THE HERITAGE OF THE SIOUX
THE HERITAGE OF THE SIOUX
CHAPTER I. WHEN GREEN GRASS COMES
Old Applehead Furrman jogging home across the mesa from Albuquerque sniffed
the soft breeze that came from opal-tinted distances and felt poignantly that
spring was indeed here. The grass thick and green in the sheltered places
was fast painting all the higher ridges and foot-hill slopes and with the
green grass came the lank-bodied big-kneed calves; which meant that. roundup
time was at hand. Applehead did not own more than a thousand head of cattle
counting every hoof that walked under his brand. And with the incipient
lethargy of old age creeping into his habits of life roundup time was not
with him the important season it once had been; for several years he had been
content to hire a couple of men to represent him in the roundups of the larger
outfits--men whom he could trust to watch fairly well his interests. By that
method he avoided much trouble and hurry and hard work--and escaped also the
cares which come with wealth.
But this spring was not as other springs had been. Something--whether an
awakened ambition or an access of sentiment regarding range matters he did
not know--was stirring the blood in Applehead's veins. Never since the days
when he had been a cowpuncher had the wide spaces called to him so
alluringly; never had his mind dwelt so insistently upon the approach of
spring roundup. Perhaps it was because he heard so much range talk at the
ranch where the boys of the Flying U were foregathered in uneasy idleness
their fingers itching for the feel of lariat ropes and branding irons while
they gazed out over the wide spaces of the mesa.
So much good rangeland unharnessed by wire fencing the Flying U boys had not
seen for many a day. During the winter they had been content to ride over it
merely for the purpose of helping to make a motion picture of the range but
with the coming of green grass and with the reaction that followed the
completion of the picture that in the making had filled all their thoughts
they were not so content. To the inevitable reaction had been added a nerve
racking period of idleness and uncertainty while Luck Lindsay their director
strove with the Great Western Film Company in Los Angeles for terms and prices
that would make for the prosperity of himself and his company.
In his heart Applehead knew just as the Happy Family knew that Luck had good
and sufficient reasons for over-staying the time-limit he had given himself
for the trip. But knowing that Luck was not to be blamed for his long absence
did not lessen their impatience nor did it stifle the call of the wide spaces
nor the subtle influence of the winds that blew softly over the uplands.
By the time he reached the ranch Applehead had persuaded himself that the
immediate gathering of his cattle was an imperative duty and that he himself
must perform it. He could not he told himself afford to wait around any
longer for luck. Maybe when he came Luck would have nothing but disappointment
for them Maybe--Luck was so consarned stubborn when he got an idea in his
head--maybe be wouldn't come to any agreement with the Great Western. Maybe
they wouldn't offer him enough money or leave him enough freedom in his work;
maybe he would "fly back on the rope" at the last minute and come back with
nothing accomplished. Applehead with the experience gleaned from the stress
of seeing luck produce one feature picture without any financial backing
whatever and without half enough capital was not looking forward with any
enthusiasm to another such ordeal. He did not believe when all was said and
done that the Flying U boys would be so terribly eager to repeat the
performance. He did believe--or he made himself think he believed--that the
only sensible thing to do right then was to take the boys and go out and start
a roundup of his own. It wouldn't take long--his cattle weren't so badly
scattered this year.
"Where's Andy at?" he asked Pink who happened to be leaning boredly over the
gate when he rode up to the corral. Andy Green having been left in nominal
charge of the outfit when Luck left must be consulted Applehead supposed.
"Andy? I dunno. He saddled up and rode off somewhere a while ago" Pink
answered glumly. "That's more than he'll let any of us fellows do; the way
he's close-herding us makes me tired! Any news?"
"Ain't ary word from Luck--no word of NO kind. I've about made up my mind to
take the chuck-wagon to town and stock it with grub and hit out on roundup
t'morrer or next day. I don't see as there's any sense in setting around here
waitin' on Luck and lettin' my own work slide. Chavez boys they started out
yest'day I heard in town. And if I don't git right out close onto their
heels I'll likely find myself with a purty light crop uh calves now I'm
tellin' yuh I" Applehead so completely had he come under the spell of the
soft spring air and the lure of the mesa actually forgot that he had long
been in the habit of attending to his calf crop by proxy.
Pink's face brightened briefly. Then he remembered why they were being kept so
close to the ranch and he grew bored again.
"What if Luck pulled in before we got back and wanted us to start work on
another picture?" he asked discouraging the idea reluctantly. Pink had
himself been listening to the call of the wide spaces and the mere mention of
roundup had a thrill for him.
"Well now I calc'late my prope'ty is might' nigh as important as Luck's
pitcher-making" Applehead contended with a selfishness born of his newly
awakened hunger for the far distances. "And he ain't sent ary word that he's
coming or will need you boys immediate. The chances is we could go and git
back agin before Luck shows up. And if we don't" he argued speciously "he
can't blame nobody for not wantin' to set around on their haunches all spring
waiting for 'im. I'd do a lot fer luck; I've DONE a lot fer 'im. But it ain't
to be expected I'd set around waitin' on him and let them danged Mexicans
rustle my calves. They'll do it if they git half a show--now I'm tellin' yuh!"
Pink did not say anything at all either in assent or argument; but old
Applehead now that he had established a plausible reason for his sudden
impulse went on arguing the case while he unsaddled his horse. By the time he
turned the animal loose he had thought of two or three other reasons why he
should take the boys and start out as soon as possible to round up his cattle.
He was still dilating upon these reasons when Andy Green rode slowly down the
slope to the corral.
"Annie-Many-Ponies come back yet?" he asked of Pink as he swung down off his
horse. "Annie? No; ain't seen anything of her. Shunky's been sitting out there
on the hill for the last hour looking for her."
"Fer half a cent" threatened old Applehead in a bad humor because his
arguments had not quite convinced him that he was not meditating a disloyalty
"I'd kill that danged dawg. And if I was runnin' this bunch I'd send that
squaw back where she come from and I'd send her quick. Take the two of 'em
together and they don't set good with me now I'm tellin' yuh! If I was to say
what I think I'd say yuh can't never trust an Injun--and shiny hair and eyes
and slim build don't make 'em no trustier. They's something scaley goin' on
around here and I'd gamble on it. And that there squaw's at the bottom of it.
What fur's she ridin' off every day 'n' nobody knowin' where she goes to? If
Luck's got the sense he used to have he'll git some white girl to act in his
pitchers and send that there squaw home 'fore she double-crosses him some way
"Oh hold on Applehead!" Pink felt constrained to defend the girl. "You've
got it in for her 'cause her dog don't like your cat. Annie's all right; I
never saw anything outa the way with her yet."
"Well now time you're old as I be you'll have some sense mebby" Applehead
quelled. "Course you think Annie's all right. She's purty'n' purtyness in a
woman shore does cover up a pile uh cussedness--to a feller under forty.
You're boss here Andy. When she comes back you ask 'er where she's been and
see if you kin git a straight answer. She'll lie to yuh--I'll bet all I got
she'll lie to yuh. And when a woman lies about where she's been to and what
she's been doin' you can bet there's something scaley goin' on. Yuh can't
He turned and went up to the small adobe house where he had lived in solitary
contentment with his cat Compadre until Luck Lindsay seeking a cheap
headquarters for his free-lance company while he produced the big Western
picture which filled all his mind had taken calm and unheralded possession of
the ranch. Applehead did not resent the invasion; on the contrary he welcomed
it as a pleasant change in his monotonous existence. What he did resent was
the coming first of the little black dog that was no more than a tramp and
had no right on the ranch and that broke all the laws of decency and
gratitude by making the life of the big blue cat miserable. Also he resented
the uninvited arrival of Annie-Many-Ponies from the Sioux reservation in North
Annie-Many-Ponies had not only come uninvited--she had remained in defiance of
Luck's perturbed insistence that she should go back home. The Flying U boys
might overlook that fact because of her beauty but Applehead was not so
easily beguiled--especially when she proceeded to form a violent attachment to
the little black dog which she called Shunka Chistala in what Applehead
considered a brazen flaunting of her Indian blood and language Between the
mistress of Shunka Chistala and the master of the cat there could never be
anything more cordial than an armed truce. She had championed that ornery cur
in a way to make Applehead's blood boil. She had kept the dog in the house at
night which forced the cat to seek cold comfort elsewhere. She had pilfered
the choicest table scraps for the dog--and Compadre was a cat of fastidious
palate and grew thin on what coarse bits were condescendingly left for him.
Applehead had not approved of Luck's final consent that Annie-Many-Ponies
should stay and play the Indian girl in his big picture. In the mind of
Applehead there lurked a grudge that found all the more room to grow because
of the natural bigness and generosity of his nature. It irked him to see her
going her calm way with that proud uptilt to her shapely head and that little
inscruable smile when she caught the meaning of his grumbling hints.
Applehead was easy-going to a fault in most things but his dislike had grown
in Luck's absence to the point where he considered himself aggrieved whenever
Annie-Many-Ponies saddled the horse which had been tacitly set aside for her
use and rode off into the mesa without a word of explanation or excuse.
Applehead reminded the boys that she had not acted like that when luck was
home. She had stayed on the ranch where she belonged except once or twice on
particularly fine days when she had meekly asked "Wagalexa Conka" as she
persisted in calling Luck for permission to go for a ride.
Applehead itched to tell her a few things about the social moral
intellectual and economic status of an "Injun squaw"--but there was something
in her eye something in the quiver of her finely shaped nostrils in the
straight black brows that held his tongue quiet when he met her face to face.
You couldn't tell about these squaws. Even luck who knew Indians better than
most--and was in a heathenish tribal way the adopted son of Old Chief Big
Turkey and therefore Annie's brother by adoption--even Luck maintained that
Annie-Many-Ponies undoubtedly carried a knife concealed in her clothes and
would use it if ever the need arose. Applehead was not afraid of Annie's
knife. It was something else something he could not put into words that held
him back from open upbraidings.
He gave Andy's wife Rosemary the mail and stopped to sympathize with her
because Annie-Many-Ponies had gone away and left the hardest part of the
ironing undone. Luck had told Annie to help Rosemary with the work; but
Annie's help when Luck was not around the place was Rosemary asserted