List Of Contents | Contents of The Patrol of the Sun Dance Trail
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

glance, but he said not a word, only waited.

"They are breaking the law as well, and I want to tell you they
will be punished.  Where did they get the meat for these kettles?"

A look of relief gleamed for one brief instant across the Indian's
face, not unnoticed, however, by Cameron.

"Why do your young men steal my cattle?"

The Indian evinced indifference.


"My brother speaks like a child," said Cameron quietly.  "Do deer
and sheep have steers' heads and hides with brands on?  Four heads
I find in the bluff.  The Commissioner will ask you to explain
these hides and heads, and let me tell you, Running Stream, that
the thieves will spend some months in jail.  They will then have
plenty of time to think of their folly and their wickedness."

An ugly glance shot from the Chief's eyes.

"Dunno," he grunted again, then began speaking volubly in the
Indian tongue.

"Speak English, Running Stream!" commanded Cameron.  "I know you
can speak English well enough."

But Running Stream shook his head and continued his speech in
Indian, pointing to a bluff near by.

Cameron looked toward Jerry, who interpreted:

"He say young men tak' deer and sheep and bear.  He show you skins
in bluff."

"Come," said Running Stream, supplementing Jerry's interpretation
and making toward the bluff.  Cameron followed him and came upon
the skins of three jumping deer, of two mountain sheep and of two
bear.  They turned back again to the fire.

"My young men no take cattle," said the Chief with haughty pride.

"Maybe so," said Cameron, "but some of your party have, Running
Stream, and the Commissioner will look to you.  You are in command
here.  He will give you a chance to clear yourself."

The Indian shrugged his shoulders and stood silent.

"My brother is not doing well," continued Cameron.  "The Government
feed you if you are hungry.  The Government protect you if you are

It was an unfortunate word of Cameron's.  A sudden cloud of anger
darkened the Indian's face.

"No!" he cried aloud.  "My children--my squaw and my people go
hungry--go cold in winter--no skin--no meat."

"My brother knows--" replied Cameron with patient firmness--"You
translate this, Jerry"--and Jerry proceeded to translate with
eloquence and force--"the Government never refuse you meat.  Last
winter your people would have starved but for the Government."

"No," cried the Indian again in harsh quick reply, the rage in his
face growing deeper, "my children cry--Indian cannot sleep--my
white brother's ears are closed.  He hear only the wind--the storm--
he sound sleep.  For me no sleep--my children cry too loud."

"My brother knows," replied Cameron, "that the Government is far
away, that it takes a long time for answer to come back to the
Indian cry.  But the answer came and the Indian received flour and
bacon and tea and sugar, and this winter will receive them again.
But how can my brother expect the Government to care for his people
if the Indians break the law?  That is not good.  These Indians are
bad Indians and the Police will punish the thieves.  A thief is a
bad man and ought to be punished."

Suddenly a new voice broke in abruptly upon the discourse.

"Who steal the Indian's hunting-ground?  Who drive away the
buffalo?"  The voice rang with sharp defiance.  It was the voice
of Onawata, the Sioux Chief.

Cameron paid no heed to the ringing voice.  He kept his back turned
upon the Sioux.

"My brother knows," he continued, addressing himself to Running
Stream, "that the Indian's best friend is the Government, and the
Police are the Government's ears and eyes and hands and are ready
always to help the Indians, to protect them from fraud, to keep
away the whisky-peddlers, to be to them as friends and brothers.
But my brother has been listening to a snake that comes from
another country and that speaks with a forked tongue.  Our
Government bought the land by treaty.  Running Stream knows this to
be no lie, but the truth.  Nor did the Government drive away the
buffalo from the Indians.  The buffalo were driven away by the
Sioux from the country of the snake with the forked tongue.  My
brother remembers that only a few years ago when the people to
which this lying snake belongs came over to this country and tried
to drive away from their hunting-grounds the Indians of this
country, the Police protected the Indians and drove back the hungry
thieving Sioux to their own land.  And now a little bird has been
telling me that this lying snake has been speaking into the ears of
our Indian brothers and trying to persuade them to dig up the
hatchet against their white brothers, their friends.  The Police
know all about this and laugh at it.  The Police know about the
foolish man at Batoche, the traitor Louis Riel.  They know he is a
liar and a coward.  He leads brave men astray and then runs away
and leaves them to suffer.  This thing he did many years ago."  And
Cameron proceeded to give a brief sketch of the fantastic and
futile rebellion of 1870 and of the ignoble part played by the vain
and empty-headed Riel.

The effect of Cameron's words upon the Indians was an amazement
even to himself.  They forgot their breakfast and gathered close to
the speaker, their eager faces and gleaming eyes showing how deeply
stirred were their hearts.

Cameron was putting into his story an intensity of emotion and
passion that not only surprised himself, but amazed his
interpreter.  Indeed so amazed was the little half-breed at
Cameron's quite unusual display of oratorical power that his own
imagination took fire and his own tongue was loosened to such an
extent that by voice, look, tone and gesture he poured into his
officer's harangue a force and fervor all his own.

"And now," continued Cameron, "this vain and foolish Frenchman
seeks again to lead you astray, to lead you into war that will
bring ruin to you and to your children; and this lying snake from
your ancient enemies, the Sioux, thinking you are foolish children,
seeks to make you fight against the great White Mother across the
seas.  He has been talking like a babbling old man, from whom the
years have taken wisdom, when he says that the half-breeds and
Indians can drive the white man from these plains.  Has he told you
how many are the children of the White Mother, how many are the
soldiers in her army?  Listen to me, and look!  Get me many
branches from the trees," he commanded sharply to some young
Indians standing near.

So completely were the Indians under the thrall of his speech that
a dozen of them sprang at once to get branches from the poplar
trees near by.

"I will show you," said Cameron, "how many are the White Mother's
soldiers.  See,"--he held up both hands and then stuck up a small
twig in the sand to indicate the number ten.  Ten of these small
twigs he set in a row and by a larger stick indicated a hundred,
and so on till he had set forth in the sandy soil a diagrammatic
representation of a hundred thousand men, the Indians following
closely his every movement.  "And all these men," he continued,
"are armed with rifles and with great big guns that speak like
thunder.  And these are only a few of the White Mother's soldiers.
How many Indians and half-breeds do you think there are with
rifles?"  He set in a row sticks to represent a thousand men.
"See," he cried, "so many."  Then he added another similar row.
"Perhaps, if all the Indians gathered, so many with rifles.  No
more.  Now look," he said, "no big guns, only a few bullets, a
little powder, a little food.  Ha, ha!" he laughed contemptuously.
"The Sioux snake is a fool.  His tongue must be stopped.  My Indian
brothers here will not listen to him, but there are others whose
hearts are like the hearts of little children who may listen to his
lying words.  The Sioux snake must be caught and put in a cage, and
this I do now."

As he uttered the words Cameron sprang for the Sioux, but quicker
than his leap the Sioux darted through the crowding Indians who,
perceiving Cameron's intent, thrust themselves in his path and
enabled the Sioux to get away into the brush behind.

"Head him off, Jerry," yelled Cameron, whistling sharply at the
same time for his men, while he darted for his horse and threw
himself upon it.  The whole camp was in a seething uproar.

"Back!" yelled Cameron, drawing his gun.  The Indians fell away
from him like waves from a speeding vessel.  On the other side of
the little bluff he caught sight of a mounted Indian flying toward
the mountains and with a cry he started in pursuit.  It took only a
few minutes for Cameron to discover that he was gaining rapidly
upon his man.  But the rough rocky country was not far away in
front of them, and here was abundant chance for hiding.  Closer and
closer he drew to his flying enemy--a hundred yards--seventy-five
yards--fifty yards only separated them.

"Halt!" cried Cameron, "or I shoot."

But the Indian, throwing himself on the far side of his pony, urged
him to his topmost speed.

Cameron steadied himself for a moment, took careful aim and fired.
The flying pony stumbled, recovered himself, stumbled again and
fell.  But even before he reached the earth his rider had leaped
free, and, still some thirty yards in advance, sped onward.  Half a
dozen strides and Cameron's horse was upon him, and, giving him the
shoulder, hurled the Indian senseless to earth.  In a flash Cameron
was at his side, turned him over and discovered not the Sioux Chief
but another Indian quite unknown to him.

His rage and disappointment were almost beyond his control.  For an
instant he held his gun poised as if to strike, but the blow did
not fall.  His self command came back.  He put up his gun, turned
quickly away from the prostrate Indian, flung himself upon his
horse and set off swiftly for the camp.  It was but a mile distant,
but in the brief time consumed in reaching it he had made up his
mind as to his line of action.  Unless his men had captured the
Sioux it was almost certain that he had made his escape to the
canyon, and once in the canyon there was little hope of his being
taken.  It was of the first importance that he should not appear
too deeply concerned over his failure to take his man.

With this thought in his mind Cameron loped easily into the Indian
camp.  He found the young braves in a state of feverish excitement.
Armed with guns and clubs, they gathered about their Chiefs
clamoring to be allowed to wipe out these representatives of the
Police who had dared to attempt an arrest of this distinguished
guest of theirs.  As Cameron appeared the uproar quieted somewhat
and the Indians gathered about him, eagerly waiting his next move.

Cameron cantered up to Running Stream and, looking round upon the
crowding and excited braves, he said, with a smile of cool

"The Sioux snake has slid away in the grass.  He has missed his
breakfast.  My brother was about to eat.  After he has eaten we
will have some quiet talk."

So saying, he swung himself from his saddle, drew the reins over
his horse's ears and, throwing himself down beside a camp fire, he
pulled out his pipe and proceeded to light it as calmly as if
sitting in a council-lodge.

The Indians were completely nonplussed.  Nothing appeals more
strongly to the Indian than an exhibition of steady nerve.  For
some moments they stood regarding Cameron with looks of mingled
curiosity and admiration with a strong admixture of impatience, for
they had thought of being done out of their great powwow with its
attendant joys of dance and feast, and if this Policeman should
choose to remain with them all day there could certainly be neither
dancing nor feasting for them.  In the meantime, however, there was
nothing for it but to accept the situation created for them.  This
cool-headed Mounted Policeman had planted himself by their camp-
fire.  They could not very well drive him from their camp, nor
could they converse with him till he was ready.

As they were thus standing about in uncertainty of mind and temper
Jerry, the interpreter, came in and, with a grunt of recognition,
threw himself down by Cameron beside the fire.  After some further
hesitation the Indians began to busy themselves once more with
their breakfast.  In the group about the campfire beside which
Cameron had placed himself was the Chief, Running Stream.  The
presence of the Policeman beside his fire was most embarrassing to
the Chief, for no man living has a keener sense of the obligations
of hospitality than has the Indian.  But the Indian hates to eat in
the presence of a white man unless the white man shares his meal.
Hence Running Stream approached Cameron with a courteous request
that he would eat with them.

"Thanks, Running Stream, I have eaten, but I am sure Jerry here
will be glad of some breakfast," said Cameron cordially, who had no
desire whatever to dip out of the very doubtful mess in the pot
which had been set down on the ground in the midst of the group
around the fire.  Jerry, however, had no scruples in the matter
and, like every Indian and half-breed, was always ready for a meal.
Having thus been offered hospitality and having by proxy accepted
it, Cameron was in position to discuss with the Chief in a judicial
if not friendly spirit the matter he had in hand.

Breakfast over, Cameron offered his tobacco-pouch to the Chief,
who, gravely helping himself to a pipeful, passed it on to his
neighbor who, having done likewise, passed it in turn to the man
next him till the tobacco was finished and the empty pouch returned
with due gravity to the owner.

Relations of friendly diplomacy being thus established, the whole
party sat smoking in solemn silence until the pipes were smoked
out.  Then Cameron, knocking the ashes from his pipe, opened up the
matter in hand, with Jerry interpreting.

"The Sioux snake," he began quietly, "will be hungry for his
breakfast.  Honest men do not run away before breakfast."

"Huh," grunted Running Stream, non-committal.

"The Police will get him in due time," continued Cameron in a tone
of quiet indifference.  "He will cease to trouble our Indian
brothers with foolish lies.  The prison gates are strong and will
soon close upon this stranger with the forked tongue."

Again the Chief grunted, still non-committal.

"It would be a pity if any of your young men should give heed to
these silly tales.  None of your wise men have done so.  In the
Sioux country there is frequent war between the soldiers and the
Indians because bad men wish to wrong the Indians and the Indians
grow angry and fight, but in this country white men are punished
who do wrong to Indians.  This Running Stream knows to be true."

"Huh," grunted Running Stream acquiescing.

"When Indians do wrong to white men it is just that the Indians
should be punished as well.  The Police do justly between the white
man and the Indian.  My brother knows this to be true."

"Huh," again grunted Running Stream with an uneasy look on his

"Therefore when young and foolish braves steal and kill cattle they

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: