"The deuce she did!"
"But what did you do it for?" She turned on him furiously. "What did you do it for?"
"Yes—but where's this Cousin Mary?"
"We had a scene—at least, part of one: we didn't either of us say half we wanted to—and she's left. She'll probably decide in the end, though, that her disposition's lovely enough to overlook it, and insist on making her home with her eccentric millionaire cousin-in-law—What did you do this for?"
He stood there, frowning in perplexity. Then with a sigh of relief, "Supposing we sit down," he said, as one who has a happy inspiration. "I don't know as I can explain this to your satisfaction—exactly. But I'll try. It seemed to me—Don't you know, I thought—Hang it all, that King Cophetua business—was that the chap's name?—never did appeal to me a little bit. I'm dead sure that Beggar Maid had it in for him from the start for his beastly condescending ways to her. And I was afraid you might think—you see, it seemed to me that when your affairs were back in the position they ought to be, perhaps you'd feel better towards me."
He looked at her with boyish entreaty in his eyes. It was as though she were suddenly in the room with a new person. The expression of his face left her breathless.
"Then you came to that boarding-house deliberately to——"
"I did. Deliberately to let you get a bit used to me. It might have upset you to have a perfect stranger come up and marry you offhand."
She was flushed to the eyes. Suddenly he turned and switched on the electric lights. Then he turned back and looked at her—hard. The rose deepened.
"Surely, you're not pretending to tell me," he said slowly, as one thoroughly bedazed, "that you don't know I'm so looney about you my hand shakes whenever you come into the room?"
The girl looked away.
"You said that day—that day—that day, you know——"
"You said most distinctly that—you didn't love me."
He turned an exasperated face toward her.
"Said that? Of course I said it. What did you expect me to say? How apt would you have been to have taken me——"
"——if I'd come up with the confession that your eyes set me crazy and the impudent tilt of your little nose was very much on my nerves? Supposing I'd told you that you bowled me over the moment I saw you—It's God's truth. I saw you at the theater in New York just before you left for Fort Leavenworth. I followed you there, but nothing that wasn't brass buttons seemed to be having an inning; and I didn't care to meet you at all, unless I could win out. So I left and went down to Arizona, where there was some land business I had to look after. Then McFay came down there and talked a good deal with his mouth; and I was sure it was all off and was doubly glad I hadn't met you. Then came the news of the earthquake and the fire; and I kept waiting for the beggar to get leave and go to you—and he didn't go. And then one night he—well, he was drunk, or he wouldn't have done it—but he talked some more with his mouth; and so I knew what to expect from him and—er, removed your photograph from his rooms—he hadn't any business having it around for men to stare at, anyway—and then I came here to find you; and—and that's about all, I guess."
He laughed an embarrassed laugh.
"I was pretty well done for before—it seems to me everybody I met kept talking about you—but the boarding-house business finished me completely. There were you—you'd lost more than all that trash put together, and had been badly treated, and all—but you held your head high and never peeped and made that dining-table a thing to look forward to beyond everything. No wonder the landlady hated you. I could have kneeled down and kissed your little boots—not that you'd have cared about it especially."
He laughed his boyish, embarrassed laugh again.
"But to go back a bit—how apt would you have been to have taken me—after your experiences and that cur down at your office, besides—if I'd have trotted up and told you how I felt and asked you please to have me? How apt would you have been? I got the license and kept it dark and bided my time. There was nothing else to do—then."
They were standing again, facing one another, wide-eyed, and both rather breathless.
The girl turned away.
"I won't be humble," she whispered to herself tremulously. "I won't. It's a wretched policy for women, and the effects are dreadful on men."
She trailed away towards the other end of the room.
"I'm not Ikey any more. I'm not the Wandering Jew. The thirteenth move is a glorious move, and I've come home—to a man in a million."
Aloud she observed disdainfully, "The whole performance from beginning to end has been unspeakable—simply unspeakable; and I insist——"
She had reached the bay-window and pressed her little nose tight against the window-pane.
"I insist you're no gentleman," came her muffled, shaky voice from behind the curtains, "or I wouldn't have to be standing here quite by myself, waiting for you to come over here and—and kiss me."
GIFFORD PINCHOT, FORESTER
BY WILL C. BARNES
ILLUSTRATED WITH PHOTOGRAPHS
For almost a century the unoccupied government lands of the West have been used as a public commons. The stockmen have used the grass and water; the mining, sawmill, and railroad men the timber; until—simply because no one made it his business to object to the spoliation that was going on—what had been done wholly on the suffrance of the national government had come to be regarded and most lustily defended as an inherent privilege and right.
And so when, a decade ago, the tall, pleasant-voiced young man from the far East, now known throughout the United States as Gifford Pinchot, the national forester, appeared in the West, and suggested to the stockmen that they were ruining the country by over-grazing, they laughed him to scorn.
He told the mining and sawmill men that through reckless and extravagant methods of lumbering they were bringing on a timber famine by great strides; he characterized their whole policy as one of utter disregard for the future of the country; and he demanded forcible and immediate action on the part of the Federal authorities. These pioneers had seen uncounted millions of buffalo melt away because no one took enough interest in the matter to stop the wanton waste. They had seen great billowy prairies, once knee-deep in the most splendid covering of grass and vegetation, grazed down until they were hardly more than dust heaps; and mountains that were clothed with magnificent forests swept bare—first by the woodsman's ax and later by forest fires that burned each year millions and millions of feet of the finest timber a country ever possessed, while no one raised a hand even to quench the fire because "it was only government land."
The Fight against the "Pinchot Policies"
These hard-headed, adventurous Western pioneers, indignant at the thought of any curtailment of their freedom; resentful of interference in what they were pleased to call their "inalienable right" to do as they pleased with the country they had conquered; utterly regardless of its future, and thinking but of the present and their own selfish interests, arose in their wrath and protested vigorously against what they called the "Pinchot policies" of the government.
That the writer, then a range cattle-raiser in Arizona, was one of the first to feel the effects of the new forest policy gives him all the more right to speak as he does of these things; that he joined with loud tongue and bitter pen in the general denunciation of the "Pinchot policies" makes it all the more a pleasure to him now to defend and explain them in so far as he can.
Although there had been a small start toward forest preservation, it was not until Mr. Pinchot was placed at the head of the movement in 1898 (six years after the first reserve was made), and organized and reconstructed the force of officials, that we really had any national forest policies worth mentioning.
His enemies first attacked his motives. He was a "notoriety seeker," a "political adventurer" looking for personal advancement. To their surprise they found that he showed not the slightest disposition to exploit himself; that, having millions at his command, he could expect to gain nothing financially by his course; and that he was absolutely devoid of any political ambitions.
They then took another point of attack. "He is an Eastern swell who knows nothing of forests, or the West and its needs. By what right does he tell us how to use the public lands?"
And again they found him invulnerable, for, after graduating from Yale in 1889, he had made a systematic and thorough study of forestry. He traveled in Europe, through Russia, on the great steppes of Siberia, in the Philippines, and in every part of the United States where there were forests he investigated conditions and studied the water problem, the grazing of cattle and sheep, and the effect of lumbering and forest fires. There is hardly a corner of our whole Western country from the Missouri to the Pacific where forests are found that he has not visited and inspected. Days, weeks, and months spent on horseback and on foot in the roughest, most inaccessible portions of the Rocky Mountain region from the Canadian to the Mexican line have made him familiar with every problem of forest preservation. He has studied the attendant and equally important question of watershed protection and utilization of the mountains for conserving the sources of all our great Western streams, by which millions of acres are to be irrigated and millions of homes built up in the West. He was from the first no "tenderfoot" adventurer, no visionary enthusiast, but a practical, hard-headed man far more earnestly and disinterestedly concerned in the Westerners' future than they themselves had ever been.
Born in Simsbury, Connecticut, in 1865, of old New England ancestry, Mr. Pinchot is just in the prime of life. A man of tremendous energy and resourcefulness, tactful, quick to see a point, frank to admit his errors, open and friendly in his intercourse with all men, and in the game of politics the equal of any one in Washington, he is giving the best years of his life to a cause that will bring him no personal advantage save a place in our national history greater than that of great generals and war captains. For while their armies destroy, his little army is saving and preserving; while their forces are ever non-productive, he and his small force are making "two blades of grass grow where one grew before"; are building up and developing to the uttermost the great region lying around and about the national forest areas.
Training an Army of Foresters
Mr. Pinchot rapidly gathered about him a force of expert assistants. The forest schools in the East were just turning out their first crop of young men, trained and educated as scientific foresters, and he brought them into the work. A year or two in the forests, mapping, scaling, estimating, and studying the western timber conditions, made them practical as well as scientific. The old sawmill men, themselves educated in the college of "Hard Knocks," first laughed at these college-bred foresters, but soon learned to respect and trust them. They began to adopt their plans and follow their suggestions, and to-day one of the most serious embarrassments the forester has to meet is the continual hiring away from him of his best men by the Western lumber and sawmill men, who offer salaries far beyond what the government pays.
To handle the stockmen's interests—by far the most difficult and perplexing of all the problems connected with the administration of the national forests—Pinchot went to the Southwest and persuaded one of the most intelligent and level-headed young stockmen in the country to become head of the grazing department. A. F. Potter had been for years a cow-boy and range cattleman, then for several years a sheep owner, and not only knew every branch of the stock business through practical experience, but had the administrative ability to handle successfully the intricate and perplexing questions of ranges, priority of rights, effects of grazing, and methods of handling stock that must be passed upon. With this corps of assistants, and with Mr. Overton W. Price, a man second only to himself in ability, as his chief lieutenant, Mr. Pinchot began in earnest in the year 1898 the work of saving the remaining forested areas of the United States.
A few years ago the mining men, lumbermen, and the stockmen were almost united in their opposition to the policies of the Government Forest Service. Then the mining men found to their surprise that instead of being ruined and forced out of business they were being helped. If a miner had a valuable claim on some national forest lying idle, the forest ranger of that district saw that not one stick of timber upon it was cut by unauthorized persons. In the past, when a miner returned to his claim after a year's absence, he generally found it stripped of the timber which some day he would need for its development. Under the new service, he discovered also that, when there was no timber on his own claim, he could buy at a reasonable figure all the timber he desired for the development of his mine. In many cases, in southern Arizona, for instance, where the wood haulers were in the habit of taking from the miners' claims fuel which they would be likely to need for their engines sooner or later, the rangers stopped the practice and gave the wood haulers other areas from which to cut, where no such injury to the miners would result.
Land Piracy Checked
Of course, where mining companies, organized solely to obtain vast areas of timber land, under cover of the mining laws, especially the Timber and Stone Act, and the Placer Mining laws, found their work exposed by the activity and watchfulness of the forest officers, they naturally raised a cry against the Service that woke the echoes.
The Placer laws allow a company to obtain title to twenty acres of land simply by showing five hundred dollars' worth of mining work done upon it. No signs of mineral need be shown, no further attempt to develop it is required. Prove that five hundred dollars' worth of work has been done, and the patent is issued. The takers are not limited to a single tract, but can have just as many tracts as they have sums of five hundred dollars to invest. Under this Placer law whole townships, covered with the finest timber on the Pacific coast, were taken up solely to obtain title to the land for the timber upon it.
Wherever the final patents had not been issued on these lands, the Forest Service stepped in and put a stop to it, thus saving thousands of acres of timber land for the people. Small wonder that these licensed pirates look upon a forest ranger as the embodiment of all that is bad, and the forest policy as an encroachment upon sacred vested rights!
The Case of the Wood Haulers
And the poor wood haulers! How they complained because they thought their divine right to cut and slash as they chose was to be invaded! What happened to them? To-day they are better off than ever. True, they pay a little for the wood—from as low as ten cents a cord in some forests up to fifty cents in others. But what do they get in return for it?
If a wood hauler wants to buy ten cords of wood or any amount up to fifty dollars' worth, he simply goes to the nearest ranger, and in ten minutes the deal is over; the ranger accompanies him to the area where he wishes to cut and shows him by marks and bounds just where he may cut; the trees are marked, and the man sets to work knowing full well that no one else will invade this little tract or steal his wood when it is cut and piled up waiting for him to haul it away, as was the case over and over again in the old days of free and unlimited competition.
How the Government Sells Timber
What of the next class, the sawmill men? Every stick of matured, merchantable timber in the forests, not needed for protection of water-sheds, is for sale. By matured timber is meant a tree that has reached its maximum growth and development, and is beginning slowly to deteriorate, and should, like any ripe crop, be harvested. There is no limit either high or low. In New Mexico one contract for 1907 called for 50,000 feet and another for 10,000,000, and each was made and carried out under the same conditions; little man and big both got the same square deal.
"But," cry some of the politicians with both eyes upon the political barometer, "the Forest Service, in selling lumber by such methods, is playing into the hands of the Lumber Trust and boosting prices."
What are these methods? If a citizen wants to buy some saw-logs for his mill, he goes to the nearest forest officer and states his case, indicating where the timber lies that he wishes to cut. A careful survey and cruise of the timber is then made by experienced and competent men trained especially for that work. If they report favorably upon the cutting, a minimum price is set at which the timber will be sold, and the sale is duly advertised for thirty days, if it amounts to more than one hundred dollars in value. If it comes to less, the forest officer on the ground makes the sale without delay. When the bids are opened, the highest bidder gets the timber.
There is seldom much competition on the small lots, but the large tracts are frequently bid up to very much more than the minimum price set by the forest expert. In New Mexico, for instance, several large sales were made in 1907, where the keen competition ran the price up from three dollars, set by the Service, to five and six dollars a thousand. Surely this was not playing into the hands of the Lumber Trust.
"Two Blades of Grass Where One Grew Before"
Moreover, when the buyers come to cut, the ranger marks each tree, leaving out all those below a certain size for future growth, and also a certain number for seed purposes, that reproduction may follow. Again, the buyers are required to cut the stumps low, generally at a height equal to the diameter. Under old methods they cut them off high up, where it was easier for the ax and saw men to work, thus leaving in the stump a waste equal to more than ten per cent. of the measured value of the tree. "Two blades of grass" here surely!
Under the old methods, if the logs had to be "snaked" out, the loggers took the shortest cut, and if that cut led through a dense thicket of young trees, the logs were dragged through them, so that millions of young trees were destroyed each year by this recklessness alone. To-day the ranger sees to it that they go around such little groves, or, if it is absolutely unavoidable, a straight and narrow way is cut through them to which the loggers must keep, thus reducing the damage to the minimum. "Two blades of grass" here also.
In the old days of reckless lumbering only the best of the tree was used. A single log was taken, and the rest left to waste. Now the watchful "scaler" sees to it that the logs are cut with judgment, so as to utilize every foot of saw timber.
When the logging is finished on a tract, according to the government contract, the brush must be carefully piled by the lumberman far enough away from other trees or young stuff to cause no damage when it is burned by the rangers. Under the early methods the "slashings," as cut-over areas were called, were an almost impassable mass of dead tree-tops and logs, a most fruitful and dangerous source and auxiliary of forest fires.
The Forest Service and the Stock-Raisers
The only remaining class opposed to the policy of the Forest Service is that composed of the stock-raisers; and for their interests and welfare the Forest Service has worked harder than for all the other users of the forests combined.
That mistakes were made in handling the livestock interests; that in some cases individuals were unduly hampered with rules enforced by over-zealous forest officers, is not to be denied. It was a huge task. Almost in a day the Forest Service sprang full-fledged into the world, charged with the care and responsibilities of more than a hundred million acres; to-day it controls a third of the area of grazing country in the United States, whereon graze about eight million sheep and a million and a half cattle and horses.
Trained foresters there were to be had in plenty, but men who knew the stockman's trade, whose training fitted them to handle the vexatious questions of range divisions, over-grazing, and relative injury done by cattle, sheep, and goats, were hard to find, and when found were not willing to enter the Service for the niggardly pay allowed by the government. However, the Forest Service, with its ranger system, is to-day training up a class of young men, who, in a few years, will be at once expert lumbermen, scientific foresters, and excellent all-round frontiersmen and stockmen.
In this work there have been no precedents to follow, no rules to look to for guidance. Instead, rules must be made and tested through use; precedents must be established and certain fundamental principles worked out and made a basis for future government.
Further than this, every section has its own necessities. Rules that would apply to Oregon and Washington, with their sixty inches of rainfall a year, would not apply to Arizona, with its ten. One great mountain region, whose waters drained off into the ocean and could never be used for irrigating purposes, might safely be let open to all kinds of grazing; while another equally large section, just as well grassed, would have to be closed to sheep and goats, with their erosive little feet and habits of grazing in large bands, because all the drainage went into creeks, streams, and rivers that lower down on the desert were needed to irrigate vast areas of valuable farming lands.
The Roosevelt Dam Case
Take a single case: that of one national forest in Arizona. At the upper end of this forest—which is a long, narrow tract covering a great mountain chain—rise two or three streams; on the eastern slope, the Rio Verde and the Salt River, on the western, the Agua Fria. A hundred miles below these heads the government is building, at a cost of more than $4,000,000, the great Roosevelt Dam which will furnish water to irrigate 250,000 acres of the richest of soils around the city of Phoenix in the Salt River valley. One of the most serious problems in the construction of the great dams in the West is the question of silt, which is washed down in the streams and will eventually fill up and render useless these expensive dams and reservoirs.
Careful studies of silt prove beyond doubt that its primal cause is the removal of the forest cover, such as underbrush, weeds, and grasses, along the streams, which allows the rainfall to run off rapidly. The grazing over these areas by sheep and goats not only exhausts this forest cover, but from the cutting up of the soil and the loosening effect of the thousands of tiny hoofs, the erosive action of the rain becomes disastrous. The wash of the hills and mountain-sides carries with it into the streams tons and tons of silt to fill up the dams and beds of the streams, as well as working irreparable injury to the comparatively thin soil covering the mountains.
On this national forest the watershed on the eastern side all runs into streams which eventually reach the Roosevelt Dam; on the western slope the water runs unused to the Gulf of California. So the National Reclamation Service, charged with the building and maintenance of these huge reservoirs, said to the Forest Service: "The watershed of the Roosevelt Dam must be protected from over-grazing, so that the forest cover may be preserved, and the deposit of silt reduced to the very lowest possible percentage."
The Forest Service whose duty it was under the law to protect and preserve, not only the timber of the mountains, but the water supply as well, had no alternative but to say to the sheep and goat men using this area: "You cannot longer graze sheep or goats upon the eastern side of this forest, but may do so on the western slope." But since cattle do much less damage than sheep, in order that the grazing may not go entirely unused, the Service allows cattle to graze there in such numbers as will not injure the watershed.
Naturally the sheep owners set up a cry that could be heard from Dan to Beersheba. But an analysis of the situation shows that while some fifty individual sheep men, owning probably 100,000 sheep valued at about $300,000, were forced to rearrange their business to meet the new conditions, their loss was overwhelmingly offset by the benefit to the entire population of the Salt River valley, a population to-day of not fewer than 50,000 people, every soul of whom is absolutely dependent upon the agricultural lands of the valley for a living; these lands consisting of more than 100,000 acres, valued at an average of sixty dollars an acre, already under cultivation, with 150,000 acres more ready to be cultivated the instant the Roosevelt Dam is finished.
Irrigation Revolutionized by National Forestry
Surely such conditions fully justify the Forest Service in its course of pursuing the greatest good for the greatest number. In Colorado a small number of stock men, principally cattle owners, aided and abetted by a few political malcontents, have attempted to discredit the Forest Service, but no one has heard a word against the Service from the thousands of contented irrigationists, who, with countless acres to be watered by more than 12,000 miles of irrigation ditches, see their source of water supply amply protected, and realize that already the supply has increased and the flow is more regular than it has been in the past.
In the great Kern River district about Bakersfield in southern California, a careful measurement shows that since the restrictions on grazing in the mountains at the heads of the streams, together with the almost complete absence of forest fires, the flow of water in the great canal system has become fully twenty per cent. greater in volume than ever before. And so one could go on without end, if necessary, for all over the West are smaller or larger areas wholly dependent upon the rivers and streams for their water supply, and to them the Forest Service guarantees full protection for their lands and homes.
The Free Grass Question
The range stockmen of to-day are in much the same position as the reservation Indian. The tides of civilization, advancing from east and west, have met and threaten to overwhelm them. Like the Indian they must meet the new conditions with new methods. They must not, and need not, be overwhelmed, but can be assimilated in the new order of things. The day of free grass in the State of Texas came to an end twenty years ago. The old-timers shook their heads and prophesied all sorts of dire happenings to the State. To-day Texas has more cattle and sheep, and better ones, too, than ever before, and they are still growing in numbers.
A convention of stockmen was held at Denver in 1898, at which the burning question was the then new plan of forest reserves. The sheep men from Wyoming, Utah, and one or two other Western States, declared with a bitterness born of conviction that if the government made any forest reserves in their States it would mean the total annihilation of the sheep industry there. To-day these States are plastered with national forests, and each has three or four times as many sheep as it had ten years ago.
There has arisen, of course, from the men who have used these government lands without money and without price, a continuous cry that the grazing fees the Forest Service collects are "illegal, unjust and double taxation," The complaint, of course, will not bear analysis. The land belongs, not to the stockmen, but to the whole people. Why should the government give something to a stockman in Wyoming, that belongs equally to a stockman in Ohio, who is raising live stock on private land, in keen competition with Western free grass men?
The fees are scarcely illegal. If the government can sell one man one hundred acres of public land, it certainly can sell another man the grass and forage crop produced upon any portion of the public lands. One is no more a case of merchandizing than the other. As for the double taxation argument, that too is equally childish, because the grazing fee is not a tax but the price of a commodity.
As a matter of fact, the government spends annually, in trail and road building through the forests, that the stock may more easily and safely reach the higher grazing areas, in fighting the fires, in building telephone lines to the very remotest corners of the forests, in hiring hunters to exterminate the wolves and other wild animals that prey upon the stockman's herds, in digging deep wells and erecting windmills and other pumping engines to furnish water where there is none on the surface, a sum almost equal to the entire amount paid in fees by the stockmen, and all for their sole benefit and use.
The total amount of fees paid by stockmen in the year 1907 amounted to $836,920. If the lands were under private control, the fees would be more than double what they now are. In New Mexico, for instance, the usual price for pasturing cattle upon the large land grants is from two dollars to three dollars a year, while on the government forests immediately adjoining the grant, and almost the same country, the fee is only seventy-five cents a year per head and twenty-five cents per head for sheep. And these are the highest fees charged on any national forest for all-the-year-round grazing permits. In Colorado, California, Nevada, and Arizona, the charge for sheep or cattle grazing on the large areas of railroad and State lands is on an average fully twice as great as the same fees upon the national forest, and in the former the stockmen get no other return from the land owners.
The last and loudest wail was that these "great areas of segregated lands," as the protestants love to call the national forests, were a barrier to the settler and homesteader; that the Forest Service was making vast areas of forest solitudes in the heart of the Western States.
To this the Forest Service replied by throwing open to agricultural settlement every acre of land, lying within the limits of the national forests, which was more suitable for agriculture than forest culture. Six thousand new homes were selected in the different forests in the year 1907, and with vastly less red tape and delay than under the regular homestead laws now in force upon other public lands.
If the Forest Service had done no more than keep down the fire losses, their work would not have been in vain. In 1901 the total area burned over in the government forests equalled 2-3/4 acres in every thousand, while in 1907 the burned area was only 9/10 of an acre in every thousand. No record of the money value of the earlier fire losses was kept, but that the loss ran into the millions, no one who has seen the miles of burned over tracts can doubt.
The following table shows the fire losses in the national forests for the past three years:
Year Area of Acres Value of Forests Burned Over Timber Burned
1905 85,627,000 279,592 $101,282 1906 106,999,000 115,416 76,183 1907 164,154,000 212,850 31,589
That is, in 1905 the loss from fire was more than three times as great as in the year 1907, with an area of forests almost twice as great to protect and control.
$1,000,000 Saved by the Forest Hunters
Another important feature of Mr. Pinchot's work is the employment of experienced hunters for killing wild animals which destroy stock. In the year 1907, according to records kept of all predatory animals killed upon the various national forests, or on lands adjoining them, no fewer than 1600 wolves, 19,469 coyotes, 265 mountain lions, 368 bears, and 2285 wild cats and lynxes were killed by the various hunters and settlers. Of these, it is probably fair to credit the rangers and the hunters employed by the Forest Service with at least one-fourth.
Now, any well-posted stockman will tell you that, on an average, a full-grown wolf will destroy one thousand dollars' worth of stock every year of its life. Mountain lions prefer horses to any other food, but still they will put up with calves and sheep. They, too, are easily chargeable with a thousand dollars' worth of damage each year. The coyotes, bob-cats, and lynxes do less harm, and that mostly to sheep. Yet I think it is a very conservative estimate to say that each coyote or lynx annually destroys stock to the value of fully one hundred dollars.
Taking these figures as a basis for comparison, it is very easily seen that the value of the animals killed by the Forest Service men is more than $1,000,000. Hence, so far as return for their $836,920 in grazing fees is concerned, the stockmen get it back in full and with some to spare.
CHIEF KITSAP, FINANCIER
ILLUSTRATED WITH PHOTOGRAPHS
When young Johnny Kitsap, having made up his mind that his clerkship in the reservation agency did not offer the chance of advancement to which the son of a Puyallup chief and a graduate of Carlisle was entitled, applied for work to the President of the Elliott Bay National Bank, it was not an act of such presumption as some might suppose. No one, to be sure, when he saw the high cheek-bones, wiry black hair brushed pompadour, dull brown eyes, and copper complexion, could possibly have been deceived by Johnny's well-cut clothes, clean linen, and good English. Nor did Johnny affect these things as a disguise or as signifying that, in adopting the apparel and speech of the white man, he had renounced his nationality—had, to all intents and purposes, become a dead Indian. Quite to the contrary, what secured Johnny his position in the bank was precisely that, besides having a pleasant manner and civilized ways, he was so manifestly an exceptionally live Indian.
The Elliott Bay National's famous line of "red paper" had paid from the start. When, some years before, the proposition to loan old Peter Coultee, a full blood of the Puyallup reservation, was laid before the directors, they had laughed, but, like true Western men, they wanted to know the details. What they learned was that old Peter Coultee owned one hundred and sixty acres of fine reservation land, well stocked and highly cultivated; that his crop of hops was fast ripening; that he needed money to pay the hop-pickers of his own tribe; and that hop-house receipts in the White River Valley were as good as wheat receipts in the Palouse. This put the matter in other, at least, than a sneering light, and one of the laughing directors offered to visit the reservation and make a full report. The result was that old Peter Coultee got his loan, and that this turned out to be the first of many others, both to himself and to his tribesmen, and all of much mutual profit alike to white man and red.
When, accordingly, Johnny Kitsap did the Elliott National the honor of preferring its employment to that of the government, the president did not laugh, but, with all due formality, laid his application before the board, and suggested that a bank which loaned money to Indians might in time find it convenient to have a clerk who could interpret not only the language of the Siwash customers, but the more subtle emotions of the Indian heart. And so Johnny came by his job, and the bank had as little cause to regret it as the first loan to old Peter Coultee, which was the original cause of it.
To the young Indian, the bank became a magic house. The brass-barred windows before the tellers; the wire cages; the tiled floors; the great doors of the vault, with the tick-tick-tick of the time locks; all seemed to him to be parts of a powerful chieftain's house. The vault itself, with its store of gold and currency, and its cabinet of mysterious treaties, which the tyee made with the busy white men, filled him with awe. This was the white man's magic treasure-chest, wherein money bred money. No one bought or sold, so far as he could see, yet this treasure-chest paid salaries, distributed profits, and always continued full. With his imagination thus enlisted in firing his work with the zest of play, it is no wonder that he proved an apt pupil and in a rapidly flying trio of years had filled various positions and had earned high appreciation.
With his entrance upon the duties of collection clerk, Kitsap became the credit man on all "red paper." Every bit of Indian business received the approval of the Chief before the discount committee would act upon it. Thus the young Indian became surely, even if indirectly, a power on the reservation, where the tribal leaders regarded him as being at heart a white man and continued to address him quizzingly as Italapas (The Coyote That Wanders). Kitsap maintained a modest room in Seattle, enjoyed the privileges of an athletic club, owned a one-twentieth interest in a yacht, and, out on the reservation, kept a cayuse in father Kitsap's corral and a suit of Indian finery in father Kitsap's house. Thus he zigzagged across the borderland of civilization and led a most picturesque, but strictly honorable, double life.
Kitsap had been four years in the bank when three hop-buyers from St. Louis attempted to raid the White River hop fields in advance of picking and to buy the entire crop of the valley at fourteen cents a pound. The raid had progressed far towards success when Kitsap accidentally heard of it.
The Indian hop-growers of the reservation had made their fall estimates, Kitsap had inspected their fields and approved their items, and some ten thousand dollars in "red paper" was entered on the books of the Elliott Bay National Bank, the loans to be secured by the warehouse receipts on hops. Kitsap had spent the first Sunday of the picking on the reservation, greeting friends who had come on their annual pilgrimage to the hop fields from other reservations; and early on Monday morning he was on the way to take a train for Seattle, when Peter Coultee's cayuse overtook him, bearing Peter Coultee's oldest son.
"Good morning, Italapas. Is your bank short of money?" called the young Indian, with enough dire suggestion in his tone to start a Wall Street panic.
Kitsap faced his questioner. "It has more gold than the son of Coultee can count," he retorted sharply.
"Then why is Lamson, who owns the largest fields of all the white men in the valley, saying that the bank will not loan him enough to pay the pickers?"
Lamson, who was wealthy, as ranchers go, was a heavy client of the Elliott Bay National, but, since he was a white man, his accounts were unknown to Kitsap. The bank clerk was thus taken at a disadvantage and could not give a direct answer. But, desiring to learn what he could, he bantered the younger Indian to talk on, and listened carefully, that his words might be carried to the cashier.
"Lamson is paying two picking tickets out of every three in cash; for the third ticket he gives an order on the stores in the village. When the pickers complain, he laughs and says that the bank has loaned the Indians so much that it cannot lend him the little he needs. Peter Coultee sends word to you: Let Italapas run to the bank and count the gold." Then the younger Indian smiled suggestively, whirled his cayuse, and rode away.
Kitsap was troubled by young Coultee's words. Not that any thought of weakness in the Elliott Bay National entered his mind; but he felt at once that such a report, if allowed to circulate undenied, would be harmful to the magic treasure-chest. He was all nerves when he reported to the cashier.
As soon as the president arrived, the cashier went to him with the report. Together they reviewed Lamson's account, and decided that no danger was to be found there. Lamson's hops were being delivered to a warehouse, and the warehouse receipts were being delivered to the bank as security for the hop-gathering loan. All this was regular and customary. But Lamson's motive in making such talk disturbed the president. He sent for Kitsap to question him.
Never before had the young red man been called into a conference with the president. He felt both proud and alarmed at the incident. When told the facts, Kitsap was greatly relieved, but he could suggest no motive for Lamson's story. He volunteered to visit the valley in an endeavor to ascertain the facts. The suggestion pleased the president, who at once ordered it put into effect.
"I suppose," said the gray-headed president, "that you will enjoy this scouting expedition all the more because you are on the trail of a white man. But while I am going to trust to your own good sense and your knowledge of your people in running this lie right back to the man who fathered it, I want to caution you to play well inside the rules of the game.
"Now, you are out to hit the trail of that lie and chase it home. When you have corralled it, let me know what company it is keeping and I will tell you what to do next. Lamson has been a good client and this lie may run away from him. If so, we must not offend him and thus lose his account. But if it hikes home to his ranch house, then I want to know what he is doing, and the nearer he is related to this rumor, the quicker we shall cash his hop receipts and cancel his note.
"If you find it necessary to use the bank's authority, then come out strong as ambassador plenipotentiary and read the stiffest kind of a bluff to your man in the name of the Elliott Bay National Bank. Talk as little as possible about the bank; but when you do talk, make every man jealous of your connection with the institution. A conservative remark may bring a new customer to our books; a flippant word may go into business for itself and start a run that no bank could weather. Now get at it, and let us hear something from you by day after to-morrow."
Scout! The president himself had said it! The Indian's blood thrilled with his commission. His voice shook a little in its attempt to be very, very steady as he telephoned out to the reservation station for a saddle-horse. Then he ran for the five o'clock south-bound train.
At eight o'clock Kitsap arrived at the reservation. On all sides were the lights among the camps, where the hop-pickers were making merry. More than one group hailed him as he passed, demanding to know if he had come out from town to dance, to gamble, or to see a maid. But he had replied to each in kind and pressed on to his father's house. Kitsap the elder greeted his son in the native tongue.
"Huh! Is The Coyote still prowling?"
"The Coyote hunts big game for his tyee, my father. Let The Coyote's horse be cared for till he returns."
Then Kitsap, the bank clerk, decked himself as an Indian should and as The Coyote went forth to listen at many camp-fires and to hear what tales were telling there. Till far into the night he prowled, learning what families of Indians were picking for Lamson, what form Lamson's bank story was taking, and to what store the orders were sent for redemption. The fires were low and the valley was still when he sought his father's house and slept.
The next morning he resumed the dress of the white man. It was a day spent in the saddle. He rode from store to store, from ranch to ranch and warehouse to warehouse, the length and breadth of the valley, questioning, listening, brisk, businesslike, and polite, in all respects the decorous representative of the white man's bank. Yet, as he stood that evening at the white man's telephone, and recounted to his cashier the facts he had learned, the gleam in his eyes and the pride in his heart were those of the young red warrior who has tracked his foe and makes report to the high chiefs of his tribe. He concluded by asking his cashier to telegraph to St. Louis and the other hop markets and ascertain the probable trend of hops, and telephone him in the morning.
And then Kitsap, the clerk, donned the tribal finery of his ancestors and again The Coyote prowled among the camp-fires. At each he dropped a faggot for thought:
"Lamson, the biggest hop rancher in the valley, is buying hops at fourteen cents and paying his pickers with store orders. That's why he lied about the bank."
The pickers buzzed the news about the fires till the overseers heard it; the overseers bore the tale to the ranchers; the ranchers went to their telephones and set the tale to flashing. In the morning, when the valley rose to resume picking, Lamson's raid was in cold type in the Seattle papers and at eight o'clock Lamson himself read it. Then he realized that the pool had been betrayed, and he went on the war-path to find the mysterious Indian.
Kitsap rose late, and loitered about, gossiping with the idle, till ten o'clock. Then he called up the bank. The cashier had received a wire from the East.
"Hops opened in St. Louis at sixteen cents, Milwaukee sixteen cents, Cincinnati seventeen cents," said the cashier over the telephone. "Crop reports indicate light yield abroad and heavy demand on American hops. Rise in price certain. I have asked a Seattle broker to cable Liverpool. The president says to spread the news and call me again at four o'clock."
Then Kitsap mounted his own spotted cayuse and rode from ranch to ranch till every Indian planter on the reservation had heard his news:
"The biyu tyee of the money house sends greetings. Hops are seventeen cents and going up."
At four o'clock Kitsap was once more at the telephone, and received a message from the cashier which sent his heart pounding in his throat for very enthusiasm.
"I have sent you an important letter by express on the three o'clock train," said the cashier. "Get it and read what I have written. Stay as long as you need to, but smash that pool, and teach Lamson not to lie about the Elliott Bay National."
Then Kitsap waited for the train, secured his express package, and opened it. It contained a letter from Lamson to the bank—a letter that was ammunition for the Indian—and instructions to make certain use of it.
He could make no more progress indirectly; he must face the raiders, or his own people would doubt him. He must seek out Lamson, and standing in front of that white man, the Indian must throw back into his teeth that lie about the bank. The warm red blood in him yearned for a clash and a tussle. He would go to the store to spend the evening. If a collision with the fourteen-cent raiders was to be effected anywhere, the store would afford it.
To the store that night came Lamson and the St. Louis buyers, all in evil mood. Kitsap's news had completely arrested the effect of their pessimistic talk. No rancher would sell at fourteen cents with a bank's messenger rioting over the valley quoting hops in Liverpool at eighteen cents. Indeed, those who had already contracted to sell were grumbling, and many of them came to the store that night, eager to hear the truth of a market which had been misrepresented to them. These men were listening to Kitsap, whose words put them in a very sullen temper, when Lamson and the three buyers entered.
"So you're the Injun who's been going around bulling the market," shouted Lamson, his voice keyed high with temper. He stepped quickly into the crowd of ranchers about Kitsap, conscious that he must rout the Indian or see the end of the pool.
The young Indian faced the irate rancher and looked him coolly up and down. This was Lamson; the heaviest owner of land in the valley. This was the white man who had lied about the Elliott Bay National. The meeting for which he had hoped had come. The Indian drew a deep breath of sheer delight. Then, in a clear, ringing tone, he returned the white man's fire:
"So you are the rancher who lied about the Elliott Bay National Bank?"
The blood leaped to the rancher's temples and he stepped menacingly toward the Indian. But before he could strike, Kitsap's voice again rang out:
"You are a double liar! You borrowed money to pay pickers, but used it to buy hops at fourteen cents, after telling the ranchers that you had sold. That was the first lie. You told the Indians that the bank would not loan you enough to pay them. That was another lie. But the bank has found you out!"
The rancher stood speechless before the unexpected words of the Indian. The clenched fist fell to his side. The young man who stood there before him, with the straight proud poise of the savage chieftain, spoke the words of the white man's warfare, the warfare of the mart and of barter. He must be met and beaten on his own ground. Clearly, he had spoken to effect, and the rancher must justify his position before his fellow ranchers, whose eyes were so intently watching him.
"You seem to know a lot about the bank's business," he began, with an attempt at sarcasm. "I suppose the president consults you on loans."
"The president did on this one," replied the Indian. The ranchers laughed.
"Then perhaps he told you that this one was amply secured by my hop receipts," boasted Lamson.
"Then what the bloomin' —— is it to him what I do with the cash?"
"He sent me to give you back that lie about the bank."
"I have. I called you a liar, and then proved it. Your name is—Two Lies!"
Lamson's color came back, but this time it was the color of anger. His hand went half-way to his revolver, but a broad-shouldered rancher caught his arm.
"None o' that, Lamson."
Lamson wrenched his arm away. The big rancher faced him.
"This here Kitsap is telling the truth," said he. "I reckon he's got still more of it to give us. And we will expect you to fish or cut bait. But I'll hold this." Then he clapped his hand on Lamson's gun pocket and disarmed him. The three St. Louis hop buyers looked wistfully toward the door. But prudence held them to the spot.
"You are making a big fuss over nothing," sputtered Lamson. "Whose business is it if I do buy hops? The bank is secured on its loan."
"It's our business a whole lot," said the big rancher, gently tapping the handle of Lamson's revolver on Lamson's chest. "You give out that you are selling hops at fourteen cents and advise a lot of us fellows to do the same. Now we're told that you've been buyin' at fourteen cents. It's our business to find out which end up you're playin' this market."
"Oh, rot!" roared Lamson. "Hops are fourteen cents now. I'm buying a few to hold 'em. If I can afford to take the risk, I'm entitled to the profit."
"The bank knows that hops are eighteen cents to-day," broke in Kitsap.
"That's another lie," yelled the enraged Lamson, and the ranchers laughed at the unconscious admission.
"Is it?" said Kitsap quietly. "Do you dare to bet on it?"
"I'll bet you a hundred dollars," roared the rancher, "that you can't get over fourteen cents for hops in this valley this fall."
"I will bet you that amount that I can get at least sixteen cents for the Indians on the reservation."
"Where's your money?" said Lamson, drawing out a roll of bills.
Kitsap had not looked for this. He was puzzled for a moment. Then he drew forth a pocket check-book, signed a check, and handed it to an Indian rancher, who endorsed it. Turning to Lamson, Kitsap said:
"Will this do, or shall I telephone the cashier to assure its payment?"
"It's good," said Lamson.
"Very well. But if you are so sure about the price of hops, Mr. Two Lies, why don't you make it two to one that I can't get seventeen cents?"
"That's my money!" and Lamson began counting out another hundred.
"Or three to one that I can't get eighteen cents?"
"Or four to one that I can't get nineteen cents?"
"Yes; or five to one that you can't get twenty," roared the exasperated planter.
"Five to one," replied Kitsap. "And if I win, I will throw your money in silver from the steps of the reservation school to the Indian children."
Kitsap noted the effect on the Indians in the room as the money was placed in the hands of the town marshal. He knew how every red man on the reservation would work for twenty-cent hops now.
But the Indian was not through with the white man. He turned on him again.
"If you think the bank lied when it said eighteen cents, there is a telephone. Call up the cashier at his home. He sent me here to tell the white men and Indians who are our clients. Ask him for yourself."
Lamson and the three buyers noted the words "Our clients." To Lamson it brought identification of the Indian as Johnny Kitsap, the clerk; to the buyers it was just mysterious enough to be alarming.
"Confound the cashier! All he knows is what somebody else has told him."
"Mr. Lamson, do you yourself think that fourteen cents for hops to-day is a fair price?" asked Kitsap, suddenly taking a conciliatory tone.
"Certainly I do. But if I want to buy hops at fourteen cents now and hold them on a speculation, it's my own business."
"Entirely," said the Indian. "But I believe your conduct with the ranchers who have agreed to sell is based on your statement that you had already sold your own hops to these buyers from St. Louis for fourteen cents."
"That's right," said Lamson boldly. "I can sell my hops for what I like."
"Liar," said Kitsap, "you have not sold your hops."
Lamson sprang to his feet, but the big rancher put out a big hand and shoved him back.
"Sit down," said the big man. "Can't you see this here Kitsap's got the floor?"
"As I understand it," continued Kitsap, turning to the men who had signed the contract to sell to the raiders, "unless Mr. Lamson has already delivered his hops to the buyers under his contract, the very agreement is void, and you are all released."
"You bet your life that's right," said the big man with the gun, and from all parts of the crowd came words of confirmation.
Lamson, for the first time during the encounter, felt uneasy. He looked blankly at the three buyers. One of the gentlemen from St. Louis drew the contract from his pocket.
"The young man is right," said the gentleman from St. Louis, in a conciliatory tone. "Here is the contract, and I can safely assure our friends that Mr. Lamson has carried out his part of the agreement."
"You bet," shouted Lamson, recognizing a very pretty bluff on the part of the buyer.
"May I see the contract?" asked Kitsap.
The buyer passed it to him. Kitsap read the contract aloud, and then tossed it over his head into the hands of the men who had signed it. The buyers and Lamson came to their feet.
"Worthless paper," said Kitsap. "Lamson has not delivered his hop receipts and therefore there is no contract."
A yell of delight went up from the crowd, and a shower of tiny bits of white papers showed the fate of the instrument. Kitsap pointed his finger at the enraged Lamson, and as the shower of paper fell about him fairly shouted his denunciation:
"I, Kitsap, the clerk, am a representative of the Elliott Bay National Bank. I come here by the orders of the tyee—the president. Your hop receipts are in the bank's treasure-chest, and here is your letter received at the bank last Monday." Kitsap opened the letter that had come to him by express and read:
Picking is progressing well, and the valley will yield a big crop. A few hungry ranchers are selling at fourteen cents cash at the warehouse, but I look for better prices later. I hope you will be willing to carry my receipts till November, when I look for a price close to twenty cents.
As Kitsap read, his voice rose, and, as he ended, there was absolute silence for an instant. Then the ranchers took their spellbound eyes from the quivering Indian and looked at the pale face of the speechless Lamson. The store-keeper looked with the others, and it was his groan that broke the spell:
"Thunder! I stood to make a thousand on the deal."
Then the overjoyed ranchers found their voices in a wild laugh, and laid enthusiastic hands on Kitsap. Lamson and the buyers slipped away, beaten and humiliated, to lament the failure of the fourteen-cent raid, and to spend a few bitter hours in planning a new offer next morning at a better price, for there was need to cover promises made to Eastern houses.
The ranchers quickly formed themselves into a meeting and sent couriers out to notify all signers of the contract that the deal was off. Then they appointed a committee to go to the bank next day with Kitsap and be witnesses to his report to his superiors.
Before another day passed, the spirit of the valley had changed from a desire to sell quickly for cash into a determination to hold the crop for a twenty-cent market. The Elliott Bay National secured daily bulletins from inside sources and kept the world's markets before the entire valley. Picking progressed to an end, and the Indians held their last feast and departed. Then buyers came from other markets, inspected the crop, and made offers. Gradually the valley ranchers joined the lead of the reservation Indians and placed their receipts with the Elliott Bay National, to be held for a rise and sold as near twenty cents as possible. The cashier sent East for a prominent broker, who replied that he would arrive by the Sound in mid-October. Then the other buyers began bulling the market, hoping to induce a rancher here and there to sell and, by thus breaking the ranks, run prices down. But Kitsap, on the ground, and the cashier, in the bank, were able to hold them together till the new broker arrived.
The new man was business from the ground up. He knew where he could sell hops, and for what price. He inspected the valley crop of hops and frankly announced his intention to pay twenty-one cents. Then the other buyers rushed in to get a share, and the result was an agreement by which the new broker got half the crop at twenty-one cents and the late lamented fourteen-cent raiders divided the other half among themselves at twenty-three cents, the money to be distributed through the Elliott Bay National to all ranchers at the average of twenty-two cents.
Kitsap telephoned the news to the reservation, and the priest sent the son of Peter Coultee on his spotted cayuse to ride into the village with the news. DeQuincey's Royal Mail with the news of Waterloo did not create more enthusiasm than the Indian's triumphant shout. As he dashed along he yelled to the white men:
"Hops sold at twenty-two cents!"
To the Indian ranchers he called out the same news in the jargon:
"Hops marsh mox-taltum-tee-mox."
Down the street he rode, yelling and winning yells in return. The news spread from street to street, men carried it into the valley, and that night many a heart among the ranches beat quicker and many a voice at the firesides murmured the name of "Kitsap."
The town marshal made the trip to Seattle and delivered the six-hundred-dollar wager to Kitsap. The Indian told the cashier the terms of the wager and asked to be excused on the following Saturday, that he might assemble the reservation children and scatter the Lamson money.
"It will be a great event to them," said Kitsap. "I shall take all of Lamson's five hundred dollars in dimes, and the whole reservation will come out to see the fun."
The cashier granted the leave of absence gladly.
"If you will hold the event in the afternoon, I think the president would be pleased to go out and see it," said he.
Kitsap needed no other hint, but went boldly to the president and invited him to witness the scattering of the coins.
"With pleasure," replied the president.
"Come on the three o'clock train, and I will have a carriage for you," said Kitsap.
The reservation had been waiting for twenty-cent hops as a band of children wait for the circus. Five thousand dimes to be thrown to less than three hundred children! It would be a rare scramble. Indian children raided their mothers' button-baskets that they might throw the buttons in the sand and practise scrambling for them. Then came the news of twenty-two cent hops, and every Indian, young or old, jumped up and down and shouted that Kitsap had won that Lamson money.
"Saturday afternoon at four o'clock," was Kitsap's message to the reservation priest, and the priest assembled ten young men for a conference. It was decided to mark off ten squares on the lawn in front of the schoolhouse. On each square a squad of thirty children should stand, the children of each squad graded so as to be nearly of a size, girls and boys in alternate squares. Before each square one of the ten young men should stand with five hundred silver coins in a dish. At a signal from Kitsap, who should stand on the school steps, the ten young men should throw the dimes in the air and the scramble would begin.
When the train stopped at the reservation station that October afternoon, the president of the Elliott Bay National found Kitsap the elder there to meet him, with a clean spring wagon. During the short drive to the reservation school, he noted that the road was deserted, but when the school was reached a scene of color and animation met his eye. The tribe was out in full regalia, even the clients of the bank, who came gravely to the president's wagon to greet him. Kitsap the elder drove to a spot reserved for the head men of the tribe, and the chief of the money-house was welcomed to a place among them. Then a hush fell upon the assembly.
A procession of young men, headed by Kitsap, decked in tribal finery, came out of the schoolhouse. Kitsap remained on the stairs, as the ten young men, bearing dishes of dimes, took their places before the squares. Every child stood waiting—every grown person held his breath. The voice of Kitsap, speaking each sentence first in the jargon and then in English, made a short harangue. The president smiled as he caught this glimpse of Kitsap's own interpretation of a bank.
"Lamson, the white man, told a lie about the money-house. The great tyee of the treasure-chest sent Kitsap, who is a brave of the white tyee's house, to tell the Puyallups the truth. The Great Spirit made Lamson angry and caused him to lose this money to Kitsap, who serves the great white tyee. But the great white tyee said: 'Behold, the Great Spirit has punished Lamson. Forever will he be called Two Lies. The money shall be for the children, as Kitsap said. I will go myself to see Kitsap throw the silver coins to the children, for it is a lesson. Let them always speak true words, or the Great Spirit will punish them, and they will have an evil name like Lamson!' And look, children, Kitsap's tyee sits with the tyee of the Puyallups to see you scramble. Remember, keep on your own square and do not strike. Push and pull, but do not strike. Show the white tyee who lives in the magic treasure-house that you can play your games fairly. Then he will be pleased and tell his own people of the silver coins that Kitsap throws to the children."
There was silence a moment, and then Kitsap raised a feathered wand. In the native tongue he shouted:
"All ready? Throw!"
Ten lithe Indians threw their silver treasure into the air. Five thousand silver coins flashed in the sun and fell in a sparkling shower on the heads of the tribal children. With one voice the children screamed and sprang to the scramble; with one voice the Puyallup tribe roared in glee; with one motion the tribal hats went into the air, and the president of the Elliott Bay National yelled in his enthusiasm, pounded a red man on the back, waved a silk hat on high, and became as one of these child-hearted aborigines.
Late that night, while the president sat at his club, hoarse but happy, and told what he had seen, a band of Indians out on the reservation held a ceremony in a big tent. The rite was as old as the tribal memory—the rite of formally adopting a chief—and a young man was declared to have won a great fight, and to be worthy of a high place in the councils of the tribe. They wanted to name him Chief Who-Made-The-Silver-Rain, but the young man replied that Chief Kitsap, being his father's name, was good enough for him.
MARY STEWART CUTTING
AUTHOR OF "LITTLE STORIES OF COURTSHIP," "LITTLE STORIES OF MARRIED LIFE," ETC.
ILLUSTRATIONS BY ALICE BARBER STEPHENS
Justin was in Chicago—the fact was verified—and he would start for home on the morrow. There seemed to be no details, save the comforting one that Billy Snow was with him. After that first sharp immediate relief from suspense, Lois again felt its filminess settling down upon her.
Girard had gone back very early to the Snows' to breakfast. He talked to Lois by telephone, but he did not come to the house; while Dosia, wrapped in an outward abstraction that concealed a whirl within, went about her daily tasks, living over and over the scene of the night before. The shattering of the pitcher seemed to have shattered something else. Once he had felt, then, as she had done; once—so far away that night of disaster had gone, so long was it since she had held that protecting hand in her dreams, that the touch brought a strange resurrection of the spirit. She had an upwelling new sense of gratitude to him for something unexpressed, some quality which she passionately revered, and which other men had not always used toward her.
"Oh, he's good, he's good!" she whispered to herself, with the tears blinding her, as she picked up Redge's blocks from the floor. She felt Lawson's kisses on her lips, her throat—that cross of shame that she held always close to her; George Sutton's fat face thrust itself leeringly before her. How many girls have passages in their lives to which they look back with the shame that only purity and innocence can feel! Yet the sense of Girard's presence before was as nothing to her sense of it now—it blotted out the world. She saw him sitting alone in the dining-room, with his head resting on his hand, the attitude informed with life. The turn of his head, the shape of his hand, were insistent things. She saw him standing in front of her, long-limbed, erect of mien. She saw—If she looked pale and inert, it was because that inner thought of her lived so hard that the body was worn out with it.
Neither telegram nor any other message came from Justin, except the bare word that he had started home. On the second morning, just as Lois had finished dressing, she heard the hall door open and shut. She called, but cautiously, for fear of disturbing her baby, who had dropped off to sleep again.
Justin was standing by the table, looking at the newspaper, as she entered the dining-room. With a cry, she ran toward him. "Justin!"
He turned, and she put her arms around him passionately. He held her for a moment, and then said, "You'd better sit down."
"But, Justin—oh, my dearest, how ill you look!" She clung to him. "Where have you been? Why didn't you send me any word?"
"I've been to Chicago."
"Yes, yes, I know. Why did you go?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know?"
"Lois, will you give me some coffee?"
She poured out the cup with trembling hands, and sat while he took a swallow of the hot fluid, still scanning the newspaper. At last she said:
"Aren't you going to tell me any more?"
"There isn't any more to tell. There's no use talking about it. I believe I had some idea of selling the island when I went to Chicago, but I don't know how I got there. I didn't know I was there until I woke up two nights ago at a little hotel away out on the West Side. Billy pounded on the door, and said they told him I had been asleep for twenty-eight hours. I suppose I was dead tired out. I don't want to speak of it again, Lois; it wasn't a particularly pleasant thing to happen. Will you tell Mary to bring in the rest of the breakfast? I must catch the eight-thirty train back into town. I thought you might be bothered, so I came out first. Where are the children?"
"They are coming down now with Dosia," said his wife, helping Mary with the dishes. Redge ran up to his father, hitting him jubilantly with a small stick which he held in his chubby hand, and bringing irritated reproof down upon him at once; but Zaidee, her blue eyes open, her lips parted over her little white teeth, slid into the arm outstretched for her, and stood there leaning against "Daddy's" side, while he ate and drank hurriedly, with only one hand at his disposal. Poor Lois could not help one pang of jealousy at being shut out, but she heroically smothered it.
"Mr. Harker was here the evening before last; he brought me some money," she ventured at last.
"That was all right."
"And Mr. Girard was very kind; he stayed here all that night—until your message came."
"I hope you haven't been talking about this all over the place."
"No—oh, no," said Lois, driving back the tears at this causeless injury. "Mr. Leverich said it was best not to. Nobody knows about your being away at all. You're not going now, Justin—without even seeing baby?"
"I'll see him to-night when I come home," said Justin, rising. He kissed the children and his wife hastily, but she followed him into the hall, standing there, dumbly beseeching, while he brushed his hat with the hat-brush on the table, and then rummaged hastily as if for something else.
"Here are your gloves, if that is what you are looking for," she said.
"Yes, thank you." He bent over and kissed her again, as if really seeing her for the first time, with a whispered "Poor girl!" That momentary close embrace brought her a needed—oh, so needed!—crumb of comfort. She who had hungered so insatiably for recognition could be humbly thankful now for the two words that spoke of an inner bond.
But all day she could not get rid of that feeling of suspense that had been hers for five days past; the strain was to end, of course, with Justin's return, but it had not ended—in some sad, weighting fashion it seemed just to have begun. What was he so worried about? Was she never to hear any more?
That night Girard came over, but with him was another visitor—William Snow. No sun could brown that baby-fair skin of William's, but he had an indefinably large and Western air; the very way in which he wore his clothes showed his independence. Dosia did not notice his swift, covert, shamefaced glance at her when she came into the room where he was talking to Lois—his avoidance of her the year before had dropped clear out of her mind; but his expression changed to one of complacent delight as she ran to him instantly and clasped his arm with both hands to cry, "Oh, Billy, Billy, I'm so glad to see you! I am so glad—I can't tell you how glad I am!"
"All right, Sweetness, you're not going to lose me again," said William encouragingly. "My, but you do knock the spots out of those Western girls. Can't we go in the dining-room by ourselves? I want to ask you to marry me before we talk any more."
"Yes, do," said Dosia, dimpling.
It was sweet to be chaffed, to be heedlessly young once more, to take refuge from all disconcerting thoughts—from a new embarrassment—with Billy, in the corner of the other room, where she sat in a low chair, and he dragged up an ottoman close in front of her. Through the open window the scent of honeysuckle came in with the gloom.
"Oh, but you've grown pretty!" he said, his hands clasped over his knees, gazing at her. "That's right, get pink—it makes you prettier. I like this slimpsy sort of dress you've got on; I like that black velvet around your throat; I—have you missed me much?"
"No," said Dosia, with the old-time sparkle. "I've hardly thought of you at all. But I feel now as if I had."
Billy nodded. "All right, I'll pay you up for that some day. Oh, Dosia, you may think I'm joking, but I'm not! There have been days and nights when I've done nothing but plan the things I was going to do and say to make you care for me—but they're all gone the moment I lay eyes on you. I'll talk of whatever you like afterward, but I've got to say first"—Billy's voice, deep and manly and confident, had yet a little shake in it—"that nobody is going to marry you but me, and don't you forget it. I'm no kid any more." Something in his tone gave his words emphasis. "I know how to look out for you better than any one else does."
"Dear Billy," said Dosia, touched, and resting her cheek momentarily against the rough sleeve of his coat, "it's so good to have you back again."
Lois, who had been longing intolerably all day for evening to come, so that she could be alone with her husband, sat in the drawing-room, trying to sew with nervous, trembling fingers, while her husband, looking frightfully tired, and Bailey Girard smoked and talked—of all things in the world!—of the relative merits of live or "spoon" bait in trolling, and afterward went minutely into details of the manufacture of artificial lures for catching trout.
Those wasted "social" hours of non-interest, non-satisfaction, how long, how unbearably long, they can seem! Lois' face twitched, as well as her fingers; she did not realize, as women often do not, that to Justin this conversation, banal and irrelevant to any action of his present life or his present anxiety, was like coming up from under-depths to breathe at a necessary air-hole.
After five days of torturing, unexplained absence, to talk of nothing but fishing, as if his life depended on it! Girard himself had wondered, but he accepted the position allotted to him as a matter of course. He had thought, from Justin's manner to-day, that he was to know something of his affairs; but if Justin did not choose to confide in him—that was all right. Possibly the affairs were all right, too; they were none of his business, anyway.
Suddenly a word caught the ears of the two who were sitting in the dining-room.
"That was the kind Lawson Barr used when he went down on the Susquehanna. By the way, I hear that he's dead."
Lawson! Dosia's face changed as if a whip had flicked across it, and then trembled back into its normal quiet. William leaned a little nearer, his eyes curiously scanning her.
"Hadn't you heard before?"
"Lawson dead! Not Lawson?" Her dry lips illy formed the words.
"Yes, Dosia. Don't look like that—don't let them see in there, Girard is looking at you; turn your face toward me. Leverich told us, coming up to-night. Lawson died a week ago."
"Fell from his horse somewhere up in a canyon—he was drunk, I reckon. They found him twenty-four hours afterward. The superintendent of the mines wrote to Leverich. He'd tried to keep pretty straight out there, all but the drinking, I guess that was too much for him. It was the best thing he could do—to die—as Girard says. Girard hates the very sound of his name."
"Oh," breathed Dosia painfully.
"The superintendent said that some of the miners chipped in to bury him, and the woman he boarded with sent a pencil scrawl along with the superintendent's letter to say that she'd 'miss Mr. Barr dreadful,'—that he'd get up and get the breakfast when she was sick, and 'the kids, they thought the world of him.' She signed herself, 'A true mourner, Mrs. Wilson.'"
Lawson was dead!
Dosia sat there, her hand clasping Billy's sleeve as at first—something tangible to hold on to. Her gaze had gone far beyond the room; even that haunting consciousness that Bailey Girard was near her was but a far, hidden subconsciousness. She was out on a rocky slope beside a dead body—Lawson, his head thrown back, those mocking, caressing eyes, those curving, passionate lips, closed forever, the blood oozing from between his dark locks. As ever with poor Dosia, there was that sharp, unbearable pang of self-reproach, of self-condemnation. Of what avail her prayers, her belief in him, when he had died thus? Oh, she had not prayed enough. She had not been good enough to be allowed to help; she had not believed hard enough. Perhaps it had helped just a little—he had "tried to keep pretty straight, all but the drinking; that was too much for him."
That covered some resistance in an underworld of which she knew nothing. Poor Lawson, who had never had the right chance, whose youth had been poisoned at the start! In that grave where he lay, drunkard and reveler, part of the youth of her, Dosia Linden,—once his promised wife, to whom she had given herself in her soul,—must always lie too, buried with him; nothing could undo that. To die so causelessly! But the miners had cared a little; he had been kind to a woman and her little children—"the kids had thought the world of him"; she was "a true mourner, Mrs. Wilson." Dosia imagined him cheeringly cooking for this poor, worn-out mother, carrying the children from place to place as she had once seen him carry that little boy home from the ball, long, long ago.
A strain from that unforgotten music came to her now, carrying her to the stars! Oh, not for Lawson the splendid rehabilitation of the strong, except in that one moment of denial when he had risen by the might of his manhood in renunciation for her sake; only the humble virtues of his weakness could be his—yet perhaps, in the sight of the God who pities, no such small offering, after all!
"Dosia, you didn't really care for him!"
She smiled with pale lips and brimming eyes—an enigmatic answer which Billy could not read. He sat beside her, smoothing her dress furtively, until she got up, and, whispering, "I must go," left the room, unconscious of Girard's following gaze.
"I think we'd better be getting back," said the latter, in an odd voice, rising in the middle of one of Justin's sentences, as Billy came straying in to join the group.
Lois' heart leaped. She had felt that another moment of live bait and reminiscences would be more than she could stand.
"You need some rest," she said gratefully. "You have been tired out in our service."
"Oh, I'm not tired at all," he returned, shortly. Her work seemed to catch his eye for the first time and, in a desire to change the subject, "What are you making?" he asked.
"A ball for Redge. I made one for Zaidee, and he felt left out—he's of a very jealous disposition," she went on abstractedly. "Are you of a jealous disposition, Mr. Girard?"
"I!" He stopped short, with the air of one not accustomed to taking account of his own attributes, and apparently pondered the question as if for the first time. When he looked up to answer, it was with abrupt decision: "Yes, I am."
"Don't look so like a pirate," said young Billy, giving him a thump on the back that sent them both out of the house, laughing, when Lois rose and went over to Justin's side.
Husband and wife were at last alone.
In the days that followed, Justin, going away in the morning very early with a set face, coming home very late in the evening with that set face still, hardly seemed to notice the children or Dosia.
"Justin has so much on his mind." Lois kept repeating the words over and over, as if she found in them something by which to hold fast. Rich in beauty as she was, full of love and tender favor, with the sweetness and the pathos of an awakening soul, her husband seemed to have no eyes, no thought for her. That one murmured sentence in the hallway was all her food to live on—his only personal recognition of her.
On the other hand, he poured out his affairs and his plans to her with a freedom of confidence unknown before, a confidence which seemed to pre-suppose her oneness of interest with him. He had talked exhaustively about everything but those few days' absence; that was a sore that she must not touch, a wound that could bear no probing. She had striven very hard not to show when she didn't understand, taking her cues for assent or dissent as he evidently wished her to, letting him think aloud, since it seemed to be a relief to him, and saying little herself. The only time when she broke in on her own account was when he told her about Cater, and the defective bars, and Leverich's ultimatum. Her "Justin, you wouldn't do that; you wouldn't tell!" met his quick response: "No, I couldn't."
"Oh, I know that. I'd rather be a hundred times poorer than we are! Aren't you glad that you couldn't do it?"
"No; I think I'm rather sorry," said Justin, with a half-smile. The peculiar sharpness of the thought that it was between Cater and Leverich—his friends, Heaven save the mark!—that he was being pushed toward ruin, had not lost any of its edge.
There had been a tonic in a certain attitude of Cater's mind toward Justin—an unspoken kindliness and admiration and tenderness such as an older man who has been along a hard road may feel toward another who has come along the same way. Cater's kind, unobtrusive comradeship, the fair-dealing friendliness of his rivalry, had seemed to be one of the factors of support, of honesty, of commercial righteousness. Justin could smile proudly at Leverich, but he couldn't smile when he thought of Cater—it weighed upon and humiliated him for the man who had been his friend.
"I am glad, anyway!" said Lois. "It wouldn't have been you if you had! Can't you take a rest now, dear, when you look so ill? No, no; I didn't mean that—of course you can't!"
"A rest!" He rose and walked up and down the room. "Lois, do you know that, in some way, I've got to get it before the 13th? Those days in Chicago—at the worst time! It makes me wild to think of the time I've lost. I'm looking out for a partner who will buy out Leverich and Martin, and we've got a chance yet—I'll swear we have! But Lewiston's note has got to be paid first; then I can take time to breathe. Harker saw a man from Boston from whom we might have borrowed the money, if I had only been here. If we get that, we can hold over; if we don't, we go to smash, and so does Lewiston. Lewiston trusted me. I've been to several places to-day to men that would be willing enough to lend the money if they didn't know I needed it."
"George Sutton?" hazarded Lois.
Justin's lips curved bitterly. "Oh, he's a cur. He had some money invested last year when he was sweet on Dosia, and drew it all out afterward! And, after all, I went to him to-day, like a fool!"
"Can't you go to Eugene Larue?"
"No. We talked about it once, but he fought shy; he didn't think the security enough. If he thought so then, it would be worse than useless now."
"There's no use telling things to him, he hasn't any money." Justin turned a dim eye on her. "I tell you, Lois, I haven't left a stone unturned, so far, that I could get at. If we could only sell the island! Girard's looking it up for me; there may be a chance of that. There are lots of chances to be thought out. I don't even know how we keep running, but we do. Harker's a trump! If I can hold up my end, we'll be all right."
"Then go to bed now," said Lois, with a quick dread that gave her courage. "And you must have something to eat first—and to drink, too. Come, Justin! Do as I say." Her voice had a new firmness in it which he unconsciously obeyed. She crept to her bed at last, aching in every limb, but with her baby pressed close to her, her one darling comfort, the source from which she drew a new love as the child drew its life from her. It was the first time in all her married life that she had borne the burden of her husband's care, a burden from which she must seek no solace from him.
She bent all her energies, these next days, to keeping him well fed, and ordering everything minutely for his comfort when he came home, aided and abetted by Dosia. The two women worked as with one thought between them, as women can work, for the well-being of one they love, with fond and minute care. Every detail, from the time he went away in the morning, stooping slightly under the weight of something mysterious and unseen, was ordered with reference to his home-coming at night—the husband and father on whose strength all this helpless little family hung for their own sustenance.