I Married a Ranger
By Dama Margaret Smith
(Mrs. "White Mountain")
STANFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS STANFORD UNIVERSITY, CALIFORNIA LONDON: HUMPHREY MILFORD OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS STANFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS STANFORD UNIVERSITY, CALIFORNIA LONDON: HUMPHREY MILFORD OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS THE MARUZEN COMPANY TOKYO, OSAKA, KYOTO, SENDAI THE BAKER & TAYLOR COMPANY 55 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW YORK
Copyright 1930 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University All Rights Reserved Published 1930
PRINTED AND BOUND IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA BY STANFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS
This book is lovingly dedicated to White Mountain Smith who has made me glad I married a Ranger
I Married a Ranger is an intimate story of "pioneer" life in a national park, told in an interesting, humorous way, that makes it most delightful.
To me it is more than a book; it is a personal justification. For back in 1921, when the author came to my office in Washington and applied for the clerical vacancy existing at the Grand Canyon, no woman had been even considered for the position. The park was new, and neither time nor funds had been available to install facilities that are a necessary part of our park administrative and protective work. Especially was the Grand Canyon lacking in living quarters. For that reason the local superintendent, as well as Washington Office officials, were opposed to sending any women clerks there.
Nevertheless, after talking to the author, I decided to make an exception in her case, so she became the first woman Government employee at the Canyon. I Married a Ranger proves that the decision was a happy one.
It is a pleasure to endorse Mrs. Smith's book, and at the same time to pay a tribute of admiration to the women of the Service, both employees and wives of employees, who carry on faithfully and courageously under all circumstances.
ARNO B. CAMMERER Associate Director, National Park Service
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. "Out in Arizona, Where the Bad Men Are" 1
II. "This Ain't Washington!" 11
III. "I Do!" 21
IV. Celebrities and Squirrels 31
V. Navajo Land 42
VI. "They Killed Me" 56
VII. A Grand Canyon Christmas 67
VIII. The Day's Work 77
IX. The Doomed Tribe 89
X. Where They Dance with Snakes 104
XI. The Terrible Badger Fight 121
XII. Grand Canyon Ups and Downs 131
XIII. Sisters under the Skin 147
XIV. The Passing Show 158
XV. Fools, Flood, and Dynamite 170
Chapter I: "OUT IN ARIZONA, WHERE THE BAD MEN ARE"
"So you think you'd like to work in the Park Office at Grand Canyon?"
"Sure!" "Where is Grand Canyon?" I asked as an afterthought.
I knew just that little about the most spectacular chasm in the world, when I applied for an appointment there as a Government worker.
Our train pulled into the rustic station in the wee small hours, and soon I had my first glimpse of the Canyon. Bathed in cold moonlight, the depths were filled with shadows that disappeared as the sun came up while I still lingered, spellbound, on the Rim.
On the long train journey I had read and re-read the Grand Canyon Information Booklet, published by the National Park Service. I was still unprepared for what lay before me in carrying out my role as field clerk there. So very, very many pages of that booklet have never been written—pages replete with dangers and hardships, loneliness and privations, sacrifice and service, all sweetened with friendships not found in heartless, hurrying cities, lightened with loyalty and love, and tinted with glamour and romance. And over it all lies a fascination a stranger without the gates can never share.
I was the first woman ever placed in field service at the Grand Canyon, and the Superintendent was not completely overjoyed at my arrival. To be fair, I suppose he expected me to be a clinging-vine nuisance, although I assured him I was well able to take care of myself. Time softens most of life's harsh memories, and I've learned to see his side of the question. What was he to do with a girl among scores of road builders and rangers? When I tell part of my experiences with him, I do so only because he has long been out of the Service and I can now see the humorous aspect of our private feud.
As the sun rose higher over the Canyon, I reluctantly turned away and went to report my arrival to the Superintendent. He was a towering, gloomy giant of a man, and I rather timidly presented my assignment. He looked down from his superior height, eyed me severely, and spoke gruffly.
"I suppose you know you were thrust upon me!"
"No. I'm very sorry," I said, quite meekly.
While I was desperately wondering what to do or say next, a tall blond man in Park uniform entered the office.
The Superintendent looked quite relieved.
"This is White Mountain, Chief Ranger here. I guess I'll turn you over to him. Look after her, will you, Chief?" And he washed his hands of me.
In the Washington office I had often heard of "White Mountain" Smith. I recalled him as the Government scout that had seen years of service in Yellowstone before he became Chief Ranger at Grand Canyon. I looked him over rather curiously and decided that I liked him very well. His keen blue eyes were the friendliest I had seen since I left West Virginia. He looked like a typical Western man, and I was surprised that his speech had a "down East" tone.
"Aren't you a Westerner?"
"No, I'm a Connecticut Yankee," he smiled. "But we drift out here from everywhere. I've been in the West many years."
"Have you ever been in West Virginia?" I blurted. Homesickness had settled all over me.
He looked at me quickly, and I reckon he saw that tears were close to the surface.
"No-o, I haven't been there. But my father went down there during the Civil War and helped clean up on the rebels!"
Sparks flew then and I forgot to be homesick. But he laughed and led me toward my new home.
We strolled up a slight rise through wonderful pine trees, with here and there a twisted juniper giving a grotesque touch to the landscape. The ground was covered with springy pine needles, and squirrels and birds were everywhere. We walked past rows and rows of white tents pitched in orderly array among the pines, the canvas village of fifty or more road builders. By and by we came to a drab gray shack, weather-beaten and discouraged, hunched under the trees as if it were trying to blot itself from the scene. I was passing on, when the Chief (White Mountain) stopped me with a gesture.
"This is your home," he said. Just that bald statement. I thought he was joking, but he pushed the door open and we walked inside. The tiny shack had evidently seen duty as a warehouse and hadn't been manicured since! But in view of the fact that the Park Service was handicapped by lack of funds, and in the throes of road building and general development, I was lucky to draw a real house instead of a tent. I began to see why the Superintendent had looked askance at me when I arrived. I put on my rose-colored glasses and took stock of my abode.
It was divided into two rooms, a kitchen and a combination living-dining-sleeping-dressing-bath-room. The front door was a heavy nailed-up affair that fastened with an iron hook and staple. The back door sagged on its leather hinges and moved open or shut reluctantly. Square holes were cut in the walls for windows, but these were innocent of screen or glass. Cracks in the roof and walls let in an abundance of Arizona atmosphere. The furniture consisted of a slab table that extended all the way through the middle of the room, a wicker chair, and a golden-oak dresser minus the mirror and lacking one drawer.
White Mountain looked surprised and relieved, when I burst out laughing. He didn't know how funny the financial inducements of my new job sounded to me while I looked around that hovel: "So much per annum and furnished quarters!"
"We'll fix this up for you. We rangers didn't know until this morning that you were coming," he said; and we went down to see if the cook was in a good humor. I was to eat at the "Mess House" with the road crew and rangers, provided the cook didn't mind having a woman around. I began to have leanings toward "Equal-Rights-for-Women Clubs," but the cook was as nice as could be. I fell in love with him instantly. Both he and his kitchen were so clean and cheerful. His name was Jack. He greeted me as man to man, with a hearty handclasp, and assured me he would look after me.
"But you'll have to eat what the men do. I ain't got time to fix fancies for you," he hastened to add.
A steel triangle hung on a tree near the cookhouse door, and when dinner was ready Jack's helper struck it sharply with an iron bar. This made a clatter that could be heard a mile and brought the men tumbling from their tents to eat. As I was washing my hands and face in the kitchen I heard Jack making a few remarks to his boarders: "Now don't any you roughnecks forget there's a lady eatin' here from now on, and I'll be damned if there's goin' to be any cussin', either." I don't believe they needed any warning, for during the months I lived near their tents and ate with them they never "forgot."
Many of them no doubt had come from homes as good as mine, and more than one had college degrees. As they became accustomed to having me around they shed their reserve along with their coats and became just what they really were, a bunch of grown-up boys in search of adventure.
A week later it seemed perfectly natural to sit down to luncheon with platters of steak, bowls of vegetables, mounds of potatoes, and pots of steaming black coffee; but just then it was a radical change from my usual glass of milk and thin sandwich lunch. The food was served on long pine tables, flanked by backless benches. Blue and white enamel dishes, steel knives and forks, and of course no napkins, made up the service. We drank coffee from tin cups, cooling and diluting it with condensed milk poured from the original can. I soon learned that "Shoot the cow!" meant nothing more deadly than "Pass the milk, please!"
The rangers ate at a table apart from the other men. The Chief sat at the head of the table, and my plate was at his right. Several rangers rose to greet me when I came in.
"I'm glad you came," said one of them. "We are apt to grow careless without someone to keep the rough edges polished for us." That was Ranger Charley Fisk, the most loyal, faithful friend one could wish for. He was never too tired nor too busy to add a shelf here or build a cabinet there in my tiny cabin for me. But all that I had to learn later. There was Frank, Ranger Winess; he and the Chief had been together many years in Yellowstone; and Ranger West, and Ranger Peck. These and several more were at the table.
"Eat your dinner," the Chief advised, and I ate, from steak to pie. The three meals there were breakfast, dinner, and supper. No lettuce-leaf lunch for them.
Dinner disposed of, I turned my attention to making my cabin fit to live in. The cook had his flunky sweep and scrub the floor, and then, with the aid of blankets, pictures, and draperies from my trunks, the little place began to lose its forlorn look. White Mountain contributed a fine pair of Pendleton blankets, gay and fleecy. He spread a Navajo rug on the floor and placed an armful of books on the table. Ranger Fisk threw the broken chair outside and brought me a chair he had made for himself. Ranger Winess had been riding the drift fence while we worked, but he appeared on the scene with a big cluster of red Indian paintbrush blossoms he had found in a coulee. None of us asked if they were picked inside the Park.
No bed was available, and again Ranger Fisk came to the rescue. He lent me his cot and another ranger contributed his mattress.
White Mountain was called away, and when he returned he said that he had hired a girl for the fire look-out tower, and suggested that I might like to have her live there with me. "She's part Indian," he added.
"Fine. I like Indians, and anyway these doors won't lock. I'm glad to have her." So they found another cot and put it up in the kitchen for her.
She was a jolly, warm-hearted girl, used to life in such places. Her husband was a forest ranger several miles away, and she spent most of her time in the open. All day she stayed high in the fire tower, with her glasses scanning the surrounding country. At the first sign of smoke, she determined its exact location by means of a map and then telephoned to Ranger Headquarters. Men were on their way immediately, and many serious forest fires were thus nipped in the bud.
She and I surveyed each other curiously. I waited for her to do the talking.
"You won't stay here long!" she said, and laughed when I asked her why.
"This is a funny place to put you," she remarked next, after a glance around our new domain. "I'd rather be out under a tree, wouldn't you?"
"God forbid!" I answered earnestly. "I'm no back-to-nature fan, and this is primitive a-plenty for me. There's no bathroom, and I can't even find a place to wash my face. What shall we do?"
We reconnoitered, and found the water supply. We coaxed a tin basin away from the cook and were fully equipped as far as a bathroom was concerned.
Thea—for that was her Indian name—agreed that it might be well to fasten our doors; so we dragged the decrepit dresser against the front portal and moved a trunk across the back entrance. As there were no shades at the windows, we undressed in the dark and retired.
The wind moaned in the pines. A querulous coyote complained. Strange noises were everywhere around us. Scampering sounds echoed back and forth in the cabin. My cot was hard and springless as a rock, and when I stretched into a more comfortable position the end bar fell off and the whole structure collapsed, I with it. Modesty vetoed a light, since the men were still passing our cabin on their way to the tents; so in utter darkness I pulled the mattress under the table and there made myself as comfortable as possible. Just as I was dozing, Thea came in from the kitchen bringing her cot bumping and banging at her heels. She was utterly unnerved by rats and mice racing over her. We draped petticoats and other articles of feminine apparel over the windows and sat up the rest of the night over the smoky lamp. Wrapped in our bright blankets it would have been difficult to tell which of us was the Indian.
"I'll get a cat tomorrow," I vowed.
"You can't. Cats aren't allowed in the Park," she returned, dejectedly.
"Well, then rats shouldn't be either," I snapped. "I can get some traps I reckon. Or is trapping prohibited in this area?"
Thea just sighed.
Morning finally came, as mornings have a habit of doing, and found me flinging things back in my trunk, while my companion eyed me sardonic-wise. I had spent sufficient time in the great open spaces, and just as soon as I could get some breakfast I was heading for Washington again. But by the time I had tucked in a "feed" of fried potatoes, eggs, hot cakes, and strong coffee, a lion couldn't have scared me away. "Bring on your mice," was my battle cry.
At breakfast Ranger Fisk asked me quite seriously if I would have some cackle berries. I looked around, couldn't see any sort of fruit on the table, and, remembering the cook's injunction to eat what he set before me, I answered: "No, thank you; but I'll have an egg, please." After the laughter had subsided, White Mountain explained that cackle berries were eggs!
I told the rangers about the mice in my house, and the cook overheard the conversation. A little later a teamster appeared at my cabin with a tiny gray kitten hidden under his coat.
"Cook said you have mice, Miss. I've brought 'Tuffy' to you. Please keep him hid from the rangers. He has lived in the barn with me up to now."
With such a loyal protector things took a turn for the better, and my Indian friend, my wee gray cat, and myself dwelt happily in our little Grayhaven.
Chapter II: "THIS AIN'T WASHINGTON!"
"This ain't Washington, and we don't keep bankers' hours here," was the slogan of the Superintendent. He spoke that phrase, chanted it, and sang it. He made a litany of it; he turned it into a National Anthem. It came with such irritating regularity I could have sworn he timed it on a knotted string, sort of "Day-by-day-in-every-way" tempo, one might say. And it wasn't Washington, and we didn't live lives of ease; no banker ever toiled from dawn until all hours of the night, Sunday included!
I made pothooks and translated them. I put figures down and added them up. For the road crew I checked in equipment and for the cook I chucked out rotten beef. The Superintendent had boasted that three weeks of the program he had laid out for me would be plenty to send me back where I came from and then he would have a regular place again. But I really didn't mind the work. I was learning to love the Arizona climate and the high thin air that kept one's spirits buoyed up in spite of little irritations. I was not lonely, for I had found many friends.
When I had been at the Canyon a few days the young people gave a party for me. It was my debut, so to speak. The world-famous stone building at Hermit's Rest was turned over to us for the evening by the Fred Harvey people, and, attended by the entire ranger force, I drove out the nine miles from Headquarters. We found the house crowded with guides, cowboys, stage-drivers, and their girls. Most of the girls were Fred Harvey waitresses, and if you think there is any discredit attached to that job you had better change your mind. The girls there were bookkeepers, teachers, college girls, and stenographers. They see the world and get well paid while doing it.
The big rendezvous at Hermit's Rest resembles an enormous cavern. The fireplace is among the largest anywhere in the world, and the cave impression is further carried out by having flat stones laid for the floor, and rock benches covered with bearskins and Navajo rugs. Many distinguished guests from all parts of the globe have been entertained in that room, but we forgot all about distinguished personages and had a real old-fashioned party. We played cards and danced, and roasted weenies and marshmallows. After that party I felt that I belonged there at the Canyon and had neighbors.
There were others, however. The Social Leader, for instance. She tried to turn our little democracy into a monarchy, with herself the sovereign. She was very near-sighted, and it was a mystery how she managed to know all about everything until we discovered she kept a pair of powerful field-glasses trained on the scene most of the time. The poor lady had a mania for selling discarded clothing at top prices. We used to ask each other when we met at supper, "Did you buy anything today?" I refused point-blank to buy her wreckage, but the rangers were at a disadvantage. They wanted to be gentlemen and not hurt her feelings! Now and then one would get cornered and stuck with a second-hand offering before he could make his getaway. Then how the others would rag him! One ranger, with tiny feet, of which he was inordinately proud, was forced to buy a pair of No. 12 shoes because they pinched the Social Leader's Husband's feet. He brought them to me.
"My Gawd! What'll I do with these here box cars? They cost me six bucks and I'm ruined if the boys find out about it."
An Indian squaw was peddling baskets at my house, and we traded the shoes to her for two baskets. I kept one and he the other. Not long after that he was burned to death in a forest fire, and when I packed his belongings to send to his mother the little basket was among his keepsakes.
There was a Bridge Fiend in our midst, too! She weighed something like twenty stone, slept all forenoon, played bridge and ate chocolates all afternoon, and talked constantly of reducing. One day she went for a ride on a flop-eared mule; he got tired and lay down and rolled over and over in the sand. They had some trouble rescuing her before she got smashed. I told her the mule believed in rolling to help reduce. She didn't see the joke, but the mule and I did. Grand Canyon life was too exciting for her, so she left us.
A quaint little person was the rancher's wife who brought fresh eggs and vegetables to us. She wore scant pajamas instead of skirts, because she thought it "more genteel," she explained. When a favorite horse or cow died, she carefully preserved the skull and other portions of the skeleton for interior-decoration purposes.
Ranger Fisk and I took refuge in her parlor one day from a heavy rain. Her husband sat there like a graven image. He was never known to say more than a dozen words a day, but she carried on for the entire family. As Ranger Fisk said, "She turns her voice on and then goes away and forgets it's running." She told us all about the last moments of her skeletons before they were such, until it ceased to be funny. Ranger Fisk sought to change the conversation by asking her how long she had been married.
"Ten years; but it seems like fifty," she said. We braved the rain after that.
Ranger Fisk was born in Sweden. He ran away from home at fourteen and joined the Merchant Marine, and in that service poked into most of the queer seaports on the map. He had long since lost track of his kinsfolk, and although he insisted that he was anxious to marry he carefully kept away from all marriageable ladies.
Ranger Winess was the sheik of the force. Every good-looking girl that came his way was rushed for a day and forgotten as soon as another arrived. He played his big guitar, and sang and danced, and made love, all with equal skill and lightness. The only love he was really constant to was Tony, his big bay horse.
Ranger West, Assistant Chief Ranger, was the most like a storybook ranger of them all. He was essentially an outdoor man, without any parlor tricks. I have heard old-timers say he was the best man with horses they had ever known. He was much more interested in horses and tobacco than he was in women and small talk. But if there was a particularly dangerous task or one requiring sound judgment and a clear head, Ranger West was selected.
He and Ranger Fisk and Ranger Winess were known as the "Three Musketeers." They were the backbone of the force.
Sometimes I think my very nicest neighbor was the gardener at El Tovar Hotel. He saw me hungrily eying his flowers, and gave me a generous portion of plants and showed me how to care for them. I planted them alongside my little gray house, and after each basin of water had seen duty for cleansing purposes it went to water the flowers. We never wasted a drop of water. It was hauled a hundred miles in tank cars, and cost accordingly. I sometimes wondered if we paid extra for the red bugs that swam around in it so gaily. Anyway, my flowers didn't mind the bugs. They grew into masses of beautiful foliage and brilliant blossoms. I knew every leaf and bud on them. I almost sat up nights with them, I was so proud of their beauty. My flowers and my little gray kitten were all the company I had now. The fire guard girl had gone home.
One of my neighbors asked me to go with a group of Fred Harvey girls to visit the Petrified Forest, lying more than a hundred miles southeast of the Canyon. As I had been working exceptionally hard in the Park Office, I declared myself a holiday, and Sunday morning early found us well on the way.
We drove through ordinary desert country to Williams and from there on past Flagstaff and eastward to Holbrook. Eighteen miles from there we began to see fallen logs turned into stone.
My ideas of the Petrified Forest were very vague, but I had expected to see standing trees turned to stone. These big logs were all lying down, and I couldn't find a single stump! We drove through several miles of fallen logs and came to the Government Museum where unique and choice specimens had been gathered together for visitors to see. It is hard to describe this wood, that isn't wood. It looks like wood, at least the grain and the shape, and knotholes and even wormholes are there; but it has turned to beautifully brilliant rock. Some pieces look like priceless Italian marble; others are all colors of the rainbow, blended together into a perfect poem of shades.
Of course I asked for an explanation, and with all the technical terms left out, this is about what I learned: "These trees are probably forty million years old! None of them grew here. This is proved in several ways: there are few roots or branches and little bark."
The ranger saw me touch the outside of a log that was covered with what looked to me like perfectly good bark! He smiled.
"Yes, I know that looks like bark, but it is merely an outside crust of melted sand, et cetera, that formed on the logs as they rolled around in the water."
"Water?" I certainly hadn't seen any water around the Petrified Forest.
"Yes, water. This country, at one time, was an arm of the Pacific Ocean, and was drained by some disturbance which brought the Sierra Mountains to the surface. These logs grew probably a thousand miles north of here and were brought here in a great flood. They floated around for centuries perhaps, and were thoroughly impregnated with the mineral water, doubtless hot water. When the drainage took place, they were covered by silt and sand to a depth of perhaps two thousand feet. Here the petrifaction took place. Silica was present in great quantities. Manganese and iron provided the coloring matter, and through pressure these chemicals were forced into the grain of the wood, which gradually was absorbed and its cell structure replaced by ninety-nine per cent silica and the other per cent iron and manganese. Erosion brought what we see to the top. We have reason to believe that the earth around here covers many thousand more."
After that all soaked in I asked him what the beautiful crystals in purple and amber were. These are really amethysts and topazes found in the center of the logs. Formed probably by resin in the wood, these jewels are next hardest to diamonds and have been much prized. One famous jeweler even had numberless logs blown to splinters with explosives in order to secure the gems.
The wood is very little softer than diamond, and polishes beautifully for jewelry, book-ends, and table tops. The ranger warned us against taking any samples from the Reserve.
We could have spent days wandering around among the fallen giants, each one disclosing new beauties in color and formation; but we finally left, reluctantly, each determined to come back again.
It was quite dark when we reached the Canyon, and I was glad to creep into bed. My kitten snuggled down close to the pillow and sang sleepy songs, but I couldn't seem to get to sleep. Only cheesecloth nailed over the windows stood between me and all sorts of animals I imagined prowled the surrounding forest. The cheesecloth couldn't keep the noises out, and the cry that I heard might just as well have been the killing scream of a cougar as a bed-time story of a tree frog. It made my heart beat just as fast. And although the rangers declared I never heard more than one coyote at a time, I knew that at least twenty howling voices swelled the chorus.
While I was trying to persuade myself that the noise I heard was just a pack rat, a puffing, blowing sound at the window took me tremblingly out to investigate. I knew some ferocious animal was about to devour me! But my precious flowers were the attraction. A great, gaunt cow had taken the last delectable bite from my pansy bed and was sticking out a greedy tongue to lap in the snapdragons. Throwing on my bathrobe, I grabbed the broom and attacked the invader. I whacked it fore and aft! I played a tune on its lank ribs! Taken completely by surprise, it hightailed clumsily up through the pines, with me and my trusty broom lending encouragement. When morning came, showing the havoc wrought on my despoiled posies, I was ready to weep.
Ranger Winess joined me on my way to breakfast.
"Don't get far from Headquarters today," he said. "Dollar Mark Bull is in here and he is a killer. I've been out on Tony after him, but he charged us and Tony bolted before I could shoot. When I got Tony down to brass tacks, Dollar Mark was hid."
I felt my knees knocking together.
"What's he look like?" I inquired, weakly.
"Big red fellow, with wide horns and white face. Branded with a Dollar Mark. He's at least twenty years old, and mean!"
My midnight visitor!
I sat down suddenly on a lumber pile. It was handy to have a lumber pile, for I felt limp all over. I told the ranger about chasing the old beast around with a broom. His eyes bulged out on stems.
Frequent appearances of "Dollar Mark" kept me from my daily tramps through the pines, and I spent more time on the Rim of the Canyon.
Strangely, the great yawning chasm itself held no fascination for me. I could appreciate its dizzy depths, its vastness, its marvelous color effects, and its weird contours. I could feel the immensity of it, and it repelled instead of attracted. I seemed to see its barrenness and desolation, the cruel deception of its poisonous springs, and its insurmountable walls. I could visualize its hapless victims wandering frantically about, trying to find the way out of some blind coulee, until, exhausted and thirst-crazed, they lay down to die under the sun's pitiless glare. Many skeletons, half buried in sand, have been found to tell of such tragedies.
It was only in the evenings, after the sun had gone down, that I could feel at ease with the Canyon. Then I loved to sit on the Rim and look down on the one living spot far below, where, almost a century ago, the Indians made their homes and raised their crops, watering the fields from the clear, cold spring that gushes out of the hillside. As the light faded, the soft mellow moon would swim into view, shrouding with tender light the stark, grim boulders. From the plateau, lost in the shadows, the harsh bray of wild burros, softened by distance, floated upward.
On a clear day I could see objects on the North Rim, thirteen miles away, and with a pair of strong field glasses I could bring the scene quite close. It looked like a fairyland over there, and I wanted to cross over and see what it was really like. White Mountain advanced the theory that if we were married we could go over there for our honeymoon! I had to give the matter careful consideration; but while I considered, the moon came up, and behind us in the Music Room someone began to play softly Schubert's "Serenade." I said, "All right. Next year we'll go!"
Chapter III: "I DO!"
The Washington Office decided, by this time, that I was really going to stay, so they sent another girl out to work with me. The poor Superintendent was speechless! But his agony was short-lived. Another superintendent was sent to relieve him, which was also a relief to me!
My new girl was from Alabama and had never been west of that state. She was more of a tenderfoot than I, if possible. At first she insisted one had to have a bathtub or else be just "pore white trash," but in time she learned to bathe quite luxuriously in a three-pint basin. It took longer for her to master the art of lighting a kerosene lamp, and it was quite a while before she was expert enough to dodge the splinters in the rough pine floor. I felt like a seasoned sourdough beside her!
We "ditched" the big cookstove, made the back room into sleeping quarters, and turned our front room into a sort of clubhouse. White Mountain gave us a wonderful phonograph and plenty of records. If one is inclined to belittle canned music, it is a good plan to live for a while where the only melody one hears is a wailing coyote or the wind moaning among the pines.
We kept getting new records. The rangers dropped in every evening with offerings. Ranger Winess brought us love songs. He doted on John McCormack's ballads, and I secretly applauded his choice. Of course I had to praise the Harry Lauder selections that Ranger Fisk toted in. White Mountain favored Elman and Kreisler. The violin held him spellbound. But when Pat came we all suffered through an evening of Grand Opera spelled with capital letters!
Nobody knew much about "Pat." He was a gentleman without doubt. He was educated and cultured, he was witty and traveled. His game of bridge was faultless and his discussion of art or music authentic. He was ready to discuss anything and everything, except himself.
In making up personnel records I asked him to fill out a blank. He gave his name and age. "Education" was followed by "A.B." and "M.A." Nearest relative: "None." In case of injury or death notify—"Nobody." That was all. Somewhere he had a family that stood for something in the world, but where? He was a striking person, with his snow-white hair, bright blue eyes, and erect, soldier-like bearing. White Mountain and Ranger Winess had known him in Yellowstone; Ranger Fisk had seen him in Rainier; Ranger West had met him at Glacier. He taught me the game of cribbage, and the old game of gold-rush days—solo.
One morning Pat came to my cabin and handed me a book. Without speaking he turned and walked away. Inside the volume I found a note: "I am going away. This is my favorite book. I want you to have it and keep it." The title of the book was Story of an African Farm. None of us ever saw Pat again.
The yearly rains began to come daily, each with more force and water than the preceding one. Lightning flashed like bombs exploding, and thunder roared and reverberated back and forth from Rim to Rim of the Canyon. We sank above our shoes in mud every time we left the cabin. The days were disagreeable, but the evenings were spent in the cabin, Ranger Winess with his guitar and the other boys singing while we girls made fudge or sea-foam. Such quantities of candy as that bunch could consume! The sugar was paid for from the proceeds of a Put-and-Take game that kept us entertained.
We had a girl friend, Virginia, from Washington as a guest, and she fell in love with Arizona. Also with Ranger Winess. It was about arranged that she would remain permanently, but one unlucky day he took her down Bright Angel Trail. He provided her with a tall lank mule, "By Gosh," to ride, and she had never been aboard an animal before. Every time By Gosh flopped an ear she thought he was trying to slap her in the face. On a steep part of the trail a hornet stung the mule, and he began to buck and kick.
I asked Virginia what she did then.
"I didn't do anything. By Gosh was doing enough for both of us," she said. Ranger Winess said, however, that she turned her mule's head in toward the bank and whacked him with the stick she carried. Which was the logical thing to do. Unfortunately Ranger Winess teased her a little about the incident, and a slight coolness arose. Just to show how little she cared for his company, Virginia left our party and strolled up to the Rim to observe the effect of moonlight on the mist that filled it.
Our game of Put-and-Take was running along merrily when we heard a shriek, then another. We rushed out, and there was Dollar Mark Bull chasing Virginia around and around among the big pine trees while she yelled like a calliope. Seeing the door open she knocked a few of us over in her hurry to get inside. Then she bravely slammed the door and stood against it! Fortunately, Dollar Mark retreated and no lives were lost.
The rangers departed, we soothed Virginia, now determined not to remain permanently, and settled down for the night. Everything quiet and peaceful, thank goodness!
Alas! The most piercing shrieks I ever heard brought me upright in bed with every hair standing on end. It was morning. I looked at Virginia's bed. I could see her quite distinctly, parts of her at least. Her head was buried, ostrich-wise, in the blankets, while her feet beat a wild tattoo in the air. Stell woke up and joined the chorus. The cause of it all was a bewildered Navajo buck who stood mutely in the doorway, staring at the havoc he had created. At arm's length he tendered a pair of moccasins for sale. It was the first Reservation Indian in native dress, or rather undress, the girls had seen, and they truly expected to be scalped.
It never occurs to an Indian to knock at a door, nor does the question of propriety enter into his calculations when he has an object in view.
I told him to leave, and he went out. An hour later, however, when we went to breakfast, he was squatted outside my door waiting for us to appear. He had silver bracelets and rings beaten out of Mexican coins and studded with native turquoise and desert rubies. We each bought something. I bought because I liked his wares, and the other girls purchased as a sort of thank-offering for mercies received.
The bracelets were set with the brilliant rubies found by the Indians in the desert. It is said that ants excavating far beneath the surface bring these semi-precious stones to the top. Others contend that they are not found underneath the ground but are brought by the ants from somewhere near the nest because their glitter attracts the ant. True or false, the story results in every anthill being carefully searched.
Virginia's visit was drawing to a close, and White Mountain and I decided to announce our engagement while she was still with us. We gave a dinner at El Tovar, with the rangers and our closest friends present. At the same party another ranger announced his engagement and so the dinner was a hilarious affair.
One of the oldest rangers there, and one notoriously shy with women, made me the object of a general laugh. He raised his glass solemnly and said: "Well, here's wishin' you joy, but I jest want to say this: ef you'd a played yo' cyards a little bit different, you wouldn't 'a had to take White Mountain."
Before the dinner was over a call came from the public camp ground for aid. Our party broke up, and we girls went to the assistance of a fourteen-year-old mother whose baby was ill. Bad food and ignorance had been too much for the little nameless fellow, and he died about midnight. There was a terrible electric storm raging, and rain poured down through the old tent where the baby died.
Ranger Winess carried the little body down to our house and we took the mother and followed. We put him in a dresser drawer and set to work to make clothes to bury him in. Ranger Fisk and Ranger Winess made the tiny casket, and we rummaged through our trunks for materials. A sheer dimity frock of mine that had figured in happier scenes made the shroud, and Virginia gave a silken scarf to line the coffin. Ranger Winess tacked muslin over the rough boards so it would look nicer to the young mother. There were enough of my flowers left by Dollar Mark to make a wreath, and that afternoon a piteous procession wended its way to the cemetery. And such a cemetery! Near the edge of the Canyon, a mile or so from Headquarters it lay, a bleak neglected spot in a sagebrush flat with nothing to mark the cattle-tramped graves, of which there were four. At the edge of the clearing, under a little pine, was the open grave, and while the coffin was lowered the men sang. I never heard a more lonesome sound than those men singing there over that little grave. White Mountain read the burial service.
We took the mother back to our cabin while the grave was being filled in. I used to see her walking out there each morning with a few wild flowers to put on the mound. Ranger Winess managed to ride that way and keep her in sight until she returned to the camp ground. While the blue lupine blossomed she kept the mound covered with the fragrant flowers.
Ranger Fisk had a vacation about this time, and he insisted White Mountain and I should get married while he could act as best man. So we journeyed to Flagstaff with him and were married. It seemed more like a wedding in a play than anything else. Ranger Fisk was burdened with the responsibility of the wedding-ring, license, minister's fee, and flowers for the occasion. He herded us into the clerk's office to secure the necessary papers, and the girl clerk that issued them was a stickler for form. We gave our names, our parents' names, our ages, birth-places, and previous states of servitude. I was getting ready to show her my vaccination scar, when she turned coldly critical eyes on me and asked: "Are you white?" This for a Virginian to answer was quite a blow.
We went to the minister's house, and since two witnesses were necessary, the wife was called in from her washing. She came into the parlor drying her hands on her apron, which she discarded by rolling up and tossing into a chair. Ranger Fisk produced the ring, with a flourish, at the proper moment, gave the minister his money, after all the "I do's" had been said, and the wedding was over. So we were married. No wedding march, no flower girls, no veil, no rice, no wedding breakfast. Just a solemn promise to respect each other and be faithful. Perhaps the promise meant just a little more to us because it was not smothered in pomp.
For a wedding-trip we visited the cliff dwellings in Walnut Canyon. Here, hundreds of years ago, other newly married couples had set up housekeeping and built their dreams into the walls that still tell the world that we are but newcomers on this hemisphere.
The news of our marriage reached the Canyon ahead of us, and we found our little cabin filled with our friends and their gifts. They spent a merry evening with us and as we bade them goodnight we felt that such friendship was beyond price indeed.
But after midnight! The great open spaces were literally filled with a most terrifying and ungodly racket. I heard shrieks and shots, and tin pans banging. Horrors! The cook was on another vanilla-extract jamboree!! But—drums boomed and bugles blared. Ah, of course! The Indians were on the warpath; I never entirely trusted those red devils. I looked around for a means of defense, but the Chief told me not to be alarmed—it was merely a "shivaree."
"Now, what might that be?" I inquired. I supposed he meant at least a banshee, or at the very least an Irish wake! It was, however, nothing more or less than our friends serenading us. They came inside, thirty strong; the walls of the cabin fairly bulged. They played all sorts of tricks on us, and just as they left someone dropped a handful of sulphur on top of the stove. Naturally, we went outside with our visitors to wish them "godspeed!"
"I'll never get married again; at least not in the land of the shivaree," I told White Mountain as we tried to repair the damage.
I guess we were let off easy, for when our ranger friend returned with his bride they suffered a much worse fate. The groom was locked for hours in the old bear cage on the Rim, and his wife was loaded into a wheelbarrow and rolled back and forth across the railroad tracks until the Chief called a halt to that. He felt the treatment was a little too severe even for people in love.
Since I could not go to live in the bachelor ranger quarters, White Mountain moved into my cabin until our house could be completed. A tent house was built for Stell in the back yard of our cabin. She was afraid to live alone, and used to wake us at all hours of the night. Once she came bursting into our cabin, hysterical with fright. A bunch of coyotes had been racing around and around her tent trying to get into the garbage can. They yelped and barked, and, finally, as she sobbed and tried to explain, "They sat down in my door and laughed like crazy people." She finished the night on our spare cot, for anybody that thinks coyotes can't act like demons had better spend a night in Arizona and listen to them perform.
Stell wasn't a coward by any means. She was right there when real courage was needed. A broken leg to set or a corpse to bathe and dress were just chores that needed to be done, and she did her share of both. But seven thousand feet altitude for months at a time will draw a woman's nerves tauter than violin strings. I remember, one morning, Stell and I came home in the dawn after an all-night vigil with a dying woman. We were both nearly asleep as we stumbled along through the pines, but not too far gone to see Dollar Mark come charging at us. We had stopped at the cookhouse and begged a pot of hot coffee to take to our cabins. Stell was carrying it, and she stood her ground until the mean old bull was within a few feet of her. Then she dashed the boiling-hot coffee full in his gleaming red eyes, and while he snorted and bellowed with pain we shinnied up a juniper tree and hung there like some of our ancestors until the road crew came along and drove him away. We were pretty mad, and made a few sarcastic remarks about a ranger force that couldn't even "shoot the bull." We requested the loan of a gun, if necessary! Ranger Winess took our conversation to heart, and next morning hung a notice in Headquarters which "Regretted to report that Dollar Mark Bull accidentally fell over the Rim into the Canyon and was killed." In my heart I questioned both the "regret" and the "accidental" part of the report, and in order to still any remorse that the ranger might feel I baked him the best lemon pie I had in my repertoire!
Chapter IV: CELEBRITIES AND SQUIRRELS
Soon after our wedding the Chief crossed to the North Rim to meet a party of celebrities, which included his old friend Emerson Hough. This was to have been our honeymoon trip, but I was left at home! The new Superintendent needed me in the office; therefore White Mountain spent our honeymoon trip alone. I had heard of such a thing, but never expected it to happen to me. I might have felt terribly cut up about it but on the South Rim we were fermenting with excitement getting ready to entertain important guests.
General Diaz of Italy and his staff were coming, soon to be followed by Marshal Foch with his retinue. And in the meantime Tom Mix and Eva Novak had arrived with beautiful horses and swaggering cowboys to make a picture in the Canyon. What was a mere honeymoon compared to such luminaries?
Tom and Eva spent three weeks making the picture, and we enjoyed every minute they were there. Ranger Winess was assigned to duty with them, and when they left the Canyon he found himself with the offer of a movie contract. Tom liked the way the ranger handled his horse and his rifle, and Tom's wife liked the sound of his guitar. So we lost Ranger Winess. He went away to Hollywood, and we all went around practicing: "I-knew-him-when" phrases. But Hollywood wasn't Grand Canyon, and there wasn't a horse there, not even Tom's celebrated Tony, that had half as much brains as his own bay Tony of the ranger horses. So Winess came back to us, and everybody was happy again.
While the picture was being made, some of the company found a burro mother with a broken leg, and Ranger Winess mercifully ended her suffering. A tiny baby burro playing around the mother they took to camp and adopted at once. He was so comical with his big velvet ears and wise expression. Not bigger than a shepherd dog, the men could pick him up and carry him around the place. Tom took him to Mixville and the movie people taught him to drink out of a bottle, so he is well on the road to stardom. Ranger Winess, visiting in New Jersey a couple of years later, dropped into a theater where Tom Mix was in a vaudeville act. Mix spied the ranger, and when the act was over he stepped to the edge of the stage and sang out: "Hey, Winess, I still got that burro!"
A dummy that had been used in the picture was left lying quite a distance up the side of a mountain, but quite visible from their movie camp. Tom bet his Director, Lynn Reynolds, twenty-five dollars that the dummy was six feet tall. He knew quite well that it was not six feet tall, and knew that Reynolds knew so too. But the bet was on. A guide going to the top, was bribed by a ten-dollar bill from Tom, to stretch the dummy out to the required length. This guide went up the trail a few hours before Tom and Reynolds were due to measure the dummy. Imagine their feelings when they arrived, and found the money and this note pinned to the object of dispute:
"Mr. Tom Mix, deer sir. I streetched the dam thing till it busted. It hain't no higher than me, and I hain't six feet. You'll plees find herein yore money.
Youers truly, SHORTY."
It is said that Reynolds collected in full and then hunted Shorty up and bestowed the twenty-five dollars on him.
White Mountain returned from the North Rim full of his trip. He, together with Director Mather and Emerson Hough, had been all through the wonderful Southern Utah country, including Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. Mr. Hough had just sold his masterpiece, The Covered Wagon, to the Saturday Evening Post, and was planning to write a Canyon story. He told White Mountain he felt that he was not big enough to write such a story but intended to try. His title was to be "The Scornful Valley." Before he could come to the Canyon again, he died on the operating table.
Preparations were made for the visit of General Diaz, who came about Thanksgiving time. A great deal of pomp and glory surrounded his every movement. He and White Mountain were alone for a moment on one of the points overlooking the Canyon, and the General, looking intently into the big gorge, said to the Chief: "When I was a small boy I read a book about some people that stole some cattle and hid away in the Canyon. I wonder if it could have been near here?" White Mountain was able to point out a place in the distance that had been a crossing place for cattle in the early days, which pleased the soldier greatly.
Hopi Joe and his Indian dancers gave an unusually fine exhibition of their tribal dances for the visitors. The General expressed his appreciation quite warmly to Joe after the dance ended, and asked Joe to pose with him for a picture. He was recalling other boyhood reading he had done, and his interest in the Indians was quite naive. Joe took him into the Hopi House and they spent an hour or so going over the exhibition of Indian trophies there.
After dinner, the General retired to his private car to rest, but the staff remained at the hotel and we danced until well after midnight. The General's own band furnished the music. There were no women in the visitor's party, but there was no lack of partners for the handsome, charming officers. That few of them spoke English and none of us understood Italian made no difference. Smiles and flirtatious glances speak a universal language, and many a wife kept her wedding-ring out of the lime-light.
While we all enjoyed the visit of this famous man, we took a personal interest in Marshal Foch. And I'm not sure that General Diaz would have been entirely pleased could he have seen the extra special arrangements that were made to welcome Marshal Foch a few days later. Every ranger was called in from outlying posts; uniforms were pressed, boots shined, and horses groomed beyond recognition. Some of the rangers had served in France, and one tall lanky son of Tennessee had won the Croix de Guerre. To his great disgust and embarrassment, he was ordered to wear this decoration. When the special train rolled in, the rangers were lined up beside the track. The gallant old warrior stepped down from his car and walked along the line. His eye rested on that medal. He rushed up and fingered it lovingly "Croix de Guerre! Oui, oui, Croix de Guerre!" he kept repeating, as delighted as a child would be at the sight of a beloved toy. The ranger's face was a study. I believe he expected to be kissed on both cheeks, as he probably had been when the medal was originally bestowed upon him.
White Mountain was presented to the Marshal as "Le Chieftain de le Rangeurs," and, as he said later, had a handshake and listened to a few words in French from the greatest general in history!
The Marshal was the least imposing member of his staff. Small, unassuming, and even frail, he gave the impression of being infinitely weary of the world and its fighting, its falseness, and its empty pomp. He spoke practically no English, but when a tiny Indian maid crept near in her quaint velvet jacket and little full skirts, he extended a hand and said quite brokenly: "How are you, Little One?" In fact he spoke very little even in his own language.
Several hours were consumed in viewing the Canyon and at lunch. Then he was taken out to Hermit's Rest and sat in front of the great fireplace for an hour, just resting and gazing silently into the glowing embers. All the while he stroked the big yellow cat that had come and jumped upon his knee as soon as he was settled. Then he walked down the trail a little way, refusing to ride the mule provided for him. When it was explained that his photograph on the mule was desired, he gravely bowed and climbed aboard the animal.
Our new Superintendent, Colonel John R. White, had been in France and spoke French fluently. He hung breathlessly on the words of the Marshal when he turned to him after a long scrutiny of the depths below. "Now," thought Colonel White, "I shall hear something worthy of passing along to my children and grandchildren."
"What a beautiful place to drop one's mother-in-law!" observed the Marshal in French. Later he remarked that the Canyon would make a wonderful border line between Germany and France!
Hopi Joe gave his tribal dances around a fire built in the plaza. After the dance was over, the Marshal asked for an encore on the War Dance. Joe gave a very realistic performance that time. Once he came quite near the foreign warrior, brandishing his tomahawk and chanting. A pompous newspaper man decided to be a hero and pushed in between Joe and Marshal Foch. The General gave the self-appointed protector one look, and he was edged outside the circle and told to stay there, while Joe went on with his dance.
A marvelous Navajo rug was presented to the visitor by Father Vabre, with the information that it was a gift from the Indians to their friend from over the sea. He was reminded that when the call came for volunteers many thousands of Arizona Indians left their desert home and went across the sea to fight for a government that had never recognized them as worthy to be its citizens.
The General's face lighted up as he accepted the gift, and he replied that he would carry the rug with him and lay it before his own hearthstone, and that he would tell his children its story so that after he had gone on they would cherish it as he had and never part with it. One likes to think that perhaps during his last days on earth his eyes fell on this bright rug, reminding him that in faraway Arizona his friends were thinking of him and hoping for his recovery.
A wildcat presented by an admirer was voted too energetic a gift to struggle with, so it was left in the bear cage on the Rim. Somebody turned it out and it committed suicide by leaping into the Canyon.
A raw cold wind, such as can blow only at the Canyon, swept around the train as it carried Marshal Foch away. That wind brought tragedy and sorrow to us there at El Tovar, for, exposed to its cold blast, Mr. Brant, the hotel manager, contracted pneumonia. Travelers from all parts of the world knew and loved this genial and kindly gentleman. He had welcomed guests to El Tovar from the day its portals were first opened to tourists. Marshal Foch was the last guest he welcomed or waved to in farewell, for when the next day dawned he was fighting for life and in a few days he was gone.
He had loved the Canyon with almost a fanatic's devotion, and although Captain Hance had not been buried on its Rim as had been his deep desire, Mr. Brant's grave was located not far from the El Tovar, overlooking the Great Chasm. The tomb had to be blasted from solid rock. All night long the dull rumble of explosives told me that the rangers, led by the wearer of the Croix de Guerre, were toiling away. The first snow of the season was falling when the funeral cortege started for the grave. White Mountain and other friends were pall-bearers, and twenty cowboys on black horses followed the casket. Father Vabre read the burial service, and George Wharton James spoke briefly of the friendship which had bound them together for many years. Since that time both the good priest and the famous author have passed on.
Mr. Brant had an Airedale dog that was his constant companion. For days after his death this dog would get his master's hat and stick and search all over the hotel for him. He thought it was time for their daily walk. When the dog died they buried him near his master's grave. This had been Mr. Brant's request.
The snow grew deeper and the mercury continued to go down, until it was almost impossible to spend much time outside. But the little iron stove stuffed full of pine wood kept the cabin fairly warm, and the birds and squirrels learned to stay close to the stovepipe on the roof.
The squirrels would come to the cabin windows and pat against them with their tiny paws. They were begging for something to eat, and if a door or window were left open a minute it was good-by to anything found on the table. Bread, cake, or even fruit was a temptation not to be resisted. One would grab the prize and dart up the trunk of a big pine tree with the whole tribe hot-footing it right after him. One bold fellow waylaid me one morning when I opened the door, and bounced up on the step and into the kitchen. I shoved him off the cabinet, and he jumped on top of the stove. That wasn't hot enough to burn him but enough to make him good and mad, so he scrambled to my shoulder, ran down my arm, and sank his teeth in my hand. Then he ran up to the top of the shelves and sat there chattering and scolding until the Chief came home and gave him the bum's rush. This same fellow bit the Chief, too; but I always felt he had it coming to him. White Mountain had a glass jar of pinon nuts, and he would hold them while the squirrels came and packed their jaws full. They looked too comical with their faces puffed up like little boys with mumps. When "Bunty" came for his share, the Chief placed his hand tightly over the top, just to tease him. He wanted to see what would happen. He found out. Bunty ran his paws over the slick surface of the jar two or three times, but couldn't find any way to reach the tempting nuts. He stopped and thought about the situation a while, then it seemed to dawn on him that he was the victim of a practical joke. All at once he jumped on the Chief's hand, buried his teeth in his thumb, then hopped to a lumber pile and waited for developments. He got the nuts, jar and all, right at his head. He side-stepped the assault and gloated over his store of pinons the rest of the afternoon.
It had been an off year for pinons, so boxes were put up in sheltered nooks around the park and the rangers always put food into them while making patrols. I carried my pockets full of peanuts while riding the trails, and miles from Headquarters the squirrels learned to watch for me. I learned to look out for them also, after one had dropped from an overhanging bough to the flank of a sensitive horse I was riding. The Fred Harvey boys purchased a hundred pounds of peanuts for the little fellows, and the animals also learned to beg from tourists. All a squirrel had to do in order to keep well stuffed was to sit up in the middle of the road and look cunning.
One day a severe cold kept me in bed. Three or four of the little rascals found an entrance and came pell-mell into the house. One located a cookie and the others chased him into my room with it. For half an hour they fought and raced back and fourth over my bed while I kept safely hidden under the covers, head and all. During a lull I took a cautious look around. There they sat, lined up like schoolboys, on the dresser, trying to get at the impudent squirrels in the glass! Failing in that, they investigated the bottles and boxes. They didn't care much for the smell of camphor, but one poke-nosey fellow put his nose in the powder jar and puffed; when he backed away, he looked like a merry old Santa Claus, his whiskers white with powder and his black eyes twinkling.
Once the Chief gave them some Eastern chestnuts and black walnuts. They were bewildered. They rolled them over and over in their paws and sniffed at them, but made no effort to cut into the meat. We watched to see what they would do, and they took those funny nuts out under the trees and buried them good and deep. Maybe they thought time would mellow them.
But the worst thing those little devils did to me happened later. I had cooked dinner for some of the powers-that-be from Washington, and for dessert I made three most wonderful lemon pies. They were dreams! Each one sported fluffy meringue not less than three inches thick (and eggs eighty cents a dozen). They were cooling on a shelf outside the door. Along comes greedy Mr. Bunty looking for something to devour.
"You go away. I'm looking for real company and can't be bothered with you!" I told him, and made a threatening motion with the broom.
He went—right into the first pie, and from that to the middle one; of course he couldn't slight the third and last one, so he wallowed across it. Then the horrid beast climbed a tree in front of my window. He cleaned, and polished, and lapped meringue off his gray squirrel coat, while I wiped tears and thought up a suitable epitaph for him. A dirty Supai squaw enjoyed the pies. She and her assorted babies ate them, smacking and gabbling over them just as if they hadn't been bathed in by a wild animal.
Chapter V: NAVAJO LAND
Indians! Navajos! How many wide-eyed childhood hours had I spent listening to stories of these ferocious warriors! And yet, here they were as tame as you please, walking by my door and holding out their native wares to sell.
From the first instant my eyes rested upon a Navajo rug, I was fascinated by the gaudy thing. The more I saw, the more they appealed to the gypsy streak in my makeup. Each Navajo buck that came to my door peddling his rugs and silver ornaments was led into the house and questioned. Precious little information I was able to abstract at first from my saturnine visitors. As we became better acquainted, and they learned to expect liberal draughts of coffee sweetened into a syrup, sometimes their tongues loosened; but still I couldn't get all the information I craved regarding those marvelous rugs and how they were made.
Finally the Chief decided to spend his vacation by taking me on a trip out into the Painted Desert, the home of this nomadic tribe. We chose the early days of summer after the spring rains had brought relief to the parched earth and replenished the water holes where we expected to camp each night. Another reason was that a great number of the tribal dances would be in full swing at this time. Old "Smolley," an antique "navvy," had just disposed of a supply of rugs and was wending his way homeward at the same time. Not choosing to travel in solitude, he firmly fastened himself to our caravan. I would have preferred his absence, for he was a vile, smelly old creature with bleary eyes and coarse uncombed gray hair tied into a club and with a red band around his head. His clothes were mostly a pair of cast-off overalls, which had not been discarded by the original owner until he was in danger of arrest for indecent exposure. Incessant wear night and day by Smolley had not improved their looks. But Smolley knew that I never could see him hungry while we ate; consequently he stuck closer than a brother. Our hospitality was well repaid later, for he took care that we saw the things we wanted to see in Navajo Land.
The first day we rode through magnificent groves of stately yellow pines which extended from Grand Canyon out past Grand View and the picturesque old stage tavern there which is the property of Mr. W. R. Hearst. Quite a distance beyond there we stopped for lunch on a little knoll covered with prehistoric ruins. I asked Smolley what had become of the people who had built the homes lying at our feet. He grunted a few times and said that they were driven out on a big rock by their enemies and then the god caused the rock to fly away with them somewhere else. Interesting, if true. I decided that my guess was as good as his, so let the subject drop. It must have been a long time ago, for there were juniper trees growing from the middle of these ruins that the Chief said were almost three thousand years old. (He had sawed one down not much larger than these, polished the trunk and counted the annual rings with a magnifying-glass, and found it to be well over that age.) Among the rocks and debris, we found fragments of pottery painted not unlike the present Zuni ware, and other pieces of the typical basket pottery showing the marks of woven vessels inside of which they had been plastered thousands of years ago. I fell to dreaming of those vanished people, the hands that had shaped this clay long since turned to dust themselves. What had their owner thought of, hoped, or planned while fashioning this bowl, fragments of which I turned over in my palms aeons later? But the lunch-stop ended, and we moved on.
That night we camped at Desert View and with the first streak of dawn we prepared to leave the beaten path and follow a trail few tourists attempt. When we reached the Little Colorado, we followed Smolley implicitly as we forded the stream. "Chollo," our pack mule, became temperamental halfway across and bucked the rest of the way. I held my breath, expecting to see our cargo fly to the four winds; but the Chief had not packed notional mules for years in vain. A few pans rattled, and later I discovered that my hair brush was well smeared with jam. No other damage was done.
All day long we rode through the blazing sun. I kept my eyes shut as much as possible, for the sun was so glaring that it sent sharp pains through my head. In front the Chief rode placidly on. Outside of turning him into a beautiful brick red, the sun seemingly did not affect him. Smolley was dozing. But I was in agony with thirst and heat and weariness. My horse, a gift from the Chief which I had not been wise enough to try out on a short journey before undertaking such a trip, was as stiff as a wooden horse. I told the Chief I knew Mescal was knock-kneed and stiff-legged.
"Oh, no," was the casual reply, "he's a little stiff in the shoulders from his fall."
"Why, I loaned him to one of the rangers last week and he took him down the Hermit Trail and Mescal fell overboard."
"Is he subject to vertigo?" I wanted to know. I had heard we should have steep trails to travel on this trip.
"No; the ranger loaded him with two water kegs, and when Mescal got excited on a steep switchback the ranger lost his head and drove him over the edge. He fell twenty feet and was knocked senseless. It took two hours to get him out again."
"Some ranger," was my heated comment; "who was it?"
"No matter," said the Chief. "He isn't a ranger any more." The Chief said Mescal did not suffer any from the stiffness, but I'll admit that I suffered both mentally and physically. Anyway I had that to worry about and it took my mind off the intolerable heat.
Almost before we knew it a storm gathered and broke directly over our heads. There was no shelter, so we just kept riding. I had visions of pneumonia and sore throat and maybe rheumatism. In fact I began to feel twinges of rheumatics, but the Chief scoffed. He said I should have had a twelve-inch saddle instead of a fourteen and if I wasn't so dead set on a McClellan instead of a Western Stock I would be more comfortable. He draped a mackinaw around me and left me to my fate. I wasn't scared by the storm, but Mescal was positively unnerved. He trembled and cringed at every crash. I had always enjoyed electrical storms, but I never experienced one quite so personal before. Cartwheels and skyrockets exploded under my very nose and blue flame wrapped all around us. The Chief had gone on in search of the pack mule, and I was alone with Smolley. Through a lull in the storm I caught a glimpse of him. He slouched stolidly in the saddle as unconcernedly as he had slouched in the broiling heat. In fact I think he was still dozing.
As suddenly as the storm had come it was gone, and we could see it ahead of us beating and lashing the hot sands. Clouds of earthy steam rose enveloping us, but as these cleared away the air was as cool and pure and sweet as in a New England orchard in May. On a bush by the trail a tiny wren appeared and burst into song like a vivacious firecracker. Rock squirrels darted here and there, and tiny cactus flowers opened their sleepy eyes and poured out fragrance. And then, by and by, it was evening and we were truly in Navajo Land.
We made our camp by a water hole replenished by the recent rain. While the Chief hobbled the horses I drank my fill of the warm, brackish water and lay back on the saddles to rest. The Chief came into camp and put a can of water on the fire to boil. When it boiled he said, "Do you want a drink of this hot water or can you wait until it cools?"
"Oh, I had a good drink while you were gone," I answered drowsily.
"Where did you get it? The canteens were dry."
"Why, out of the waterhole, of course"; I was impatient that he could be so stupid.
"You did? Well, unless God holds you in the palm of his hand you will be good and sick. That water is full of germs. To say nothing of a dead cow or two. I thought you had better sense than to drink water from holes in the ground." I rose up and took another look at the oasis. Sure enough, horns and a hoof protruded from one end of the mudhole. I sank back weakly and wondered why I had ever thought I wanted to visit the Navajos. I hoped my loved ones back in the Virginias would not know how I died. It sounded too unromantic to say one passed out from drinking dead cow! I might as well say here that evidently I was held firmly by the Deity, for I felt no ill effects whatever. I couldn't eat any supper, but I knew Smolley would soon blow in and it would not be wasted.
As dusk settled around us we could almost hear the silence. Here and there a prairie owl would whirl low to the ground with a throaty chuckle for a time, but that soon ceased. Across the fire I could see the dull glow of the Chief's cigarette, but the air was so quiet that not the faintest odor of tobacco drifted to me. While we lolled there, half waking, half dreaming, Old Smolley stepped noiselessly into camp and at a wave of the Chief's hand swiftly emptied the coffeepot and skillet. He wiped his greasy mouth on his sleeve and said: "Sing-sing this night. Three braves sick. Sing 'em well. You wanna see?"
Did we! I was up and ready before his last word was out. We followed him for ten minutes up a dry wash filled with bowlders and dry brush. I stepped high and wide, fully expecting to be struck by a rattlesnake any minute. I knew if I said anything the Chief would laugh at me, so I stayed behind him and looked after my own safety. We reached a little mesa at the head of the coulee and found Indians of all shapes and sizes assembled there. Two or three huge campfires were crackling, and a pot of mutton stewed over one of them. Several young braves were playing cards, watched by a bevy of giggling native belles. The lads never raised their eyes to the girls, but they were quite conscious of feminine observation.
Three men, grievously ill indeed, and probably made worse by the long ride to the scene of the dance, were lying in a hogan built of cottonwood branches. Outside, standing closely packed together, were the Navajo bucks and the medicine men. When an Indian is sick he goes to the doctor instead of sending for the doctor to visit him. And then invitations are sent out all over the Reservation for the singers to come and assist in the cure. The Navajos had responded loyally on this occasion and were grouped according to location. One group would sing the weird minor wail for half an hour and then another bunch would break in for a few minutes, only to have still a third delegation snatch the song away from them. So closely did they keep time and so smoothly did one bunch take up where another left off that we, standing less than twenty feet away, could not tell which group was singing except when the Tuba City crowd took up the plaint. Their number was so small that they couldn't get out much noise. The Indians had discarded their civilized garb for the occasion and were clad mostly in atmosphere helped out with a gee-string of calico. Some had streaks of white and black paint on them. I fell to dreaming of what it would have meant to be captured by such demons only a few years ago, and it wasn't long until I lost interest in that scene. I was ready to retreat. We watched the medicine men thump and bang the invalids with bunches of herbs and prayer sticks a few minutes longer; then with Smolley as our guide we wandered over to the Squaw Dance beside another bonfire, located at a decorous distance from the improvised hospital hogan.
The leading squaw, with a big bunch of feathers fastened to a stick, advanced to the fire and made a few impressive gestures. She was garbed in the wide, gathered calico skirt, the velvet basque trimmed with silver buttons, and the high brown moccasins so dear to feminine Navajos. The orchestra was vocal, the bucks again furnishing the music. After circling around the spectators a few times the squaw decided on the man she wanted and with one hand took a firm grasp of his shirt just above the belt. Then she galloped backward around him while he was dragged helplessly about with her, looking as sheepish as the mutton simmering in the kettle. Other squaws picked partners and soon there were numerous couples doing the silly prance. Silly it looked to us, but I thought of a few of our civilized dances and immediately reversed my opinion.
The squaws occasionally prowled around among the spectators, keeping in the shadows and seeking white men for partners. These, mostly cowboys and trading-post managers, were wary, and only one was caught napping. It cost him all the loose silver he had in his pocket to get rid of the tiny fat squaw that had captured him.
We were told that dances and races would continue for several days, and so, firmly bidding good night to Smolley, we went back to camp and fell asleep with the faint hubbub coming to us now and then.
Almost before the Chief had breakfast started the next morning Smolley stepped into the scene and took a prominent seat near the steaming coffeepot. "You arrive early," I remarked. "Now how could you know that breakfast was so near ready?" This last a trifle sarcastically, I fear. "Huh, me, I sleep here," pointing to the side of a rock not ten feet from my own downy bed. That settled me for keeps. I subsided and just gazed with a fatal hypnotism at the flapjacks disappearing down his ample gullet. It was fatal, for while I was spellbound the last one disappeared and I had to make myself some more or go without breakfast. When Smolley had stilled the first fierce pangs of starvation he pulled a pair of moccasins out of the front of his dirty shirt and tossed them to me. (The gesture had somewhat the appearance of tossing a bone to an angry dog.) Anyway the dog was appeased. The moccasins had stiff rawhide soles exactly shaped to fit my foot, and the uppers were soft brown buckskin beautifully tanned. They reached well above the ankles and fastened on the side with three fancy silver buttons made by a native silversmith. A tiny turquoise was set in the top of each button. I marveled at the way they fitted, until the Chief admitted that he had given Smolley one of my boudoir slippers for a sample. Eventually the other slipper went to a boot manufacturer and I became the possessor of real hand-made cowboy boots.
Breakfast disposed of, we mounted and went in search of a rug factory, that being the initial excuse for the journey. A mile or two away we found one in operation. The loom consisted of two small cottonwood trees with cross-beams lashed to them, one at the top and the other at the bottom. A warp frame with four lighter sticks forming a square was fastened within the larger frame. The warp was drawn tight, with the threads crossed halfway to the top. Different-colored yarns were wound on a short stick, and with nimble fingers a squaw wove the pattern. There was no visible pattern for her to follow. She had that all mapped out in her brain, and followed it instinctively. I asked her to describe the way the rug would look when finished, and she said, "No can tell. Me know here," tapping her forehead. I liked the way the weaving was begun, and so I squatted there in the sunshine for two hours trying to get her to talk. Finally I gave her ten dollars for the rug when it should be finished and little by little she began to tell me the things I wanted to know. We made no real progress in our conversation until I learned that she had been a student at Sherman Indian Institute for eight years. When she found that I knew the school well and some of the teachers, a look of discontent and unhappiness came over her face. She said that she had been very, very happy at Sherman. With a wave of her slender brown hand she said: "Look at this!" Her eyes rested with distaste on the flock of sheep grazing near, turned to the mud-daubed hogan behind us, and swept on across the cactus-studded desert. "They teach us to sleep in soft, white beds and to bathe in tile bathtubs. We eat white cooking. We cook on electric stoves. We are white for years, and then they send us back to this! We sleep on the earth, we cook with sheep-dung fires; we have not water even for drinking. We hate our own people, we hate our children when they come!" I was so startled at the outburst. Her English was faultless. I had enough sense to keep still, and she went on more quietly: "When I left Sherman I hoped to marry a boy there who was learning the printer's trade. Then we could have lived as your people do. My father sold me for ten ponies and forty sheep. I am a squaw now. I live as squaws did hundreds of years ago. And so I try to be just a squaw. I hope to die soon." And there it was, just as she said. Turned into a white girl for eight years, given a long glimpse of the Promised Land, then pushed back into slavery. We saw lots of that. It seemed as though the ones that were born and lived and died without leaving the reservation were much happier.
"What is your name?" I asked after we had been silent while her swift, nervous fingers wove a red figure into a white background. "I'm Mollie, Smolley's daughter." So the greedy old dog had sold his own child. That is the usual thing, Mollie said. Girls are sold to the highest bidder, but fortunately there is a saving clause. In case the girl dislikes her husband too much she makes him so miserable he takes her back to her father and they are divorced instantly. The father keeps the wedding gifts and sells her again for more sheep and horses. The flocks really belong to the women, but I can't see what good they do them. The women tend them and shear them and even nurse them. They wash and dye and card and weave the wool into rugs, and then their lordly masters take the rugs and sell them. A part of the money is gambled away on pony races or else beaten into silver jewelry to be turned into more money. A certain number of rugs are turned in to the trading-post for groceries, calico, and velvet. Navajos never set a table or serve a meal. They cook any time there is anything to cook, and then when the grub is done, eat it out of the pot with their fingers. They have no idea of saving anything for the next meal. They gorge like dogs, and then starve perhaps for days afterward.
Mollie had two children, a slim, brown lad perhaps ten years old, who was watching the sheep near by, and a tiny maid of three, sitting silently by her mother. The boy seemed to have inherited some of his mother's rebellion and discontent, but it appeared on his small face as wistfulness. He was very shy, and when I offered him a silver coin he made no move to take it. I closed his fingers around it, and he ran to his mother with the treasure. As he passed me going back to his sheep, he raised his great, sad black eyes and for a second his white teeth flashed in a friendly grin.
The men folks had wandered on to the races a mile away, and Mollie, the babe, and I followed. There was no business of closing up house when we left. She just put the bright wool out of the reach of pack rats and we were ready. I admired her forethought, for only the night before I had lost a cake of soap, one garter, and most of my hairpins. Of course the rat was honest, for he had left a dried cactus leaf, a pine cone, and various assorted sticks and straws in place of what he took. That's why this particularly vexing rodent is called a "trade rat." I used to hear that it takes two to make a bargain. That knowledge has not penetrated into pack-ratdom.
A few Hopi and Supai Indians were darting around on show ponies, spotted and striped "Paints," as they call them. A Navajo lad came tearing down upon us, riding a most beautiful sorrel mare. It seemed that he would ride us down; but I never did run from an Indian, so I stood my ground. With a blood-chilling war whoop he pulled the mare to her haunches and laughed down at me. He was dressed as a white man would be and spoke perfect English. He was just home from Sherman, he explained, and was going to race his mare against the visitors. I took his picture on the mare, and he told me where to send it to him after it was finished. "I hope you win. I'm betting on you for Mollie," I told him and gave him some money. He did win! Around the smooth hillside the ponies swept, and when almost at the goal he leaned forward and whistled in the mare's ear. She doubled up like a jackknife and when she unfolded she was a nose ahead of them all. Every race ended the same way. He told me he won two hundred silver dollars all told. I am wearing a bracelet now made from one of them. Very seldom does one see a rattlesnake portrayed in any Hopi or Navajo work, but I had my heart set on a rattlesnake bracelet. Silversmith after silversmith turned me down flat, until at last Mollie and the boy told me they would see that I got what I wanted. A month later a strange Indian came to my house, handed me a package with a grunt, and disappeared. It was my bracelet. I always wear it to remind me of my visit to Navajo Land.
Chapter VI: "THEY KILLED ME"
White Mountain and I walked out to the cemetery one evening at sunset, and I asked him to tell me about the four sleeping there. One trampled grave, without a marker, was the resting-place of a forest ranger who had died during the flu epidemic. At that time no body could be shipped except in a metal casket, and since it had been impossible to secure one he was buried far from his home and people. The mother wrote she would come and visit the grave as soon as she had enough money, but death took her too and she was spared seeing his neglected grave.
The Chief stood looking down at the third grave, which still held the weather-beaten debris of funeral wreaths.
"Cap Hance is buried here," he said. "He was a dear friend of mine."
From his tone I scented a story, and as we strolled back to Headquarters he told me something of the quaint old character. In the days that followed, I heard his name often. Travelers who had not been at the Canyon for several years invariably inquired for "Cap" as soon as they arrived. I always felt a sense of personal shame when I heard a ranger directing them to his grave. He had begged with his last breath to be buried in the Canyon, or else on the Rim overlooking it. "God willing, and man aiding," as he always said. However, his wish had been ignored, for the regular cemetery is some distance from the Rim.
This Captain John Hance was the first settler on the Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Hance Place is located about three miles east of Grand View Point. Here he built the old Hance Trail into the Canyon, and discovered numerous copper and asbestos mines. Many notables of the early days first saw the Canyon from his home, staging in there from Flagstaff, seventy miles away. He had an inexhaustible fund of stories, mostly made up out of whole cloth. These improbable tales were harmless, however, and in time he became almost an institution at the Canyon. The last years of his life were spent at El Tovar, regaling the tourists with his colorful and imaginary incidents of the wild and woolly days.
He was quite proud of his Munchausenian abilities. Another old-timer at the Canyon, W. W. Bass, who is still alive, was Cap's best friend. Cap Hance was often heard to declare: "There are three liars here at the Canyon; I'm one and Bass is the other two."
Romantic old ladies at El Tovar often pressed him for a story of his early fights with the Indians. Here is one of his experiences:
"Once, a good many years ago when I was on the outs with the Navajos, I was riding the country a few miles back from here looking up some of my loose horses. I happened to cast my eye over to one side and saw a bunch of the red devils out looking for trouble. I saw that I was outnumbered, so I spurred old Roaney down into a draw at the left, hoping that I hadn't been seen. I got down the draw a little piece and thought I had given them the slip, but the yelling told me that they were still after me. I thought I could go down this draw a ways and then circle out and get back to my ranch. But I kept going down the canyon and the walls kept getting steeper and steeper, and narrower and narrower until finally they got so close together that me and Roaney stuck right there."
At this point he always stopped and rolled a cigarette. The ladies were invariably goggle-eyed with excitement and would finally exclaim:
"What happened then, Captain Hance?"
"Oh, they killed me," he'd say simply.
Another time he was again being chased by Indians, and looking back over his shoulder at them, not realizing that he was so near the Rim of the Canyon, his horse ran right up to the edge and jumped off into space.
"I'd a been a goner that time," he said, "if I hadn't a had time to think it over and decide what to do." (He fell something like five thousand feet.) "So when my horse got within about fifteen feet from the ground, I rose up in the stirrups and gave a little hop and landed on the ground. All I got was a twisted ankle."
A lady approached him one day while he stood on the Rim gazing into the mile-deep chasm.
"Captain Hance," she said, "I don't see any water in the Canyon. Is this the dry season, or does it never have any water in it?"
Gazing at her earnestly through his squinty, watery eyes, he exclaimed:
"Madam! In the early days many's the time I have rode my horse up here and let him drink right where we stand!"
The old fellow was a bachelor, but he insisted that in his younger days he had married a beautiful girl. When asked what had become of her he would look mournful and tell a sad tale of her falling over a ledge down in the Canyon when they were on their honeymoon. He said it took him three days to reach her, and that when he did locate her he found she had sustained a broken leg, so he had to shoot her.
As he grew feeble, he seemed to long for the quiet depths of the gorge, and several times he slipped away and tried to follow the old trail he had made in his youth. He wanted to die down at his copper mine. At last, one night when he was near eighty years old, he escaped the vigilance of his friends and with an old burro that had shared his happier days he started down the trail. Ranger West got wind of it and followed him. He found him where he had fallen from the trail into a cactus patch and had lain all night exposed to the raw wind. He was brought back and cared for tenderly, but he passed away. Prominent men and women who had known and enjoyed him made up a fund to buy a bronze plate for his grave. Remembering the size of his yarns, whoever placed the enormous boulders at his head and feet put them nine feet apart.
Halfway between my cabin and the Rim, in the pine woods, is a well-kept grave with a neat stone and an iron fence around it. Here lies the body of United States Senator Ashurst's father, who was an old-timer at the Canyon. Years ago, while working a mine at the bottom of the Canyon, he was caught by a cave-in and when his friends reached him he was dead. They lashed his body on an animal and brought him up the steep trail to be buried. While I was in Washington, Senator Ashurst told me of his father's death and something of his life at the Canyon. He said that often in the rush and worry of capitol life he longed for a few peaceful moments at his father's grave.
I never saw Senator Ashurst at the Grand Canyon, but another senator was there often, stirring up some row or other with the Government men. He seemed to think he owned the Canyon, the sky overhead, the dirt underneath, and particularly the trail thereinto. His hirelings were numerous, and each and every one was primed to worry Uncle Sam's rangers. As dogs were prohibited in the Park, every employee of the Senator's was amply provided with canines. Did the tourists particularly enjoy dismounting for shade and rest at certain spots on the trail, those places were sure to get fenced in and plastered with "Keep Off" signs, under the pretense that they were mining claims and belonged to him. We used to wonder what time this Senator found to serve his constituents.
Uncle Sam grew so weary of contesting every inch of the trail that he set himself to build a way of his own for the people to use. Several men under the direction of Ranger West were set to trail-building. They made themselves a tent city on the north side of the river and packers were kept busy taking mule loads of materials to them daily. Hundreds of pounds of TNT were packed down safely, but one slippery morning the horses which had been pressed into service lost their footing, slid over the edge of the trail, and hit Bright Angel again a thousand feet below. The packers held their breath expecting to be blown away, as two of the horses that fell were loaded with the high explosive. It was several minutes before they dared believe themselves safe. They sent for White Mountain, and when he reached the animals he found they were literally broken to pieces, their packs and cargoes scattered all over the side of the mountain. They dragged the dead animals a few feet and dropped them into a deep fissure which was handy. Fresh snow was scraped over the blood-stained landscape, and when the daily trail party rode serenely down a few minutes later there was nothing to show that a tragedy had taken place.