Produced by Eric Eldred, Debra Storr, and Project br/>Distributed Proofreaders
“‘Arr-rr-ump!’ I said”
THE TRAIL BOOK
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY MILO WINTER
TO MARY, MY NIECE
IN THE HOPE THAT SHE MAY FIND THROUGH THE TRAILS OF HER OWN COUNTRY THE ROAD TO WONDERLAND CONTENTS
IV THE SECOND PART OF THE MASTODON STORY, CONCERNING THE TRAIL TO THE SEA AND THE TALKING STICK OF TAKU-WAKIN
IX HOW THE LENNI-LENAPE CAME FROM SHINAKI AND THE TALLEGEWI FOUGHT THEM: THE SECOND PART OF THE MOUND-BUILDER’S STORY
XI THE PEARLS OF COFACHIQUE: HOW LUCAS DE AYLLON CAME TO LOOK FOR THEM AND WHAT THE CACICA FAR-LOOKING DID TO HIM; TOLD BY THE PELICAN.
XII HOW THE IRON SHIRTS CAME TO TUSCALOOSA: A TELLING OF THE TRIBUTE ROAD BY THE LADY OF COFACHIQUE.
XV HOW THE MEDICINE OF THE ARROWS WAS BROKEN AT REPUBLICAN RIVER; TOLD BY THE CHIEF OFFICER OF THE DOG SOLDIERS
From the time that he had first found, himself alone with them, Oliver had felt sure that the animals could come alive again if they wished. That was one blowy afternoon about a week after his father had been made night engineer and nobody had come into the Museum for several hours.
Oliver had been sitting for some time in front of the Buffalo case, wondering what might be at the other end of the trail. The cows that stood midway in it had such agoinglook. He was sure it must lead, past the hummock where the old bull flourished his tail, to one of those places where he had always wished to be. All at once, as the boy sat there thinking about it, the glass case disappeared and the trail shot out like a dark snake over a great stretch of rolling, grass-covered prairie.
He could see the tops of the grasses stirring like the hair on the old Buffalo’s coat, and the ripple of water on the beaver pool which was just opposite and yet somehow only to be reached after long travel through the Buffalo Country. The wind moved on the grass, on the surface of the water and the young leaves of the alders, and over all the animals came the start and stir of life.
And then the slow, shuffling steps of the Museum attendant startled it all into stillness again.
The attendant spoke to Oliver as he passed, for even a small boy is worth talking to when you have been all day in a Museum where nothing is new to you and nobody comes.
“You want to look out, son,” said the attendant, who really liked the boy and hadn’t a notion what sort of ideas he was putting into Oliver’s head. “If you ain’t careful, some of them things will come downstairs some night and go off with ye.”
And why should MacShea have said that if he hadn’t known for certain that the animalsdidcome alive at night? That was the way Oliver put it when he was trying to describe this extraordinary experience to his sister.
Dorcas Jane, who was eleven and a half and not at all imaginative, eyed him suspiciously. Oliver had such a way of stating things that were not at all believable, in a way that made them seem the likeliest things in the world. He was even capable of acting for days as if things were so, which you knew from the beginning were only the most delightful of make-believes. Life on this basis was immensely more exciting, but then you never knew whether or not he might be what some of his boy friends called “stringing you,” so when Oliver began to hint darkly at his belief that the stuffed animals in the Mammal room of the Museum came alive at night and had larks of their own, Dorcas Jane offered the most noncommittal objection that occurred to her.
“They couldn’t,” she said; “the night watchman wouldn’t let them.” There were watchmen, she knew, who went the rounds of every floor.
But, insisted Oliver, why should they have watchmen at all, if not to prevent people from breaking in and disturbing the animals when they were busy with affairs of their own? He meant to stay up there himself some night and see what it was all about; and as he went on to explain how it would be possible to slip up the great stair while the watchmen were at the far end of the long hall, and of the places one could hide if the watchman came along when he wasn’t wanted, he said “we” and “us.” For, of course, he meant to take Dorcas Jane with him. Where would be the fun of such an adventure if you had it alone? And besides, Oliver had discovered that it was not at all difficult to scare himself with the things he had merely imagined. There were times when Dorcas Jane’s frank disbelief was a great comfort to him. Still, he wasn’t the sort of boy to be scared before anything has really happened, so when Dorcas Jane suggested that they didn’t know what the animals might do to any one who went among them uninvited, he threw it off stoutly.
“Pshaw! They can’t do anything to us! They’re stuffed, Silly!”
And to Dorcas Jane, who was by this time completely under the spell of the adventure, it seemed quite likely that the animals should be stuffed so that they couldn’t hurt you, and yet not stuffed so much that they couldn’t come alive again.
It was all of a week before they could begin. There is a kind of feeling you have to have about an adventure without which the affair doesn’t come off properly. Anybody who has been much by himself in the woods has had it; or sometime, when you are all alone in the house, all at once there comes a kind of pricking of your skin and a tightness in your chest, not at all unpleasant, and a kind of feeling that the furniture has its eye on you, or that some one behind your shoulder is about to speak, and immediately after that something happens. Or you feel sure it would have happened if somebody hadn’t interrupted.
Dorcas Janeneverhad feelings like that. But about a week after Oliver had proposed to her that they spend a part of the night in the long gallery, he was standing in front of the Buffalo case, wondering what actually did happen when a buffalo caught you. Quite unexpectedly, deep behind the big bull’s glassy eye, he caught a gleam as of another eye looking at him, meaningly, and with a great deal of friendliness. Oliver felt prickles come out suddenly all over his body, and without quite knowing why, he began to move away from that place, tip-toe and slippingly, like a wild creature in the woods when it does not know who may be about. He told himself it would never do to have the animals come alive without Dorcas Jane, and before all those stupid, staring folk who might come in at any minute and spoil everything.
That night, after their father had gone off clanking to his furnaces, Dorcas heard her brother tapping on the partition between their rooms, as he did sometimes when they played “prisoner.” She knew exactly what he meant by it and tapped back that she was ready.
Everything worked out just as they had planned. They heard the strange, hollow-sounding echoes of the watchman’s voice dying down the halls, as stair by stair they dropped the street lamps below them, and saw strange shadows start out of things that were perfectly harmless and familiar by day.
There was no light in the gallery except faint up-and-down glimmers from the glass of the cases, and here and there the little spark of an eye. Outside there was a whole world of light, the milky way of the street with the meteor roar of the Elevated going by, processions of small moons marching below them across the park, and blazing constellations in the high windows opposite. Tucked into one of the window benches between the cases, the children seemed to swing into another world where almost anything might happen. And yet for at least a quarter of an hour nothing did.
“I don’t believe nothing ever does,” said Dorcas Jane, who was not at all careful of her grammar.
“Sh-sh!” said Oliver. They had sat down directly in front of the Buffalo Trail, though Dorcas would have preferred to be farther away from the Polar Bear. For suppose it hadn’t been properly stuffed! But Oliver had eyes only for the trail.
“I want to see where it begins and where it goes,” he insisted.
So they sat and waited, and though the great building was never allowed to grow quite cold, it was cool enough to make it pleasant for them to sit close together and for Dorcas to tuck her hand into the crook of his arm….
All at once the Bull Buffalo shook himself.
“Wake! Wake!” said the Bull Buffalo, with a roll to it, as though the word had been shouted in a deep voice down an empty barrel. He shook the dust out of his mane and stamped his fore-foot to set the herd in motion. There were thousands of them feeding as far as the eye could reach, across the prairie, yearlings and cows with their calves of that season, and here and there a bull, tossing his heavy head and sending up light puffs of dust under the pawings of his hoof as he took up the leader’s signal.
It rolled along the ground like thunder. At the sound the herds gathered themselves from the prairie, they turned back from the licks, they rose upplopfrom the wallows, trotting singly in the trails that rayed out to every part of the pastures and led up toward the high ridges.
“Wa-ak–” began the old bull; then he stopped short, threw up his head, sniffing the wind, and ended with a sharp snort which changed the words to “What? What?”
“What’s this,” said the Bull Buffalo, “Pale Faces?”
“They are very young,” said the young cow, the one with thegoing look. She had just been taken into the herd that season and had the place of the favorite next to the leader.
“If you please, sir,” said Oliver, “we only wished to know where the trail went.”
“Why,” said the Buffalo Chief, surprised, “to the Buffalo roads, of course. We must be changing pasture.” As he pawed contempt upon the short, dry grass, the rattlesnake, that had been sunning himself at the foot of the hummock, slid away under the bleached buffalo skull, and the small, furry things dived everywhere into their burrows.
“That is the way always,” said the young cow, “when the Buffalo People begin their travels. Not even a wolf will stay in the midst of the herds; there would be nothing left of him by the time the hooves had passed over.”
The children could see how that might be, for as the thin lines began to converge toward the high places, it was as if the whole prairie had turned black and moving. Where the trails drew out of the flat lands to the watersheds, they were wide enough for eight or ten to walk abreast, trodden hard and white as country roads. There was a deep, continuous murmur from the cows like the voice of the earth talking to itself at twilight.
“Come,” said the old bull, “we must be moving.”
“But what is that?” said Dorcas Jane, as a new sound came from the direction of the river, a long chant stretching itself like a snake across the prairie, and as they listened there were words that lifted and fell with an odd little pony joggle.
“That is the Pawnees, singing their travel song,” said the Buffalo Chief.
And as he spoke they could see the eagle bonnets of the tribesmen coming up the hollow, every man mounted, with his round shield and the point of his lance tilted forward. After them came the women on the pack-ponies with the goods, and the children stowed on the travoises of lodge-poles that trailed from the ponies’ withers.
“Ha-ah,” said the old bull. “One has laid his ear to the ground in their lodges and has heard the earth tremble with the passing of the Buffalo People.”
“But where do they go?” said Dorcas.
“They follow the herds,” said the old bull, “for the herds are their food and their clothes and their housing. It is the Way Things Are that the Buffalo People should make the trails and men should ride in them. They go up along the watersheds where the floods cannot mire, where the snow is lightest, and there are the best lookouts.”
“And, also, there is the easiest going,” said a new voice with a snarly running whine in it. It came from a small gray beast with pointed ears and a bushy tail, and the smut-tipped nose that all coyotes have had since their very first father blacked himself bringing fire to Man from the Burning Mountain. He had come up very softly at the heels of the Buffalo Chief, who wheeled suddenly and blew steam from his nostrils.
“That,” he said, “is because of the calves. It is not because a buffalo cannot go anywhere it pleases him; down ravines where a horse would stumble and up cliffs where even you, O Smut Nose, cannot follow.”
“True, Great Chief,” said the Coyote, “but I seem to remember trails that led through the snow to very desirable places.”
This was not altogether kind, for it is well known that it is only when snow has lain long enough on the ground to pack and have a hard coating of ice, that the buffaloes dare trust themselves upon it. When it is new-fallen and soft they flounder about helplessly until they die of starvation, and the wolves pull them down, or the Indians come and kill them. But the old bull had the privilege which belongs to greatness, of not being obliged to answer impertinent things that were said to him. He went on just as if nothing had interrupted, telling how the buffalo trails had found the mountain passes and how they were rutted deep into the earth by the migrating herds.
“I have heard,” he said, “that when the Pale Faces came into the country they found no better roads anywhere than the buffalo traces–“
“Also,” purred Moke-icha, “I have heard that they found trails through lands where no buffalo had been before them.” Moke-icha, the Puma, lay on a brown boulder that matched so perfectly with her watered coat that if it had not been for the ruffling of the wind on her short fur and the twitchings of her tail, the children might not have discovered her. “Look,” she said, stretching out one of her great pads toward the south, where the trail ran thin and white across a puma-colored land, streaked with black lava and purple shadow. Far at the other end it lifted in red, wall-sided buttes where the homes of the Cliff People stuck like honeycombs in the wind-scoured hollows.
“Now I recall a trail in that country,” said Moke-icha, “that was older than the oldest father’s father of them could remember. Four times a year the People of the Cliffs went down on it to the Sacred Water, and came back with bags of salt on their shoulders.”
Even as she spoke they could see the people coming out of the Cliff dwellings and the priests going into the kivas preparing for the journey.
That was how it was; when any animal spoke of the country he knew best, that was what the children saw. And yet all the time there was the beginning of the buffalo trail in front of them, and around them, drawn there by that something of himself which every man puts into the work of his hands, the listening tribesmen. One of these spoke now in answer to Moke-icha.
“Also in my part of the country,” he said, “long before there were Pale Faces, there were trade trails and graded ways, and walled ways between village and village. We traded for cherts as far south as Little River in the Tenasas Mountains, and north to the Sky-Blue Water for copper which was melted out of rocks, and there were workings at Flint Ridge that were older than the great mound at Cahokia.”
“Oh,” cried both the children at once, “Mound-Builders!”–and they stared at him with interest.
He was probably not any taller than the other Indians, but seemed so on account of his feather headdress which was built up in front with a curious cut-out copper ornament. They thought they recognized the broad banner stone of greenish slate which he carried, the handle of which was tasseled with turkey beards and tiny tails of ermine. He returned the children’s stare in the friendliest possible fashion, twirling his banner stone as a policeman does his night stick.
“Were you? Mound-Builders, you know?” questioned Oliver.
“You could call us that. We called ourselves Tallegewi, and our trails were old before the buffalo had crossed east of the Missi-Sippu, the Father of all Rivers. Then the country was full of the horned people, thick as flies in the Moon of Stopped Waters.” As he spoke, he pointed to the moose and wapiti trooping down the shallow hills to the watering-places. They moved with a dancing motion, and the multitude of their horns was like a forest walking, a young forest in the spring before the leaves are out and there is a clicking of antlered bough on bough. “They would come in twenty abreast to the licks where we lay in wait for them,” said the Tallega. “They were the true trail-makers.”
“Then you must have forgotten what I had to do with it,” said a voice that seemed to come from high up in the air, so that they all looked up suddenly and would have been frightened at the huge bulk, if the voice coming from it in a squeaky whisper had not made it seem ridiculous. It was the Mastodon, who had strolled in from the pre-historic room, though it was a wonder to the children how so large a beast could move so silently.
“Hey,” said a Lenni-Lenape, who had sat comfortably smoking all this time, “I’ve heard of you–there was an old Telling of my father’s–though I hardly think I believed it. What are you doing here?”
“I’ve a perfect right to come,” said the Mastodon, shuffling embarrassedly from foot to foot. “I was the first of my kind to have a man belonging to me, and it was I that showed him the trail to the sea.”
“Oh, please, would you tell us about it?” said Dorcas.
The Mastodon rocked to and fro on his huge feet, embarrassedly.
“If–if it would please the company–“
Everybody looked at the Buffalo Chief, for, after all, it was he who began the party. The old bull pawed dust and blew steam from his nostrils, which was a perfectly safe thing to do in case the story didn’t turn out to his liking.
“Tell, tell,” he agreed, in a voice like a man shouting down twenty rain barrels at once.
And looking about slyly with his little twinkling eyes at the attentive circle, the Mastodon began.
“In my time, everything, even the shape of the land was different. From Two Rivers it was all marsh, marsh and swamp with squidgy islands, with swamp and marsh again till you came to hills and hard land, beyond which was the sea. Nothing grew then but cane and coarse grass, and the water rotting the land until there was no knowing where it was safe treading from year to year. Not that it mattered to my people. We kept to the hills where there was plenty of good browse, and left the swamp to the Grass-Eaters–bunt-headed, woolly-haired eaters of grass!”
Up came Arrumpa’s trunk to trumpet his contempt, and out from the hillslope like a picture on a screen stretched for a moment the flat reed-bed of Two Rivers, with great herds of silly, elephant-looking creatures feeding there, with huge incurving trunks and backs that sloped absurdly from a high fore-hump. They rootled in the tall grass or shouldered in long, snaky lines through the canes, their trunks waggling.
“Mammoths they were called,” said Arrumpa, “and they hid in the swamp because their tusks curved in and they were afraid of Saber-Tooth, the Tiger. There were a great many of them, though not so many as our people, and also there was Man. It was the year my tusks began to grow that I first saw him. We were coming up from the river to the bedding-ground and there was a thin rim of the moon like a tusk over the hill’s shoulder. I remember the damp smell of the earth and the good smell of the browse after the sun goes down, and between them a thin blue mist curling with a stinging smell that made prickles come along the back of my neck.
“‘What is that?’ I said, for I walked yet with my mother.
“‘It is the smell which Man makes so that other people may know where he is and keep away from him,’ she said, for my mother had never been friends with Man and she did not know any better.
“Then we came up over the ridge and saw them, about a score, naked and dancing on the naked front of the hill. They had a fire in their midst from which the blue smell went up, and as they danced they sang–
Hail, moon, young moon!
Hail, hail, young moon!
Bring me something that I wish,
Hail, moon, hail!
“–catching up fire-sticks in their hands and tossing them toward the tusk of the moon. That was how they made the moon grow, by working fire into it, so my man told me afterwards. But it was not until I began to walk by myself that he found me.
“I had come up from the lower hills all one day,” said the Mastodon. “There was a feel in the air as if the Great Cold had breathed into it. It curdled blue as pond water, and under the blueness the forest color showed like weed under water. I walked by myself and did not care who heard me. Now and then I tore up a young tree, for my tusks had grown fast that year and it was good to feel the tree tug at its roots and struggle with me. Farther up, the wind walked on the dry leaves with a sound like a thousand wapiti trooping down the mountain. Every little while, for want of something to do, I charged it. Then I carried a pine, which I had torn up, on my tusks, until the butt struck a boulder which went down the hill with an avalanche of small stones that set all the echoes shouting.
“In the midst of it I lifted up my voice and said that I was I, Arrumpa, walking by myself,–and just then a dart struck me. The men had come up under cover of the wind on either side so that there was nothing for me to do but to move forward, which I did, somewhat hurriedly.
“I had not come to my full size then, but I was a good weight for my years,” said Arrumpa modestly,–“a very good weight, and it was my weight that saved me, for the edge of the ravine that opened suddenly in front of me crumbled, so that I came down into the bottom of it with a great mass of rubbish and broken stone, with a twisted knee, and very much astonished.
“I remember blowing to get the blood and dust out of my eyes,–there was a dart stuck in my forehead,–and seeing the men come swarming over the edge of the ravine, which was all walled in on every side, shaking their spears and singing. That was the way with men; whatever they did they had to sing about it. ‘Ha-ahe-ah!’ they sang–
“‘Great Chief, you’re about to die, The Gods have said it.’
“So they came capering, but there was blood in my eyes and my knee hurt me, so when one of them stuck his spear almost up to the haft in my side, I tossed him. I took him up lightly on my tusks and he lay still at the far end of the ravine where I had dropped him. That stopped the shouting; but it broke out again suddenly, for the women had come down the wild vines on the walls, with their young on their shoulders, and the wife of the man I had tossed found him. The noise of the hunters was as nothing to the noise she made at me. Madness overtook her; she left off howling over her man and seizing her son by the hand,–he was no more than half-grown, not up to my shoulder,–she pushed him in front of me. ‘Take him! Take my son, Man-Killer!’ she screamed. ‘After you have taken the best of the tribe, will you stop at a youngling?’ Then all the others screeched at her like gulls frightened from their rock, and stopped silent in great fear to see what I would do about it.
“I did not know what to do, for there was no way I could tell her I was sorry I had killed her husband; and the lad stood where she had pushed him, not making any noise at all but a sharp, steady breathing. So I took him up in my trunk, for, indeed, I did not know what to do, and as I held him at the level of my eyes, I saw a strange thing,–that the boy was not afraid. He was not in the least afraid, but very angry.
“‘I hate you, Arrumpa,’ he said, ‘because you have killed my father. I am too little to kill you for it now, but when I am a man I shall kill you.’ He struck me with his fists. ‘Put me down, Man-Killer!’
“So I put him down. What else was there to do? And there was a sensation in my breast, a sensation as of bending the knees and bowing the neck–not at all unpleasant–He stood where I placed him, between my tusks, and one of the hunters, who was a man in authority, called out to him to come away while they killed me.
“‘That you shall not,’ said my manling, ‘for he has killed my father, therefore he is mine to kill according to the custom of killing.’
“Then the man was angry.
“‘Come away, little fool,’ he said. ‘He is our meat. Have we not followed him for three days and trapped him?’
“The boy looked at him under his brows, drawn level.
“‘That was my father’s spear that stuck in him, Opata,’ he said.
“Now, as the man spoke, I began to see what they had done to me these three days, for there was no way out of the ravine, and the women had brought their fleshing-knives and baskets: but the boy was quicker even than my anger. He reached up a hand to either of my tusks,–he could barely lay hands on them,–and his voice shook, though I do not think it was with anger. ‘He is mine to kill,’ he said, ‘according to custom. He is my Arrumpa, and I call the tribe to witness. Not one of you shall lay hands on him until one of us has killed the other.’
“Then I lifted up my trunk over him, for my heart swelled against the hunters, and I gave voice as a bull should when he walks by himself.
“‘Arr-rr-ump!’ I said. And the people were all silent with astonishment.
“Finally the man who had first spoken, spoke again, very humbly, ‘Great Chief, give us leave to take away your father.’ So we gave them leave. They took the hurt man–his back was broken–away by the vine ladders, and my young man went and lay face down where his father had lain, and shook with many strange noises while water came out of his eyes. When he sat up at last and saw me blowing dust on the spear-cut in my side to stop the bleeding, he gathered broad leaves, dipped them in pine gum, and laid them on the cut. Then I blew dust on these, and seeing that I was more comfortable, Taku-Wakin–that was what I learned to call him–saluted with both hands to his head, palms outward. ‘Friend,’ he said,–‘for if you are not my friend I think I have not one other in the world,–besides, I am too little to kill you,–I go to bury my father.’
“For three days I bathed my knee in the spring, and saw faces come to peer about the edge of it and heard the beat of the village drums. The third day my young man came, wearing his father’s collar of bear’s teeth, with neither fire-stick nor food nor weapon upon him. “‘Now I am all the man my mother has,’ he said; ‘I must do what is necessary to become a tribesman.’
“I did not know then what he meant, but it seems it was a custom.”
All the Indians in the group that had gathered about the Mastodon, nodded at this.
“It was so in my time,” said the Mound-Builder. “When a youth has come to the age where he is counted a man, he goes apart and neither eats nor drinks until, in the shape of some living thing, the Great Mystery has revealed itself to him.
“It was so he explained it to me,” agreed Arrumpa; “and for three days he ate and drank nothing, but walked by himself talking to his god. Other times he would talk to me, scratching my hurts and taking the ticks out of my ears, until–I do not know what it was, but between me and Taku-Wakin it happened that we understood, each of us, what the other was thinking in his heart as well as if we had words–Is this also a custom?”
A look of intelligence passed between the members of his audience.
“Once to every man,” said an Indian who leaned against Moke-icha’s boulder, “when he shuts all thought of killing out of his heart and gives himself to the beast as to a brother, knowledge which is different from the knowledge of the chase comes to both of them.
“Oh,” said Oliver, “I had a dog once–” But he became very much embarrassed when he discovered that he had drawn the attention of the company. It had always been difficult for him to explain why it was he had felt so certain that his dog and he had always known what the other was thinking; but the Indians and the animals understood him.
“All this Taku explained to me,” went on Arrumpa. “The fourth day, when Taku fainted for lack of food, I cradled him in my tusks and was greatly troubled. At last I laid him on the fresh grass by the spring and blew water on him. Then he sat up laughing and spluttering, but faintly.
“‘Now am I twice a fool,’ he said, ‘not to know from the first that you are my Medicine, the voice of the Mystery.’
“Then he shouted for his mother, who came down from the top of the ravine, very timidly, and fed him.
“After that he would come to me every day, sometimes with a bough of wild apples or a basket of acorns, and I would set him on my neck so he could scratch between my ears and tell me all his troubles. His father, he said, had been a strong man who put himself at the head of the five chiefs of the tribe and persuaded them to leave off fighting one another and band together against the enemy tribes. Opata, the man who had wished to kill me, was the man likeliest to be made High Chief in his father’s place.
“‘And then my bad days will begin,’ said Taku-Wakin, ‘for he hates me for my father’s sake, and also a little for yours, Old Two-Tails, and he will persuade the Council to give my mother to another man and I shall be made subject to him. Worse,’ he said,–‘the Great Plan of my father will come to nothing.’
“He was always talking about this Great Plan and fretting over it, but I was too new to the customs of men to ask what he meant by it.
“‘If I had but a Sign,’ he said, ‘then they would give me my father’s place in the Council … but I am too little, and I have not yet killed anything worth mentioning.’
“So he would sit on my neck and drum with his heels while he thought, and there did not seem to be anything I could do about it. By this time my knee was quite well. I had eaten all the brush in the ravine and was beginning to be lonely. Taku wasn’t able to visit me so often, for he had his mother and young brothers to kill for.
“So one night when the moon came walking red on the trail of the day, far down by Two Rivers I heard some of my friends trumpeting; therefore I pulled down young trees along the sides of the ravine, with great lumps of earth, and battered the rotten cliffs until they crumbled in a heap by which I scrambled up again.
“I must have traveled a quarter of the moon’s course before I heard the patter of bare feet in the trail and a voice calling:–
“‘Up! Take me up, Arrumpa!’
“So I took him up, quite spent with running, and yet not so worn out but that he could smack me soundly between the eyes, as no doubt I deserved.
“‘Beast of a bad heart,’ he said, ‘did I not tell you that to-morrow the moon is full and the Five Chiefs hold Council?’ So he had, but my thick wits had made nothing of it. ‘If you leave me this night,’ said Taku, ‘then they will say that my Medicine has left me and my father’s place will be given to Opata.’
“‘Little Chief,’ I said, ‘I did not know that you had need of me, but it came into my head that I also had need of my own people. Besides, the brush is eaten.’
“‘True, true!’ he said, and drummed on my forehead. ‘Take me home,’ he said at last, ‘for I have followed you half the night, and I must not seem wearied at the Council.’
“So I took him back as far as the Arch Rock which springs high over the trail by which the men of Taku’s village went out to the hunting. There was a cleft under the wing of the Arch, close to the cliff, and every man going out to the hunt threw a dart at it, as an omen. If it stuck, the omen was good, but if the point of the dart broke against the face of the cliff and fell back, the hunter returned to his hut, and if he hunted at all that day, he went out in another direction. We could see the shafts of the darts fast in the cleft, bristling in the moonlight.
“‘Wait here, under the Arch,’ said Taku-Wakin, ’till I see if the arrow of my thought finds a cleft to stick into.’
“So we waited, watching the white, webby moons of the spiders, wet in the grass, and the man huts sleeping on the hill, and felt the Dawn’s breath pricking the skin of our shoulders. The huts were mere heaps of brush like rats’ nests.
“‘Shall I walk on the huts for a sign, Little Chief?’ said I.
“‘Not that, Old Hilltop,’ he laughed; ‘there are people under the huts, and what good is a Sign without people?’
“Then he told me how his father had become great by thinking, not for his own clan alone, but for all the people–it was because of the long reach of his power that they called him Long-Hand. Now that he was gone there would be nothing but quarrels and petty jealousies. ‘They will hunt the same grounds twice over,’ said Taku-Wakin; ‘they will kill one another when they should be killing their enemies, and in the end the Great Cold will get them.’
“Every year the Great Cold crept nearer. It came like a strong arm and pressed the people west and south so that the tribes bore hard on one another.
“‘Since old time,’ said Taku-Wakin, ‘my people have been sea people. But the People of the Great Cold came down along the ice-rim and cut them off from it. My father had a plan to get to the sea, and a Talking Stick which he was teaching me to understand, but I cannot find it in any of the places where he used to hide it. If I had the Stick I think they would make me chief in my father’s place. But if Opata is made chief, then I must give it to him if I find it, and Opata will have all the glory. If I had but a Sign to keep them from making Opata chief…’ So he drummed on my head with his heels while I leaned against the Arch Rock–oh, yes, I can sleep very comfortably, standing–and the moon slid down the hill until it shone clear under the rock and touched the feathered butts of the arrows. Then Taku woke me.
“‘Up, put me up, Arrumpa! For now I have thought of a Sign that even the Five Chiefs will have respect for.’
“So I put him up until his foot caught in the cleft of the rock and he pried out five of the arrows.
“‘Arrows of the Five Chiefs,’ he said,–‘that the chiefs gave to the gods to keep, and the gods have given to me again!’
“That was the way always with Taku-Wakin, he kept all the god customs of the people, but he never doubted, when he had found what he wanted to do, that the gods would be on his side. He showed me how every arrow was a little different from the others in the way the blood drain was cut or the shaft feathered.
“‘No fear,’ he said. ‘Every man will know his own when I come to the Council.’
“He hugged the arrows to his breast and laughed over them, so I hugged him with my trunk, and we agreed that once in every full moon I was to come to Burnt Woods, and wait until he called me with something that he took from his girdle and twirled on a thong. I do not know what it was called, but it had a voice like young thunder.
“Like this?” The Mound-Builder cut the air with an oddly shaped bit of wood swung on an arm’s-length of string, once lightly, like a covey of quail rising, and then loud like a wind in the full-branched forest.
“Just such another. Thrice he swung it so that I might not mistake the sound, and that was the last I saw of him, hugging his five arrows, with the moon gone pale like a meal-cake, and the tame wolves that skulk between the huts for scraps, slinking off as he spoke to them.”
“And did they–the Five Chiefs, I mean–have respect for his arrows?” Dorcas Jane wondered.
“So he told me. They came from all the nine villages and sat in a council ring, each with the elders of his village behind him, and in front his favorite weapon, tied with eagle feathers for enemies he had slain, and red marks for battles, and other signs and trophies. At the head of the circle there was the spear of Long-Hand, and a place left for the one who should be elected to sit in it. But before the Council had time to begin, came Taku-Wakin with his arms folded–though he told me it was to hide how his heart jumped in his bosom–and took his father’s seat. Around the ring of the chiefs and elders ran a growl like the circling of thunder in sultry weather, and immediately it was turned into coughing; every man trying to eat his own exclamation, for, as he sat, Taku laid out, in place of a trophy, the five arrows.
“‘Do we sit at a game of knuckle-bone?’ said Opata at last, ‘or is this a Council of the Elders?’
“‘Game or Council,’ said Taku-Wakin, ‘I sit in my father’s place until I have a Sign from him whom he will have to sit there.'”
“But I don’t understand–” began Oliver, looking about the circle of listening Indians. “His father was dead, wasn’t he?”
“What is ‘dead’?” said the Lenni-Lenape; “Indians do not know. Our friends go out of their bodies; where? Into another–or into a beast? When I was still strapped in my basket my father set me on a bear that he had killed and prayed that the bear’s cunning and strength should pass into me. Taku-Wakin’s people thought that the heart of Long-Hand might have gone into the Mastodon.”
“Why not?” agreed Arrumpa gravely. “I remember that Taku would call me Father at times, and–if he was very fond of me–Grandfather. But all he wanted at that tune was to keep Opata from being elected in his father’s place, and Opata, who understood this perfectly, was very angry.
“‘It is the custom,’ he said, ‘when a chief sleeps in the High Places,’–he meant the hilltops where they left their dead on poles or tied to the tree branches,–‘that we elect another to his place in the Council.’
“‘Also it is a custom,’ said Taku-Wakin, ‘to bring the token of his great exploit into Council and quicken the heart by hearing of it. You have heard, O Chiefs,” he said, “that my people had a plan for the good of the people, and it has come to me in my heart that that plan was stronger in him than death. For he was a man who finished what he had begun, and it may be that he is long-handed enough to reach back from the place where he has gone. And this is a Sign to me, that he has taken his cut stick, which had the secret of his plan, with him.’
“Taku-Wakin fiddled with the arrows, laying them straight, hardly daring to look up at Opata, for if the chief had his father’s cut stick, now would be the time that he would show it. Out of the tail of his eye he could see that the rest of the Council were startled. That was the way with men. Me they would trap, and take the skin of Saber-Tooth to wrap their cubs in, but at the hint of a Sign, or an old custom slighted, they would grow suddenly afraid. Then Taku looked up and saw Opata stroking his face with his hand to hide what he was thinking. He was no fool, and he saw that if the election was pressed, Taku-Wakin, boy as he was, would sit in his father’s place because of the five arrows. Taku-Wakin stood up and stretched out his hand to the Council.
“‘Is it agreed, O Chiefs, that you keep my father’s place until there is a Sign?’–and a deepHu-huhran all about the circle. It was sign enough for them that the son of Long-Hand played unhurt with arrows that had been given to the gods. Taku stretched his hand to Opata, ‘Is it agreed, O Chief?’
“‘So long as the tribe comes to no harm,’ said Opata, making the best of a bad business. ‘It shall be kept until Long-Hand or his Talking Rod comes back to us.’
“‘And,’ said Taku-Wakin to me, ‘whether Opata or I first sits in it, depends on which one of us can first produce a Sign.'”