THE PRICE OF THE PRAIRIE
"AT EVENING TIME IT SHALL BE LIGHT"
THE PRICE OF THE PRAIRIE
A Story Of Kansas
MARGARET HILL McCARTER
Author of "The Cottonwood's Story," "Cuddy's Baby," Etc.
With Five Illustrations in Color by J. N. Marchand
Chicago A. C. McClurg & Co. 1912
Copyright A. C. McClurg & Co. 1910
Published October 8, 1910 Second Edition, October 29, 1910 Third Edition, November 16, 1910 Fourth Edition, December 3, 1910 Fifth Edition, December 10, 1910 Sixth Edition, December 17, 1910 Seventh Edition, January 25, 1911 Eighth Edition, February 25, 1911 Ninth Edition, April 5, 1911 Tenth Edition, May 3, 1911 Eleventh Edition, September 23, 1911 Twelfth Edition, December 9, 1911 Thirteenth Edition, February 17, 1912 Fourteenth Edition, August 10, 1912 Fifteenth Edition, December 28, 1912
Copyrighted in Great Britain
Press of the Vail Company Coshocton, U. S. A.
This little love story of the prairies is dedicated to all who believe that the defence of the helpless is heroism; that the protection of the home is splendid achievement; and, that the storm, and stress, and patient endurance of the day will bring us at last to the peace of the purple twilight.
I Springvale by the Neosho 13
II Jean Pahusca 25
III The Hermit's Cave 32
IV In the Prairie Twilight 43
V A Good Indian 56
VI When the Heart Beats Young 73
VII The Foreshadowing of Peril 85
VIII The Cost of Safety 99
IX The Search for the Missing 114
X O'Mie's Choice 132
XI Golden Days 150
XII A Man's Estate 166
XIII The Topeka Rally 184
XIV Deepening Gloom 200
XV Rockport and "Rockport" 217
XVI Beginning Again 242
XVII In the Valley of the Arickaree 261
XVIII The Sunlight on Old Glory 277
XIX A Man's Business 292
XX The Cleft in the Rock 317
XXI The Call to Service 334
XXII The Nineteenth Kansas Cavalry 354
XXIII In Jean's Land 370
XXIV The Cry of Womanhood 390
XXV Judson Summoned 403
XXVI O'Mie's Inheritance 420
XXVII Sunset by the Sweetwater 442
XXVIII The Heritage 464
"Come, Phil," she cried, "come, crown me Queen of May here in April!" Frontispiece
"Baronet, I think we are marching straight 158 into Hell's jaws"
Every movement of ours had been watched by 244 Indian scouts
Like the passing of a hurricane, horses, mules, 288 men, all dashed toward the place
They came slowly toward us, the two captive 394 women for whom we waited
"Nature never did betray the heart that loved her"
I can hear it always—the Call of the Prairie. The passing of sixty Winters has left me a vigorous man, although my hair is as white as the January snowdrift in the draws, and the strenuous events of some of the years have put a tax on my strength. I shall always limp a little in my right foot—that was left out on the plains one freezing night with nothing under it but the earth, and nothing over it but the sky. Still, considering that although the sixty years were spent mainly in that pioneer time when every day in Kansas was its busy day, I am not even beginning to feel old. Neither am I sentimental and inclined to poetry. Life has given me mostly her prose selections for my study.
But this love of the Prairie is a part of my being. All the comedy and tragedy of these sixty years have had them for a setting, and I can no more put them out of my life than the Scotchman can forget the heather, or the Swiss emigrant in the flat green lowland can forget the icy passes of the glacier-polished Alps. Geography is an element of every man's life. The prairies are in the red corpuscles of my blood. Up and down their rippling billows my memory runs. For always I see them,—green and blossom-starred in the Springtime; or drenched with the driving summer deluge that made each draw a brimming torrent; or golden, purple, and silver-rimmed in the glorious Autumn. I have seen them gray in the twilight, still and tenderly verdant at noonday, and cold and frost-wreathed under the white star-beams. I have seen them yield up their rich yellow sheaves of grain, and I have looked upon their dreary wastes marked with the dull black of cold human blood. Plain practical man of affairs that I am, I come back to the blessed prairies for my inspiration as the tartan warmed up the heart of Argyle.
THE PRICE OF THE PRAIRIE
SPRINGVALE BY THE NEOSHO
Sweeter to me than the salt sea spray, the fragrance of summer rains; Nearer my heart than the mighty hills are the wind-swept Kansas plains. Dearer the sight of a shy wild rose by the road-side's dusty way, Than all the splendor of poppy-fields ablaze in the sun of May. Gay as the bold poinsettia is, and the burden of pepper trees, The sunflower, tawny and gold and brown, is richer to me than these; And rising ever above the song of the hoarse, insistent sea, The voice of the prairie calling, calling me.
—ESTHER M. CLARKE.
Whenever I think of these broad Kansas plains I think also of Marjie. I cannot now remember the time when I did not care for her, but the day when O'mie first found it out is as clear to me as yesterday, although that was more than forty years ago. O'mie was the reddest-haired, best-hearted boy that ever laughed in the face of Fortune and made friends with Fate against the hardest odds. His real name was O'Meara, Thomas O'Meara, but we forgot that years ago.
"If O'mie were set down in the middle of the Sahara Desert," my Aunt Candace used to say, "there'd be an oasis a mile across by the next day noon, with never failing water and green trees right in the middle of it, and O'mie sitting under them drinking the water like it was Irish rum."
O'mie would always grin at this saying and reply that, "by the nixt day noon follerin' that, the rascally gover'mint at Washin'ton would come along an' kick him out into the rid san', claimin' that that particular oasis was an Injun riservation, specially craayted by Providence fur the dirthy Osages,—the bastes!"
O'mie hated the Indians, but he was a friend to all the rest of mankind. Indeed if it had not been for him I should not have had that limp in my right foot, for both of my feet would have been mouldering these many years under the curly mesquite of the Southwest plains. But that comes later.
We were all out on the prairie hunting for our cows that evening—the one when O'mie guessed my secret. Marjie's pony was heading straight to the west, flying over the ground. The big red sun was slipping down a flame-wreathed sky, touching with fire the ragged pennons of a blue-black storm cloud hanging sullenly to the northward, and making an indescribable splendor in the far southwest.
Riding hard after Marjie, coming at an angle from the bluff above the draw, was an Osage Indian, huge as a giant, and frenzied with whiskey. I must have turned a white despairing face toward my comrades, and I was glad afterward that I was against the background of that flaming sunset so that my features were in the shadow. It was then that O'mie, who was nearest me, looking steadily in my eyes said in a low voice:
"Bedad, Phil! so that's how it is wid ye, is it? Then we've got to kill that Injun jist fur grandeur."
I knew O'mie for many years, and I never saw him show a quiver of fear, not even in those long weary days when, white and hollow-cheeked, he waited for his last enemy, Death,—whom he vanquished, looking up into my face with eyes of inexpressible peace, and murmuring softly,
"Safe in the arms of Jasus."
Old men are prone to ramble in their stories, and I am not old. To prove that, I must not jiggle with these heads and tails of Time, but I must begin earlier and follow down these eventful years as if I were a real novel-writer with consecutive chapters to set down.
Springvale by the Neosho was a favorite point for early settlers. It nestled under the sheltered bluff on the west. There were never-failing springs in the rocky outcrop. A magnificent grove of huge oak trees, most rare in the plains country, lined the river's banks and covered the fertile lowlands. It made a landmark of the spot, this beautiful natural forest, and gave it a place on the map as a meeting-ground for the wild tribes long before the days of civilized occupation. The height above the valley commands all that wide prairie that ripples in treeless fertility from as far as even an Indian can see until it breaks off with that cliff that walls the Neosho bottom lands up and down for many a mile. To the southwest the open black lowlands along Fingal's Creek beckoned as temptingly to the settler as did the Neosho Valley itself. The divide between the two, the river and its tributary, coming down from the northwest makes a high promontory. Its eastern side is the rocky ledge of the bluff. On the west it slopes off to the fertile draws of Fingal's Creek, and the sunset prairies that swell up and away beyond them.
Just where the little stream joins the bigger one Springvale took root and flourished amazingly. It was an Indian village site and trading-point since tradition can remember. The old tepee rings show still up in the prairie cornfield where even the plough, that great weapon of civilization and obliteration, has not quite made a dead level of the landmarks of the past. I've bumped across those rings many a time in the days when we went from Springvale up to the Red Range schoolhouse in the broken country where Fingal's Creek has its source. It was the hollow beyond the tepee ring that caused his pony to stumble that night when Jean Pahusca, the big Osage, was riding like fury between me and that blood-red sky.
The early Indians always built on the uplands although the valleys ran close beneath them. They had only arrows and speed to protect them from their foes. It was not until they had the white man's firearms that they dared to make their homes in the lowlands. Black Kettle in the sheltered Washita Valley might never have fallen before General Custer had the Cheyennes kept to the high places after the custom of their fathers. But the early white settlers had firearms and skill in building block-houses, so they took to the valleys near wood and water.
On the day that Kansas became a Territory, my father, John Baronet, with all his household effects started from Rockport, Massachusetts, to begin life anew in the wild unknown West. He was not a poor man, heaven bless his memory! He never knew want except the pinch of pioneer life when money is of no avail because the necessities are out of reach. In the East he had been a successful lawyer and his success followed him. They will tell you in Springvale to-day that "if Judge Baronet were alive and on the bench things would go vastly better," and much more to like effect.
My mother was young and beautiful, and to her the world was full of beauty. Especially did she love the sea. All her life was spent beside it, and it was ever her delight. It must have been from her that my own love of nature came as a heritage to me, giving me capacity to take and keep those prairie scenes of idyllic beauty that fill my memory now.
In the Summer of 1853 my father's maiden sister Candace had come to live with us. Candace Baronet was the living refutation of all the unkind criticism ever heaped upon old maids. She was a strong, comely, unselfish woman who lived where the best thoughts grow.
One day in late October, a sudden squall drove landward, capsizing the dory in which my mother was returning from a visit to old friends on an island off the Rockport coast. She was in sight of home when that furious gust of wind and rain swept across her path. The next morning the little waves rippled musically against the beach whither they had borne my dead mother and left her without one mark of cruel usage. Neither was there any sign of terror on her face, white and peaceful under her damp dark hair.
I know now that my father and his sister tried hard to suppress their sorrow for my sake, but the curtains on the seaward side of the house were always lowered now and my father's face looked more and more to the westward. The sea became an unbearable thing to him. Yet he was a brave, unselfish man and in all the years following that one Winter he lived cheerfully and nobly—a sunshiny life.
In the early Spring he gave up his law practice in Rockport.
"The place for me is on the frontier," he said to my Aunt Candace one day. "I'm sick of the sight of that water. I want to try the prairies and I want to be in the struggle that is beginning beyond the Missouri. I want to do one man's part in the making of the West."
Aunt Candace looked steadily into her brother's face.
"I am sick of the sea, too, John," she said. "Will the prairies be kinder to us, I wonder."
I did not know till long afterward, when the Kansas blue-grass had covered both their graves, that the blue Atlantic had in its keeping the form of the one love of my aunt's life. Rich am I, Philip Baronet, to have had such a father and such a mother-hearted aunt. They made life full and happy for me with never from that day any doleful grieving over the portion Providence had given them. And the blessed prairie did bring them peace. Its spell was like a benediction on their lives who lived to bless many lives.
It was late June when our covered wagon and tired ox-team stopped on the east bluff above the Neosho just outside of Springvale. The sun was dropping behind the prairie far across the river valley when another wagon and ox-team with pioneers like ourselves joined us. They were Irving Whately and his wife and little daughter, Marjory. I was only seven and I have forgotten many things of these later years, but I'll never forget Marjie as I first saw her. She was stiff from long sitting in the big covered wagon, and she stretched her pudgy little legs to get the cramp out of them, as she took in the scene. Her pink sun-bonnet had fallen back and she was holding it by both strings in one hand. Her rough brown hair was all in little blowsy ringlets round her face and the two braids hanging in front of her shoulders ended each in a big blowsy curl. Her eyes were as brown as her hair. But what I noted then and many a time afterward was the exceeding whiteness of her face. From St. Louis I had seen nothing but dark-skinned Mexicans, tanned Missourians, and Indian, Creole, and French Canadian, all coppery or bronze brown, in this land of glaring sunshine. Marjie made me think of Rockport and the pink-cheeked children of the country lanes about the town. But most of all she called my mother back, white and beautiful as she looked in her last peaceful sleep, the day the sea gave her to us again. "Star Face," Jean Pahusca used to call Marjie, for even in the Kansas heat and browning winds she never lost the pink tint no miniature painting on ivory could exaggerate.
We stood looking at one another in the purple twilight.
"What's your name?"
"Marjory Whately. What's yours?"
"Phil Baronet, and I'm seven years old." This, a shade boastingly.
"I'm six," Marjory said. "Are you afraid of Indians?"
"No," I declared. "I won't let the Indians hurt you. Let's run a race," pointing toward where the Neosho lay glistening in the last light of day, a gap in the bluff letting the reflection from great golden clouds illumine its wave-crumpled surface.
We took hold of hands and started down the long slope together, but our parents called us back. "Playmates already," I heard them saying.
In the gathering evening shadows we all lumbered down the slope to the rock-bottomed ford and up into the little hamlet of Springvale.
That night when I said my prayers to Aunt Candace I cried softly on her shoulder. "Marjie makes me homesick," I sobbed, and Aunt Candace understood then and always afterward.
The very air about Springvale was full of tradition. The town had been from the earliest times a landmark of the old Santa Fe trail. When the freighters and plainsmen left the village and climbed to the top of the slope and set their faces to the west there lay before them only the wilderness wastes. Here Nature, grown miserly, offered not even a stick of timber to mend a broken cart-pole in all the thousand miles between the Neosho and the Spanish settlement of New Mexico.
Here the Indians came with their furs and beaded garments to exchange for firearms and fire-water. People fastened their doors at night for a purpose. No curfew bell was needed to call in the children. The wooded Neosho Valley grew dark before the evening lights had left the prairies beyond the west bluff, and the waters that sang all day a song of cheer as they rippled over the rocky river bed seemed always after nightfall to gurgle murderously as they went their way down the black-shadowed valley.
The main street was as broad as an Eastern boulevard. Space counted for nothing in planning towns in a land made up of distances. At the end of this street stood the "Last Chance" general store, the outpost of civilization. What the freighter failed to get here he would do without until he stood inside the brown adobe walls of the old city of Santa Fe. Tell Mapleson, the proprietor of the "Last Chance," was a tall, slight, restless man, quick-witted, with somewhat polished manners and a gift of persuasion in his speech.
Near this store was Conlow's blacksmith shop, where the low-browed, black-eyed Conlow family have shod horses and mended wagons since anybody can remember. They were the kind of people one instinctively does not trust, and yet nobody could find a true bill against them. The shop had thick stone walls. High up under the eaves on the north side a long narrow slit, where a stone was missing, let out a bar of sullen red light. Old Conlow did not know about that chink for years, for it was only from the bluff above the town that the light could be seen.
Our advent in Springvale was just at the time of its transition from a plains trading-post to a Territorial town with ambition for settlement and civilization. I can see now that John Baronet deserved the place he came to hold in that frontier community, for he was a State-builder.
"I should feel more dacent fur all etarnity jist to be buried in the same cimet'ry wid Judge Bar'net," O'mie once declared. "I should walk into kingdom-come, dignified and head up, saying to the kaper av the pearly gates, kind o' careless-like, 'I'm from that little Kansas town av Springvale an' ye'll check up my mortial remains over in the cimet'ry, be my neighbor, Judge Bar'net, if ye plaze.'"
It was O'mie's way of saying what most persons of the community felt toward my father from the time he drove into Springvale in the purple twilight of that June evening in 1854.
Irving Whately's stock of merchandise was installed in the big stone building on the main corner of the village, where the straggling Indian trails from the south and the trail from the new settlement out on Fingal's Creek converged on the broad Santa Fe trail. Amos Judson, a young settler, became his clerk and general helper. In the front room over this store was John Baronet's law office, and his sign swinging above Whately's seemed always to link those two names together.
Opposite this building was the village tavern. It was a wide two-story structure, also of stone, set well back from the street, with a double veranda along the front and the north side. A huge oak tree grew before it, and a flagstone walk led up to the veranda steps. In big black lettering its inscription over the door told the wayfarer on the old trail that this was
THE CAMBRIDGE HOUSE. C. C. GENTRY, PROP.
Cam Gentry (his real name was Cambridge, christened from the little Indiana town of Cambridge City) was a good-souled, easy-going man, handicapped for life by a shortness of vision no spectacle lens could overcome. It might have been disfiguring to any other man, but Cam's clear eye at close range, and his comical squint and tilt of the head to study out what lay farther away, were good-natured and unique. He was in Kansas for the fun of it, while his wife, Dollie, kept tavern from pure love of cooking more good things to eat than opportunity afforded in a home. She was a Martha whose kitchen was "dukedom large enough." Whatever motive, fine or coarse, whatever love of spoils or love of liberty, brought other men hither, Cam had come to see the joke—and he saw it. While as to Dollie, "Lord knows," she used to say, "there's plenty of good cooks in old Wayne County, Indiany; but if they can get anything to eat out here they need somebody to cook it for 'em, and cook it right."
Doing chores about the tavern for his board and keep was the little orphan boy, Thomas O'Meara, whose story I did not know for many years. We called him O'mie. That was all. Marjie and O'mie and Mary Gentry, Cam and Dollie's only child, were my first Kansas playmates. Together we waded barefoot in the shallow ripples of the Neosho, and little by little we began to explore that wide, sweet prairie land to the west. There was just one tree standing up against the horizon; far away to us it seemed, a huge cottonwood, that kept sentinel guard over the plains from the highest level of the divide.
Whately built a home a block or more beyond that of his young clerk, Amos Judson. It was farther up the slope than any other house in Springvale except my father's. That was on the very crest of the west bluff, overlooking the Neosho Valley. It fronted the east, and across the wide street before it the bluff broke precipitously four hundred feet to the level floor of the valley below. Sometimes the shelving rocks furnished a footing where one could clamber down half way and walk along the narrow ledge. Here were cunning hiding-places, deep crevices, and vine-covered heaps of jagged stone outcrop invisible from the height above or the valley below. It was a bit of rugged, untamable cliff rarely found in the plains country; and it broke so suddenly from the level promontory sloping down to the south and away to the west, that a stranger sitting by our east windows would never have guessed that the seeming bushes peering up across the street were really the tops of tall trees with their roots in the side of the bluff not half way to the bottom.
From our west window the green glory of the plains spread out to the baths of sunset. No wonder this Kansas land is life of my life. The sea is to me a wavering treachery, but these firm prairies are the joy of my memory.
Our house was of stone with every corner rounded like a turret wall. It was securely built against the winter winds that swept that bluff when the Kansas blizzard unchained its fury, for it stood where it caught the full wrath of the elements. It caught, too, the splendor of all the sunrise beyond the mist-filled valley, and the full moon in the level east above the oak treetops made a dream of chastened glory like the silver twilight gleams in Paradise.
"I want to watch the world coming and going," my father said when his house was finished; "and it is coming down that Santa Fe trail. It is State-making that is begun here. The East doesn't understand it yet, outside of New England. And these Missourians, Lord pity them! they think they can kill human freedom with a bullet, like thrusting daggers into the body of Julius Caesar to destroy the Roman Empire. What do they know of the old Puritan blood, and the strength of the grip of a Massachusetts man? Heaven knows where they came from, these Missouri ruffians; but," he added, "the devil has it arranged where they will go to."
"Oh, John, be careful," exclaimed Aunt Candace.
"Are you afraid of them, Candace?"
"Well, no, I don't believe I am," replied my aunt.
She was not one of those blustering north-northwest women. She squared her life by the admonition of Isaiah, "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength." But she was a Baronet, and although they have their short-comings, fear seems to have been left out of their make-up.
In even savage bosoms There are longings, yearnings, strivings For the good they comprehend not.
The frontier broke all lines of caste. There was no aristocrat, autocrat, nor plutocrat in Springvale; but the purest democracy was among the children. Life was before us; we loved companionship, and the same dangers threatened us all. The first time I saw Marjie she asked, "Are you afraid of Indians?" They were the terror of her life. Even to-day the mere press despatch of an Indian uprising in Oklahoma or Arizona will set the blood bounding through my veins and my first thought is of her.
I shall never forget the day my self-appointed guardianship of her began. Before we had a schoolhouse, Aunt Candace taught the children of the community in our big living-room. One rainy afternoon, late in the Fall, the darkness seemed to drop down suddenly. We could not see to study, and we were playing boisterously about the benches of our improvised schoolroom, Marjie, Mary Gentry, Lettie and Jim Conlow, Tell Mapleson,—old Tell's boy,—O'mie, both the Mead boys, and the four Anderson children. Suddenly Marjie, who was watching the rain beating against the west window, called, "Phil, come here! What is that long, narrow, red light down by the creek?"
Marjie had the softest voice. Amid the harsh jangle of the Andersons and Bill Mead's big whooping shouts it always seemed like music to me. I stared hard at the sullen block of flame in the evening shadows.
"I don't know what it is," I said.
She slipped her fingers into the pocket of my coat as I turned away, and her eyes looked anxiously into mine. "Could it be an Indian camp-fire?" she queried.
I looked again, flattening my nose against the window pane. "I don't know, Marjie, but I'll find out. Maybe it's somebody's kitchen fire down west. I'll ask O'mie."
In truth, that light had often troubled me. It did not look like the twinkling candle-flare I could see in so many windows of the village. I turned to O'mie, who, with his face to the wall, waited in a game of hide-and-seek. Before I could call him Marjie gave a low cry of terror. We all turned to her in an instant, and I saw outside a dark face close against the window. It was gone so quickly that only O'mie and I caught sight of it.
"What was it, Marjie?" the children cried.
"An Indian boy," gasped Marjie. "He was right against the window."
"I'll bet it was a spook," shouted Bill Mead.
"I'll bet it wasn't nothin' at all," grinned Jim Conlow. "Possum Conlow" we called him for that secretive grin on his shallow face.
"I'll bet it wath a whole gang of Thiennes," lisped tow-headed Bud Anderson.
"They ain't no Injuns nearer than the reserve down the river, and ain't been no Injuns in Springvale for a long time, 'cept annuity days," declared Tell Mapleson.
"Well, let's foind out," shouted O'mie, "I ain't afraid av no Injun."
"Neither am I," I cried, starting after O'mie, who was out of the door at the word.
But Marjie caught my arm, and held it.
"Let O'mie go. Don't go, Phil, please don't."
I can see her yet, her brown eyes full of pleading, her soft brown hair in rippling waves about her white temples. Did my love for her spring into being at that instant? I cannot tell. But I do know that it was a crucial moment for me. Sixty years have I seen, and my life has grown practical and barren of sentiment. But I know that the boy, Phil Baronet, who stood that evening with Marjie and the firelight and safety on one side, and darkness and uncertainty on the other, had come to one of those turning-points in a life, unrecognized for the time, whose decision controls all the years that follow. For suddenly came the query "How can I best take care of her? Shall I stay with her in the light, or go into the dark and strike the danger out of it?" I didn't frame all this into words. It was all only an intense feeling, but the mental judgment was very real. I turned from her and cleared the doorstep at a leap, and in a moment was by O'mie's side, chasing down the hill-slope toward town.
We never thought to run to the bluff's edge and clamber down the shelving, precipitous sides. Here was the only natural hiding-place, but like children we all ran the other way. When we had come in again with the report of "No enemy in sight," and had shut the door against the rain, I happened to glance out of the east window. Climbing up to the street from the cliff I saw the lithe form of a young Indian. He came straight to the house and stood by the east window where he could see inside. Then with quick, springing step he walked down the slope. I crossed to the west window and watched him shutting out that red bar of light now and then, till he melted into the shadows.
Meanwhile the children were chattering like sparrows and had not noticed me.
"Would you know it, Marjie, if you thaw it again?" lisped Bud Anderson.
"Oh, yes! His hair was straight across like this." Marjie drew one hand across her curl-shaded forehead, to show how square the black hair grew about the face she had seen.
"That's nothin'," said Bill Mead. "They change scalps every time they catch a white man,—just take their own off an' put his on, an' it grows. There's lots of men in Kansas look like white men's just Injuns growed a white scalp on 'em."
"Really, is there?" asked Mary Gentry credulously.
"Sure, I've seen 'em," went on Bill with a boy's love of that kind of lying.
"Wouldn't a Injun look funny with my thcalp?" Bud Anderson put in. "I'll bet I'm jutht a Injun mythelf."
"Then you've got some little baby girl's scalp," grinned Jim Conlow.
"'Tain't no 'pothum'th, anyhow," rejoined Bud; and we laughed our fears away.
That evening Aunt Candace sent me home with Marjie to take some fresh doughnuts to Mrs. Whately. I can see the little girl now as we splashed sturdily down Cliff Street through the wet gloom, her face like a white blossom in the shadowy twilight, her crimson jacket open at the throat, and the soft little worsted scarf about her damp fluffy curls making a glow of rich coloring in the dim light.
"You'll never let the Indians get you, will you, Phil?" she asked, when we stood a moment by the bushes just at the steepest bend of the street.
I stood up proudly. I was growing very fast in this gracious climate. "The finest-built boy in Springvale," the men called me. "No, Marjie. The Indians won't get me, nor anybody else I don't want them to have."
She drew close to me, and I caught her hand in mine a moment. Then, boylike, I flipped her heavy braid of hair over her shoulder and shook the wettest bushes till their drops scattered in a shower about her. Something, a dog we thought, suddenly slid out from the bush and down the cliff-side. When I started home after delivering the cakes, Marjie held the candle at the door to light my way. As I turned at the edge of the candle's rays to wave my hand, I saw her framed in the doorway. Would that some artist could paint that picture for me now!
"I'll whistle up by the bushes," I cried, and strode into the dark.
On the bend of the crest, where the street drops down almost too steep for a team of horses to climb, I turned and saw Marjie's light in the window, and the shadow of her head on the pane. I gave a long, low whistle, the signal call we had for our own. It was not an echo, it was too near and clear, the very same low call in the bushes just over the cliff beside me as though some imitator were trying to catch the notes. A few feet farther on my path I came face to face with the same Indian whom I had seen an hour before. He strode by me in silence.
Without once looking back I said to myself, "If you aren't afraid of me, I'm not afraid of you. But who gave that whistle, I wonder. That's my call to Marjie."
"Marjie's awful 'fraid of Injuns," I said to Aunt Candace that night. "Didn't want me to find who it was peeked, but I went after him, clear down to Amos Judson's house, because I thought that was the best way, if it was an Injun. She isn't afraid of anything else. She's the only girl that can ride Tell Mapleson's pony, and only O'mie and Tell and I among the boys can ride him. And she killed the big rattlesnake that nearly had Jim Conlow, killed it with a hoe. And she can climb where no other girl dares to, on the bluff below town toward the Hermit's Cave. But she's just as 'fraid of an Injun! I went to hunt him, though."
"And you did just right, Phil. The only way to be safe is to go after what makes you afraid. I guess, though, there really was nobody. It was just Marjie's imagination, wasn't it?"
"Yes, there was, Auntie; I saw him climb up from the cliff over there and go off down the hill after we came in."
"Why didn't you say so?" asked my aunt.
"We couldn't get him, and it would have scared Marjie," I answered.
"That's right, Phil. You are a regular Kansas boy, you are. The best of them may claim to come from Massachusetts,"—with a touch of pride,—"but no matter where they come from, they must learn how to be quick-witted and brave and manly here in Kansas. It's what all boys need to be here."
A few days later the door of our schoolroom opened and an Indian boy strode in and seated himself on the bench beside Tell Mapleson. He was a lad of fifteen, possibly older. His dress was of the Osage fashion and round his neck he wore a string of elk teeth. His face was thoroughly Indian, yet upon his features something else was written. His long black hair was a shade too jetty and soft for an Indian's, and it grew squarely across his forehead, suggesting the face of a French priest. We children sat open-mouthed. Even Aunt Candace forgot herself a moment. Bud Anderson first found his voice.
"Well, I'll thwan!" he exclaimed in sheer amazement.
Bill Mead giggled and that broke the spell.
"How do you do?" said my aunt kindly.
"How," replied the young brave.
"What is your name, and what do you want?" asked our teacher.
"Jean Pahusca. Want school. Want book—" He broke off and finished in a jargon of French and Indian.
"Where is your home, your tepee?" queried Aunt Candace.
The Indian only shook his head. Then taking from his beads a heavy silver cross, crudely shaped and wrought, he rose and placed it on the table. Taking up a book at the same time he seated himself to study like the rest of us.
"He has paid his tuition," said my aunt, smiling. "We'll let him stay."
So Jean Pahusca was established in our school.
THE HERMIT'S CAVE
The secret which the mountains kept The river never told.
The bluff was our continual delight. It was so difficult, so full of surprises, so enchanting in its dangers. All manner of creeping things in general, and centipedes and rattlesnakes in particular, made their homes in its crevices. Its footing was perilous to the climber, and its hiding-places had held outlaws and worse. Then it had its haunted spots, where tradition told of cruel tragedies in days long gone by; and of the unknown who had found here secret retreat, who came and went, leaving never a name to tell whom they were nor what their story might be. All these the old cliff had in its keeping for the sturdy boys and girls of parents who had come here to conquer the West.
Just below the town where the Neosho swings away to the right, the bottom lands narrow down until the stream sweeps deep and swift against a stone wall almost two hundred feet in height. From the top of the cliff here the wall drops down nearly another hundred feet, leaving an inaccessible heap of rough cavernous rocks in the middle stratum.
Had the river been less deep and dangerous we could not have gotten up from below; while to come down from above might mean a fall of three hundred feet or more to the foam-torn waters and the jagged rocks beneath them. Here a stranger hermit had hidden himself years before. Nobody knew his story, nor how he had found his way hither, for he spoke in a strange tongue that nobody could interpret. That this inaccessible place was his home was certain. Boys bathing in the shallows up-stream sometimes caught a glimpse of him moving about among the bushes. And sometimes at night from far to the east a light could be seen twinkling half way up the dark cliff-side. Every boy in Springvale had an ambition to climb to the Hermit's Cave and explore its mysteries; for the old man died as he had lived, unknown. One winter day his body was found on the sand bar below the rapids where the waters had carried him after his fall from the point of rock above the deep pool. There was no mark on his coarse clothing to tell a word of his story, and the Neosho kept his secret always.
What boy after that would not have braved any danger to explore the depths of this hiding-place? But we could not do it. Try as we might, the hidden path leading up, or down, baffled us.
After Jean Pahusca came into our school we had a new interest and for a time we forgot that tantalizing river wall below town. Jean was irregular in his attendance and his temper. He learned quickly, for an Indian. Sometimes he was morose and silent; sometimes he was affable and kind, chatting among us like one of our own; and sometimes he found the white man's fire-water. Then he murdered as he went. He was possessed of a demon to kill, kill the moment he became drunk. Every living thing in his way had to flee or perish then. He would stop in his mad chase to crush the life out of a sleeping cat, or to strike at a bird or a chicken. Whiskey to him meant death, as we learned to our sorrow. Nobody knew where he lived. He dressed like an Osage but he was supposed to make his home with the Kaws, whose reservation was much nearer to us. Sometimes in the cool weather he slept in our sheds. In warm weather he lay down on the ground wherever he chose to sleep. There was a fascination about him unlike all the other Indians who came up to the village, many of whom we knew. He could be so gentle and winning in his manner at times, one forgot he was an Indian. But the spirit of the Red Man was ever present to overcome the strange European mood in a moment.
"He's no Osage, that critter ain't," Cam Gentry said to a group on his tavern veranda one annuity day when the tribes had come to town for their quarterly allowances. "He's second cousin on his father's side to some French missionary, you bet your life. He's got a gait like a Jessut priest. An' he's not Osage on't other side, neither. I'll bet his mother was a Kiowa, an' that means his maternal grandad was a rattlesnake, even if his paternal grandpop was a French markis turned religious an' gone a-missionaryin' among the red heathen. You dig fur enough into that buck's hide an' you'll find cussedness big as a sheep, I'm tellin' you."
"Where does he live?" inquired my father.
"Lord knows!" responded Cam. "Down to the Kaws' nests, I reckon."
"He was cuttin' east along the Fingal Creek bluff after he'd made off to the southwest, the other night, when I was after the cows," broke in O'mie, who was sitting on the lowest step listening with all his ears. "Was cuttin' straight to the river. Only that's right by the Hermit's Cave an' he couldn't cross to the Osages there."
"Reckon he zigzagged back to town to get somethin' he forgot at Conlow's shop," put in Cam. "Didn't find any dead dogs nor children next mornin', did ye, O'mie?"
Conlow kept the vilest whiskey ever sold to a poor drink-thirsty Redskin. Everybody knew it except those whom the grand jury called into counsel. I saw my father's brow darken.
"Conlow will meet his match one of these days," he muttered.
"That's why we are runnin' you for judge," said Cam. "This cussed country needs you in every office it's got to clean out that gang that robs an' cheats the Injuns, an' then makes 'em ravin' crazy with drinkin'. They's more 'n Conlow to blame, though, Judge. Keep one eye on the Government agents and Indian traders."
"I wonder where Jean did go anyhow," O'mie whispered to me. "Let's foind out an' give him a surprise party an' a church donation some night."
"What does he come here so much for, anyhow?" I questioned.
"I don't know," replied O'mie. "Why can't he stay Injun? What'll he do wid the greatest common divisor an' the indicative mood an' the Sea of Azov, an' the Zambezi River, when he's learned 'em, anyhow? Phil, begorra, I b'lave that cussed Redskin is in this town fur trouble, an' you jist remember he'll git it one av these toimes. He ain't natural Injun. Uncle Cam is right. He's not like them Osages that comes here annuity days. All that's Osage about him is his clothes."
While we were talking, Jean Pahusca came silently into the company and sat down under the oak tree shading the walk. He never looked less like an Indian than he did that summer morning lounging lazily in the shade. The impenetrable savage face had now an expression of ease and superior self-possession, making it handsome. Unlike the others of his race who came and went about Springvale, Jean's trappings were always bright and fresh, and his every muscle had the poetry of motion. In all our games he was an easy victor. He never clambered about the cliff as we did, he simply slid up and down like a lizard. Jim Conlow was built to race, but Jean skimmed the ground like a bird. He could outwrestle every boy except O'mie (nobody had ever held that Irishman if he wanted to get away), and his grip was like steel. We all fought him by turns and he defeated everyone until my turn came. From me he would take no chance of defeat, however much the boys taunted him with being afraid of Phil Baronet. For while he had a quickness that I lacked, I knew I had a muscular strength he could not break. I disliked him at first on Marjie's account; and when she grew accustomed to his presence and almost forgot her fear, I detested him. And never did I dislike him so much before as on this summer morning when we sat about the shady veranda of the Cambridge House. Nobody else, however, gave any heed to the Indian boy picturesquely idling there on the blue-grass.
Down the street came Lettie Conlow and Mary Gentry with Marjory Whately, all chatting together. They turned at the tavern oak and came up the flag-stone walk toward the veranda. I could not tell you to-day what my lady wears in the social functions where I sometimes have the honor to be a guest. I am a man, and silks and laces confuse me. Yet I remember three young girls in a frontier town more than forty years ago. Mary Gentry was slender—"skinny," we called her to tease her. Her dark-blue calico dress was clean and prim. Lettie Conlow was fat. Her skin was thick and muddy, and there was a brown mole below her ear. Her black, slick braids of hair were my especial dislike. She had no neck to speak of, and when she turned her head the creases above her fat shoulders deepened. I might have liked Lettie but for her open preference for me. Everybody knew this preference, and she annoyed me exceedingly. This morning she wore a thin old red lawn cut down from her mother's gown. A ruffle of the same lawn flopped about her neck. As they came near, her black eyes sought mine as usual, but I saw only the floppy red ruffle—and Marjie. Marjie looked sweet and cool in a fresh starched gingham, with her round white arms bare to the elbows, and her white shapely neck, with its dainty curves and dimples. The effect was heightened by the square-cut bodice, with its green and white gingham bands edged with a Hamburg something, narrow and spotless. How unlike she was to Lettie in her flimsy trimmings! Marjie's hair was coiled in a knot on the top of her head, and the little ringlets curved about her forehead and at the back of her neck. Somehow, with her clear pink cheeks and that pale green gown, I could think only of the wild roses that grew about the rocks on the bluff this side of the Hermit's Cave.
Marjie smiled kindly down at Jean as she passed him. There was always a tremor of fear in that smile; and he knew it and gloried in it.
"Good-morning, Jean," she said in that soft voice I loved to hear.
"Good-morning, Star-face," Jean smiled back at her; and his own face was transfigured for the instant, as his still black eyes followed her. The blood in my veins turned to fire at that look. Our eyes met and for one long moment we gazed steadily at each other. As I turned away I saw Lettie Conlow watching us both, and I knew instinctively that she and Jean Pahusca would sometime join forces against me.
"Well, if you lassies ain't a sight good for sore eyes, I'll never tell it," Cam shouted heartily, squinting up at the girls with his good-natured glance. "You're cool as October an' twicet as sweet an' fine. Go in and let Dollie give you some hot berry pie."
"To cool 'em off," O'mie whispered in my ear. "Nothin' so coolin' as a hot berry pie in July. Let's you and me go to the creek an' thaw out."
That evening Jean Pahusca found the jug supposed to be locked in Conlow's chest of tools inside his shop. I had found where that red forge light came from, and had watched it from my window many a night. When it winked and blinked, I knew somebody inside the shop was passing between it and the line of the chink. I did not speak of it. I was never accused of telling all I knew. My father often said I would make a good witness for my attorney in a suit at law.
Among the Indians who had come for their stipend on this annuity day was a strong young Osage called Hard Rope, who always had a roll of money when he went out of town. I remember that night my father did not come home until very late; and when Aunt Candace asked him if there was anything the matter, I heard him answer carelessly:
"Oh, no. I've been looking after a young Osage they call Hard Rope, who needed me."
I was sleepy, and forgot all about his words then. Long afterwards I had good reason for knowing through this same Hard Rope, how well an Indian can remember a kindness. He never came to Springvale again. And when I next saw him I had forgotten that I had ever known him before. However, I had seen the blinking red glare down the slope that evening and I knew something was going on. Anyhow, Jean Pahusca, crazed with drink, had stolen Tell Mapleson's pony and created a reign of terror in the street until he disappeared down the trail to the southwest.
"It's a wonder old Tell doesn't shoot that Injun," Irving Whately remarked to a group in his store. "He's quick enough with firearms."
"Well," said Cam Gentry, squinting across the counter with his shortsighted eyes, "there's somethin' about that 'Last Chance' store and about this town I don't understand. There's a nigger in the wood-pile, or an Injun in the blankets, somewhere. I hope it won't be long till this thing is cleared up and we can know whether we do know anything, or don't know it. I'm gettin' mystifieder daily." And Cam sat down chuckling.
"Anyhow, we won't see that Redskin here for a spell, I reckon," broke in Amos Judson, Whately's clerk. And with this grain of comfort, we forgot him for a time.
One lazy Saturday afternoon in early August, O'mie and I went for a swim on the sand-bar side of the Deep Hole under the Hermit's Cave. I had something to tell O'mie. All the boys trusted him with their confidences. We had slid quietly down the river; somehow, it was too hot to be noisy, and we were lying on a broad, flat stone letting the warm water ripple over us. A huge bowlder on the sand just beyond us threw a sort of shadow over our brown faces as we rested our heads on the sand.
"O'mie," I began, "I saw something last night."
"Well, an' phwat did somethin' do to you?" He was blowing at the water, which was sliding gently over his chest.
"That's what I want to tell you if you will shut up that red flannel mouth a minute."
"The crimson fabric is now closed be order av the Coort," grinned O'mie.
"O'mie, I waked up suddenly last night. It was clear moonlight, and I looked out of the window. There right under it, on a black pony just like Tell Mapleson's, was Jean Pahusca. He was staring up at the window. He must have seen me move for he only stayed a minute and then away he went. I watched him till he had passed Judson's place and was in the shadows beyond the church. He had on a new red blanket with a circle of white right in the middle, a good target for an arrow, only I'd never sneak up behind him. If I fight him I'll do it like a white man, from the front."
"Then ye'll be dead like a white man, from the front clear back," declared O'mie. "But hadn't ye heard? This mornin' ould Tell was showin' Tell's own pony he said he brought back from down at Westport. He got home late las' night. An' Tell, he pipes up an' says, 'There was a arrow fastened in its mane when I see it this mornin', but his dad took no notice whatsoever av the boy's sayin'; just went on that it was the one Jean Pahusca had stole when he was drunk last. What does it mean, Phil? Is Jean hidin' out round here again? I wish the cuss would go to Santy Fee with the next train down the trail an' go to Spanish bull fightin'. He's just cut out for that, begorra; fur he rides like a Comanche. It ud be a sort av disgrace to the bull though. I've got nothin' agin bulls."
"O'mie, I don't understand; but let's keep still. Some day when he gets so drunk he'll kill one of the grand jury, maybe the rest of them and the coroner can indict him for something."
We lay still in the warm water. Sometimes now in the lazy hot August afternoons I can hear the rippling song of the Neosho as it prattled and gurgled on its way. Suddenly O'mie gave a start and in a voice low and even but intense he exclaimed:
"For the Lord's sake, wud ye look at that? And kape still as a snake while you're doin' it."
Lying perfectly still, I looked keenly about me, seeing nothing unusual.
"Look up across yonder an' don't bat an eye," said O'mie, low as a whisper.
I looked up toward the Hermit's Cave. Sitting on a point of rock overhanging the river was an Indian. His back was toward us and his brilliant red blanket had a white circle in the centre.
"He's not seen us, or he'd niver set out there like that," and O'mie breathed easier. "He could put an arrow through us here as aisy as to snap a string, an' nobody'd live to tell the tale. Phil Bar'net, he's kapin' den in that cave, an' the devil must have showed him how to git up there."
A shout up-stream told of other boys coming down to our swimming place. You have seen a humming bird dart out of sight. So the Indian on the rock far above us vanished at that sound.
"That's Bill Mead comin'; I know his whoop. I wish I knew which side av that Injun's head his eyes is fastened on," said O'mie, still motionless in the water. "If he's watchin' us up there, I'm a turtle till the sun goes down."
A low peal of thunder rolled out of the west and a heavy black cloud swept suddenly over the sun. The blue shadow of the bluff fell upon the Neosho and under its friendly cover we scrambled into our clothes and scudded out of sight among the trees that covered the east bottom land.
"Now, how did he ever get to that place, O'mie?" I questioned.
"I don't know. But if he can get there, I can too."
Poor O'mie! he did not know how true a prophecy he was uttering.
"Let's kape this to oursilves, Phil," counselled my companion. "If too many knows it Tell may lose another pony, or somebody's dead dog may float down the stream like the ould hermit did. Let's burn him out av there oursilves. Then we can adorn our own tepee wid that soft black La Salle-Marquette-Hennepin French scalp."
I agreed, and we went our way burdened by a secret dangerous but fascinating to boys like ourselves.
IN THE PRAIRIE TWILIGHT
The spacious prairie is helper to a spacious life. Big thoughts are nurtured here, with little friction.
By the time I was fifteen I was almost as tall and broad-shouldered as my father. Boy-like, I was prodigal of my bounding vigor, which had not tempered down to the strength of my mature manhood. It was well for me that a sobering responsibility fell on me early, else I might have squandered my resources of endurance, and in place of this sturdy story-teller whose sixty years sit lightly on him, there would have been only a ripple in the sod of the curly mesquite on the Plains and a little heap of dead dust, turned to the inert earth again. The West grows large men, as it grows strong, beautiful women; and I know that the boys and girls then differed only in surroundings and opportunity from the boys and girls of Springvale to-day. Life is finer in its appointments now; but I doubt if it is any more free or happy than it was in those days when we went to oyster suppers and school exhibitions up in the Red Range neighborhood. Among us there was the closest companionship, as there needs must be in a lonely and spacious land. What can these lads and lasses of to-day know of a youth nurtured in the atmosphere of peril and uncertainty such as every one of us knew in those years of border strife and civil war? Sometimes up here, when I see the gay automobile parties spinning out upon the paved street and over that broad highway miles and miles to the west, I remember the time when we rode our Indian ponies thither, and the whole prairie was our boulevard.
Marjie could ride without bridle or saddle, and she sat a horse like a cattle queen. The four Anderson children were wholesome and good-natured, as they were good scholars, and they were good riders. They were all tow-headed and they all lisped, and Bud was the most hopeless case among them. Flaxen-haired, baby-faced youngster that he was, he was the very first in all our crowd to learn to drop on the side of his pony and ride like a Comanche. O'mie and I also succeeded in learning that trick; Tell Mapleson broke a collar-bone, attempting it; and Jim Conlow, as O'mie said, "knocked the 'possum' aff his mug thryin' to achave the art." He fractured the bones of his nose, making his face a degree more homely than it was before. Then there were the Mead boys to be counted on everywhere. Dave went West years ago, made his fortune, and then began to traffic with the Orient. His name is better known in Hong-Kong now than it is in Springvale. He never married, and it used to be said that a young girl's grave up in the Red Range graveyard held all his hope and love. I do not know; for he left home the year I came up to Topeka to enlist, and Springvale was like the bitter waters of Marah to my spirit. But that comes later.
Bill Mead married Bessie Anderson, and the seven little tow-headed Meads, stair-stepping down the years, played with the third generation here as we used to play in the years gone by. Bill is president of the bank on the corner where the old Whately store stood and is a share-holder in several big Kansas City concerns. Bessie lost her rosy cheeks years ago, but she has her seven children; the youngest of them, Phil, named for me, will graduate from the Kansas University this year. Lettie Conlow was always on the uncertain list with us. No Conlow could do much with a horse except to put shoes under it. It was a trick of hers to lag behind and call to me to tighten a girth, while Marjie raced on with Dave Mead or Tell Mapleson. Tell liked Lettie, and it rasped my spirit to be made the object of her preference and his jealousy. Once when we were alone his anger boiled hot, and he shook his fist at me and cried:
"You mean pup! You want to take my girl from me. I can lick you, and I'm going to do it."
I was bigger than Tell, and he knew my strength.
"I wish to goodness you would," I said. "I'd rather be licked than to have a girl I don't care for always smiling at me."
Tell's face fell, and he grinned sheepishly.
"Don't you really care for Lettie, Phil? She says you like Bess Anderson."
Was that a trick of Lettie's to put Marjie out of my thought, I wondered, or did she really know my heart? I distrusted Lettie. She was so like her black-eyed father. But I had guarded my own feelings, and the boys and girls had not guessed what Marjie was to me.
It was about this time that Father Le Claire, a French priest who had been a missionary in the Southwest, began to come and go about Springvale. His work lay mostly with the Osages farther down the Neosho, but he labored much among the Kaws. He was a kindly-spirited man, reserved, but gentle and courteous ever, and he was very fond of children. He was always in town on annuity days, when the tribes came up for their quarterly stipend from the Government. Mapleson was the Indian agent. The "Last Chance," unable to compete with its commercial rival, the Whately house, had now a drug store in the front, a harness shop in the rear and a saloon in the cellar. It was to this "Last Chance" that the Indians came for their money; and it was Father Le Claire who piloted many of them out to the trails leading southward and started them on the way to their villages, sober and possessed of their Government allowance or its equivalent in honest merchandise.
From the first visit the good priest took to Jean Pahusca, and he helped to save the young brave from many a murdering spell.
To O'mie and myself, however, remained the resolve to drive him from Springvale; for, boylike, we watched him more closely than the men did, and we knew him better. He was not the only one of our town who drank too freely. Four decades ago the law was not the righteous force it is to-day, and we looked upon many sights which our children, thank Heaven, never see in Kansas.
"Keep out of that Redskin's way when he's drunk," was Cam Gentry's advice to us. "You know he'd scalp his grandmother if he could get hold of her then."
We kept out of his way, but we bided our time.
Father Le Claire had another favorite in Springvale, and that was O'mie. He said little to the Irish orphan lad, but there sprang up a sort of understanding between the two. Whenever he was in town, O'mie was not far away from him; and the boy, frank and confidential in everything else, grew strangely silent when we talked of the priest. I spoke of this to my father one day. He looked keenly at me and said quietly:
"You would make a good lawyer, Phil, you seem to know what a lawyer must know; that is, what people think as well as what they say."
"I don't quite understand, father," I replied.
"Then you won't make a good lawyer. It's the understanding that makes the lawyer," and he changed the subject.
My mind was not greatly disturbed over O'mie, however. I was young and neither I nor my companions were troubled by anything but the realities of the day. Limited as we were by circumstances in this new West, we made the most of our surroundings and of one another. How much the prairies meant to us, as they unrolled their springtime glory! From the noonday blue of the sky overhead to the deep verdure of the land below, there ranged every dainty tint of changeful coloring. Nature lavished her wealth of loveliness here, that the dream of the New Jerusalem might not seem a mere phantasy of the poet disciple who walked with the Christ and was called of Him "The Beloved."
The prairies were beautiful to me at any hour, but most of all I loved them in the long summer evenings when the burst of sunset splendor had deepened into twilight. Then the afterglow softened to that purple loveliness indescribably rare and sweet, wreathed round by gray cloudfolds melting into exquisite pink, the last far echo of the daylight's glory. It is said that any land is beautiful to us only by association. Was it the light heart of my boyhood, and my merry comrades, and most of all, the little girl who was ever in my thoughts, that gave grandeur to these prairies and filled my memory with pictures no artist could ever color on canvas? I cannot say, for all these have large places in my mind's treasury.
From early spring to late October it was a part of each day's duty for the youngsters of Springvale to go in the evening after the cows that ranged on the open west. We went together, of course, and, of course, we rode our ponies. Sometimes we went far and hunted long before we found the cattle. The tenderest grasses grew along the draws, and these often formed a deep wrinkle on the surface where our whole herd was hidden until we came to the very edge of the depression. Sometimes the herd was scattered, and every one must be rounded up and headed toward town before we left the prairie. And then we loitered on the homeward way and sang as only brave, free-spirited boys and girls can sing. And the prairie caught our songs and sent them rippling far and far over its clear, wide spaces.
As the twilight deepened, we drew nearer together, for comradeship meant protection. Some years before, a boy had been stolen out on these prairies one day by a band of Kiowas, and that night the mother drowned herself in the Neosho above town. Her home had been in a little stone cabin round the north bend of the river. It was in the sheltered draw just below where the one lone cottonwood tree made a landmark on the Plains—a deserted habitation now, and said to be haunted by the spirit of the unhappy mother. The child's father, a handsome French Canadian, had turned Plainsman and gone to the Southwest and had not been heard of afterwards. While we had small grounds for fear, we kept our ponies in a little group coming in side by side on the home stretch. All the purple shadows of those sweet summer twilights are blended with the memories of those happy care-free hours.
In the long summer days the cows ranged wider to the west, and we wandered farther in our evening jaunts and lingered later in the fragrant draws where the sweet grasses were starred with many brilliant blossoms. That is how we happened to be away out on the northwest prairie that evening when Jean Pahusca found us, the evening when O'mie read my secret in my tell-tale face. Even to-day a storm cloud in the northwest with the sunset flaming against its jagged edges recalls that scene. The cattle had all been headed homeward, and we were racing our ponies down the long slope to the south. On the right the draw, watched over by the big cottonwood, breaks through the height and finds its way to the Neosho. The watershed between the river and Fingal's Creek is here only a high swell, and straight toward the west it is level as a floor.
The air of a hot afternoon had begun to ripple in cool little waves against our faces. All the glory of the midsummer day was ending in the grandeur of a crimson sunset shaded northward by that threatening thundercloud. With our ponies lined up for one more race we were just on the point of starting, when a whoop, a savage yell, and Jean Pahusca rose above the edge of the draw behind us and dashed toward us headlong. We knew he was drunk, for since Father Le Claire's coming among us he had come to be a sort of gentleman Indian when he was sober; and we caught the naked gleam of the short sharp knife he always wore in a leather sheath at his belt. We were thrown into confusion, and some ponies became unmanageable at once. It is the way of their breed to turn traitor with the least sign of the rider's fear. At Jean's second whoop there was a stampede. Marjie's pony gave a leap and started off at full gallop toward the level west. Hers was the swiftest horse of all, but the Indian coming at an angle had the advantage of space, and he singled her out in a moment. Her hair hung down in two heavy braids, and as she gave one frightened glance backward I saw her catch them both in one hand and draw them over her shoulder as if to save them from the scalping knife.
My pony leaped to follow her but my quick eye caught the short angle of the Indian's advantage. I turned, white and anguish-stricken, toward my companions. Then it was that I heard O'mie's low words:
"Bedad, Phil, an' that's how it is wid ye, is it? Then we've got to kill that Injun, just for grandeur."
His voice set a mighty force tingling in every nerve. The thrill of that moment is mine after all these years, for in that instant I was born again. I believe no terror nor any torture could have stayed me then, and death would have seemed sublime if only I could have flung myself between the girl and this drink-crazed creature seeking in his irresponsible madness to take her life. It was not alone that this was Marjie, and there swept over me the full realization of what she meant to me. Something greater than my own love and life leaped into being within me. It was the swift, unworded comprehension of a woman's worth, of the sacredness of her life, and her divine right to the protection of her virtue; a comprehension of the beauty and blessing of the American home, of the obedient daughter, the loving wife, the Madonna mother, of all that these mean as the very foundation rock of our nation's strength and honor. It swept my soul like a cleansing fire. The words for this came later, but the force of it swayed my understanding in that instant's crisis. Some boys grow into manhood as the years roll along, and some leap into it at a single bound. It was a boy, Phil Baronet, who went out after the cows that careless summer day so like all the other summer days before it. It was a man, Philip Baronet, who followed them home that dark night, fearing neither the roar of the angry storm cloud that threshed in fury above us, nor any human being, though he were filled with the rage of madness.
At O'mie's word I dashed after Marjie. Behind me came Bud Anderson and Dave Mead, followed by every other boy and girl. O'mie rode beside me, and not one of us thought of himself. It was all done in a flash, and I marvel that I tell its mental processes as if they were a song sung in long-metre time. But it is all so clear to me. I can see the fiery radiance of that sky blotted by the two riders before me. I can hear the crash of the ponies' feet, and I can even feel the sweep of wind out of that storm-cloud turning the white under-side of the big cottonwood's leaves uppermost and cutting cold now against the hot air. And then there rises up that ripple of ground made by the ring of the Osage's tepee in the years gone by. Marjie deftly swerved her pony to the south and skirted that little ridge of ground with a graceful curve, as though this were a mere racing game and not a life-and-death ride. Jean's horse plunged at the tepee ring, leaped to the little hollow beyond it, stumbled and fell, and, pellmell, like a stampede of cattle, we were upon him.
I never could understand how Dave Mead headed the crowd back and kept the whole mass from piling up on the fallen Indian and those nearest to him. Nor do I understand why some of us were not crushed or kicked out of life in that melee of ponies and riders struggling madly together. What I do know is that Bud Anderson, who was not thrown from his horse, caught Jean's pony by the bridle and dragged it clear of the mass. It was O'mie's quick hand that wrested that murderous knife from the Indian's grasp, and it was my strong arm that held him with a grip of iron. The shock sobered him instantly. He struggled a moment, and then the cunning that always deceived us gained control. The Indian spirit vanished, and with something masterful in his manner he relaxed all effort. Lifting his eyes to mine with no trace of resentment in their impenetrable depths, he said evenly:
"Let me go. I was drunk. I was fool."
"Let him go, Phil. He did act kinder drunk," Bill Mead urged, and I loosed my hold. I knew instinctively that we were safe now, as I knew also that this submission of Jean Pahusca's must be paid for later with heavy interest by somebody.
"Here'th your horth; s'pothe you thkite," lisped Bud Anderson.
Jean sprang upon his pony and dashed off. We watched him ride away down the long slope. In a few moments another horseman joined him, and they took the trail toward the Kaw reservation. It was Father Le Claire riding with the Indian into the gathering shadows of the south.
I turned to Marjie standing beside me. Her big brown eyes were luminous with tears, and her face was as white as my mother's face was on the day the sea left its burden on the Rockport sands. It was hate that made Jean Pahusca veil his countenance for me a moment before. Something of which hate can never know made me look down at her calmly. O'mie's hand was on my shoulder and his eyes were on us both. There was a quaint approval in his glance toward me. He knew the self-control I needed then.
"Phil saved you, Marjie," Mary Gentry exclaimed.
"No, he saved Jean," put in Lettie.
"And O'mie saved Phil," Bess Anderson urged. "Just grabbed that knife in time."
"Well, I thaved mythelf," Bud piped in.
He never could find any heroism in himself who, more than any other boy among us, had a record for pulling drowning boys out of the Deep Hole by the Hermit's Cave, and killing rattlesnakes in the cliff's crevices, and daring the dark when the border ruffians were hiding about Springvale.
An angry growl of thunder gave us warning of the coming storm. In our long race home before its wrath, in the dense darkness wrapping the landscape, we could only trust to the ponies to keep the way. Marjie rode close by my side that night, and more than once my hand found hers in the darkness to assure her of protection. O'mie, bless his red head! crowded Lettie to the far side of the group, keeping Tell on the other side of her.
When I climbed the hill on Cliff Street that night I turned by the bushes and caught the gleam of Marjie's light. I gave the whistling call we had kept for our signal these years, and I saw the light waver as a good-night signal.
That night I could not sleep. The storm lasted for hours, and the rain swept in sheets across the landscape. The darkness was intense, and the midsummer heat of the day was lost in the chill of that drouth-breaking torrent. After midnight I went to my father's room. He had not retired, but was sitting by the window against which the rain beat heavily. The light burned low, and his fine face was dimly outlined in the shadows. I sat down beside his knee as I was wont to do in childhood.
"Father," I began hesitatingly, "Father, do you still love my mother? Could you care for anybody else? Does a man ever—" I could not say more. Something so like tears was coming into my voice that my cheeks grew hot.
My father's hand rested gently on my head, his fingers stroking the ripples of my hair. White as it is now, it was dark and wavy then, as my mother's had been. It was the admiration of the women and girls, which admiration always annoyed and embarrassed me. In and out of those set waves above my forehead his fingers passed caressingly. He knew the heart of a boy, and he sat silent there, letting me feel that I could tell him anything.
"Have you come to the cross-roads, Phil?" he asked gently. "I was thinking of you as I sat here. Maybe that brought you in. Your boyhood must give way to manhood soon. These times of civil war change conditions for our children," he mused to himself, rather than spoke to me. "We expect a call to the front soon, Phil. When I am gone, I want you to do a man's part in Springvale. You are only a boy, I know, but you have a man's strength, my son."
"And a man's spirit, too," I cried, springing up and standing erect before him. "Let me go with you, Father."
"No, Phil, you must stay here and help to protect these homes, just as we men must go out to fight for them. To the American people war doesn't mean glory nor conquest. It means safety and freedom, and these begin and end in the homes of our land."
The impulse wakened on the prairie that evening at the sight of Marjie's peril leaped up again within me.
"I'll do my best. But tell me, Father," I had dropped down beside him again, "do you still love my mother? Does a man love the same woman always?"
Few boys of my age would have asked such a question of a man. My father took both of my hands into his own strong hands and in the dim light he searched my face with his keen eyes.
"Men differ in their natures, my boy. Even fathers and sons do not always think alike. I can speak only for myself. Do I love the woman who gave you birth? Oh, Phil!"
No need for him to say more. Over his face there swept an expression of tenderness such as I have never seen save as at long intervals I have caught it on the face of a sweet-browed mother bending above a sleeping babe. I rose up before him, and stooping, I kissed his forehead. It was a sacred hour, and I went out from his presence with a new bond binding us together who had been companions all my days. My dreams when I fell asleep at last were all of Marjie, and through them all her need for a protector was mingled with a still greater need for my guardianship. It came from two women who were strangers to me, whose faces I had never seen before.
A GOOD INDIAN
Underneath that face like summer's ocean, Its lips as moveless, and its brow as clear, Slumbers a whirlwind of the heart's emotion, Love, hatred, pride, hope, sorrow,—all save fear.
Cast in the setting of to-day, after such an attempt on human life as we broke up on the prairie, Jean Pahusca would have been hiding in the coverts of Oklahoma, or doing time at the Lansing penitentiary for attempted assault with intent to kill. The man who sold him the whiskey would be in the clutches of the law, carrying his case up to the Supreme Court, backed by the slush fund of the brewers' union. The Associated Press would give the incident a two-inch heading and a one-inch story; and the snail would stay on the thorn, and the lark keep on the wing.
Even in that time Springvale would not have tolerated the Indian among us had it not been that the minds of the people were fermenting with other things. We were on the notorious old border between free and slave lands, whose tragedies rival the tales of the Scottish border. Kansas had been a storm centre since the day it became a Territory, and the overwhelming theme was negro slavery. Every man was marked as "pro" or "anti." There was no neutral ground. Springvale was by majority a Free-State town. A certain element with us, however, backed up by the Fingal's Creek settlement, declared openly and vindictively for slavery. It was from this class that we had most to fear. While the best of our people were giving their life-blood to save a nation, these men connived with border raiders who would not hesitate to take the life and property of every Free-State citizen. When our soldiers marched away to fields of battle, they knew they were leaving an enemy behind them, and no man's home was safe. Small public heed was paid then to the outbreak of a drunken Indian boy who had been overcome in a scrap out on the prairie when the youngsters were hunting their cows.
Where the bushes grow over the edge of the bluff at the steep bend in Cliff Street, a point of rock projects beyond the rough side. By a rude sort of stone steps beside this point we could clamber down many feet to the bush-grown ledge below. This point had been a meeting-place and playground for Marjie and myself all those years. We named it "Rockport" after the old Massachusetts town. Marjie could hear my call from the bushes and come up to the half-way place between our two homes. The stratum of rock below this point was full of cunning little crevices and deep hiding-places. One of these, known only to Marjie and myself, we called our post-office, and many a little note, scrawled in childish hand, but always directed to "Rockport" like a real address on the outside fold, we left for each other to find. Sometimes it was a message, sometimes it was only a joke, and sometimes it was just a line of childish love-making. We always put our valentines in this private house of Uncle Sam's postal service. Maybe that was why the other boys and girls did not couple our names together oftener. Everybody knew who got valentines at the real post-office and where they came from.
On the evening after the storm there was no loitering on the prairie. While we knew there was no danger, a half-dozen boys brought the cows home long before the daylight failed. At sunset I went down to "Rockport," intending to whistle to Marjie. How many a summer evening together here we had watched the sunset on the prairie! To-night, for no reason that I could give, I parted the bushes and climbed down to the ledge below, intending in a moment to come up again. I paused to listen to the lowing of some cows down the river. All the sweet sounds and odors of evening were in the air, and the rain-washed woodland of the Neosho Valley was in its richest green. I did not notice that the bushes hid me until, as I turned, I caught a glimpse of a red blanket, with a circular white centre, sliding up that stairway. An instant later, a call, my signal whistle, sounded from the rock above. I stood on the ledge under the point, my heart the noisiest thing in all that summer landscape full of soft twilight utterances. I was too far below the cliff's edge to catch any answering call, but I determined to fling that blanket and its wearer off the height if any harm should even threaten. Presently I heard a light footstep, and Marjie parted the bushes above me. Before she could cry out, Jean spoke to her. His voice was clear and sweet as I had never heard it before, and I do not wonder it reassured her.
"No afraid, Star-face, no afraid. Jean wants one word."
Marjie did not move, and I longed to let her know how near I was to her, and yet I dared not till I knew his purpose.
"Star-face," he began, "Jean drink no more. Jean promise Padre Le Claire, never, never, Star-face, not be afraid anymore, never, never. Jean good Indian now. Always keep evil from Star-face."
How full of affection were his tones. I wondered at his broken Indian tongue, for he had learned good English, and sometimes he surpassed us all in the terse excellence and readiness of his language. Why should he hesitate so now?
"Star-face,"—there was a note of self-control in his pleading voice,—"I will never drink again. I would not do harm to you. Don't be afraid."
I heard her words then, soft and sweet, with that tremor of fear she could never overcome.
"I hope you won't, Jean."
Then the bushes crackled, as she turned and sped away.
I was just out of sight again when that red blanket slipped down the rocks and disappeared over the side of the ledge in the jungle of bushes below me.
A little later, when Mary Gentry and O'mie and I sat with Marjie on the Whately doorstep, she told us what Jean had said.
"Do you really think he will be good now?" asked Mary. She was always credulous.
"Yes, of course," Marjie answered carelessly.
Her reply angered me. She seemed so ready to trust the word of this savage who twenty-four hours before had tried to scalp her. Did his manner please Marjie? Was the foolish girl attracted by this picturesque creature? I clenched my fists in the dark.
"Girls are such silly things," I said to myself. "I thought better of Marjie, but she is like all the rest." And then I blushed in the dark for having such mean thoughts.
"Don't you think he will be good now, Phil?"
I did not know how eagerly she waited for my answer. Poor Marjie! To her the Indian name was always a terror. Before I could reply O'mie broke in:
"Marjory Whately, ye'll excuse me fur referrin' to it, but I ain't no bigger than you are."
O'mie had not grown as the most of us had, and while he had a lightning quickness of movement, and a courage that never faltered, he was no match for the bigger boys in strength and endurance. Marjie was rounding into graceful womanhood now, but she was not of the slight type. She never lost her dimples, and the vigorous air of the prairies gave her that splendid physique that made her a stranger to sickness and kept the wild-rose bloom on her fair cheeks. O'mie did not outweigh her.
"Ye'll 'scuse me," O'mie went on, "fur the embarrassin' statement; but I ain't big, I run mostly to brains, while Phil here, an' Bill, an' Dave, an' Bud, an' Possum Conlow runs mostly to beef; an' yet, bein' small, I ain't afraid none of your good Injun. But take this warnin' from me, an old friend that knew your grandmother in long clothes, that you kape wide of Jean Pahusca's trail. Don't you trust him."
Marjie gave a little shiver. Had I been something less a fool then I should have known that it was a shiver of fear, but I was of the age to know everything, and O'mie sitting there had learned my heart in a moment on the prairie the evening before. And then I wanted Marjie to trust to me. Her eyes were like stars in the soft twilight, and her white face lost its color, but she did not look at me.
"Don't you trust that mock-turtle Osage, Marjorie, don't." O'mie was more deeply in earnest than we thought.
"But O'mie," Marjie urged, "Jean was just as earnest as you are now; and you'd say so, too, Phil, if you had heard him."
She was right. The words I had heard from above the rock rang true.
"And if he really wants to do better, what have we all been told in the Sunday-school? 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.'"
I could have caught that minor chord of fear had I been more master of myself at that moment.
"Have ye talked wid Father Le Claire?" asked O'mie. "Let's lave the baste to him. Phil, whin does your padre and his Company start to subdue the rebillious South?"
"Pretty soon, father says."
"My father is going too," Marjie said gently, "and Henry Anderson and Cris Mead, and all the men."
"Oh, well, we'll take care of the widders an' orphans." O'mie spoke carelessly, but he added, "It's grand whin such min go out to foight fur a country. Uncle Cam wants to go if he's aqual to the tests; you know he's too near-sighted to see a soldier. Why don't you go too, Phil? You're big as your dad, an' not half so essential to Springvale. Just lave it to sich social ornimints as me an' Marjie's 'good Injun.'"
Again Marjie shivered.
"I want to go, but father won't let me leave—Aunt Candace."
"An' he's right, as is customary wid him. You nade your aunt to take care of you. He couldn't be stoppin' the battle to lace up your shoes an' see that you'd washed your neck. Come, Mary, little girls must be gettin' home." And he and Mary trotted down the slope toward the twinkling lights of the Cambridge House.
Before I reached home, O'mie had overtaken me, saying:
"Come, Phil, let's rest here a minute."
We were just by the bushes that shut off my "Rockport," so we parted them and sat down on the point of rock. The moon was rising, red in the east, and the Neosho Valley below us was just catching its gleams on the treetops, while each point of the jagged bluff stood out silvery white above the dark shadows. A thousand crickets and katydids were chirping in the grass. It was only on the town side that the bushes screened this point. All the west prairie was in that tender gloom that would roll back in shadowy waves before the rising moon.
"Phil," O'mie began, "don't be no bigger fool than nature cut you out fur to be. Don't you trust that 'good Injun' of Marjie's, but kape one eye on him comin' an t' other 'n on him goin'."
"I don't trust him, O'mie, but he has a voice that deceives. I don't wonder, being a girl, Marjie is caught by it."
"An' you, bein' a boy," O'mie mimicked,—"Phil, you're enough to turn my hair rid. But never mind, ye can't trust him. Fur why? He's not to be trusted. If he was aven Injun clean through you could a little, maybe. Some Osages has honor to shame a white man,—aven an Irishman,—but he's not Osage. He's a Kiowa, the kind that stole that little chap years ago up toward Rid Range. An' he ain't Kiowa altogether nather. The Injun blood gives him cuteness, but half his cussedness is in that soft black scalp an' that soft voice sayin', 'Good Injun.' There's some old Louis XIV somewhere in his family tree. The roots av it may be in the Plains out here, but some branch is a graft from a Orleans rose-bush. He's got the blossoms an' the thorns av a Frenchman. An' besides," O'mie added, "as if us two wise men av the West didn't know, comes Father Le Claire to me to-day. He's Jean's guide an' counsellor. An' Phil, begorra, them two looks alike. Same square-cut kind o' foreheads they've got. Annyhow, I was waterin' the horses down to the ford, an' Father Le Claire comes on me sudden, ridin' up on the Kaw trail from the south. He blessed me wid his holy hand and then says quick:
"'O'mie, ye are a lad I can trust!'"
"I nodded, not knowin' why annybody can't be trusted who goes swimmin' once a week, an' never tastes whiskey, an' don't practise lyin', nor shirkin' his stunt at the Cambridge House."
"'O'mie,' says he, 'I want to tell you who you must not trust. It is Jean Pahusca,' says he; 'I wish I didn't nade to say it, but it is me duty to warn ye. Don't mistreat him, but O'mie, for Heaven's sake, kape your eyes open, especially when he promises to be good.' It's our stunt, Phil, to watch him close now he's took to reformin' to the girls."
"O'mie, we know, and Father Le Claire knows, but how can we make those foolish girls understand? Mary believes everything that's said to her anyhow, and you heard Marjie to-night. She thinks she should take Jean at his word."
"Phil, you are all right, seemin'ly. You can lick any av us. You've got the build av a giant, an' you've beautiful hair an' teeth. An' you are son an' heir to John Bar'net, which is an asset some av us would love to possess, bein' orphans, an' the lovely ladies av Springvale is all bewitched by you; but you are a blind, blitherin' ijit now an' again."
"Well, you heard what Marjie said, and how careless she was."
"Yes, an' I seen her shiver an' turn white the instant too. Phil, she's doin' that to kape us from bein' unaisy, an' it's costin' her some to do it. Bless her pretty face! Phil, don't be no bigger fool than ye can kape from."
In less than a week after the incident on the prairie my father's Company was called to the firing line of the Civil War and the responsibilities of life fell suddenly upon me. There was a great gathering in town on the day the men marched away. Where the opera house stands now was the corner of a big vacant patch of ground reaching out toward the creek. To-day it was filled with the crowd come to see the soldiers and bid them good-bye. A speaker's stand was set up in the yard of the Cambridge House and the boys in blue were in the broad street before it. It was the last civilian ceremony for many of them, for that Kansas Company went up Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga, led the line as Kansans will ever do, and in the face of a murderous fire they drove the foeman back. But many of them never came home to wear their laurels of victory. They lie in distant cemeteries under the shadow of tall monuments. They lie in old neglected fields, in sunken trenches, by lonely waysides, and in deep Southern marshes, waiting all the last great Reunion. If I should live a thousand years, the memory of that bright summer morning would not fade from my mind.
Dr. Hemingway, pastor of the Presbyterian Church, presided over the meeting, and the crowd about the soldiers was reinforced by all the countryside beyond the Neosho and the whole Red Range neighborhood.
Skulking about the edge of the company, or gathered in little groups around the corners just out of sight, were the pro-slavery sympathizers, augmented by the Fingal's Creek crowd, who were of the Secession element clear through. In the doorway of the "Last Chance" sat the Rev. Dodd, pastor of the Springvale Methodist Church South, taking no part in this patriotic occasion. Father Le Claire was beside Dr. Hemingway. He said not a word, but Springvale knew he was a power for peace. He did not sanction bloodshed even in a righteous cause. Neither would he allow those who followed his faith to lift a hand against those who did go out to battle. We trusted him and he never betrayed that trust. This morning I recalled what O'mie had said about his looking like Jean Pahusca. His broad hat was pushed back from his square dark forehead; and the hair, soft and jetty, had the same line about the face. But not one feature there bespoke an ignoble spirit. I did not understand him, but I was drawn toward him, as I was repelled by the Indian from the moment I first saw his head above the bluff on the rainy October evening long ago.
How little the Kansas boys and girls to-day can understand what that morning meant to us, when we saw our fathers riding down the Santa Fe Trail to the east, and waving good-bye to us at the far side of the ford! How the fire of patriotism burned in our hearts, and how the sudden loss of all our strongest and best men left us helpless among secret cruel enemies! And then that spirit of manhood leaped up within us, the sudden sense of responsibility come to "all the able-bodied boys" to stand up as a wall of defence about the homes of Springvale. Too well we knew the dangers. Had we not lived on this Kansas border in all those plastic years when the mind takes deepest impressions? The ruffianism of Leavenworth and Lawrence and Osawatomie had been repeated in the unprotected surroundings of Springvale. The Red Range schoolhouse had been burned, and the teacher, a Massachusetts man, had been drowned in a shallow pool near the source of Fingal's Creek, his body fastened face downward so that a few inches of water were enough for the fiendish purpose. Eastward the settlers had fled to our town, time and again, to escape the border raiders, whose coming meant death to the free-spirited father, and a widow and orphans left destitute beside the smoking embers of what had been a home. Those were busy days in Kansas, and the memory of them can yet stir the heart of a man of sixty years.
That morning Dr. Hemingway offered prayer, the prayer of a godly man, for the souls of men about to be baptized with a baptism of blood that other men might be free, and a peaceful generation might walk with ease where their feet trod red-hot ploughshares; a prayer for the strong arm of God Almighty, to uphold every soldier's hands until the cause of right should triumph; a prayer for the heavenly Father's protection about the homes left fatherless for the sake of His children.
And then he prayed for us, "for Philip Baronet, the strong and manly son of his noble father, John Baronet; for David and William Mead, for John and Clayton and August Anderson." He prayed for Tell Mapleson, too (Tell was always square in spite of his Copperhead father), and for "Thomas O'Meara." We hardly knew whom he meant.
Bud Anderson whispered later, "Thay, O'mie, you'll never get into kingdom come under an athumed name. Better thtick to 'O'mie.'"
And last of all the good Doctor prayed for the wives and daughters, that they "be strong and very courageous," doing their part of working and waiting as bravely as they do who go out to stirring action. Then ringing speeches followed. I remember them all; but most of all the words of my father and of Irving Whately are fixed in my mind. My father lived many years and died one sunset hour when the prairies were in their autumn glory, died with his face to the western sky, his last earthly scene that peaceful prairie with the grandeur of a thousand ever-changing hues building up a wall like to the walls of the New Jerusalem which Saint John saw in a vision on the Isle of Patmos. There was
No moaning of the bar When he put out to sea
for he died beautifully, as he had lived. I never saw Irving Whately again, for he went down before the rebel fire at Chattanooga; but the sound of his voice I still can hear.