« ПретходнаНастави »
on his face and shouted inside, “Din- make the grand impression. I fairly ner for three!”
swelled as I pictured the show I For reply there came the merry rip- would make riding down upon them ple of a woman's laugh within.
mounted on 'Jimmy Britt,' my black It was a pleasant autumn forenoon, stallion, my saddle set off by the with a soft breath from the hills, so gaudiest of 'Navajo' saddle blankets, the ranger gave me a rocker in the bridle studded with silver stars, with rustic porch and took one opposite. He a huge silver bit and reins of handlighted his pipe, stuck his feet up on woven horse hair. A buckskin suit I the railing and dreamily watched the had bought especially for the occawisps of smoke lose themselves in the sion, tan-colored boots with tinkling hazy atmosphere.
spurs, and a big sombrero encircled by "You wouldn't think," he said be- a band of rattler's hide. Ah, life tween puffs, nodding toward the In- came to me in big gulps in those days. dian sprawled on his blankets in the “It was well along in the afternoon shade of a pine, “that I came near be when I struck the reservation. From a ing a member of his tribe-he's a passing Indian I learned that the ‘Warmspring,' isn't he? Yes, I came Warmsprings' were encamped about within a blanket's length of it.” six miles away in Beaver Creek val
"That so?” I inquired. “Taken pris- ley, and were in the midst of a big oner, were you?"
roundup. Thither I proceeded full "Yes, a prisoner—and captured by speed. a girl," he grinned at me. “I might as “It had never occurred to me that well unburden myself while we are I might not be given a cordial welwaiting for dinner. It would cause do come. And if such a thought had mestic complications if told at the struck me, what did it matter? I had table."
my horse and sleeping blankets, so, "It happened ten years ago, when I like 'Sancho Panze,' could ride on was reckless and irresponsible as an seeking further adventures. unbridled cayuse. I had finished my "So I rode boldly up to the Indian first year's work as ranger and had encampment, my horse's head as high been granted thirty days' vacation as my own, for he, too, seemed to have With my pockets full of money, where sensed the coming of a new adventure. should I put in those thirty days ? On all sides were strange sights and That was my problem.
unfamiliar smells, so warily he "And then I thought of the Warm pranced and sniffed and snorted. spring Indians who lived just over the "And what a picture! In a little mountains, of their wild, carefree ex- green valley, with the hills aflame istence, whose lives were a continuous with flowers for a background, were round of dancing, roundups, hop and the tents and tepees of the 'Warmberry picking, fishing and hunting. springs.' Through the middle of that With a few of them I had become ac- granite-walled valley, Beaver Creek quainted, and with one young buck, sang and purred; while from the top 'White Feather,' he called himself, had of those granite walls, the greenstruck up a real friendship, having timbered hills rose grandly, fading once saved him from arrest by a gradually into mountains of silver. All game warden. To show his appreci- my life I had spent out of doors, but ation 'White Feather' had invited me never had I seen anything so wildly to visit his tribesmen at their annual picturesque. roundup and hee-hee, which came off “With an air of studied indifference around the first of July.
I rode slowly round the encampment. "I knew Indians well enough to ap- Outside, in the shade of their tents preciate their love of pomp and show. and tepees, the Indians were loungIn fact I had a little weakness in the ing, the men playing cards, the same direction and liked much to women working with beads and bas
kets, while half-naked children fore me was 'Chief Queahpama.' Tall, scudded back and forth.
erect, broad-shouldered and heavily "When I figured that I had all the muscled, though sinewy, he looked redskins sitting up and taking notice, every inch a chief. His square face I dismounted and walked over to a was stern and immobile as though cast corral where a bunch of trapped ca- in bronze, his long black hair hung yuses were vainly circling and fight- loose over his shoulders, his black ing for freedom. While I stood eyes keen as steel light; and when he watching, a hand was laid upon my spoke his voice rumbled like falling shoulder. I turned—and there stood water. my old friend, 'White Feather.
“My son,' he said, speaking in In“'Hello,' he greeted me in good dian, with 'White Feather' interpretEnglish. 'You didnt forget my invita- ing, 'White Feather tells me that you tion, did you?' You see, 'White have been a friend to my people. Feather' had been away to school. Therefore I bid you welcome. Go Perhaps that is how he got his name. where you will, and at eating time
"Come with me over to 'Chief come back to my tepee.' Queahpama's' tepee,' he said, when "When I had thanked him, he diswe had talked for some moments. missed me with a wave of his hand
"He led the way over to the center and resumed his card game, while I of the encampment, pulled back the followed 'White Feather' outside. flap and signed me to follow. Loung- “As 'White Feather and I strolled ing on a huge blanket in the middle about, we chanced to pass a tepee of the tepee were four old Indians somewhat apart from the main enplaying cards. 'White Feather' spoke campment. Squatting near the enin his own tongue, and immediately trance, mending a bridle, was an old one of the men arose and came toward man, his flowing hair sprinkled with
gray. Nearby, beading a pair of moc“I knew at once that the man be- casins, slouched his squaw, fat, thickhis man. ither, nouing
a her bis in up the title Indian they site
waisted, and strangely resembling a tillicums (good friends),' he confided, feather tick with a string tied around patting my shoulder. the middle.
“And then, through 'White Feather' "'That is Running Deer,' said he had me understand that next day 'White Feather', nodding toward the the Indians were sending out for a load old man. 'He was a famous runner in of supplies. He didn't ask me outright
for a donation, but so cunningly did "I was just on the point of passing he maneuver that I was lighter by the him when I glanced inside the tepee. weight of a ten dollar gold piece beAnd the picture there set my heart fore I left him. to pounding like a trip hammer. An "I was loath to leave 'Running Indian girl was preparing a meal over Deer's' tepee without again seeing a camp fire-a mere slip of a girl- 'Raven Wing,' but the clanging of a but what a beauty.
gong at 'Queahpama's' tepee warned "She wore a dress of fancy colors, us that supper was waiting. That made in loose Indian fashion that fell 'Chief Queahpama' maintained the away from her neck and arms, show- ancient traditions of royal hospitality ing a gaudy necklace and bracelets of was attested by the number who parheavy silver. Her eyes were the soft- took of his bounty; for when 'White est brown my own ever had looked Feather' and I entered his tepee we into, her dark face touched with a found a half hundred men and women delicate shade of pink, and her blue- sitting around in a circle, scooping black hair fell over her shoulders in up food from off blankets spread out two braids, tied with ribbon.
" "That is Raven Wing, Running “As the Indians finished their mea! Deer's daughter,' White Feather an- I noticed that they stole away in nounced.
groups. I turned to White Feather for "I had to say something or else be enlightenment. whisked away by 'White Feather,' so "'They are going to the dance,' he I asked in Chinook, 'Is supper ready?' explained. “Tonight we have what you
“And then she laughed—a little rip- whites call a courting dance. The Inpling laugh like that of a mountain dian girls of marriageable age start stream. I knew then, that she spoke dancing alone, then the young fellows English, and was laughing at my mis- dance out to meet them, each choosing erable jargon.
a partner by placing his hand upon “ 'It will be ready in a leetle while,' the shoulder of the girl he prefers. If she answered, with just a shade of this girl favors his suit, she allows native accent, and again she laughed his hand to remain and finishes the merrily.
dance with him. And this is not "Just then old Running Deer's merely a choice for one dance, but squaw said something to him in In- is a public announcement of his indian, which I, of course, didn't under- tention to marry her.' stand. But from the look she gave me “'We will go,' he said, seeing my I guessed it was something like this: interest. “That strange buck is getting alto- “The dance took place in a leveled gether too gay with our girl. Isn't it space alongside Beaver Creek. Blankabout time you were butting in ?' etis spread out beneath them, the In
"Anyway Running Deer came up, dians sat around in little groups, their his crafty old face concealing his na- dusky faces lighted up by a blazing tive curiosity, and looked me over camp fire in the middle of the dancing from hat to spurs. “You got heap space. money? he asked.
"Pretty soon the ceremonies began. “ “Oh, a little,' I answered indiffer- Spooms, an old medicine man, whose ently.
sightless eyes, wrinkled face and white "You heap fine boy. We be hyu locks made him strangely resemble a
being in ?
tive crafty old unning
grizzled wolf, arose and sounded a the dance And if so, would any of tom-tom. Out around the fire danced those bucks presume to put a hand the girls, casting shy glances toward upon her shoulder? their expectant partners. Immediately “Just then my questions were anthe gallant braves danced out to meet swered, for out sailed Raven Wing them, each choosing a partner as as light and graceful as a swallow. Her 'White Feather' had intimated. If the head was proudly erect, her lithe hand was allowed to remain, away body swayed rhythmically to the beat they would whirl; otherwise the dis- of the tom-tom, and her eyes shone consolate suitor would slink away to like stars. And immediately a young his corner, looking much as one of buck danced out to meet her. A giant our lads when his lassie refuses to of an Indian he was, over six feet, with walk home from church with him. the fine bronze and classic features of
"And then a wave of jealousy over the artist's Indian. He wore a suit of whelmed me. I had glimpsed Raven buckskin with vest and moccasins · Wing and her people off to them beaded in fancy designs and patterns.
selves. Would the girl take part in "'Ah, Red Wolf! Red Wolf!' whispered White Feather, as the brave “At once I danced out toward danced up to Raven Wing and laid his Raven Wing, intending to put my hand upon her shoulder.
hand on her shoulder and fasten the "I would have given worlds just then chain around her neck. But Red Wolf, to have seen Raven Wing fling off that evidently anticipating any move, beat red hand. But no, she smiled up at Red me to her. He was just on the point Wolf, and away they whirled.
of sailing away with her when I came "I didn't remain to see that dance up, seeing red in more ways than one. through, for such an unreasoning Beside myself at Red Wolf's insoanger and jealousy seized me that I lence, I struck his hand from Raven strode outside under the starlight to Wing's shoulder and placed my own reason myself into sanity. 'Look thereon. here,' I said to myself. 'you are a fool “The tom-tom stopped. There were to fall head over heels in love with an grunts and shouts of disapproval, and Indian girl. What would sweet little Mrs. Running Deer came running up, Helen think (and here my conscience jabbering and making faces at me, as smote me) to see you with a painted she pulled Raven Wing away. I shot buck for a rival; she who kissed you a glance at Red Wolf, standing good-bye and bade you God speed on proudly by the fire, and returning me your journey ?
such a look as no words may express. “But Lord bless you! it was no “Just then Chief Queahpama regood. My main trouble, I think now, lieved the tenseness of the situation was that I had too much imagination. by announcing that hardtack and canFor whenever I would think of those ned salmon would be served; so our great brown eyes, that exquisite body, little affair of the heart was lost sight from which seemed to pour a flame of of in the louder call of the stomach. superabundant vitality, all else was And while the Indians feasted, Runforgotten.
ning Deer and White Feather came "When I got back inside, the In- over to where I stood gloomily aloof, dians were in the midst of a worship still nettled over my encounter with dance — a sort of religious ceremony Red Wolf. in which they joined hands and “White Feather began: “Running danced around a camp-fire. When this Deer says that he wants to speak to dance was ended, I waited patiently, you straight from his heart.' hoping that the girls might again “Go ahead,' I snapped. dance sing!y, and if so, firmly I had “'He wants to know if you really resolved to dance with Raven Wing. wish to marry Raven Wing.' But no opportunity offered, so, in des- “That certainly was a stunner, but peration, I had to resort to a subter- I came back at him. 'Tell Running fuge which I had fixed upon outside. Deer that I have thought it all over
"Calling White Feather to one side, and that I want Raven Wing more I explained that I had a gold watch than anything else on earth.' and chain which I wished to give to “When White Feather interpreted the best girl dancer. However, they my answer, Running Deer mumbled must first dance before me that I something, then White Feather conmight render an impartial verdict. tinued: “Running Deer says to tell
"White Feather arose and ex- you that what you say is good-very plained my proposal to the Indians, good. But he says that it is the Inbetraying in his face, I thought, a dian custom for the suitor to give the shade of misgiving as to the outcome. girl's father ponies or money. How There were grunts and whispers and much will you give him for Raven heated arguments, then a long delay. Wing ?' But finally the tom-tom sounded, and "'Tell Running Deer,' I reforted out danced the girls, looking wistfully hotly, that I don't believe in buying at the prize I held before them. a wife, just as one would a horse or