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

No!  No!  To-day as I look back I remember only two blue eyes,
deep, deep as wells, soft, blue, and wonderfully kind.  And I
remember all through those days--and hard days they were to a green
young fool fresh from the Old Country trying to keep pace with your
farm-bred demon-worker Perkins--I remember all through those days a
girl that never was too tired with her own unending toil to think
of others, and especially to help out with many a kindness a home-
sick, hand-sore, foot-sore stranger who hardly knew a buck-saw from
a turnip hoe, and was equally strange to the uses of both, a girl
that feared no shame nor harm in showing her kindness.  That's what
I remember.  A girl that made life bearable to a young fool, too
proud to recognize his own limitations, too blind to see the gifts
the gods were flinging at him.  Oh, what a fool I was with my silly
pride of family, of superior education and breeding, and with no
eye for the pure gold of as true and loyal a soul as ever offered
itself in daily unmurmuring sacrifice for others, and without a
thought of sacrifice.  Fool and dolt!  A self-sufficient prig!
That's what I remember."

The girl tore her hands away from him.

"Ah, Allan, my boy," she cried with a shrill and scornful laugh
that broke at the end, "how foolishly you talk!  And yet I love to
hear you talk so.  I love to hear you.  But, oh, let me tell you
what else I remember of those days!"

"No, no, I will not listen.  It's all nonsense."

"Nonsense!  Ah, Allan!  Let me tell you this once."  She put her
hands upon his shoulders and looked steadily into his eyes.  "Let
me tell you.  I've never told you once during these six happy
months--oh, how happy, I fear to think how happy, too much joy, too
deep, too wonderful, I'm afraid sometimes--but let me tell you what
I see, looking back into those old days--how far away they seem
already and not yet three years past--I see a lad so strange, so
unlike all I had known, a gallant lad, a very knight for grace and
gentleness, strong and patient and brave, not afraid--ah, that
caught me--nothing could make him afraid, not Perkins, the brutal
bully, not big Mack himself.  And this young lad, beating them all
in the things men love to do, running, the hammer--and--and
fighting too!--Oh, laddie, laddie, how often did I hold my hands
over my heart for fear it would burst for pride in you!  How often
did I check back my tears for very joy of loving you!  How often
did I find myself sick with the agony of fear that you should go
away from me forever!  And then you went away, oh, so kindly, so
kindly pitiful, your pity stabbing my heart with every throb.  Why
do I tell you this to-day?  Let me go through it.  But it was this
very pity stabbing me that awoke in me the resolve that one day you
would not need to pity me.  And then, then I fled from the farm and
all its dreadful surroundings.  And the nurse and Dr. Martin, oh
how good they were!  And all of them helped me.  They taught me.
They scolded me.  They were never tired telling me.  And with that
flame burning in my soul all that outer, horrid, awful husk seemed
to disappear and I escaped, I became all new."

"You became yourself, yourself, your glorious, splendid, beautiful
self!" shouted Allan, throwing his arms around her.  "And then I
found you again.  Thank God, I found you!  And found you for keeps,
mine forever.  Think of that!"

"Forever."  Mandy shuddered again.  "Oh, Allan, I'm somehow afraid.
This joy is too great."

"Yes, forever," said Allan again, but more quietly, "for love will
last forever."

Together they sat upon the grass, needing no words to speak the joy
that filled their souls to overflowing.  Suddenly Mandy sprang to
her feet.

"Now, let me go, for within an hour we must be away.  Oh, what a
day we've had, Allan, one of the very best days in all my life!
You know I've never been able to talk of the past to you, but to-
day somehow I could not rest till I had gone through with it all."

"Yes, it's been a great day," said Allan, "a wonderful day, a day
we shall always remember."  Then after a silence, "Now for a fire
and supper.  You're right.  In an hour we must be gone, for we are
a long way from home.  But, think of it, Mandy, we're going HOME.
I can't quite get used to that!"

And in an hour, riding close as lovers ride, they took the trail to
their home ten miles away.



When on the return journey they arrived upon the plateau skirting
the Piegan Reserve the sun's rays were falling in shafts of
slanting light upon the rounded hilltops before them and touching
with purple the great peaks behind them.  The valleys were full of
shadows, deep and blue.  The broad plains that opened here and
there between the rounded hills were still bathed in the mellow
light of the westering sun.

"We will keep out a bit from the Reserve," said Cameron, taking a
trail that led off to the left.  "These Piegans are none too
friendly.  I've had to deal with them a few times about my straying
steers in a way which they are inclined to resent.  This half-breed
business is making them all restless and a good deal too

"There's not any real danger, is there?" inquired his wife.  "The
Police can handle them quite well, can't they?"

"If you were a silly hysterical girl, Mandy, I would say 'no
danger' of course.  But the signs are ominous.  I don't fear
anything immediately, but any moment a change may come and then we
shall need to act quickly."

"What then?"

"We shall ride to the Fort, I can tell you, without waiting to take
our stuff with us.  I take no chances now."

"Now?  Meaning?"

"Meaning my wife, that's all.  I never thought to fear an Indian,
but, by Jove! since I've got you, Mandy, they make me nervous."

"But these Piegans are such--"

"The Piegans are Indians, plain Indians, deprived of the privilege
of war by our North West Mounted Police regulations and of the
excitement of the chase by our ever approaching civilization, and
the younger bloods would undoubtedly welcome a 'bit of a divarshun,'
as your friend Mike would say.  At present the Indians are simply
watching and waiting."

"What for?"

"News.  To see which way the cat jumps.  Then--  Steady, Ginger!
What the deuce!  Whoa, I say!  Hold hard, Mandy."

"What's the matter with them?"

"There's something in the bushes yonder.  Coyote, probably.

There came from a thick clump of poplars a low, moaning cry.

"What's that?" cried Mandy.  "It sounds like a man."

"Stay where you are.  I'll ride in."

In a few moments she heard his voice calling.

"Come along!  Hurry up!"

A young Indian lad of about seventeen, ghastly under his copper
skin and faint from loss of blood, lay with his ankle held in a
powerful wolf-trap, a bloody knife at his side.  With a cry Mandy
was off her horse and beside him, the instincts of the trained
nurse rousing her to action.

"Good Heavens!  What a mess!" cried Cameron, looking helplessly
upon the bloody and mangled leg.

"Get a pail of water and get a fire going, Allan," she cried.

"Well, first this trap ought to be taken off, I should say."

"Quite right," she cried.  "Hurry!"

Taking his ax from their camp outfit, he cut down a sapling, and,
using it as a lever, soon released the foot.

"How did all this mangling come?" said Mandy, gazing at the limb,
the flesh and skin of which were hanging in shreds about the ankle.

"Cutting it off, weren't you?" said Allan.

The Indian nodded.

Mandy lifted the foot up.

"Broken, I should say."

The Indian uttered not a sound.

"Run," she continued.  "Bring a pail of water and get a fire

Allan was soon back with the pail of water.

"Me--water," moaned the Indian, pointing to the pail.  Allan held
it to his lips and he drank long and deep.  In a short time the
fire was blazing and the tea pail slung over it.

"If I only had my kit here!" said Mandy.  "This torn flesh and skin
ought to be all cut away."

"Oh, I say, Mandy, you can't do that.  We'll get the Police
doctor!" said Allan in a tone of horrified disgust.

But Mandy was feeling the edge of the Indian's knife.

"Sharp enough," she said to herself.  "These ragged edges are just
reeking with poison.  Can you stand it if I cut these bits off?"
she said to the Indian.

"Huh!" he replied with a grunt of contempt.  "No hurt."

"Mandy, you can't do this!  It makes me sick to see you," said her

The Indian glanced with scorn at him, caught the knife out of
Mandy's hand, took up a flap of lacerated flesh and cut it clean

"Huh!  No-t'ing."

Mandy took the knife from him, and, after boiling it for a few
minutes, proceeded to cut away the ragged, mangled flesh and skin.
The Indian never winced.  He lay with eyes closed, and so pallid
was his face and so perfectly motionless his limbs that he might
have been dead.  With deft hands she cleansed the wounds.

"Now, Allan, you must help me.  We must have splints for this

"How would birch-bark do?" he suggested.

"No, it's too flimsy."

"The heavy inner rind is fairly stiff."  He ran to a tree and
hacked off a piece.

"Yes, that will do splendidly.  Get some about so long."

Half an hour's work, and the wounded limb lay cleansed, bandaged,
packed in soft moss and bound in splints.

"That's great, Mandy!" exclaimed her husband.  "Even to my
untutored eyes that looks like an artistic bit of work.  You're a

"Huh!" grunted the Indian.  "Good!"  His piercing black eyes were
lifted suddenly to her face with such a look of gratitude as is
seen in the eyes of dumb brutes or of men deprived of speech.

"Good!" echoed Allan.  "You're just right, my boy.  I couldn't have
done it, I assure you."

"Huh!" grunted the Indian in eloquent contempt.  "No good,"
pointing to the man.  "Good," pointing to the woman.  "Me--no--
forget."  He lifted himself upon his elbow, and, pointing to the
sun like a red eye glaring in upon them through a vista of woods
and hills," said, "Look--He see--me no forget."

There was something truly Hebraic in the exultant solemnity of his
tone and gesture.

"By Jove!  He won't either, I truly believe," said Allan.  "You've
made a friend for life, Mandy.  Now, what's next?  We can't carry
this chap.  It's three miles to their camp.  We can't leave him
here.  There are wolves all around and the brutes always attack
anything wounded."

The Indian solved the problem.

"Huh!" he grunted contemptuously.  He took up his long hunting-
knife.  "Wolf--this!"  He drove the knife to the hilt into the

"You go--my fadder come.  T'ree Indian," holding up three fingers.
"All right!  Good!"  He sank back upon the ground exhausted.

"Come on then, Mandy, we shall have to hurry."

"No, you go.  I'll wait."

"I won't have that.  It will be dark soon and I can't leave you
here alone with--"

"Nonsense!  This poor boy is faint with hunger and pain.  I'll feed
him while you're gone.  Get me afresh pail of water and I can do
for myself."

"Well," replied her husband dubiously, "I'll get you some wood

"Come, now," replied Mandy impatiently, "who taught you to cut
wood?  I can get my own wood.  The main thing is to get away and
get back.  This boy needs shelter.  How long have you been here?"
she inquired of the Indian.

The boy opened his eyes and swung his arm twice from east to west,
indicating the whole sweep of the sky.

"Two days?"

He nodded.

"You must be starving.  Want to eat?"


"Hurry, then, Allan, with the water.  By the time this lad has been
fed you will be back."

It was not long before Allan was back with the water.

"Now, then," he said to the Indian, "where's your camp?"

The Indian with his knife drew a line upon the ground.  "River," he
said.  Another line parallel, "Trail."  Then, tracing a branching
line from the latter, turning sharply to the right, "Big Hill," he
indicated.  "Down--down."  Then, running the line a little farther,
"Here camp."

"I know the spot," cried Allan.  "Well, I'm off.  Are you quite
sure, Mandy, you don't mind?"

"Run off with you and get back soon.  Go--good-by!  Oh!  Stop, you
foolish boy!  Aren't you ashamed of yourself before--?"

Cameron laughed in happy derision.

"Ashamed?  No, nor before his whole tribe."  He swung himself on
his pony and was off down the trail at a gallop.

"You' man?" inquired the Indian lad.

"Yes," she said, "my man," pride ringing in her voice.

"Huh!  Him Big Chief?"

"Oh, no!  Yes."  She corrected herself hastily.  "Big Chief.
Ranch, you know--Big Horn Ranch."

"Huh!"  He closed his eyes and sank back again upon the ground.

"You're faint with hunger, poor boy," said Mandy.  She hastily cut
a large slice of bread, buttered it, laid upon it some bacon and
handed it to him.

"Here, take this in the meantime," she said.  "I'll have your tea
in a jiffy."

The boy took the bread, and, faint though he was with hunger,
sternly repressing all sign of haste, he ate it with grave

In a few minutes more the tea was ready and Mandy brought him a

"Good!" he said, drinking it slowly.

"Another?" she smiled.

"Good!" he replied, drinking the second cup more rapidly.

"Now, we'll have some fish," cried Mandy cheerily, "and then you'll
be fit for your journey home."

In twenty minutes more she brought him a frying pan in which two
large beautiful trout lay, browned in butter.  Mandy caught the
wolf-like look in his eyes as they fell upon the food.  She cut
several thick slices of bread, laid them in the pan with the fish
and turned her back upon him.  The Indian seized the bread, and,
noting that he was unobserved, tore it apart like a dog and ate
ravenously, the fish likewise, ripping the flesh off the bones and
devouring it like some wild beast.

"There, now," she said, when he had finished, "you've had enough to
keep you going.  Indeed, you have had all that's good for you.  We
don't want any fever, so that will do."

Her gestures, if not her words, he understood, and again as he
watched her there gleamed in his eyes that dumb animal look of

"Huh!" he grunted, slapping himself on the chest and arms.  "Good!
Me strong!  Me sleep."  He lay back upon the ground and in half a
dozen breaths was dead asleep, leaving Mandy to her lonely watch in
the gathering gloom of the falling night.

The silence of the woods deepened into a stillness so profound that
a dead leaf, fluttering from its twig and rustling to the ground,
made her start in quick apprehension.

"What a fool I am!" she muttered angrily.  She rose to pile wood
upon the fire.  At her first movement the Indian was broad awake
and half on his knees with his knife gleaming in his hand.  As his
eyes fell upon the girl at the fire, with a grunt, half of pain and
half of contempt, he sank back again upon the ground and was fast
asleep before the fire was mended, leaving Mandy once more to her
lonely watch.

"I wish he would come," she muttered, peering into the darkening
woods about her.  A long and distant howl seemed to reply to her

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >

Other sites: