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Injun and Whitey to the Rescue
by William S. Hart
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With this sort of thing on the surface you will understand that it would be easy to stir up more serious trouble from underneath, and something of the sort was going on. It was something Whitey couldn't put his hand on, but he could read it in signs shown by some of the men. And there were mysterious meetings and gatherings of the disaffected ones.

Of course, Injun was quick to sense all this, and had no scruples about butting in and finding out all about the trouble. As bad examples are as catching as good ones, and more so, Whitey joined Injun in his investigations. So behold! A dark night on the prairie. A tent showing only a streak of yellow light where the opening folds did not quite meet. Two boys lying on their stomachs near the edge of the tent, industriously listening.

This was not their own tent. There seemed to be few grumblers in that. It was the tent in which Henry Dorgan was housed. And listen as they might, and sharp as Injun's ears were, they heard nothing definite. Just murmurs, an occasional oath or two, and what might have been threats, in louder tones. It was very discouraging. So at last they returned to their own tent, to the yarn-spinning threshers and the silent old cowpuncher.

Whitey soon gave up this form of effort, but Injun did not; possibly because Dorgan was in the other tent. Friday night came, almost the last of the threshing. Injun was absent on his eavesdropping quest, which so far had yielded nothing. The men in Whitey's tent were merrier than usual and, it must be admitted, more profane. Then along came bad luck, in the person of Mrs. Gilbert Steele.

Mrs. Steele, you must know, was one of these motherly women who didn't have anything to mother. She was stout, round-faced, good-natured, and industrious; quite the opposite to her rather cold-blooded husband. And this matter of her not having anything to mother was responsible for many things, as you shall learn. Threshing-time was rush time with her. She had few chances to think of anything except food, but this night she happened to have a little leisure, and had devoted it to consideration of Whitey. "That poor boy out in that tent with all those rough men. Why didn't I think of him before?"

So Mrs. Steele had waddled out to the tent, and had arrived at a moment when there was a particularly strong outburst of profanity on the part of one of the rough men. Though this was nipped in the bud as Mrs. Steele entered the tent, it caused her to reproach herself more bitterly than before. She promptly took Whitey under her wing and told him that, crowded as the ranch house was, a place there should be found for him to sleep.

Whitey was greatly taken aback. Of course he didn't want to go. He thought it made him look foolish in the eyes of the men, and it did. He thought he might get out of it by explaining to Mrs. Steele, and he didn't. Perhaps that lady believed that Injun's morals were swear-proof, or that he didn't have any, for she didn't mention him. And to crown Whitey's annoyance and chagrin, just as he was being led away to the darned old house Injun appeared. And his face was lighted up—for Injun's. And his eyes were shining with an unholy light. For he had heard something!

There would have been another story to tell if Injun had acted differently. But in the first place he was an Indian, and it was not in his blood to follow any fat white woman and rescue a boy from her clutches. In the next place he was Injun; he had his own personality. We Caucasians are apt to think that because the red and yellow people look pretty much alike, they all are alike. Then when we come to know them, and find that they have as many differences as we have, we are rather surprised. This may be conceited of us, but it is natural. You probably know by now that Injun was a very independent person. So he started off to take charge of affairs himself.

Meanwhile Whitey, feeling much like a fool, and possibly looking like one had there been light enough to see, was being led to the ranch house. Arrived there and seated in the living-room, motherly Mrs. Steele apologized for not thinking of him before, and surrounding him with all the comforts of home, away from those vulgar men. She was inclined to be proud of herself for having done so at this late hour. Had she known what Whitey was thinking about the comforts of home and about her, she would not have been so proud.

For a while she entertained Whitey by talking about New York, which she had visited ten years before, when on her honeymoon. She was surprised to learn that Whitey had not even heard of any of the people she had met there, he having been born in New York and having lived there the first fourteen years of his life. Well, well; it was a queer world, anyway. Perhaps you will get the best idea of how unhappy Whitey was by imagining yourself in the same position.

In his misery Whitey formed vague plans for escape. Then a new horror awaited him. He was to sleep in the Steeles' bedroom, in a cot at the foot of their bed! In vain he protested that the living-room floor was good enough for him. Mrs. Steele wouldn't hear of it. So he was shown into the bedroom, and when he was undressed and clothed in one of Gil Steele's long white night-shirts, Mrs. Steele returned and took his clothes away to brush them!

Whitey's cup of bitterness was full. This was a fine position for a hero to be in. He tried the sour-grapes idea: perhaps Injun hadn't learned anything that amounted to anything, after all. But that didn't work. There were no two ways about it, he was an abused being. By golly, this was worse than school! But after working hard all day in the hot sun, even an abused being will get sleepy. So at last the curtain of sleep fell on Whitey; of dreamless sleep—perhaps he was too mad to dream.



CHAPTER XXII

THE NEW ORDER

At midnight Whitey was awakened; awakened and almost strangled at the same time. A hand was clamped across his mouth, with force enough to push his teeth down his throat. A lamp burned low in the room. Whitey saw Mrs. Steele bending over him. Her face was ashen with fear. Her eyes, bulging from her head, looked to Whitey to be the size of saucers. Whitey struggled vainly in her clutch.

"They're going to kill my husband!" she gasped. "Go, go to your father's ranch. Get the vigilantes. Bring them here quick, for God's sake! They'll murder him, they'll murder him!"

She dragged Whitey from the bed and, half pulling him behind her, groped her way to the side door of the ranch house and into the blackness of the night. Tied to a bush, by a hackamore, was an iron-gray colt, the fastest on the ranch. After that night's work he was known to be the fastest in that part of the country.

Mrs. Steele gave the half-awakened Whitey a "foot up" upon the pony, untied the hackamore, and he was gone. Fortunately for Whitey the horse was turned in the right direction. That pony had been wanting to run ever since he was born. This was the first time he ever had had a chance, and he sure took advantage of it.

Back toward the men's quarters the night was fractured by sounds like those of a healthy young riot. These meant nothing to Whitey, nor did the pung! pung! of bullets, when he started, or rather when the colt started. Perhaps the men were shooting wide, or perhaps the pony was going so fast the bullets couldn't catch him. Be it said for the threshers they didn't know they were shooting at a boy.

You will admit that being wakened from a sound sleep, shot on to the back of an almost wild colt, and borne across a dark prairie at lightning speed does not tend to make one think clearly. Whitey had only one lucid thought during that ride. If any cowpunchers mistook his white-clad figure for a ghost, they couldn't shoot him—he was going too fast. In a vague way he was thankful for this.

The distance was fourteen miles, and it seemed to Whitey as though he made it in thirteen jumps. When the pony arrived at the Bar O Ranch, he still had the boy with him. And when Whitey pulled up the restless colt, and roused the slumbering household, he had another sensation coming, for his father was there.

Mr. Sherwood had intended his coming to the ranch that day as a surprise, and it was. And he had had a surprise coming to him. He had laughed when Bill Jordan told him how he was hazing Whitey. Then Walt Lampson, of the Star Circle, had arrived with Mart Cooley, who was now working for Walt. They had dropped in to see if Whitey had arrived home safely, supposing that he had started for home when he left the Star Circle.

When it was learned that Whitey wasn't at home, and no one knew where he was, Mr. Sherwood had his surprise, and it wasn't pleasant. And Bill Jordan looked crestfallen. They had talked it over till late, and decided to start a search for Whitey in the morning. Then, when Whitey, clad in a large night-shirt and riding a half-wild pony, came to summon the vigilantes—well, it seemed a time for surprises.

The men hastily dressed and armed themselves, summoned all the others on the ranch, and saddled their horses. While this is going on, at the risk of telling you something you already know, a word about the vigilantes. In the Old West various bodies of men were formed to clean up the wilder elements. Sometimes they enforced their law by being lawless themselves. They made a man be good if they had to hang him to do it. The law was weak. By harsh, rough treatment—as a tigress might treat its cub—they made it strong. And when the law was strong and able to care for itself—again like the tigress—they allowed it to do so; the vigilantes disbanded.

The Bar O mustered about ten men. The rider of the fastest horse dashed ahead to the Junction, to get reenforcements to join the ranchmen on their way to the scene of action. And now came bitter, oh, bitter! disappointment for Whitey. He was not to be allowed to go. He had been hero enough. The only clothing that iron-gray pony had on during that fourteen-mile ride was a hackamore, and the only clothing Whitey had on was a night-shirt. He was fit for nothing except to lie face downward and sleep—no attitude for a hero.

Whitey begged, he appealed, he almost wept, but his father was firm. He was willing to risk his own life; he would not risk his son's. So, with tears in his eyes, Whitey stood and watched the party gallop away in the darkness. And beside him, a lantern in his hand, stood the cook, an elderly man who had taken Wong Lee's place. And he watched wistfully, too, for he wanted to go, but he had left one of his legs on a Southern battle-field.

Whitey choked back a sob with which the silence would have been broken. He felt something warm and moist on his hand, and looked down. It was the tongue of Sitting Bull, the faithful—forgotten but not forgetting. And as Whitey gazed at the friendly ugly face of the dog, he noted the determination marked in every feature of it. He could not imagine any one's stopping Bull from going into a fight if he wanted to go into it. And perhaps unconsciously Whitey's under lip and jaw shot out, and his face took on much the expression of Bull's. Whitey would like to see any one stop him from going.

That new, elderly cook not only approved of Whitey's purpose of disobedience or rebellion, he aided him in it; yes, if it cost him his job! There was the iron-gray colt, still restless and as ready for the fourteen-mile ride back as he was for his breakfast. While Whitey limped into the ranch house for some clothing and footwear, the cook had his own troubles getting his own saddle and bridle on that pony.

When Whitey reappeared and was helped into the saddle, he let out a yell of agony and helped himself out again. This would never do. The leather felt like hot iron. A consultation. The cook's blankets were brought out, folded and cinched on the saddle, the stirrups shortened. Again Whitey mounted. The torture was somewhat less. Painfully he galloped away. A last look back showed the lantern on the ground, the cook kneeling beside it, with both arms around Sitting Bull, restraining that warrior from following.

When the Bar O men and Lampson and Cooley were joined by the contingent from the Junction, about forty determined vigilantes dashed over the prairie. Their horses were fresh and they made good speed. The cloudy darkness had given way to starlight that dimly illumined the still night. Mr. Sherwood had aimed at a sufficient force to overawe the threshers, if possible. There was little talk.

They had made perhaps ten miles when there was a distraction. A horse came galloping toward them. A dozen rifles were drawn from their gunboats. When the horse drew near, it made a detour, avoiding them, and eyes accustomed to the darkness could see that it was riderless. With no pause, but commenting on this, they rode on.

About two miles farther on, from the surface of the plain came a flash of flame and the short bark of a forty-five, followed by another and another. The men reined in, but the shots were directed the other way. The marksman was evidently too occupied with his invisible target to notice them. But on their nearer approach he rose to his feet and started to run. A shot over his head, a sharp command, and he halted and was surrounded by the vigilantes, but not before he had slily dropped some object in the grass. One of the men dismounted and struck a match.

"Why, it's Henry Dorgan!" exclaimed Mart Cooley.

Dorgan appeared to be greatly flustered and in pain. His left arm was helpless from a wound in the shoulder, and from the fleshy part of it an arrow protruded. It probably had been less painful to leave it there than to pull it out. It was a home-made arrow.

"What you shootin' at?" demanded Bill Jordan.

"That infernal Injun," whined Dorgan. "He's bin pesterin' me; follerin' me like a shadow."

The vigilantes peered into the darkness, and made out a hummock on the prairie. It was a dead horse, and from behind it Injun rose and came toward the group. He had been reassured by the sound of Bill's voice.

"Lemme go!" cried Dorgan. "I don't want no more truck with him," and he started as if to run, but was roughly held back.

"What's all this rumpus about, Injun?" Bill Jordan demanded, when the boy was within hearing.

Injun indicated Dorgan. "Him steal Monty," he said.

"Is that Monty lying dead over there?" Mr. Sherwood inquired anxiously.

"No. Him run away," Injun replied.

"Then it musta bin Monty that passed us," said Bill Jordan.

Through short, sharp questioning it was developed that Injun had seen Dorgan take Monty from the Hanley Ranch corral, had borrowed a mount for himself, and followed; that he had winged Dorgan with an arrow, the shock of which had jarred him so that he had fallen from the pony. The other arrow in Dorgan's arm was the result of another lucky shot by Injun. When the vigilantes arrived, Dorgan was striving to return the compliment. He had succeeded in killing Injun's borrowed horse, behind which that expert young person had barricaded himself. It took but a minute to tell this story. Again Injun indicated Dorgan and said:

"Him drop something." Running back in the course Dorgan had taken, Injun returned with a small but heavy canvas bag. It was filled with gold and silver coins, the principal currency of the West in those days. This promised interesting developments, but Dorgan, who had fallen into a sullen silence, refused to answer when questioned about the bag.

"What's going on at the Hanley Ranch, Injun?" Mr. Sherwood asked. "Have those threshers killed Gil Steele?"

"Dunno, Make heap noise. Much fire-wa—whiskey," said Injun, suddenly remembering his education. His object had been to "get" Dorgan. His plan had been to watch Monty. The plan had worked. That was all he knew.

"Come, we've lost time enough," said Mr. Sherwood. "Two of you fellows will have to ride double. One take Injun, the other Dorgan. Injun, you take Dorgan's gun, and if he makes a break, plug him."

But Dorgan didn't want to go back to the Hanley Ranch, and suddenly he became very talkative. He could explain about the money and Monty and everything.

"No time for chinning," Bill Jordan said. "Boost him up."

"Would you b'lieve a Injun 'stead o' me?" Dorgan wailed, as he was being boosted onto the horse of a disgusted cowboy.

"Sure—a rattlesnake," declared Bill. And the party started, Injun proudly carrying Dorgan's reloaded six-gun.

Except for the horses bearing double the rest of the ride was made at breakneck speed. When the vigilantes approached the Hanley Ranch house, a noise was heard such as is supposed to come from Donnybrook Fair. They headed for the sounds, but as they arrived the racket had ceased. It was followed by an ominous stillness. This, in turn, was broken by a woman's scream.

Over a score of men, most of them half drunk, were gathered in front of a large barn. From the ridge of this projected a derrick-beam with a pulley through which a rope was roved. One end of the rope was in the hands of several threshers, the other was in a noose around Gil Steele's neck. Mrs. Steele was being bound and gagged by other men. The action of the group came to an abrupt standstill as the vigilantes dismounted and crowded into the foreground.

"Unloose that rope," said Mr. Sherwood. He released Mrs. Steele himself.

The man who seemed to be the thresher's leader glanced around at the vigilantes, their number, their rifles, and their Colt guns. He unloosed the rope.

"Now, what's all this about?" demanded Mr. Sherwood, seeing that danger was averted.

In an instant Babel broke loose. The sober and half-drunken men and Gil Steele began loud and angry explanations. Steele was interrupted by his wife, who staggered and almost fell as she threw herself on his breast and fainted. Thus was the step from tragedy to comedy taken, but no one thought of laughing. The tragedy was too close.

Then came another interruption: the arrival of the double-laden horses with Injun and Dorgan. When the latter was dragged into the group, and the bag of money thrown on the ground in front of him, there was another ominous silence. Gil Steele released himself from his wife, who had recovered. He knelt and with trembling fingers undid the neck of the bag, and displayed its contents of gold and silver. That bag of money was the key to the whole situation. Again Babel broke loose.

In time, out of the yells, curses, threats, and other sounds, this story was extracted: Gil Steele's closeness, not to say meanness, had made him more than unpopular. The threshers who owned the machine worked a percentage of the grain which they carted away to the railroad. Gil had tried to reduce this percentage. The threshers, abetted by Henry Dorgan, had tried to increase it. Dorgan also had told the hired hands that Steele intended to reduce their wages. Steele had become angry and refused to talk to any of the men. In some mysterious way Dorgan had introduced a keg of whiskey into the situation.

The hands had demanded their money, and none was forthcoming. They had attacked Gil Steele, who had wounded one of them and fled. It was then that Mrs. Steele had sent Whitey for aid, as it was certain that the infuriated mob would hang Steele if they found him. Gil was hidden in a most unromantic place; a sort of dugout, one-third dirt, one-third boards, and one-third stone, in which hams were smoked. You know how near he came to going from that place to his death.

And Henry Dorgan had created the disturbance so that under cover of it he might steal the bag containing the money for the men.

When this fact was apparent to the minds of the excited hands, they and Gil Steele made a rush for the cowering Dorgan, but Mr. Sherwood and some of the vigilantes intervened with drawn weapons and forced them back. The vigilantes would see that the law punished Dorgan. There was loud-voiced protest against this, but the attackers were outnumbered and were helpless.

During this Walt Lampson and Mart Cooley had been talking apart, and now Walt stepped forward. "This law business is all well enough," he said, "but I got somethin' t' say about Dorgan." He faced the crowd. "Lots o' you fellers are cowmen, ain't you?" he asked. Most of the men were. "When the Star Circle herd was stampeded by them white-caps," Lampson went on, "an' we got them sheepmen for doin' it, Donald Spellman cashed in, but before doin' so he told me who put up the job. It was this feller Dorgan. Him a cowman, an' he turned ag'in' his kind for money. Are we goin' t' let him get away?"

Henry Dorgan's feeling of relief was gone, and he crouched behind Mr. Sherwood and Bill Jordan, white-faced with fear, as a loud "No!" came from a majority of the men. This turn of events caused a breach in the vigilantes' ranks. The Bar O men stood by Mr. Sherwood, but some of the cattlemen from the Junction hated sheepmen more than they loved the law.

"Better give Dorgan up," Walt Lampson advised Mr. Sherwood.

"No," replied Mr. Sherwood.

A movement began in the crowd. Men ranged themselves on one side or the other. With the Bar O men and those left from the Junction crowd, Mr. Sherwood now headed about twenty vigilantes; they were outnumbered. The old cowpuncher, he of the Custer story, came and stood by Bill Jordan. It being evident that it would take a fight to get Dorgan, Walt Lampson stepped back and Mart Cooley took his place.

"Mart's a bad hombre, boss," Bill Jordan whispered to Mr. Sherwood. "You ain't got no call t' get killed. You better get out o' this."

"Are you going to get out, Bill?" Mr. Sherwood asked, and Bill grinned.

As this Western bad man and this Eastern business man faced each other, they represented not only violence against law, but something else—the old order against the new: the old order that survives only on the printed page and in the memory of man.

"Better give in," Walt Lampson shouted from the crowd. "That skunk Dorgan ain't worth sheddin' blood for."

"The law is," Mr. Sherwood replied determinedly.

His courage seemed to make an impression on the mutineers, as moral courage usually does, but not on Mart Cooley, who was regarding Mr. Sherwood coldly. Mart did not reach for a gun. Your bad man never did—until the gun was to go into action. And there was this silent pause between the two factions, when a word would have meant bloodshed.

Whitey had ridden into the outskirts of the scene, unnoticed, and had seen his father facing Mart Cooley, the man who handed out death so easily and unerringly. As Whitey dismounted and staggered toward the center of the crowd, he was joined by Injun, who was standing near. Whitey's face was ashen and his teeth clenched. He was not going to see his father killed if he could help it, though he had not the slightest idea how he could help it. Mr. Sherwood exclaimed angrily when he saw his son approach with Injun.

Near by stood Mrs. Steele, with clasped hands and staring eyes, helpless with fear. The boys' coming caused a moment's irresolution in the crowd. Mrs. Steele saw her chance, and fear left her. She boldly forced her way to where Injun and Whitey stood, and turned to her husband, who was foremost among the lynchers.

"Gil!" she cried, pointing at Whitey. "You ain't goin' to kill this boy? He saved your life!" She saw a change come in her husband's face and was quick to follow up her advantage. She grasped Injun by the arm. "And this Injun," she called. "See what he did for you. You ain't goin' to fire on him?"

"No, by——, I ain't!" said Steele.

In his thirst for revenge he had been willing enough to oppose his rescuers; indeed, some of them would have been fighting with him; but to fight against the boys was different. He drew his gun from its holster, threw it on the ground, went over to Whitey, and grasped him by the hand.

It would be hard to say what turned the tide of that mob's feelings. Whether it was Whitey's standing by his father, Mrs. Steele's quick wit, or Gil's throwing down his gun, or all three. But the tide was turned. The desire to kill was gone, and no one knew this better than Mart Cooley. As he and Walt Lampson moved toward the horses, he paused and spoke to Mr. Sherwood.

"You got good nerve, all right," he said, "and so has the kid."

Mr. Sherwood smiled, and Mart Cooley went on into the shadows, from which he never came again, as far as the father and son's lives went. And it must be admitted that Whitey's nerves were rather shaken by now, with the excitement of the ride and the fear for his father and all. But it was something to have been the first messenger boy in the West—even if you were started off as a joke—and to help bring about the new order of things.



CHAPTER XXIII

PIONEER DAYS

Injun and Whitey sat on the veranda of the Bar O Ranch house, with Sitting Bull between them. One of Whitey's hands rested on the head of the dog, who leered at him lovingly. Now that Whitey was back, Bull was so full of contentment that it almost gave him indigestion.

"Injun, do you remember the day Bull came?" Whitey asked. "And how I said maybe it was a good omen, and there ought to be something doing on the ranch? Well, there has been something doing—on and off."

"Um," said Injun, looking at Bull, with a gleam of appreciation in his eye. "Him good med'cine."

Whitey's night ride from the Hanley Ranch had created much favorable comment in the neighborhood, and Injun had come in for his share of praise. Some one called them "the rescuing kids." But Whitey found that being a hero wasn't what it was cracked up to be. When any one praised him he was inclined to blush, and that made him sore at himself.

But the extraordinary effect of the affair was the change in Gil Steele. As Bill Jordan said, it had "jarred Gil loose from his meanness." The result of this jarring was that Gil presented Whitey with the iron-gray colt, with a silver-mounted saddle and bridle. The neighborhood gasped at that, and gasped again when Gil gave Injun a pair of gold-mounted six-guns, with an embossed leather cartridge-belt and holsters. You can imagine the figure Injun cut when decorated with these. And he slept with them on.

And, pleasing to relate, Gil prospered more when he was generous than he had when he was mean. In time he became very well off.

Things seemed to be coming Whitey's way, for the school problem was solved, too. Mr. Sherwood brought this news from the East. John Big Moose was to return. Not that John had been unsuccessful in the Eastern college; far from that. He had gained the respect and esteem of the students. It is true that they called him "Big Chief," but there was more affection in the nickname than even the boys suspected.

But John was like many another man—and boy—who, when he gets what he wants, finds that he doesn't want it so much, after all. It was not only that John longed for the greater reaches and the free life of the West; he felt a call to return to and to aid his own people. There were plenty of men to teach in colleges; there were few who could help the Indians as John could.

And he agreed to direct Injun and Whitey's studies until the time came for them to go away to school, which would not be long.

So, with Henry Dorgan safely in jail awaiting trial, and a vacation in prospect, pending John Big Moose's return, something must be done. Wouldn't do for the boys to sit around twirling their thumbs. They began to talk about this, or rather Whitey began to talk and Injun to slip in a grunted word now and then; and suddenly Whitey had an idea.

Often on the plains and in the mountains Whitey had thought of the pioneer days of the West; thoughts such as the country arouses in the minds of all boys and of some men. Whitey could close his eyes and imagine that he saw an old wagon train wending its way across the prairie, its line of white-topped schooners drawn by drooping, tired horses, its outriding guard of scouts, clad in buckskin, alert, keen-eyed, each with a long rifle resting in the hollow of his arm. Or in the mountains he saw an old, fur-capped trapper crouch behind the shelter of a boulder, his single-shot, heavy-barreled rifle directed toward an unconscious, lumbering grizzly, the trapper's life hanging on the accuracy of his one shot. Yes, like all boys Whitey was full of these dreams.

"Injun, we'll take a pioneer hunting trip!" he cried.

It took a little time to explain this matter to Injun, but when it was explained Injun was keen for the plan, too, for his being Injun didn't make him different from any other boy at heart. He was to take his bow and arrows. Whitey would borrow an old-fashioned Springfield rifle, that belonged to his father. There would be no Winchester repeaters, nor trout rods with multiplying reels, nor any of the modern weapons for slaying game or fish. It would be a sort of return to the wild.

And here the first trouble arose with Injun; that of leaving his six-guns behind. It took some time to coax him to do this; to entrust them to the safe in the ranch house. But, that done, it was necessary only to get Mr. Sherwood's permission and to make the preparations. Mr. Sherwood was not in the ranch house, nor in the bunk house, where Bill Jordan was starting one of his lengthy yarns. Whitey paused there for a moment.

"What I don't know about boys a tongue-tied man could tell in half a second," Bill was saying.

"A tongue-tied man couldn't tell nothin' in half a second," objected Shorty Palmer.

"That's just what I mean," Bill said. "There ain't nothin' to tell. Now, 'bout a boy bein' civil. You don't often find one, out West here, and when you do it's mostly accident; mebbe inherited. 'Course you c'n train a boy t' be p'lite, but you got t' be careful, like in trainin' any other animal, an' not take th' spunk outa him. Most folks thinks that when a boy's civil he ain't got nothin' else t' recommend him, but 'tain't allus so. Now, I knowed a boy, onc't—"

But Whitey fled. He could not afford to wait for Bill's story, which probably would take all the morning. He found his father, overcame that gentleman's objections to the pioneer hunting trip, and Injun and Whitey had a busy time gathering the food, weapons, and clothing for their journey to the mountains, where the simple life was to be led.

It was shortly after noon when they rode away, the men on the ranch watching, and perhaps each feeling in his heart a little twinge, as though he'd like to be a kid again, and up to some such boyish prank. Whitey was on Monty, Injun on his pinto, leading a pack-horse laden with their few belongings. From the corral the intelligent eyes of the iron-gray colt regarded them with interest; the colt that was to be trained for racing, and that Whitey hoped to ride in rodeos.

This country was so full of game that all one had to do was to go a mile from any town, in any direction, to find it. Prairie chickens were most prolific; the principal game. They were so plentiful that one could walk through thousands of them and they would part and allow the hunter to move among them, without taking wing.

Of course, one never would dream of shooting at a bird unless it was on the wing. The only time that was excusable was when hunting for partridges among the trees in the foothills. Usually Injun with his bow and arrow would take first shot at the partridge as it perched in the tree branches. If he missed, which he seldom did, Whitey would let go his shot-gun when the partridge was on the wing. And as Injun seldom missed, Mr. Partridge lost both ways. But this day the shot-gun was at home, so Injun bagged all the partridges they needed for food.

The prairie chickens have a peculiar call. First the hens cry, in a high, treble, "Chuck-luck, chuck-a-luck!" and the male replies, in a deep, full sound, "Bomb-bombo-boo!"

In that part of the country there was a rather eccentric character named Charlie Clark. He had been creased on the head by a bullet sometime, somehow, and he was not exactly all there. And Injun and Whitey used to interpret the calls of the prairie chicks to:

"Char-lie—Clar-k—Char-lie—Clar-k—Char-lie—Clar-k—" for the hens, and:

"Darn'd ol-fool—" for the males.

And so the boys went on their merry, heedless way. They expected to camp in the foothills that night, and had made about ten miles in a leisurely way, when Injun happened to look back and saw an object approaching them in an uncertain and wobbly but determined manner. Injun's sharp eyes soon identified it as Sitting Bull. The boys were first surprised, then sorry that Bull should have had such a long pursuit, but that did not keep back Whitey's laughter when Bull staggered up to where they waited for him. He sure was a happy dog, and fatigue did not keep him from showing it, his method being to twist his body into almost a half-circle, wag his stump tail, and prance about gazing delightedly up at the boys.

As a hunting companion he was a frost. Looking at it in that light, and after deep consideration, Injun spoke. "Him must go back," he said.

"How?" asked Whitey.

More profound thought, and Injun spoke again. "Me take him," he decided.

"Oh," said Whitey, "and I wait up in the mountains alone. Perhaps you wouldn't mind sending me daily or hourly reports of Bull's condition while he is recovering from the fatigue of his journey." Injun didn't know whether this was sarcasm, or if he was being kidded, and he didn't care. His was a serious mind that was not easily turned to light thoughts. "No," said Whitey, "he goes with us, I can't bear to disappoint him." And perhaps Injun was better satisfied at this decision, though he did not express himself.

So the journey was resumed. For a time Whitey would carry Bull. When he tired, Injun would carry Bull awhile. When Injun tired, Bull would waddle a way. It was a strange way for a dog to go hunting.

As we are soon to part from Injun and Whitey, there is one more thing I feel that I should tell you about them. In a way I don't like to tell it, in another way I feel that I ought to tell it and—anyway, I'm going to tell it and to call it:



CHAPTER XXIV

"IN MEMORY"

Up in the mountains, about two miles northwest of Moose Lake, was a hole which old Mother Nature had carelessly left there, and afterwards thoughtfully filled with water. The water was blue—probably in imitation of the near-by sky—so the place was called Blue Lake.

At Moose Lake there was a cabin and a canoe, as you may remember, and to Injun and Whitey that had seemed too civilized for a pioneer hunting trip. So they had fished the canoe out of the lake, and had made a portage with it. The canoe was light, and a boy could carry it over his head for quite a distance before he got tired or fell over a rock.

Blue Lake was an ideal place for a wild camp. It was almost circular and nearly a mile in diameter. To the north its shore blended with the heights that led to the peaks; heights clad with a rugged growth of pines and firs that extended toward the timber line. There was nothing gentle or park-like about the Blue Lake.

Its chilly depths were spring-fed, and sheltered trout that were far from logy. They would put up an awful fight for life, and as the boys were using back-to-nature poles, made from the branches of trees, the fish tried the patience even of Injun.

When not tied to a tree Sitting Bull's part in the hunting was to interfere with matters as much as possible. As a hunting dog he had only one advantage; he didn't bark. But he deserved no credit for that. It wasn't his nature to bark. As Bull tore enthusiastically about, Whitey would watch him with a rueful smile, and say, "The only way he could help would be by going home, and of course he can't do that."

"In early October a crisp morning found Injun and Whitey leaving camp to begin what for them was a special day's hunting. They were going for deer. The deer loved the secluded shores of the lake, and some distance from the camp a run led to a spot where the animals came down to drink. This morning the camp was down the wind from that spot; so it was ideal. The boys planned to go in the canoe, and Sitting Bull was securely tied to a tree to await their return. But Bull looked so longing, so lonely, there was so much entreaty in his eyes, that Whitey allowed his heart to overrule his head.

"He can't raise much of a row in the canoe, and he won't bark," Whitey said rather shamefacedly. "Let's take him along."

Injun said nothing, as usual, but he didn't look disapproving. So they got into their canoe and paddled up the wind until near the run, where they found a low, overhanging branch and ran the canoe under it. So masked they waited for Mr. Deer to come and drink.

In about an hour he came and with him was Mrs. Deer, or maybe it was his daughter, and not his wife, for she looked so young and timid one hardly could picture her as the mate of Mr. Deer. He was a big fellow who would weigh about four hundred pounds, and had fourteen points—little branches shooting off his horns.

It was Injun's turn to shoot first, and he pulled back his bowstring and braced himself to let go. Right here it may be said that at thirty yards an arrow propelled by an Indian-made bow is just as deadly as a bullet, if it hits its mark. But Injun shot a little high and caught the buck in the shoulder. He threw up his head and let out a roar of battle, looking every inch the magnificent creature that he was, and just churned the waters of the lake, which he was in up to his knees.

He didn't have very long to bellow his defiance, for Whitey's Springfield rifle spoke. Now Mr. Deer turned almost completely over from the shock, but again the hit was not in a vital spot. The canoe was rocking a little, and Mr. Deer was not exactly posing to be shot at. And there was another excuse that I have mentioned before—buck fever: the disease that comes when a big buck deer jumps up from nowhere, and causes the hunter to lose his head and do the wrong thing.

You would think that Injun and Whitey would have been over that? Well, perhaps they should have been immune, but you will remember that our mighty hunters were just boys, and even frontier boys can be excused for a sudden attack of a complaint that grownups have. And the grownup who says that he never has had it, at some time in his life, that Mr. Grownup has not done any deer hunting, or that Mr. Grownup lies. And what's more, some grownups never get over it.

Perhaps Sitting Bull had given the fever to Injun, for the dog was trembling so that he shook the canoe; each particular hair stood on end, and if any one had stroked Bull, he probably would have got the electric shock of his life. Anyway, Injun sure had buck fever for the first time in his young life, for in bracing himself for his next shot he sat too far back on his left leg, and when he let go his arrow, over went the canoe. All hopes for a successful issue of that battle would have ended right there had not Injun's arrow by a lucky shot gone straight into Mr. Deer's heart. With one mighty lunge in the air he fell back in the water toward the shore, where his horns and part of his body remained above the surface. When the canoe went over, Whitey held his rifle high over his head, so it was still dry and ready for use—a needless precaution in this case.

I hate to write this part of the story. The deer's daughter—she must have been his daughter—had lots and lots of chances to run away, but she didn't do it. She just stood there like the poor, timid, scared thing she was, with every quiver of her graceful body, every look of her big, brown, childlike eyes saying, "Please, why did you kill my father, who was my only protector? And please, please don't hurt me!"

Did you, Mr. or Miss Reader, ever have a helpless animal look at you in that way? If you did, you know it's awful—awful to remember!

Whitey fired. He couldn't miss at that distance. And he ran forward to force Miss Deer to fall on the bank, clear of the water, which she did. She looked at Whitey while he was shoving her over, Whitey nor no one else can ever describe that look, and Whitey, boy as he was, turned away his head as she fell. Injun stood by dripping, silent, his face a mask for his feelings. And Sitting Bull was shivering, but not with cold or excitement; he had caught the dying look of the doe. And Bull's ugly face reflected the feelings of his heart, that was both brave and gentle, for actually, yes, actually! there were tears in Bull's eyes.

The canoe was brought to shore, the water was dumped out of it, the paddles were recovered. Then a rope was fastened to Mr. Deer, and by means of a log lever he was hauled out of the lake and dressed. But Injun didn't talk and Whitey didn't talk. And Bull didn't wander around as usual and smell the scents that gave him so much excitement and delight, and that the boys couldn't smell at all. The deer's head, hide, and some of the meat were put into the canoe. The rest of the meat was tied high in trees, safe from marauding animals. The boys didn't touch Miss Deer. They got into the canoe with Bull and paddled away. They didn't look back.

The rest of the day and evening were spent in a constrained silence. Sitting Bull felt the constraint. He lay on the ground, his great head between his paws, and moodily watched the boys. Several hours had passed; it was night, at the camp-fire; still no words had been spoken. Finally Whitey stopped looking into the fire and stood up straight.

"Injun, where's the spade?" he asked. "I've got something to do."

Injun answered Whitey's question, but asked none of his own. "Me go help," he said.

With Sitting Bull as a passenger, they paddled the canoe back over the moonlit lake until they came to the run. And the two boys dug a grave for Miss Deer, and laid her in that grave just as she fell, and covered it with a pile of stones so the coyotes couldn't touch her. And when the morning sun came up over the hills, Injun and Whitey were in a new camp miles away.

Injun said nothing to Whitey and Whitey said nothing to Injun, but to the day of his death Injun never shot at a Miss Deer again. And although Whitey is now a middle-aged man, to this day he has never again shot at a Miss Deer. Nor has he ever forgotten the look in the eyes of that Miss Deer which those boys buried on the bank of Blue Lake, twenty-six years ago.



THE END

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