Part 5 out of 6
creation; he began to live his true life for the first time since he
had met the wife of Irving Francis. Clothed in the make-believe, the
real Henry Phillips spoke freely, feelingly. His very voice changed in
timbre, in quality; it became rich, alive; his eyes caressed the woman
and stirred her to a new response.
As for Irving Francis, he watched the transformation with
astonishment. Grudgingly, resentfully, he acknowledged that this was
indeed fine acting. He realized, too, that his blind egotism had
served merely to prove the truth of the author's criticism and
to emphasize his own shortcomings. The idea enraged him, but the
spectacle held him enthralled.
Norma Berwynd was not slow to appreciate the truth. Accustomed
thoroughly to every phase of the make-believe world in which she
dwelt, she recognized unerringly in the new John Danton's words and
actions something entirely unreal and apart from the theatrical. The
conviction that Henry Phillips was not acting came to her with a
blinding suddenness, and it threw her into momentary confusion, hence
her responses were mechanical. But soon, without effort on her part,
this embarrassment fell away and she in turn began to blaze. The flame
grew as Phillips breathed upon it. She realized wildly that her heart
had always hungered for words like these, and that, coming from his
lips, they carried an altogether new and wondrous meaning; that they
filled some long-felt, aching want of which she had been ignorant
until this moment. The certainty that it was Phillips himself who
spoke, and not a mere character of his creation, filled her with an
exultant recklessness. She forgot her surroundings, her husband's
presence, even the fact that the lines she spoke were not of her own
Never had the scene been played like this. It grew vital, it took on
a tremendous significance. No one could have observed it and remained
unresponsive. Francis let fall the manuscript and stared at the actors
wonderingly. Since he was an actor, nothing was so real to him,
nothing so thrilling, as the make-believe. He realized that this was
indeed a magnificent exhibition of the artificial. With parted lips
and pulse athrob he followed the wooing of that imaginary John Danton,
in whom he could see no one but himself.
After a time he became conscious of a presence at his side, and heard
some one breathing heavily. Turning with a start, he found Leontine
Phillips at his shoulder. She, too, was aroused, but in her sneering
visage was that which brought the actor abruptly out of his spell. She
had emerged from the shadows noiselessly, and was leaning forward, her
strong hands gripping the edge of the table littered with its many
Mrs. Phillips had played emotional scenes herself, but never with such
melodramatic intensity as she now unconsciously displayed. Her whole
body shook as with an ague, her dark face was alive with a jealous fury
which told Irving Francis the story he had been too dull to suspect. The
truth, when it came home, smote him like a blow; his hatred for the
author, which had been momentarily forgotten--momentarily lost in his
admiration of the artist--rose up anew, and he recognized this occult
spell which had held him breathless as the thrall of a vital reality,
not, after all, the result of inspired acting. Instantly he saw past the
make-believe, into the real, and what he saw caused him to utter a
Leontine turned her face to him. "You fool!" she whispered through
Francis was a huge, leonine man; he rose now to his full height, as a
cat rises. But the drama drew his gaze in spite of himself; he could
not keep his eyes from his wife's face. Leontine plucked at his sleeve
and whispered again:
Something contorted the actor's frame bitterly, and he gasped like a
man throttled. Leontine could feel his muscles stiffen.
But the two players were in Elysium. They had reached the climax of
the scene; Danton had told his love as only a great, starved love can
tell itself, and with swimming eyes and fluttering lids, with heart
pounding beneath her folded hands, Diane swayed toward him and his
arms enfolded her. Her body met his, yielded; her face was upturned;
her fragrant, half-opened lips were crushed to his in a fierce,
impassioned kiss of genuine ecstasy.
Up to this moment the intensity of Francis's rage had held him
paralyzed, despite the voice which was whispering so constantly at his
ear; but now, when he saw his wife swooning upon the breast of the man
who had played his part, he awoke.
"She knows he loves her," Leontine was saying. "You let him tell her
in front of your face. He has taken her away from you!"
Mrs. Phillips's eyes fell upon the working fingers of the man as they
rested beside her own. They were opening and closing hungrily. She
also saw the naked knife which lay upon the table, and she moved it
forward cautiously until the eager fingers twined about it. Then she
breathed, "Go!" and shoved him forward fiercely.
It was Irving Francis's cry of rage as he rushed upon them which
aroused Norma Berwynd from her dream, from her intoxication. She saw
him towering at Phillips's back, and with a scream she tried to save
The husband's blow fell, however; it was delivered with all the savage
fury that lay in Irving Francis's body, and his victim was fairly
driven to his knees beneath it. The latter rose, then staggered, and,
half sliding through the woman's sheltering embrace, crumpled limply
into a massive upholstered chair. He, too, was dazed by the sudden
transition from his real world to his make-believe.
When his eyes cleared he saw Norma Berwynd struggling with her
husband, interposing her own slender body in his path. Francis was
cursing her foully for her unfaithfulness; his voice was thick and
"Yes! It's true!" she cried, with hysterical defiance. "I never knew
till now; but it's true! It's _true_!"
"You've killed him!" Leontine chattered, shrilly, and emerged from the
shadows, her dark features ashen, her eyes ringed with white. Mrs.
Francis turned from her husband and flung her arms about the recumbent
man, calling wildly to him.
The denouement had come with such swiftness that it left all four of
them appalled at their actions. Seeing what his brief insanity had led
him into, Francis felt his strength evaporate; his face went white,
his legs buckled beneath him. He scanned the place wildly in search of
means of escape.
"My God! My God!" Leontine was repeating. "Why doesn't somebody come?"
Now that his brain had cleared, and he knew what hand had smitten him,
and why, Phillips was by far the calmest of the four. He saw the knife
at his feet and smiled, for no steel could rob him of that gladness
which was pulsing through his veins. He was still smiling when he
stooped and picked up the weapon. He arose, lifting Norma to her feet;
then his hand slid down and sought hers.
"You needn't worry," he said to Francis. "You see--this is the new
dagger I got for the end of the act."
He held it out in his open palm for all of them to see, and they noted
that it was strangely shortened--that the point of the sliding blade
was barely exposed beneath the hilt.
Francis wiped his wet face, then shuddered and cursed weakly with
relief, meanwhile groping at the prompter's table for support. "Sold!
A prop knife!" he cried.
"You--you're not really--" Norma swayed forward with eyes closed.
"By God! I meant it," the star exclaimed, uncertainly. "You can't
deny--" He gasped and tugged at his collar.
"I believe there is nothing to deny," the author said, quietly. He
looked first at his wife, then at his enemy, and then down at the
quivering, white face upturned to his. "There is nothing to deny, is
there?" he inquired of Norma.
"Nothing!" she said. "I--I'm glad to know the truth, that's all."
Francis glared first at one, then at the other, and as he did so he
began to realize the full cost of his action. When it came home to
him in terms of dollars and cents, he showed his true character by
"I--I made a frightful mistake. I'm--not myself; really, I'm not. It
was your wife's fault." In a panic he ran on, unmindful of Leontine's
scorn. "She did it, Mr. Phillips. She gave me the knife. She whispered
things--she made me--I--I'm very sorry--Mr. Phillips, and I'll play
the part the way you want it. I will, indeed."
Leontine met her husband's look defiantly; hence it was as much to her
as to the cringing actor that the playwright said:
"Your salary will go on as usual, under your contract, Mr.
Francis--that is, until the management supplies you with a new play;
but I'm the real John Danton, and I shall play him tonight and
"Then, I'm--discharged? Norma--d'you hear that? We're canceled.
"No, Miss Berwynd's name will go up in lights as the star, if she
cares to stay," said Phillips. "Do you wish to remain?" He looked down
at the woman, and she nodded.
"Yes, oh yes!" she said. "I _must_ stay. I daren't go back." That
hunted look leaped into her eyes again, and Phillips recognized it now
as fear, the abject physical terror of the weaker animal. "I want to
go--forward--not backward, if there is any way."
"I'll show you the way," he told her, gently. "We'll find it
He smiled reassuringly, and with a little gasping sigh she placed her
hand in his.
Up from the valley below came the throb of war drums, the faint rattle
of shots, and the distant cries of painted horsemen charging. From
my vantage-point on the ridge I had an unobstructed view of the
encampment, a great circle of tepees and tents three miles in
circumference, cradled in a sag of the timberless hills. The sounds
came softly through the still Dakota air, and my eye took in every
sharp-drawn detail of the scene--ponies grazing along the creek
bottom, children playing beneath the blue smoke of camp-fires, the
dense crowd ringed about a medicine pole in their center, intent on a
Five thousand Sioux were here in all their martial splendor. They were
painted and decked and trapped for war, living again their days of
plenty, telling anew their tales of might, and repeating on a mimic
scale their greatest battles. Five days the feasting had continued;
five mornings had I been awakened at dawn to see a thousand ochered,
feathered horsemen come thundering down upon the camp, their horses
running flat, their rifles popping, while the valley rocked to their
battle-cries and to the answering clamor of the army which rode forth
to meet them. Five sultry days had I spent wandering unnoticed,
ungreeted, and disdained, an alien in a hostile land, tolerated but
unwelcome. Five evenings had I witnessed the tents begin to glow and
the campfires kindle until the valley became hooped about as if by a
million giant fireflies. Five nights had I strayed, like a lost soul,
through an unreal wilderness, harkening to the drone of stories told
in an unfamiliar tongue, to the minor-keyed dirges of an unknown race,
to the thumping of countless moccasined feet in the measures of queer
dances. The odors of a savage people had begun to pall on me, and the
sound of a strange language to annoy; I longed for another white man,
for a word in my own tongue.
It was the annual "Give-away" celebration, when all the tribe
assembles to make presents, to race, to tell stories, and to recount
the legends of their prowess. They had come from all quarters of the
reservation, bringing their trunks, their children, and their dogs. Of
the last named more had come, by far, than would go back, for this was
a week of feasting, and every day the air was heavy with the smell
of singeing hair, and the curs that had been spared gnawed at an
ever-increasing pile of bones.
I had seen old hags strangle dogs by pulling on opposite ends of a
slip-noose, or choke them by laying a tent-pole on their throats and
standing on the ends; I had seen others knock them down with billets
of wood, drag them kicking to the fires, and then knock them down
again when they crawled out of the flames. All in all, I had acquired
much information regarding the carnival appetites of the noble red
man, learning that he is poetic only in the abstract.
It was drawing on toward sunset, so I slipped into my camera strap and
descended the slope. I paused, however, while still some distance
away from my tent, for next to it another had been erected during my
absence. It was a tiny affair with a rug in front of it, and upon the
rug stood a steamer-chair.
"Hello, inside!" I shouted, then ran forward, straddling papooses and
shouldering squaws out of my way.
"Hello!" came an answer, and out through the flap was thrust the head
of my friend, the Government doctor.
"Gee! I'm glad to see you!" I said as I shook his hand. "I'm as
lonesome as a deaf mute at a song recital."
"I figured you would be," said the doctor, "so I came out to see the
finish of the feast and to visit with you. I brought some bread from
"Hoorah! White bread and white conversation! I'm hungry for both."
"What's the matter? Won't the Indians talk to you?"
"I guess they would if they could, but they can't. I haven't found one
among the whole five thousand who can understand a word I say. Your
Government schools have gone back in the betting with me, Doc. You
must keep your graduates under lock and key."
"They can all speak English if they want to--that is, the younger
ones. Some few of the old people are too proud to try, but the others
can talk as well as we can, until they forget."
"Do you mean to say these people have been fooling me? I don't believe
it," said I. "There's one that can't talk English, and I'll make a bet
on it." I indicated a passing brave with an eagle-feather head-dress
which reached far down his naked legs. He was a magnificent animal;
he was young and lithe, and as tall and straight as a sapling. "I've
tried him twice, and he simply doesn't understand."
My friend called to the warrior: "Hey, Tom! Come here a minute."
The Indian came, and the doctor continued, "When do you hold the
"To-morrow, at four o'clock, unless it rains," said the fellow.
He spoke in an odd, halting dialect, but his words were perfectly
"Are you going to ride?"
"No; my race-horse is sick."
As the ocher-daubed figure vanished into the dusk the old man turned
to me, saying, "College man."
"Yes. B.A. He's a graduate."
"Impossible!" I declared. "Why, he talks like a foreigner, or as if he
were just learning our language."
"Exactly. In another three years he'll be an Indian again, through and
through. Oh, the reservation is full of fellows like Tom." The
doctor heaved a sigh of genuine discouragement. "It's a melancholy
acknowledgment to make, but our work seems to count for almost
nothing. It's their blood."
"Perhaps they forget the higher education," said I; "but how about the
Agency school, where you teach them to farm and to sew and to cook, as
well as to read and to write? Surely they don't forget that?"
"I've heard a graduating class read theses, sing cantatas, and deliver
sounding orations; then I've seen those same young fellows, three
months later, squatting in tepees and eating with their fingers. It's
a common thing for our 'sweet girl graduates' to lay off their white
commencement-day dress, their high-heeled shoes and their pretty hats,
for the shawl and the moccasin. We teach them to make sponge-cake and
to eat with a fork, but they prefer dog-soup and a horn spoon. Of
course there are exceptions, but most of them forget much faster than
"Our Eastern ideas of Mr. Lo are somewhat out of line with the facts,"
I acknowledged. "He's sort of a hero with us. I remember several
successful plays with romantic Indians in the lead."
"I know!" My friend laughed shortly. "I saw some of them. If you like,
however, I'll tell you how it really happens. I know a story."
When we had finished supper the doctor told me the story of Running
Elk. The night was heavy with unusual odors and burdened by weird
music; the whisper of a lively multitude came to us, punctuated at
intervals by distant shouts or shots or laughter. On either hand the
campfires stretched away like twinkling stars, converging steadily
until the horns joined each other away out yonder in the darkness. It
was a suitable setting for an epic tale of the Sioux.
"I've grown gray in this service," the old man began, "and the longer
I live the less time I waste in trying to understand the difference
between the Indian race and ours. I've about reached the conclusion
that it's due to some subtle chemical ingredient in the blood. One
race is lively and progressive, the other is sluggish and atavistic.
The white man is ever developing, he's always advancing, always
expanding; the red man is marking time or walking backward. It is only
a matter of time until he will vanish utterly. He's different from the
negro. The negro enlarges, up to a certain limit, then he stops. Some
people claim, I believe, that his skull is sutured in such a manner as
to check his brain development when his bones finally harden and set.
The idea sounds reasonable; if true, there will never be a serious
conflict between the blacks and the whites. But the red man differs
from both. To begin with, his is not a subject race by birth.
Physically he is as perfect as either; Nature has endowed him with
an intellect quite as keen as the white man's, and with an open
articulation of the skull which permits the growth of his brain.
Somewhere, nevertheless, she has cunningly concealed a flaw, a flaw
which I have labored thirty years to find.
"I have a theory--you know all old men have theories--that it is
a physical thing, as tangible as that osseous constriction of the
cranium which holds the negro in subjection, and that if I could lay
my finger on it I could raise the Indian to his ancient mastery and
to a dignified place among the nations; I could change them from a
vanishing people into a race of rulers, of lawgivers, of creators. At
least that used to be my dream.
"Some years ago I felt that I was well on my way to success, for I
found a youth who offered every promise of great manhood. I studied
him until I knew his every trait and his every strength--he didn't
seem to have any weaknesses. I raised him according to my own ideas;
he became a tall, straight fellow, handsome as a bronze statue of a
god. Physically he was perfect, and he had a mind as fine as his body.
He had the best blood of his nation in him, being the son of a war
chief, and he was called Thomas Running Elk. I educated him at the
Agency school under my own personal supervision, and on every occasion
I studied him. I spent hours in shaping his mind and in bending him
away from the manners and the habits of his tribe. I taught him to
think like a white man. He responded like a growing vine; he became
the pride of the reservation--a reserved but an eager youth, with an
understanding and a wit beyond that of most white boys of his age.
Search him as rigorously as I might, I couldn't find a single flaw. I
believed I was about to prove my theory.
"Running Elk romped through our school, and he couldn't learn fast
enough; when he had finished I sent him East to college, and, in order
to wean him utterly away from the past, instead of sending him to
an Indian school I arranged for him to enter one of the big Eastern
universities, where no Indian had ever been, where constant
association with the flower of our race would by its own force raise
him to a higher level. Well, it worked. He led his classes as a
stag leads a herd. He was a silent, dignified, shadowy figure; his
fellow-students considered him unapproachable, nevertheless they
admired and they liked him. In all things he excelled; but he was
best, perhaps, in athletics, and for this I took the credit--a Jovian
satisfaction in my work.
"News of his victories on track and field and gridiron came to me
regularly, for his professors were interested in my experiment. As for
the boy himself, he never wrote; it was not his nature. Nor did he
communicate with his people. He had cut himself off from them, and I
think he looked down upon them. At intervals his father came to the
Agency to inquire about Running Elk, for I did not allow my protege
to return even during vacations. That was a part of my plan. At my
stories of his son's victories the father made no comment; he merely
listened quietly, then folded his blanket about him and slipped away.
The old fellow was a good deal of a philosopher; he showed neither
resentment nor pleasure, but once or twice I caught him smiling oddly
at my enthusiasm. I know now what was in his mind.
"It was in Running Elk's senior year that a great thing came to him,
a thing I had counted upon from the start. He fell in love. A girl
entered his life. But this girl didn't enter as I had expected, and
when the news reached me I was completely taken aback. She was a girl
I had dandled on my knees as a child, the only daughter of an old
friend. Moreover, instead of Running Elk being drawn to her, as I had
planned, she fell desperately in love with him.
"I guess the gods were offended at my presumption and determined by
one hair's-breadth shift to destroy the balance of my whole structure.
They're a jealous lot, the gods. I didn't understand, at that time,
how great must have been the amusement which I offered them.
"You've heard of old Henry Harman? Yes, the railroad king. It was his
daughter Alicia. No wonder you look incredulous.
"In order to understand the story you'll have to know something about
old Henry. You'll have to believe in heredity. Henry is a self-made
man. He came into the Middle West as a poor boy, and by force of
indomitable pluck, ability, and doggedness he became a captain of
industry. We were born on neighboring farms, and while I, after a
lifetime of work, have won nothing except an underpaid Government
job, Henry has become rich and mighty. He had that indefinable,
unacquirable faculty for making money, and he became a commanding
figure in the financial world. He's dominant, he's self-centered, he's
one-purposed; he's a rough-hewn block of a man, and his unbounded
wealth, his power, and his contact with the world have never smoothed
nor rounded him. He's just about the same now as when he was a section
boss on his own railroad. His daughter Alicia is another Henry Harman,
feminized. Her mother was a pampered child, born to ease and enslaved
to her own whims. No desire of hers, however extravagant, ever went
ungratified, and right up to the hour of her death old Henry never
said no to her--partly out of a spirit of amusement, I dare say, and
partly because she was the only unbridled extravagance he had ever
yielded to in all his life. Well, having sowed the wind, he reaped the
whirlwind in Alicia. She combined the distinguishing traits of both
parents, and she grew up more effectively spoiled than her mother.
"When I got a panicky letter from one of Running Elk's professors
coupling her name vaguely with that of my Indian, I wavered in
my determination to see this experiment out; but the analyst is
unsentimental, and a fellow who sets out to untangle the skein of
nature must pay the price, so I waited.
"That fall I was called to Washington on department business--we
were fighting for a new appropriation--and while there I went to the
theater one night. I was extremely harassed, and my mind was filled
with Indian matters, so I went out alone to seek an evening's relief,
not caring whither my feet took me.
"The play was one of those you spoke of; it told the story of a young
Indian college man in love with a white girl. Whether or not it was
well written I don't know; but it seemed as if the hand of destiny had
led me to it, for the hero's plight was so similar to the situation of
Running Elk that it seemed almost uncanny, and I wondered if this play
might afford me some solution of his difficulty.
"You will remember that the Indian in the play is a great football
hero, and a sort of demi-god to his fellows. He begins to consider
himself one of them--their equal--and he falls in love with the sister
of his chum. But when this fact is made known his friends turn
against him and try to show him the barrier of blood. At the finish a
messenger comes bearing word that his father is dead and that he has
been made chief in the old man's place. He is told that his people
need him, and although the girl offers to go with him and make her
life his, he renounces her for his duty to the tribe.
"Well, it was all right up to that point, but the end didn't help me
in shaping the future of Running Elk, for his father was hale, hearty,
and contented, and promised to hang on in that condition as long as we
gave him his allowance of beef on Issue Day.
"That night when I got back to the hotel I found a long-distance
call from old Henry Harman. He had wired me here at the Agency, and,
finding I was in Washington, he had called me from New York. He didn't
tell me much over the 'phone, except that he wanted to see me at once
on a matter of importance. My work was about finished, so I took the
train in the morning and went straight to his office. When I arrived I
found the old fellow badly rattled. There is a certain kind of worry
which comes from handling affairs of importance. Men like Henry Harman
thrive upon it; but there's another kind which searches out the joints
in their coats of mail and makes women of them. That's what Henry was
"'Oh, Doc, I'm in an awful hole!' he exclaimed. 'You're the only man
who can pull me out. It's about Alicia and that damned savage of
"'I knew that was it,' said I.
"'If you've heard about it clear out there,' Harman declared, with a
catch in his voice, 'it's even worse than I thought.' He strode up and
down his office for a few moments; then he sank heavily into his chair
and commenced to pound his mahogany desk, declaring, angrily:
"'I won't be defied by my own flesh and blood! I won't! That's
all there is to it. I'm master of my own family. Why, the thing's
fantastic, absurd, and yet it's terrible! Heavens! I can't believe
"'Have you talked with Alicia?'
"'Not with her, _to_ her. She's like a mule. I never saw such a will
in a woman. I--I've fought her until I'm weak. Where she got her
temper I don't know.' He collapsed feebly and I was forced to smile,
for there's only one thing stubborn enough to overcome a Harman's
resistance, and that is a Harman's desire.
"'Then it isn't a girlish whim?' I ventured.
"'_Whim!_ Look at me!' He held out his trembling hands. 'She's licked
me, Doc. She's going to marry that--that--' He choked and muttered,
unintelligibly: 'I've reasoned, I've pleaded, I've commanded. She
merely smiles and shrugs and says I'm probably right, in the abstract.
Then she informs me that abstract problems go to pieces once in a
while. She says this--this--Galloping Moose, this yelping ghost-dancer
of yours, is the only real man she ever met.'
"'What does he have to say?'
"'Humph!' grunted Harman. 'I offered to buy him off, but he threatened
to serve me up with dumplings and wear my scalp in his belt. Such
insolence! Alicia wouldn't speak to me for a week.'
"'You made a mistake there,' said I. 'Running Elk is a Sioux. As for
Alicia, she's thoroughly spoiled. She's never been denied any single
thing in all her life, and she has your disposition. It's a difficult
"'Difficult! It's scandalous--hideous!'
"'How old is Alicia?'
"'Nineteen. Oh, I've worn out that argument! She says she'll wait. You
know she has her own money, from her mother.'
"'Does Running Elk come to your house?'
"At this my old friend roared so fiercely that I hastened to say:
'I'll see the boy at once. I have more influence with him than anybody
"'I hope you can show him how impossible, how criminal, it is to ruin
my girl's life.' Harman said this seriously. 'Yes, and mine, too,
for that matter. Suppose the yellow newspapers got hold of this!' He
shuddered. 'Doc, I love that girl so well that I'd kill her with my
own hands rather than see her disgraced, ridiculed--'
"'Tut, tut!' said I. 'That's pride--just plain, selfish pride.'
"'I don't care a damn what it is, I'd do it. I earned my way in the
world, but she's got blue blood in her and she was born to a position;
she goes everywhere. When she comes out she'll be able to marry into
the best circles in America. She could marry a duke, if she wanted to.
I'd buy her one if she said the word. Naturally, I can't stand for
this dirty, low-browed Injun.'
"'He's not dirty,' I declared, 'and he's not as low-browed as some
foreigner you'd be glad to pick out for her.'
"'Well, he's an Injun,' retorted Harman, 'and that's enough. We've
both seen 'em tried; they all drop back where they started from. You
know that as well as I do.'
"'I don't know it,' said I, thinking of my theories. 'I've been using
him to make an experiment, but--the experiment has gotten away from
me. I dare say you're right. I wanted him to meet and to know white
girls, but I didn't want him to marry one--certainly not a girl like
Alicia. No, we must put a stop to this affair. I'll see him right
"'To-morrow is Thanksgiving,' said Henry. 'Wait over and go up with us
and see the football game.'
"'Are you going?'
"Harman grimaced. 'Alicia made me promise. I'd rather take her than
let her go with friends--there's no telling what she might do.'
"'Why let her go at all?' I objected.
"The old fellow laughed mirthlessly. 'Why _let_ her? Running Elk plays
full-back! How _stop_ her? We'll pick you up at your hotel in the
morning and drive you up in the car. It's the big game of the year.
You'll probably enjoy it. I won't!'
"Miss Harman seemed glad to see me on the following day. She must have
known that I was in her father's confidence, but she was too well
schooled to show it. As we rode out in the big limousine I undertook
to study her, but the reading of women isn't my game. All I could see
was a beautiful, spirited, imperious girl with the Harman eyes and
chin. She surprised me by mentioning Running Elk of her own free will;
she wasn't the least bit embarrassed, and, although her father's face
whitened, she preserved her quiet dignity, and I realized that she was
in no wise ashamed of her infatuation. I didn't wonder that the old
gentleman chose to accompany her to this game, although he must
have known that the sight of Running Elk would pain him like a
"It was the first great gridiron battle I had ever seen, and so I was
unprepared for the spectacle. The enthusiasm of that immense crowd
astonished me, and in spite of the fact that I had come as a tired old
man, it got into my veins until my heart pounded and my pulses leaped.
The songs, the shouts, the bellows of that multitude were intensely
thrilling, for youth was in them. I grew young again, and I was half
ashamed of myself until I saw other people of my own age who had also
become boys and girls for the day. And the seriousness of it! Why, it
was painful! Not one of those countless thousands was a disinterested
spectator; they were all intensely partisan, and you'd have thought
life or death hung on the victory.
"Not one, did I say? There was one who held himself aloof from all the
enthusiasm. Old Henry sat like a lump of granite, and out of regard
for him I tried to restrain myself.
"We had a box, close to the side lines, with the _elite_ of the East
on either hand--people whose names I had read. They bowed and smiled
and waved to our little party, and I felt quite important.
"You've probably seen similar games, so there's no need of my
describing this one, even if I could. It was my first experience,
however, and it impressed me greatly. When the teams appeared I
recognized Running Elk at a distance. So did the hordes of madmen
behind us, and I began to understand for the first time what it was
that the old man in the seat next to mine was combating.
"A dancing dervish in front of the grandstand said something through a
megaphone, then he waved a cane, whereupon a tremendous barking, 'Rah!
Rah! Rah!' broke out. It ended with my Sioux boy's name, and I wished
the old chief back in Dakota were there to see his son and to witness
the honor done him by the whites.
"Quite as impressive to me as this demonstration was the death-like
silence which settled over that tremendous throng when the teams
scattered out in readiness. The other side kicked off, and the ball
sailed high and far. As it settled in its downward flight, I saw a
lithe, tall shadow of a man racing toward it, and I recognized my
boy. I'd lost his position for the moment, but I knew that hungry,
predatory stride which devoured the yards as if he were a thing of the
wind. He was off with the ball in the hollow of his arm, right back
into the heart of his enemies, dodging, darting, leaping, twisting,
always advancing. They tore his interference away from him, but,
nevertheless, he penetrated their ranks and none of them could lay
hands upon him. He was running free when tackled; his assailant
launched himself with such savage violence that the sound of their
impact came to us distinctly. As he fell I heard Alicia Harman gasp.
Then the crowd gave tongue.
"From that time on to the finish of the game my eyes seldom left
Running Elk, and then only long enough to shoot covert glances at my
"Although the skill of my young Sioux overtopped that of all the other
contestants, the opposing team played as one man; they were like
a wonderful, well-oiled piece of machinery, and--they scored. All
through the first half our side struggled to retaliate, but at the
intermission they had not succeeded.
"So far Running Elk hadn't noticed our presence, but when the teams
returned for the second half he saw us. He didn't even know that I was
in the East; in fact, he hadn't laid eyes on me for more than three
years. The sight of me there in the box with Alicia and her father
must have been an unpleasant shock to him; my face must have seemed an
evil omen; nevertheless, he waved his hand at me and smiled--one of
his rare, reserved smiles. I couldn't help marveling at the fellow's
"I had been secretly hoping that his side would be defeated, so that
Miss Harman might see him for once as a loser; but the knowledge of
our presence seemed to electrify him, and by the spark of his own
magnetism he fired his fellows until they commenced to play like
madmen; I have no doubt they were precisely that. His spirit was like
some galvanic current, and he directed them with a master mind. He was
a natural-born strategist, of course, for through him ran the blood of
the craftiest race of all the earth, the blood of a people who have
always fought against odds, to whom a forlorn hope is an assurance
of victory. On this day the son of a Sioux chief led the men of
that great university with the same skill that Hannibal led his
Carthaginian cohorts up to the gates of Rome. He led them with the
cunning of Chief Joseph, the greatest warrior of his people. He was
indefatigable, irresistible, magnificent--and he himself tied the
"In spite of myself I joined madly in the cheering; but the boy didn't
let down. Now that his enemies recognized the source of their peril,
they focused upon him all their fury. They tried to destroy him. They
fell upon him like animals; they worried and they harried and they
battered him until I felt sick for him and for the girl beside me,
who had grown so faint and pale. But his body was of my making; I had
spent careful years on it, and although they wore themselves out, they
could not break Running Elk. He remained a fleeting, an elusive thing,
with the vigor of a wild horse. He tackled their runners with the
ferocity of a wolf.
"It was a grand exhibition of coolness and courage, for he was
everywhere, always alert and always ready--and it was he who won the
"There came some sort of a fumble, too fast for the eye to follow, and
then the ball rolled out of the scrimmage. Before we knew what had
happened, Running Elk was away with it, a scattered field ahead of
"I dare say you have heard about that run, for it occurred in the last
three minutes of play, and is famous in football annals to this day,
so I'm told. It was a spectacular performance, apparently devised by
fate to make more difficult the labors of old Henry and me. Every
living soul on those high-banked bleachers was on his feet at the
finish, a senseless, screaming demon. I saw Alicia straining forward,
her face like chalk, her very lips blanched, her whole high-strung
body aquiver. Her eyes were distended, and in them I saw a look which
told me that this was no mere girlish whim, that this was more than
the animal call of youth and sex. Running Elk had become a fetish to
"The father must likewise have recognized this, for as we passed out
he stammered into my ear:
"'You see, Doc, the girl's mad. It's awful--awful. I don't know what
"We had become momentarily separated from her, and therefore I urged
him: 'Get her away, quick, no matter how or where. Use force if you
have to, but get her out of this crowd, this atmosphere, and keep her
away. I'll see _him_ to-night.'
"The old fellow nodded. 'I--I'll kidnap her and take her to Europe,'
he mumbled. 'God! It's awful!'
"I didn't go back to the city with the Harmans; but I told Alicia
good-by at the running-board of the machine. I don't think she heard
"Running Elk was glad to see me, and I spent that evening with him. He
asked all about his people; he told me of his progress, and he spoke
lightly of his victory that day. But sound him as I would, I could
elicit no mention of Alicia Harman's name. He wasn't much of a talker,
anyhow, so at last I was forced to bring up the subject myself. At my
first word the silence of his forefathers fell upon him, and all he
did was listen. I told him forcibly that any thoughts of her were
ridiculous and impossible.
"'Why?' said he, after I had finished.
"I told him a thousand reasons why; I recounted them cruelly,
unfeelingly, but he made no sign. As a matter of fact, I don't think
he understood them any more than he understood the affair itself. He
appeared to be blinded, confused by the splendor of what had come to
him. Alicia was so glorious, so different, so mysterious to him, that
he had lost all sense of perspective and of proportion. Recognizing
this, I descended to material things which I knew he could grasp.
"'I paid for your education,' said I, 'and it is almost over with. In
a few months you'll be turned out to make your own living, and then
you'll encounter this race prejudice I speak of in a way to effect
your stomach and your body. You're a poor man, Running Elk, and you've
got to earn your way. Your blood will bar you from a good many means
of doing it, and when your color begins to affect your earning
capacity you'll have all you can do to take care of yourself. Life
isn't played on a gridiron, and the first thing you've got to do is
to make a man of yourself. You've got no right to fill your head with
dreams, with insane fancies of this sort.'
"'Yes, sir!' said he, and that was about all I could get out of him.
His reticence was very annoying.
"I didn't see him again, for I came West the next day, and the weeks
stretched into months without word of him or of the others.
"Shortly before he was due to return I was taken sick--the one big
illness of my life, which came near ending me, which made me into the
creaking old ruin that I am. They sent me away to another climate,
where I got worse, then they shifted me about like a bale of goods,
airing me here and there. For a year and a half I hung over the edge,
one ailment running into another, but finally I straightened out a bit
and tottered back into Washington to resume operations.
"For six months I hung around headquarters, busied on department
matters. I had lost all track of things out here, meanwhile, for the
agent had been changed shortly after I left, and no one had taken
the trouble to keep me posted; but eventually I showed up on the
reservation again, reaching here on the first of July, three days
before the annual celebration of the people.
"Many changes had occurred in my two years' absence, and there was no
one to bring me gossip, hence I heard little during the first day or
two while I was picking up the loose ends of my work. One thing I did
find out, however--namely, that Running Elk had come straight home
from college, and was still on the reserve. I determined to look him
up during the festival.
"But on the morning of the Fourth I got the surprise of my life. The
stage from the railroad brought two women, two strange women, who came
straight to my office--Alicia Harman and her French maid.
"Well, I was fairly knocked endwise; but Alicia was as well-poised and
as self-contained as on that Thanksgiving morning in New York when
she and old Henry had picked me up in their automobile--a trifle more
stunning and a bit more determined, perhaps. Oh, she was a splendid
creature in the first glory of her womanhood, a perfectly groomed and
an utterly spoiled young goddess. She greeted me graciously, with that
queenly air of all great ladies.
"'Where is your father?' I asked, as she laid off her dust-coat.
"'He's in New York,' said she. 'I'm traveling alone.'
"'And where have you been all this time?'
"'In Europe, mainly; Rome, Naples, Cairo, India, St. Petersburg,
London--all about, in fact. Father took me abroad the day after
Thanksgiving--you remember? And he has kept me there. But I came of
age two weeks ago.'
"'Two weeks!' I ejaculated.
"'Yes, I took the first ship after my birthday. I've been traveling
pretty constantly ever since. This is a long way from the world out
here, isn't it?' She looked around curiously.
"'From your world, yes,' said I, and when she offered nothing further
I grew embarrassed. I started to speak; then, noting the maid, I
hesitated; but Alicia shook her head faintly.
"'Lisette doesn't understand a word of English,' said she.
"'Why have you come out here, Alicia?' I inquired. I was far more ill
at ease than she.
"'Do you need to ask?' She eyed me defiantly. 'I respected father's
wishes when I was in my minority. I traveled and studied and did all
the tiresome things he commanded me to do--as long as he had the right
to command. But when I became my own mistress I--took my full freedom.
He made his life to suit himself; I intend to make mine to suit
myself. I'm sorry I can't please him, but we don't seem to see things
the same way, and I dare say he has accepted the inevitable.'
"'Then you consider this--this move you evidently contemplate as
"She lifted her dainty brows. 'Inevitable isn't a good word. I wish a
certain thing; I have wished it from the first; I have never ceased
for an instant to wish it; I feel that I must have it; therefore, to
all intents and purposes, it is inevtable. Anyhow, I'm going to have
"'You have--er--been in communication with--'
"'Never! Father forbade it.'
"'Then how did you know he is here?'
"'He wrote me when he left college. He said he was coming home. I've
heard nothing since. He is here, isn't he?'
"'So I believe. I haven't seen him yet; you know I've been away
"'Will you take me to him?'
"'Have you really weighed this thing?' I remonstrated. 'Do you realize
what it means?'
"'Please don't.' She smiled wearily. 'So many people have tried to
argue me out of my desires. I shall not spoil my life, believe me; it
is too good a thing to ruin. That is precisely why I'm here.'
"'If you insist.' I gave in reluctantly. 'Of course I'll put myself
at your service. We'll look for him to-morrow.' All sorts of wild
expedients to thwart a meeting were scurrying through my mind.
"'We'll go to-day,' said she.
"'At once! If you're too busy I'll ask somebody else--'
"'Very well!' said I. 'We'll drive out to the encampment.' And I sent
for my buckboard.
"I was delayed in spite of myself until nearly sundown, and meanwhile
Alicia Harman waited in my office, pacing the floor with ill-concealed
impatience. Before starting I ventured one more remonstrance, for I
was filled with misgivings, and the more I saw of this girl the more
fantastic and unnatural this affair seemed. But the unbridled impulses
of her parents were bearing fruit, and no one could say her nay. She
afforded the most illuminating study in heredity that I have ever
"We didn't say much during our fifteen-mile drive, for I was worried
and Alicia was oddly torn between apprehension and exultation. We had
left the French maid behind. I don't know that any woman ever went to
her lover under stranger circumstances or in greater perturbation of
spirit than did this girl, behind whom lay a generation of selfishness
"It was well along in the evening when we came over the ridge and saw
the encampment below us. You can imagine the fairy picture it made
with its myriad of winking fires, with the soft effulgence of a
thousand glowing tents, and with the wonderful magic of the night over
it all. As we drew nearer, the unusual sounds of a strange merrymaking
came to us--the soft thudding of drums, the weird melody of the
dances, the stir and the confusion of crowded animal life. In the
daylight it would have been sufficiently picturesque, but under the
wizard hand of the darkness it became ten times more so.
"When I finally tied my horses and led the girl into the heart of it I
think she became a bit frightened, for these Indians were the Sioux of
a bygone day. They were barbaric in dress and in demeanor.
"I guided her through the tangle of tepees, through glaring fire-lit
circles and through black voids where we stumbled and had to feel our
way. We were jostled and elbowed by fierce warriors and by sullen
squaws. At every group I asked for Running Elk, but he was merely one
of five thousand and nobody knew his whereabouts.
"The people have ever been jealous of their customs, and as a result
we were frequently greeted by cold looks and sudden silences.
Recognizing this open resentment, my companion let down a thick
automobile veil which effectually hid her face. Her dust-coat was long
and loose and served further to conceal her identity.
"At one time we came upon a sight I would gladly have spared her--the
spectacle of some wrinkled hags strangling a dog by the light of a
fire. The girl at my side stifled a cry at the apparition.
"'What are they doing?' she gasped.
"'Preparing the feast,' I told her.
"'They do,' said I. 'Come!' I tried to force her onward, but she would
not stir until the sacrifice had been dragged to the flames, where
other carcasses were singeing among the pots and kettles. From every
side came the smell of cooking meat, mingled with the odor of burning
hair and flesh. I could hear Miss Harman panting as we went on.
"We circled half the great hoop before we came upon the trail of our
man, and were directed to a near-by tepee, upon the glowing walls of
which many heads were outlined in silhouette, and from which came the
monotonous voice of a story-teller.
"I don't know what hopes the girl had been nursing; she must have
looked upon these people not as kindred of Running Elk, but rather as
his servants, his slaves. Realizing that her quest was nearly ended,
her strength forsook her and she dropped behind me. The entrance to
the tepee was congested by those who could not find space inside, but
they rose silently, upon recognizing me, and made room. I lifted the
flap and peered within, clearing a view for Miss Harman.
"We beheld a circle of half-naked braves in full war regalia,
squatting haunch to haunch, listening to a story-teller. In front of
them was a confusion of blackened pails and steaming vessels, into
which they dipped with their naked fingers. Their faces were streaked
with paint, their lips were greasy with traces of the dish, the air
of the place was reeking from their breaths. My eyes were slower than
Alicia's, and so I did not distinguish our quarry at first, although a
slow sigh at my ear and a convulsive clutch at my arm told me that he
"And then I, too, saw Running Elk. It was he who was talking, to whom
the others listened. What a change two years had wrought! His voice
was harsh and guttural, his face, through the painted daubs and
streaks, was coarser and duller than when I had seen him. His very
body was more thin and shrunken.
"He finished his tale while we stared at him; the circle broke into
commendatory grunts, and he smiled in childlike satisfaction at the
impression he had made. He leaned forward and, scrutinizing the litter
of sooty pots, plunged his hand into the nearest one.
"Miss Harman stumbled back into the crowd and her place was taken by a
"'Running Elk,' I called, over the heads of those next the entrance,
and, seeing my face against the night, he arose and came out, stepping
over the others.
"'How do you do?' I said. 'You haven't forgotten me, have you?'
"He towered head and shoulders above me, his feather head-dress adding
to his stature. The beaded patterns of his war-harness stood out dimly
in the half-light.
"'No, no! I will never forget you, doctor. You--you have been sick.'
The change in his speech was even more noticeable when he turned
his tongue to English. He halted over his words and he mouthed them
"'Yes, pretty sick. And you, what are you doing?'
"'I do what the rest do,' said he. 'Nothing! I have some horses and a
few head of cattle, that is all.'
"'Are you satisfied?' I demanded, sharply. He eyed me darkly for an
instant, then he answered, slowly:
"'I am an Indian. I am satisfied.'
"'Then education didn't do you any good, after all?' I was offended,
disappointed; I must have spoken gruffly.
"This time he paused a long while before he replied.
"'I had dreams,' said he, 'many dreams, and they were splendid; but
you told me that dreams were out of place in a Sioux, so I forgot
them, along with all the things I had learned. It is better so.'
"Alicia Harman called me in a voice which I did not recognize, so I
shook hands with Running Elk and turned away. He bowed his head and
slunk back through the tepee door, back into the heart of his people,
back into the past, and with him went my experiment. Since then I have
never meddled with the gods nor given them cause to laugh at me."
The doctor arose and stretched himself, then he entered his tent for
a match. The melancholy pulse of the drums and the minor-keyed chant
which issued out of the night sounded like a dirge sung by a dying
"What became of Running Elk?" I inquired.
The old man answered from within. "That was he I asked about the
horse-races. He's the man you couldn't understand, who wouldn't talk
to you. He's nearly an Indian again. Alicia Harman married a duke."
THE MOON, THE MAID, AND THE WINGED SHOES
The last place I locked wheels with Mike Butters was in Idaho. I'd
just sold a silver-lead prospect and was proclaimin' my prosperity
with soundin' brass and ticklin' symbols. I was tuned up to G and
singin' quartettes with the bartender--opery buffet, so to speak--when
in Mike walked. It was a bright morning out-side and I didn't
reco'nize him at first against the sunlight.
"Where's that cholera-morbus case?" said he.
"Stranger, them ain't sounds of cramps," I told him. "It's me singin'
'Hell Amongst the Yearlin's.'" Then I seen who he was and I fell among
When we'd abated ourselves I looked him over.
"What you doin' in all them good clothes?" I inquired.
"I'm a D.D.S."
"Do tell! All I ever took was the first three degrees. Gimme the grip
and the password and I'll believe you."
"That ain't a Masonic symbol," said he. "I'm a dentist--a bony fido
dentist, with forceps and a little furnace and a gas-bag and a
waitin'-rooms". He swelled up and bit a hang-nail off of his cigar.
"Yep! A regular toothwright."
Naturally I was surprised, not to say awed. "Have you got much of a
practice?" I made bold to ask.
"Um-m--It ain't what it ought to be, still I can't complain. It takes
time to work into a fashionable clienteel. All I get a whack at now is
Injuns, but I'm gradually beginnin' to close in on the white teeth."
Now this was certainly news to me, for Mike was a foot-racer, and a
good one, too, and the last time I'd seen him he didn't know nothing
about teeth, except that if you ain't careful they'll bite your
tongue. I figured he was lyin', so I said:
"Where did you get your degree--off of a thermometer?"
"Nothing of the tall. I run it down. I did, for a God's fact. It's
like this: three months ago I crep' into this burg lookin' for a
match, but the professions was overcrowded, there bein' fourteen
lawyers, a half-dozen doctors, a chiropodist, and forty-three
bartenders here ahead of me, not to speak of a tooth-tinker. That
there dentist thought he could sprint. He come from some Eastern
college and his pa had grub-staked him to a kit of tools and sent him
out here to work his way into the confidences and cavities of the
"Well, sir, the minute I seen him I realized he was my custard. He
wore sofy cushions on his shoulders, and his coat was cut in at the
back. He rolled up his pants, too, and sometimes he sweetened the view
in a vi'lent, striped sweater. I watered at the mouth and picked my
teeth over him--he was that succ'lent.
"He'd been lookin' down on these natives and kiddin' 'em ever since he
arrived, and once a week, reg'lar, he tried to frame a race so's he
could wear his runnin'-pants and be a hero. I had no trouble fixin'
things. He was a good little runner, and he done his best; but when I
breasted the tape I won a quick-claim deed to his loose change, to a
brand-new office over a drug-store, and to enough nickel-plated pliers
for a wire-tapper. I staked him to a sleeper ticket, then I moved into
his quarters. The tools didn't have no directions on 'em, but I've
figgered out how to use most of 'em."
"I gather that this here practice that you're buildin' up ain't
exactly remunerative," I said to Mike.
"Not yet it ain't, but I'm widenin' out. There ain't a day passes that
I don't learn something. I was out drummin' up a little trade
when your groans convinced me that somebody in here had a jumpin'
toothache. If you ain't busy, mebbe you can help me get a patient."
This particular saloon had about wore out its welcome with me, so I
was game for any enterprise, and I allowed a little patient-huntin'
would prob'ly do me good. I drawed my six gun and looked her over.
"It's a new sport, but I bet I'll take to it," said I. "What d'you do,
crease 'em or cripple 'em?"
"Pshaw! Put up that hearse ticket," Mike told me. "Us doctors don't
take human life, we save it."
"I thought you said you was practisin' on Injuns."
"Injuns is human. For a fact! I've learned a heap in this business.
Not that I wouldn't bust one if I needed him, but it ain't necessary.
Come, I'll show you."
This here town had more heathens than whites in it, and before we'd
gone a block I seen a buck Injun and his squaw idlin' along, lookin'
into the store winders. The buck was a hungry, long-legged feller, and
when we neared him Mike said to me:
"Hist! There's one. I'll slip up and get him from behind. You grab him
if he runs."
This method of buildin' up a dental practice struck me as some
strange, but Butters was a queer guy and this was sort of a rough
town. When he got abreast of Mr. Lo, Mike reached out and garnered him
by the neck. The Injun pitched some, but Mike eared him down finally,
and when I come up I seen that one side of the lad's face was swelled
up something fearful.
"Well, well," said I. "You've sure got the dentist's eye. You must
have spied that swellin' a block away."
Mike nodded, then he said: "Poor feller! I'll bet it aches horrible.
My office is right handy; let's get him in before the marshal sees
We drug the savage up-stairs and into Mike's dental stable, then we
bedded him down in a chair. He protested considerable, but we got him
there in a tollable state of preservation, barring the fact that he
was skinned up on the corners and we had pulled a hinge off from the
"It's a shame for a person to suffer thataway," Mike told me; "but
these ignorant aborigines ain't educated up to the mercies of science.
Just put your knee in his stummick, will you? What could be finer than
to alleviate pain? The very thought in itself is elevatin'. I'm in
this humanity business for life--Grab his feet quick or he'll kick out
"Whoa!" I told the Injun. "Plenty fix-um!" I poked the swellin' on his
face and he let out a yelp.
"It's lucky we got him before multiplication set in," Mike assured me.
"I lay for 'em that-away at the foot of the stairs every day; but this
is the best patient I've had. I've a notion to charge this one."
"Don't you charge all of 'em?" I wanted to know.
"Nope. I got a tin watch off of one patient when he was under gas, but
the most of 'em ain't worth goin' through. You got to do a certain
amount of charity work."
"Don't look like much of a business to me," I said.
"There's something about it I like," Mike told me. "It sort of grows
on a feller. Now that you're here to help catch 'em, I calc'late to
acquire a lot of skill with these instruments. I've been playin' a
lone hand and I've had to take little ones that I could handle."
When Mike produced a pair of nickel-plated nail-pullers, Mr. Injun
snorted like a sea-lion, and it took both of us to hold him down; but
finally I tied his hair around the head-rest and we had him. His mane
was long and I put a hard knot in it, then I set on his moccasins
while Doctor Butters pried into his innermost secrets.
"There she is--that big one." Mike pointed out a tooth that looked
like the corner monument to a quartz claim.
"You're on the wrong side," I told him.
"Mebbe I am. Here's one that looks like it would come loose easier."
Mike got a half-Nelson over in the east-half-east quarter-section of
the buck's mouth and throwed his weight on the pliers.
The Injun had pretty well wore himself out by this time, and when
he felt those ice-tongs he just stiffened out--an Injun's dead game
that-away; he won't make a holler when you hurt him. His squaw was
hangin' around with her eyes poppin' out, but we didn't pay no
attention to her.
Somehow Mike's pinchers kept jumpin' the track and at every slip a new
wrinkle showed in the patient's face--patient is the right word, all
right--and we didn't make no more show at loosenin' that tusk than as
if we'd tried to pull up Mount Bill Williams with a silk thread. At
last two big tears come into the buck's eyes and rolled down his
cheeks. First time I ever seen one cry.
Now that weakness was plumb fatal to him, for right there and then he
cracked his plate with his missus. Yes, sir, he tore his shirt-waist
proper. The squaw straightened up and give him a look--oh, what a
"Waugh!" she sniffed. "Injun heap big squaw!" And with that she
swished out of the office and left him flat. Yes, sir, she just blew
him on the spot.
I s'pose Mike would have got that tooth somehow--he's a perseverin'
party--only that I happened to notice something queer and called him
"Here, wait a minute," said I, and I loosened him from the man's
chest. Mike was so engorsed in the pursuit of his profession that he
was astraddle of his patient's wishbone, gougin' away like a quartz
miner. "Take your elbow out of his mouth and lemme talk to him a
minute." When the savage had got his features together, I said to him,
"How you catch um bump, hey?" And I pointed to his jaw.
"Bzz-zz-zz!" said he.
I turned to Doctor Butters. "Hornet!" I declared.
When Mike had sized up the bee-sting he admitted that my diagnosis
was prob'ly correct. "That's the trouble with these patients," he
complained. "They don't take you into their confidence. Just the same,
I'm goin' to attend to his teeth, for there's no tellin' when I'll
catch another one."
"What's wrong with his teeth?" I questioned. "They look good to me,
except they're wore down from eatin' camus. If he was a horse I'd
judge him to be about a ten-year-old."
"You never can tell by lookin' at teeth what's inside of 'em. Anyhow,
a nice fillin' would set 'em off. I ain't tried no fillin's yet. Gimme
that Burley drill."
I wheeled out a kind of sewing-machine; then I pedaled it while Mike
dug into that Injun's hangin' wall like he had a round of holes to
shoot before quittin'-time. This here was more in my line, bein' a
hard-rock miner myself, and we certainly loaded a fine prospect of
gold into that native's bi-cuspidor. We took his front teeth because
they was the easiest to get at.
It was just like I said, this Injun's white keys was wore off short
and looked like they needed something, so we laid ourselves out to
supply the want. We didn't exactly fill them teeth; we merely riveted
on a sort of a plowshare--a gold sod-cutter about the size of your
finger-nail. How Mike got it to stick I don't know, but he must have
picked up quite a number of dentist's tricks before I came. Anyhow,
there she hung like a brass name-plate, and she didn't wabble hardly
at all. You'd of been surprised to see what a difference it made in
that redskin's looks.
We let our patient up finally and put a lookin'-glass in his hand. At
first he didn't know just what to make of that fillin'; but when he
seen it was real gold a grin broke over his face, his chest swelled
up, and he walked out of the office and across the street to a novelty
store. In a minute out he came with a little round lookin'-glass and a
piece of buckskin, and the last we seen of him he was hikin' down the
street, grinnin' into that mirror as happy as a child and polishin'
that tusk like it had started to rust.
"Which I sure entitle a gratifyin' operation," said Mike.
"I'm in no ways proud of the job," I told him. "I feel like I'd salted
Well, me and Mike lived in them dental parlors for a couple of weeks,
decoyin' occasional natives into it, pullin', spilin', fillin', and
filin' more teeth than a few, but bimeby the sport got tame.
One day Mike was fakin' variations on his guitar, and I was washin'
dishes, when I said: "This line is about as excitin' as a game of
jack-straws. D'you know it's foot-racin' time with the Injuns?"
"Sure. They're gettin' together at old Port Lewis to run races this
week. One tribe or the other goes broke and walks home every year. If
we could meet up with the winnin' crowd, down on the La Plata--"
I didn't have to say no more, for I had a hackamore on Mike's
attention right there, and he quit climbin' the "G" string and put up
The next day we traded out of the tooth business and rode south down
the old Navajo trail. We picked a good campin' spot--a little "flat"
in a bend of the river where the grazin' was good--and we turned the
We didn't have to wait long. A few evenings later, as we et supper we
heard a big noise around the bend and knew our visitors was comin'.
They must of had three hundred head of horses, besides a big outfit of
blankets, buckskin, baskets, and all the plunder that an Injun outfit
travels with. At sight of us in their campin'-place they halted, and
the squaws and the children rode up to get a look at us.
I stepped out in front of our tent and throwed my hand to my forehead,
shading my eyes--that's the Injun sign of friendship. An old chief and
a couple of warriors rode forrad, Winchester to pommel, but, seein' we
was alone, they sheathed their guns, and we invited 'em to eat.
It didn't take much urgin'. While we fed hot biscuits to the head men
the squaws pitched camp.
They was plumb elated at their winnin' up at Fort Lewis, and the
gamblin' fever was on 'em strong, so right after supper they invited
us to join 'em in a game of Mexican monte. I let Mike do the
card-playin' for our side, because he's got a pass which is the
despair of many a "tin-horn." He can take a clean Methodist-Episcopal
deck, deal three hands, and have every face card so it'll answer to
its Christian name. No, he didn't need no lookout, so I got myself
into a game of "bounce the stick," which same, as you prob'ly know, is
purely a redskin recreation. You take a handful of twigs in your hand,
then throw 'em on to a flat rock endways, bettin' whether an odd or an
even number will fall outside of a ring drawed in the dirt. After a
couple of hours Mike strolled up and tipped me the wink that he'd
dusted his victims.
"Say," he began, "there's the niftiest chicken down here that I ever
"Don't start any didos with the domestic relations of this tribe," I
told him, "or they'll spread us out, and spread us thin. Remember,
you're here on business bent, and if you bend back and forrads, from
business to pleasure, and versy visa, you'll bust. These people has
scrooplous ideas regardin' their wives and I respect 'em."
"She ain't married," Mike told me. "She's the chief's daughter, and
she looks better to me than a silver mine."
Durin' that evening we give the impression that we was well heeled, so
the tribe wasn't in no hurry to break camp on the following morning.
Along about noon I missed Mike, and I took a stroll to look for him. I
found him--and the chief's daughter--alongside of a shady trout pool.
She was weavin' a horsehair bracelet onto his wrist, and I seen the
flash of his ring on her finger. Mike could travel some.
He was a bit flustered, it seemed to me, and he tried to laugh the
matter off, but the girl didn't. There was something about the look
of her that I didn't like. I've seen a whole lot of trouble come from
less than a horsehair bracelet. This here quail was mebbe seventeen;
she was slim and shy, and she had big black eyes and a skin like
velvet. I spoke to Mike in words of one syllable, and I drug him away
with me to our tent.
That afternoon some half-grown boys got to runnin' foot-races and Mike
entered. He let 'em beat him, then he offered to bet a pony that they
couldn't do it again. The kids was game, and they took him quick. Mike
faked the race, of course, and lost his horse, that bein' part of our
When it was all over I seen the chief's daughter had been watchin' us,
but she didn't say nuthin'. The next mornin', however, when we got up
we found a bully pinto pony tied to one of our tent stakes.
"Look who's here," said I. "Young Minnie Ha-ha has made good your
"That pony is worth forty dollars," said Mike.
"Sure. And you're as good as a squaw-man this minute. You're
"Am I?" The idy didn't seem to faze Mike. "If that's the case," said
he, "I reckon I'll play the string out. I sort of like it as far as
"I wish she'd gave us that cream-colored mare or hers," I said. "It's
worth two of this one."
"I'll get it to-day," Mike declared. And sure enough, he lost another
foot-race, and the next morning the cream-colored mare was picketed in
front of our tent.
Well, this didn't look good to me, and I told Mike so. I never was
much of a hand to take money from women, so I served a warnin' on
him that if we didn't get down to business pretty quick and make our
clean-up I proposed to leave him flat on his back.
That day the young men of the tribe did a little foot-runnin', and
Mike begged 'em to let him in. It was comical to see how pleased
they was. They felt so sure of him that they began pro-ratin' our
belongin's among one another. They laid out a half-mile course, and
everybody in camp went out to the finish-line to see the contest and
to bet on it. The old chief acted as judge, bookmaker, clerk of the
course, referee, and stakeholder. I s'pose by the time the race was
ready to start there must of been fifty ponies up, besides a lot of
money, but the old bird kept every wager in his head. He rolled up a
couple of blankets and placed 'em on opposite sides of the track, and
showed us by motions that the first man between 'em would be declared
the winner. All the money that had been bet he put in little piles on
a blanket; then he give the word to get ready.
I had no trouble layin' our money at one to five, and our ponies at
the same odds; then, when everything was geared up, I called Mike from
his tent. Say, when he opened the fly and stepped out there was a
commotion, for all he had on was his runnin'-trunks and his spiked
shoes. The Injuns was in breech-cloths and moccasins, and, of course,
they created no comment; but the sight of a half-nekked white man was
something new to these people, and the first flash they got at Mike's
fancy togs told 'em they'd once more fell a victim to the white man's
They was wise in a minute, and some of the young hot-bloods was for
smokin' us up, but the chief was a sport--I got to give the old bird
credit. He rared back on his hind legs and made a stormy palaver;
as near as I could judge he told his ghost-dancers they'd been
cold-decked, but he expected 'em to take their medicine and grin, and,
anyhow, it was a lesson to 'em. Next time they'd know better'n to
monkey with strangers. Whatever it was he said, he made his point, and
after a right smart lot of powwowin' the entertainment proceeded. But
Mike and me was as popular with them people as a couple of polecats at
Mike certainly made a picture when he lined up at the start; he stood
out like a marble statue in a slate quarry. I caught a glimpse of the
chief's daughter, and her eyes was bigger than ever, and she had her
hands clinched at her side. He must have looked like a god to her;
but, for that matter, he was a sight to turn any untamed female heart,
whether the owner et Belgian hare off of silver service or boiled
jack-rabbit out of a coal-oil can. Women are funny thataway.
It's a pot-hunter's maxim never to win by a big margin, but to nose
out his man at the finish. This Mike did, winnin' by a yard; then he
acted as if he was all in--faked a faint, and I doused him with a
sombrero of water from the creek. It was a spectacular race, at that,
for at the finish the runners was bunched till a blanket would of
covered 'em. When they tore into the finish I seen the chief's girl do
a trick. Mike was runnin' on the outside, and when nobody was watchin'
her the little squaw kicked one of them blanket bundles about two feet
down the course, givin' Mike that much the "edge." She done it clever
and it would have throwed a close race.
Them savages swallered their physic and grinned, like the chief had
told 'em, and they took it standin' up. They turned over the flower of
their pony herd to us, not to mention about six quarts of silver money
and enough blankets to fill our tent. The old chief patted Mike on the
back, then put both hands to his temples with his fingers spread out,
as much as to say, "He runs like a deer."
Bimeby a buck stepped up and begun makin' signs. He pointed to the sun
four times, and we gathered that he wanted us to wait four days until
he could go and get another man.
Mike tipped me the wink, sayin': "They're goin' after the champeen of
the tribe. That phony faint of mine done it. Will we wait? Why,
say, we'd wait four years, wouldn't we? Sweet pickin's, I call it.
"For me, I'd wait here till I was old folks," I said. "I don't aim to
leave these simple savages nothin'. Nothin' at all, but a lot of idle
Well, sir, there was a heap of excitement in that camp for the next
three days. All them Injuns done, was to come and look at Mike and
feel of his legs and argue with one another. The first night after the
race Mike tuned up his guitar, and later on I heard snatches of the
"Spanish Fandango" stealin' up from the river bank. I knew what was
on; I knew without lookin' that the old chief's girl was right there
beside him, huggin' her knees and listenin' with both ears. I didn't
like to think about it, for she was a nice little yearlin', and it
looked to me like Mike was up to his usual devilment. Seemed like a
low-down trick to play on an injunoo like her, and the more I studied
it the warmer I got. It was a wonderful night; the moonlight drenched
the valley, and there was the smell of camp-fires and horses over
everything--just the sort of a night for a guitar, just the sort of a
night to make your blood run hot and to draw you out into the glitter
and make you race with your shadow.
When Mike moseyed in, along about ten o'clock, he was plumb loco;
the moon-madness was on him strong. His eyes was as bright as silver
coins, and his voice had a queer ring to it.
"What a night!" said he. "And what a life this is Lord! I'm tired of
pot-huntin'. I've trimmed suckers till I'm weary; I've toted a gold
brick in my pocket till my clothes bag. I'm sick of it. I'm goin' to
beat this Injun champeen, take my half of our winnin's, sell off the
runty ones, and settle down."
"Where do you aim to settle?" I inquired.
"Oh, anywhere hereabouts. These are good people, and I like 'em."
"You mean you're goin' to turn out with the Injuns?" I inquired, with
my mouth open. Mike had led so sudden that he had me over the ropes.
"I'm goin' to do that very little thing," he declared. "I dunno how to
talk much Navajo, but I'm learnin' fast, and she got my meanin'. We
understand each other, and we'll do better as time goes on. She calls
me 'Emmike'! Sweet, ain't it?" He heaved a sigh, then he gargled a
laugh that sounded like boilin' mush. "It ain't often a feller like me
gets a swell little dame that worships him. Horses, guns, camp-fires!
Can you beat it?"
"If that squaw had a soft palate or a nose like a eeclair, you
wouldn't be so keen for this simple life," I told him. "She has
stirred up your wickedness, Mike, and you've gone nutty. You're
moon-crazy, that's all. You cut it out."
I argued half the night; but the more I talked the more I seen that
Mike was stuck to be a renegade. It's a fact. If he hadn't of been
a nice kid I'd of cut his hobbles and let him go; but--pshaw! Mike
Butters could run too fast to be wasted among savages, and, besides,
it's a terrible thing for a white man to marry an Injun. The red never
dies out in the woman, but the white in the man always changes into a
dirty, muddy red. I laid awake a long while tryin' to figger out a way
to block his game, but the only thing I could think of was to tie him
up and wear out a cinch on him. Just as I was dozin' off I had an idy.
I didn't like it much at first; I had to swaller hard to down it, but
the more I studied it the better it looked, so for fear I'd weaken I
rolled over and went to sleep.
Mike was in earnest, and so was the girl; that much I found out
the next day. And she must of learned him enough Navajo to propose
marriage with, and he must of learned her enough English to say "yes,"
for she took possession of our camp and begun to order me around.
First thing she lugged our Navajo blankets to the creek, washed 'em,
then spread 'em over some bushes and beat 'em with a stick until they
were as clean and soft as thistle-down. I'll admit she made a pleasant
picture against the bright colors of them blankets, and I couldn't
altogether blame Mike for losin' his head. He'd lost it, all right.
Every time she looked at him out of them big black eyes he got as
wabbly as clabber. It was plumb disgustin'.
That evenin' he give her a guitar lesson. Now Mike himself was a sad
musician, and the sound of him fandangoin' uncertainly up and down the
fretful spine of that instrument was a tribulation I'd put up with on
account of friendship, pure and simple, but when that discord-lovin'
lady cliff-dweller set all evenin' in our tent and scraped
snake-dances out of them catguts with a fish-bone, I pulled my freight
and laid out in the moonlight with the dogs.
Mike's infatuation served one purpose, though; he spent so much time
with the squab that it give me an opportunity to work out my scheme.
That guitar lesson showed me that vig'rous measures was necessary, so
I dug up a file, a shoemaker's needle and some waxed thread, all of
which we had in our kit.
On the fourth morning there was a stir in the camp, and we knew that
the courier had got back with his runner. Pretty soon the whole
village stormed up to our tent in a body.
"Let's go out and look him over," I said.
"What's the use of lookin' at him?" Mike inquired. "All Injuns look
I pulled back the tent fly and stepped out; then I called to Mike, for
the first thing I seen was that gold fillin' of ours. Yes, sir, right
there, starin' me in the eye, was the sole and shinin' monument to
me and Mike's brief whirl at the science of dentistry. The face
surroundin' it was stretched wide and welcome, and the minute this
here new-comer reco'nized me, he drawed back his upper lip and pointed
proudly to his ornament, then he dug up his lookin'-glass and his
polishin'-rag and begun to dust it off. It was plain to be seen that
he thought more of it than his right eye. And it impressed the other
Injuns, too; they crowded up and studied it. They took turns feelin'
of it, especially the squaws, and I bet if we'd had our dentist outfit
with us we could of got rich right there. The chief's daughter, in
particular, was took with the beauties of that gew-gaw, and she made
signs to us that she wanted one just like it.
"I never noticed he was so rangy," Mike told me, when he'd sized up
the new arrival. "Say, this guy looks good. He's split plumb to the
larynx and I bet he can run, for all of that wind-shield."
I noticed that Mike was pretty grave when he come back in the tent,
and more than once that day I caught him lookin' at the champeen, sort
of studyin' him out. But for that matter this new party was gettin'
his full share of attention; everywhere he went there was a trail of
kids at his heels, and every time he opened his mouth he made a hit
with the grown folks. The women just couldn't keep their eyes offen
him, and I seen that Mike was gettin' pretty sore.
In the evenin' he made a confession that tipped off the way his mind
was workin'. "This is the first time I ever felt nervous before a
race," said he. "Mebbe it's because it's goin' to be my last race;
mebbe it's because that Injun knows me and ain't scared of me. Anyhow,
I'm scared of _him_. That open-faced, Elgin-movement buck has got me
"That ain't what's got your goat," I told him.
"Your cooin' dove is dazzled by that show of wealth, and you know it."
"Hell! She's just curious, that's all. She's just a kid. I--I wish I'd
of known who he was when I treated him. I'd of drove a horse-shoe nail
in his knee."
But all the same Mike looked worried.
It rained hard that night, and the next morning the grass was pretty
wet. Mike tried it, first thing, and come back grinnin' till the top
of his head was an island.
"That sod is so slippery old Flyin' Cloud can't get a good stride in
his moccasins. Me, I can straddle out and take holt with my spikes.
Them spikes is goin' to put us on easy street. You see! I don't care
how good he is, they're goin' to give me four hundred head of broncs
and a cute little pigeon to look out for 'em. Me, I'm goin' to lay
back and learn to play the guitar. I'm goin' to learn it by note."
"You sure got the makin's of a squaw-man," I told him. "Seems like
I've over-read your hand. I used to think you had somethin' in you
besides a appetite, but I was wrong. You're plumb cultus, Mike."
"Don't get sore," he grinned. "I got my chance to beat the game and
I'm goin' to take it. I can't run foot-races, and win 'em, all my
life. Some day I'll step in my beard and sprain my ankle. Ambition's
a funny thing. I got the ambition to quit work. Besides, she--you
know--she's got a dimple you could lay your finger in. You'd ought to
hear her say 'Emmike'; it's certainly cute."
We bet everything we had--everything except that pinto pony and the
cream-colored mare. I held them two out, for I figgered we was goin'
to need 'em and need 'em bad, if my scheme worked out.
The course--it was a quarter-mile, straight-away--was laid out along
the bottom-land where the grass was thick and short. Me and the chief
and his girl set on a blanket among the little piles of silver, and
the rest of the merry villagers lined up close to the finish-line. We
white men had been the prime attraction up till now, but it didn't
take me long to see that we wasn't any more. Them people was all
wrapped up in the lad with the gold name-plate, and they was rootin'
for him frantic. Last thing he done was to give his eighteen-carat
squaw-catcher the once-over with his buckskin buffer, then he shined
it at the chief's girl and trotted down to the startin'-line. I
noticed that she glued her big-and-liquids on him and kept 'em there.
It was beautiful to watch those two men jockey for a start; the Injun
was lean and hungry and mighty smart--but Mike was smarter still. Of
course he got the jump.
It was a pretty start, and Mike held his lead for fifty yards or more.
I'll admit I was worked up. I've had my heart in my mouth so often
over his races that it's wore smooth from swallerin', but this time it
just wouldn't go down. Our dental patient was runnin' an awful race,
but it looked like Mike had him; then, just as the boy settled down
and reached out into that long, strong stride of his'n, something
happened. He slipped. He would have fell, except that he caught
himself. The next second he slipped again, and Mr. "Man in Love with a
Gold Fillin'" passed him.
With that them Injuns begun to speak. Some of their yells brought
hunks of throat with 'em, and that whole region begun to echo as far
south as the Rio Bravo.
My scheme had worked, all right. You see, when Mike was doin' his
heavy courtin' I'd planted my ace in the hole; I'd took off the outer
soles of his runnin'-shoes and filed the spikes almost in two, close
up to the plate. When I sewed the leather back on, it never showed,
but the minute he struck his gait they broke with him and he begin to
miss his pull. He might have won at that, for he's got the heart of a
lion, but I s'pose the surprise did as much as anything else to
beat him. It made my heart bleed to see the fight he put up, but he
finished six feet to the bad and fell across the mark on his face,
sobbin' like a child. It's the game ones that cry when they're licked;
analyze a smilin' loser and you'll find the yellow streak. I lifted
him to his feet, but he was shakin' like a bush in the wind.
"Them shoes!" he wailed. "Them damned shoes!" Then he busted out again
and blubbered like a kid.
Right then I done some actin'; but, pshaw! anybody can act when he has
to. If I'd of overplayed my hand a nickel's worth he'd of clumb up me
like a rat up a rafter and there would of been human reminders all
over that neighborhood. Not but what I would have got him eventually,
bein' as I had my side-arms, but I liked Mike and I wouldn't kill
nobody if I was sober.
It happened that he fell right at the feet of the chief's girl, and
when I lifted him up he seen her. But, say, it must have been a shock
to him. Her eyes was half shut, her head was throwed back, and she was
hissin' like a rattlesnake. Mike stiffened and sort of pawed at her,
but she drawed away just like that other squaw in our dentist office
had drawed away from her liege lord and master.
"Waugh! White man heap squaw!" said she, and with that she flirted her
braids and turned to the winner of the race. She went up to him and
lifted his lip with her thumb like she just had to have another look
at his gold tooth, then she smiled up into his face and they walked
away together without a glance in our direction.
Mike follered a step or two, then he stopped and stared around at the
crowd. It was a big minute for him, and for me, too, and I'll prob'ly
never forget the picture of that pantin' boy at bay among them
grinnin' barbarians. The curs was yappin' at his heels, the squaws
was gigglin' and makin' faces, the bucks was showin' their teeth and
pointin' at his tears.
Mike never said a word. He just stooped down and peeled off his
runnin'-shoes, then he throwed 'em as far as he could, right out into
the river. "Who the hell would marry a dame like that?" he sobbed.
"She's stuck on his jewelry."
"Come on, lad," said I; and I led him to our tent. Then, while he put
on his clothes, I saddled the pinto pony and the cream-colored mare,
for it was six days to the railroad.
Should you chance, in crossing a certain mountain pass in southern
Catalonia, to find yourself poised above a little valley against the
opposite side of which lies a monastery, look to the heights above
it. Should you piece out from among the rocks the jagged ruins of a
castle, ask its name. Your guide will perhaps inform you that those
blackened stones are called "The Teeth of the Moor," and if he knows
the story he will doubtless tell it to you, crossing himself many
times during the recital. In all probability, however, he will merely
shrug his shoulders and say it is a place of bad repute, nothing more.
Even the monks of the monastery, who are considered well versed in
local history, have forgotten the reason for the name, although they
recall the legend that once upon a time the castle harbored a haughty
Moslem lord. Few of them ever heard the story of Joseph the Anchorite,
and how he sought flesh within its portals; those who have will not
repeat it. Time was, however, when the tale was fresh, and it runs
Away back in the reign of Abderamus the Just, First Caliph of the
West, Hafiz, a certain warlike Moor, amazed at the fertility of
this region, established on the edge of the plateau a stronghold of
surprising security. His house he perched upon the crest of the cliff
overlooking the valley below. It was backed by verdant, sun-kissed
slopes which quickly yielded tribute in such quantity as to render
him rich and powerful. Hafiz lived and fought and died beneath the
Crescent banner, leaving in his place a son, who likewise waged war to
the northward on behalf of the Prophet and all True Believers, at the
same time farming his rich Catalonian acres.
Generations came and went, and, although the descendants of Hafiz
waxed strong, so also did the power of the hated Christians. Living
as they did upon the very fringe of the Mussulman empire, the
Moors beheld with consternation the slow encroachment of the
Unbelievers--more noticeable here than farther to the southward.
At intervals these enemies were driven back, but invariably they
reappeared, until at length, upon the plain beneath the castle, monks
came and built a monastery which they called San Sebastian. Beneath
the very eyes of Abul Malek, fourth descendant of Hafiz, they raised
their impious walls; although he chafed to wreak a bloody vengeance
for this outrage, his hands were tied by force of circumstance.
Wearied with interminable wars, the Moorish nation had sought respite;
peace dozed upon the land. Men rested and took from the earth new
strength with which to resume the never-ending struggle between the
Crescent and the Cross, wherefore Abul Malek's rage availed him
nothing. From his embrasured windows he beheld the cassocked enemies
of his creed passing to and fro about their business; he heard his
sacred hour of prayer desecrated by their Christian bells, and could
do no more than revile them for dogs, the while he awaited the will of
Allah. It was scant comfort for a man of his violent temper.
But the truce threatened never to be broken. Years passed and still
peace continued to reign. Meanwhile the Moor fed upon his wrongs and,
from incessant brooding over them, became possessed of a fury more
fanatical, more poisonous even than had been engendered by his many
Finally, when the wrong had bit too deep for him to endure, he
summoned all his followers, and selecting from their number one
hundred of the finest horsemen, he bade them make ready for a journey
to Cordova; then in their presence he kissed the blue blade of his
scimitar and vowed that the shackles which had hampered him and them
would be struck off.
For many days there ensued the bustle and the confusion of a great
preparation in the house of the Moor; men came and went, women sewed
and cleaned and burnished; horses were groomed, their manes were
combed and their hoofs were polished; and then one morning, ere the
golden sun was an hour high, down the winding trail past the monastery
of San Sebastian, came a brilliant cavalcade. Abul Malek led, seated
upon an Arabian steed whiter than the clouds which lay piled above the
westward mountains. His two sons, Hassam and Elzemah, followed astride
horses as black as night--horses the distinguished pedigrees of which
were cited in the books of Ibn Zaid. Back of them came one hundred
swarthy warriors on other coal-black mounts, whose flashing sides
flung back the morning rays. Their flowing linen robes were like the
snow, and from their turbans gleamed gems of value. Each horseman bore
at his girdle a purse, a kerchief, and a poinard; and in their purses
lay two thousand dinars of gold. Slaves brought up the rear of
the procession, riding asses laden with bales, and they led fifty
blood-red bays caparisoned as for a tournament.
With scowling glances at the monastery the band rode on across the
valley, climbed to the pass, and disappeared. After many days they
arrived at Cordova, then when they had rested and cleansed themselves,
Abul Malek craved audience of the Caliph, Aboul-Abbas El Hakkam. Being
of distinguished reputation, his wish was quickly granted; and on the
following day in the presence of the Hadjeb, the viziers, the white
and black eunuchs, the archers, and the cuirassiers of the guard, he
made a gift to his sovereign of those hundred northern horsemen and
their mounts, those fifty blooded bays and their housings, those bales
of aloe-wood and camphor, those silken pieces and those two thousand
dinars of yellow Catalonian gold. This done, he humbly craved a
favor in return, and when bade to speak, he began by telling of the
indignities rendered him by the monks of San Sebastian.
"Five generations my people have dwelt upon our lands, serving the
true God and His Prophet," he declared, with quivering indignation;
"but now those idolaters have come. They gibe and they mock at me
beneath my very window. My prayers are broken by their yammerings;
they defile my casement, and the stench of their presence assails my
"What do you ask of me?" inquired the Caliph.
"I ask for leave to cleanse my doorstep."
The illustrious Moslem shook his head, whereat Abul Malek cried:
"Does not the Koran direct us to destroy the unbelieving and the
impious? Must I then suffer these infidels to befoul my garden?"
"God is merciful; it is His will that for a time the Unbelievers shall
appear to flourish," said the Caliph. "We are bound by solemn compact
with the kings of Leon and Castile to observe an armistice. That
armistice we shall observe, for our land is weary of wars, our men are
tired, and their scars must heal. It is not for you or for me to say:
'This is good, or this is evil.' Allah's will be done!"
Abul Malek and his sons returned alone to their mountains, but when
they reined in at the door of their castle the father spat venomously
at the belfried roof of the monastery beneath and vowed that he would
yet work his will upon it.
Now that the Law forbade him to make way with his enemies by force, he
canvassed his brain for other means of effecting their downfall; but
every day the monks went on with their peaceful tasks, unmindful of
his hatred, and their impious religion spread about the countryside.
Abul Malek's venom passed them by; they gazed upon him with gentle
eyes in which there was no spleen, although in him they recognized a
As time wore on his hatred of their religion became centered upon the
monks themselves, and he undertook by crafty means to annoy them. Men
said these Christian priests were good; that their lives were spent in
prayer, in meditation, and in works of charity among the poor; tales
came to the Moor of their spiritual existence, of their fleshly
renunciation; but at these he scoffed. He refused to credit them.
"Pah!" he would cry, tugging at his midnight beard; "how can these men
be aught but liars, when they live and preach a falsehood? Their creed
is impious, and they are hypocrites. They are not superior beings,
they are flesh like you or me. They have our passions and our faults,
but a thousand times multiplied, for they walk in darkness and dwell
in hypocrisy. Beneath their cassocks is black infamy; their hearts are
full of evil--aye, of lust and of every unclean thing. Being false to
the true God, they are false to themselves and to the religion they
profess; and I will prove it." Thus ran his reasoning.
In order to make good his boast Abul Malek began to study the
monks carefully, one after another. He tried temptation. A certain
gross-bellied fellow he plied with wine. He flattered and fawned upon
the simple friar; he led him into his cellars, striving to poison
the good man's body as well as his mind; but the visitor partook in
moderation, and preached the gospel of Christ so earnestly that the
Saracen fled from his presence, bathing himself in clean water to be
rid of the pollution.
Next he laid a trap for the Abbot himself. He selected the fairest of
his slaves, a well-rounded woman of great physical charm, and bribed
her with a girdle of sequins. She sought out the Abbot and professed
a hunger for his creed. Bound thus by secrecy to the pious man, she
lured him by every means at her command. But the Abbot had room for no
passion save the love of Christ, and her wiles were powerless against
Abul Malek was patient; he renewed his vow to hold the false religion
up to ridicule and laughter, thinking, by encompassing the downfall
of a single advocate, thus to prove his contention and checkmate its
ever-widening influence. He became obsessed by this idea; he schemed
and he contrived; he used to the utmost the powers of his Oriental
mind. From his vantage-point above the cloister he heard the monks
droning at their Latin; his somber glances followed them at their
daily tasks. Like a spider he spun his web, and when one victim broke
through it he craftily repaired its fabric, luring another into its
At times he shared his vigil with his daughter Zahra, a girl of
twelve, fast growing into womanhood; and since she had inherited
his wit and temperament, he taught her to share his hatred of the
This Moorish maiden possessed the beauty of her mother, who had died
in childbirth; and in honor of that celebrated favorite of Abderamus
III. she had been christened "Flower of the World." Nor was the title
too immoderate, as all men who saw her vowed. Already the hot sun of
Catalonia had ripened her charms, and neighboring lords were beginning
to make extravagant overtures of marriage. But seeing in her a
possible weapon more powerful than any he had yet launched against the
monks of San Sebastian, the father refused to consider even the best
of them. He continued to keep her at his side, pouring his hatred into
her ears until she, too, was ablaze with it.
Zahra was in her fourteenth year when Abul Malek beheld, one day, a
new figure among those in the courtyard of the monastery below. Even
from his eminence the Saracen could see that this late-comer was
a giant man, for the fellow towered head and shoulders above his
brethren. Inquiry taught him that the monk's name was Joseph. Nor was
their meeting long delayed, for a sickness fell among the people of
the valley, and Abul Malek, being skilled in medicine, went out to
minister among the poor, according to his religion. At the sick-bed of
a shepherd the two men came face to face.
Joseph was not young, nor was he old, but rather he had arrived at the
perfect flower of his manhood, and his placid soul shone out through
features of unusual strength and sweetness. In him the crafty Moor
beheld a difference which for a time was puzzling. But eventually he
analyzed it. The other monks had once been worldly men--they showed it
in their faces; the countenance of Fray Joseph, on the contrary, was
that of a boy, and it was without track of temptation or trace of
evil. He had lived a sheltered life from his earliest youth, so it
transpired, and Abul Malek rejoiced in the discovery, it being his
belief that all men are flesh and that within them smolder flames
which some day must have mastery. If this monk had never let his youth
run free, if he had never met temptation and conquered it, those
pent-up forces which inhabit all of us must be gathering power, year
by year, and once the joint of this armor had been found, once it
could be pierced, he would become earthly like other men, and his
false religion would drop away, leaving him naked under the irksome
garb of priesthood.
Accordingly, the Moor tested Fray Joseph, as he had tested the Abbot
and the others, but to no avail, and he was in despair, until one day
the secret of his failure was unexpectedly revealed.
Being busied with his accounts, he had repaired to the shade of a
pomegranate grove near the cliff, the better to escape the heat; while
so engaged up the path from the monastery came the good brother. Just
abreast of Abul Malek's point of vantage Joseph paused to listen. A
songbird was trilling wondrously and the monk's face, raised toward
the pomegranate trees, became transfigured. He changed as if by
magic; his lips parted in a tender smile, his figure grew tense with
listening; not until the last note had died away did he move. Then
a great breath stirred his lungs, and with shining eyes and rapt
countenance he went on into the fields.
Abul Malek rose, his white teeth gleaming through his beard.
"Allah be praised!" he exclaimed. "It is music!" And rolling up his
papers, he went into the house.
Early on the following morning another cavalcade filed down past the
monastery of San Sebastian; but this procession was in great contrast
to the one that had gone by five years before. Instead of gaily
caparisoned warriors, it was composed mainly of women and slaves, with
a mere handful of guards to lead the way. There were bondmaidens and
seamstresses, an ancient nurse and a tutor of languages; while astride
of a palfrey at her father's side rode the youthful lady of the
castle. Her veil was wet upon her cheeks, her eyes were filled with
shadows; yet she rode proudly, like a princess.
Once more the train moved past the sun-baked walls of the monastery,
across the plain to the mountain road that led to the land of bounty
and of culture. Late that afternoon Brother Joseph learned from the
lips of a herdsman that the beauteous Zahra, flower of all the Moorish
race, had gone to Cordova to study music.
Abul Malek once more rode home alone to his castle; but this time as
he dismounted at his door he smiled at the monastery below.
Four years crept by, during which the Saracen lord brooded over the