressed sons of toil striving for emancipation from poverty through the bounty of a few tilled acres; they were of the dilettante, speculating sort like the professor, or the hard, shrewd type of the two Canadians. They were each and all mastered by a single idea that of getting in and gobbling up the best. It was the Indians crowded out by these adventurers who were poor. They peddled trifles made of beads and at the store upon the lake shore the proprietor told of how even the Nez Perce women were exchanging their prized corn husk bags for food.
Yet, soaring above such earthly sordidness, the range of Sin-val-min rose heavenward, mingling its silver halo of snow with the floating clouds. The virgin valley flowed away in waves of green, and far away the lake shone bright as a polished sabre in the sun. An occasional
tepee dotted the valley, its smoke-wreath curling lazily upward, its blanketed tenant berding over the camp-fire or resting in the shade. And sometimes a half-breed cowboy, clad in bright-hued neckerchief and chaparejos, rode with level swiftness across the prairie and disappeared.
The home-seekers noticed none of these things. That commercialism which sees only horse-power in Niagara Falls, square feet of lumber in the Sequoias, and potatoproducing possibilities in the fairest valleys, was already up and abroad in the land.
Yes! There will be great rejoicing in the autumn. The movement of elbowing crowds will be seen, the scrutiny of calculating eyes that reckon profits to a nicety will be felt, the ploughshare and the harvester will uproot the old and garner the new, and all will be well! But far off, obscure, unheeded, securely silenced by the poor bribe of a patch of ground already his own, will be the Indian, metamorphosed into a farmer, ready to compete with the incoming world, to be "absorbed" into our great, tolerant and free civilization.
We call ourselves a humane nation; the Civil War was fought and won to free the slave from bondage; the war with Spain was instigated by sympathy for the Cubans, but what about the Indians? If ever God-given charge was imposed upon the stronger shoulders of a dominant race, that charge is ours, and it is an obligation neglected, unfulfilled. We have espoused the cause of down-trodden aliens while we, ourselves, have crushed those who, before us, were masters of the land.
There is another side to the reservation question worth pondering upon. And as the conquering hosts of peace march in to take possession, may it not be well for them to remember that they tread over broken hearts and despoiled homes, to a doubtful material reward, that timid shadow-shapes watch with the hollow gaze of soulless despair the desecration of hallowed ground beneath the leveling plow? And may it be that for the white man, whose steady hand guides the relentless. blade, there will be besides the crop of oats and corn, a harvest of unrest-the melancholy of haunting dreams?
BY AMOS GEORGE
E CAME to Verde Grande with fulldress, gold braid and brass and cosmetics enough to stock the post. The flavor of commencement was upon his person and he carried about straw colored hair, a delicate complexion, and the West Point accent, all of which were acceptable on "ladies' nights."
Then one day he got his name—and some other things. With good intentions enough, the General sent this shave-tail out with a squad of regulars to clean up a handful of Indian scouts up in the old burying ground where they had been raising dust around the out-pickets. The job was bigger than the old man thought, and for a while it was every man for himself. When the horizon was clear of obstructions the men came back to look for their officer, and they found him-flat on his face behind an old grave mound, white and shaking, and that fixed it. It wasn't just a square deal for the child, but they thought he needed a taste of work, and that the old vets would take care of him, and they did! When he was about, they laid low, but everywhere else he was Tombstone Johnny for life.
Not that he accepted the title with good grace-who said he did? He smarted and he sweated and he swore, and he began to fail to keep on hand a good stock of pain killer-it evaporated too fast! Wherefore his step was not always as steady, nor his breath as mild, as might have been, and he began to look frayed out and seedy, and he forgot the accent. But then what could a shave-tail do when he knew that he was afraid, and when the non-coms grinned and the officers lost their tongues every time he came about? The branding iron feels fine on the other calf.
This might have been the end of the
story, but Lieutenant Jergensen was clipped by a sharp-shooter up at the reservation, and reported at the division hospital for repairs. This left the camp without a commissioned officer, and the General took pity on Tombstone Johnny and sent him across the State line with instructions in military form, which, being translated, meant that he was to hustle along and take command of the camp. The old man had a suspicion that there might be stuff in the kid somewhere down under that complexion, and this would give him another try. The fact that the garrison consisted of one company whose captain was on detached service brought a grain of comfort to the tormented lieutenant. "Anywhere, out of sight," he groaned.
At Santa Rosia, he climbed down with three suit-cases and watched the train fade away into the mirage. Then he looked at his two trunks lying on the platform and inquired about the stage. Nothing doing till to-morrow, but the "Red-eyed Rodeo" was just across the street-and why should the spirit of mortal be sad with a month's pay in pocket?
When he was able to be out again, the stage was twenty-four hours away, and Camp McBain was thirty-five miles over the range. The one liveryman of Santa Rosia looked him over critically and stated that he had no horses to hire today, but that a freighter had left that morning for Verdugo, which was half way, and as for the other eighteen miles, the walking was purty fair, and the baggage could come by stage next week.
This is how it happened that Second Lieutenant John W. Bates, otherwise known as Tombstone Johnny, might have been seen equipped with his orders and two black bottles, astride the nigh wheeler, reflecting on the vicissitudes of life and breathing volumes of alkali dust. Since the teamster was likewise parched of
throat, the black bottles did a steady business till the driver got happy and Tombstone Johnny held onto the hames of his mule with both hands.
They made Verdugo late, and in as much as the Palace Hotel had not yet arrived, the military man slept on the straw pile at the feed yard. They got him out in the morning, and he blinked stupidly over the ham-and-eggs at the grub shack, and ere the sun was an hour high, it met a weary pilgrim, foot sore and red-eyed, making his painful way along the shortcut trail over the mountain to the reservation. The sight would have thrilled the hearts of his tormentors. His cup of misery was dripping over the brim, and a bitter hatred of all the earth and the fullness thereof had eaten into his soul. Two months away from graduation and compliments and congratulations and senior functions and button-and-braid and brass bands. It all looked like Heaven now, and here he was in Hell, and all because he had stubbed his foot and stumbled in that old Verde Grande cemetery. How was a gentleman at West Point to know that war was Hell, and that Indians could shoot straight at him? How was he to know that the life of an army officer was not made up of cotillions and receptions and reviews? Over and over these things turned themselves in his befogged mind till he stopped and swore weakly and wearily, and then he stumbled on again.
Over the first range the trail winds down to Sand Creek. Sand Creek is not famed for its beauty, but at one p. m. its muddy bed looked like Paradise to a man with smarting eyes, blistered feet, and burning thirst. For a black bottle has its peculiarity; it leaves its devotee with a throat like a volcano's bed, and no drop of water touches the trail between Verdugo and the creek. But here was water, and shade, and soft sand, and all nature was saying, "Here's a place to rest."
"Seemsh to me ish time to go swimming," he said. "Good swim, cool bath, level head, ish great idea. Now I lay
He hung his uniform carefully on the willows, and then he crept to the water. The sand was comfortable, and he sat
down. Five minutes later the woodpecker stopped drumming on the old stump and looked curiously down at the underclad figure, from which strange sounds came with the regularity of a monster asleep.
In three hours a dry throat stuck him with needles till he rolled over and felt for the black bottle in the place where he had last carried it. There was no bottle there! Worse still, there was no pocket. pocket. He fumbled at the place a long time, and then sat up on the sand bank and looked down at the water. "Nish cool water," he muttered. "Good wet wasser awful bad for stomach, though,' he groaned. After awhile he looked down at his underclothes and then up on the bank where hung his-but they didn't hang there. Instead there lay a pile of old khaki on the ground and a trim-clad Lieutenant sitting on the log, who garded him with amused curiosity.
The stranger arose, too, and spoke. "Don't move, sir, you're covered." Tombstone Johnny opened his mouth, and for astonishment forgot to close it. The uniform was his, the cap was his, the revolver was his; if that were himself, then he had changed a good deal since he lay down on the bank of Sand Creek. And if that were Lieutenant Bates, how in thunder did he - "Oh, I see," he sputtered in sudden excitement. "Thash Lieutenant Bates, this ish Tombstone Johnny. But who the devil ish these old clothes?"
"Put on those clothes and be mighty quick about it," commanded the stranger.
Tombstone Johnny looked at the bedraggled uniform of the man on the line, and his blood pounded into his alleged brain and he rose in wrath. "Give me my gun," he sputtered. "And you go to the devil. You got my clothes yourself, you old——”
The revolver came up. "Not so fast, my little man," the other said slowly and easily. "You're my game now, you know. Respect for your superiors is the first principle of military regulations. If you're
booze-soaked block's clear enough to listen I will tell you a few things, but I'm not wastin' any words on shave-tails till they sobers up some sensible."
The man in underclothes considered. Evidently somebody had the drop on him. He looked for something to hide behind, but there was no tombstone present, or anything of like nature except the log on which the other fellow sat.
"Time's up," announced the lieutenant. "I see you don't understand. Get up and put on those clothes, unless you prefer to march in fatigue uniform. Do it darn quick, too; its eight miles to camp, and it's not healthy here nights since the gugus has cut loose again."
"See here, whats this all about anyway?" demanded Tombstone Johnny, with the first gleam of returning intelligence. "Oh, that's easy, and since you inquire special, I'll state the case. I'm Second Lieutenant John W. Bates, with orders to proceed to the reservation and take command of the garrison succeeding Lieutenant Jergenses. Got that far? Very well. You're Wilbur Hutchings, late private 1st class, of the 20th, on vacation without leave for reasons sufficient to yourself, but arrested at large as a deserter by Lieutenant Bates, and you will accompany me, in front, to Camp McBain and you'll do it quick."
Slowly the unclad man rose, every joint protesting, and with gingerly fingers arrayed himself in the shabbiest uniform that had ever covered his shrinking figure. The man with the gun watched the performance with ill-concealed amusement. "Not up to your grade, eh?" he sallied. "Well, maybe not, but they've done me all the good they will ever do, and they won't hurt you. I'm no raw recruit, and it's sure suitable that my last appearance is in an official uniform. First time I was ever a shave-tail, though, and they never called me Tombstone Johnny, neither."
In blind fury, the cringing captive turned and sprang at his tormentor, but he only stepped aside. Then leveling the revolver at the wretched figure before him he said: "That'll do, now. Forward march!"
Once more Tombstone Johnny began to protest. Then he swore, but the protest was sickly, and the profanity weak, and
the man with the gun got tired, and with a crack over the head sent the prisoner on his way up the trail. And what could a poor little shave-tail do when his legs refused to go straight under him, his tongue failed to connect with his ideas, and his head felt in danger of colliding with the trees on both sides of the trail?
"You skunk, you-you bob-tailed malingerer you," he sputtered. "I'll fix you when we get to camp. It'll be six-sixty for a starter-why, man alive," he broke out with sudden comprehension, "you're a deserter. Don't you know what that means?"
"Silence," commanded the man in the rear. "Your memory's bad. I'll fix your lesson so you won't forget it." And two seconds later Tombstone Johnny lay on the ground while his oppressor stood over him, revolver by the barrel, repeating: "I (tap) am Lieutenant (tap) Bates (tap.) You (tap) are (tap) deserter (tap) Hutchings (tap) under arrest (tap) on road (tap) to Camp McBain (tap.) Savy now," (tap, tap.)
If any desire for further protest were left, it was drowned in a shower of meteors and lost in an inarticulate groan of terror. For the quaking heart of a counterfeit man can be nothing but itself, and well, let's not abuse a wretch when he's down.
After awhile the trail grew steeper and the staggering prisoner bethought him of a last resort. "Where's my bottle? Let's have a drink together-my treat, you know," he whined and simpered.
"Shut up! Bottle's safe. Too much bottle now. March!"
They walked into camp just as the flag came down, and the sunset gun bade its farewell to the day. Each man looked his part. "Chesty," muttered the sergeant, as he took in the new commander. "But who the dickens is that dish-rag he's got?"
"Sergeant, place deserter Wilbur Hunchings, 20th regiment, in the guard house, double guard. He's been seein' things and 's crazy as a lobster. Make him keep his mouth shut."
The lieutenant was master of the situation. He took possession of headquarters, showed his papers to the ranking sergeant, inspected daily reports for the past week, ordered the best supper the camp could
furnish, asked how the Navajos were behaving, demanded a dozen cigars from the commissary sergeant, and generally looked and acted the part of ranking officer of the post.
"I have the honor to report that the prisoner in the guard house refuses to keep quiet, and talks. He claims to be a commissioned officer, and that he was-"
"Certainly, certainly, sir. He raved like a loon all the way in. I found him down at Sand Creek, drunk as a fool, and had the devil of a time to get him up here. He's been seein' 'em all the way. If he doesn't shut up, gag him."
The sergeant hesitated. "What is it?" demanded mander in best military tones.
"Nothing, lieutenant. But we understood you was to come yesterday, and the scouts has just come in and says that there is trouble on tonight. They's scheming to drop down on us after taps. They got wind of it through a squaw that'sfriendly, and I thought you ought to know it."
"Thunder," muttered the ranking officer, "but I've got into a- -I mean that is important surely," he continued aloud. "Sergeant, issue sixty rounds of ammunition, put three guards on first first watch, double pickets, order every man ready for action at taps."
The sergeant saluted and retired. Outside he met the corporal. "New lieutenant is O. K., but that was a mighty straight story the prisoner told. Doesn't look to me to be as drunk as reported. Look like he'd been out a week."
With military precision orders were obeved. Pickets were stationed, rations protected, ammunition issued, orders passed, taps sounded, and lights blinked. out. The silence of the night settled down, broken only by the night owl on the hill and the crickets in the pines. The new lieutenant sat and smoked and considered. This was better than he had dared hope. Whatever the discrepancies of his past, failure to make good in scrap had never been one, which was why he had not been cashiered long ago. When he made the find at Sand Creek he had no plans for anything but a get-away, and now fortune. had tumbled into his lap this basket of plums. A lieutenancy, command of the
post, and prize of prizes, a chance for a fight. For the first time he thought of what might have been, and then he sighed. and wondered how he would get away. It was plain sailing now. After the trick was turned tonight he could disappear with accoutrements of war and leave the wretch in the guard house to come to his own. It would be funny to see him try it, he thought.
Then it happened. Down the trail there was a shot, and then another, and in ten seconds the line was formed, and the lieutenant by the look-out tree watched for the charge, and it came. Up the trail swept the mob of painted and be-feathered red-skins, expecting to find all hands asleep. An instant later there there swept through their ranks a fire deadly and unexpected, and in the half moon-light they went down a dozen braves. The yell died, and with dead and wounded on their backs they fled.
It was over in a minute, and to have let them go would have been prudence.. But the new Lieutenant had smelled powder, and it went to his brain, and with an unofficial shout, he yelled, "Forward, double-quick! March! Give 'em hell, boys," and down the mountain he ran with the men.
At the big rock, the narrow meadow became a trap. A dozen men might scale the boulder and stand off a company as it came. But the new Lieutenant knew nothing of this, and into the hail of lead ran every man in the garrison except nine
and the prisoner in the guard-house. It was short and sharp, and it was nasty enough on both sides. In five minutes the rock was bare, and the foe had fled, and then there was a sound of strife from the camp. Shots and shouts rang out in the night air, and without waiting for command, every man that was left tore up the hill to find a hand to hand skirmish that lasted longer than was pleasant. Over by the guard house it was thick and fast, and here and there ran men, striking right and left. It was too dark to shoot straight and too light to ambush, and the Indians were too thick to pick off, and confusion reigned supreme.
Then there rose above the din a voice of command that rang through the camp. It brought assurance to the hard