We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. — Winston Churchill

With Lieutenant Pike - Edwin Sabin




Bad Hearts in the Way

"Des sauvages ( Indians)! "

Thus Baronet' shouted, pointing from where he had checked his horse on the edge of a little rise overlooking a dip in the trail.

They all had been marching two more days, and had covered about forty more miles. This made seven days' travel, counting the two days of meat camp, and eighty-five mils, since the Big Blue Mountain had first been sighted. Now it and the lesser mountains were much plainer.

But here were the Indians, sure enough. The lieutenant had rather been expecting them. Yesterday the fresh tracks of the two men, again, had given warning. So the column were marching close together.

The Indians, on foot, were running toward the column, from some trees on the river bank, at the right.

"Close up, men," the lieutenant ordered.

"Close up, close up! Look to your priming!" ordered Sergeant Meek.

And the lieutenant and the doctor, with Baronet' and Stub ready to interpret for them, led for the Indians.

"Pawnee, hein (hey)?" said Baroney.

"No Republic Pawnee; Grand Pawnee. War party; no horses," Stub explained. There was a difference between the Republic Pawnees and the Grand Pawnees.

"Others yonder, lieutenant!" exclaimed the doctor.

They looked. Another squad of the Indians were running down from a hill on the left. They carried flags on lances—the Grand Pawnee war colors.

"Make a surround!" guessed Baroney.

The lieutenant reined his horse, and drew his curved sword.

"Company, halt! Watch sharp, men!"

He glanced right and left, waiting to see if this was an attack. No—for, as the doctor suddenly said:

"Those first fellows act friendly, lieutenant. They have no arms; they're holding out empty hands."

"Forward!" ordered the lieutenant.

In a minute more they met the Indians from the timber. These Pawnees did indeed act friendly—and all too friendly! They crowded in among the soldiers, shaking hands, putting their arms around the soldiers' necks, even trying to hug the lieutenant and the doctor and Baroney and the others who rode horseback.

The lieutenant got off, good-naturedly; instantly a Pawnee leaped into the saddle and rode the horse away. The doctor and Baroney lost their horses, also; Stub (who knew what the Pawnees were up to) was almost dragged down, but he stuck fast.

All was in confusion of laughter and jostling and pretended play.

"No, no!" the lieutenant objected, growing angry; and half drew a pistol. The men were getting together, wresting their guns from the Pawnees' hands and holding them high, to keep them free.

More Pawnees, from the timber, had joined, with guns and bows and lances; and the Pawnees from the hillside had come in. They included two chiefs.

The two chiefs issued orders, and the play stopped. The horses were returned. Then all went on to the trees by the river, for a talk.

Here matters again looked bad. The warriors frolicked, in spite of the chiefs. They were Grand Pawnees—sixty: a war party out to plunder the Padoucahs. But they had not found any Padoucahs; so this seemed a good chance to plunder somebody else, instead of returning home empty-handed.

The lieutenant's face was red, as he angrily warded off the hands that clutched at his pistols and gun and horse's bridle.

Stand firm, men!" he called. "Don't let loose of a thing—don't let them get behind us!"

"Kape your distance, you red rascals!" rasped Tom Dougherty, as they hustled him about.

"Steady! Steady!" Sergeant Meek cautioned.

"By thunder, they'd like to strip us," the doctor exclaimed.

Even Stub objected vigorously, in Pawnee. The Grand Pawnees were indeed rascals.

Guns were being cocked—click, click; several of the Pawnees, angry themselves, leveled bended bows. It was likely to be a fight between the sixteen Americans and the sixty Pawnees; and Stub sat alert, ready to pluck an arrow as quick as lightning.

"Guard those packs, men!" the lieutenant kept shouting.

But the two chiefs were working hard, shoving the warriors back, clearing a space. The head chief spoke to the lieutenant, and signed.

"He says: 'Let us talk,' "Barony interpreted.

"Very well. Tell him we will talk or we will fight," replied the lieutenant. "We won't be robbed. If it is peace, we will give him presents."

They all sat down in a ring, with the lieutenant and Baroney and the two chiefs in the center. The Americans sat under the American flag, the Pawnee warriors sat under the Grand Pawnee flags. The doctor, however, stood up, watching everything.

The Pawnee head chief took out a pipe and tobacco, for a peace smoke. That looked good. But before filling the pipe, the two chiefs made speeches.

"They ask what presents you will give them. They say they are poor," Baroney translated. And that was what they had said.

"Bring half a bale of tobacco, a dozen knives, and flints and steels enough for all, sergeant," the lieutenant ordered.

The head chief made another speech. He was refusing the presents. Ile asked for corn, powder and lead, blankets, kettles—all kinds of stuff.

"Tell him that there are our presents. We have nothing else for him," the lieutenant answered. "We are ready to smoke with him."

The chief did not lift the pipe. He and the other chief sat, with bad spirit showing in their eyes. The warriors commenced tm hoot, and handle their guns and bows again.

"He will not smoke such poor presents," Baroney reported. "I think they mean trouble. A little tobacco, lieutenant; maybe a little tobacco and powder."

"You had best look out, lieutenant," warned the doctor. "I don't like their looks."

"Tell the chief he will get nothing else. He can take those presents or leave them," bade the lieutenant, to Baroney.

Baroney hated to do it, but he had to obey The head chief scowled. Then he signed, and an old man lugged in a kettle of water, as a return present.

Stub heard the Pawnee warriors talking scornfully.

"See what manner of men these white men arc, with their rags and their poor gifts," they said. "They do not travel like the Spanish. They look like beggars."

But Stub well knew that although their horses were thin and sore, and they themselves were lea" and tattered and almost barefoot, these American' could fight.

Now Chief Pike and the two Pawnee chiefs drank from the kettle of water, out of their hands, and smoked the pipe, and ate a little dried buffalo meat. Several Indians were called upon by the chief, to pass the knives and flints and steels around. Indians who were given the presents threw them upon the ground.

The lieutenant shook hands with the chiefs, and rose.

"All ready, doctor," he called. "Pack your animals, sergeant, where necessary. We march." or

The Pawnees sprang up, too, and crowded forward again.

"They make a surround," said Baroney.

"Look out, lieutenant! They're stealing your pistols—mine, too!" cried the doctor.

The lieutenant leaped upon his horse just in time to rescue his pistols, hanging from the saddle. He was hemmed in. The soldiers were swearing and darting back and forth, grabbing at thieves and protecting the baggage also.

Now the lieutenant had lost his hatchet. He exclaimed furiously.

"Tell the chief my hatchet is gone."

The chief only said:

"These are small matters for a great man." He drew his buffalo robe high and turned back.

The lieutenant flushed, more angry still, and stiffened in his saddle. He meant business. Stub had seen him look this way before.

"Leave the baggage and get your men to one reported. "I think they mean trouble. A little tobacco, lieutenant; maybe a little tobacco and powder."

"You had best look out, lieutenant," warned the doctor. "I don't like their looks."

"Tell the chief he will get nothing else. He can take those presents or leave them," bade the lieutenant, to Baroney.

Baroney hated to do it, but he had to obey. The head chief scowled. Then he signed, and an old man lugged in a kettle of water, as a return present.

Stub heard the Pawnee warriors talking scornfully.

"See what manner of men these white men are, with their rags and their poor gifts," they said. "They do not travel like the Spanish. They look like beggars."

But Stub well knew that although their horses were thin and sore, and they themselves were lean and tattered and almost barefoot, these Americans could fight.

Now Chief Pike and the two Pawnee chiefs drank from the kettle of water, out of their hands, and smoked the pipe, and ate a little dried buffalo meat. Several Indians were called upon by the chief, to pass the knives and flints and steels around. Indians who were given the presents threw them upon the ground.

The lieutenant shook hands with the chiefs, and rose.

"All ready, doctor," he called. "Pack your animals, sergeant, where necessary. We march."

The Pawnees sprang up, too, and crowded forward again.

"They make a surround," said Baroney.

"Look out, lieutenant! They're stealing your pistols—mine, too!" cried the doctor.

The lieutenant leaped upon his horse just in time to rescue his pistols, hanging from the saddle. He was hemmed in. The soldiers were swearing and darting back and forth, grabbing at thieves and protecting the baggage also.

Now the lieutenant had lost his hatchet. He exclaimed furiously.

"Tell the chief my hatchet is gone."

The chief only said:

"These are small matters for a great man."

He drew his buffalo robe high and turned his back.

The lieutenant flushed, more angry still, and stiffened in his saddle. He meant business. Stub had seen him look this way before.

"Leave the baggage and get your men to one side, sergeant. Quick! Be ready with your guns. That's it. Baroney, tell the chief that the next warrior who touches our baggage or animals shall die instantly. Sergeant, at the first attempt, let the men shoot to kill."

The Pawnees understood. They saw the muskets half leveled, and the grim, determined faces behind. A warrior stretched out his hand, stealthily, to a pack—and John Spark's muzzle covered him in a flash. He jumped back.

"Go!" suddenly ordered the head chief. The Pawnees sullenly gathered their presents, and without another word filed away, the whole sixty.

"See if we've lost anything, sergeant," said the lieutenant.

"One sword, one tomahawk, one axe, five canteens and some smaller stuff missing, sir," was the report.

The soldiers waited eagerly. They wished to follow and fight.

"No matter," gruffly answered the lieutenant. "We must save our lives for our work, my men. We have work to do. Forward, march." He shrugged his shoulders, and added, to the doctor: "I feel as badly as they do. This is the first time I ever swallowed an insult to the Government and the uniform. But our number is too small to risk failure of our plans. Now for the mountains."

"By gar, once more my scalp was loose," said Baroney, to Stub.

"Yes. They had black hearts, those Grand Pawnee," Stub gravely agreed.

This day they marched seventeen miles, and the next day nineteen miles. In all they had come more than one hundred and twenty miles, their eyes upon the Big Blue Mountain, as the lieutenant called it.

And at last they had just about overtaken it.

From camp, here where the river split into two large forks, one out of the west, the other out of the south, the Big Blue Mountain looked to be quite near, up a small north fork.

"Le Grand Mont," Baroney called it. "The Grand Peak." And the men called it that, too.

"Sure, it can't be more'n one day's march now," John Sparks declared, as from camp they eyed it again. "We can be there to-morrow at this time with ease, in case those be the orders."

In the sunset the mountain loomed vast, its base blue, but its top pinkish white. After everything else was shrouded in dusk, its top still shone.

"How high, d' ye think?" queried soldier Freegift Stout.

"Thray miles higher'n we be; mebbe four," guessed Pat Smith.

"He's a grand wan all right," sighed Tom Dougherty. "Even a bur-rd wud nade an ixtra pair o' wings to get atop him, I'm thinkin'."

"No mortal man, or nothing else on two legs could do it, I reckon," said John Brown. "Unless that be the cap'n himself."

"American can," Stub reminded, proudly.

"You're right, boy," soldier Terry Miller approved. "Under orders an American would come pretty close to filling the job."

The lieutenant and the doctor had been gazing at the peak; it fascinated them, like it fascinated the men, and Stub. That night they talked together until late, planning for to-morrow. The lieutenant had decided to climb the mountain.

He sent for Sergeant Meek. The sergeant stood before him and saluted.

"I intend to take Doctor Robinson and two of the men, and this boy, to-morrow, and set out for the big mountain," the lieutenant said. "The camp will be left in your charge."

"Yes, sir," replied Sergeant Meek.

"These reports of the journey to date I also leave, with my personal baggage. The mountain is only a short day's march, but I have to consider that we may be cut off or meet with other accident. To-morrow morning I will lay out a stockade, here, for the protection of your party. You are to wait here one week, with due caution against surprises by the savages and the Spanish. Admit nobody except your own command into the stockade. If we do not return or you do not hear from us within the seven days, you are to take my papers and such baggage as may be necessary, and march down river by the safest direct course for the nearest American settlement or military post, as may be. At the American frontier you will leave your men under instructions to report at St. Louis, and you will press ahead at best speed and deliver my papers to General Wilkinson, the head of the Army, wherever he may be. In event of your disability, you will entrust the papers to Corporal Jackson—acquainting him in advance with what is expected of him. In the meantime, here or on the march, keep your men alert and together, and do not forget that our Country depends upon our performing our duty without regard to our own interests."

"Yes, sir," replied the sergeant. He gulped—the ragged, weather-worn soldier. "Excuse me, sir—'tis only a day's march yonder, you say? You'll be coming back, sir?"

"If within human possibility, sergeant. But I must climb that mountain to its highest point, in order to make certain of our position and ascertain the trend of the various streams. We are near the sources of the Arkansaw, as is evident. Our instructions are to find the heads of the Arkansaw and the Red River, on our way to the Comanches."

"Yes, sir," replied the sergeant.

"That is all. Good-night."

"Good-night, sir. I make bold to wish you good luck, sir. I wish I might be going with you, sir."

"Thank you, sergeant."

The lieutenant sat up late, writing. In his buffalo-robe, Stub dreamed of to-morrow, and the Grand Peak. He had understood only part of the lieutenant's long speech; but it was enough to under-stand that he was to be taken.