Part 5 out of 5
Good Indian looked in the hammock, but Evadna was not there. He
went to the little stone bench at the head of the pond, and when
he still did not see her he followed the bank around to the milk-
house, where was a mumble of voices. And, standing in the
doorway with her arm thrown around her Aunt Phoebe's shoulders in
a pretty protective manner, he saw her, and his eyes gladdened.
She did not see him at once. She was facing courageously the
three inseparables, Hagar, Viney, and Lucy, squatted at the top
of the steps, and she was speaking her mind rapidly and angrily.
Good Indian knew that tone of old, and he grinned. Also he
stopped by the corner of the house, and listened shamelessly.
"That is not true," she was saying very clearly. "You're a bad
old squaw and you tell lies. You ought to be put in jail for
talking that way." She pressed her aunt's shoulder
affectionately. "Don't you mind a word she says, Aunt Phoebe.
She's just a mischief-making old hag, and she--oh, I'd like to
Hagar shook her head violently, and her voice rose shrill and
malicious, cutting short Evadna's futile defiance.
"Ka-a-ay bueno, yo'!" Her teeth gnashed together upon the words.
"I no tellum lie. Good Injun him kill Man-that-coughs. All time
I seeum creep, creep, through sagebrush. All time I seeum hoss
wait where much rock grow. I seeum. I no speakum heap lie.
Speakum true. I go tell sheriff mans Good Indian killum
Man-that-coughs. I tellum--"
"Why didn't you, then, when the sheriff was in Hartley?" Evadna
flung at her angrily. "Because you know it's a lie. That's
"Yo' thinkum Good Injun love yo', mebbyso." Hagar's witch-grin
was at its malevolent widest. Her black eyes sparkled with
venom. "Yo' heap fool. Good Injun go all time
Squaw-talk-far-off. Speakum glad word. Good Injun ka-a-ay
bueno. Love Squaw-talk-far-off. No love yo'. Speakum lies,
yo'. Makum yo' heap cry all time. Makeum yo' heart bad." She
cackled, and leered with vile significance toward the girl in the
"Don't you listen to her, honey." It was Phoebe's turn to
Good Indian took a step forward, his face white with rage. Viney
saw him first, muttered an Indian word of warning, and the three
sprang up and backed away from his approach.
"So you've got to call me a murderer!" he cried, advancing
threateningly upon Hagar. "And even that doesn't satisfy you.
Evadna rushed up the steps like a crisp little whirlwind, and
caught his arm tightly in her two hands.
"Grant! We don't believe a word of it. You couldn't do a thing
like that. Don't we KNOW? Don't pay any attention to her. We
aren't going to. It'll hurt her worse than any kind of
punishment we could give her. Oh, she's a VILE old thing! Too
vile for words! Aunt Phoebe and I shouldn't belittle ourselves by
even listening to her. SHE can't do any harm unless we let it
bother us--what she says. _I_ know you never could take a human
life, Grant. It's foolish even to speak of such a thing. It's
just her nasty, lying tongue saying what her black old heart
wishes could be true." She was speaking in a torrent of
trepidation lest he break from her and do some violence which
they would all regret. She did not know what he could do, or
would do, but the look of his face frightened her.
Old Hagar spat viciously at them both, and shrilled vituperative
sentences--in her own tongue fortunately; else the things she
said must have brought swift retribution. And as if she did not
care for consequences and wanted to make her words carry a
definite sting, she stopped, grinned maliciously, and spoke the
choppy dialect of her tribe.
"Yo' tellum me shont-isham. Mebbyso yo' tellum yo' no ketchum
Squaw-talk-far-off in sagebrush, all time Saunders go dead! Me
ketchum hair--Squaw-talk-far-off hair. You like for see, you
thinkum me tell lies?"
From under her blanket she thrust forth a greasy brown hand, and
shook triumphantly before them a tangled wisp of woman's
hair--the hair of Miss Georgie, without a doubt. There was no
gainsaying that color and texture. She looked full at Evadna.
"Yo' like see, me show whereum walk," she said grimly. "Good
Injun boot make track, Squaw-talk-far-off little shoe make track.
Me show, yo' thinkum mebbyso me tell lie. Stoppum in sagebrush,
ketchum hair. Me ketchum knife--Good Injun knife, mebbyso."
Revenge mastered cupidity, and she produced that also, and held
it up where they could all see.
Evadna looked and winced.
"I don't believe a word you say," she declared stubbornly. "You
STOLE that knife. I suppose you also stole the hair. You can't
MAKE me believe a thing like that!"
"Squaw-talk-far-off run, run heap fas', get home quick. Me
seeum, Viney seeum, Lucy seeum." Hagar pointed to each as she
named her, and waited until they give a confirmatory nod. The
two squaws gazed steadily at the ground, and she grunted and
ignored them afterward, content that they bore witness to her
truth in that one particular.
"Squaw-talk-far-off sabe Good Injun killum Man-that-coughs,
mebbyso," she hazarded, watching Good Indian's face cunningly to
see if the guess struck close to the truth.
"If you've said all you want to say, you better go," Good Indian
told her after a moment of silence while they glared at each
other. "I won't touch you--because you're such a devil I
couldn't stop short of killing you, once I laid my hands on you."
He stopped, held his lips tightly shut upon the curses he would
not speak, and Evadna felt his biceps tauten under her fingers as
if he were gathering himself for a lunge at the old squaw. She
looked up beseechingly into his face, and saw that it was sharp
and stern, as it had been that morning when the men had first
been discovered in the orchard. He raised his free arm, and
pointed imperiously to the trail.
"Pikeway!" he commanded.
Viney and Lucy shrank from the tone of him, and, hiding their
faces in a fold of blanket, slunk silently away like dogs that
have been whipped and told to go. Even Hagar drew back a pace,
hardy as was her untamed spirit. She looked at Evadna clinging
to his arm, her eyes wide and startlingly blue and horrified at
all she had heard. She laughed then--did Hagar--and waddled
after the others, her whole body seeming to radiate contentment
with the evil she had wrought.
"There's nothing on earth can equal the malice of an old squaw,"
said Phoebe, breaking into the silence which followed. "I'd hope
she don't go around peddling that story--not that anyone would
believe it, but--"
Good Indian looked at her, and at Evadna. He opened his lips for
speech, and closed them without saying a word. That near he came
to telling them the truth about meeting Miss Georgie, and
explaining about the hair and the knife and the footprints Hagar
had prated about. But he thought of Rachel, and knew that he
would never tell anyone, not even Evadna. The girl loosened his
arm, and moved toward her aunt.
"I hate Indians--squaws especially," she said positively. "I
hate the way they look at one with their beady eyes, just like
snakes. I believe that horrid old thing lies awake nights just
thinking up nasty, wicked lies to tell about the people she
doesn't like. I don't think you ought to ride around alone so
much, Grant; she might murder you. It's in her to do it, if she
ever got the chance."
"What do you suppose made her ring Georgie Howard in like that?"
Phoebe speculated, looking at Grant. "She must have some grudge
against her, too."
"I don't know why." Good Indian spoke unguardedly, because he
was still thinking of Rachel and those laboriously printed words
which he had scattered afar. "She's always giving them candy and
fruit, whenever they show up at the station."
"Oh--h!" Evadna gave the word that peculiar, sliding inflection
of hers which meant so much, and regarded him unwinkingly, with
her hands clasped behind her.
Good Indian knew well the meaning of both her tone and her stare,
but he only laughed and caught her by the arm.
"Come on over to the hammock," he commanded, with all the
arrogance of a lover. "We're making that old hag altogether too
important, it seems to me. Come on, Goldilocks--we haven't had a
real satisfying sort of scrap for several thousand years."
She permitted him to lead her to the hammock, and pile three
cushions behind her head and shoulders--with the dark-blue one on
top because her hair looked well against it--and dispose himself
comfortably where he could look his fill at her while he swung
the hammock gently with his boot-heel, scraping a furrow in the
sand. But she did not show any dimples, though his eyes and his
lips smiled together when she looked at him, and when he took up
her hand and kissed each finger-tip in turn, she was as passive
as a doll under the caresses of a child.
"What's the matter?" he demanded, when he found that her manner
did not soften. "Worrying still about what that old squaw said?"
"Not in the slightest." Evadna's tone was perfectly
polite--which was a bad sign.
Good Indian thought he saw the makings of a quarrel in her
general attitude, and he thought he might as well get at once to
the real root of her resentment.
"What are you thinking about? Tell me, Goldilocks," he coaxed,
pushing his own troubles to the back of his mind.
"Oh, nothing. I was just wondering--though it's a trivial matter
which is hardly worth mentioning--but I just happened to wonder
how you came to know that Georgie Howard is in the habit of
giving candy to the squaws--or anything else. I'm sure I
never--" She bit her lips as if she regretted having said so
Good Indian laughed. In truth, he was immensely relieved; he
had been afraid she might want him to explain something
else--something which he felt he must keep to himself even in the
face of her anger. But this--he laughed again.
"That's easy enough," he said lightly. "I've seen her do it a
couple of times. Maybe Hagar has been keeping an eye on me--I
don't know; anyway, when I've had occasion to go to the store or
to the station, I've nearly always seen her hanging around in the
immediate vicinity. I went a couple of times to see Miss Georgie
about this land business. She's wise to a lot of law--used to
help her father before he died, it seems. And she has some of
his books, I discovered. I wanted to see if there wasn't some
means of kicking these fellows off the ranch without making a lot
more trouble for old Peaceful. But after I'd read up and talked
the thing over with her, we decided that there wasn't anything to
be done till Peaceful comes back, and we know what he's been
doing about it. That's what's keeping him, of course.
"I suppose," he added, looking at her frankly, "I should have
mentioned my going there. But to tell you the truth, I didn't
think anything much about it. It was just business, and when I'm
with you, Miss Goldilocks, I like to forget my troubles. You,"
he declared, his eyes glowing upon her, "are the antidote. And
you wouldn't have mo believe you could possibly be jealous!"
"No," said Evadna, in a more amiable tone. "Of course I'm not.
But I do think you showed a--well, a lack of confidence in me. I
don't see why _I_ can't help you share your troubles. You know I
want to. I think you should have told me, and let me help. But
you never do. Just for instance--why wouldn't you tell me
yesterday where you were before breakfast? I know you were
SOMEWHERE, because I looked all over the place for you," she
argued naively. "I always want to know where you are, it's so
lonesome when I don't know. And you see--"
She was interrupted at that point, which was not strange. The
interruption lasted for several minutes, but Evadna was a
persistent little person. When they came back to mundane
matters, she went right on with what she had started out to say.
"You see, that gave old Hagar a chance to accuse you of--well, of
a MEETING with Georgie. Which I don't believe, of course.
Still, it does seem as if you might have told me in the first
place where you had been, and then I could have shut her up by
letting her see that I knew all about it. The horrid, mean old
THING! To say such things, right to your face! And--Grant, where
DID she get hold of that knife, do you suppose--and--that--bunch
of--hair?" She took his hand of her own accord, and patted it,
and Evadna was not a demonstrative kind of person usually. "It
wasn't just a tangle, like combings," she went on slowly. "I
noticed particularly. There was a lock as large almost as my
finger, that looked as if it had been cut off. And it certainly
WAS Georgie's hair."
"Georgie's hair," Good Indian smilingly asserted, "doesn't
interest me a little bit. Maybe Hagar scalped Miss Georgie to
get it. If it had been goldy, I'd have taken it away from her if
I had to annihilate the whole tribe, but seeing it wasn't YOUR
Well, the argument as such was a poor one, to say the least, but
it had the merit of satisfying Evadna as mere logic could not
have done, and seemed to allay as well all the doubt that had
been accumulating for days past in her mind. But an hour spent
in a hammock in the shadiest part of the grove could not wipe out
all memory of the past few days, nor quiet the uneasiness which
had come to be Good Indian's portion.
"I've got to go up on the hill again right after dinner,
Squaw-with-sun-hair," he told her at last. "I can't rest,
somehow, as long as those gentlemen are camping down in the
orchard. You won't mind, will you?" Which shows that the hour
had not been spent in quarreling, at all events.
"Certainly not," Evadna replied calmly. "Because I'm going with
you. Oh, you needn't get ready to shake your head! I'm going to
help you, from now on, and talk law and give advice and 'scout
around,' as you call it. I couldn't be easy a minute, with old
Hagar on the warpath the way she is. I'd imagine all sorts of
"You don't realize how hot it is," he discouraged.
"I can stand it if you can. And I haven't seen Georgie for DAYS.
She must get horribly lonesome, and it's a perfect SHAME that I
haven't been up there lately. I'm sure she wouldn't treat ME
that way." Evadna had put on her angelic expression. "I WOULD
go oftener," she declared virtuously, "only you boys always go
off without saying anything about it, and I'm silly about riding
past that Indian camp alone. That squaw--the one that caught
Huckleberry the other day, you know--would hardly let go of the
bridle. I was scared to DEATH, only I wouldn't let her see. I
believe now she's in with old Hagar, Grant. She kept asking me
where you were, and looked so--"
"I think, on the whole, we'd better wait till after supper when
it's cooler, Goldenhair," Good Indian observed, when she
hesitated over something she had not quite decided to say. "I
suppose I really ought to stay and help the boys with that clover
patch that Mother Hart is worrying so about. I guess she thinks
we're a lazy bunch, all right, when the old man's gone. We'll go
up this evening, if you like."
Evadna eyed him with open suspicion, but if she could read his
real meaning from anything in his face or his eyes or his manner,
she must have been a very keen observer indeed.
Good Indian was meditating what he called "making a sneak." He
wanted to have a talk with Miss Georgie himself, and he certainly
did not want Evadna, of all people, to hear what he had to say.
For just a minute he wished that they had quarreled again. He
went down to the stable, started to saddle Keno, and then decided
that he would not. After all, Hagar's gossip could do no real
harm, he thought, and it could not make much difference if Miss
Georgie did not hear of it immediately.
That afternoon when the four-thirty-five rushed in from the
parched desert and slid to a panting halt beside the station
platform, Peaceful Hart emerged from the smoker, descended
quietly to the blistering planks, and nodded through the open
window to Miss Georgie at her instrument taking train orders.
Behind him perspired Baumberger, purple from the heat and the
beer with which he had sought to allay the discomfort of that
"Howdy, Miss Georgie?" he wheezed, as he passed the window.
"Ever see such hot weather in your life? _I_ never did."
Miss Georgie glanced at him while her fingers rattled her key,
and it struck her that Baumberger had lost a good deal of his
oily amiability since she saw him last. He looked more flabby
and loose-lipped than ever, and his leering eyes were streaked
plainly with the red veins which told of heavy drinking. She
gave him a nod cool enough to lower the thermometer several
degrees, and scribbled away upon the yellow pad under her hand
as if Baumberger had sunk into the oblivion her temper wished for
him. She looked up immediately, however, and leaned forward so
that she could see Peaceful just turning to go down the steps.
"Oh, Mr. Hart! Will you wait a minute?" she called clearly above
the puffing of the engine. "I've something for you here. Soon
as I get this train out--" She saw him stop and turn back to the
office, and let it go at that for the present.
"I sure have got my nerve," she observed mentally when the
conductor had signaled the engineer and swung up the steps of the
smoker, and the wheels were beginning to clank. All she had for
Peaceful Hart in that office was anxiety over his troubles.
"Just held him up to pry into his private affairs," she put it
bluntly to herself. But she smiled at him brightly, and waited
until Baumberger had gone lumbering with rather uncertain steps
to the store, where he puffed up the steps and sat heavily down
in the shade where Pete Hamilton was resting after the excitement
of the past thirty-six hours.
"I lied to you, Mr. Hart," she confessed, engagingly. "I haven't
a thing for you except a lot of questions, and I simply must ask
them or die. I'm not just curious, you know. I'm horribly
anxious. Won't you take the seat of honor, please? The ranch
won't run off if you aren't there for a few minutes after you had
expected to be. I've been waiting to have a little talk with
you, and I simply couldn't let the opportunity go by." She
talked fast, but she was thinking faster, and wondering if this
calm, white-bearded old man thought her a meddlesome fool.
"There's time enough, and it ain't worth much right now,"
Peaceful said, sitting down in the beribboned rocker and stroking
his beard in his deliberate fashion. "It seems to be getting the
fashion to be anxious," he drawled, and waited placidly for her
"You just about swear by old Baumberger, don't you?" she began
presently, fiddling with her lead pencil and going straight to
the heart of what she wanted to say.
"Well, I dunno. I've kinda learned to fight shy of swearing by
anybody, Miss Georgie." His mild blue eyes settled attentively
upon her flushed face.
"That's some encouragement, anyhow," she sighed. "Because he's
the biggest old blackguard in Idaho and more treacherous than any
Indian ever could be if he tried. I just thought I'd tell you,
in case you didn't know it. I'm certain as I can be of anything,
that he's at the bottom of this placer-claim fraud, and he's just
digging your ranch out from under your feet while he wheedles
you into thinking he's looking after your interests. I'll bet
you never got an injunction against those eight men," she
hazarded, leaning toward him with her eyes sparkling as the
subject absorbed all her thoughts. "I'll bet anything he kept
you fiddling around until those fellows all filed on their
claims. And now it's got to go till the case is finally settled
in court, because they are technically within their rights in
making lawful improvements on their claims.
"Grant," she said, and her voice nearly betrayed her when she
spoke his name, "was sure they faked the gold samples they must
have used in filing. We both were sure of it. He and the boys
tried to catch them at some crooked work, but the nights have
been too dark, for one thing, and they were always on the watch,
and went up to Shoshone in couples, and there was no telling
which two meant to sneak off next. So they have all filed, I
suppose. I know the whole eight have been up--"
"Yes, they've all filed--twenty acres apiece--the best part of
the ranch. There's a forty runs up over the bluff; the lower
line takes in the house and barn and down into the garden where
the man they call Stanley run his line through the strawberry
patch. That forty's mine yet. It's part uh the homestead. The
meadowland is most all included. That was a preemption claim."
Peaceful spoke slowly, and there was a note of discouragement in
his voice which it hurt Miss Georgie to hear.
"Well, they've got to prove that those claims of theirs are
lawful, you know. And if you've got your patent for the
homestead--you have got a patent, haven't you?" Something in his
face made her fling in the question.
"Y-es--or I thought I had one," he answered dryly. "It seems now
there's a flaw in it, and it's got to go back to Washington and
be rectified. It ain't legal till that's been done."
Miss Georgie half rose from her chair, and dropped back
despairingly. "Who found that mistake?" she demanded.
"Y-es, Baumberger. He thought we better go over all the papers
ourselves, so the other side couldn't spring anything on us
unawares, and there was one paper that hadn't been made out
right. So it had to be fixed, of course. Baumberger was real
put out about it."
"Oh, of course!" Miss Georgie went to the window to make sure of
the gentleman's whereabouts. He was still sitting upon the store
porch, and he was just in the act of lifting a tall, glass mug of
beer to his gross mouth when she looked over at him. "Pig!" she
gritted under her breath. "It's a pity he doesn't drink himself
to death." She turned and faced Peaceful anxiously.
"You spoke a while ago as if you didn't trust him implicitly,"
she said. "I firmly believe he hired those eight men to file on
your land. I believe he also hired Saunders to watch Grant, for
some reason--perhaps because Grant has shown his hostility from
the first. Did you know Saunders--or someone--has been shooting
at Grant from the top of the bluff for--well, ever since you
left? The last shot clipped his hat-brim. Then Saunders was
shot--or shot himself, according to the inquest--and there has
been no more rifle practice with Grant for the target."
"N-no, I hadn't heard about that." Peaceful pulled hard at his
beard so that his lips were drawn slightly apart. "I don't mind
telling yuh," he added slowly, "that I've got another lawyer
working on the case--Black. He hates Baumberger, and he'd like
to git something on him. I don't want Baumberger should know
anything about it, though. He takes it for granted I swallow
whole everything he says and does--but I don't. Not by a long
shot. Black'll ferret out any crooked work."
"He's a dandy if he catches Baumberger," Miss Georgie averred,
gloomily. "I tried a little detective work on my own account. I
hadn't any right; it was about the cipher messages Saunders used
to send and receive so often before your place was jumped. I was
dead sure it was old Baumberger at the other end, and I--well, I
struck up a mild sort of flirtation with the operator at
Shoshone." She smiled deprecatingly at Peaceful.
"I wanted to find out--and I did by writing a nice letter or two;
we have to be pretty cute about what we send over the wires," she
explained, "though we do talk back and forth quite a lot, too.
There was a news-agent and cigar man--you know that kind of
joint, where they sell paper novels and magazines and tobacco and
such--getting Saunders' messages. Jim Wakely is his name. He
told the operator that he and Saunders were just practicing; they
were going to be detectives, he said, and rigged up a cipher that
they were learning together so they wouldn't need any codebook.
Pretty thin that--but you can't prove it wasn't the truth. I
managed to find out that Baumberger buys cigars and papers of Jim
Wakely sometimes; not always, though."
Miss Georgie laughed ruefully, and patted her pompadour
"So all I got out of that," she finished, "was a correspondence I
could very well do without. I've been trying to quarrel with
that operator ever since, but he's so darned easy-tempered!" She
went and looked out of the window again uneasily.
"He's guzzling beer over there, and from the look of him he's had
a good deal more than he needs already," she informed Peaceful.
"He'll burst if he keeps on. I suppose I shouldn't keep you any
longer--he's looking this way pretty often, I notice; nothing but
the beer-keg holds him, I imagine. And when he empties that--"
She shrugged her shoulders, and sat down facing Hart.
"Maybe you could bribe Jim Wakely into giving something away,"
she suggested. "I'd sure like to see Baumberger stub his toe in
this deal! Or maybe you could get around one of those eight
beauties you've got camping down on your ranch--but there isn't
much chance of that; he probably took good care to pick clams for
that job. And Saunders," she added slowly, "is eternally silent.
Well, I hope in mercy you'll be able to catch him napping, Mr.
Peaceful rose stiffly,--and took up his hat from where he had
laid it on the table.
"I ain't as hopeful as I was a week ago," he admitted mildly.
"Put if there's any justice left in the courts, I'll save the old
ranch. My wife and I worked hard to make it what it is, and my
boys call it home. We can't save it by anything but law.
Fightin' would only make a bad matter worse. I'm obliged to
yuh, Miss Georgie, for taking such an interest--and I'll tell
Black about Jim Wakely."
"Don't build any hopes on Jim," she warned. "He probably doesn't
know anything except that he sent and received messages he
couldn't read any sense into."
"Well--there's always a way out, if we can find it. Come down
and see us some time. We still got a house to invite our friends
to." He smiled drearily at her, gave a little, old-fashioned
bow, and went over to join Baumberger--and to ask Pete Hamilton
for the use of his team and buckboard.
Miss Georgie, keeping an uneasy vigil over everything that moved
in the barren portion of Hartley which her window commanded, saw
Pete get up and start listlessly toward the stable; saw Peaceful
sit down to wait; and then Pete drove up with the rig, and they
started for the ranch. She turned with a startled movement to
the office door, because she felt that she was being watched.
"How, Hagar, and Viney, and Lucy," she greeted languidly when she
saw the three squaws sidle closer, and reached for a bag of candy
Hagar's greasy paw stretched out greedily for the gift, and
placed it in jealous hiding beneath her blanket, but she did not
turn to go, as she most frequently did after getting what she
came for. Instead, she waddled boldly into the office, her eyes
searching cunningly every corner of the little room. Viney and
Lucy remained outside, passively waiting. Hagar twitched at
something under her blanket, and held out her hand again; this
time it was not empty.
"Ketchum sagebrush," she announced laconically. "Mebbyso yo'
like for buy?"
Miss Georgie stared fixedly at the hand, and said nothing. Hagar
drew it under her blanket, held it fumbling there, and thrust it
"Ketchum where ketchum hair," she said, and her wicked old eyes
twinkled with malice. "Mebbyso yo' like for buy?"
Miss Georgie still stared, and said nothing. Her under lip was
caught tightly between her teeth by now, and her eyebrows were
pulled close together.
"Ketchum much track, same place," said Hagar grimly. "Good Injun
makeum track all same boot. Seeum Good Injun creep, creep in
bushes, all time Man-that-coughs be heap kill. Yo' buy hair, buy
knife, mebbyso me no tell me seeum Good Injun. Me tell, Good
Injun go for jail; mebbyso killum rope." She made a horrible
gesture of hanging by the neck. Afterward she grinned still more
horribly. "Ketchum plenty mo' dolla, me no tell, mebbyso."
Miss Georgie felt blindly for her chair, and when she touched it
she backed and sank into it rather heavily. She looked white and
sick, and Hagar eyed her gloatingly.
"Yo' no like for Good Injun be killum rope," she chuckled. "Yo'
all time thinkum heap bueno. Mebbyso yo' love. Yo' buy? Yo'
payum much dolla?"
Miss Georgie passed a hand slowly over her eyes. She felt numb,
and she could not think, and she must think. A shuffling sound
at the door made her drop her hand and look up, but there was
nothing to lighten her oppressive sense of danger to Grant.
Another squaw had appeared, was all. A young squaw, with
bright-red ribbons braided into her shining black hair, and
great, sad eyes brightening the dull copper tint of her face.
"You no be 'fraid," she murmured shyly to Miss Georgie, and
stopped where she was just inside the door. "You no be sad. No
trouble come Good Injun. I friend."
Hagar turned, and snarled at her in short, barking words which
Miss Georgie could not understand. The young squaw folded her
arms inside her bright, plaid shawl, and listened with an
indifference bordering closely on contempt, one would judge from
her masklike face. Hagar turned from berating her, and thrust
out her chin at Miss Georgie.
"I go. Sun go 'way, mebbyso I come. Mebbyso yo' heart bad. Me
ketchum much dolla yo', me no tellum, mebbyso. No ketchum, me
tell sheriff mans Good Injun all time killum Man-that-coughs."
Turning, she waddled out, jabbing viciously at the young squaw
with her elbow as she passed, and spitting out some sort of
threat or command--Miss Georgie could not tell which.
The young squaw lingered, still gazing shyly at Miss Georgie.
"You no be 'fraid," she repeated softly. "I friend. I take
care. No trouble come Good Injun. I no let come. You no be
sad." She smiled wistfully, and was gone, as silently as moved
her shadow before her on the cinders.
Miss Georgie stood by the window with her fingernails making
little red half-moons in her palms, and watched the three squaws
pad out of sight on the narrow trail to their camp, with the
young squaw following after, until only a black head could be
seen bobbing over the brow of the hill. When even that was gone,
she turned from the window, and stood for a long minute with her
hands pressed tightly over her face. She was trying to think,
but instead she found herself listening intently to the
monotonous "Ah-h-CHUCK! ah-h-CHUCK!" of the steam pump down the
track, and to the spasmodic clicking of an order from the
dispatcher to the passenger train two stations to the west.
When the train was cleared and the wires idle, she went suddenly
to the table, laid her fingers purposefully upon the key, and
called up her chief. It was another two hours' leave of absence
she asked for "on urgent business." She got it, seasoned with a
sarcastic reminder that her business was supposed to be with the
railroad company, and that she would do well to cultivate
exactness of expression and a taste for her duties in the office.
She was putting on her hat even while she listened to the
message, and she astonished the man at the other end by making no
retort whatever. She almost ran to the store, and she did not
ask Pete for a saddle-horse; she just threw her office key at
him, and told him she was going to take his bay, and she was at
the stable before he closed the mouth he had opened in amazement
at her whirlwind departure.
"I'D JUST AS SOON HANG FOR NINE MEN AS FOR ONE"
Baumberger climbed heavily out of the rig,and went lurching
drunkenly up the path to the house where the cool shade of the
grove was like paradise set close against the boundary of the
purgatory of blazing sunshine and scorching sand. He had not
gone ten steps from the stable when he met Good Indian face to
"Hullo," he growled, stopping short and eying him malevolently
with lowered head.
Good Indian's lips curled silently, and he stepped aside to
pursue his way. Baumberger swung his huge body toward him.
"I said HULLO. Nothin' wrong in that, is there? HULLO--d'yuh
"Go to the devil!" said Grant shortly.
Baumberger leered at him offensively. "Pretty Polly! Never
learned but one set uh words in his life. Can't yuh say anything
but 'Go to the devil!' when a man speaks to yuh? Hey?"
"I could say a whole lot that you wouldn't be particularly glad
to hear." Good Indian stopped, and faced him, coldly angry. For
one thing, he knew that Evadna was waiting on the porch for him,
and could see even if she could not hear; and Baumberger's
attitude was insulting. "I think," he said meaningly, "I
wouldn't press the point if I were you."
"Giving me advice, hey? And who the devil are you?"
"I wouldn't ask, if I were you. But if you really want to know,
I'm the fellow you hired Saunders to shoot. You blundered that
time. You should have picked a better man, Mr. Baumberger.
Saunders couldn't have hit the side of a barn if he'd been locked
inside it. You ought to have made sure--"
Baumberger glared at him, and then lunged, his eyes like an
animal gone mad.
"I'll make a better job, then!" he bellowed. "Saunders was a
fool. I told him to get down next the trail and make a good job
of it. I told him to kill you, you lying, renegade Injun--and if
he couldn't, I can! Yuh WILL watch me, hey?"
Good Indian backed from him in sheer amazement. Epithets
unprintable poured in a stream from the loose, evil lips.
Baumberger was a raving beast of a man. He would have torn the
other to pieces and reveled in the doing. He bellowed forth
threats against Good Indian and the Harts, young and old, and
vaunted rashly the things he meant to do. Heat-mad and drink-mad
he was, and it was as if the dam of his wily amiability had
broken and let loose the whole vile reservoir of his pirate mind.
He tried to strike Good Indian down where he stood, and when his
blows were parried he stopped, swayed a minute in drunken
uncertainty, and then make one of his catlike motions, pulled a
gun, and fired without really taking aim.
Another gun spoke then, and Baumberger collapsed in the sand, a
quivering heap of gross human flesh. Good Indian stood and
looked down at him fixedly while the smoke floated away from the
muzzle of his own gun. He heard Evadna screaming hysterically at
the gate, and looked over there inquiringly. Phoebe was running
toward him, and the boys--Wally and Gene and Jack, from the
blacksmith shop. At the corner of the stable Miss Georgie was
sliding from her saddle, her riding whip clenched tightly in her
hand as she hurried to him. Peaceful stood beside the team, with
the lines still in his hand.
It was Miss Georgie's words which reached him clearly.
"You just HAD to do it, Grant. I saw the whole thing. You HAD
"Oh, Grant--GRANT! What have you done? What have you done?"
That was Phoebe Hart, saying the same thing over and over with a
queer, moaning inflection in her voice.
"D'yuh KILL him?" Gene shouted excitedly, as he ran up to the
"Yes." Good Indian glanced once more at the heap before him.
"And I'm liable to kill a few more before I'm through with the
deal." He swung short around, discovered that Evadna was
clutching his arm and crying, and pulled loose from her with a
gesture of impatience. With the gun still in his hand, he walked
quickly down the road in the direction of the garden.
"He's mad! The boy is mad! He's going to kill--" Phoebe gave a
sob, and ran after him, and with her went Miss Georgie and
Evadna, white-faced, all three of them.
"Come on, boys--he's going to clean out the whole bunch!" whooped
"Oh, choke off!" Wally gritted disgustedly, glancing over his
shoulder at them. "Go back to the house, and STAY there! Ma,
make Vad quit that yelling, can't yuh?" He looked eloquently at
Jack, keeping pace with him and smiling with the steely glitter
in his eyes. "Women make me sick!" he snorted under his breath.
Peaceful stared after them, went into the stable, and got a
blanket to throw over Baumberger's inert body, stooped, and made
sure that the man was dead, with the left breast of his light
negligee shirt all blackened with powder and soaked with blood;
covered him well, and tied up the team. Then he went to the
house, and got the old rifle that had killed Indians and buffalo
alike, and went quickly through the grove to the garden. He was
a methodical man, and he was counted slow, but nevertheless he
reached the scene not much behind the others. Wally was trying
to send his mother to the house with Evadna, and neither would
go. Miss Georgie was standing near Good Indian, watching Stanley
with her lips pressed together.
It is doubtful if Good Indian realized what the others were
doing. He had gone straight past the line of stakes to where
Stanley was sitting with his back against the lightning-stricken
apricot tree. Stanley was smoking a cigarette as if he had heard
nothing of the excitement, but his rifle was resting upon his
knee in such a manner that he had but to lift it and take aim.
The three others were upon their own claims, and they, also,
seemed unobtrusively ready for whatever might be going to happen.
Good Indian appraised the situation with a quick glance as he
came up, but he did not slacken his pace until he was within ten
feet of Stanley.
"You're across the dead line, m' son," said Stanley, with lazy
significance. "And you, too," he added, flickering a glance at
"The dead line," said Good Indian coolly, "is beyond the Point o'
Rocks. I'd like to see you on the other side by sundown."
Stanley looked him over, from the crown of his gray hat to the
tips of his riding-boots, and laughed when his eyes came back to
Good Indian's face. But the laugh died out rather suddenly at
what he saw there.
"Got the papers for that?" he asked calmly. But his jaw had
"I've got something better than papers. Your boss is dead. I
shot him just now. He's lying back there by the stable." Good
Indian tilted his head backward, without taking his eyes from
Stanley's face--and Stanley's right hand, too, perhaps. "If you
don't want the same medicine, I'd advise you to quit."
Stanley's jaw dropped, but it was surprise which slackened the
"Baumberger. I said it."
"You'll hang for that," Stanley stated impersonally, without
Good Indian smiled, but it only made his face more ominous.
"Well, they can't hang a man more than once. I'll see this ranch
cleaned up while I'm about it. I'd just as soon," he added
composedly, "be hanged for nine men as for one."
Stanley sat on his haunches, and regarded him unwinkingly for so
long that Phoebe's nerves took a panic, and she drew Evadna away
from the place. The boys edged closer, their hands resting
suggestively upon their gun-butts. Old Peaceful half-raised his
rifle, and held it so. It was like being compelled to watch a
fuse hiss and shrivel and go black toward a keg of gun-powder.
"I believe, by heck, you would!" said Stanley at last, and so
long a time had elapsed that even Good Indian had to think back
to know what he meant. Stanley squinted up at the sun, hitched
himself up so that his back rested against the tree more
comfortably, inspected his cigarette, and then fumbled for a
match with which to relight it. "How'd you find out Baumberger
was back uh this deal?" he asked curiously and without any
personal resentment in tone or manner, and raked the match along
Good Indian's shoulders went up a little.
"I knew, and that's sufficient. The dead line is down past the
Point o' Rocks. After sundown this ranch is going to hold the
Harts and their friends--and NO ONE ELSE. Tell that to your
pals, unless you've got a grudge against them!"
Stanley held his cigarette between his fingers, and blew smoke
through his nostrils while he watched Good Indian turn his back
and walk away. He did not easily lose his hold of himself, and
this was, with him, a cold business proposition.
Miss Georgie stood where she was until she saw that Stanley did
not intend to shoot Good Indian in the back, as he might have
done easily enough, and followed so quickly that she soon came up
with him. Good Indian turned at the rustling of the skirts
immediately behind him, and looked down at her somberly. Then he
caught sight of something she was carrying in her hand, and he
gave a short laugh.
"What are you doing with that thing?" he asked peremptorily.
Miss Georgie blushed very red, and slid the thing into her
"Well, every little helps," she retorted, with a miserable
attempt at her old breeziness of manner. "I thought for a minute
I'd have to shoot that man Stanley--when you turned your back on
Good Indian stopped, looked at her queerly, and went on again
without saying a word.
"WHEN THE SUN GOES AWAY"
"I wish," said Phoebe, putting her two hands on Miss Georgie's
shoulders at the gate and looking up at her with haggard eyes,
"you'd see what you can do with Vadnie. The poor child's near
crazy; she ain't used to seeing such things happen--"
"Where is she?" Good Indian asked tersely, and was answered
immediately by the sound of sobbing on the east porch. The three
went together, but it was Grant who reached her first.
"Don't cry, Goldilocks," he said tenderly, bending over her.
"It's all right now. There isn't going to be any more--"
"Oh! Don't TOUCH me!" She sprang up and backed from him, horror
plain in her wide eyes. "Make him keep away, Aunt Phoebe!"
Good Indian straightened, and stood perfectly still, looking at
her in a stunned, incredulous way.
"Chicken, don't be silly!" Miss Georgie's sane tones were like a
breath of clean air. "You've simply gone all to pieces. I know
what nerves can do to a woman--I've had 'em myself. Grant isn't
going to bite you, and you're not afraid of him. You're proud of
him, and you know it. He's acted the man, chicken!--the man we
knew he was, all along. So pull yourself together, and let's not
have any nonsense."
"He--KILLED a man! I saw him do it. And he's going to kill some
more. I might have known he was like that! I might have KNOWN
when he tried to shoot me that night in the orchard when I was
trying to scare Gene! I can show you the mark--where he grazed my
arm! And he LAUGHED about it! I called him a savage then--and I
was RIGHT--only he can be so nice when he wants to be--and I
forgot about the Indian in him--and then he killed Mr.
Baumberger! He's lying out there now! I'd rather DIE than let
Miss Georgie clapped a hand over her mouth, and stopped her.
Also, she gripped her by the shoulder indignantly.
"'Vadna Ramsey, I'm ashamed of you!" she cried furiously. "For
Heaven's sake, Grant, go on off somewhere and wait till she
settles down. Don't stand there looking like a stone
image--didn't you ever see a case of nerves before? She doesn't
know what she's saying--if she did, she wouldn't be saying it.
You go on, and let me handle her alone. Men are just a nuisance
in a case like this."
She pushed Evadna before her into the kitchen, waited until
Phoebe had followed, and then closed the door gently and
decisively upon Grant. But not before she had given him a
heartening smile just to prove that he must not take Evadna
seriously, because she did not.
"We'd better take her to her room, Mrs. Hart," she suggested,
"and make her lie down for a while. That poor fellow--as if he
didn't have enough on his hands without this!"
"I'm not on his hands! And I won't lie down!" Evadna jerked away
from Miss Georgie, and confronted them both pantingly, her cheeks
still wet with tears. "You act as if I don't know what I'm
doing' and I DO know. If I should lie down for a MILLION YEARS,
I'd feel just the same about it. I couldn't bear him to TOUCH
"For Heaven's sake, don't shout it," Miss Georgie interrupted,
exasperatedly. "Do you want him--"
"To hear? _I_ don't care whether he does or not." Evadna was
turning sullen at the opposition. "He'll have to know it SOME
TIME, won't he? If you think can forgive a thing like that and
"He had to do it. Baumberger would have killed HIM. He had a
perfect right to kill. He'd have been a fool and a coward if he
hadn't. You come and lie down a while."
"I WON'T lie down. I don't care if he did have to do it--I
couldn't love him afterward. And he didn't have to go down there
and threaten Stanley--and--HE'LL DO IT, TOO!" She fell to
trembling again. "He'll DO it--at sundown."
Phoebe and Miss Georgie looked at each other. He would, if the
men stayed. They knew that.
"And I was going to marry him!" Evadna shuddered when she said
it, and covered her face with her two hands. "He wasn't sorry
afterward; you could see he wasn't sorry. He was ready to kill
more men. It's the Indian in him. He LIKES to kill people.
He'll kill those men, and he won't be a bit sorry he did it. And
he could come to me afterward and expect me--Oh, what does he
think I AM?" She leaned against the wall, and sobbed.
"I suppose," she wailed, lashing herself with every bitter
thought she could conjure, "he killed Saunders, too, like old
Hagar said. He wouldn't tell me where he was that morning. I
asked him, and he wouldn't tell. He was up there killing
"If you don't shut up, I'll shake you!" Miss Georgie in her fury
did not wait, but shook her anyway as if she had been a
ten-year-old child in a tantrum.
"My Heavens above! I'll stand for nerves and hysterics, and
almost any old thing, but you're going a little bit too far, my
lady. There's no excuse for your talking such stuff as that, and
you're not going to do it, if I have to gag you! Now, you march
to your own room and--STAY there. Do you hear? And don't you
dare let another yip out of you till you can talk sense."
Good Indian stood upon the porch, and heard every word of that.
He heard also the shuffle of feet as Miss Georgie urged Evadna to
her room--it sounded almost as if she dragged her there by
force--and he rolled a cigarette with fingers that did not so
much as quiver. He scratched a match upon the nearest post, and
afterward leaned there and smoked, and stared out over the pond
and up at the bluff glowing yellow in the sunlight. His face was
set and expressionless except that it was stoically calm, and
there was a glitter deep down in his eyes. Evadna was right, to
a certain extent the Indian in him held him quiet.
It occurred to him that someone ought to pick up Baumberger, and
put him somewhere, but he did not move. The boys and Peaceful
must have stayed down in the garden, he thought. He glanced up
at the tops of the nodding poplars, and estimated idly by their
shadow on the bluff how long it would be before sundown, and as
idly wondered if Stanley and the others would go, or stay.
There was nothing they could gain by staying, he knew, now that
Baumberger was out of it. Unless they got stubborn and wanted to
fight. In that case, he supposed he would eventually be planted
alongside his father. He wished he could keep the boys and old
Peaceful out of it, in case there was a fight, but he knew that
would be impossible. The boys, at least, had been itching for
something like this ever since the trouble started.
Good Indian had, not so long ago, spent hours in avoiding all
thought that he might prolong the ecstasy of mere feeling. Now
he had reversed the desire. He was thinking of this thing and of
that, simply that he might avoid feeling. If someone didn't kill
him within the next hour or so, he was going to feel
something--something that would hurt him more than he had been
hurt since his father died in that same house. But in the
meantime he need only think.
The shadow of the grove, with the long fingers of tho poplars to
point the way, climbed slowly up the bluff. Good Indian smoked
another cigarette while he watched it. When a certain great
bowlder that was like a miniature ledge glowed rosily and then
slowly darkened to a chill gray, he threw his cigarette stub
unerringly at a lily-pad which had courtesied many a time before
to a like missile from his hand, pulled his hat down over his
eyes, jumped off the porch, and started around the house to the
gate which led to the stable.
Phoebe came out from the sitting-room, ran down the steps, and
barred his way.
"Grant!" she said, and there were tears in her eyes, "don't do
anything rash--don't. If it's for our sakes--and I know it
is--don't do it. They'll go, anyway. We'll have the law on them
and make them go. But don't YOU go down there. You let Thomas
handle that part. You're like one of my own boys. I can't let
He looked down at her commiseratingly. "I've got to go, Mother
Hart. I've made my war-talk." He hesitated, bent his head, and
kissed her on the forehead as she stood looking up at him, and
"Grant--GRANT!" she cried heartbrokenly after him, and sank down
on the porch-steps with her face hidden in her arms.
Miss Georgie was standing beside the gate, looking toward the
stable. She may not have been waiting for him, but she turned
without any show of surprise when he walked up behind her.
"Well, your jumpers seem to have taken the hint," she informed
him, with a sort of surface cheerfulness. "Stanley is down there
talking to Mr. Hart now, and the others have gone on. They'll
all be well over the dead-line by sundown. There goes Stanley
now. Do you really feel that your future happiness depends on
getting through this gate? Well--if you must--" She swung it
open, but she stood in the opening.
"Grant, I--it's hard to say just what I want to say--but--you did
right. You acted the man's part. No matter what--others--may
think or say, remember that I think you did right to kill that
man. And if there's anything under heaven that I can do, to--to
help--you'll let me do it, won't you?" Her eyes held him briefly,
unabashed at what they might tell. Then she stepped back, and
contradicted them with a little laugh. "I will get fired sure
for staying over my time," she said. "I'll wire for the coroner
soon as I get to the office. This will never come to a trial,
Grant. He was like a crazy man, and we all saw him shoot first."
She waited until he had passed through and was a third of the way
to the stable where Peaceful Hart and his boys were gathered, and
then she followed him briskly, as if her mind was taken up with
her own affairs.
"It's a shame yon fellows got cheated out of a scrap," she
taunted Jack, who held her horse for her while she settled
herself in the saddle. "You were all spoiling for a fight--and
there did seem to be the makings of a beautiful row!"
Save for the fact that she kept her eyes studiously turned away
from a certain place near by, where the dust was pressed down
smoothly with the weight of a heavy body, and all around was
trampled and tracked, one could not have told that Miss Georgie
remembered anything tragic.
But Good Indian seemed to recall something, and went quickly over
to her just in time to prevent her starting.
"Was there something in particular you wanted when you came?" he
asked, laying a hand on the neck of the bay. "It just occurred
to me that there must have been."
She leaned so that the others could not hear, and her face was
grave enough now.
"Why, yes. It's old Hagar. She came to me this afternoon, and
she had that bunch of hair you cut off that was snarled in the
bush. She had your knife. She wanted me to buy them--the old
blackmailer! She made threats, Grant--about Saunders. She says
you--I came right down to tell you, because I was afraid she
might make trouble. But there was so much more on hand right
here"--she glanced involuntarily at the trampled place in the
dust. "She said she'd come back this evening, 'when the sun
goes away.' She's there now, most likely. What shall I tell her?
We can't have that story mouthed all over the country."
Good Indian twisted a wisp of mane in his fingers, and frowned
"If you'll ride on slowly," he told her, at last straightening
the twisted lock, "I'll overtake you. I think I'd better see
that old Jezebel myself."
Secretly he was rather thankful for further action. He told the
boys when they fired questions at his hurried saddling that he
was going to take Miss Georgie home, and that he would be back
before long; in an hour, probably. Then he galloped down the
trail, and overtook her at the Point o' Rocks.
The sun was down, and the sky was a great, glowing mass of color.
Round the second turn of the grade they came upon Stanley,
walking with his hands thrust in his trousers pockets and
whistling softly to himself as if he were thinking deeply.
Perhaps he was glad to be let off so easily.
"Abandoning my claim," he announced, lightly as a man of his
prosaic temperament could speak upon such a subject. "Dern poor
placer mining down there, if yuh want to know!"
Good Indian scowled at him and rode on, because a woman rode
beside him. Seven others they passed farther up the hill. Those
seven gave him scowl for scowl, and did not speak a word; that
also because a woman rode beside him. And the woman understood,
and was glad that she was there.
From the Indian camp, back in the sage-inclosed hollow, rose a
sound of high-keyed wailing. The two heard it, and looked at
each other questioningly.
"Something's up over there," Good Indian said, answering her
look. "That sounds to me like the squaws howling over a death."
"Let's go and see. I'm so late now, a few minutes more won't
matter, one way or the other." Miss Georgie pulled out her
watch, looked at it, and made a little grimace. So they turned
into the winding trail, and rode into the camp.
There were confusion, and wailing, and a buzzing of squaws around
a certain wikiup. Dogs sat upon their haunches, and howled
lugubriously until someone in passing kicked them into yelping
instead. Papooses stood nakedly about, and regarded the uproar
solemnly, running to peer into the wikiup and then scamper back
to their less hardy fellows. Only the bucks stood apart in
haughty unconcern, speaking in undertones when they talked at
all. Good Indian commanded Miss Georgie to remain just outside
the camp, and himself rode in to where the bucks were gathered.
Then he saw Peppajee sitting beside his own wikiup, and went to
"What's the matter here, Peppajee?" he asked. "Heap trouble walk
down at Hart Ranch. Trouble walk here all same, mebbyso?"
Peppajee looked at him sourly, but the news was big, and it must
"Heap much trouble come. Squaw callum Hagar make much talk. Do
much bad, mebbyso. Squaw Rachel ketchum bad heart along yo'.
Heap cry all time. No sleepum, no eatum--all time heap sad.
Ketchum bad spirit, mebbyso. Ketchum debbil. Sun go 'way,
ketchum knife, go Hagar wikiup. Killum Hagar--so." He thrust
out his arm as one who stabs. "Killum himself--so." He struck
his chest with his clenched fist. "Hagar heap dead. Rachel heap
dead. Kay bueno. Mebbyso yo' heap bad medicine. Yo' go."
"A squaw just died," he told Miss Georgie curtly, when they rode
on. But her quick eyes noted a new look in his face. Before it
had been grave and stern and bitter; now it was sorrowful
LIFE ADJUSTS ITSELF AGAIN TO SOME THINGS
The next day was a day of dust hanging always over the grade
because of much hurried riding up and down; a day of many strange
faces whose eyes peered curiously at the place where Baumberger
fell, and at the cold ashes of Stanley's campfire, and at the
Harts and their house, and their horses and all things pertaining
in the remotest degree to the drama which had been played grimly
there to its last, tragic "curtain." They stared up at the
rim-rock and made various estimates of the distance and argued
over the question of marksmanship, and whether it really took a
good shot to fire from the top and hit a man below.
As for the killing of Baumberger, public opinion tried--with the
aid of various plugs of tobacco and much expectoration--the case
and rendered a unanimous verdict upon it long before the coroner
arrived. "Done just right," was the verdict of Public Opinion,
and the self-constituted judges manifested their further approval
by slapping Good Indian upon the back when they had a chance, or
by solemnly shaking hands with him, or by facetiously assuring
him that they would be good. All of which Grant interpreted
correctly as sympathy and a desire to show him that they did not
look upon him as a murderer, but as a man who had the courage to
defend himself and those dear to him from a great danger.
With everything so agreeably disposed of according to the
crude--though none the less true, perhaps--ethics of the time and
the locality, it was tacitly understood that the coroner and the
inquest he held in the grove beside the house were a mere
concession to red tape. Nevertheless a general tension
manifested itself when the jury, after solemnly listening, in
their official capacity, to the evidence they had heard and
discussed freely hours before, bent heads and whispered briefly
together. There was also a corresponding atmosphere of relief
when the verdict of Public Opinion was called justifiable
homicide by the coroner and so stamped with official approval.
When that was done they carried Baumberger's gross physical shell
away up the grade to the station; and the dust of his passing
settled upon the straggling crowd that censured his misdeeds and
mourned not at all, and yet paid tribute to his dead body with
lowered voices while they spoke of him, and with awed silence
when the rough box was lowered to the station platform.
As the sky clears and grows blue and deep and unfathomably
peaceful after a storm, as trees wind-riven straighten and nod
graciously to the little cloud-boats that sail the blue above,
and wave dainty finger-tips of branches in bon voyage, so did the
Peaceful Hart ranch, when the dust had settled after the latest
departure and the whistle of the train--which bore the coroner
and that other quiet passenger--came faintly down over the
rim-rock, settle with a sigh of relief into its old, easy habits
All, that is, save Good Indian himself, and perhaps one other.
. . . . . . . . .
Peaceful cleared his white mustache and beard from a few stray
drops of coffee and let his mild blue eyes travel slowly around
the table, from one tanned young face to another.
"Now the excitement's all over and done with," he drawled in his
half-apologetic tones, "it wouldn't be a bad idea for you boys to
get to work and throw the water back where it belongs. I dunno
but what the garden's spoiled already; but the small fruit can be
"Clark and I was going up to the Injun camp," spoke up Gene. "We
wanted to see--"
"You'll have to do some riding to get there," Good Indian
informed them dryly. "They hit the trail before sunrise this
"Huh! What were YOU doing up there that time of day?" blurted
Wally, eying him sharply.
"Watching the sun rise." His lips smiled over the retort, but
his eyes did not. "I'll lower the water in your milk-house now,
Mother Hart," he promised lightly, "so you won't have to wear
rubber-boots when you go to skim the milk." He gave Evadna a
quick, sidelong glance as she came into the room, and pushed back
his chair. "I'll get at it right away," he said cheerfully,
picked up his hat, and went out whistling. Then he put his head
in at the door. "Say," he called, "does anybody know where that
long-handled shovel is?" Again he eyed Evadna without seeming to
see her at all.
"If it isn't down at the stable," said Jack soberly, "or by the
apple-cellar or somewhere around the pond or garden, look along
the ditches as far up as the big meadow. And if you don't run
across it there--" The door slammed, and Jack laughed with his
eyes fast shut and three dimples showing.
Evadna sank listlessly into her chair and regarded him and all
her little world with frank disapproval.
"Upon my WORD, I don't see how anybody can laugh, after what has
happened on this place," she said dismally, "or--WHISTLE,
after--" Her lips quivered a little. She was a distressed
Christmas angel, if ever there was one.
Wally snorted. "Want us to go CRYING around because the row's
over?" he demanded. "Think Grant ought to wear crepe, I
suppose--because he ain't on ice this morning--or in jail, which
he'd hate a lot worse. Think we ought to go around with our jaws
hanging down so you could step on 'em, because Baumberger cashed
in? Huh! All hurts MY feelings is, I didn't get a whack at the
old devil myself!" It was a long speech for Wally to make, and he
made it with deliberate malice.
"Now you're shouting!" applauded Gene, also with the intent to be
"THAT'S the stuff," approved Clark, grinning at Evadna's
"Grant can run over me sharp-shod and I won't say a word, for
what he did day before yesterday," declared Jack, opening his
eyes and looking straight at Evadna. "You don't see any tears
rolling down MY cheeks, I hope?"
"Good Injun's the stuff, all right. He'd 'a' licked the hull
"Now, Donny, be careful what language you use," Phoebe
admonished, and so cut short his high-pitched song of praise.
"I don't care--I think it's perfectly awful." Evadna looked
distastefully upon her breakfast. "I just can't sleep in that
room, Aunt Phoebe. I tried not to think about it, but it opens
right that way."
"Huh!" snorted Wally. "Board up the window, then, so you can't
see the fatal spot!" His gray eyes twinkled. "I could DANCE on
it myself," he said, just to horrify her--which he did. Evadna
shivered, pressed her wisp of handkerchief against her lips, and
left the table hurriedly.
"You boys ought to be ashamed of yourselves!" Phoebe scolded
half-heartedly; for she had lived long in the wild, and had seen
much that was raw and primitive. "You must take into
consideration that Vadnie isn't used to such things. Why, great
grief! I don't suppose the child ever SAW a dead man before in
her life--unless he was laid out in church with flower-anchors
piled knee-deep all over him. And to see one shot right before
her very eyes--and by the man she expects--or did expect to
marry--why, you can't wonder at her looking at it the way she
does. It isn't Vadnie's fault. It's the way she's been raised."
"Well," observed Wally in the manner of delivering an ultimatum,
"excuse ME from any Eastern raising!"
A little later, Phoebe boldly invaded the secret chambers of Good
Indian's heart when he was readjusting the rocks which formed the
floor of the milk-house.
"Now, Grant," she began, laying her hand upon his shoulder as he
knelt before her, straining at a heavy rock, "Mother Hart is
going to give you a little piece of her mind about something
that's none of her business maybe."
"You can give me as many pieces as you like. They're always good
medicine," he assured her. But he kept his head bent so that his
hat quite hid his face from her. "What about?" he asked, a
betraying tenseness in his voice.
"About Vadnie--and you. I notice you don't speak--you haven't
that I've seen, since that day--on the porch. You don't want to
be too hard on her, Grant. Remember she isn't used to such
things. She looks at it different. She's never seen the times,
as I have, where it's kill or be killed. Be patient with her,
Grant--and don't feel hard. She'll get over it. I want," she
stopped because her voice was beginning to shake "--I want my
biggest boy to be happy." Her hand slipped around his neck and
pressed his head against her knee.
Good Indian got up and put his arms around her and held her
close. He did not say anything at all for a minute, but when he
did he spoke very quietly, stroking her hair the while.
"Mother Hart, I stood on the porch and heard what she said in the
kitchen. She accused me of killing Saunders. She said I liked
to kill people; that I shot at her and laughed at the mark I made
on her arm. She called me a savage--an Indian. My mother's
mother was the daughter of a chief. She was a good woman; my
mother was a good woman; just as good as if she had been white.
"Mother Hart, I'm a white man in everything but half my mother's
blood. I don't remember her--but I respect her memory, and I am
not ashamed because she was my mother. Do you think I could
marry a girl who thinks of my mother as something which she must
try to forgive? Do you think I could go to that girl in there
and--and take her in my arms--and love her, knowing that she
feels as she does? She can't even forgive me for killing that
"She's a beautiful thing--I wanted to have her for my own. I'm a
man. I've a healthy man's hunger for a beautiful woman, but I've
a healthy man's pride as well." He patted the smooth cheek of
the only woman he had ever known as a mother, and stared at the
rough rock wall oozing moisture that drip-dripped to the pool
"I did think I'd go away for awhile," he said after a minute
spent in sober thinking. "But I never dodged yet, and I never
ran. I'm going to stay and see the thing through, now. I don't
know--" he hesitated and then went on. "It may not last; I may
have to suffer after awhile, but standing out there, that day,
listening to her carrying on, kind of--oh, I can't explain it.
But I don't believe I wes half as deep in love as I thought I
was. I don't want to say anything against her; I've no right,
for she's a thousand times better than I am. But she's
different. She never would understand our ways, Mother Hart, or
look at life as we do; some people go through life looking at the
little things that don't matter, and passing by the other, bigger
things. If you keep your eye glued to a microscope long enough,
you're sure to lose the sense of proportion.
"She won't speak to me," he continued after a short silence. "I
tried to talk to her yesterday--"
"But you must remember, the poor child was hysterical that day
when--she went on so. She doesn't know anything about the
realities of life. She doesn't mean to be hard."
"Yesterday," said Grant with an odd little smile, "she was not
hysterical. It seems that--shooting--was the last little weight
that tilted the scale against me. I don't think she ever cared
two whoops for me, to tell you the truth. She's been ashamed of
my Indian blood all along; she said so. And I'm not a good
lover; I neglected her all the while this trouble lasted, and I
paid more attention to Georgie Howard than I did to her--and I
didn't satisfactorily explain about that hair and knife that
Hagar had. And--oh, it isn't the killing, altogether! I guess we
were both a good deal mistaken in our feelings."
"Well, I hope so," sighed Phoebe, wondering secretly at the
decadence of love. An emotion that could burn high and hot in a
week, flare bravely for a like space, and die out with no seared
heart to pay for the extravagance--she shook her head at it.
That was not what she had been taught to call love, and she
wondered how a man and a maid could be mistaken about so vital an
"I suppose," she added with unusual sarcasm for her, "you'll be
falling in love with Georgie Howard, next thing anybody knows;
and maybe that will last a week or ten days before you find out
you were MISTAKEN!"
Good Indian gave her one of his quick, sidelong glances.
"She would not be eternally apologizing to herself for liking me,
anyway," he retorted acrimoniously, as if he found it very hard
to forgive Evadna her conscious superiority of race and
"Oh, I haven't a doubt of that!" Phoebe rose to the defense of
her own blood. "I don't know as it's in her to apologize for
anything. I never saw such a girl for going right ahead as if
her way is the only way! Bull-headed, I'd call her." She looked
at Good Indian afterward, studying his face with motherly
"I believe you're half in love with her right now and don't know
it!" she accused suddenly.
Good Indian laughed softly and bent to his work again.
"ARE you, Grant?" Phoebe laid a moist hand on his shoulder, and
felt the muscles sliding smoothly beneath his clothing while he
moved a rock. "I ain't mad because you and Vadnie fell out; I
kind of looked for it to happen. Love that grows like a mushroom
lasts about as long--only _I_ don't call it love! You might tell
"Tell you what?" But Grant did not look up. "If I don't know it,
I can't tell it." He paused in his lifting and rested his hands
upon his knees, the fingers dripping water back into the spring.
He felt that Phoebe was waiting, and he pressed his lips
together. "Must a man be in love with some woman all the time?"
He shook his fingers impatiently so that the last drops hurried
to the pool.
"She's a good girl, and a brave girl," Phoebe remarked
Good Indian felt that she was still waiting, with all the quiet
persistence of her sex when on the trail of a romance. He
reached up and caught the hand upon his shoulder, and laid it
against his cheek. He laughed surrender.
"Squaw-talk-far-off heap smart," he mimicked old Peppajee
gravely. "Heap bueno." He stood up as suddenly as he had
started his rock-lifting a few minutes before, and taking Phoebe
by the shoulders, shook her with gentle insistence. "Put don't
make me fall out of one love right into another," he protested
whimsically. "Give a fellow time to roll a cigarette, can't