Project Gutenberg's jolly Blackguard eBook, by Roger Pocock (2023)

Projeto Gutenberg eBook de The Jolly Scoundrel, por Roger Pocock

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Title: The Cheerful Trickster

Autor: Roger Pocock

Release Date: March 29, 2023 [eBook #70400]

English language

Produced by: AlHaines




Author of

Good people, for only God can make them wise
and friendly, the province of the jester is
just for fun






EUThe glamor of youth

youthe age of chivalry

thirdThe balance of events

4the passions of war

Vthe idiots

VIgolf club

VIIA rudderless ship

viiimister sheep

IXThe sacrifice

xa torture test

XIThe Soul of Mancha

XIIInspector Buckie's Narrative





I, José de la Mancha y O'Brien, was born on November 9, 1865, in Spain, of an Irish mother and Spanish father. Ten years later, my parents entered the service of God, my father came from a battlefield, my mother lived in a convent.

With my brother, D. Pedro Pirralho, then eight years old, I was sent away from Spain with Tita, a fat Irish aunt, whose highly poisonous husband, Uncle Tito, was English and lived in London. From his house, when he was old enough, I took the brat to my school, where I took care of his morals with a small collar. I was busy for several semesters explaining to the other boys at school that they were heretics and damned to hell, and since my skin wasn't big enough to handle the licks they gave me, they paid the rest to my little brother. He still spoke broken English and couldn't understand why he should share with me the glories of early martyrdom. He avoided me.

However, when in 1883 I went to the university, the brat did not like to be left alone. In fact, he ran out of school, and when I heard from him again, he was in America, where he had gone to work for a man named Lane. When the summer holidays freed me, Aunt Tita gave me money and sent me to look for my little boy. She should take him home and put him in a private school in Oxford, where she could always keep him out of trouble. So I set off, determined to flay the Brat's ears when I caught him. Perhaps I expected so much and was ungrateful, for when I arrived in Winnipeg in due course - whence your letter appears to have been sent - I could find no trace of my brother or of any man named Lane in Manitoba. There the search ended in bitter disappointment.

When I lost my brother, with nothing in the world to love, a dog adopted me. RichMixed got its name from a box of cookies that contained twenty-seven different species of cookies. You will find that a dog must be of the noblest pedigree that has twenty-seven quarters to its coat of arms and shows unmistakable descent from every possible type of thoroughbred, from the daschund to the great dane. I loved him very much and he comforted me for the loss of my brother.

Since she couldn't take Brat home and wouldn't return without him, she had no use for the remaining funds. Most of the money was raised in a horse race in which the wrong horses won. The rest just scattered.

At that moment, a washerwoman chased me with a bundle of my clothes and a bill I couldn't pay. To get rid of this poor widow, I sent her with a note to the Presbyterian minister. My letter accused him of abandoning someone he swore to always love and care for. Mrs. Minister seems to have been morbid, because she chased me to the police for trying to extort money from me. He couldn't stay safe in Winnipeg.

And yet I had no means of escape then until I thought of Tito's boudoir, a gift from His late Catholic majesty to my fat uncle. It ended up paying for a farewell dinner, at which I consulted my friends about escaping the city. Then, as soon as they started giving me good advice, the police became nasty. I fled with my advisers in a taxi beyond the city limits, and there we found a bad house where wine abounded. At the gate we left the coachman crowned with a ham-ruffled wreath and singing lullabies to his old horse. Inside, we drank more wine than we could carry. Later, Rich Mixed and I left to find my brother. We had nowhere to go and no money, so we didn't get far before I fell asleep in the starry meadow.

Once Rich Mixed woke me up and heard a terrible howl near us, a wolf's howl, but in its human pulse something beyond all bestial anguish, a heartbreaking desolation that howled like a star, as its faint echoes pulsed. on the horizon. Mission huskies responded with their tongues, domesticated dogs barked in faraway Winnipeg. For a while, RichMixed and I listened, while above us the twinkle of stars drowned in the depths of the vast sky.

Again I awoke, feeling the icy freshness of the grass, breathing delicious air fragrant with the scent of roses. The green dawn was widening, outlining the skyline with a clear topaz light. Here, in the electric air of the Great Plains, life was pure delight, from the fragrant soil to those expanses of aerial splendor that heralded the sun. I've never felt so good, not half as happy. And I was drunk. Is the reader surprised? Why? If we poor moths were horrified by candles, our wings would not burn.

In my sleep, and from the moment I awoke, I was troubled by the midnight noise, those heartbreaking, dying howls. Who was howling? And what the hell was he howling? Seeing this I stood up stretching and feeling a little dizzy, as if I was running in circles. Then I staggered forward, tripped, and sat down with a thud in a grave. The place was full of graves!

And as it fell, the mournful wail in the twilight changed from a half-howl to an amused laugh. Then a soft voice said to me: "Then, you come!"

I looked up and saw Rain.

You may remember Tennyson's words, about the Woman you and I and all true men love:

"As I beheld her, before she knew my heart,
My first and last love, the idol of my youth,
The darling of my manhood, and alas!
Now the most blessed memory of my age."

The desert has always been for me a visible expression of that great Holy Trinity of Power, Love and Truth that we call God.

In Lluvia, the desert glamor of God had assumed the human form of a red-haired Indian woman with the delicious gravity of youth, the childlike purity of the unsullied savage, wholesome strength, athletic grace, and mocking eyes. The pain had made her distant at that moment, removed from the world I lived in like a Virgin placed on an altar, but her smile seemed to mock me. I looked at her in awe, wonder, and if she loved, the love she offered was sacred, not profane. However, if he seemed to adore her, she would tease him, so he had to pretend that a boy would make a girl. "Oh, don't mind me," I stammered. "Please continue that howl!"

"Drunken-in-the-morning boy," she replied. "My dream, it says come."

"So I came," I said.

Years later, when I had learned their language, Rain told me in Blackfoot the whole story of the adventure that led to her meeting me there on the plains at dawn.

She was a Blackfoot, of the Piegan, or southern tribe, who settled in Montana, and her father was Brings-down-the-Sun, a warlord and priest. The winter before we met, the Piegan chiefs came to her father's cabin. At their request he opened the sacred bundle of the Buffalo Mystery, whose ancient and solemn ritual occupied them a day and a night in prayer. They later held a council meeting to discuss the apparent depletion of the bison herds the people depended on for food.

For years, the stone hearts (white men) have killed millions of bison for their hides, leaving the flesh to rot. Now the last herds were surrounded by starving tribes, and the end was near when the people would starve to death. So the chiefs sat in council.

He told Flat Tail in his dream that all buffalo were hiding in a cave. Iron Shirt believed that the Hearts of Stone hid the country's main herd beyond the Spine of the World (the Rocky Mountains). But Bring-Down-the-Sun told of an Ojibway from the Far East, who told him of the Man-it-o-ba or Land of the Great Spirit near the abode where the Sun God lived, whence the heroes departed. every morning to cross the sky "I am going," he told the council, "to this Land of God, and there I will open my sacred bundle again. I will speak with the Spirit of the Sun about our herds of bison and how the Hearts of Stone are doing wasting them. I will pray that the hearts of stone turn to flesh and blood, that all people do not die".

So, taking his daughter, Rain, to serve him in the ritual, Bring-Down-the-Sun set out from his home on the Spine of the World and traveled eastward for a thousand miles across the plains of Manitoba, which was the Land of God. . There, at dawn, saying his prayer, he died, passing the threshold of the house of God into the presence.

Rain showed me the hole where Stoneheart had buried his father. The earth spirits would trap him there, so she tore up the earth and pulled out the body. He had built a scaffold, where his dead now lay majestically dressed and armed, facing the dawn. He had shot his father's horses so that his ghost could lead his shadow to the Sand Hills.

And so she prayed.

"O great Person above Medicine, Spirit in the Sun, I implore you!

"All of you, Superior and Inferior Spirits, take my prayer to the Sun!

And all you Holy Animals, wiser and stronger than I am, have mercy! pray for me

"I sacrificed my jewels and my long locks of hair. Great Sun God, take my father's shadow to the Sandy Hills, to be with our dead."

The Seven Persons, our stars of the Big Dipper, pointed towards the earth; The Lost Boys, our Pleiades, were napping on their way to bed when Rain felt the spirit leave his father's body to walk the Path of the Wolf, the milky way that leads to the afterlife.

And there was Morning Star. "Dear Morning Star," she pleaded, "don't give me long life, for I am alone."

He threw himself onto the churned floor. "Oh mother," she sobbed, "I am alone and, oh, afraid. And you, dear Beaver Woman, my Dream Helper, can you not send me help? Oh, send a man to take me to my people."

Piegan's camp was a thousand miles away. What chance did she have of escaping death among the hostile tribes in between, or outrage at the hands of the Hearts of Stone?

It was then that he raised his voice in the Indian death-cry, and so he howled until dawn came, sent by his secret attendant in answer to his prayer.

I saw the plundered tomb, the scaffold and its dead. "The people," I said, "who run this cemetery will be very happy."

"You think? My old man, he looks for the Man-it-ou, but the Black Cloak," observed the San Bonifacio Mission, "the holy man, he says 'The King of God is within you'. So, my old man the man —this one with a grand gesture snatching himself towards the sky— will look for it!

Rain's conversation was a combination of charm, a mix of French dialect, two or three words of English, and sign language. But, as we Spaniards say, she waslindo, his eyes, his smile, expressing everything he felt, and I found a great interpreter in love.

Her blanket, wide open, revealed a beautiful tunic of white antelope skin, trimmed with softly clinking moose teeth.

"Little duck!" I whispered. This was unholy love, but it really couldn't be helped.

"K'ya!" She backed away, folding the blanket over her chest. "Drunken-in-the-morning boy, youmétis, isn't it?"

"Half Blood!" I said, not satisfied. "Not Spanish."

"Why are you coming?"

"Well, you see, my younger brother, Brat, was at school."

"All the same mission?"

"Yes, a place called Eton, mission school for half-bloods. He ran away to be a pirate, and I ran after him to keep him out of mischief."

"¿Meescheef? No entiendo. ¿Eres catchum?"

"No, she's with a man called Shifty Lane."

— Speak ill, I know him. The dog-faced man. She removed her forked fingers from her mouth, the sign of the snake's tongue, which meant that Lane was a liar.

"You come," he pleaded, "I'll take you to Dog-Face Lane. My dream says I'll take you."

"That's very decent of you."

Day filled the sky, but there was still no sunlight or shadow, just a faint glow filled with the quiet restlessness of birds, a rising glow of goldenrod and prairie sunflower color, and a fresh wild scent.

Some little demon possessed me in that moment, as I threw my arms around the child, only to find that she was holding an empty blanket, while with her arms outstretched the cheerful beggar was flushed and panting as she teased me. Did he have enough scalps? Was my hut red with flesh? How many horses did Rain have to buy? "Oh, morning drunk boy, the quick foxcatchum trap!"

Oh me! He could never withhold the tribute due to women, which every citizen must pay to his sovereign power. So long I begged for mercy that the sun burned the horizon, and all the east was an immense glory before she accepted to be my mother. A girl who plays is irresistible.

"To swear!" she said. "If you touch me, you go too fast."

"I swear that I love you."

"You love like the wind, huh? Many."

I'm terribly gentle when they kiss me.

"Perhaps so. Now you get a horse."

My horse? I didn't have a horse.

"Poor?" she asked.

"I'm all I have," I told him.

"Suppose," Rain said happily, "I make it Indian?"

"What! Are you going to make an Indian out of me? Oh, what an alarm! Let's go!"

He led me through a grove of poplar trees, all green and silver, and in his little tent, Rich Mixed and I ate breakfast. Then she left us to watch a copper pot of herbs boiling and slipped onto her father's graveyard scaffolding. There, with a colorful apology to the Sun God, he took the braids out of his hair and sacrificed the tip of his left little finger. When he returned to the tent, he showed me his bandaged hand and said he had cut his finger, but at that moment I was more interested in my cigarette, the last one. Then, as I sat down with a shaving mirror in front of me, she wove her braids of hair into my black straw, so that the long braids fell from my shoulders almost to my waist. I was delighted, especially when she placed an eagle feather straight on the back of my head.

My evening gown, which had wowed Winnipeg the night before, no longer looked right. Rain asked me to take it off, showing me the juice from his pot of herbs, also a thong, which scared me a little. Still, it didn't take long for me to undress, to play red skin with brown juice and swing, until Rain saw it again. She opened a chest of parfleche (arrow-proof fur) to show me her father's clothes and, crouched by the fire, burned sweet grass as incense to purify us.

For me, dressing up was a joke; for her, a sacred rite, the imposition of manhood and honor. With each new garment, she recited prayers: as I donned the suede leggings and the war shirt, with its delicious smell of wood smoke, the parfleche-soled loafers for which the Blackfoot nation is named, and the wide belt studded with brass studs. . He then gave me a painted buffalo leather tunic and showed me how to use the medicinal iron, a Winchester .45-70.

Perhaps I should mention that Rich Mixed exploded and bit this Indian before he realized the person inside was me. But he had never been so satisfied.

Let me humbly confess unusual strength and grace of body, an agent's bearing, and a pitiful countenance: the pointed forehead and strong features of an Indian, the pointed ears, the devilish eyes and brows, and the broad, supple ones of a faun. In civilized clothes, it was grotesque; but there was mystery in Indian dress, which made me real and natural for the first time. I have always had a sickly, passionate desire for all things beautiful, a fierce delight in colour, line, proportion, harmony, and now, with the change of dress, I was no longer hideous. I had come to mine, and when Rain broke camp, I happily ran to round up his herd of ponies.

At this point, I must pause for judgment with a sappy comment about all the blessings I've left behind:

Article. My worthy aunt, drenched in many tears, but greatly relieved. I hope he saw my untimely end.

Article. My pernicious uncle, who in due course appeared before a judge in Salas asking permission to presume my brother and I dead so that his wife would have our inheritance.

Article. My Perspectives Mine was the only kind of education that guaranteed the conversion of profligate drunks.

Article. Winnipeg. This town was maintained at the time by the only fraud industry in real estate. I was offered a job as a cheater.

Article. The House of the Red Lamp, where my guests from the night before were waiting for me.


Any reader who hates geography better skip this passage. It's a boring subject, only introduced when the writer wants to show off. This should be enough to drown out the voluminous reader, and so I can safely divulge to the gentle reader that I am alluding to the geography of love.

Rain trickled down the frontier path, which follows the main divide between the land of childhood and the domain of manhood. It's a narrow trail, no wider than a tightrope, so we fell on both sides. You see, Rain's adopted son was too old for maternal caresses, too young for other caresses. And Rain herself set a bad example for me. She could never manage to be motherly without overdoing it, but she usually did a hundred before breakfast and a five with her first cup of coffee. Then I would waste my time being your affectionate little boy when it was my manly duty to kill a rabbit for dinner. I have never been tracked by a frosty morning when my mother sent me to the bathroom in an ice-filled swamp. That daily shower in all weathers is the Blackfeet's most dreadful habit, whereas I like to keep warm. An adopted son should not hug his mother while cooking either, but when she hits me, it offends me. And how Rain could howl one afternoon for her poor father, while I sang lewd songs like "Obediah! Obediah! Oh, damn it!"

I imagined myself as an Indian warrior and hoped Rain would admire me in the role. exaggerate? Of course. If I were a rigid Englishman, forcing the world to adapt to me, too proud to make a fool of myself, too austere to be amused, but I'm not. I am human, Spanish with an Irish touch, fluent in adapting to my environment. I wildly exaggerated a redskin so wild and goofy that Rain would laugh, get hurt, and go into hysterics.

We played manual chat until we could talk. We played Blackfoot lingo until I understood when she didn't babble. I learned to tie, pack, track and sign faster than she could teach me. But what was the use of Rain playing teacher when her student chased her around the campfire and then ruffled her hair with childish hugs and kisses as a reward for being too good? In vain he reminded me of my oath that he would go to hell if he touched her again.

"I, the Indian now," I said. "The white man is too full: there is no place for the Indians."

She couldn't teach me the warrior's trade, and my ideas of finding water always led me to dry camps. I liked a good big fire at night, and during the day I delighted in riding along the horizon firing my gun, in that land you believe. , Dakotas, Grosventres and Absarokas collected scalps like you collect postage stamps.

My notion of hunting was to ride into the wind and lose game in the air, which suited the antelope and the rabbit. As for the prairie chickens and ducks, they sat in front of my shotgun shooting with complete confidence and without any risk. Even before I fired my last round, Rain was forced to add my work to hers, and if she hadn't taken the ground game, we would have starved to death. His religion forbade eating fish and game, so in his most pious mood, he ate for both. And since I was neither useful nor ornamental, Rain took care of me. Being a mother is a girl's game, a woman's life. The rain amused me too, like comic relief to life.

I want you to understand that we were a boy and a girl together, not a man and a woman. We played love as one of many games, but we lived apart. We play mother and son, teacher and student, but not husband and wife. I thought my honor should be something heroic, sacred, absolute, like a great force, as long as Rain trusted me.

I think a gentleman is someone who expects a lot from himself and little from others. He may be disappointed in himself if he betrays a woman's trust, does not live up to his own resources and opportunities, or marries for money, or is supported by a woman. However, he can promise to be the servant of a woman, whether queen or peasant, and fight for her defense without losing his honor. He was content to be Rain's servant while she was in danger. And then? Guys don't care about him afterwards.

From the Red River to the Rocky Mountains, the Canadian Plains form three steps, the lower or Manitoban, the middle or Saskatchewan, and the upper or Albertan, in all about a thousand miles in breadth. At the time of our journey they were in almost unbroken solitude. In many districts the skulls of bison lay like white headstones in a cemetery, stretching in all directions beyond the horizon. The herds were gone, the hunters followed, and the land was empty, a desolation such as our world has never known and never will again.

The rain drove us from the few and scattered frontiersmen's houses, away from the camps used by possibly hostile savages, and, at the end of the tenth week, brought me to the high western escarpment of the Cypress Hills.

Below us the grass, with many tawny crests and pale blue valleys, stretched out in a golden haze, and like a belt of clouds far above rose the gray Spine of the World, speckled and speckled with snow. Beyond, in the Rocky Mountains, lived his people. Here, at our feet, was MilkRiver's Writing-on-Stone, where my younger brother worked for ShiftyLane.

To obtain that day's rations, we chewed rabbit hides, and at dusk arrived at the Lane Trading Post, hoping that after we had made camp we would exchange for provisions. But while Rain was unloading the ponies and I was putting on a dressing gown to watch over her, Miss Lane rode out of the house. The merchant's mixed-race daughter was eager to show off in her printed cotton dress, sun hat, genuine leather shoes, and gold-plated jewelery set with glass stones, insignia of her grandeur and importance.

"K'ya!" he yelled, when Rich Mixed finished barking, then reined in his cayuse roan, surveying our beggar camp. "Kyai-yo." She tapped her lips with one hand so that the exclamation came out in broken bursts. "Ky-ai-i-yo-o! Poor starving!"

"I have a horse," I said, "to trade for food." But she ignored me, babbling in Blackfoot. "No," she babbled, "don't think of trading horses with my father. All the people try to trade them for food, but we don't have enough food for the winter, and he gets mad. So they go off and eat a pony. "

"My rifle," I said, "don't you want to take it?"

"There's not a buffalo left," said Miss. Lane, "and people can't find any deer. Well, Flat Tail's herd has been reduced to fish, and you know the Sun God forbids them to eat fish."

"Don't you listen?" asked Rain. "Oh Got-Wet, let's sell the rifle."

But Got-Wet looked at me, then turned to Rain with a smile as he declared in English, "He pretends to be an Indian!"

Rain bribed the girl into silence with a gift from the Saint Boniface Mission, a pincushion cover made from Berlin wool, depicting a blue cat against a green sky, sitting, head turned to the right, eyes crinkled. of pink. In unbearable ecstasies, Got-Wet promised a dinner after dark. Meanwhile, she stayed behind to gossip, advising Rain on the art of setting up camp, occasionally glancing at the fake Indian, followed by a great pantomime of fear. As for me, I was too proud to let a girl lead me out of camp, too hungry to look for my brother, too shy to interview the merchant and buy food. through my lordly nose, face a white man?

And in excited whispers, Me-Mojaba told Lluvia how Pedro, a wonderfully incompetent white boy, had run away with his cow. Yes, last night he had stolen the cow and run to the Medicine Line (the border between the United States and Canada).

Oh, so beautiful too! And how he admired her. Well, once, the rest was told in whispers, and it must have been a secret I was too young to hear.

Pedro, of course, was my Brat, but I could hardly imagine a La Mancha stealing a mere cow. Still, it could be none other than my brother.

However, according to Got-Wet, my brother had fled the country and a rider was hastily sent to meet the soldier ponies. He hadn't heard of any mounted troops. Who were these pony soldiers?

I could tell that whoever the soldiers were, Got-Wet was downright scared that my brother would get caught. He started begging Rain to mount right away, ride hard all night, get my brat and bring home the stolen cow. Yes, he would pay us a bag of flour and a ration of bacon if we went looking for the cow. And while we did that, we might as well warn the silly boy to hide in the rocks until the soldiers passed.

Rain gave me a look, to show she understood my brother's danger. Yes, he would ride with me as soon as we had finished our dinner and had flour and bacon for the journey. But who was the messenger who had gone to fetch the soldiers?

"Why, Tail Feathers around the neck. Who else could go?"

I saw Rain blush. "But," he said, "Tail Feathers went hunting the buffalo."

"There were no buffaloes," Got-Wet said. "SoTail-Feathers is back. You know, he's the best rifleman ever... Well, that's how he got a job, with rations and great pay. Now he's a interpreter-scout for the pony soldiers."

With nods and winks, Got-Wet let us know that Tail-Feathers adored her too. Not that she stooped to marry a mere Indian. "Oh no," she smiled. "Die first. Still, he adores me, and he mounted immediately when I told him to go find the soldiers."

"How far did you have to go looking for the soldiers?"

"Just to slip out. They'll be here at dawn. Oh, Rain, will you ride and warn that boy tonight? Promise me, darling."

"Should I tell Pedro that you love him?" Rain asked demurely.

But Got-Wet yelled, "No," then he turned his pony and galloped home, shouting over his shoulder, "Tell him I'm going to marry his fake Indian. There!"

As hungry as I am, I've always enjoyed seeing Camp Rainpitching. He took the four key poles of his tent and tied them close to their smaller ends; then place their ends in four squares on the floor so that they form a pyramid. Then he placed the replacement pins against the crotch of the key's pins so that their ends formed a circle with the square. place it in position so that the ears, or weather vanes, and the door open in the direction of the wind. She had reduced the cabin in mourning, with only room for our two backs and sets of cloaks over medium heat. It was, however, less comfortable for being small, so when I saw its smoke burning in the dark, I dragged myself home to sulk. I found Rain chuckling softly as she made the beds, and gurgling at intervals, told me all the news of how my brother had stolen a cow, and how his enemy, the Blackfoot warrior Tail-Feathers, had gone to fetch a pony. . Soldiers Rain blushed to the roots of her hair, and then she told me about Tail-Feathers. She would be Mrs. Tail-Feathers as soon as she got home to Camp Piegan.

"So," I said, "why is Tail Feathers flirting with that idiot?"

Got-Wet, Rain told me, was witty and lying.

I was in a bad mood. The time was approaching when I should part with Rain or marry her. At that time it didn't seem right that my father's son would marry a simple Indian woman, and even so, the idea of ​​separation hurt me a lot. I hated Tail-Feathers even more because I saw that Rain loved him. And I was so hungry.

At dusk Got-Wet arrived, his pony laden with flour and bacon, which he immediately made us hide because it was stolen from his father's shop. He also had a plate of scratches, hash browns and bacon, with soggy pasty and a can of lukewarm coffee-good enough for Indians. He crouched in the tent to watch us eat voraciously, giving us directions to the trails amid furious conversation. Thus came a long-haired, gray-haired country boy, old Shifty Lane, hairy and noisy, who cursed his daughter for feeding Indian beggars and led her home in the dark. Rain wanted to speak, but I, who was empty before, was now full and snoring with desire. At that moment the fire went out.

When Rain woke up, a thin ray of moonlight crept through the darkness near where I was, and sitting in the boss's seat, she saw her father's spirit. He was always there to protect her at night, perhaps to hear her sigh of deep contentment as she shifted to sleep.


At midnight, Rain hurried me to round up the ponies as he broke camp. Why should I be so eager to warn my brat? I didn't spend time watering the ponies, but I drove the team hard, wasting hours on bad, starry terrain that we could have crossed safely in the morning. Dawn finally came and we picked up the footprints of the stolen cow. Next to them were the prints of a white man's boots, big enough for Snotty and too small for anyone else. The rain washed his hut-post travois, and our loose ponies, to erase these telltale signs, as he made his way up the Milk River valley, under long cliffs of crenellated rock. There were orchards of ripe berries, but the rain persisted at a brisk pace as the sun rose in the east and fell across the western sky. So, as the sun was setting in the west, we found our quarry, El Señor Don Pedro de la Mancha, with his arms around the cow's neck, sobbing bitterly.

It was so hot that he rode in a loincloth and moccasin, the Indians' war dress. Add to this the diabolical screech of the Indian war and the pack horse, and you realize that poor Snotty barely had time to jump in fright before a wild, naked savage roared at a gallop above him.

He sat up, fully prepared for death, and yet, with his nose flattened and his heart full of indignation, he resolved to sell his life dearly. The heroes, let us remember here, in the fiction of the red Indians, always sell their lives dearly, but never die seriously because that would spoil the plot. The right thing to do was to pull out the Colt .44 revolver with an eight-and-a-half-inch barrel and thus prepare for the great exploits of war. It was a pity that all his rounds were .45. If only they had planted the weapon, what a bloody scene!

"What do you mean by stealing cows?" I asked him, "Hey, you dirty bastard? Get up and bang your head! I'll teach you how to do mischief! Now, brat, I'm going to give you the worst spanking ever."

However, although I addressed the Brat in my best Eton style, the public school tone, as if coming from a naked savage, failed to fully win me over. It wasn't until I dismounted and diligently fulfilled my promise, and having given him a good hiding place, started to give him some more, that Brat began to dimly realize that I was in fact his brother.

Until now, dear Rain, impatient with us, she watched from her chair at the white men's ceremonies, when brothers are reunited after a long separation. Now, seeing that a ponytail of my fake hair had fallen out, he made me crouch as he hurriedly braided it. again, cooing sympathetically when she pulled too hard. Brat sat opposite, panting and making friends with my dog, and as his nose was bleeding, he announced that he too was going to become a red Indian.

I asked him, gravely, "How?"

"Then," he said, "I'll be a thief anyway."

"Look," I said, "you know I've come a long way and tried very hard to keep you out of trouble. You're not going to play pig. Gadarene pig, if you're not respectable in this life, where will you go?" when to die?" ?

Brat didn't understand why I should have all the fun so I invited him in for another spanking and he apologized.

"Promise me," I said, "to be good."

Seeing preparations for war, he made a sullen promise.

"Can I help you Bob?"

"Help me".

"Bright honor?"

Bet your sixpence.

"Brat, why don't you become a cowboy?"

"But is that respectable?"

"Extremely. Go and be well in the States, where you'll have plenty of space. I don't want to bother you, brat."

"I know, Hosey."

Of course, we were speaking in Spanish, and in our language my name is spelled José, so the English cannot guess the pronunciation.

"And you may say," I added generously, "that this gun," he pointed, "was stolen from you by the Indians." Also the cow.

"But it's not true!"


"Ah, but it's not fair!"

"Girl," I told her, "our ancestors were not caught by mere pony soldiers with trifles like a gun and a cow."

"Soldier ponies?"


"You don't mean the mounted police?"

I had never heard of the mounted police, but they looked stern and stern.

"I do not care!" shout out. "I bought this gun from your sergeant."

"And a license?"

"But the shells," said poor Snotty, "are forty-five and won't fit the forty-four caliber. You might as well let me keep my gun."

"Oh okay." I must admit I was reluctant. "To take!"

"And the cow. Shifty Lane wasn't paying my wages so I took his cow. The police will say it was good for him."

I was too hungry to give up real meat. "No," I said firmly, "you'd better let me take care of the poor cow."

Then Brat started to tell me about his adventures and how he had been foolish enough to flirt with Got-Wet. He was disgusted with him, especially as Lane's mixed-race daughter was making rough love to the Tail-Feathers Indian. I told Brat he really needed to remember his rank, his natural obligations of rank, the sheer madness of stooping to a creature like Got-Wet. In fact, I had some hope of improving my brother's morale by setting precept and example when Rain said the soldiers were coming. It worried us the whole time we talked.

I kissed poor Brat and we promised to write letters to him, though neither of us thought of making an apostate speech. So I sent him away with my blessing.

"Go with God!"

"Goodbyesobbed the brat.Bye Bye!"

So we parted, and my little brother went down the valley, very grateful. At a corner of the cliffs, he waved his hat in farewell and disappeared from view.

For my part, I mounted my sorrel and rode away, leading the cow towards a defile in the cliffs, where I resolved to eat a steak for the first time without foolish delay. But Rain followed me with the beasts of burden, claiming there were soldiers chasing me. He spoke of a terrible fate that awaited the Indian cow-stealers caught in the act with the white man's meat.

Of course, what she said was very nice for the Indians, but I told her that I was white and that all pony soldiers could burn. I was hungry.

Poor thing! I think he was craving a juicy prime rib, a tongue, the kidneys as much as I was. Unable to resist the kidneys, Rain followed. The low sun was right in our eyes. The meadow was all misty; we couldn't see very well. And Rain was crying.

And through her sobs, Rain warned me. The scout-interpreter, who brought the soldiers to capture a cow thief, was none other than her own betrothed. Tail-Feathers would see the two of us together. I would be angry, jealous. He was the Blackfoot Nation's Rifle Shooting Champion. He had a rifle to threaten, no cartridges to shoot. So he made me run away from him and march quickly through these weary hours. Delaying our flight was death.

I gritted my teeth and refused the slightest warning. I hated Tail Feathers!


Between the meadow and the foot of the cliff, the old Milk River channel had left a narrow lake. It left me paralyzed, and as I searched for a way around the water, a cloud of smoke appeared over the edge of the cliff above my head, a rifle shot rang out with echoes of thunder, and my sorrel horse fell dead, leaving me dead. or less in the air. A second shot destroyed my cow. A third grazed my bare shoulder, drawing up blood. Then Rain came galloping to my rescue, calling Blackfoot to the man on the cliff.

"Tail Feathers! Oh, Tail Feathers, how could you? You killed my pony, I spoiled the cow! Don't kill my woman!"

You Indian! He called me a squaw!To me! I jumped up and down in my fury.

"See," Rain yelled. "My Indian is dancing! Look!"

"How dare you!" I screamed.

"Drunken-boy-in-the-morning," his eyes danced with amusement, "I'm saving your life, you fool."

"Mind your own business!"

"To see!" He pointed to an emaciated, middle-aged Indian in a gray suit, who was riding along the horizon looking for a way to the cliffs. "Done," she said. "My man".

It was certainly very uncomfortable.

"I am his woman," she said demurely, and then shook her head with a flash of true pride, "and he is my man! He is coming now to take me to his chambers."

"But what right did the guy have to shoot me? Damn guts, he shot me!"

"Not really," he stroked the long carved column into my shoulder. Then she would babble so fast in her sweet liquid speech that I could only catch flying words.

I was telling Tail Feathers to stop killing me. How I care!

Tail-Feathers was a mighty warrior, who could never stoop to killing a mere child without a scalp, a child in a fake wig of women's hair. He begged me to go work in the camp, the squaw job, so I could stay alive until the soldiers caught me.

Blind with sobbing, groaning with rage, I pulled the lever back and locked it in place, as if I were loading my rifle. Tail Feathers should have thought he had a man with a gun to fight, not a woman begging for his mercy. I knelt down and looked at the approaching knight. If only he were carried!

Rain was nervous. Her small, workworn hands shook as they stroked my head. "You are not an Indian," he whispered. "Not like an Indian, kneeling here in the open air, exposed, with an unloaded rifle. Fighting out in the open with an unloaded gun is the kind of person that makes my man laugh. Oh, surely he must see you're just a mere child, a child, too young to kill.

Watch as he leaves his pony and descends, moving from bush to bush and hiding behind rocks. He comes really close to see what's going on, why don't you shoot. And I'm behind you, so if he shoots, he'll shoot. catch us both. Hear him scream: He wants me out of his line of fire. I'm so afraid! She ruffled my hair and gave these weird, shaky giggles. "Ho, Tail-Feathers", he yelled, "you will not kill my funny boy anymore. I will never love you if you hurt my boy."

But Tail-Feathers screamed from behind a rock, denouncing her as a libertine unfit to be his wife.

"Men are so stupid," he whispered in my ear. "He's going to shoot us both."

I asked her quickly and abruptly if she would be my wife. If I brought her to a point like this, it was her duty, and like a gentleman she couldn't do less. However, when she replied, "No," I was relieved.

"Marry you," he chuckled, "be your wife?" The morning drunk boy will take me to his shelter from all winds, a strange person who can neither hunt nor fight nor even flee. starve next winter. Oh, funny boy, I hope my man doesn't get you."

Now she woke me up with such a frenzy that death was easy compared with the shame of life. I could see the Indian crawling behind a rock not fifty feet away. Blackfeet don't take oaths, but I could, and did, until Rain recoiled in horror. I jumped straight at the man, who was so scared he fired high.

He was pumping a new cartridge and praying to the Great Mystery to guide his aim. By all the rules of war, she had no right to accuse him, for no sane man would dare. He considered me crazy, bulletproof, inspired by the Great Spirit.

But when he turned to run, I thought I was losing him, and with a cry of passion I threw my rifle in the air. It hit him right at the base of the skull and knocked him off his feet.

So, with my foot on his neck, I turned on Rain. "Am I a woman or am I a man?" -I asked why-. Woman, come here, you are mine!

For just a shaky moment, Rain obeyed me. Then we both felt a tremor in the ground and, looking down the valley, we saw a mounted man, at full gallop, advancing towards us. "The pony soldiers! Fly to save your life!" cried Rain.


The Sliding Detachment was an outpost of the North West Mounted Police, where the sergeant in charge had the mumps, which made him look ridiculous and angry. Tail-Feather, the interpreter scout, came to him with ShiftyLane's complaint about a stolen cow. There wasn't a single man to save, so a recruit, ConstableBuckie, was sent out on patrol with the scout as an escort.

Poor Buckie rode with a mixture of pride and pain:

PRIDE. Half a mile away, he threw the white helmet into a bush and donned a spare, the wide-brimmed prairie hat the police weren't allowed to wear in those days. He took off the handles because the pipe day had stained them and he kept them in his wallet. He used a silk handkerchief to dust his beautifully polished long boots once every mile. Other than that, he was dressed in a red dragon tunic, indigo pants with a yellow band around his legs, a white cross belt, a shiny belt of polished cartridges, a foot-long Adams revolver in his holster, and a Snyder carbine slung over his shoulder. in the chest. saddle horn. .

DOR. The poor sore tail would rather die on the job than let an Indian see his pain, but he rode well to starboard, or sometimes with a lean to port, and clung to bloody spurs, while he trotted a rough, lean gelding, whose trot it was agony.

PRIDE. Approaching Lane, she donned her gauntlets and glanced at Got-Wet, who had made his first signs of flirtation as he spoke to the scout in Blackfoot. He was making Tail Feathers understand how Rain, his betrothed wife, was riding just ahead with a white man dressed as an Indian. Leaving Agent Buckie to play with Got-Wet, the scout set out to kill me. What happened next between Got-Wet and Buckie in the barn attic is recorded in the official sheriff's notes as "information received". He was both proud and appalled at his own conduct, assuming that all flirtation was doomed to ruin.

DOR. Buckie rode through the valley all day wondering what could have happened to his mate. Towards night, the sound of rifle fire woke him up with the feeling that something was wrong. He saw the opportunity for some great exploit of war, and as he could not bear the pain of trotting or galloping, he had to charge at full gallop, keeping his eyes closed, for he was afraid to look.

PRIDE. He drew his gun.

Now I was standing on his companion's neck, sharpening my knife to scalp my first real Indian, when suddenly I saw a real Tommy Atkins of the Scarlet Cavalry somehow break free of England and charge straight at me, blind.

"Oh!" I said. "Wow, boss!"

At that moment, the slender gelding stopped, but the soldier continued until he collided and slid to my feet.

"Hello!" I said

The soldier blinked, pointed his gun and snarled, "Hands up, pig!"

But at the time, he wanted to challenge a whole regiment, so I told him I'd see him cursed first, because I wouldn't give up any tommys.

"Come on, hands up,nichito(amigo)."

"You're an idiot," I told him. "Can't you see I'm a white man?"

"You look like that," he said sarcastically; and as it was so neatly dyed brown as a disguise, I could only smile.

The rookie had doubts. That episode would be great in Saturday's letter to Mother, but what would they say in the barracks about pulling a gun on an unarmed man. He smiled, so I told him to put the gun away and not try to be funny. He obeyed.

"Consider yourself under arrest," he snarled, because NCOs were like that. she always turned to him. "Now," he got up, "what do you mean by killing the cow and my interpreter-scout?"

"If you-" I suggested softly.

"If you… what?"

"Please pig," I said.

-Well, fuck me! Tell me," he asked almost respectfully, "have you seen a young man named Pedro la Mancha around here?

"You dreamed."

"Ah, for that girl."

So I asked Rain in my best Blackfoot, but she didn't quite get it. Then it occurred to Agent Buckie that I might be Pedro in disguise.

"Here you," he asked Rain, "who killed that cow?" I translated.

Now Rain was afraid of the pony soldiers, but she remembered being insulted by her man and accused of being lewd. You should regret this!

"He killed the cow," she replied, pointing at Tail Feathers, who was unconscious.

"And the pony?"

Again he pointed to the interpreter-policeman.

"And who killed my Indian scout?"

In response, he showed the soldier the long red column of fire over my shoulder, while with an accusing finger he accused the police interpreter of attempted murder. "Drunken boy in the morning," he said in Blackfoot, "tell my words to the pony soldier. Tell him, I say you were out of cartridges when this man tried to kill you."

"She says," I explained, "that she had no ammunition, and that's a fact, worse luck."

"Tell him," Rain said, "that you hit Tail-Feathers with your medicine iron."

I blushed as I translated. "This mighty hero," she says, "has attacked like the great chief of all buffalo. His name is Charging Buffalo, and all that sort of thing, you don't know."

The Indian began to moan.

"Tell me," said Buckie, "Charging Buffalo aka Spotty Pedro, just tell the girl they're both my prisoners."

"Idiot ass," I translated, "thinks I'm Pedro, so we're prisoners. Isn't that a joke?"

"She's a beautiful piece," added Buckie. Tell him to slaughter the cow and cook dinner.

So I sent Rain to get dinner, and she went, head down, shuffling her feet because she was terrified of being a prisoner.

"Pedro," the soldier was unsaddling his horse, "you may play Indian, but I suppose you were bred for a lord, or some kind of pet. Say you won't run away, and your word is good enough. "

Since I had nowhere to run and nowhere to run, I easily granted parole. Wild horses couldn't have taken me out of that camp with any real insight.

"As for this hellish Tail-Feathers," ConstableBuckie looked around. "Hello! Watch out!"

The interpreter-scout felt much better now that he could sit down with his rifle and take a random shot at my back. I just had time to jump onto its stomach before the thing exploded.

He was a rookie, and not a very wise one at that, but Constable Buckie thought that for an interpreter scout this Indian was too impulsive. So he persuaded Tail Feathers to lie down and nap with bruises, then put the man under what he called a tight hold, tied up like a manila package, to be handed over to the sergeant in charge at Slide-out.

Twilight was falling and large white stars erupted as the sky darkened. "I think," said Agent Buckie wearily, "we have time for a swim before dinner."

So I dared him to run with me to strip and dive into the lake, which was nice and warm for swimming. When Buckie took off his uniform, he joined me, and our troubles were soon forgotten. At nineteen, it's hard enough to have an official mindset after work hours. As for me, I liked Buckie first because he was a purebred Canadian. I didn't know we were supposed to be mates for life.

Rain was always a busy little person, and now, at dusk, she hurried to get everything ready. He freed Tail Feathers, who died at dusk, no longer attached to the mounted police. He used his bindings to make a perfect bundle of Buckie's weapons and uniform, which he dropped silently into deep water. So, leaving dinner to cook, she went to an anthill a little way from the camp, where, alone in the dark, she howled for her poor father.

There was a smell of ice in the air as we emerged cold, hungry, and haunted by Rain's saddest wails. The fire was out, there was nothing to eat, and Tail-Feathers had escaped, it seemed, with Buckie's team. As for Rain, she said we were very rude to interrupt her pain. She was an orphan and a prisoner.

Wrapped in my painted tunic, teeth chattering, Buckie sat by our fireside, casting schemes for tracking Tail-Feathers by torchlight and moonlight. However, it was uncomfortable that the Indian had left with the police's two carbines, their two revolvers and all their ammunition. Even as he consoled himself with a lot of meat, the pony soldier shuddered at the thought of his fate as he made the official report to the sergeant in charge of Slide-out. Later, in the darkness of the tent, I heard him cry, and at dawn he was gone. barefoot in a futile attempt to track down Tail-Feathers. The ground was then white with ice.

When they left, Rain sat up, a little mischievously, and whispered through the tent, "If only I were free!"

And I yawned back, "So what?"

"I think," he said demurely, "I might find the soldier's clothes."


she purred. And turn you into a white man again, Buffalo Rush.

"Because of?"

"Then you can go and be a pony soldier."

"What is that?"

"You saw the red coat and your eyes were so hungry! You followed him like a dog and forgot about poor Rain. You stuck your chest out, like that! And your shoulders, hunchback! And your eyes, so far away. Then I call and you yawns, so Tired of the rain and playing Indian, huh?

I made embarrassed objections, blushing when I realized immediately that what Rain was saying was true.

I wonder if other men feel the way I do. I cannot look impassively at a beautiful woman, and yet the sight of British scarlet excites me more than anything else I know. Talking to a man who uses it takes my breath away. Equally strong is the appeal to my senses of revolvers, cartridge belts, long boots, fur clothes or any riding or wildlife gear. Seeing these things makes my heart leap, wearing them is an enduring pleasure, whereas I looked at great piles of gold, or silver, or diamond treasures, without the slightest emotion.

As soon as Rain spoke, I had enough of the Indians. Life was impossible outside the mounted police.

"I'm just trying," my voice mimicked when I was talking to the Brat, "and I try so hard to keep you out of my mess!"

"What if I go to a soldier, and you?" I asked him.

"To me?" she sighed. "Oh, I'll get poor Tail-Feathers. He doesn't have a problem."

Indeed, poor Tailfeathers had crept in during the night, loaded his horse with meat, and now, well hidden in the cliffs, was eating the same as he watched Buckie's futile attempts to track him down. The soldier came back blue with cold, gray with despair and very happy when I proposed that Rain not be arrested if she found her clothes. She put a rope in his hands and asked him to pull. Then he pulled the pack of weapons and clothing out of the lake.

Over a big fire inside the tent, we hung his clothes to dry, and after breakfast, while I cleaned up very carefully, a naked policeman wrote in a damp notebook the complete official version of his patrol.

"How is this going to work?" he started. "'Dear Guts!' I mean, 'Sir, I have the honor to report for your information that when I made Lane's of the information received', from Got-Wet when we hid in the attic of the barn, 'in the sense, to know: that old Shifty was playing his usual games , cheating, he said, Spotty Pedro on four months salary, so Pedro skinned himself with Got-Wet's cow, which didn't belong to Lane anyway, because Peter's brother, Hosay la Mancha, a respectable British subject, went to get the cow for the Got-Wet. So it's all clear, huh?"

"Okay," I said, from behind the clothesline. "Meanwhile, I sent the interpreter ahead," lest he catch up with Got-Wet and me in the barn loft, "with instructions to get the cows' tracks, and when I catch up with you... Hey, old friend" No I want you to know that I invaded the fucking armed states. It wouldn't be good for Guts, and he'd throw wheels at Catherine if she thought she demolished Montana. We'll say I caught up with him at the border line", where my interpreter was shooting the cow, the pony and Hosay the Spot. I had the prisoner in custody, but he's skinned", and you can't see his tail because of the dust . - 'So I brought Mr. La Mancha, who wants to take office in the Outfit, and has the honor of being, sir, your obedient servant, regimental number' — I'll have to look it up — 'David Buckie, constable.' What do you mean, umpire?"

"Diana!" So I came out from behind the clothesline. After all, my evening suit was a good Savile Row cut, the shirt was a little wrinkled but fit, the shoes and socks were new and nothing to pay. In my best Oxford style, I handed him the white tie and asked Buckie to bow. "Damn idiot!" I added, because he rolled into the fire, scorching my painted leather.

Completely naked, the male officer rolled over the pots and prayed that they would take him for burial. Then he sat up and wiped his eyes with my tie. "Chee! Now where did I put my lavender kids?" he howled. "Oh, hang my neck from the chandelier while I sweat! My pants are ripped from ear to ear, and it's my how-u-u-u-u-u night!"

I told him these were all the clothes I had.

"Just drop them on the Slide-out. Think Guts! Boy, you ring-tailed, floppy-eared coyote, you can't join Our Outfit dressed like a fucking kite!"

"What is there to do?"

"I think I'll hide you in a prairie dog hole until I steal your shirt and overalls. Allee, that team would take first prize for costume at a ball, or I'd shave my ass."

Even back then, Buckie suffered from a respectable soul, making him somewhat puritanical about routine, a glutton in etiquette, a peddler in behavior, and a very particular maiden in his clothes. She kept us working for hours cleaning out the medicine cabinet before changing into uniform, then lamented aloud that for all my evening dress I had lost my opera hat and shouldn't go bareheaded. At last we rode off on his big horse with me behind, pursued by Rain's howls, malicious little howls, mocking and devilish. Would they be for her poor father?




Rain was a little brown angel chicken, half full grown, all the fluffy chicken of a seraph, with a taste of the earth around her, deceptively human and seductive enough to rip my heart out as she flew away leaving me bleeding.

To protect her, I abandoned my little brat I take care of. But when she seemed to love another man and laugh goodbye to me, I could only walk away. A boy can love a maiden and still love life. So I loved Rain, but no more than she loved my life. That was yet to come, but in those days life was calling me, yes, pulling hard.

Certain fabulists claimed that I joined the mounted police in full dress. This is not true, because when Buckie was escorting me to Fort French, my enlistment place, we had lunch at the trailhead with an American cowboy who had a pint of pickets. Afterwards, we played cards, my pup faced off with his. He won, riding off in my evening gown with my tie tucked under my ear and the point of my collar pointing towards the S.S.E., while singing through his nose a hymn that began, "Oh, tell me, can you say that?"

I still had a broken heart and a dog, but as for the disguise I went in with the police, my modesty forbids me to go into detail.

One of the biggest difficulties in writing this book is that my editors have a penchant for detail. They say the story is too vague. I must state the facts. Now if, to give an example, I give my regiment number in the mounted police, I will be identified, extradited and hanged as soon as I begin to establish myself. I borrowed Buckie's number, a cruel humiliation for me because he was always so respectable that he hardly had a bad debt record.

"Regiment Number 1107 Constable la Mancha, J., is taken, with Force forces of the 20th of the present, and is assigned to Division C".

So read the corporal's orderly, standing at the south end of the room in barracks number two at Fort French while I lay on my easel and purred.

At this point the corporal, announcing the details, told Surly McNabb, the troop driver, to bring me a load of coal for the free man. My purr changed to a moan.

The bugle sounded "Last Post" with a chill as the corporal orderly walked away to knock on the next door. Then Windy O'Rooke got up and yelled that he had a dollar to say that "Surlybucks is hard with the coal fatigue of a noob in white. I'm the one he wants."

"Mr. Suave McNabb," I said, "has been using influence to get me. You idiots who steal each other's ideas think Suave is a grumpy, thirsty beast. But, gentlemen, he has a true heart." ." For his dollar, Windy, I'll make him give a fifteen-minute speech.


McNabb intervened with a horse brush, which I dispatched and returned in its own direction. Retaliation ensued, as I dove under the beds knocking down their peaceful inhabitants. So there was banter for thirteen minutes while I was half dead, before the bugle saved me. Because by "Lights Out", the corporal ordered silence. The lamplight changed to moonlight and a red glow from the stove, the stampede of elephants became the crawling of mice, and Windy sat up in bed for a long, luxurious scratch.

The next morning Surly led his team of four horses to a coal outcrop about sixteen miles above the Old Man river valley and said not a word to me. Watching me load the wagon, he ate his lunch and smoked for hours, but still didn't say a word. Once, when we were walking back to the barracks, I thought he was going to speak, because I asked politely if he wasn't too tired, but he just pushed me out of the car seat and slapped my ass in a blue puddle of profanity. I had to climb onto the plank, dead tired, black as Satan and bitterly cold.

Have you ever tried whistling?twoIn rag time? I tried, my teeth like castanets, as I sat in the wind like a scythe and sliced ​​Surly's box of food into slivers. So I built a beautiful fire on the coal load and sangLead the kind lightTo cheer up old Surly.

When it was very hot, I crouched down and walked behind singing,

"Oh, Paradise! Oh, Paradise! How I long to see
Old Surly in his future home trying to replicate,
While red devils gather the embers to keep it warm and nice
And when asked to cheer up, he'll say he'd rather not."

I was starting to run out of rhymes when the horses sniffed and the four of them ran like there was no afterlife, while Surly spewed rhetoric through the fire, jumping and leaping until he managed to turn the cart around. When I arrived at the site, I found him perched on a rock still reciting, so I sat down to take notes of blessing from him. "Please," I'd ask, "I don't know shorthand. What comes after 'eared'?" or "Wait, McNabb, from 'pigeon-toedson'", and finally, "Say, Suave, what time is it? You nailed a good fifteen minutes, so I won my dollar bet."

Then Surly smiled for the first time, so I measured the smile with my pencil and wrote down five and three-quarters inches. At that, the teamster laughed until tears rolled down his dusty cheeks.

Between refills and lots of talking, we arrived at the booth an hour late for dinner. So the teamster told the troop cook that I was a scoundrel. This is the origin of two famous nicknames, as he was known as Chatter McNabb and I as Blackguard while we served on the force.

the subject ofwedding diaryIt's become a regimental myth, but that's because of the Rocky Mountain Liars, for whose inventions I take no credit. Historically, the matter goes back to my first patrol, when a one-horse farmer in The Leavings gave me a copy of the diary. Run to advertise. I introduced myself as a respectable bachelor, considered to be extremely handsome and very young, with good habits, domestic tastes, good manners, a winning smile, a romantic background and enormous expectations. The ladies could reciprocate with a view to marriage and, as my address was "Fort French, Northwest Territories, Canada", they must have felt that distance provided security. Sixty-eight maidens, ranging in age from fourteen to eighty, responded, and most sent photos, either original or borrowed. I kept a dozen beauties for my own consumption, the rest sold at auction or privately at prices ranging from ten cents to cash. to so many dollars promised. Each courier brought sixty-eight love letters addressed to J. la Mancha, by his girlfriends, and as Cupid's postman I distributed them to the ladies according to their postmarks. If two maidens wrote from the same town, when a virgin changed addresses going to school or out, when our gallants in Fort French bartered, sold, bartered or pawned their ladies, or parted with their dearest daughters to pay the bill from the canteen, there it is. It was a misunderstanding and the prospect of a fight. The suitors to a lady's hand gathered behind the stables while the rest of us stood in a circle until the couple discovered which gentleman they loved best. The correspondence was huge and confusing.

In these annals of true love, I can only select one case related to my story. The kitten in question claimed to be Mrs. Burrows, widow, of Helena, Montana, submitted a photograph of a widowed aunt and loved Mr. La Mancha passionately. I exchanged it, I remember, with the troop cook for a promissory note. on a piglet for Christmas. Cook traded her for a three-man terrier with Sergeant Major Buttocks. The woman caught him in the act of irrevocable vows, and, severely reprimanded, hastily sold Helena's widow, exchanging her for a pair of long boots to one of our officers, Inspector Sarde.

Until then the game had been going on happily without any damage, but now the Sergeant Major had to explain that, although he had always loved José la Mancha, he was about to change his handwriting. He refused to do this because his own wife forbade it, so I was sent by Inspector Sarde. In the troop office, I had to compose a letter. In this I was Samuel Partington, asked by J. La Mancha to advise the widow Burrows that he had injured his right hand catching a catamaran, but was learning to write with his left, so chances if the fist was clumsy, as long as the heart it was sincere.

Both the Inspector and the Sergeant Major were so delighted that I made a fair copy for them, while they both sat there unsuspectingly. In it I explained to the widow how they had exchanged it for a piggy, a dog and a pair of boots, its last owner being Inspector Sarde. The fair copy was duly published.

Even so, all went well and no damage was done. But none of us liked Sarde. For all her undoubted merits, she had a soft, cunning tongue that won favor, and a smile far friendlier than her eyes. An officer who loses popularity will certainly be hated by the soldiers, and his opinion is not wrong.

One night, in the barracks room, a debate arose as to whether Inspector Sarde was a gentleman. I took his share and bet him a dollar that he would prove he was a thoroughbred. The next day I addressed a postcard to Agent Buckie, who was still at the Slide-out, and on the back I wrote the story of a little prank I pulled on Sarde's expense. The card was deposited in the orderly's room, found by the clerk, and presented to Inspector Sarde. I am sorry to say that Sarde read my postcard and handed it to the commander who refused to look at it and said he was a scoundrel. So I tried to prove that poor Sarde was no gentleman, and I lost my bet. Besides, from that moment on he was my enemy, a fact observed by every officer and man in Division C. It was a boy's fight with a man, a soldier's fight with an officer, the stakes on one side, the power on the other. another, and I preferred an open breach with no secrets, free of degrading secrets. Looking back, I know I was a fool, but not an unmanly one.

In good times there was a closed law that excluded alcoholic beverages from the territories so that it would not reach the Indians. In a barren country such a law produces an unnatural thirst, and even the most moderate men delight in deceiving a foolish government. Thus the law breeds offenders, whistleblowers, whiskey thieves, drunks, liquor and delirium tremens, promotes drug use and generally wreaks havoc on public morals. Let any man who doubts my assertion ask the nearest policeman, whose duty it is to know the real facts, while legislators live in a world of dreams.

During a severe winter drought, Inspector Sarde's mother sent him a carton of eggs. As far as I could see, it was perfectly normal for Mrs. Sarde sent twelve dozen eggs to his abstemious son infor the feasts of unbelievers, where luxuries are few. They were packed in salt, shipped C.O.D. by express, sent from Fort Benton on the stage sleigh, consigned by I. G. Baker, and carried to Sarde's rooms by an agent of fatigue. it was me

In the line of duty, I simply tapped the eggs to see if they were "fragile" as advertised on the box, and immediately there was a scent that no police officer could ignore. Did hens, I wondered, lay whiskey-filled eggs? Or, having laid the meat-filled eggs, did the hens blow on them, stuff them with comfort, and seal them with wax? Or did they mature along the way? Or was he an official, a justice of the peace, importing illicit soft drinks? Would they be good for Sarde? Wasn't it my duty to keep the officers' mess from turning into a wild beast?

I took that case to the barracks room and presented it to a police board, who determined that each egg contained more than two and five tenths of a percent. of alcohol, and resolved to compensate the owner for that disgusting state of drunkenness to which he was no longer subject. So the folder was reloaded with a dead cat, a puppy from last year's vintage, and a bouquet of twelve horses on which we placed an epitaph in verse.

"Toll for eggs
The eggs that are no more
All sunk inside the Braves
Quickly descend your destined shore.
We weren't in the bottle
No barrel took the hit,
We lost a fatal escape,
We raced at Duty's Rock.
These are nothing more than cat and dog,
Not alcoholic eggs,
Therefore, weigh the container;
Stand firm on your legs:
Then boil the tea and pass it on.
To the Guardians of our Earth,
Bet your life it's not our fault
This whiskey is contraband!"

The next day, at the morning stables, Inspector Sarde, being an orderly officer, arrested all the men on duty for making the hens talk when they were instructed to answer by name. He said he was surprised.

Then, at breakfast time, he opened his case of soft drinks, causing a stampede in the officers' mess. I was really surprised.

Before the office, old Wormy, our commander, sent for Mr. Sarde. "My young friend, how do you charge my man for drinking in catan'puppy,hein? Or you say drunk with veeskeyegg. Whose egg is it? Your? How do you start to doseveeskeyegg? where do you arrive,hein?Well, Mr. InspectorVeeskey-smoggle!sacredmo'jew Ba'teme. Cursing!"

We were all released without trial, but Mr. Sarde wants to see the La Mancha police officer in this barracks. I told the sergeant that I suffered from severe alcoholic depression, but I paraded before the mourning inspector anyway.

"My friend," said Mr. Sarde, "you know a non-commissioned officer cannot threaten a bailiff."

The very idea hit me.

But I promise you, La Mancha, to watch over your interests like a guardian angel.

I told him he was an insensitive dog.

"Order Sergeant," said the officer, "you will take note of the words used and place this man under close arrest."

So they sentenced me to a month in prison and they say that in the guardroom it was impressive to hear my voice in the cells as I prayed for Sarde.


You may not remember, but an American cowboy won my tuxedo at cards. When he got back to his team in Montana, he met my brother and gave him my address. So Bratw wrote to me, telling me how the day we parted ways he had pasted food with the Double Crank attack that had him like a cowboy, at twenty, while they were working the Kato-yi-six.

This, translated from the language of cows into English, means that Brat, while walking along the MilkRiver coulée, came across a carriage where a cook was busy molding cakes on the back tray. The cook told Brat that his wagon was helping the riders on the Double Crank Ranch, who were rounding up beef cattle for shipment in the Sweet Grass Hills of Montana. They had lost the boy who tended their herd of ponies, so their foreman, when he rode in at sunset, hired my brat to do the job for twenty dollars a month.

Besides, Brat, being a good boy I raised, kept his job for four months, and because he had a poker face, he got, in addition to his education, salary, and pension, three ponies, a pair of frames, saddle and gilded damascene spurs. But when the winter ended and the surplus men were dismissed, my brother's heart was filled with foolish desires, so he took his pay and rode to the Lane, where he displayed his wealth, splendor, and success in front of Got-Wet. She almost succumbs. .

Buckie came patrolling from the Slide-out, looking dapper in a buffalo fur coat and fur hat, a lively Russian Grand Duke with a ruby ​​and diamond engagement ring he bought cheap from a Montana thief.

Brat found himself outnumbered, "also by a mere Canadian", and in his desolation he blamed the soldier's scarlet serge. She wanted a red coat more than anything else on earth, as jeans were of no importance in Got-Wet's eyes.

Slick Buckie was no fool. His triumph might last an hour, but his official visits were as rare as the transits of Venus, while the cowboy, a mere civilian, might be there all the time. Then he spoke seductively about the team, but doubted whether Bratwás were old enough to join or brave enough to face a difficult trial. Oh, she had a lot of questions about recruiting positions, and she didn't mind the Brats anyway. They already had a La Mancha in CTroop, and that was enough with their diabolical antics, when they lit that load of coal, mistook an officer for one of the delivery girls, and the whole division got drunk smuggling eggs. With such subtlety, Slick lured his rival out of Got-Wet's arms, duly enlisting him in Fort French, hundreds of miles from temptation.

With Brat in the barracks, I felt my responsibilities were overwhelming. There was too little room in cell number 4 to set a good example, and through the gap in the back log wall it would be difficult to train a young man in the ways of virtue. Three times a day I took him out of the gap to make sure he cleaned his nails and didn't have a watermark on his neck, memorized work orders, brushed his teeth, wrote his mom, played a smart hello, and he took care of his kids . good manners when addressing a superior officer. He must not play cards except with novices, nor borrow money from guys who must be kept at a distance, nor associate with bestial civilians, nor make silly jokes, or mock an inspector in white, or correspond with girls. Many years later. He explained to me why he had been content to stand and freeze while I berated him. I was all he had for parents, and my voice reminded him of someone silenced at the solemn gates of Heaven "except, of course," he added. , "when you used profanity".

It was bad luck for him that I was in prison just when he needed me. No one else would bother teaching a mere coyote. No one, for example, bothered to warn you about carrying moccasins in your pockets during a soggy thaw at Milk River Ridge. The patrol was wet to the waist when they made camp, but at midnight it was a hundred degrees below zero, and the frostbitten boot cut the toes of my brother's right foot, leaving him prostrate for two years.

The Brat's large soft black eyes always seemed lit from within, his smile eerily tender. In it I could see my mother, as I remember her before she left us.


Rain used to tell me about his hero, his older brother, Many Horses, head of the CrazyDog gang in the Piegan tribe of Blackfeet, and his wife, the head chief's daughter, whose name was Owl calling - "He's coming". .

Many horses were six feet tall, agile as a whip, rode like a god, and had the brooding pride of Lucifer. You can see their resemblance, both in form and color, in ancient bronze portraits of Augustus Caesar. But please see him in profile, because poor ManyHorses had a very sinister spirit. Other than that, however, hers was an amazing combination of blessings: youth, health, beauty, grace, dignity, high standing as a warrior, and virtues so exalted that it pained me to contemplate them. He was a cross between Bayard, Galahad and El Cid, a hedge knight of irreproachable honor who had never seen a joke in his life, without the slightest trace of a sense of humor. Among the merry Blackfeet, this man was an eccentric.

At the time when I was lying in the cells, this wild knight discovered my address and came north to kill me. Ideas for him were very rare events, and in this he prided himself on being an inventor. But how could he get into the fort? A white man simply had to pass through the open gates, but they were closed to the Indians. He expected the vacancy vacated by Tail-Feathers as interpreter-scout, but found that the place had been taken by the old BeefHardy. A smart man would have seen a dozen ways to get in, but this hero was as stupid as fictional heroes, so he thought only a prisoner could get in. To take prisoner, he rode to Stand-off, reined his horse at the police station gate, made sure the boys were watching him through the windows, and shot his pet dog. So they took him prisoner to Fort French and put him in the cell next to mine.

Confinement takes a toll on any Indian, so after the first night this poor boy was alone and scared. I was bored to tears, and we were both happy to gossip. So, before we'd heard each other's names or seen each other's faces, we were good friends, whispering Blackfoot through a node in the bulkhead.

We talked Saturday afternoon and Sunday, gossiping in sign language when we left for work on Monday. On Monday afternoon, he'd given her full instructions to find and kill Drunken Morning Boy, her sister's lover, her mortal enemy.

And then he told me the story of Rain's adventures during the Winter of Death.


When the buffalo hunt failed, Many Horses took their wives and children into the valleys of the Spine of the World and there, by the moon of falling leaves, they had plenty of meat. , "hunting far from camp, was covered in snow for over a week. Only after much prayer and sacrifice to the Old Man did they manage to climb the soft snow and carry a load of meat to their native hut at Cut-BankCreek ... And then they arrived too late.

When Many Horses told me this, I put my eye through the hole in the knot to see the signal speak. He finished with a sort of apologetic squint, as if he hated having to worry about such trifles. It seems that at the end of the long wait, his five-year-old son moved into the chief's house, opposite the door of the inn, and there he said family prayers with the sacred pipe in his icy little hands. Then his father found him, and the two youngest wives with all their children were sitting in their places, dead.

The owl's hooting was wild, but Many Horses took it to Two Medicine Lake, hoping human companionship would bring its spirit back. There they found a hut with Tail Feathers and his wife Rain, starving to death.

It was in a dry, cold and somber way that ManyHorses answered my questions about his sister Lluvia. She married Tail Feathers because he wanted her to. Now she was very poor, her and her husband's property sold for food in the early days of the famine. Also, instead of hunting, Tail Feathers would drop dead and lay there like a dog, until Rain caught a rabbit and melted the food. But the heavy snowfall put an end to Rain's poor diet, and the man lay there while the woman prayed.

It was then that he swore that if his man recovered, he would dedicate a temple to the Sun God. The rain spray was very strong, of course his brother came with meat and his man got better. So he spent days chirping and chirping like a little brown squirrel while he fed his man soup, and his strength returned. In those days, Owl melted into tears and his spirit returned to his body.

When all the meat was gone, Rain's secret helper appeared in a dream and asked her to send the two men, Tail Feathers, her husband, and Many Horses, her brother, to steal ponies from the Hearts of Stone and use them to to hunt. White man. buffalo (cattle). The men obeyed and soon their hut was red with flesh.

Now was the time, Rain said, to present his vote to the council heads, so they broke camp and headed to the agency. There they found the great caciques begging the agent to have mercy on their people, because a quarter of them were already dead, and the rest were dying.

But the agent fed his corn to his fat chickens, and said he was tormented by the deplorable superstitions of the Indians. So the council chiefs starved until Rain sent them a pony loaded with meat, then their hearts warmed and they agreed to his plea. If the tribe lived on the full moon, on the moon of fallen leaves she should be a priestess and dedicate a temple to the sun.

"My prayer was heard," he said, in his great joy. "My man is saved from death, the Sun has given us food, and the animals will be kind to us and pitiful. In three suns, the evil agent will be dismissed." , and there will be food for all our people.”

Barely three days had passed when a great stone chief arrived at the agency, who gave the agent the corn and chickens to feed the dying women crouching at the door. The evil agent was sent away in shame, and a convoy of long knife wagons (United States cavalry) brought food to the whole city. Surely Rain's medicine was too strong!

But it so happened that the merchant, Mala Boca, along with his wife and daughter, Se Mojó, were staying at the agency, and when they learned that Rain would be a priestess of the sun, the rumor spread that she was dirty. She lived, said Got-Wet, with a white man dressed as an Indian, yes, and traveled with him all last summer. The chiefs chose a prostitute to be his holy wife.

There are many among us who see only appearances, who live to keep up appearances, as a coffin does to varnish and brass, yet inside is something less than a man. Tail Feathers maintained the appearance of a virtuous husband while Rain's wealth lasted, and now he must make the appearance of an outraged husband by throwing his wife out of the hut that was all that was left of her dowry. He sat in the snow, his head covered in ash, hiding his face from the women he had fed, who passed by, holding their noses. Even Many Horses thought her guilty, but Owl bought her a small hut so she wouldn't freeze to death.

For two days the chiefs debated her case in council and Many Horses, though they found her guilty, would not allow her companions to accuse her sister. In the end he brought her before them for judgment, standing terribly frightened, teeth clenched and fists clenched lest her timid feet be tempted to flee.

"Woman," said the chief chief, Medicine Robe, "we know that your mysterious power saved your man from death. We know that your dream foretold the arrival of the Long Knives with food for our death. We have heard your claim to be a holy woman, and we cannot deny that as much as possible we offend the Spirit in the Sun.

However, according to our law, no woman can be a priestess unless her husband declares her a clean living wife and mother.

Her man accuses her of being a prostitute. She asks that her nose be cut off as a warning to the entire town. Come, I promise you full forgiveness if you confess your guilt.

"I'm a whore," Rain replied angrily, "because I was the sister of a helpless, useless child? Would God have forgiven my man because a whore prayed? God be my judge!"

The main boss was very worried. "If you are a harlot," he said, "and we make you a priestess to desecrate the holy land, to desecrate the House of the Sun, your death is nothing to us when God quenches our fire. you mercy You are free to go, so we can never see your face again.

Rain grabbed her breasts with both hands. "And my baby," she cried, "my unborn baby, shall it be called the white man's sin? Do you think I'll go off a guilty woman and shame my baby? I stay, and in God's name I demand my right to prove that I am clean, a faithful wife, an honorable mother, a holy woman”.

"Then we must open the Lodge of the Sun," replied Medicine Robe, "not by the Blackfoot rites, but by the Absaroka rites. Holy".

"I'm happy," Rain said.

"But," said the chief, "their path is lined on both sides by all the warriors, and they will see that no woman suspected of bad life comes to the house of God, because if anyone knows that she has sinned, he must thrust a spear into his body and all men must bathe their weapons in his blood.

"Is happy?"

"I am happy."

"In the moon of falling leaves, in the full moon, the Sun Lodge will be built on Two Medicine Lake, and there you will walk the warrior's path, to die a whore or live a holy woman."

"And I will live," said Rain.

Many Horses, being short-sighted, confused matters. He was shocked that his own sister had been accused, angry with her for being sentenced to death, but most of all, furious with the white man who had caused the scandal. In her poor stupid heart, his honor was at stake, not her sister's innocence and life. So he came to find me and kill me, then he took the consequences like he was a boss.

"Your sister," I told her, "has two friends, two champions. Therefore, one must be killed and the other hanged. Then Rain will have no friends."

I hadn't thought about that.


Our commanding superintendent was sorely short of men, with half his troop on the plains while the rest had staff jobs that exempted them from duty. In the big ten o'clock parade, the orderlies, the first sergeant, and the orderly corporal would gather to hear a rookie answer his name for recruiting drills, stable orderly, mess hall fatigue, and odd jobs. So, after fifteen days of rest in the cells, I received the indication that an apology to Inspector Sarde would release me, doing half the work of the courier. I asked permission to appear before Superintendent Fourmet, and as I filed into the ordinance room, I was so overjoyed to see the old man again that I could not help smiling happily.

"Prisoner," said Wormy, "remove the intestine?"

"Yes sir." I looked up at Sarde.

"Are you sorry?"

"I wish I hadn't said that."

"BOM! Do you promise to behave?

"For six months, lord; until the moon of falling leaves."

"Huh? What do you mean?"

Then I'll ask for a pass, please, sir, and vent outside.

Bubbles of suppressed joy disturbed the serenity of the courtroom. I always think joy pays off.

"Return to duty," Wormy said.

"About you-r-n! Mar-r-r-ch!" said the sergeant major.

But I snatched my fodder cap from his hand, placed it on him, and waved.

"May I speak, sir?"

"You have DJ permission."

"Release the Indian, sir, and let me serve my sentence. Please, sir, the poor devil is my friend. Sir, he won't need a guard.

"Take away some nonsense. You would be more like a prisoner! How do you say there is no guard?"

"Oh sir, that's fine. I'll keep the guardhouse clean and lock myself up for the night."

Caro Wormy loved a joke. "You say that Zees Indianela is innocent,hein? As you know?"

"I speak Blackfoot, sir."

"Well done, boy! Veil done."

"He's under arrest for shooting a dog. That can't be done, sir. His rifle used to be mine, so I know he shoots in corners, and that dog, sir, is on every corner. Why, sir, take aim on a cow with that old shotgun you have to shoot back Black feet are rotten shots anyway and this man is a squinting champion Let him go, sir.

"Do you offer to serve his sentence?"

"Yes sir."

"Can you prove he's not guilty?"

You have my word of honor and your squint, sir.

"Humph! You can go to your duty."

I left quickly so Wormy wouldn't change his mind and whistled high, shrill notes to RichMixed across the square.

For Many Horses, that day was one of confusion. Through the interpreter, he learned that I was the same man he came to kill, that I had offered to do his time for him, and that he was pardoned. When they released him at sunset, I met him outside the gates and handed him a long knife, which I had just borrowed from the kitchen. "You came," I said, "to kill me. When does the fun start?"

For a long time he looked into my eyes, then he swung the knife near my ribs to see if I would flinch.

"Afraid?" I asked.

He dropped the knife between us in the snow.

"If I kill you," he muttered, "and hang myself, Rain won't have any friends."

I gave him some tobacco and my pipe. Afterwards we sat in the snow and smoked while some of the guys made fun of us in the entryway. But we speak by signs and in Blackfoot, that they might not understand.

The man's very slow mind was coming up with new ideas. "We are Rain's friends," he said, raising his pipe to the four winds, to the sky and then to the earth.

"And we believe," I said, "that he is innocent."

He nodded.

"Are you ready," I asked, "to risk your life because Rain is innocent?"

"You and I," he replied, "we are your brothers."

"I was his brother."

"Then," he said, taking my hand, "I name you after you and call you Many Horses. I adopt your new name, Charging Buffalo."

He offered me the brotherhood of blood, the greatest honor that an Indian can do to another. But I laugh.

"You," I said, "will be Charging Buffalo, but I am too poor to be called Many Horses.

He shook his head in confusion and made the "No use" sign, snapping his fingers at me. How boring life must be for men who never see a joke.

"Go," I said, "tell Rain to keep his nerve and not to worry." So I did the moon sign and the zigzag flutter of a falling leaf. I will be there in the fall.


"Think of your sins.
What did a soldier in the Queen's service do to you,
God Save the Queen!
And God save the fool who thinks of tomorrow,
God save the man who remembers his pain,
God save the man who must weep for the past,
Finally the sunset.
Here is rest for the past, and here is hope for tomorrow."

So said the bugle, shaking the clear twilight with torrential music, when I returned from visiting my frozen brat in the hospital. Rich Mixed danced forward on three legs to the side as his eyes adored me. That day, he had seen me standing guard, chosen as the cleanest man for the commanding officer. The bugle shook my bones, my heart soared to the glories of the angels, who followed the sun to its rest, yet to me the loveliest of all visible things was the bright scarlet of my own woolen coat. poised, the shine of my boots, the silvery note of my spurs, as I strutted across the parade ground. For five months I had been a good example of godliness in humble living, and though I was quite stiff from yesterday's sixty-mile patrol, both charm and virtue were my portion. Rich Mixed was lying on his back panting adoringly, my riding crop shaking him tenderly as I passed. Because, in that instant, I thought of Rain. All my hopes, dreams and longings became a throne, clouds and rainbow to court him.

In another thirty days, he would die for her, and he had no other wish or expectation.

Close to the wake of the bugle song tames the soft, distant, mournful howl of a wolf. That was Rain's decision!

Ah, so I knew I had been too good for too long. With a sigh of vanished virtue, I circled the stables, dodged them, climbed onto the dung heap against the palisade, and stood there looking out over the plains. From somewhere nearby in the dark, I heard a very seductive howl. At that moment, I sent Rich Mixed home, gently lowered the outer side of the wall and walked across the rocky plains until I saw a small mound of something against the line of sky.

"Which!" said el montoncito, and "¡Oo-oo-oo!"

I walked up the bank of the Old Man River and whispered, "Is that you?"


So I crouched down, ominous creaking at the seams, on a spur heel, then lit a cigarette, so he could see my new little mustache. "Fine," I huffed, with growing condescension. "What is happening?"

Of course, he adored her, but with a woman it never pays to be boring, because if you know exactly what to expect, you lose interest.

"Once upon a time, a long time ago," he sang in a singsong voice, "there was a strange person named Drunken-Morning-Boy."

"Oh shit!" I said, hating the thought of such a name. "You mean Charge Buffalo."

"Hey?" With one mischievous eye raised, sheperiodto me. And it hit me cold, because she had never flirted. "I enjoyed being kissed," and she turned the other cheek.

"You little liar," I said in disgust, "you never let me kiss you, you made me swear I would go to hell if I ever touched you." Well, half the time you wouldn't let me in your cabin, so I had to freeze you outside. And when it was hot, you slept out of your mind. And when I said I would let you be my wife, you married Tail Feathers.

"Still," she whispered, "I enjoyed your attempts to give me hugs and kisses, yes, and affectionate little scratches around my neck."

The seductive little rascal! And yet how could a policeman in a barracks have his own woman on fifty cents a day and keep our wolf pack out of his tent and not get caught by the authorities? service!

Besides, there was something wrong, something contrived, unrealistic, unworthy about Rain tonight. It was not through cheap flirting that I paid due adoration to my mother and the Queen of Heaven.

"Go back to your man," I said grimly, "it's his job to scratch your neck."

"I came," he purred, "to be your woman."

"See you first!" I got up to go.

Then Rain stood up, all proud and joyful, holding a baby to her breast, for all the world like the great holy images of Our Lady.

"See," she whispered. "My own man, Tail-Feathers, has a son. I look after this ever so little Two Bears. I love him so much. Isn't he beautiful?"

"The devil". It broke my heart to think of what could have been: my son, my happiness.

"He growls like a bear. He goes 'Wow! Woof!' Because I love my son!"

"Oh, I don't mind," I said in a jealous rage. "You're nothing to me. Once we were sister and brother, you and me, innocent children playing in the camp and on the road, playing at being adults. You were never my wife."

Then, all around me, in the twilight, I heard a ripple of laughter, and one by one, thin Indians emerged from the darkness, trying not to laugh so as not to look rude. A great chief raised his head, palm forward, towards the stars, making the sign of peace. "My son," he said, "I ask you to give me your hand, according to the custom of your people."

"As!" greetings came around me. "How, Shermogonish! Greetings, soldier! We all want to shake hands."

"My son," said the head chief, "you are a heart of stone. We believe that your tribe is like ghosts, because you have no heart and do not really live. Because you have no heart, our daughter, Rain, is innocent. "

My memory returned to that world it had left behind so many weeks ago, to happy parishes in Mayfair and St. James, where the men were simple and unpretentious, frank and kind. So I greeted Medicine Robe as one might address a minister of state, expecting a blessing from Mad Wolf as a cardinal, and felt that FlatTail was a retired general who had led an army into battle not too long ago. Then there were Many Horses, my blood brother. I was so happy to see them!

"My son," said the chief chief, opening his robes wide, revealing the bow in his hand, the arrows in his belt. "I came to kill you. It's okay. I waited. Will you eat in my cabin?"

I said I was hungry enough to eat the hostel.

So they escorted me out, walking in single file, feet stretched out in front of them, as people do in soft shoes, so as not to bruise their toes on the side of the path. When we arrived at the inn, the chief chief sat down with his guest and the men on his left, his wife and all the women on his right. We eat an Absaroka sausage, full of interest and emotion like a haggis, Chicago Bully's plate of meat and berries, with elegant acts of homage to the gods and pipe ceremony to follow. Then Medicine Robe, as host, spoke with tender irony of white men, but said that some were straight even like Rising Wolf, his oldest friend. ForCharging Buffalo has been kind to his daughter Rain and has gotten a lot of horses out of jail lately.

Mad Wolf then spoke with grave and sweet dignity, saying that his prayers were answered like Rain's. They knew that her powerful medicine came from a pure life and, as a holy woman, she would bring good luck to people.

But Many Horses said, "We'll wait until after the storm before we dry our clothes. Some of the chiefs are seeking my sister's death, and your own man has sworn to kill her at the Medicine Lodge. I ask my white brother to attend the rites sacred". of the Sun God, and tell the people that they did not harm our holy woman".

Upon this, the white brother gave his first Blackfoot speech, in a thick foreign accent, something like this: "I've been real good for five whole moons, because I'm running for a plainclothes pass, to the leaf moon." they engage in urgent private business, and the Great White Chief, the Old Worm, will have to stretch his heart until it is the size of a briefcase before he can trust me out of my sight in the dark. His heart is small this week, because someone stuffed the kite until it bursts.

"Unless you think I broke your bird, I think you'll be fine. My little brother Brat lent me his cowboy gear. I wanted his horses too, but Brat lost them playing poker with the hospital orderly. Look here." , Lots of horses, your white brother wants you to come with a spare pony and show me the way to your circus."

"It's good," sighed my blood brother, who didn't like to lend his ponies.

"Okay," I said, "that sausage warmed my heart for my Indian parents," I waved to the women, "and aunts and stuff. I'll be at the medicine store talking to people who talk bad." in Rain, and put five months salary into handgun practice.

"Now look here people, excuse my countryman manners, but this is 'First Message' playing at the barracks right now, so I'll have to run like a rabbit to make it in time for roll call. If I'm late, I'll be gutted and fined." Five dollars. See you later, boss. Cheer up, girl."

I hurried off, leaving the Piegan chiefs to maintain their ceremonial gravity, while the women swayed and sobbed with hysterical laughter.


On the eve of my leave, "to attend an aunt's funeral in Billings," the sergeant accused me of popping my commanding officer's prized green kite; and for giving cheeks he was confined to the barracks for a month.

Furthermore, the Brat, in an attempt to recover his horses, played cards with the hospital porter and lost his cowboy gear, a residual interest in Rich Mixed subject to the owner's death, a three-pound jar of plum jam, and my new private revolver.

On top of that, I was warned about the weariness of the disorder so that when I ran out, I would be missed at dawn.

Thus tormented by an undeserved misfortune, I eased my grief by playing cards with the hospital nurse. If she won, she would have two black eyes, a swollen nose and a full set of fractures, as a chart in the office shows. Perhaps this charlatan chose not to be greedy, as he lost three horses, a cowboy outfit and saddle, a blue Merwin and Hulbert .38 seven-chamber revolver with three- and six-inch adjustable barrels, a jar of jam, an oath. residual, thirty-two dollars and seventy-five cents in cash, and the I.O.U. in a sucker

Much calmer, I sent a private note to the captain, telling him that I had not spoiled his parrot, but offered him a whiskey instead, which he could speak French almost as well as himself. As for breaking the barracks and being away for four days, I felt compelled to do so as a matter of honor, but I left Rich Mixed as a guarantee of my return to receive my punishment.

The letter, the whiskey and the dog would be delivered after breakfast, when Wormy was always quiet.

A moment after the call, I told him at the end of my barracks room that I had an appointment to crush the man who had hunted Wormy's old parrot. Turns out he had already done that, but the corporal seemed satisfied and didn't wait for me to return before falling asleep. At the stables, I donned my cowboy clothes, then carried my newly won saddle to the dung heap, where I left it outside the palisade and jumped down. to the pack camp. There lived the Brat ponies I got from the hospital nurse, but the act of stealing them failed a bit as they were now my property. My blood brother's Indian silence made me quite nervous.

We rode chest-deep in a silver haze, while the moon glowed like coal over the frozen levels in the east, and the stars swayed blindly through the awful silence. Every two hours we rested and took rested horses; sometimes we crossed a dangerous river, or passed a herd of sleeping cattle, or walked down steep invisible hills. Then the slow dawn melted into the icy daylight, while to our right Main Mountain, a snow-capped cube of limestone, captain of the Rocky Mountains, gleamed in the red glory of the sun like a heroine. We passed the Medicine Line and entered the United States, quite safe from any pursuit.

Around noon, when one hundred and ten miles had given us a taste of food and sleep, Mount Rising Wolf rose against the sun, edged in icy silver where its wall fell pure in blue-gray shadows. Then, while the undulating, rutted plain still seemed to slide straight into that shadow, with surprising suddenness a valley opened up right before our feet, miles wide, of lake, meadow, and forest. We looked down through scattered Douglas firs, over a circle of tents a mile in circumference, each bison hide hut painted with animals of unnatural history, rows of dusty stars or symbols of lightning or floods or a protective spirit. The smoke from the party is gone. From within the huts, children played around them, players crouched singing about the game of sticks, crowds in their best moments watched an ancient battle fought by warriors, and around the ring of the tent a fine procession of mounted men glided, singing some tribal hymn.

Halfway between the camp and the lake was a tall post from which a bundle of sticks hung, and around it was a circular fence of branches that sloped inwards like a roofless dome. This was the Sun's house, finished after four days of ritual preparation, and now awaiting the inauguration tomorrow. In front of his east gate, Rain kept the long fast, aided by priests and holy women.

Many horses unloaded their pack pony and, after praying, took out a piece of mirror and a series of face paint, for symbolic colors, with all the gravity of a white man shaving. Then he adorned his war horse, which showed great pride and joy. Finally, he donned his own ceremonial attire: a beaded and feathered suede war shirt, embroidered loafers, hair-fringed leggings, a wreath of eagle feathers, and a painted tunic, each with its own prayer formula, like it suits the whole armor of righteousness. . that we Christians have abandoned since it went out of fashion. I helped him reload the packhorse, and then he rode his warhorse past me in the French fashion.the best school. No knight in the world rivals the Plains Indians for grace, or the Blackfeet for strength, beauty, and stately bearing, and Many Horses, noblest of all Piegan leaders, seemed well pleased with their magnificence. As we walked down the hill, despite all my nice cowboy clothes, I felt mean and vulgar, relegated to the lower classes. One would think that this brave man and not me came to challenge the nation as Rain's champion.

My reception at the chief's hut was a long and elegant process, which I spoiled by chewing a dry cow's tongue, and finally spoiled by sleeping with the meat in my mouth and grunting rudely when disturbed. While I was still asleep, More Bears, the dignified public crier, drummed through the camp in my defiance.

"Hear ye all the words of Loaded Buffalo, adopted son of Medicine Robes, brother of Many Horses.

Who said I slept with Rain? Who said that the holy woman is impure? Let him meet me in single combat to the death, or wash his mouth and keep himself free from slander.

Tail Feathers want to prove that his wife is a whore? May he come to the meadows at sunset and make his words good, or be silent forever!

As the sun crept closer to the spine of the world, Medicine Robe woke me to breakfast, tired, stiff, and hungry, feeling an unhealthy reluctance toward the life of a client in a dentist's waiting room or a doctor's office. dentist. a hearty breakfast before the execution. Tail-Feathers, champion Marine of the Blackfoot Nation, would pull me out and shoot me. I wish I were someone else, someone anywhere else, but I managed to evoke a pale, grim smile as Many Horses arrived, leading his painted warhorse and wearing his splendid war dress as a gift for his white brother. In return, I gave him my cowboy gear and the three ponies, sure he wouldn't need them anymore. Then I sat cross-legged, forcing myself to eat with sick disgust, while making pitiful jokes to shock my cross-eyed brother.

Many horses had just watched Tail Feathers with terrible passion, showing people how he could shoot at full gallop using his one-handed carbine as a pistol. Relatives were rallying to support him, entire clans were painting themselves up for war, the duel could very well be the prelude to battle, and the whole scene was pitch black.

"Don't encourage me anymore," I said, pushing the food away. My shoulder ached where Tail Feathers, flung from afar, ripped my skin just a year ago.

The Piegan chiefs entered, each leaving his horse at the door of the hut, to join in the solemn assembly and deep doubt, while I played with my little revolver and showed them the tiny bullets I proposed to fight with. Flattail wanted to loan me a doe, a five-foot young cannon guaranteed to split a grizzly. Iron Shirt, the sarcastic one, told me I'd better get out of here. Medicinal Robe proposed that each chief gather his clan for a show of overwhelming strength, so that there would be no civil war. But I explained to him that small medicinal irons like my little gun had all the ferocity of the larger barrel filled with compressed ferocity, just as with small dogs. I sent a boy with one of my gift cartridges to Tail-Feathers, who, seeing how small he was, refused to run away. This made the chiefs laugh, and I continued to joke until they were happy. The honor of the process was in my custody, the honor of the flag, the honor of my race. I pity the cowards who daily suffer from fears as I did then, and suffer the agonies of death without gaining deliverance from death.

Five months of daily practice at the cost of nearly all the ammo in my paycheck had shown me the virtue of my little three-hundred-yard assassination pistol. For small targets, it outperformed my opponent's carbine. In addition, he made a cross on the head of each bullet so that it would spread out like a mushroom, big enough to knock out a bear. with his lone weapon he challenged the champion of a savage tribe in front of all his kin.

I had no voice in my weapon's range, and as for my practice, it was unwise to boast. Only by striking fear into the hearts of the Blackfoot nation could he save the woman they had sworn to sacrifice.

The chiefs were busy helping me to dress, chanting the prayers that accompany the sacred vestments, and with a strange shudder I felt that these men loved me. They awakened in me the chivalry of my parents, that ancient chivalry that inspired men to strive for honor. ladies

And now I remembered my spiritual ancestor, the gentleman with the sad face, Don Quixote de la Mancha. I laughed in triumph when the chiefs backed off while I was dressed and armed. Then I breathed the Ave in prayer to Our Lady, the great Queen of Heaven, whom I served, defending Her wife, the Rain.

The chiefs formed my mounted escort as we rode through the camp, past the Medicine Shop and that little outpost where little Rain sat to pray. women and children like great beds of flowers, the men in groups, on horseback, their war plumes loose in the breeze. To our left, a solemn grove of autumnal gold curved the blue lake into a purple haze against the high cliffs and snowfields of Mount Rising Wolf, suspended like a cloud in the windswept blue of the sky. Ahead, the low sun filled the meadow with a layer of light.

Then came a sudden, impassioned roar of warning from the people, the chiefs behind me dashed on either side of the line of fire, and a rolling globe of dust shot out of the golden haze. Then there was silence, except that the dust bubbles dispersed, revealing the earth-eating avalanche of a charging horse.

When danger comes at full gallop, there is no time for fear. The brain works at the speed of light, the keen senses live an hour in every flying second. Shoot from the saddle? But this horse I rode would withstand fire! Gallop sideways to that glow? Why become a target! Dismount, take cover and aim firmly behind the horse? Certainly. The grass was shaking. I can't see the man! Just feathers floating in the dust. I can't see his horse, just that black blur. Point your index finger along the barrel, making a fist.One!

Tail-Feathers also fired. His bullet went very close.

Period, closing hand — Two! Again-Three!

The Indian's horse went down with a shattered shoulder as the man came sailing in a long curve through the air, head down, hitting the earth with the back of his head as the dust settled. There he lay black against the glare, head twisted horribly to one side, legs trembling, now rigid in the rigors of death.

I climbed into the saddle and ran smoothly forward, covering my enemy with my weapon so that he would not show any signs of life. My hands were sweating, my body was shaking, my heart was pounding, my brain was spinning in a great roar of voices. Why were the bosses screaming as they surrounded me? Like a hurricane, the Piegan warriors, thousands of men strong, rushed at me, hurling at me, swirling around me with a roar, like rushing water, distant water, the flow of distant rapids, or rain in the night. When my head cleared, the main chief, in a fit of rage, roared to the crowd: "Silence! Stand back! Whoever fights my son, fights me!"


“You saw him die, not in a fair fight, but trying to take advantage of my son, who fought with the twinkle in his eye.

"Are there more liars here to slander our holy woman? One at a time, come on, liars! My son and I and all your bosses, we're ready for battle.

"You Thunder, will you dare to fight me? You helped end the slander. Fight, or bring your shame to your hut, you dog-faced dog. Go home!"

The crowd was scattering, sulking, cursing me for a Heart of Stone, grumbling at their leaders, while Tailfeather's mother and sisters began to weep for their dead, clamoring for vengeance.

"My son," said the great chief tenderly, "the people's anger is turned against you, and my young men are very difficult to contain. We chiefs will be your escort until we get you safely out of this crowd, and your brother , many horses, will ride with you to Fort French.

I was not allowed to see the holy woman.


There was the Union Jack burning in the sun on the gray palisade. The bugler played "Evening Stables"; the assembled service men, numbered, numbered four by four, marched to the stables, tamed and tended the horses. Everything was just as it always was, the commonplace of life, the old routine, the dear family duty, the knowledge of days to come molded in the very pattern of times gone by, even if from another world. Accompanied by many horses, I rode in the past. the guard.

Eleven poor devils paraded in brown canvas uniforms with brushes and combs. The corporal orderly appointed them, he and the sergeant major in the scarlet uniform, the fat Inspector Bultitude in the black suit and the saber. I got off my horse and staggered against him, then came to attention and saluted; the back of my hand touched the great whispering crown of eagle feathers as I faced this parade that watched and smiled and convulsed.

"Come, sir," I informed him, "give it to me."

"Drunk!" Bultitude stuttered at me. "Bur-r-r! Disgrace! Take that bur-r-r-man to the guardroom, push him bur-r-r-Cells."

"Think of yourself," said the corporal, taking my arm.

The air was a gray haze and the corporal's voice was far away. "Come on, throw a brace! Get up, man." The two hundred and twenty kilometer journey in two days had exhausted my strength.

The gray mist came back against the walls of old Wormy's room, and the hospital sergeant said it was all right. He gave me more brandy and I felt very comfortable.

The superintendent in charge had his back to the stove, and Beef, our interpreter, was questioning Many Horses. My Indian brother spoke, at first with coy dignity, then with warmth as he recounted how he had saved Rain's life, and finally with power as he pricked wildflowers of native rhetoric as he delivered a message from his chief. When he forgot his lines, I urged him on in whispers.

"From serpent-talking agents, land thieves, and Colonel Baker, we turn in despair to the white north. We know that the fires of the northmen (the northern lights) can never give us warmth, but only herald storms. hands to that glow and take some comfort from men who never lie. The world is too dark for Indians. To show our hearts to the mounted police, we send your warrior back as our adopted son, named, dressed, rank of Blackfoot chief ."

You already know that a horse has the brain of a child with the character of a saint. My Indian brother was like that, with enough intelligence to carry out a mission and a majesty of character that made him seem more than human. He spoke for a vanquished and dying people, who were, however, a more spiritual master race than ours. Perhaps, in the future life, we can be his servants.

Wormy shook the envoy's hand and returned a cordial message to his chief brother, then dispatched Many Horses to receive the fort's hospitality.

The old man sat down, looking at me, because we were alone now.

"You start," he said, in his native French dialect, "by burning my coal wagon, you make a marital scandal with my fort, you steal Monsieur Sarde's egg carton, you blow up my parrot, you call me Worm behind my back, rascal, you write that insolent letter and break the barracks, mingle with these savages to dishonor the force, run off to kill an american indian and involve me in an international dispute with these infernal states, and then come back dressed like an Indian chief to lay my troops face down, looking innocent!"

I tried to look like an orthodox cop in trouble.

"Please sir," I said in French, "I gave my word I would be fine for six months, and I've been too good. Time's up, sir, Monday."

"But what about them?"

"I hit the man who did it."


"I don't know, sir."

"I see. You can't betray a comrade. Still, I'd like to know. It was so bad."

'You will know, sir. You will be the first defector. We are removing you from the police.

"My kids don't hate me then?"

I couldn't answer. He brought tears to my eyes that I had to swallow back because we loved him.

So he tried English. "Think about it, boy.the good god. I didn't send my wife kids, and zepay, not a lot of money to buy things at HodsonbayCompagnine, then? We don't have a luxury life. Vothif, we only have one troop and my little horses, eh? So you call me a worm."

"English for Fourmet, sir."


"Men, sir, without nicknames do not count. They are not worth counting when there is trouble."

"They call you the Blackguard."

I smiled

"So," he looked at me, "why are you being such a fucked up baby, huh?"

And I came back: "Were you never young?"

The grizzled overseer flushed with pleasure. "I took it," he said, "as officer number six in the regiment, Officer Fourmet. But, my boy, I try. How about you? Pooh! You burn my fortnext!"

"Oh, not that, sir!" I begged. "Can't you punish me here?" Because I thought of Rain.

"And I will miss you," she sighed. "I am Canadian. I was also le beau seigneur. So I don't want to lose a gentleman from my troop.

"Now you call me an old fool, huh? Go change your clothes.Fast! And tomorrow you go to the nurse's office to take your medicine.

Then we shook hands, and for the first time in my wicked life, I shed tears of remorse.

He had sinned against force discipline by attacking the foundations of public safety.

He had disturbed the serenity of the Blackfoot Nation, the most formidable savages in the land, at a time when our feeble settlements were at their mercy.

While in Canadian service, he killed a subject of the United States, and nations were dragged into wars over trifles lesser than that.

It was Superintendent Fourmet's duty to expel me from duty and deport me from the country.

Oh, good for me if he did his duty. With Rain, my wife, we could have lived with honor, helping to save a dying city before it was too late.

I am an aristocrat for the same reason that a wolf is a wolf, and I maintain that equality is an illusion of the rude. And since a wolf mates with a wolf, Rain was my natural mate.

But we were torn apart by an unnatural convention, that hideous fetish of respectability, god of the Anglo-Saxons, enemy of Christ, forging fetters for free and liberal spirits forever, separating honest lovers, selling virgins in marriage to beasts and selling clean men. to the most impious women. . The temple is desecrated by all those who buy and sell their bodies within or without marriage, but above all by the respectable, who bind us with chains more painful to wear, and where Christ gave us the only commandment: To love, to dare to forbid reproaches.




Before leaving Fort French for regimental headquarters, I promised old Wormy that he would lead a better life. The first duty then was to take care of my little boy in the hospital; so I raffled off my warhorse and sold at public auction a dozen maidens I had been promised by mail; then I lost all my money playing cards with the hospital nurse. So I said goodbye to Brat.

Cut off from all my addictions, I felt like an empty box, all chiaroscuro and good intentions, but on the sleigh, caught in a two-day blizzard, it was too cold to go back. That autumn storm was one hundred and eight miles long from its tail in Fort French to its nose in Fort Calgary with a hundred and eighty degree cold and an alligator bite. Then at Fort Calgary I had to wait at the barracks because the unfinished Canadian Pacific Railroad ran the trains, weather permitting or when the driver was sober. on board the train we had nothing to reform but a tin of biscuits. We got badly stuck on the trail six hundred miles east of Regina, the headquarters of the mounted police.

He'd expected to see civilization after about eighteen months of each other, but the train was packed with men from the Rocky Mountain construction camps, and most of them had forgotten to shower. The floors in the cars were flooded with tobacco juice, the stoves were red, there was no ventilation. The air made my head spin and Rich Mixed got sick.

She craved company, but…well, there were some Canadians…nice guys, playing cards, betting hundreds of dollars. I could only afford to watch for half a minute.

There were American commercials, pale, tall, talking about millions and millions of dollars. I couldn't let myself be heard.

Then there were the peons busy getting drunk, and even their talk never amounted to a penny. They were also above my rank. I even heard a man say, "Get all this for fifty cents a day!" I couldn't tell him my salary was fifty-five cents.

That's when I got up to take off my buffalo coat and everyone stared at the red tunic. Somehow these good people didn't belong to my tribe, but I didn't know until then that the red coat closes the world like a wall. I just felt like they looked down on me so I blushed. It was like a flock of sheep looking at a collie, and it made me smile.

The better half of me is Irish and shares the same heritage with every British Tommy, every British Blue Jacket, every British Irregular on the Far Frontiers. Even the English, whose hearts are like cold fish, the glamor of service, the magic, the sorcery, the religion of that armed justice which keeps a quarter of all mankind from war, keeping the peace of the world! sea! Spain was, England is and Canada will be a sweeping fire from Heaven to bring the peace of the Eternal Father. Santissima Maria—I belonged there!

Ah, but it was more, much more. In the frost on the window beside me was a piece of clear glass, and I could see a cloud passing across the moon, above the waves of the snowy sea, as the blizzard crashed and thundered, half lifting our train. He wanted to go back to where he was, riding storms. I belonged there, I belonged there.

If we who serve in Old Glory or Union Jack colors serve for pay, the public enemy could buy us off for more pay. Could you negotiate with us in terms of money for royal service austerities, illness, injury, death?

"I believe in a god, "the storm raged."all powerful", the storm roared."I would create heaven and earththe storm roared. The storm and I were servants of one God. I knew then that never as long as I lived could I belong to a civilization that measured life in dollars.

I was in a castle in Spain tipping a servant with a raw oyster in my outstretched palm, when Rich Mixed woke me up with a cold nose in my hand. It was dawn, the train had stopped at Moose's Jaw and a new passenger was approaching, all fur and ice and noise. The only empty seat was my dog's, was what he said in dog language.

"Ur-r! Gur-r-r!" meaning: "Isn't it poisonous? Don't let him sit in my place. Yur-r-r!"

So I picked Rich Mixed up in my arms and said, "Have a seat in line, my septic friend."

However, that person is supposed to discuss the seats later, so the brakeman called him an idiot and walked away. It seemed to me, however, that this sickly stranger was afraid, not of the dog, but of me. So I told him I was just a policeman and the dog was very picky about what he ate. The man sat down.

Until now I had no suspicions, but the person must explain a lot about being a photographer and earning good money with photos of mountain landscapes. It got me thinking, because if he came from the Rocky Mountains, why should he take the train five hundred miles from the plains? And if you really were a photographer, you should have the camera tripod, the sliding case and that familiar professional style.

"C-r!" disse Rich Mixed.

Where did my decent dog meet this liar who was afraid of the police? My septic friend was a city scout, so the only city the dog could have found him was Winnipeg. So I skipped the rest of the way to the House of the Red Lamp, the place where this book began, where Rawhide Kate showed me a photograph of her husband, this very man, a circus performer with a trunk full of disgusting decorations and a pair of revolvers Jonathan Withal, King of Arms. Then, I remembered, he murdered Rawhide Kate. The police description mentioned a wen on her neck and, interestingly, this duck was sitting in her fur coat with the collar turned up while sweating. Also, he had his hands in his side pockets, and by the way, they were pistols. He had me covered.

You know how one thing leads to another. We're talking about Rich Mixed. So I kept it a secret, told him all about my dog's stepsister, Biscuits, and he told me exactly how much money she made. his case was a complete success. But he explained through the nose how some bigots, jokingly, could not tell the difference between a drinker and a drunk, while he could take it or leave it: that's it, although there are some. Steep, yes, sir, but they are mean men. As for him, he wanted me to know that he was mean and wild, all tough as curry and full of fleas and that he could shoot all ten putter points within a mile.

He paused, giving me time to admire.

Then he mentioned a bottle here in his bag.

By this time I had picked up a strong Amuric accent, yes sir,yHe had his speech turned metallic,Despitea dose of the real quintessence would have me under the seat completely drunk, because I had just recovered from hydrophobia.

His hands came out of his pockets which made me very proud to have his confidence, gambler of life. The patient then turned to open his suitcase as I grabbed his neck and pulled down, locking his elbows behind him until I tied his thumbs with a rope.

He wanted to have a fireworks display, but he couldn't reach his guns. So I had to tell him not to say things I was too young to hear.

“Jonathan Withal,” I said, as we settled in. I arrest you in the queen's name. You will be charged with the murder of your wife and I warn you that anything you say will be used as evidence.

The episode was sordid, its memory unpleasant, and I would not mention it here except for the subject that altered the course of my life. I had been sent for bad character to a course of recruiting, training, and discipline at headquarters, but I arrived in Regina with a prisoner who in due course was sent to capital trial in Winnipeg. I was sent as an escort to produce evidence of my arrest and, awaiting trial and hanging, sent to our detachment at Fort Osborne on the outskirts of that town. Then I stayed in the detachment at the beginning of winter.


During those few weeks in Winnipeg, I got a few letters from my little boy who was on crutches and feeling fine. He told me that there was a rumor that Sarde was getting married. The Inspector had bought an engagement ring, also a girl's fur hat and coat which had gone on the sleigh to Helena, where the Widow Burrows lived. to civilization. My friend Buckie was in the Sliding Party and was going to escort the prisoners to Regina.

In response, I sent Brat my first poem, in commemoration of Sarde's alleged engagement to the Widow Burrows.

When the ingenious Meringue
i met gay macaron
And they sighed, and then they sang
In the light of the moon-
I was there! It was so! it was then
I met my first, my only love.
It was hot!

One day I was on duty at the Fort Osborne gate when a hobo appeared in the street, a redheaded, bareheaded hobo, shivering in the remains of a jumper and torn sailor boots.

"I was in Roosia once," he told me later, "and you made me think of some big Roosian I saw reviewing the troops... Lucky me, huh?"

I remember being very comfortable in a fur cap, short buffalo coat, long stockings, loafers, and my sun-polished brass belt gleaming like a beam of burning light. I asked the icy sailor if he wanted to force himself up. He gulped in response, so I pointed the way to the recruiting office. "Second door on the left. Good luck."

A few minutes after the tramp had left for his destination, a city trooper arrived, one of Winnipeg's famous giants. He asked about the red-haired vagrant, highly wanted for kicking a Canadian Pacific reservations employee through a locked office door. The employee was being taken to the hospital.

Yes, I remember seeing a red-haired person, of course, the man himself. Ten minutes ago he had passed by going by parachute to Rio Vermelho.

The Winnipeg Police Giants are very understanding and sensitive to trash.

The guardhouse did not work and the men on duty lived in the barracks room. So there I was when, after my passing, I lay on my easel half dressed, stretching out on the bed, my dog ​​sleeping beside me. Yes, I was eating dates when Red Saunders, the wandering sailor, came out of his medical ordeal.

"Hello!" I called. "How lucky?"

"They got me!" Red exclaimed, and with that the corporal of the guard, who was playing cards on the table, looked up with a chuckle.

"'Before!" Red grabbed the corporal by the neck, "Come and punch him in the head!"

"Two, four, six," the corporal said of his cards, "and a pair, eight."

"Carrots!" I screamed. Red forgot his hilt and rushed to destroy me. "Dates, I mean," I said gently, handing her the bag. "Sit on my bed; Rich Mixed is just snarling for effect. He doesn't bite. Too full to take another bite. You know, Red, that gentleman over there is your superior officer?"


"How true. However, to touch even a bodily freak, the punishment is death."

"I insult myself!"

-Death. He was court-martialled and shot at dawn, then buried in the dog cemetery with a hideous epitaph.

"'He can't' and I to the police," Red finally said, "because we're shipmates now. I belong."

"That's right. We all have to behave like shipmates and we shouldn't scratch our chests."

"I can have an 'int," said Red, who was wolfing down dates, stones and all. "I mean, what do you think josher said there? He gave me my catechism, help me, and I had to write the answers.

Announcement that I served before? Yes, before the mast.

"'Married? No, thank God.

"'Did you know how to read and write?' So I wrote, 'Ain't I doing this?

"'Character of my parish clergyman?' Parish, you see, mine is the sea, so I write: 'Reverend Davy Jones doesn't shock.

"'Care and handling of 'horses?' Well, I said, I would overdo it in the western.

"Makes me strip, polish and buttocks.

"And swear oaths to them. Oaths ofto me! I attacked him with an ax if he looked like a traitor or a Dago."

"A Dago, like me?"

Red gave me his sticky, dirty hand with sudden sympathy, signaling for me to cheer up. "Because even a Dago ain't as bad as black ones."

I wiped my eyes with a handkerchief and begged him not to console me too much, lest I shed unmanly tears. "Tell me," I continued, "about the man you kicked."

"Pause, I wait. You see, I went to the C.P.R.'s office and asked for a job, and he said there was no need to apply English. I'd better go, he says, to the Society for the Relief of the English Homeless. So I asked him who he was and said, 'Canadian, get out of here.' Then I 'ummmGod Save the Queenin 'im fifteen minutes form to get him out from behind that bulkhead.

The girl with the packages bought a ticket to Troia and showed off her manners and her teeth full of gold. No Pullman cabin, no meals, no extra engine, and in the case of the Indians they won't scalp you, ma'am, because you're so pretty. And she too.

“Meanwhile, I just sang him the national anthem, knowing it would have to work if he was patient, and he'd turn as red as a lobster with his evil passions, until finally she said, 'Goodbye.' "', and drops packages from her. She's like a 'useless angel, saying 'what an idiot she is.

"Yuss. There I am on his little feet, getting the ratchets" and more, and when he leaves, Mr. Clerk of "is protected" to say I'm a thief, so I did a mule kick and 'He He hits the high-yuss trajectory and breaks his blooming hypotenuse right on the seat. And I never told anyone. No! , and you get a little more of the same in the 'isbleedin' gizzard. I give him plenty, enough for the laws, but the lidy says, 'How could you!' and wants to offer me money. I say to myself, 'I'm talking about a better land', so not wanting to interfere with them, the hippo police come here for sanctity.

"Oh yeah. She was h'angels h'ever bright and fair in the 'Vi'let Burrows' anime. That's her account. She tells the clerk she's tired of 'Elena, Montana.'


"Vi'let Burrows, from 'Elena, Montana. 'What's in here?"

But Violet Burrows of Helena, Montana, was the lady who traded her cook for a piglet, who traded her for a dog for the Sergeant Major, who sold her for a pair of boots to the good Inspector Sarde. So I wrote to him advising him to take action against poor Sarde for breach of promise of marriage. According to Brat's last letter, Inspector Sarde was at Fort Qu'Appelle, twenty miles north of Troy Station in the Canadian Pacific. And here was Violet Burrows on her way to Troy. She never would. She was too good for Sarde. She belonged to me.

I ran to the head of the guard and told him to parade me before the commander.

"Oh go die," he said, still in his letters, "my business."

But she had a firm grip on her ear. "Come quickly," I said, "come. I have to move... tomorrow is a train... a little widow... a grandmother of mine, bound for Troy. Oh, for my saint's dear speckled stockings aunt, come on!


A mile from the Winnipeg station, just below the sidings, the westbound train slowed, then stopped to receive three passengers who had arrived on a government sleigh. They boarded the train and were paraded through the carriages in procession: an important dog sniffing out passengers on an official inspection trip, a red-haired vagabond sailor so wanted by the local police that he had to be thrown out of their jurisdiction, and a black warning soldier who , judging by contemporary portraits, looked a little like the devil.

When the three of us got into the day car, the bum yelled, "There he is!"

I told her it was rude to point, asked her to put my luggage away and sit down, and then I walked over to the lady and said hello.

"Widow Burrows?" I asked.

"LoseBurrows," was the stilted reply.

She was a pretty, pointed-pointed blonde, the type of the best maids, an ordinary dead young animal, but attractive enough in a land where women were still rare. In England I used to try them by the dozens, taking an educational course on the favors they had to offer. He wore a seductive fur cap, a coat of the same color that looked dazzling on him above a more pretentious bustle. The skirt appeared to be hanging upside down. Given the size, shape and condition of the hands, gloves would be advisable. She laughed under inspection.

From Sarde's pictures, of course, he knew the mounted police uniform and boldly assumed I was his messenger; so I told him I would be escorted to Troy, so I took off my warm furs and asked him to sit down.

For a simple messenger, she found it quite familiar, so I told her not to get mad because it wasn't right. "Now, don't drop your packages, honey." I pointed to Red Saunders in the corner.

The kicker you hired yesterday is meek and eats my hand. But have you hired assassins for today? I reached under the seats and told him I was scared of getting kicked.

"Oh, say!" She was very agitated. This species usually got excited when she expected kisses. It was good to keep them waiting, because when they had nothing to look forward to, interest waned.

"Now don't be formal, young lady. A smile, please. How beautiful is the sudden sun! And how is your late husband? Hel-en Helena's?"


"How stupid of me. Not introduced, eh? Miss Burrows, let me introduce Mr. Blur, who wrote to you a time or two, do you remember, eh?"


"Please do that 'Oh!' Again Perfectly lovely lips, Mrs. Burrows I could arrange my kisses in that vase like roses.

Miss Burrows played an outraged heroine pursued by a villain.

"II-I-I'm not Mrs. Burrows. I told you before."

"So? You've exorcised the ghost of her late husband? May his divorced spirit be fried, as far as I'm concerned, Miss Burrows. Or maybe he's just a widow, back home in Helena."

Now go away, Mr. La Mancha, or I'll be very angry.

"Don't call me sir. Call me Blackguard."

"I have no use for you anyway."

"You made an announcement for me."

"Not me! Never! You announced it!"

"Oh! And you sent me a picture of an ugly girl, a scarecrow, instead of you being adorable. Why, why?"

"Tell me," she teased, "if Mr. Sarde sent you to... to the wall... all I can say is...

"You don't meanera?"

I will tell Mr. Sarde... there!

"Did you know his father was hanged when his mother stole the ducks?"

My arm slipped around her waist.

"Ah, we'll be noticed! I'll scream! I swear, I'll scream!"

"We're both going to scream. Then we'll be noticed for sure."

"You are very horrible. Not respectable."

"I'm hanging out in your sun spread out like a kipper. Do what you want with me." My arm closed around her waist, and it was barely long enough.

"Now you want to let me go now, or-"

"My dear, you've never had so much fun in your entire life."

"I'll call for help!"

"Do it. If I had a scale, I'd give you the note, the high Q."

"When the brakeman comes, or the driver, I will, I swear I will!"

"The newsboy won't do? Don't eat me, try a banana."

I bought one from the newsagent for fifteen cents, peeled it in half, and held it to her lips.

"I won't touch you," he said, and bit down. "YO-"

"Bite, ruby ​​lips, hold tight, O pearls, and rest your tongue, that you cannot speak with your mouth full, gluttonous. And to think that all your ancestors lived on nuts! Exit the banana through the center. And now with your tenderness inside the skin I gently wipe the dust from your nose."

"We will be seen!" she begged.

"And envy. I'm not very good at flirting? Banana peel must be good for cleaning blush, but I think it must be a concoction of pork fat and brick dust, because it doesn't come off. I use cherry toothpaste, but I I'm a brunette And now, honey, if you turn your nose halfway to the left, I don't mind kissing you.

"I challenge you!"

"This way. Hmm. If I wasn't so shy, yes, you could tickle me."

"I didn't."

"So you should. Now, when you're done snorting like the female bird, you're going to tickle me, or I'm going to dance the length of the car with you."

"Is this going to do?"

"Very well, thank you. Now the left ear."

There's the brakeman, he'll see us!

The brakeman passed, followed by the conductor, but Miss. Violet, with her nose in the air and my arm around her waist, pretended to be a complete stranger.

I started to lose interest. The girl was mine for the asking. Any policeman could have won her easy favors. He interested me only as Sarde's property. "And then," I said, "you'll find him at Qu'Appelle."

"It's not your business."

"It's my business. Didn't I tell you to sue him for breach of promise?"

"There is no gap. We are engaged, out there."

"So you have to marry him, huh?" and I took her to talk about herself, the only subject she had to talk about.

Miss Burrows, I believe, was unlucky in the choice of her parents and was adopted at the age of fourteen by an uncle, Eliphalet P. Burrows, known as Loco, because he happened to be broke. He was the janitor of a bankrupt mine near Helena, absorbed in a stupid invention that consumed all his salary, and he was happy to have Miss. Violet because she was petty. A servant would expect to be paid.

For those with eyes, ears and a heart, the desert provides a better education than schools, but the girl turned her back on it and lay down in the living room with the windows covered to hide all that was beautiful. The place was full of luxurious farce and vulgarity, and there he spent his spare time reading novels.

Now, fiction made honestly by craftsmen can be true to human life and, at best, a mirror reflecting the world. But your average romance portrays a perfectly sweet hero, with canned virtue, guaranteed bulletproof; and a heroine who is pocketed chastity and assured tenderness: two figures devoid of human character, whose respectable passions are thwarted by some three hundred pages, salable for a dollar and thirty-five cents. They then get married and live happily ever after. The truth might be stranger than that, but I doubt it.

Miss Violet's novels portrayed immaculately black villains, impeccably innocent but painfully undernourished good guys. Vice lived in guilty splendor, wicked earls dined in their crowns, hair-raising adventures plunged into evil, and nobody had the slightest sense of humor. She fed on entrails.

Old Burrows had a stepson, young Joe Chambers, a cowboy who made forty dollars a month, a decent fellow, mute and boorish, but with the makings of a first-class husband. He spent his money on gifts, his free time on devotion, while Miss Violet, who had no one else to flirt with, made love to him with books, made a fool of him out of keeping practical, and destroyed her life without him. least scruples.

She waited for the lover of her dreams, the fictional hero, and in that state she responded to my false advertisement in the Matrimonial Ashtray. Certain random bits or blotches of modesty led her to send in the portrait of a repulsive aunt and herself in false widowhood.

Decent women avoid that kind of correspondence, and our C Troop boys thought that girls who made love by mail were easy prey for any kind of mischief. Sarde was foolish enough to take her seriously. She sent him a photograph of herself and abandoned her widow pose. I sent you a wide notice.

If you had shown my letter to your lover, Joe would have crossed and shot me. If I had shown it to Uncle Loco, he would have chattered and been boring. Even her conscience told her that she had exposed herself to insults and that, as a matter of common sense, it was better not to risk anything worse. But her vanity was wounded and, in a foolish rage, he had to take revenge. She would take my advice and lead Sarde into a promise of marriage, and if he broke the promise, she would threaten legal action.

Thus came the photograph of Sarde in uniform, and with fairly regular features and a Viking moustache, he seemed to be her ideal lover, her fictional hero. He also wrote as lonely men often do. After all, he sat on Her Majesty's Commission in a distinguished body, he had the official rank of a gentleman, he was a justice of the peace by trade, he could give her a social position, he offered her marriage, and now he meant it. The poor fool thought she was in love.

Sarde wasn't very smart. An Ontario farm, a military college, and a few abandoned frontier posts did not fill him with worldly wisdom. On a lieutenant's salary, marrying on the basis of a fine photograph gave her distinction in a world of fools. Going into debt, he managed to send an engagement ring and then that fashionably cut sealskin cap and coat to put on a bustle. All I knew was from my friend Buckie, who sent me a gossip letter from Fort French. Later, Sarde sent the girl one hundred dollars, a month's salary, and had him transferred to Fort Qu'Appelle, beyond the reach of civilization.

In turn, Ms. Violet developed lumbago in her left leg, for which Loco had to hire a Chinese servant. Freed from domestic chores, she decided her mission in life was to help Loco with his invention, which she had to prepare for by spending a year at university. So Loco was induced to borrow sixty dollars for his trip to the East, "spoiling the Egyptians," she called it, and Joe raised forty dollars. "All's fair in love," she said.

Heartbroken, she left the old Fool to his fate, boarding the train at Helena in a flood of tears. "I cried to my eyes." When he got to Fargo, he perked up. "It can't be helped," she said, and took the train to Winnipeg. There, feeling much better, she bought a ticket to Troia. A sleigh from there would take her to Fort Qu'Appelle, and she telegraphed Sarde the date of her arrival. When I found her outside Winnipeg aboard the westbound train, she had recovered from her last duel. "It's everything in life," he said.

"It's a long distance love," I said. The adorable pig sends you a first-class ticket on Cupid's express, saying, "Come into my arms, whatever the cost." But, my dear, why Sarde?

"And why not?"

"I'm there".

"You? You are just a private, but my Cyril is an officer."

"Comfort me," I squeezed, "or I'll scream."

My attention turned to Rich Mixed, to Saunders, who was smiling and winking, to the few passengers and the passing scenery. But Miss Burrows, returning to the main subject, herself extended her dirty hand while talking about palmistry, asking me to read her fortune.

I told him, between yawns, that cats' paws are very similar, useful for making mice.

"But I'm a lady."

"Women and cats are pretty much the same. Both wash themselves every day."

It was not in this sense that Ms. Burrows pretended to be a lady and, in a huff, she set to work to put me in my place.

"Oh, say," he asked pointedly, "aren't ordinary English soldiers in red coats called Tommies?"

"Toms," I corrected, "not Tommies. Toms. Ashe the cat, who wears cheap perfume instead of licking her fur, is prone to getting scratched by Toms."

"How dare you say I'm not a lady?"

"You're not, dear. You're cute and plain, terribly attractive, handsome enough to turn any Tom's head. Why, my dear, if you lived in England, any one of our boys would go to the park with you. They'd go to the park with you." they charged half a crown, but by God I'd do that for a shilling.

"Holy snakes! I'll pay for you... wall, I guess that's all you redcoats are for. We ripped your upholstery!"

"We're better off without the padding. Oh, so much better. Never padding. How about you?"

We miss you from Amurrica.

"We like it. We like to be noticed. What breaks our hearts is being ignored by proud people."

"Que tal Bunker Hill?"

-Oh yes. How true. But if it was a good Amurric, you'd call it Bunker G. Hill, or Bunker Zee Hill, eh?

"It was a battle, and you ran like rabbits."

"Huh? Smell some beer? At the slightest whiff of beer, we jump on the longest rabbit. It makes me thirsty just thinking about it. I wish I'd been there. Hell, where's Bunker V. Hill? There might be some beer left ." ".

"Boston, of course."

"Boston. We have a small town named after him. And where is Boston?"

“You're not that ignorant. Wall, I think it's the capital of New England.

"Oh, we also have a place called New England. Let's see, oh yes, isn't it run, like ours, by the Irish?"

"You disgust me."

How charmingly frank you are.

"And you," she sobbed, "just"smell-"me trate"-smell— "as if I were not a lady."

"That," I said gravely, "I will never be."

"Then I'm worthless," said Ms. Burrows acidly. I think you have the dullest face and rudest manner I have ever seen. You are not a gentleman.

"Oh no! I was found in a dump with dead cats. My manners were a disgrace to my native ward. My face is my disgrace. Pity me."

"You are a brute!" she sobbed.

"Cry, but be careful, darling, not to sniff. Then you ruin it by sniffing."


"Belle! And so we are Beauty and the Beast. She loved him."

Then she perked up and scratched herself.

"The beast", she said, "was a prince in disguise, but you are a..."

"No, my dear. He was no simple prince. He rode on apparatus, a true gentleman, a fine one."

"You laugh at me."

"All the time," I said.


"Why are you angry, my dear, for the first time in your life you are being simple and natural, first lesson in how to be a lady. You will make it."

"Oh, that's what you think."

"American girls are the smartest in the world in big business."

"Wall now, what is this? I would love to hear it."

"Going up. The main word in the great American language is the verb take. I take, you leave, he comes. We go up, you go up, they're stuck. Do you use hair oil?"

"No of course not."

"Then you can lay your golden head in my...hug. I'll spread out my scarf...then. Now snuggle up to sleep."

He ate dinner with me in the dining room and afterwards, while I smoked, he ate sweets until he couldn't take it anymore and played Rich Mixed until we were both tired.

"Sleep is good," I said, "so two dreams are better than one. I told the brakeman to wake us up in Troy. Sweet dreams."

Sometime in the middle of the night, Inspector Sarde boarded the train at Troy and paraded between the carriages looking for a girl with a halo of shining hair, a delicate pointed nose and pursed lips, dressed in the furs he had given her. waiting for her turn. first kiss, demure, shy, innocent.

He found his bride in my arms, her head on my shoulder, both of us fast asleep. He never really loved me anyway.

Being a Canadian, he had the national qualities of strength and self-control, and yet he was capable of a blind white rage in which his eyes burned in a face livid and deadly. As he didn't raise his voice or use unnecessary words, I found him to be quite impressive. This time a snap of his whip woke me up, so I woke up and looked over at a corps officer. I tossed the girl, righted her with wooden gravity, and saluted.

As for Miss Burrows, with the blink of an eye she jumped into his arms and said, "Oh, Cyril!" which made him rather comical in his high authority. He licked his dry lips before she could speak.

"Officer," he said, very cold and rigid, like a monumental cold lamppost entwined by an asiren or a mermaid, "what are you doing here?"

"Transferred, sir, Winnipeg to Regina."

"Get off the train," his words were scathing, the tone held malice. I will wire the commissioner that I detained you in my detachment, and in the morning you will report to my office to do your duty.

"I understand, sir," for he had me at his mercy. I nodded and turned to obey.

Then Sarde confronted the woman who had betrayed him.

"Come on," he said coldly, and turned on his heel.

"Ah, Cirilo!"

"Come on," he repeated, over his shoulder, "unless you prefer to stay with the train, you can go to hell as far as I'm concerned."

"Oh, Cyril, let me explain!"

"Come or not?"

Then he got off the train, with the woman behind him, making a scene. I followed.


A long time ago, an Indian woman was dying in her tent and with her last breath she screamed her lover's name. And from many miles away her lover heard it. He stopped his little dog train and stood beside the cariola and, hearing the silence, shouted, "Who's calling?"

French-Canadian travelers told the story of the Indian who heard the voice of a spirit and, responding, shouted, "Qu' Appelle?" From that cry the valley was named, and the old Hudson's Bay Fort is still called Qu'Appelle.

On the slope overlooking the fort were the log cabins of our police detachment, but Inspector Sarde, the commanding officer, and his new wife were staying at the hotel.

I was posted to the Sarde detachment, and as every soldier knows, when a commander attacks any soldier, it can easily drive the man to mutiny, desertion, or suicide within the first few weeks. Sarde did his best to that end, taunting me, taunting me, egging me on, setting me up to catch me in some slipup, berating me for impossible tasks, and using trumped-up accusations to punish me mercilessly. My salary was levied in fines, the other comrades had their licenses suspended because of me so they could turn against me, and I once spent a night in cells in thirty-degree frost. Of course I deserved everything I got and I didn't complain because I had earned Sarde's hatred. He put me in my guts, forced me to excel in all duties, made me his best man, groomed me to keep the other boys in good spirits, and set a good example for him when it came to good manners.

Of course, our men did not tell civilians anything about our family affairs; but passers-by on the road who saw me suffer the punishment began to spread the scandal until no one on the spot spoke to Sarde or visited his wife.

Buckie, the sweet boy who first introduced me to the team, was recently transferred to this division and posted at Fort Qu'Appelle. He was my friend in great need, giving me coffee when I was about to freeze in pack exercise, waking the other mates until they perjured themselves before my eyes in my defense, helping me with my extra work, putting the multitude against Sardis. And so he used to comfort me in private.

One Sunday afternoon, Sarde went to Troy and Buckie helped me in the barn, where I had to fit a chimney ring through the roof of an A tent. We were busy for a while while we measured and cut the tarp. So, sitting on overturned buckets in the warm night, we began to sew. After a morning chat with Sarde, I felt so bad that I asked Buckie if the man intended to kill me.

"Sarde," Buckie replied, "says he's going to tone you down or kill you, one or the other. You need this badly. Why? Because you have to think you were Adam before Eve was created. The world is not fully inhabited by a Blackguard Suppose you think of someone else for a change.

Anyway, that was straight off the shoulder. From the first time I saw him as a rookie's rookie, he has tremendously become the standard model of a macho cop.

"The C-troop crew," he continued, "think you're the kind of highwayman who needs to live with applause."

Buckie's respectable soul was thoroughly revolted by my enormities. I tried not to falter.

"I'm not much of a military man," he said so nicely in the vernacular!, "but I've taken stock of the men who count, who do things and give the team a good name."

I thought of Buckie's first appearance on the charging steed and how I stopped his soldier so that the rider raced toward me through the air, weapon still in hand and determined to do his duty.

"Real men," he said, "keep their mouths shut except when they have something to say." It gives them time to think; one has nothing. They obey orders and there is nothing left in life until they are fulfilled. your job. So they don't have time to brag; Yes you. You would be a showman, or a clown in a circus, while this crew is serious."

I reminded Buckie that he was serious once, when Rain stole his clothes and he paraded around in my painted leather tunic chasing a crook.

"Now, Sarde," he continued, "he was but a corporal when he took a prisoner out of Big Bear camp in front of two thousand guns. He's a man, and he'll be superintendent before I'm done. You'll never get your stripes . Why, scoundrel, Sarde would not be a man if he let you play with his wife.

I told Buckie to pet me or he would cry. He said he couldn't because he was using his foot to hold the tarp.

Then, sewing with a candle needle and a palm thimble, she looked at me with the same expression as a prim old maid. "Have you heard," he asked, "of old Fort Carlton?"

Quite! Fort Carlton sat on the edge of ice-covered northern Saskatchewan, a cluster of clapboard houses within a palisade with bastions at the two rear corners. How well he remembered the photo! It was a trading post, strong against bows and arrows, but from high above the plain, seven merchant muskets had enough range to kill men in the square. All this he had read as a boy in fine adventure books, wanting to ride with the half-breed French and the Cree Indians herding buffalo out there on the plains above the fort. I wanted to try the pemmican made for their pumpkins and bison berries, to sail with the gay brigades that brought that food to other Hudson's Bay stalls throughout Mackenzie. But now the herds of bison have been swept away, they, the hunters and the brave travelers.

"Let's go," Buckie said.

"What, to Fort Carlton?"

That's why Sarde ordered a hole for this shop's chimney. It's to cover a sleigh for your wife. The sleigh will be outfitted like a cabin with a stove, kitchen, bed, everything.

Now I began to understand why the men were being recruited at Fort Qu'Appelle, the tons of harness and equipment we were going through, Sarde's visit to Troy, and many other events.

Buckie started to gossip.

"Yesterday, in the Hudson's Bay store, a half-breed Scottish man from the north was talking about Louis Riel, the man, you know, who raised the RedRiver Rebellion in 1971. He's there now, among the old buffalo runners and travelers. who used to hunt and command the brigades of the Hudson's Bay Company at Fort Carlton. He is spreading treachery among the races and crees. He founded a republic of hunters and travelers, to be the father of all prairie men. They must burn down Fort Carlton, kill all the mounted police, drive the whites off the plains, because then the buffalo will come back and their huts will be red with meat like the good old days."

"So there will be war?" I asked and my heart was jumping with excitement.

"When the grass arrives." Buckie threaded the needle carefully, like a housewife. "War," he said. "That's why we're going to Carlton, and Sarde won't have much time to bother you, eh, Blackguard?"

Buckie proved right in everything he told me. During the week we marched about sixteen men, mostly raw recruits, each driving a horse-drawn sled known as a springer loaded with fodder, bedding, gear, camping equipment, food, and even firewood. As on a sea voyage, there was nothing in the way, so our jumpers were laden like small ships, while our flotilla made its way through heavy snowfall. The mercury was frozen and in Salt Plains it was sixty below zero, a difficult trip for Mrs. Sarde in his sleigh shop, not comfortable for us. One of our mates, Crook, had a brain freeze and, in a state of intense delirium, went looking for a star until a guy named Sheppey cornered him and took him back to camp. We had to drop Crook off at the SaltPlain station, and Doc, his face frozen, stayed with him as a nurse.

Sarde was very nice to me in that sense and, for the first time, I liked him because he was playing the man, assuming his role with us, not his wife. And I was happy trotting beside my jumper, leading my horse out of the drifts, the busiest man in the crowd as we pitched our tents and cooked, rolled up our beds and slept, pitched our camp and marched.

I even got Buckie to admit he wasn't a highwayman.

Indeed, that five-day trip would have been perfect if one had left the luggage behind and departed without a cold, uncomfortable body, a sleigh, and a tired horse. The spirit needs no luggage to enter that great White Silence of the snowy field or to visit the nocturnal splendors of the stellar drift.

On our last march of sixty miles we passed the log town of Batoche, where Louis Riel was plotting his new rebellion, and some of his hunters rested sullenly at its gates. There we crossed into southern Saskatchewan and all day we traversed the land between the two arms of that river, in what was soon to become the center of the war. It was getting dark when we reached the edge of the plains, looking down into the valley of northern Saskatchewan. It was starlight when we reached the bottom of the hill and walked around the palisade to enter the river gate of old Fort Carlton.




Two human lives flow shimmering in the gay rapids of childhood, and quieter in the saddest years, to unite, then part, till at last they meet midway, and as one life wed towards their rest.

Two rivers flowing down the Rocky Mountains, shimmering in the foothills, running across the plains, coming together and then separating for a while before meeting and marrying to form the great Saskatchewan flowing into the sea.

Here's my map, but I've always sucked at geography, and as for history, well, what do you expect from a scoundrel?

Right where the two Saskatchewans first came together, and they are about fifty miles apart, our base, Fort Carlton, was on the north arm, and Batoche, the rebel camp, was on the south river. Below them, in the land between the rivers, was Prince Albert's settlement, and his trading village was on the north arm, eighty-five miles downriver from Fort Carlton. As you can see, the rebels controlled the main access to the fort and settlement. They were strong enough to threaten one while attacking the other. But neither the fort nor the settlement was strong enough to attack the rebels. So much for the strategy.

Louis Riel commanded four hundred buffalo runners at Batoche, accurate shots at full gallop, and perhaps the best marksmen in the world. He had two hundred Assiniboin and two hundred two hundred Cree warriors, three thousand men in all. Envoys of his were loose among the Blackfeet, and if they rose, goodnight! Worse yet, the Irish Fenians in the United States seemed capable of controlling the government, as they were openly preparing, on Riel's behalf, their third armed incursion into Canada. Worst of all, we couldn't arrest the rebel because he was a French Canadian and he had the sympathy of fifteen hundred thousand brave countrymen. Our first motion could lead the entire Dominion to the flames of civil war.

I don't know if this paragraph is political or tactical, but the position was very uncomfortable.

For eleven years, with only three to five hundred horsemen, the mounted police controlled that great savage empire on the plains, so the civilians were completely unarmed because we kept the peace. I had no weapons.

And we are isolated. No help could reach the plains. There was not then, nor is there now, any trail connecting the plains with eastern Canada or the Pacific coast. On either side lay huge untouched forest, and the Canadian Pacific Railway was still a line of drop-offs. When Canada raised a field force to rescue us, the United States denied its troops passage. England couldn't help us either, because the Russians were marching into India and war could break out at any moment.

So it all depended on small scattered groups of police and our big boss, Sorrel Top, team steward, meek, brave, strong, wise and much loved. All winter I sent small detachments to Carlton until, on March 1, 1985, we had a hundred men. Fifty civilians joined us as volunteers, and every half-blood Scottish loyalist came to us seeking refuge. The remainder of Prince Albert's settlers held onto their village, some of them armed with sticks.

On the 26th of March, at two o'clock in the morning, a dispatch from Sorrel Top reached Paddy, our commander at Carlton. At three o'clock the knight was released for something to eat, and from the dining room the news spread through the fort Rich Mixed and I were in the stables, for Anti, my poor horse, had every page ill supplied from so much work patrolling. So it took some sugar and we were pretty good with the treat when someone came in from the dining room.

"Is that you, Buckie?"

"Remnants of," he growled.

I told him I was picketing again at four. Life was too good right now to waste it on sleep.

"It's war," Buckie said.

Finally the war! He was sitting on the crossbar between two stables, overcome with exhaustion, the lantern light casting shadows on his face, white as death, with burning eyes.

"Turn around," I said, "or you'll be screwed in the morning." He told me he was a flying sentry until four o'clock, then he gave me the news.

Dismantling their outlying outposts, our great chieftain, Sorrel Top, had recruited a hundred more men and was marching from Fort Qu'Appelle. Two men were badly frostbitten, sixty-five were blinded by the snow, the horses were exhausted, and a few stray civilians were captured. A rebel ambush was then discovered just four miles ahead, when Sorrel Top, with a march of sixty miles, turned towards the Prince Albert. There he rested twenty-four hours to organize the colonists for defense. That day would come, the twenty-sixth, he would assume our command and, with combined strength, crush the rebellion before it grew too strong. But we shouldn't move until he comes. That's a wise delay that makes the road safe.

"Who do you think," asked Buckie, "that came with that dispatch?"

I thought it was some poor B-troop coyote.

"His name," Buckie said impressively, "is JoeChambers."

But that was the name of Mrs. Sarde, the Montana cowboy. Had he joined the police?

"I asked for you, Blackguard."

"See, bring it".

After I saddled Anti and re-bridled him (he was Anti-everything, especially the bridle), Buckie returned to Chambers. He was a suspicious, jealous, quick-witted, no-talk sort of animal. He assessed me, judging my points as if he'd been asked to buy me, but didn't say a word until Buckie was clear. Then he spoke slowly, concisely, and with weight in all that he said, the pure-hearted, direct, excellent man.

Miss Burrows, she told me, had written from Troy, in the British possessions, to Loco, her silly uncle. He claimed to have met a man who belonged to the police named La Mancha in the westbound cars. Was that my name?

I quit.

The name sounded like Dago, but I appeared to be white. He treated her white anyway. He thanked me and I bowed.

In Troy this lady got out of the carriages to marry an officer named Sarde. It was good?


She was the wife of Sarde, he wrote, and a miserable lot.

It might have opened Mr. Chambers. His lover had a smile for a man: "Oh, thank you, good!" on the other hand, her gloves fell off by a third - she was very good at throwing packages - and she noticed the rest. She had three-quarters of our garrison in a state of reverie and high hopes for more, the kind of flirtation that covets niggers so they'll go mad and have to be burned. I could not tell Chambers all I thought of his lady, who wrote that her heart was broken.

This real man had nothing to say about his own commitment to the woman, the ranch he had stocked with cattle under her brand name, registered in her name, or his own "in the Helena cattle association." She didn't say anything to me then about the dobe booth, the arrangements, the pianist, just for her, about the months salary I had given her so that she could dedicate herself to civilization, nor about the insensitivity with which she had betrayed him.

Only he stiffened and his voice nearly cracked as he told me his suspicions. This guy she married must be a pig, and he needed a lot of shots to make her unhappy. So he rode to Troy and found her gone. That meant, I suppose, that he had sacrificed his life to ride a thousand miles for a woman who hadn't even bothered to send a postcard. In Troy they went to find the preacher who had hooked that team. I tried it too, but only found that Ms. Burrows went with Mr. She left Fort Qu'Appelle for a sleigh ride and came back married.

Chambers tracked the couple to Troy, where he discovered that the ceremony had been performed by Happy Bill, a converted railroad fireman, not by holy orders; You are not licensed to marry people. He had broken the law by committing sacrilege.

"He is not a brand-name preacher," said Chambers, "but a dissenter who is not allowed in the pack, and railroad workers are worse than shepherds anyhow."

Sarde found the woman in my arms, and just as she teased him, so he teased her. There was no wedding. She was not this wife.

"And now," said Chambers, "I joined the police, to follow this Sarde here. Your general gave me a dispatch to ride, and I burned this trail to the ground to get here quickly." He took the service revolver out of its holster.

"I didn't keep this soldier hyre pistol," he said, "but I had to hang my Colt at the Troy Hotel, so that will have to do. Where's Sarde?"

"I wish they would kill Sarde," I said, "but I hate to see you hang."

"Where is Sarde?"

"Search me," I said, "he is not my property."

"Where is Sarde?"

"Find him," I said, and climbing into the saddle, rode away.


At 4 am, I replaced the picket right at the edge of the plain, where the highway curves south towards Batoche. The orders repeated here clearly showed that Paddy expected the rebels to attack the fort at dawn.

Orion was already setting, and the stillness was becoming more and more terrible, the living silence menacing. Before I had time to fire an alarm shot the rebel scouts could be upon me, for if they intended to attack the fort at dawn it was time to put me out of action. The stars came out to my left, to my right, then the edge of the earth darkened against the east, and it looked like an angel with a brush made a light layer of stars to paint the sky.

Behind me, up the hill, there was the thud of hooves, the hiss of skates gliding, the clank of harnesses, voices: "Laugh! Haw, Mollie!" I felt a rider leading a line of sleds up the long hill from the fort, but I didn't see them until they crested and passed me like gray ghosts. They were obliged, I am told, to obtain supplies from the Duck Lake Post merchants before the rebels arrived.

I heard the sound of dawn, its faint silvery notes, tingling the thin air. The eastern sky was flecked with pink, the snowfield was changing from indigo to lilac, then the red sun shone through the groves of poplars, turning their carnelian-covered branches into a fiery haze. The sky was cobalt below, and shadows like blue puddles filled every hollow, while the groves of poplars turned to a brilliant white diamond. It was time for breakfast, but my relief lingered. So I was sleepwalking with old Antion at a measured pace to keep us awake. Half asleep, I heard at distant intervals the sound of the bugle: "Dress", "Stables", "Pile of food".

The team line was now advancing home at a brisk trot, galloping up the hills, the cuadrilleros shouting jokes to one another, the men on the sled bodies with rifles at the ready, looking back. The sleds passed me empty and someone shouted, "Rebels! Run, Blackguard! The rebels are coming!"

"Send my help," I shouted as they came down the curve, the first patrol in the regiment to tail an enemy.

For a long time I surveyed the undulating plain ahead with all its frozen puddles and clusters of aspens. There were no signs of rebels. Then from the fort I heard the bugle shouting a new call: "Boot and saddle!"

Not knowing what it was, I rode to the vantage point, from which I could see the square full of men, all falling like atoms from some glass until a general procession was rigid at the command. It was no more than a kilometer. I could see Paddy giving a speech and I heard the thin thread of sound, lost in a tumult of applause. Then there were short, sharp barks of command as the vanguard formed four, the little bronze seven-pounder cannon swinging its little tail, the dismounted men piled on all the sleds sent back to attack Duck Lake Post, and the rear guard followed. . covered everything. the water gate, around the palisade, across the trampled meadow and up the wooden slope. Two scouts passed me, advancing into the blinding glare. So Paddy, aided by his bugler, rode to the top of the hill and I begged him to let me go.

"Enter," he said, "through the back." So I struggled through the snowdrifts to get there so he wouldn't change his mind.

The column was divided into half sections, the last consisting of Buckie, who imagined himself in the stiff cavalry saddle, and the Montana cowboy, who rode calmly. I pulled up behind them and called JoeChambers. Had he seen Sarde? I asked.

He did not have.

Sarde was just ahead, riding ahead of the column in plain view, but Chambers didn't know his enemy by sight and Buckie hadn't told him.

"See that policeman?" I asked.

"Your partner," said the cowboy, "says he's Inspector Brown."

"Yes, Bunty Brown," I said.

"His partner called him Jocko," said the cowboy. "So this is Sarde!" He drew his weapon and spurred forward.

"Old Bunt was a jockey," I explained, "before he turned bad and joined the police."

Chambers fell back beside me and sheathed his weapon.

Have you seen Madame Sarde? I asked, to change the subject.

"I sent you a note," said Chambers; "She sent a letter back."

He wouldn't tell me what was in that letter.

We rode ten miles through parks with their little duck ponds, their poplar groves and floating clearings where soft snow was neck-deep beside our trail. Then, as we crossed a narrow belt of bushes, we received word from man to man that the scouts were coming. Beyond the forest, our column formed the front left, extending at right angles from the road for nearly a hundred yards. The great sledges plunged over the hills like ships in a storm at sea, forming a rough, jagged line of wall. Then we dismounted in chest-deep snow and sent all the horses into the undergrowth with one man to every four, while the rest of us huddled in groups behind the sleds, and our officers cut a trail close behind us. .

The open land in front of him was only a hundred meters wide and surrounded by bushes. On the far right, across the road, a deep drift track led to a small shack on high ground. This farm had a field fenced in with a snake fence that filled in the angle between the driveway and driveway.

On the path by the fence was Paddy, with our interpreter, Joe McKay, a mixed race, a guy we liked. He played the role of boss while an Indian, wrapped in a white and dirty blanket, made a long speech. This was the Cree chief, Beardy, who owned the farm to our right. He seemed to be speaking forever and ever, amen.

I felt that it was all an endless wandering dream from which I had to wake up for breakfast. Beside me, on my right, was Chambers, and half of my mind was listening as he spoke. He told me about the ranch he built for Ms. Burrows, the cabin he built for her, the ingredients, the candy. That made me laugh, while the other half of my mind resentfully wondered what the joke was about. It felt unholy to laugh while in my dream I knew I was very scared.

On the way, the Indian suddenly grabbed the interpreter's carbine, but McKay was alert and emptied his revolver at Beardy, who fell, staggered against the fence and lay there. Our leader spun in his saddle and "Fire, boys!" The Scream.

"Please sir, it's right in the middle!" The seven-pounder screamed.

"Oh, don't worry about me!" Paddy laughed. Beardy had held him while the rebels, four times our strength, traveling light on snowshoes, hidden in the bushes, formed a horseshoe formation with our line between their points, nearly closed in at close range for the next massacre. We faced a blinding glow of snow towards the sun, where diamond branches of trees gleamed along their roots with jets of flame and puffs of pearly smoke rolled through the serene air. We fired a film of blue smoke, our bullets whipping the snow peaks into dew and diamond dust falling from the fairy forests.

Then the rifles burned and smoked, the bullets hissed and sang, yet still the dream sense told me that all was a mere chirping like summer birds amidst the mighty silence of the plains that filled the vault of heaven with peace. high as the sun Then my mind cleared, for a lead explosion was shattering the sled box above me, cracking and shattering the planks into long slivers. I knew our force was hopelessly bogged down, ambushed and being destroyed. After one shot, the seven-pounder jammed. Nine brave civilian volunteers died trying to attack the hut to our right. The enemy on both ends is lining up the broken line.

Then, in the bushes, I saw a man jump and fall. Buckie let out a small squeal of happiness, but this was my flesh and I claimed it. "And what's the next item?" I said. Beside me, I heard something growling. "Pork!" I said, but Chambers rolled into me. So Buckie and I let our carbines cool, watching Chambers to see what was wrong with him. His buffalo coat lay open in the snow, the sunlight glinting off scarlet twill and shiny buttons, but his face was in gray shadow.

"Wake up, old man," I said, taking off his serge to give him air. "Where is he Joe?"

His fingers tugged at my sleeves. He whispered, but I couldn't make out the words. Then the clay-white face relaxed and a blue shadow like rising water covered it. His lips parted. I took a letter from the dead man's pocket.

A bullet ripped the skin off my sleeve, one hit my carbine and stung my fingers, and half a dozen went through the sled when I got back into the fight. Those shadowy figures moving through the brush towards our rear must stop quickly.

At that moment, Dr. Miller appeared behind me, and half a dozen men were pleading with him to take cover, his soft, drawling voice telling us not to make any noise.

"Okay everyone, make the most of the entertainment. I just got shot in the pocket. Bullet hit a bundle of debts, but no receipt. So this man got promoted, huh?" He knelt over Joe's body. "Beyond my jurisdiction, Blackguard, huh?"

He handed me the dead man's ammo belt, brushed the snow off his knees as he rose and wandered down the line again, instilling a new heart, a better courage in every man he passed.

Red Saunders found his spot too hot in a corner, so he climbed on top of Buckie and lay down on the dead man's open coat, his legs over mine. He said he always hated getting wet.

"Happy?" I asked him, because at that time I liked wandering sailors.

"'No anger. Give me blood! Have you seen Sarde? He's the only horficer who lies, dahn. I have Gilchrist's carbine. I kicked him, by accident, cruel 'ard, too.'

"Aim lower," I said, "at close range. And be still; your flaming red hair draws fire."

My next shot hit my man, at least I think, although Buckie claimed it.

"If I am knocked out," said Red, "I leave a will and bequeath to you, Blackguard, all my debts." Share these cartridges and don't be an 'og'.

To cheer up my little boy in the hospital in Fort French I sent him with the last post a nice dirge to our old Spanish song ofalcala. So I started singing this as I loaded, pumped and fired:

"Carry Brat reverently, gently, slowly,
Pace through the stumps with patient stride
In the rolling snowdrifts
With arms reversed, for the dead."

"Cheerful, huh?" was Red's scathing comment.

"We think little of him as we share
All this was worse in the long campaign,
Little did he know that we really cared:
But now the drums are ringing, for the dead.

"Spreading the flag over his last long sleep,
Taking the charger can not walk;
Though for the living the roads are steep
The path of the dead widens.

Bravely he suffered, and bravely he fought,
Great with the majesty of Death, ride thither,
Royal the honors he bought dearly,
The peace we cannot share."

"Oh, shut up," Red wailed.

I fired once more in a cloud of smoke beneath the diamonds, as I heard the death cry of a horse in the rear, the shout of orders, then the bugle bellow: "Cease fire! Withdraw!"

The rebels were attacking. The horses leading our line bucked, struggled, broke free and fell as the carters pushed them towards the sleds. Anti dropped dead as I rode. I saw a teamster fall, the fellow whose load of coal I burned to make him talk, Chatter McNabb!

So I freaked out with the rebels, freaked out with everything, everyone, pushing Chatter's horses into place, ripping off the collars and tying them up, cursing Red's clumsy attempts to help me. I yelled at Chatter to keep the hair because he wouldn't allow himself to be scalped.

I dragged him, all snowy white from the snowdrifts, put him on the sleigh and threw him on the sleigh bed, all at once. There was Sardein, the sleigh bed, telling me to hurry because he had business with the commander and needed a quick ride. I hated him for the prank he'd played on a woman, I hated him for the death of Joe Chambers, I hated him too much to look at him or speak, but I jumped into the driver's seat and, stepping on it to get a better grip, I crashed. in him. the galloping team lifted them over the snowdrifts in the wave of flying snow and a leaden rain.

And then I heard a scream from behind, the screams of a wounded man being left behind. I must go back. But Sarde didn't know any of that and didn't care about anything more than sending a message to the commander.

"Go to!" he yelled at me as he shook the equipment. "Drive! I order you to drive!"

I threw the sled to the ground, went back to where some guys were lifting the injured man and, standing on the bench, threatened Sarde with my whip.

"Get out, you scoundrel!" I screamed. "You're a coward! A coward! Hey guys! I report this man for cowardice in the field! Get off my sleigh or I'll whip you!"

The wounded man was hauled aboard, the rest of the boys piled in to relieve him of the shocks, and once more I turned my team to gallop to join the retreat through clouds of snow. A hard jolt brought us to solid ground on the road, and I veered to the right, following the team at a steady trot.

We had left twelve men dead in the field, we had eight wounded in the sledges, one of them dying. We knew we were defeated, that we had unleashed the Red War on all settlements.

The last shots astern gave way to silence, the glare no longer blinded our eyes, our confused run found itself in a disciplined retreating column. In the presence of the wounded and dying, a silent silence fell over us, like that of the Holy Eucharist. I kept driving, praying.

Then I remembered Sarde with a sudden bitterness and I called out to them laughing: "Say, lads, where is Sarde the coward?"

"In your sleigh, agent," he answered calmly. "Is a petty officer with us? You, Sergeant Boyle, arrest this man."

"Consider yourselves," Boyle said in his luscious brogue, touching my shoulder.

"And when we reach the fort," continued my enemy, "you will put that man in the guardroom."

But Boyle was irritated, because this, at the time, was an act of spite. "Constable La Mancha", he shouted, for all to hear, "for accusing an officer in the field of cowardice, you will find yourself in closed prison, do you hear me?"

"You are a witness," I told him, "to my charge of cowardice."

"Silence, prisoner!"

I handed my reins to Red Saunders like a man.

"Well, sergeant," Sarde became affable, "could have been worse weather, eh?"

The sergeant turned his back on an officer accused of cowardice, and a soldier at the tail of the sleigh asked his neighbor, "When will Sardeb be court-martialled?" From that moment on, the group treated Sarde like a leper.

Meanwhile, I was sulking, hunched over in the driver's seat, although the blue sky and the beautiful snowy fields called my soul to rest, to be at peace and embarrassed by the distracted spirit with its stillness. There was silence in that sky for half an hour, teaching me not to worry, never to hate. I think I went to sleep.

When we reached the edge of the plains looking towards Fort Carlton, we saw groups of men in the square waiting for news of victory; and to the right, on the Prince Albert trail, old Sorrel Top's relief force - which came too late - came down the curves of the long hill.


"jo Darling, I can't take it anymore, I have nothing to love, it's up to you, take me or I'll kill myself. The first night, Mr. Sardes on duty, will pick me up outside the palisade. I'll bring a package in the left corner on the way out so they don't see us from the bastion Come at nine.

"Your broken heart

Here's the letter Joe Chambers was trying to give me when he died. I felt sorry for Sarde, ashamed that I had lost my temper and made a false accusation against him. He had been anything but a coward on that winter march since Qu'Appelle, had treated me half decent ever since, and certainly played a man's part in the Duck Lake fight. Of course, an officer must be a gentleman, he has a job where everyone else is a misfit, but that was Sarde's misfortune, not his fault. A pig is a pig, so you should get the best out of it as a pig and not expect its meat to be caviar.

I was in the cells with plenty of time to sleep and repent as all the guys worked night and day after the Duck Lake fight. In the evening, Buckie came to see how I was doing, and when he saw me hungry, he brought me some food. The dean's guard had been withdrawn, he told me, because the entire garrison served as relief patrol, picket line, and inner line of defense. Tired men dragged the Hudson's Bay store's depleted stocks into the square. They doused the food with coal oil, piled up the dry goods and burned them, and told them to help themselves to the jewels. At midnight we must abandon and burn the fort to retreat on the threatened settlements.

Now I must explain that there was only one entrance to the fort, the Water Gate, a square tunnel through the log building that faced North Saskatchewan. Leaving the fort through this tunnel, the guardroom was on the left. The stove on duty had an iron pipe that went up through the ceiling to heat the upstairs office. Next to the OR was a room where the two wounded men I had rescued lay, Sergeant Gilchrist, shot in the thigh, and Chatter McNabb, shot in the lungs. The orderly in charge of them was Baugh, the guy who froze his face on our march from Fort Qu'Appelle. He had arrived convalescing along with the sleigh.

Buckie was working with Sergeant Major Dann in surgery. A pair of pallias were hollowed out, filled with clean hay, and placed on the sled reserved for the two wounded men. At midnight, Buckie would help the orderly get them on the sleigh. Since the heater in the treatment room had failed, the cells were so cold that I asked Buckie to pull me out of the pile of old hay he had left on the OR floor. He laughed and told me to get off duty and warm up with work. He left the door wide open, but I was too cranky to even get out of bed where I was trying to break a sweat.

At the end of the afternoon, some mixed-race refugees were housed in the guardroom and they lit a good fire that kept me warm. I could have slept if it hadn't been for the noise of their conversations, and then they turned on the stove and the heat was unbearable. Roasting outside my cell, I told the half-breeds to tame their bestial stove or they would torch the fort and burn the wounded in the hospital. The Breeds were simply insolent, so I unhooked my weapons from a hook, slung them on my belt, loaded the gun and huffed my way out, refusing to stay in jail a minute longer unless the authorities kept my prison decent.

I found myself in the covered entrance and to my right was the square bustling with men pulling sleds. To my left were the doors ajar with the sentry keeping pace. Behind him stretched the river that meandered through that still, starry desert which is the only remedy for troubled spirits. I noticed the firefighting kit on the wall and unhooked the ax which I picked up and threw over my shoulder. The sentry was just a B-troop man, so I told him I had been sent to cut a waggy, to fix the broken dog of a whiffleswoggle. Anything is good enough for B Troop.

Outside, I turned left, and all I cared about in the world at that moment was being alone with my dog ​​and my bitter heart, there in the silence. But near the end of the wall, I found Mrs. Sarde. Then I remembered her letter, her meeting with Joe Chambers at that time and place. Of course, she must be taken care of, so I raised my cap.

"Oh!" she said. "How you scared me! And I've waited hours. Oh, Joe!"

"Joe couldn't come, he sent me."

"Mr. Macula!"

At Your service. I guess you thought I was your lover's ghost.

"Your ghost? Hey, what do you mean? Oh, Mr. Spot, you must have sent a letter, a message, something."

So they weren't informed. It was really weird. I laid my ax against the palisade. "Joe was wounded," I explained as I leaned over her, "shot in yesterday's fight."

"Dead?" came his astonished whisper.

"Dead. He told me to tell you."

"I must go with him," she sobbed.

"You don't have to worry," I told him. I took your letter out of his pocket and destroyed it. He is well.

I was crying convulsively and there is nothing that bothers me anymore.

"Don't cry," I said, "you know you really don't care, so what's the point of pretending?"

He tasted hysteria.

"Put that down," I told him. "What's the use of acting on me? You know you can't fool me. Leave it."

"Oh," she wailed, "how dare you say I don't care! You broke my heart."


He swallowed hard, composed himself, and looked up. "Good?"

"Now look," I said, "stop being such a fool. You asked this man to run away with you. If you cared a bit about him, you wouldn't have asked an active-duty soldier to court you." -martialed and shot for deserting in front of the enemy".


"Don't lie. Don't play crocodile tears with me. Stop pretending and lying for once in your little life. Joe came to save you from yourself and he died trying."

This brought her to the bay.

"You are cruel. You are unfair. You are insulting. You are a brute!"

"Throw it away," I told him. "You have to face the truth this time because it could save other lives. You told me that you always despised him, that you thought he was stupid, dumb, silly, played with him, used him, accepted his gifts, borrowed your salary, and kept it to flirt and keep it in practice. 'It's good for them', you told me. So you lied to him and got him in trouble. Joe told me, "I had to improvise here", on the morning of his death, what did you expect me to do? Ran with you, through an enemy country, in time of war. He finally saw you through. He said he would see you doomed first, and that's the message that I bring to you from the dead."

She put her hands over her ears and screamed, "Oh, let me go! Let me go!"

"Go," I said, stepping aside and pointing to the door, "go, young lady, get back to your duty."

He crouched down, huddled against the wall. "I dare not," she whispered, "he will kill me!"

"It would do you good if I did. There isn't a man with any manhood in him who would put up with you for a day."

And I regretted it all the time. Being a creature must be a miserable destiny, endowed with pleasures, but not with happiness. Like a constricting serpent, she was created to crush men's masculinity, to enslave them, destroy them and seek more. Being a snake with a conscience must be awful. So though my words were harsh, I spoke only out of pity to rescue this poor creature from herself.

"Your eyes," I said, "are a pair of whores making wanton love to every man in sight. Lies." feelings, false emotions, playing the game of life with marked cards, uneven dice, a shark to take, only a miser to give."

"Oh, not me!" He got up to look at me again. "I never! I—"

Virtuous woman, eh? Mary Magdalene and all her poor little sisters will run the house in heaven before you finish being interrogated in hell.

"Oh, have mercy on me," he lamented, "have mercy!"

The pity you gave Joe, who escaped you in death? The pity you show poor Sarde that he cannot escape? a Canadian, one of the best and most virile races in the world. Come on, make yourself worthy of having a husband, and don't sit here whining.

"I dare not. He hits me!"

"And you more than deserved it, huh?"

She looked up with a weak, pale smile. "Oh yeah."

"You won't get hit unless you deserve it, huh?"


Run back to your quarters. Grasp life and its thorns soften.

"I dare not. Oh, save me, Joseph."

Without an ounce of self-respect, she threw her arms around my knees. As for the hiccups, it felt almost real.

"So," I asked gently, "won't you ruin another life a little bit?"

"I would do anything if you told me. I'll be good, always."

"Okay," I said. "Sarde found you in my arms, and it's my fault. I'll pay. Come on, get up." I got her to her feet. I'm going to end this marriage for you, and when I'm free...

"Oh, you are so good!" I was faking it again. "How noble!"

"Now, don't talk about your fake heroics. You're not a serial hero. Come on. Since I have to pay the price, I better enjoy myself." I kissed her. "Okay, now you can kiss me. Kisshard. It won't last long."

There was sniper fire in the hills; the murmur of business in the fort became a tumult; the sentries called from post to post:

Number one: It's okay!
Number two: it's okay!
Number three: It's okay!

Then from a greater distance:

Number four: It's okay!

And, faint as a small echo, in the distance:

Everything is good!

And silence is the rhetoric of lovers. Why does it matter? What difference could it make? Why should the innocent passions of good animals be forbidden to men?

The women were being loaded onto their special sleds when Sarde missed his wife. With growing anxiety, he visited every place she could be, asking questions and hearing raspy laughter when her back was turned. He discovered that Mrs. Sarde had crossed to the front door at nine o'clock, carrying a large package. She didn't notice a bright crescent light flickering in the office window above the on-call room; but he continued along the covered path and asked impatient questions of the sentry, who answered him in nonsense words about a waggy, a mut, and a whiffle-swoggle. Yes, Mrs. Sarde had passed hours ago with a bundle and a gold-topped umbrella, turning sharply to the left.

Then, for the second time, poor Sarde found his beautiful mistress in my arms. He stood over us without us noticing, and there was an agony of embarrassment in his first words: "Oh, don't worry about me."

We broke up. The woman turned the corner screaming. A soldier's mighty impulse of self-respect brought me to attention, made me hail that tall thin fool, poor Sarde.

"You?" he said in a hoarse whisper, "You!"

"That's me."

"Give me the 'sir', confused!"

"Wow, dammit, I almost made it!" The urge to obey was almost unbearable, but it was only by forcing a struggle that I managed to force him to let go of the woman.

"Prisoner: turn right, fast march, go to guardroom, or, or..."

"OWhat? He had threatened me. He had gone from being an officer to claiming respect for his rank. He was nothing more than a peasant with the grotesque, muffled rage of a simple hillbilly. My king.what? No, patã?"

This was a riot and Sarde raised his whistle to make a call for help. I grabbed the whistle and made the call myself. It looked like they had a fire in the fort, quite a big one too, and so loud that no one heard the call. I watched Sarde's slow, northern manner pick up his revolver, reach into the holster flap, and pull out the gun. The Anglo-Saxon peasantry is so slow!

In the blink of an eye, she had him covered.

"No, you won't," I said. "Hands up, hands up, you fool. That's right. Now be nice." I threw his whistle over the palisade, then pulled his gun from the lanyard until the manacle broke. With both weapons, I jumped back, asking him to put his hands down and settle down for a good chat. "There are no witnesses," I had to reassure him, "so you'll see we're man to man."

"Until..." Sarde's voice was full of menace, because that kind of animal is never more than half tame at best.

"Until," I said, "I press charges and call Miss Burrows to be my first witness."

"So since we're man to man," he yelled, they always have to yell, "what were you doing with my wife?"

"Pooh! She's not your wife."

"Do you dare-"

"Get away, Sarde. I don't like your perfume. No, the question, good man, is whether you're going to lose this woman..."

"Because you-"

A small sound reached my ear from around the corner, and at first I whistled.three Blind Ratslest Sarde hear. But that seemed unfair. For a moment I had to think, scratching my head with Sarde's gun. So I tucked it into my belt, reinforced my own revolver, and picked up the hatchet.

"Look, Sarde," I had to explain, "it's a little strange, but I heard your... ahem... nice lady listening around the corner. I didn't mean to give you away, old friend. Excuse my country manners. ." "See, she's found out. She's not your wife. She's going to interfere now; she's going to ruin our fight. Suppose we move, eh? Let's go to the back of the fort. Come on, you have to. To your left, march Quick, left, left. "Left, right, left, and if you call bastion, I'll bring it down!" Left, left, you need a prep drill, Sarde. Left, turn. I know you don't want to come , so no need to explain. Left-left-left, right, left. There. Loud! About the turnaround!

I leaned the ax against the curtain wall, thinking, I remember, that it must be a big fire they were building inside the fort. The snipers were a nuisance here at the back, and a bullet landed between us. Poor Sarde was convinced, I suppose, that a dangerous lunatic would behave better. He was also getting patient.

"I guess so," he remarked affably, "you wanted to kill me, huh?"

"Of course not. Don't be silly. Are you going to release this woman? Yes or no?"

I wanted to argue the point, keep arguing until someone came to the rescue. Had to be woken up from such dreamspronto.

“Okay,” I said, “you don't need to get excited. You see I don't like you, Sarde. I don't like the shape of your feet, you mule colt, indignation against the modesty of nature; haughty-eyed anachronism; You arrogant, illegitimate, arrogant, bug-faced, misguided, misguided swab! It seems that even now you really don't understand me. Let me explain you".

I dabbed one of my gloves lightly and quickly across his stupid face and backed away to see if he liked it. She certainly did her best for him, and he was forced to clench his teeth to calm her rasping voice, breathlessly hissing:

"The reckoning is not tonight!"

"Bad form, Sarde. Melodrama. You mean well, but you suck on paper. You should say, 'The reckoning is tonight! Ha ha!' That's how the villain talks. If you live, you can blame the rebels and say the snipers got me, you see? We've got our guns and so..." "What more could I want?"

"Agent," he teased with another excuse. "I have His Majesty's commission. You forget yourself."

"Oh! calm down. José María Sebastián Santiago de la Mancha y O'Brien agrees to waive the ranking difference. I raised my hat and bowed. "Come on, Sarde, we know you are a coward and dueling is forbidden and everything else, but it doesn't matter. For the first time you will behave exactly like a man. Cheer up!" I hit him harder and harder in the face. "You...really...should...understand. At fifteen paces we turn, and when I give the order we fire and keep firing. No? Now, please don't let me down, I beg you." Have you no interior? Are you an empty pretense?name of god! What did you do with your manhood?

"I already told you that officers cannot fight with..."

With me, sir? Didn't I explain? The Marquês das Alpuxarras agrees to dispense with the difference in position and meet a peasant. Riot possum, get your gun! I take the word. I take ten steps back, and on the third word, I fire. One! Two!...

Christ's blood! The beastly scoundrel shot "Two" and there I was, holding a burning pain in my gun arm above the elbow.

"What the hell do you mean," I asked, "shoot before you give the order, huh? I'll break your beastly head!"

He fired twice more as I attacked him. Then, with a left-handed jab, I caught him on the point of the chin and he went down.

A gentleman must always think for others before he thinks for himself, but Sarde being attended to, I had time to look around.

Sergeant Major Dann was the first to see the glow in the OR window, and Buckie reminded him of the hay left around the chimney. At the top of the hospital stairs, they found Baugh, the heroic orderly, fighting the flames with a sack and badly burning himself. The Sergeant Major picked up Sergeant Gilchrist and ran with him down the stairs. Chatter McNabb mocked Buckie's attempt to do the same for him and, with a shot in his lungs, stormed out of the building on his own. Buckie found the hospital orderly with his face apparently burned, in the act of falling into the flames. He dragged Baugh down the stairs.

The bugle screamed the terrible monotone of "General Assembly". But as the rescue work blocked the stairwell, the fire leapt from room to room, and before the brigade could form up for organized work, the entire gatehouse was ablaze, except for the fort's only exit. The conflagration was spreading through old drywood buildings and the garrison was trapped with no hope of escape.

Through the gaps in the palisade I could see the imminent death of the entire garrison, but I was mad with pain and was rapidly losing strength, while every blow of the ax sent me screaming in pain. Then, in a sudden rage at Sarde, I turned and kicked him.

"Who told you to lie down, you filthy dog? Get up! Can't you see the damn fortress is on fire? And you, a Canuck with an axe, letting your equipment burn to death! Get up!"

He got up in a daze, leaned against the wall and stared stupidly through a crack as I viciously kicked him from behind. What were loafers for? I needed boots!

"Do it," I howled, "shame on you, and I'll forgive you for shooting me, you scoundrel, and I'll clear you of the charge of cowardice. Attack, spawn of sin! Attack, and I'll let you stay strong, my bloody hero. Stronger! Stronger! Make him sick! Bite him! Rip him and eat him!

In Canadian hands, the quivering handle and glistening blade of an ax make wild music with its swirling, slicing, tearing, swirling slivers.

"Forward, cripple!" I screamed. Then, from inside, I heard the quick, quick scream of a second ax and a third.

The fire, gathering strength with frightening speed, was now roaring along the buildings around the square, the flames leaping high through the collapsed roofs to light the tangle of sleighs and prancing horses as the entire mass was pushed against the north wall. But Sarde'sax's call roused all our loggers to help, blowing a hole in the wall; their tall poles swayed and fell one by one, the gap widened, there was finally room and the sleds began to pass me by. I had already passed out from the loss of blood, but someone with a handkerchief and a pistol made a crude tourniquet, which stopped the flow of blood until Dr. Miller arrived. They put me on the last sled as it left the abandoned fort.

As we slowed down to climb Prince Alberthill, I looked back at the red splendor that had been Fort Carlton. Across the meadow, across the snow that glistened like blood, someone was running, a woman dragging a bundle and brandishing an umbrella, her great bustle swinging from side to side. The sleigh stopped and Madame Sarde got on.

So began the long night retreat, and as we reached the edge of the plains we saw the first vedettes of the astonished rebels begin their onslaught to plunder what was left of Carlton. Thus ended the busiest hour of my life, for misfortune falls on those who are already wet.


At dusk on the eve of Palm Sunday, our sleighs arrived at Prince Albert. For three days and three nights our people did not sleep, but still there was no rest because a first-class panic broke out among the inhabitants of the stronghold. The medic had to find some kind of shelter for the wounded, and the only hail-free spot inside Prince Albert's palisade consisted of a pile of wooden planks. He laid us there and bandaged our wounds as panic spread around us with a deafening clamor of men screaming, women sobbing, children screaming, a hammering they mistook for musketry, and the alarms of the church bell overhead.

My turn came last, as Sarde had given me only a slight wound to my upper arm. "That hurts?" asked Dr. Miller.


"That's healthy granulation," he said. You deserve. I'll sit down with you and smoke a pipe or go to sleep in a minute. Do you have a match?

His face was long, thin, whimsical, his speech drawn in a good-natured accent. We all loved him, and the memory of that unfortunate gentleman cuts through the years like a ray of light.

"And now, lad," he said, slipping the clinical thermometer under my tongue, "I'm going to feel your conscience, if you have one."

He gagged me with that infernal instrument.

"Inspector Sarde," he said, "you walked with me down the road confessing all your sins. You don't seem to get along very well with my official brother. Muro, son, you both have a fever and we both have clinical thermometers in our mouths to dissipate the heat. Nothing like a thermometer for a hot patient. The day a soldier gets married, I think, he hangs up all his weapons and trades a little exercise for a bloody war. You're doing great. Lucky you it's not you he married. You should feel sorry for Mr. Sarde, don't hit him because he's down.

Do you agree.

"That's right. But he keeps his temper and everything else he can. You give yourself away and all you have. I like fools too. But why raise a false accusation of cowardice?"

I took the thermometer out of my mouth to say that I removed the charge. He clapped his hands again and told me to shut up.

"Do you think," he asked, "that it's your solemn duty as a macho cop to come between your superior officer and the devil?"

I shook my head.

"And why wear moccasins when you kick an officer? I need boots."

My fingers still hurt.

"Mr. Sarde was wounded," said the doctor. "I would be hurt if you kicked me. That's natural. I'd shoot you too, or operate on you, which is more or less the same thing. You see, my dear, even the commissar can object to his soldiers kicking your officers, and your officers Shooting your soldiers when they both should be shooting rebels If he finds out, he'll kick Mr. Sarde out of the police, and you'll be shot for mutiny.

"I don't care a bit about it, but what if those damn civilians find out too much? Scandals in our clothes, that's where the problem is. Scandals in our clothes! It won't do. The civilians will be very happy. It's not good for them. You don't need to cheer them up. Look at them, they scream in fear, as if there is nothing beyond. Have you ever seen such a howl of misfortune for white people?"

"Let's see," he took the thermometer out of my mouth, "I think you got hit by a sniper, huh?"

"Yes sir. He was shot by a rebel."

"And Monsieur Sarde is a good officer?"

"Hero Carlton!"

And in the Duck Lake fight you misunderstood Mr. Sarde from going back after the wounded, eh?

"Yes sir."

"As long as you're left alone, you don't press charges, and as long as you behave, he doesn't press charges, huh?"

"Please tell him, sir, that I think he's a disgrace to the force, and I'll throw him out if I can. But it won't be for dirty tricks or handing over equipment."

"What makes you hate him, boy?"

"Instinct. It's poison."


"Well, sir, compare him to old Sorrel Top, or Paddy, or big Sam himself, or dear old Wormy, or young Perry, or damn, even PaperCollar Johnny."

"All Canadians. Mr. Sarde is Canadian too."

The others are gentlemen. A scoundrel with a commission is outrageous. You mean well, but you don't set me a good example, sir; it's bad for my morale; reign over me?"

The dear man raised the thermometer like a threat.

"When the patient," he chuckled, "becomes full of aftershocks, poor charity takes wing. I'll torture a wounded volunteer and after me comes the parish priest. Beware of doctors, scoundrel." He gave me my pet name!

The next day, the wounded were taken to the house of Miss. Baker, to be chased by an angel. I used to get out of bed and help her when she threatened to take me to the corral. Mrs. Sarde secretly came to that house with a pudding. I like chocolate molds. She threatened widowhood and overplayed the role. She told me in theatrical whispers how she had crept and crouched behind the corner of the palisade at Carlton, with grim gestures in the shivering dark, to hear me read the gospel to poor Sarde. He made me tell him everything I'd heard, and more, about Happy Bill, the converted railroad stoker, who wasn't quite a parson, and how his monkey business wasn't quite a couple. Oh, she was great as the outraged wife, betrayed but calm, trapped in a sham marriage but full of respectability, helpless prey. The fact is, the woman was having a great time, reeking of adventure like a born adventurer. She scratched the air, knocked over my pudding, spewed melodramatic nonsense about her marriage lines and her damn doom. Thus lies madness! Give me the dagger! I had a large role to play in the royal melodrama, satisfied in bits and pieces, having paroxysms of rage and pain, one eye turned to my shaving mirror. Then she was swept away by a torrent of tears, as I taught her how to do coyote howls, until finally she looked up with a smile as if to say, "What do you mean, umpire?"

Except he's lucky with women they don't notice. I was not lucky. They always noticed me, to my undoing. Of course, they made me pay, at every door, their kissing toll on the way to hell. Here was the complete kitten who, when I called her a liar, promised me that I was the only man who truly understood. Because I denied her that I was the only man she ever wanted. She knew I liked pussies, that no pussy could be too cute, and she let me see her at her cutest. He wanted to get rid of Sarde so he could marry me. I told him that the kittens were very good to play with, but that it didn't do much good to have them, because they always degenerated into cats. My ears must select my woman, not my eyes.

Oh, she was so beautiful and so seductive, capturing my senses, tearing at my heart, a filthy temptation to my body. And I was twenty-one in those days. I took her shoulders from behind, kissed her neck-a far less tempting place than the lips she desired-and took her out of the house to sulk in the corral while I devoured her pudding.

It was after the end of the war, around September, that the Sardis were again transferred to Fort Qu'Appelle. And there was the woman chasing Happy Bill. She considered herself an explorer when she found him. So she paid five dollars to have a real lawyer tell her in his legalese that she was not a married woman. Her next act was to write a statement of her troubles and "pin it to Sarde's chest with a dagger", which means, I assume, that she left a letter for him on the dresser before stealing his cash register and running home. Uncle. He used to write me most of the letters of invitation.



This writing profession baffles me. I'm like a merchant selling a string of pearls: do you want my string or my pearls? My old story is that of a dark man, but it illustrates a subject worthy of your attention. That's why I stumbled into so much confusion.

To make each chapter a coherent story, I copied the great music composers. They write a series of confusing "moves" or moods to form a whole "symphony" or mess. Me too. The result should please every man, but there is so much immoral wisdom in every woman that I doubt any of them will read my book.

Now I'm coming to a chapter that doesn't stand up to a symphonic treatment. It's a kind of footlingintermezzo, and the best way to deal with it is with songs without lyrics. We will have a series of wumps, or songs without music.

El Wump del Blackguard

The Alpuxarras seem to have worried without me as marquis. The angels never seemed willing to pay my missionary pension. The devil didn't hire me as his realtor, nor did any other businessman hire me for useful work. The police team was considered a last resort for the helpless, yet I wasn't offered a single spearhead. Nobody would ever take me seriously.

One of our teamsters, who spoke ancient Greek like a native, said I was "Pan's dead saliva"; Buckie, for whom property, behavior and convention were a god, claimed that he would be a subhuman, a faun, if he could only learn. behave decently. I was anything but a gentleman, for, as I recall, he had oiled his hair with lime while he slept, so that when he woke he could not tear it from his pillow. As for the other guy, seeing that I was skinny, dark, tanned and grotesque, they urged me to pawn my face. Call a dog a name like Blackguard, and you might as well hang him.

Even then I knew that I didn't belong in the civilized world at all and that only half of me was serving in the mounted police. That was the half of me that yearned for the Burrow and took it away from Sarde with no intention of claiming it for myself. In truth, it wasn't that particular boldness that mattered to me, but rather a desire to pursue anything in skirts. The low-caste women always hounded me because I was the troop jester, the comedian, quick, vital, gay, bright-witted and hot-blooded.

No one knew my other half: the immortal part that worshiped the memory of Rain, the holy woman of Blackfeet, with lasting and growing spiritual homage; the spirit in me that formed my mother's honor and Our Lady's glory defended the women in the duels with Feathertail and in the long dispute with Sarde. God made me a patrician committed to chivalrous service, completely alien to all material interests, to the ambitions of civilized men.

I was starting to get tired of the noise of the camps and barracks, already longing at times for remote hills, for the most extreme solitudes. There were times on solitary patrols when he could feel the presence of shy immortal creatures, kinsmen of forgotten gods. I was silent so as not to disturb sweet April watering her buds, or May tending her flowers, or June laying immortal seeds in holy ground, while the great wind gods cast their clouds into the heavenly heights to bring fresh rains to Eden. For me the days were already notes, the months chords, the years phrases of a brave melody sung by the flying earth as it sailed through the depths of space, singing in the chorus of the spheres whose adoration fills eternity. I knew I was a very small spirit that needed to be kept in tune, free from impurities.

The Wump Regiment

That peace that passes all understanding arises from the plains forever, filling the wide meadows and the skies above. Because it goes beyond comprehension, it escapes the attention of the police officers at your service.

Summer turned our fresh grass to gold under a dome of blue, and across this floor of the sky, bands of unholy little creatures rode on important business, exploding with infinitesimal rage, exploding when they encountered sudden bursts of battle, one group following the other. in various ambushes and ambushes. Hungry places in the shadows of the northern forest. Like bees and ants, they seemed to have dark instincts, working in some orderly plan of mutual destruction. And I was one of those.

We fight, we argue for long delays, and we fight again. A small Canadian army arrived too late, valiantly helped us, sowed its dead and returned home triumphant. We ride, we starve, we kill the last embers of the uprising, we hang Riel the dreamer, and we clear the litter-covered settlements. We returned to our active duty routine as peace officers. We've seen the rails of the Canadian Pacific run from sea to sea, we've heard the Canadian colonies awaken to find themselves as a nation, we've seen history cast its long shadows into the future.

We plains knights were as God made us, and often worse. For a regiment is a thousand times more humane than a man in childhood and growth, in the excess of war and the diseases of reaction, in the pride of strength and the languor of decay. Our regiment was more humane than most, extremely lively, enraged at the latest rebellion as a breach of our great discipline of peace, and frantic at the loss of our leaders, Sorrel Top and Paddy. We had a nervous breakdown, with serious and comic riots, typhoid fever, epidemic and desertion. Then came Larry, the new commissioner, a mere civilian who reigned over us, throwing our veterans out if they dared spit aside. And we were sunk in with a bunch of rookies, some kind of filthy beast with no manners or morals.

The regiment was still painfully young and fighting the tyrant Larry, who was destined to be our best friend and even inherit the cherished title of SorrelTop. Its godless fledglings became the men who finally tamed the plains to establish settlements, the leaders in the conquest of the North, the officers of the proud Canadian regiments in South Africa, with prouder behavior than mere millionaires.

The floor of Heaven was golden in autumn, like fine crystal in winter, and paved with starry flowers in spring. Where our horses trampled there is peace, where we lay down to rest the golden wheat grows and where we sow our dead nation lives.

Buckie's Wump

In the fall of 1986, our camp was on the breezy edge of the plains overlooking the BattleRiver ford. Further across the plain was the plague-ridden Battleford, where D Troops were stricken with typhoid fever and losing a man a day. Our F Troop detachment had come from Prince Albert to take over the D Troop patrols. Our men were away, closely herding the grumpy and abused tribes of the Cree Nation and helping the weary settlers. I was in charge of the two or three men left behind in the camp and we had orders not to approach the devastated Battleford. We sat in the camp and watched the funerals.

At sunrise and sunset we ride and lead our horses to the ford for water and those big four legged babies left us bareback so it was great fun. One morning, young Hairy, coming out of the water, ran under the raft cable, which tore me off my back and turned me into a puddle of dust. Then he turned to smile and as I scolded him with my whip, wailing sounds came from across the river. There was Buckie, oh yes, Corporal Buckie please, of Troop D, in his Sunday best, while Rich Mixed, wet from the river, jumped on him, ruining his fine clothes. bright scarlet and gleaming boots, Buckie was completely ruined as he denounced my dog.

I rode to the rescue, taking Mrs. Bond, and Buckie rode on his broad buttocks. Since God knows when I didn't see my friend, so we spent the whole morning together among the wildflowers on the hill near the camp amidst the hot sun and a breezy wind. And Buckie brought documents (his official little soul loved documents), all written and programmed with a rubber band. Know, know:—

A. Brat Wows, in FortFrench. Got-Wet was behind him, and my little brother was yelling at me to keep him out of harm's way. But he never responded to the letters.

B. Copy. Confidential report, obtained, apparently by magic, from Inspector Sarde to the commissioner at regimental headquarters. He had the honor of stating that Black Watch was a nasty character and needed to be watched. He was honored to be, sir, your obedient servant.

C. Buckie procedures. He took over as Clerk Sam, Commanding Superintendent of Division D and the greatest man in the country. He showed Sam the aforementioned confidential report, with more evidence of a private feud. Sam was furious and threw Buckie out of the office.

D. Copy of letter from Sam requesting commission to transfer Reg. At the. 1107, Const. la Mancha, J. and Reg. nº 128, Const la Mancha, Pedro, to Division D.

E. Copy of General Order #12,578,901 transferring me and Brat to Sam's troop effective the 21st of the present.

F. Copy of General Orders transferring Wormy's troops to Battle Ford and Sam's, Division D, to Fort French.

Then Brat, Buckie and I would serve together under Sam, the greatest of all Canadian soldiers, at Fort French, the happiest outpost on the plains, free from the malice of Sarde. But when in my impulsive Dago style, I tried to kiss Corporal Buckie, heran and chased him a full mile. So he wanted to fight!

A few days later we left Battleford for a glorious seven hundred mile journey across the plains, a troop of pink and white invalids barely convalescing, too slack in the saddle, a little self-conscious in full uniform. We passed in haughty silence through the F Troop camp, where my last comrades mourned their fate in old brown overalls. And the C troop came running from their great journey, lean, tough, tanned, bright-eyed, mocking our troop of patients. They barely had a trace of uniform among them, but they walked around in suede shirts and jeans, tended by their herd of marauding ponies.

The meeting of the three troops, in perfect silence, the dusty, windy, sunny splendor of that frontier parade, my heart aches to remember now. The feast of the eyes and the pride of life are gone. And where I sowed in the sand I caught no fish.



My Brat froze in the spring of 1884, losing the toes on his right foot. When I returned to Fort French in the fall of 1886, his wound was still open, although he wore boots and walked without a limp. He was on light duty as a clerk in the ordinance room.

Even before he joined the organization, the boy was in love with Got-Wet, the flirtatious half-breed whose father, Bad Mouth, aka Shifty Lane, was a merchant in Writing-on-Stone, near Milk River. He didn't want anything from the boy, but he wouldn't let him go, and Brat's little heart was true. In a land where girls are scarce, all hearts are true. By his own secret means, the Brat managed to stake out that lone trading post 100 miles to the east. How she found out was none of my business, but my brother had been told through the girl's tedious catalog of flirtations. From grain to grain the birds filled their crop, while Bratwas were tortured, harassed by fatal jealousy. And jealousy revealed far more than her wiles could hide.

Brat was especially jealous of two cowboys who worked on a farm about fifty miles north of Milk River and therefore, being Got-Wet's neighbors, were denied the chance of a crippled lover a hundred miles away. Very bad characters, lamented Brat, these were his rivals, especially the eldest, Low Lived Joe, who was in a smuggling partnership with old Shifty Lane, and gave the girl a black silk skirt, which was said to be of great value. . . Oh, a hellhound was Low Lived Joe, putting himself on the ugly side, the fop of local society, claiming he'd been cheated. Brat wept at the thought of that rich rival. As for the other cowboy, he was worse: the blue-eyed, curly-haired Alabama Kid, Harvard graduate no less, from whom the faithless Got-Wet had accepted a diamond engagement ring. When I scolded him Brat sulked, when I counseled him he sulked, when I consoled him he kicked me in the shin with his bad foot.

When I was still new to Fort French, a complaint came in from one of our ex-policemen, the doe-eyed nobleman Barrington Beauclerc, the rancher for whom these two cowboys rode. Rooster's Eye wanted our help because the rogue pair had fled, taking with them his imported stallion, Lightning, a notorious hurler, who he thought could outrun Phoebus. Our troop detective McBugjuice tracked down the kidnapped stallion and found him in Cheyenne, in the lower left corner of Wyoming. Low Lived Joe and the Alabama Kid sold the horse to a servant and disappeared.

So Brat was separated from its rivals? Not even a little! Got-Wethad was gone and the boy was in a frenzy. To comfort him, I told him he could kick me in the shins with his right foot as often as he liked. I would not be comforted.

Now, the best way to capture Miss Got-Wet's two roguish lovers was to keep an eye on Papa, as Mr. Shifty Lane was the headquarters for horse thieves, smugglers, drug dealers, whiskey dealers and all manner of crooks along the border. Of course, it would never do to post a bailiff in Writing-on-Stone, as the catch rule is never to sit on the hook. But just 12 miles to the west was our Slide-out outpost, abandoned since the rebellion drew our detachments. So Corporal Buckie, who knew the district better than his prayer book, was sent to Slide-out and asked to select some policemen. He chose me because I knew the country, also a man named Poggles, a banjo genius and a top cook.

As for me, I adamantly refused to listen to Buckie's concerns because a mere officer had kidnapped Black Prince. The Black Prince was the most famous horse to ever serve on the team. In those far-off days of 1886, he was a freshman who claimed - quite falsely - to be a four-year-old, a bouncing baby made of whale bones and rubber, shy rather than not at all shy, full of loving-kindness, light. innocence of heart and babyfun. Country horses are never black, but their coats were brown, darkening to dark brown, until in autumn there was almost a flash of blue on their flanks.

For such a loader to go to waste in any inspector was an outrage. So Black Prince and I made a little private agreement between us. Every time Inspector "Blatherskite" had his servant saddled, he would place a strawberry under the saddle blanket. So when I was riding "Blatherskite" there were always volcanic eruptions. The horse loathed the sight of "Blatherskite" and yet he was always a perfect lamb for me. To own it, I would have volunteered to cook in Suez. On the day he broke "Blatherskite's" collarbone, I gave the Sergeant Major a hard time, knowing full well that he would seek revenge on me through some act of unholy evil. The guy, by the way, is doing well now as a parish priest.

Sure enough, Sergeant Major Samlet gave me the Black Prince's palm and said that if I was killed, I would be all right. With that, I looked so sad and on the verge of tears that he felt he had done the worst possible thing to me. Not daring to sit in the saddle because of the burrs underneath, I took Black Prince into the stable. I had made it!

That night I bought a black silk shirt and a ruby ​​and orange silk scarf with wide stripes at Hudson's Bay. These, with my old habits and gleaming cartridge belts, made just the right colors for my sky-born horse as I rode with Buckie to the Slide-out. Poggles led the team with our supplies and we covered the 138 kilometers in a couple of smooth days.

So we started housekeeping on the old 'dobe shacksat Slide-out, Corporal Buckie to give advice on all manners, Poggles to warm our hearts with pot and banjo, and me purring with my tail up: the happiest. home, whatever it is or may be. Rich Mixed was the commanding officer.

In this life of solitary posts, each bailiff, in turn, was cook for the week and in charge of the station, leaving the other comrades free for patrols that visited all the settlers in the district. To save people from infection among their cattle, to preserve game for their use, to succor them in storms, drought, or famine, protect them from thieves, advise them in difficulties, assemble them to fight fires, and entertain them. them free of charge in the camp or blocks, transforming foreigners into citizens, laying the foundations of the State - such was the work of the border police.

It was this little Slide-out outpost that Buckie was attached to in his rookie days, when he brought me, dressed in blushes and a vest, for my enlistment. From here he flirted with Got-Wet and attracted his rival, my dear Brat. , to be another French coyote from Fort. Based on all this, Buckie was very fatherly, and a 'dobe hut' can hold far more fond memories than any palace.

We weren't long into Slide-out when the huge detective, Sergeant Ithuriel McBugjuice, ran up to us, reined in his burly wagon horse, and with a deep double-bass roar said, "What, Buckie!" The Scream; "What, Don Coyote! Hooray, young Poggles, what's for dinner? Great Josaphat! I'm starving. Bai jove, yaas!"

We fed the dying roast antelope until we thought it would burst, strong coffee and heaps of pastry, and finished with apple fritters. He whispered hoarsely that he was feeling much better, yaas, able to sit down, bai jove, er and eat some. He'd heard of Sheriff Cheyenne, a propaganda jock, yaas; LowLived Joe and the Alabama Kid were going north actually, ah.

Well, earlier that day I had seen the tracks of two unknown horsemen with a shod pack pony in the bow going north from the post in Shifty Lane on the road to Cock-eye Beauclerc. Here were the wicked cowboys who stole Cock-eye's stallion. Detective Sergeant Ithuriel F. McBugjuice ordered us all to lie down to sleep quickly, bai gingah!

At midnight, Poggles and Rich Mixed, who would remain in charge of the Slide-out, woke us up for tea and snacks. At one in the morning, Buckie and I helped load the heavy detective into his roomy chargah. Through that starry night, we rode long miles behind us, then, shivering in the early morning chill, we let our horses graze until it was light enough to read the tracks. We seemed to breathe the pale, fine gold of the East like a divine current that gives perpetual youth, to stand on a floor of living gold as wide as the sky, to wait for the sun as if God were about to rise. Then, looking back, I saw the Rocky Mountains, angels of clear flame, kneeling on a wall of tenderest violet. No poet's dream brings me closer to heaven than the plains at dawn.

We were waiting in a meadow swell for enough light to read a little winding path. Before the sun rose, we saw. Two shod horses, aided by a pack pony shod just in front, traveling fast, at night and stumbling in sagebrush bushes, passed on their way to Beauclerc. We followed, tail rolling towards Hand Creek, where we arrived at ten-thirty. . The ranch was empty.

Here the signs are clear. Poor little Beauclerc was caught in bed and tied up after a hard struggle. His monocle was broken, a listless relic. The basket with the family's good old dishes had been emptied and the young thieves had gone from the south to the east at full gallop. So the captive Beauclerc freed himself from the rope that bound him to the bed, went to the stable, left the lantern burning, and set off in his wagon with an old mare called, towards Medicine Hat. He would receive help from our detachment there. We cooked a meal, fed our horses, left Cock-eye a note, and headed home. As long as our furry ones thought they were going home, they would give us their best. As long as we didn't alarm our little inmates, they would go to Lane's. Birds of that plumage flocked to Lane instinctively. Our job was to get there first.

We ride all day on the bottom of an unseen ocean, gazing at the keels of the fleet of clouds on its surface, in belts of sudden light and quick shadows. -on-Stone, having covered about ninety miles with only six to go.

"By the Great Horn Spoon!" roared bull-faced McBugjuice, "look at that huh what!"

Buckie and I dismounted to kneel on the path and read the plaque.

"A white man," Dandy disseminated in his best official style, affirming everything that was really obvious with a smile. "A pé", he said; "That's strange. Heading for Lane's too. Who can it be, on foot! Longboots," she trailed past me, pushing for space, "police heels. Shoulder load, dead tired, too. Here's the for right-"

"Bloody brat," I said, because there was no sign of toes on the deeply uneven right track. There was my unfortunate brother, a hundred miles from his duty, limping across the plains with an open wound. Damn brat needed a teat and a bib. I swore I would rip the skin off and stretch the dirty skin into a drumhead. So we travel with His Obesity, Detective Sergeant, bubbly in the back.

From the moment we left the house for the east, our three horses said they were seriously ill, dead lame, with symptoms of giving up the ghost; and ninety miles at a happy pace is nothing compared with six at a slow pace. So we were tired and fed up with life when we reached Lane at dusk. There was no sign of our captive birds when we entered the Milk River coulée. They hadn't arrived yet.

But my brat would be home and arrested for deserting unless I warned him. I drew my gun and rolled over as Black Prince, Buckie and the sergeant became hysterical.

"Do not shot!" Buckie yelled, as my gun emptied, "We want you thugs!"

"Damn it, don't shoot ordahs. Damn it!" roared the sergeant when I had sheathed my weapon.

When we got home, there was Lane, lounging in the only doorway and waving at us.

"What, Shermogonish! (Welcome back, soldiers.) After the deserters, huh? Well, now, let's all try to please you cops. Got one for you here." He jerked his thumb back. "That he tried to escape when he heard the shots."

My brat was caught in Shifty's trap and, feeling awful, I led the three horses to bring them down. But Buckie came running after me and whispered, "Let's go see your brother. Don't worry about it. You want to keep your eyes closed on Shifty. Make sure he doesn't flag down the horse thieves."

When I returned from the stable, I found my brother sitting in the doorway.

"Hello, brat!" I said. "Desert?"

Brat was weak from the pain of his wound, limp with fatigue, and looked too frail for a life like ours. I was always coarse and ugly, without the patrician delicacy, the grandiose air, the sweet grace, a little envious of his large, soft, shining eyes, of his amazing charm of manner. It gave our majestic Spanish a sweeter resonance. She begged me for help, sympathy, telling me why she walked to Lane. Did I think, he asked me, that no one but me had the right to rescue a woman?

There was a bench near the door with a sink, soap, and a towel, so while Brat told me about his problem, I stripped to my waist and settled down. So I called Buckie and spoke to him in whispers so Lane couldn't hear me.

"Buckie, my brat said this horse thief LowLived Joe kidnapped the Lane girl and sold her."

"Did you get wet?"

"Yes. Back in Wyoming. She's a white slave in Cheyenne. She wants to be rescued."

The detective sergeant joined us and barged in with a hoarse whisper audible for miles.

"Should have gotten a pass, huh what?"

"He refused," said Brat, "Sam wouldn't let me go."

"Long walk, thundah. A thousand miles, more, to Cheyenne. Must have stolen a horse, huh? Damn! Yaas."

"It's too late now," said Brat.

"Shouldn't get caught. I quit. It looks so bad. It can't be done, no, dammit. I have to arrest you. I can't have this Lane suing me, dereliction of duty. Yaas."

The brat looked at the big ruffian with all his heart. “Lane would rat him out and Sam would rip him apart, Sergeant. I'm not running to be crushed. Isn't there a way, Sergeant?

Ithuriel F. McBugjuice scratched his head and his pig eyes narrowed to slits. "It's like... er... your fucking cheek," he said aloud. "ShiftyLane knows? Huh what?"

"Know what?" Lane's gruff voice came from the house. "Know what?"

"That your daughter, young Got-Wet, dammit, has been kidnapped by Low Lived Joe, confused, and sold as a white slave, you, er, hog jumped, and you stand there gulping like you like to get half of actions". The price of your girl, toad! Yaas! Damn seja!

I saw the merchant turning gray with horror. Anger would come later against the partner who had betrayed him. Then our detective would use ShiftyLane to capture Low Lived Joe. The merchant made no sound, no comment, but turned, hunched over and looking very old, to collapse into his rawhide chair by the stove. His wife appeared and signaled that dinner was ready.

After dinner, my job was to unsaddle, water, feed, and house the horses, but I had a kind of mixed feeling about Lowlife Joe and his partner, the Kid. They were coming, and we wanted to see them coming, but if they found police horses with bruised tails in the stables, they would stop coming and stop at the house instead of leaving cards. Besides, they might need mounts and borrow our horses, leaving us all on foot. Then he tied the horses to the fence behind the house and made them comfortable there. As for the saddles, I brought them into the house.

And if I was a judge of scoundrels, old Shifty had to be watched. So I sat in the doorway smoking my afternoon pipe, trying to stay awake. From where he was crouched, he could see the lamplit living room as well as the moonlit courtyard. Lane and his squaw carried the lantern into the small inner room where they slept, pulling on the doors until the latch clicked into place. The moon poured a treasure of silver light into the room of that wicked house.

McBugjuice pulled up his saddle and spread his cloak and blanket over the inner door. His serge, waistcoat and boots hung around his neck, falling over his head and waking him if anyone tried to leave the room. In his elephant form he had a certain mischief: that detective. He turned to my brother, who was sitting by the stove.

"Ah, here you are, Brat. Share my bed, huh, what?"

My brother limped over to thank him for his kindness.

"Promise me not to run, huh?" He was tied in his arms overnight. Snotty looked at me and I said "no" in sign language.

The fat detective let out a despondent grunt, then took the handcuffs from his waistcoat pocket, pocketed the key, and chained Brat's right wrist to his left. Then they went to bed: "Sure, ah! Very cold, huh, what?"

Meanwhile, the ever-obedient Buckie was busy in the backyard, ostensibly taking precautions to set a good example for me. He looped his rope around a board in the stable door, stretched its fifty feet to a point in front of the house, then tied the end of the rope to the neck loop of his cloak and lay down on his bed. the cover thrown away. about it. The only things left in the well-kept stable were my cloak and blanket, but when I told him he was most ungrateful. He told me he was a corporal and my superior officer, and more along the same lines. He jumped on my outstretched legs in the doorway into the house and lay down warm by the stove. But, as funny as he was, he was never vulgar, he never used foul language to assuage resentments like a common soldier. He continued to set a good example for me and teach me the official language, until his mumbled declamation turned into a snort. I crossed over to remove the indicator rope from the stable door, so I wouldn't tip off the thieves.

On the way to the barn, I noticed that Shifty had his light on behind a red shutter in his bedroom window, a danger signal. When I came back from a goodnight talk with the horses, the lamp was still on, but the red shutter was gone. Shifty had signed, "All clear. Police gone, go ahead!"

For all Shifty knew, thieves would come, find police horses with shabby tails in the stable, and stand guard as they approached the house. He never really liked the police. We were supposed to be caught sleeping, in the dark house, outnumbered, shooting each other by mistake.

Haste is the passion of fools, so I sat on the doorstep to think.

Surely those thieves would find no sign of the police until they were trapped inside the house. She could hear Shifty Lane stirring in her room, like a bee in a bottle. I was very sleepy.

Still, in my Dago way, I continued to plot against whites. The thieves must have been watching from some hill until they thought it safe to approach. Now they would come, and I barely had time for the next move in my game. I crept into the moonlit room, took the key to the handcuffs from the detective's vest pocket, released my Brat, woke him up, and told him to go out and rescue Got-Wet. I had to take him by the shoulders and lead him out of the house.

When he was gone, I slipped the handcuffs on my own wrist, but left the key in his lock and pulled the detective's blanket over me. Being skinny, he needed the blanket more than he did. And being cold, he woke up. as intended.

Brat crawled back, waited until I snored, then woke Buckie, who snarled at him angrily. The poor brat was smoking a cigarette, very ostensibly at ease, while in the light of the stove he could see the big tears running down his face. He cleared his throat and coughed and huffed, getting his voice under control before he could speak without whimpering. "Corporal," he began stiffly, "we're relative strangers, huh?"

"Oh, give us a break!"

"But I want this to be private, off-duty, see? You and my brother are friends."

"Go to the hell!"

"My brother let me go!"

"Well, how about that?"

He took my place, chained himself to Sgt. He will pay for a year of hard work and he will be fired from the police force!

"Serve well!"

The young man's voice cracked out of control. "For La Mancha," he lamented, "heLa Mancha unfortunately expelled! He's going to kill himself for sure... We have to save him before the sergeant wakes up. Got-Wet can burst into flames!

My medicine was working perfectly.

Only looking back can you see the events in their sequence, their orderly movement towards the inevitable end. I switched places with Brat, expecting to be chained up for half an hour or so until we were on guard to catch the thieves. Brat, being an agent, couldn't keep me waiting to save a dozen Got-Wets. My only thought was to show her her own heart. I never dreamed of the distant years to come, when I would owe my life to the Brat's eternal gratitude.

Meanwhile, he woke Buckie up very angrily, fully alert, throwing wood into the stove with a vengeance. The stove was facing the open door, its glow illuminating the room for our burglar-catching work. This would attract thieves in the hope of a stimulating dinner and blind their eyes when they entered. Yes, my scheme worked perfectly. Buckie was waking the detective, who sat up and sat up, "Do I have the damn rats or is it Isobah?" Then he saw me and asked what the hell I was playing. I told him the thieves were coming so he better let me go. He opened the handcuffs, indeed ah!

Log walls, carved boards, black beams that glow warm in the flickering, restless stove lights; cold moonbeams still raining in sapphire pools above ground; silence, like a great visiting angel from the plains folding its wings at the portal; our hearts beat like drums as we listened: then the soft pulsing of horses shuddered underfoot, a quick, deep, throbbing chord of hooves from the bridge, a beat within arm's reach, the jingle of a spur.

A young man rattled in with spurs, dragging a sack which shattered and slammed against the door. "Outside!" The Scream. "On your bracelets, Shifty! Where's your woman? She's got an antelope deer coming!"

The door opened behind him, Buckie pulled the gun from its hanging holster, McBugjuice whispered, "Shut up or I'll shoot you!" and put the handcuffs on the Alabama Kid, while Brat dragged the load from Beauclerc's dishbag.

Then there was a loud shot outside, there was a muffled cough, and something fell through the door, opening it. Low life Joe lay dead in the pool of moonlight.

With a bound, I burst through the inner bedroom door and caught old Shifty climbing through the window where he'd shot his partner. I picked up the smoking rifle and carried him back to the main room, where he huddled in his rawhide chair, shivering, mumbling, staring. The red glow of the stove was upon him as he stared at the frightening figure sprawled in the moonlit doorway. "It was I who did this," he repeated with an air of surprise. "I really like that I did it, because he sold my dart, Got-Wet, I did it."

His old squaw had followed us out of the bedroom, wrapped in a gray blanket, her hair flying gray, her face gray cold as death, and in a dead voice, without emotion or interest, she spoke to me in Blackfoot from across the or fourth.

"I cast aside the silence of fifty snows. It is time to speak. I speak to you, Buffalo Rush, and you must tell these stony hearts all my words."

I promise.

"My man, Bad Mouth, sitting there by the firelight, let that poor boy (Alabama Kid) run up a bunch of debts. And the dead man over there threatened him. Those two bad men took the boy to rob him. became a thief. The boy has done nothing wrong and is clean. Let him go.

"Mother," I said, when it was translated, "thank you for the words that will save the boy from prison."

He turned to my brat. "Warrior," he said, and I translated it sentence by sentence, "you loved my daughter, Mojada." The dead man over there was his lover. She made him run away with her. So she dropped him. the way it passed to be ashamed. Don't think about my daughter anymore, who always laughs at you.

"Your Mala Boca", she said to her own man, "I am no longer your woman to be dragged to shame. I am the daughter of one who does not lie, cheat or betray. I go to the camps of my people."

So in the end, the Alabama Kid is cleared and he's a rich rancher. Lane died in prison. His wife went to her city and lived with honor. As for my brat, he was punished for breaking into barracks and promoted to corporal for helping to break up a criminal gang.




If I were a painter, I would make three paintings. for paintingLifeI must dip my brushes only in sunlight and stars. Contrasting with the darkness, your figure should remain radiant. for paintingesperanzaDawn should be my palette, and clad in the splendors of heaven, triumphant I should ride on a shifting sea of ​​glory. But for paintingMemory, when I had used up all sunset, I should pray to God to lend me a pot of glamour.

It is this mirage that soothes the burning pain of memory, the fierce regret, the anger, the shame, the remorse. The raw event, the hateful consequence, the bitter aftermath are, when one looks back, arranged in beautiful shades of distance, and the sweet magic plucked from the veil of time. That's how I remember my last year of service in the mounted police; my soul that survived defeat becomes victorious. Who stumbles and does not fall, just corrects the step.

First, I must mention Sam, the young superintendent in charge of D, an Irish-Canadian gentleman from a military family and number 1 in the regiment of mounted police. As he was a natural-born soldier, a record-breaking horseman, a great Scoutmaster, and an unrivaled leader, the indomitable bandits of the force were sent to him for treatment. split the team crack troop. He partied all night with his soldiers and in the morning he would punish us for being drunk, train us to the ground, punish us mercilessly and prove to be our best friend when we were in trouble. We fanatically love and hate him, and as inspired fans, we've done our homework. The troop was as brilliant as its leader.

In 1887, Chief Isadore and his Kootenay tribe were restless, so the province of British Columbia asked the Dominion government for help and our troops were sent across Crow's Nest Pass into the Rocky Mountains. Our base camp was the Fort Steele site on Wild Horse Creek.

Now, an English parish priest passed by and, distressed by our spiritual misery, proposed an open-air service. So Sam, being an Anglican by blood, a royalist and a soldier, ordered a parade in the church. After that, some of us became Roman Catholics, others found that their duties prohibited attendance, and the rest of the troop fell ill. Hence the proclamation that, at the sound of the bugle, cooks and Catholics, sick, lame or lazy, must attend the parade of Sam's Church on pain of death. Sam had his back. The troop was also supported and in an assembly it was decided that any son of a sea cook who dared to sing, respond or contribute to a mandatory church parade should be drowned afterwards. So the service was a duet between Sam and the parish priest without any sound from the choir. So Sam preached, announced a second church parade the next Sunday, and suggested the preparation of exercises that would make the beloved brethren sweat blood.

That afternoon at the spa, we court-martial BeefHardy for contributing to the priest's offering. He proved that he was only a disposed civil interpreter and that his offer was a button. We had to let him go, but all the troops wanted someone to drown.

"Brothers," I said. sinners! When that kind gentleman saved our souls this morning, I realized how abandoned all of you but me were. You forget that our Sam is Smoothbore, father of many children.

"Ho! Catch Blackguard by doing Sam a favor!"

"Triplet. I am a man, and you are a nasty mistake for your mother."

The sentiment was acclaimed.

"And now," said I, "my little friends, I am going to invade a new place. I have a religion, and I do not propose that you contaminate my holy peace with bad words, unless you think you can defeat me."

"Why, dammit!" howled Red Saunders, who had the foulest mouth of the bunch.

"My wayward brother," I said.

"Go to the hell!"

He dove in and fully dressed as I followed, holding him underwater by his squeaky hair until he made peace signs. Then he stuttered to his feet for breath.

"But 'oh hell-"

I told him not to brag about his father, so I called him a catechumen, which knocked him out.

"Wall, damn it!" Pieface said.

"Right," I said, and dove in. Are you sorry, Pieface? Are you determined to live a godly life and pay me three dollars of what you told me?

I smothered him until he promised to sing in my choir next Sunday.

Then, discovering that soldiers were not allowed to swear, Mutiny, Tribulation, and Calamity, who always hunted together, began a combined attack on St. Blackguard.

With that, five decent men who didn't like swearing quickly joined my choir for the following Sunday and began enlisting with bruises in Mutiny, Calamity, and Tribulation. These with Red and Pieface for backing vocals by force made eleven singers. They held the ring while I did battle with the cook. I was almost below the waist for this bean and pork belly medicine scholar, but I was pretty sure I was having a really hard time reaching his vitals and was afraid I would cover up and suffocate. Nine rounds we fought before he could convert; but with him came three penitents he had flogged that summer, and when they confessed their wrongs I had half the men on duty for chorus girls at the cost of only two black eyes and a swollen ear.

Nothing would serve me now except to triumph over all the wicked, but to secure a unanimous vote I must use the priest. I tackled him in the dark and saluted so gracefully that his mule pranced. I respectfully picked him up from a rosebush and asked permission to speak with him privately.

"I want to prove your religion, sir."

The father looked shocked and resentful, saying that his religion had been offered for free that very morning.

"Freely?" I asked.

"You mean the parade was mandatory?"

"Yes, sir, he attacked our throats, an insult to the Pater Noster." Any man guilty of participating would be drowned until he apologized to the troops.

"By God," said the father. "The next service will be free. But will they sing?"

"Show the national anthem," I said. "Anyone who is ashamed of that is a traitor. Cover your pulpit with the Union Jack and the boys will come to attention. Leave your sermon behind."


"Because each of us has lived longer, sir, in twenty years than you have in sixty." You cannot teach until you have lived.

"You forgot," he said angrily, "I have a message."

"A sword, father, in the hands of a fool."

He took a step back, stumbled, and sat up suddenly, deep in thought.

Then he tamed himself and, thinking of my words, "Pater Noster", asked me if I was Roman Catholic. His tone was full of bitter prejudice.

"Street men," I said in my smug style, "don't join country denominations."

"You dare call the church, that!"

No doors? I asked humbly.

"Yes," he exclaimed, "and they are open to all mankind!"

"With a suffocating smell inside."

"You are irreverent. The church is holy."

"Our Lord," I now spoke frankly, "described the church of his time as a den of thieves. As for what he said about priests! I don't mean to be rude to you, Father. Stay away from the church and the clergy. preached in the open air, lived in the desert, and replaced all his dogmas and doctrines with a single word: Love, you follow him, eh, Father?

I backed off. "Do you know, sir," I asked him, "what did the ancient Greeks do when it rained? No? They got wet, father. Do the same." I went behind a bush and he thought I was gone. She then told Sam that she had met the devil and fought it, emerging victorious.

On Monday, the priest joined us on our march to the source of the Columbia River. There, on Lake Windermere, a steamer brought several loads of provisions which we loaded onto wagons to our various outposts.

And so it was at Windermere camp, where the priest had free service, with all the sailors and the cook present. The flag on the pulpit compelled us to behave decently. The singing, led by the choir of San Guardia Negra with the national anthem, was a great success. It was pouring rain and, with our cavalry cloaks on, we watched the father wet himself like a sportsman. He cut the sermon short and received a strong offering. Sam was very pleased and I got $49.50 cash on the bet.

With sober earnestness, my choir lowered the camp language to the limit of decency, and from Buckie's Bible, which I read constantly for a year, I set a good example to the troop. So when the captain of the steamer sold me a box of cigars, "The wicked will consume," I said, "two a quarter." They did, but some of the wicked thought, in their own loving way, that they could consume on credit.

“Young Murphy,” I said, “you owe eight of the best.

"Oh, come on! What do you think you're playing?"

"Certainly," I said, "wrinkling your nose produces blood."

He did, and Murphy called.

Having put twelve dollars in the cigar box, I got another seven worse than the first, which landed on a stupefied crowd, but brought in twice as much.

So the ship's cook sold me a litter of little pigs, and our cook provided me with the husks my pigs ate, so they could grow and fatten and kick the bowl of oats.

"A wicked beast," I said to Buckie, "has eaten two whole sacks of oats, and the boatswain is furious. Call the captain, so I sold all my hogs. Not our hogs now, Buckie. . , not for us".

Buckie had a natural aptitude for shock. Two of him plus a harmonium would equal knowing a mother.

The father was a fanatic, Buckie a prude, the boys were just ruffians, and none of them understood that I, the poor troop buffoon, with an aching heart, felt the need, the first stirrings of a true religion.


The camp on the shores of Lake Windermere was to be the last before leaving the force. That's how I remember the last afternoon of my peace, turning over all your memories, so bittersweet.

I was in Buckie's shop and he was sitting by the door with the palm of his hand and the suede needle sewing together a little bag of antelope skin as white as milk. Red Saunders, still my friend in those days before I recognized him as an enemy, sat beside me with his button-button polishing the buttons of his tunic for tomorrow's watch. Further across the street was Sergeant Major Samlet, a plebeian parody of Sam, our patrician chief, instructing Buckie, who wore the corporal's sash that week. With them was the orderly officer, poor old Blatherskite, his toad jacket very black against the scarlet. In the nearest shop to my right were Brat in charge, Beef Hardy the scout, Pieface and Spud Murphy from Cor-r-k playing poker, silent as the grave. In the nearest shop to my left, that strange triumvirate, Mutiny, Calamity, and Tribulation, were hatching secret plots the heavens looked like.

And next to me Red Saunders complaining comfortably.

"When a man has a horse," he snarled, looking at Blatherskite with dark passion, "and he takes care of that horse and feeds it and rides it, and he likes his horse, and the horse likes him, you see? And some nonsense —— from an orificer tikesthet 'orse awi' from 'im, and 'e buck' hard-legged, what I'm saying is it has fur!

I could have heard a lot more about that horse, but Detective Sergeant Ithuriel Fatty McBugjuice (damn!) spanked me with a passing bath towel (huh what?) and invited me for a swim in the blown lake. (Really, ah!) As he had taken off the twill with the gold insignia of his rank, I went with him to take a bath in the stillness of the afternoon. So Buckie's official duties allowed him to sit with me on the lakeside while I smoked.

Above the mirrored lake with its silvery faults, the dull golden hills were strewn with fir trees of solemn indigo, and fading into the twilight appeared ridges of purple mist edged with the cold blue pallor of tall snowfields. There floated the upper spiers of the Selkirks against the twilight. And one by one the white stars went out on guard.

I told Buckie I intended to get drunk. He strongly advised a milder course of action, and indeed, milk on bread would have been very exciting for Buckie's indigestion department. His mother got a weekly letter from him saying that he was writing in the saddle, on top of the Rocky Mountains, surrounded by hostile Reds, a bloody sword in one hand and a smoking gun in the other. These letters were not official.

"Lead Kindly Light," he hummed. "Take me to the front." The mother was his kind light, but mine went out. He also had a girl who thought of him as a macho angel, while I distrusted the Puritan even as a corporal and knew he would make an insufferable sergeant.

I had fallen in love too, and in my suitcase was a photo album of all the girls I'd been engaged to, except for the little piece of land that burned down in Carlton. He'd tried to be nice to every one of them, except when they didn't like him, and even now he could walk straight in, with the occasional step to the side, if anyone really cared.

Buckie swore he cared, but what really mattered was being a drill sergeant.

Brat cared about me, but back then he had silly wishes and wrote nonsense in verse.

Then Buckie suggested that my people loved me, but that was a sore point with a pain in the middle. My fat aunt and fat uncle had recently become religious and were spending the Brat's money, as well as mine, on a private chapel, an important priest and all. Patron of our family, His Excellency San Jiminy. They implored him to use his influence on behalf of the dear Brat and the beloved Blackguard to rescue us from the sins of envy, covetousness and blasphemy, by mail, to free us from the seductive temptations of riches in an evil world, that we might inherit the bank. of the family. in Paradise, wear the halos of La Mancha and play the harps of heritage. His son would carry the burden of our earthly inheritance.

Upon learning of these things, I wrote to Tita to tell her that the Brat and I enjoyed such strong health that surely San Jiminy must be neglecting the family practice. Why not throw it away and face the San Diablo that did Tito so much good?

Tita's response as administrator was blasphemous, and they mercifully ignored my request for a statement. Hence my letter to our cousin Isabel, begging Her Catholic Majesty to revive the good old Spanish Inquisition, and fry dear Tita.

The Queen Regent responded, telling me not to worry and sending me my father's Golden Fleece jewel, which she asked me to wear as a keepsake. I wore the jewel on a thin chain and, as the diamonds scratched my skin, I fashioned it into a small buckskin bag. I explained to Buckie that the thing was a Papist object used for idolatry. This shocked him to the core, because Buckie was a Prot.

But why, he begged, should I get drunk?

I played our Spanish house saying that wine is the tomb of memory, but it was useless to throw pearls before a cape. I could not understand. Nor could I fully understand the pain in my heart, the bitter pain.

The Blatherskite, mouth open and eyes closed like any hippopotamus, had sent a cable last week to ask if I would accept me as his servant. Now Sam could claim a cadet as his squire, but in Blatherskite it was a hell of a gall. A hippopotamus, who forgot his toothbrush, ate the beans with a knife, I told him to kiss my socks. He comes from a race bred for obedience and the command of armies since the days when the Spaniards conquered and dominated the world. The insignia of the Golden Fleece was mine by right, and it was to be covered before the Kings of Spain, my peers. But Spain is just a small barren country with poor shepherds scattered across its moors, unable to keep up with the rich and populous nations of today. Christian for his gallant priests, no work for us La Manchas and our kin. But stripped of our heritage and driven from our country, the Brat and I were no less gentlemen than our fathers, still able to earn our bread and wine as men-at-arms until Spain needed us. A knight of the Golden Fleece cannot be a servant-soldier of any type of hippopotamus. And the wound hurt. Then I would get drunk and attack the guard.

And yet the words somehow came out of thin air. "I will lift up my eyes to the mountains, where will my help come from." I looked up and saw the Selkirk Mountains, ridge after ridge dissolving into the night; and in the distance, against the upper snowfields, he saw a faint glint like that of a falling star.

"What is this light?" Buckie asked, and I laughed. Because that was the light at Throne Mine, where Loco Burrows lived as a janitor. Burrows' wife wrote that she could see our camp. I was supposed to address my letters to "Mrs. Sarde," which sounded more important than Miss Sarde. burrows. She wanted me to call. That was the help of the hills, and I laughed out loud, jumping to my feet. Suppose the woman married me! What a joke it would be to take her to Madrid, to the most boring and rigid court of misaligned people in Europe! Get on that cat and watch the mice climb!

Then I heard the low bugle call,

"Come home!
Come home!
The long day at work is over."

I stood behind Buckie, my hands on his shoulders rocking him back and forth in time with the music. "That's what they call 'Faucets,'" I told him, "back in America, because the beer taps are closed." The beautiful melody rose to heaven. "'Come home,' he says, 'come home!' It's all behavior and sage advice, Buckie. Where's your home, Buckie? If you were in love with a Blackfootsquaw, would you become a squawman, Buckie? Or would you play with a respectable white pussy with no morals or manners and try to forget about it "Love? And what's the use of being good when it makes you a pittance, eh, poor idiot? If Christ were here to cast out devils, I'd have one last chance, instead of getting drunk and assaulting the guards like a panacea." from memory. Now, take roll call and report to me, present and correct as always. You can't run a ship without a rudder, Buckie."

He left me, and all that night my spirit was by the lake under the holy stars. As for what happened to my body—


SIR. sheep

"Women, wine and war.
War, wine and love!
With a sword to wield and a horse to ride
And a girl to love, don't give me nothing on the side,
But a bottle more or less at sunset!
Women, wine and war!

Women, and wine, and war,
War, wine and love!
Oh, war is my trade, but wine is my game,
Wine crowns my night and war my day
With a more or less casual kiss!
Women, wine and war!

Women, and wine, and war,
War, wine and love!
Here's a broken head from a drinking spree
When a girl with blue eyes abandoned me!
Go, scold the shameless and leave me alone!
Women, wine and war!


If Bandy Jones wasn't singingOld King Cole—our version— at that point, my song would have become an overnight hit. All the companions were gathered in Mother Darkie's carriage, a mile from the camp. We served the drinks in shifts as far as our money would allow, and the liquor seemed to be some kind of delicate mixture of sulfuric acid, fusel oil, and gasoline flavored with rattlesnake venom, "Specially Imported, Blackguard Pasta." I was at the bar with one arm around the naughty black girl, intermittently proposing. For fun, Bandy banged a loaf pan and howled Indian war songs while Tubby McImerish talked about a beautiful English pie, called o' Rams, found in Horsethief Creek. "He calls me 'my good man haw' and 'yeah me deah fellah' and 'how come you don't know?' Like old McBugjuice, more sideways than a bouncy viceroy, and the tracker with the putty and the helmet, I'll bet you a buck he did it, so shut up and don't yell like I'm measles and you got 'em. Telling you something about this little forbidden God I brought him to camp to play with the officers. He's improving their minds in the officers' mess. If you don't believe me, you can see his wet pants with balloon sleeves hung beside the fire, and the half-breed rich eat from them.

Calamity Smith screamed anarchism, while Tribulation le Grandeur told us about his mare, shot at Fort Walsh in 1876. The pair formed a duet of sorts: "Abart the pore workin' man'e llama' im zeabcessget a fair showWhat are you calling stranglers, huh?I say fair show! so i saya mayor walshDown with the Queen!sayand let it washsays she has z and strangleswhatever it's for! Down with the Government!No! No! No! Ino shoots my mare!and lynch the millionaires!holy name of—worker of the pores— long live anarchy!she doesn't want anything"Down with everyone!"So I drop my rifle and... and what about Queen Victoria, eh?Pore ​​Worker Man—I shot you through the nose, so. Hey!Traitor!Ur-r-r.How do I see your keel, huh?Help! Help!"

"Time, boys! Time!" shouted Mutiny, trapped between these soloists and being killed by both sides.

Enter Rich Mixed in the riding breeches of the tender English foot, which he reverently laid at my feet. The trio of Riot, Tribulation, and Calamity had turned into a triangle duel, while Bandy Jones led the general salute to accompaniment of a hoo-hoo band over Mother Darkie's cooking utensils.

"Now comes the Ge-ne-ran all ven-num and spleen,
And it walks like a bag, with a rope around the middle.
'Your head is full of feathers, and your heart is full of pain,
So 'present' as the band plays (hic) - shaves the Queen."

Are we doomed? We were all getting brutally drunk, and yet I don't want you to denounce my comrades. Calamity was one of thirty men who rallied Sitting Bull's victorious army after the Custer massacre and handed them over as prisoners to the American cavalry. The tribulation trapped a cannibal lunatic, and he single-handedly drove him 700 miles through the northern forest in winter. Spud broke a world record in riding, riding one hundred and thirty-two miles in bright summer sunlight on a horse that held out in the end. The riot was the biggest of all our truck drivers. McBugjuice disappeared seven days after a blizzard, but he won with his life. They had all done heroic work for the state, and they were all equally drunk. They all lived a monastic life, deprived of the company of women, excluded from all reasonable amusements, accustomed to privation and self-denial. They belonged to a phase of history which could not be measured by empirical moral rules, nor judged by the cheap standards of cities, where men live for money, are plentiful and small.

For where men do the work of giants, overexertion always has its reaction, and if they cannot get drunk they will go mad. So I could name a dozen of our best men, the heroes of the force who went mad and killed themselves. The drunken times of Vikings, Conquistadors, Elizabethans, British Conquerors, American Pioneers and Western Canada are times of energy and power, of genius and glory, while the sober times may well be times of weakness. , decay.

It is a comfort to know that we will not be judged by Christians, but by Christ, with the Saviour's broad and merciful understanding, his humorous tolerance and his sweet charity.


Soldier! Soldier! where are your panties please?
Soldier! Soldier! Get up and dust yourself off!
Where the hell did you hide your brain?
Soldier! Soldier! Rush or break!
Got the Bugler? Send to Hawspital
Can't you close this damn queue?
Show a leg, and no swearing—
Get up and sweat for a shilling a day.

The raucous, raucous reveille, insulting the holy calm of dawn, woke me wide awake. The moon shadows rushed to hide under the fragrant firs, the air a fine white ecstasy of perfume, the sky an arhapsody of bright, life-giving splendor. The blue night demons ran for cover. Who had friends like mine, comrades with such a big heart? What other soldier in the world was secretly a marquis, a knight of the noblest of all orders of chivalry? As for the Burrows woman, hang her!

The bugler, crouched by the fire, was boiling breakfast. The pickets, riding sleepily back home, led the herd towards the horse lines. From all the stores came sleepy exclamations: “Show your paw there! Move yourself! Rise and shine, you cripples!

"Wear!" The bugle sounded and the routine of the day took its orderly course through stables, breakfast, uniforms, horseback riding, all that service ritual that has the flavor of a religion for soldiers. Bugle calls are sacred when one thinks of "Diana" in captured Delhi, where Nicholsonsahib, god of the Sikhs, lay dead, on the "Parade" on the striped deck of theBirkenhead, of the "GeneralSalute" when Nelson hoisted his flag aboard thevitoria, or the ensuing "Roll-call", Balaklava, or "Lights Out!" Pulsing in the sad silence of Waterloo Field. The ritual, as familiar to us as the mass is to the monks, dignifies all our humble duties, preparing us to face death that the state may live.

That morning, Buckie had me arrested, and the "Delinquent" call had me screaming for my lawyer. When any unusual outrage occurred, I was always bound by general principles. This time, when reporting to the commander, I learned that the tent occupied by a certain Mr. Rams, a civilian guest, had been invaded during the night by a supposed buffalo bull.Article, said animal bit said ram which was now under surgical treatment.Article, said that the buffalo was really a sheep.Article, the teeth of said sheep, which were examined, did not show traces of blood or pants.Article, the alleged pants were missing.

Prisoner accused of various crimes worthy of capital punishment.

I briefly sketched an alibi about the pants. Upon learning that there was a mutton in custody, I borrowed the lamb from the cook and gave it to her. The couple seemed to have fallen out, which was none of my business, though it should have interested naturalists. He expected that Mr. Rams didn't show up again because he was too tempting.

He could only appeal to the gravity of the court.

Severely reprimanded.

So I went back to my shop, and when orderly Corporal Buckie followed me, he found me packing. I told him that he should resign, but he still maintained his official countenance. Good luck to me, he said, Sam was pleased with my axe-work, saying it felt like regret. As for the monstrous face of my defense, Sam nearly had a stroke. If he could have kept his countenance, he would have ordered me killed instantly. In fact, I asked the Sergeant Major to save me three days off. The sergeant major said he might let me go permanently, but even three days off for the troop would be a blessing. So I had to saddle up gentle Annie and my horse, fetch food for two from the kitchen tent, and four rations of grain in gunny sacks; then report.

For what?

You have to escort Mr. Rams to the Throne Mine before the men catch him.

The match never knows the size of the fire it lights.

"These pants," added Buckie, pulling away, "they fit."


In the English language books and the Spanish ones, they play a villain, and it ends badly. Like here.

But, villain that I am, I assure you that none of your saints could have been with Mr. Rams even a minute without losing her halo.

When I warned him that Annie Cortés's name was Satan, I held his head while he tried to ride on the opposite side, facing her ass. Docilely gripping the seat of her riding breeches between clenched teeth, she waited to see what would happen. With inexpressible joy, the troops watched.

"I say, shorts!" said Mutiny, "they are pontoons."

"I'll bet you a dollar," growled Bandy, "he's a Roosian spy."

"These pants are a checkerboard for tournament checkers," said the troop cook.

"In the lap of unbelieverssaid a tunicless priest, one of our truck drivers, "let it rest in your pants."

Half a mile from the camp, Mr. Rams looked thoughtful, then, in the most sporting of ways, he shouted, "I say, Blackguard..."

"If you want to call me," I said, "just whistle...then."

When the whistle blew, my dog ​​came skipping after us. But as the troop dog in command of the bobbery pack at camp, he had to accept the dinner parade and maintain proper discipline. Sadly, regardless of his duty, regardless of the consequences, he moved on, leading my procession, forgetting for once his rank and dignity. The most exciting scents floated around him. "Rabbits!" he barked. "Badger!" shout out. "Oh, snakes!"

"My good man," Rams said with a start, determined to put me in my rightful place as a private. "Two days ago I had never ridden a horse."

"That's how I see it."

"If this were the city, you'd be down to earth, scared of our traffic. What the hell do you know about me? Whatever you think, I'm not a coward, facing this beastly expedition."

"Alone too," I said. "Clear sign of the purebred. No nurse. Now, if you hold my dog ​​by the tail, he won't even complain."

Rich Mixed had no tail, not even a button. That member had recently been lost in mortal combat.

"Must be in a doghouse," Rams said, inspecting the smear of wax that marked the location of the split tail.

I said I would be incapable of such an outrage as a doghouse. "Hybrids are never sent to dog houses."

"Hybrid, huh? Looks like a rum'un."

"They are terribly infectious," I told him. "Rich Mixed is a hybrid between an old goat and a bear."


We believed so. The goat was a very respectable dog.

"Oh, I see, a dog."

"Troop Dog em Battleford" .

"But if a bear-"

"She was the bear from the hymn, and her name was Gladly. You might remember Gladly, the cross-eyed bear from the hymn. That's why my dog ​​has such a horrible squint. Though, of course, that's only when he's More angry, he eats bats." , and thus contract bad habits.

"Good morning," Rams said, in his coolest way.

"You see," I said with absolute sincerity, "he acquires nocturnal habits of eating bats, and he mixes them with his mother's hibernating habits as a bear, and also with the climbing instincts of the old goat that used to climb the roofs of the barracks." . Now you must realize that it cannot be a climbing dog that hibernates at night, especially in winter. He is dismembered by his passions. It's unnatural.

"I don't think so, actually."

That makes it so delicate. Discharge inflammation, you know. Hence the seal. Holds up better than sticking plaster. It is eaten from the cast.

Trotting along on three legs, ears pricked and smiling fondly, Rich Mixed basked in the praise. But now he heard the bugle in the distance, aft, calling "officers' wives," and with a pang of remorse, he knew he would be late when the call "God's Love" came. He rushed to his homework.

Rams, in danger of a dangerous fall, lit a cigar. I dismounted to smother the flame of the match which had fallen onto the grass, then, remounting, set off at a trot, which crushed the cigar in my hand and left the smoldering remains on the road. Without breaking stride, I climbed down, stepped into the sparks and jumped back to watch Rams get their vitals crushed and pounded into haggis for an hour of revenge. He would never again selfishly smoke, nor drop a lighted match as long as he lived. But would he live?

I was angry that I had missed my dinner and been sent to Mrs. Sarde, for the temptation. Worse than that, the presence of the sheep desecrated a landscape ineffably pure and sacred in its wild beauty. The hot air shimmered fragrant under the fir trees of that open woods, the birds sang exultantly, the canaries flitted their topazes from tree to tree, and the hummingbirds, each like an emerald in the mist, fluttered among the flowers.

We Spaniards make an art of living, quick in every fiber to live, love, adore, sin, suffer; but unfortunately many are religious, monks and nuns raised in convents instead of raising children. These Anglo-Saxons have no time to live, they let life itself slip out of their greedy hands because they are mothers and fathers defending their homes, nation builders, piling wealth upon wealth, dominating the sea, taming the jungle, filling the continents with their endless and meaningless clamor for more and more. This brutal creature he rode with could see timber per thousand feet per acre, earth per section and city sites, ore per ton, the power of the falls, but not the lush valley, the ancient hills bowed with the weight of years. My people came to worship, yours to destroy.

It must have been eighty degrees in the shade when we dropped off the white cliffs and crossed the Columbia right at the mouth of Lake Windermere. I took the sandwiches out of my bags and we ate lunch in the saddle, riding our horses through enchanted forests where trotting seems unholy. With a crooked smile, my soft foot admitted that it must have been screaming after all. It itched, he said sadly. "And yet," he asked, "what is the usual name?"

"Oh, that's exactly why you're apprehensive," I said. "Among my mother's people they cut thesquamous invertebitein infancy, just as their physicians removed the vermiform appendix, and while they kill, they must know."

He took the bait. "Your mother's people?" he asked, offering me a cigar, which I gratefully declined. Havana wrappers covered a multitude of errors.

"My mother's people? Oh yes," I remembered. "She's from the New Hebrides. She married my father when he was a Methodist missionary. I was tired of missions anyway.

Rams was hooked good and strong so I played him.

"If only," I sighed, "he had taken the missionary schooner!"

"What happened?"

"You know, it's never safe to canoe along the coast of New Guinea. Poor dad got caught and, well, all I can remember is the smell, cooking, you know."

"Horrible! But did you escape?"

I really couldn't convince him unless he admitted it. "Yes, Mom and I escaped, swam across Torres Strait and arrived at the pearl station on Thursday Island."

He swallowed that thirty-mile dive, not to mention the sharks, and said he'd heard a lot about Thursday Island.

I thought it best to skip the island.

"After we got home," I told her, "we were terribly poor. Mum had a hard time in London, starving. Then she saw Madame Tussaud's."

But she was in the French Revolution. It says so in the guide.

"Yes, the wax business went to her son, remember, and this was the grandson's second wife, I think; a perfect angel, anyway. The mother got a job as an assistant in the wax factory. Like I remember sitting in a corner alone behind those dead strangers?" Figures! They scared the shit out of me at first, in the dark, you know, after closing time, and my mother cleaning the floor of the Chamber of Horrors.

"This place is scary. It scared me."

"With short dresses," I added by way of local color. "She was only five years old. And then there was the problem: the statues were missing fingers and ears and things were missing from the seated figures. The administration discovered that the mother was Kanak, from the New Hebrides. They put her in jail."

"But why?"

"And Methodist mother!" I wiped my eyes on my shirt sleeve, deeply moved, then swallowed hard and bravely continued. She had stopped eating those things, but there it was, the distrust, the doubt: her fingers were missing, and her ears, and her MarieAntionette nose, the highest I've ever been. You see, she wasn't my mother. It was me. It was hereditary.” I choked back a sob. That's why my name is Lemuncher.

Rams became very restless. He had no money to walk or drive, but he was afraid of cannibals.

From the junction of Toby Creek at Columbia to Paradise Flat we climbed about fourteen miles, and fearing that night would catch us on that dark mountain trail, our horses needed rest. We found a Mexican packer camped with his group of donkeys, eager to gossip in Spanish, insisting that we share his venison stew. I loosened the bonds and introduced Mr. Rams to "a Kanaka friend from the New Hebrides".

"But what Kanakas here! What's next!"

"Yes," I confessed, "many of my mother's relatives settled here to escape the missionaries." See, they eat salt and it spoils the taste. We will stop for dinner and try Kanak cuisine.

Mr. Rams was on his second serving when a sudden thought drove all the blood from his clerk's face. "What food is this?" panting.

"An Indian woman," I said, "dear papoose, our friend was shot yesterday."

The sheep left for the forest.

The Mexican warned me to do Mine of the Throne in daylight, but when I led the mare up to my poor young leg, she looked ready to faint. Cannibal confessed three times, crazy and armed, faced me like a hero. "To clarify!" he shouted, pointing the way. "I will walk towards the Throne. Go away!"

"I must deliver it," I said, "in good order and get a receipt for you."

His fighting attitude was in excellent shape, but I told him to lower his right fist just an inch and go straight for the blood.

The blow to my solar plexus made me stagger, but of course I defended myself. It had to be delivered intact, intact, to the Throne. His second one made my nose bleed.

"Fight back," he howled, and poured out everything he had until he ran out of air.

"When you're done sulking," I said, "let's hit the road."

"I don't understand," replied my soft foot.

"That's the problem," I said, holding my nose. I do not understand you. You ride out of the game, throw matches to set the country on fire, foul the creek where my horse drinks, believe everything you are told and don't know the difference between deer meat and human meat. tantrums like a baby biting teeth.

"So you're not—um—"

"Cannibal? No. But you're an idiot."

"Maybe you're right," Rams said, lifting him off the chair.

Dense forest filled Paradise Canyon and, from its head, a switchback path snaked along the flank of a gigantic mountain range. Along its spine we climbed for many grueling miles until the length of the summer day began to wane and dusk approached.

Rams spoke with a slight twitch of his large, seductively ugly ears - the kind of ears one wants to stroke - and a slight puff of his bespectacled red nose that looked very pleasant. He spoke to me, using beautiful, simple words so I could understand about the London he had been taken to. This London of hers was not my glittering City of Joy, and nothing like the bleak industrial port of Red Saunders. It was White Babu's London that gave him his uncultivated body, his restless and trained mind, and his opinions to which he attached unlimited importance, given them plenty of air and exercise. He was just one of millions of employees and students who lived in the suburbs and worked in offices. They improved their minds - poor fellows - from one night at big universities called Polytechnics, where they make prudes. They spent their Saturday afternoons like athletes watching games they couldn't play. , and they would ride their bikes or walk through the parks to tend to the girls.

Rams's father was a brilliant Baptist millionaire who had bought a knighthood and sat on the Commonson on the liberal, vegetarian, anti-most things, pro-everything side, no bullshit about him or any Christian mercy. His daughters were on all sorts of committees, his sons were slaves, and he was a mining engineer. Today he rode his first real rock, so different from the cabinet specimens, to see his first real mine, not like the display model. The swampy slopes of alpine flowers told him nothing of the jagged schists below. The granite spiers before him conveyed no message to him about the ice mills of God rising from their purple flowers against the orange sky.

When I told him I had many relatives in town, the weary man blinked in this last agonizing effort as he asked their names and where they lived.

"Everywhere," I told him. You know them by their coat of arms, the Medici coat of arms: three golden globes and a side door. They are my uncles.

Poor sheep!

"To look!" I squealed as some small animals jumped into the path. "A gauze!"

"One that?" I wouldn't even look.

A chiffon. It is a kind of four-legged burrowing bird that lives in mines. We must be close to the Throne.

Black clumps of torch-like pines stretched far below a slope of alpine flowers in which we groped. Ahead was a spiral spike of pansies in a field of lilac snow against the twilight. Behind and just above our path, a small log cabin nestled among the rocks, with a lighted candle in the doorway. Then, farther on, close at hand, a corner of the hillside revealed more huts in the icy darkness. A lamp shone in a window to guide us over rocky steps and fields of powder snow. Here was the throne.




Before arriving at Mina do Trono, observe these various points of view:

Mr. Otto Rams. His point of view revealed a broken stone inventor named Burrows, who was easily robbed of certain patents for extracting gold from rock. This was a perfectly legitimate business proposition.

Dr. Eliphalet P. Burrows, aka Loco. His point of view was this: after thirty years of desperate efforts, he had discovered, hooked, wagered and conquered a great mining engineer who represented the capital, under whose rays he was now ready to lie on his back on all fours. up. .and sigh.

Miss Violet Burrows, aka Sarde, widlet. Her point of view was: "Once a lady, always cautious." MissViolet loved herself, which is the heart's true economy. He had the good sense to dump Joe Chambers, cowboy ($480 a year and alimony), in favor of Inspector Sarde ($1,200 a year, all found and social standing). As one died and the other cheated, he had a ridiculous tenderness with an ordinary policeman (two hundred and thirty-seven dollars and twenty-five cents a year at current prices, minus fines, plus alimony, squandering, no social status). Even if she knew about my marquisate, which was, after all, just a foreign title, old and worn out, nothing compared to the brand new knighthood of Sir Augustus Rams of Clapham Junction, for which nothing had just been paid. fifty thousand dollars, cash. After all, business is business and money talks.

True, Joe, Sarde, Rams & Company were sporadic like flies to a spider, while I was chronic. True, Americans, Canadians and English were bland compared to Spanish. They roared, as I just floated, and then I flew off to take my toll elsewhere. On my long walk, I left women bewildered and quite angry because I didn't get them into all the trouble they wanted. So, while Ms. Violet always devoted her hours to Ramsin's work, her relaxation was dreaming of me. She intended to marry the Rams but feared and hoped I would run away with her. When we arrived, she was effusive with Rams and cut me off. She fell into Rams and bored him. What he wanted was dinner, and that early. She said that and Tío Loco pushed her into the kitchen. So when I left Black Prince and kind Annie in the stable, I found Miss Violet and I kissed her all over for about twenty minutes, while the coffee boiled over, the bacon turned to ash, and the beans burned, No more Rams.

Tolo had an amusing quality in the living room and somehow reminded him of his weary guest at Claphamgent, Old Cheese, who always sweetened his pants to keep the rats away.

"As the original inventor," said Loco, with lofty manners and nasal intonation, snapping his celluloid penis, "I share the glorious fate of Galileo, Faraday and John Keeley of Philadelphia: scorn, scorn, hunger... ah, here dinner comes." long as we live, and after a wishful death... Let me help you with beans, Mr. Rams, the memorial statue, and some bacon, Mr. Rams, the applause of the nations! Ah, I see you put two places, Violet. But I ate. Humbly, but enough. I had dinner. Take it. Take this, honey.

With a clatter of Mexican spurs on the floor, I rolled out of the kitchen to dinner.

“Ah, bailiff,” said Loco, “he had…at least, I suppose my niece saved him some supper in the kitchen.

“I only looked, Burrows,” I said, “to tell Ramshere to water and feed the horses. I'm spending the night with friends.

"Ah, on 'Tough Nut'", Loco smiled in relief. "Very welcome there, I'm sure."

His bald head, as he sat there, was pretty irresistible, so I dabbed a little mustard and a dash of pepper on the shiny surface. So, leaving the three freaks to their fun, I went to the stable.

In a sudden fit of blind rage, Miss. Violet was calling her uncle an idiot.

So after being tempted and not being tempted, which was really disappointing, I found out I wasn't engaged to Ms. burrows. That was good. I watered and fed Black Prince and Gentle Annie. So I packed up the two blankets, my cloak, and my dinner biscuit, turned my back on the Freak House, and walked out into the solitude. Rams and Miss Violet searched for me for a long time, but I wanted to be alone.

Just a few steps beyond the booths, I reached the edge of space. Thousands of feet below was an abyss of clouds. Nearby, on the left, Throne Glacier gave its broken leap, a waterfall of ice, while to my right the misty gorge of Horsethief Creek, with the murmur of distant waters, curved into the Columbia Valley. There I could see the dim lights of our camp, and as I watched, a thread of music, as delicate as a spider's web, said to me, "Come home! Come home!"

It was the last message.

That life, that service, seemed so far away, up there among the drifts of snow and the rocks of silvery frost that cut through the oscillating and eternal field of stars. Here was a sanctuary for impulsive souls, where no evil pursuer dared approach me. This glacier was indeed the throne of our Eternal Father, aided by mists of spirits, hosts of stars and invisible presences who, with a sigh, like a breath of wind, pleaded for His coming to judge, save and forgive.

I ate my biscuit with a curious feeling that this bread was sacramental, lay wrapped in my robe, awake in perfect rest, and at dawn I knelt down waiting for the sun, until the Rocky Mountains melted around the edges in their blinding splendor.


Before the monsters were on the move I mounted BlackPrince, told gentle Annie to come or starve, and rode in the company of health, the outdoor god. No healthy young man of twenty-two, well armed and mounted, in the glow of dawn, is as unhappy as he says; but still the Tough Nut boys who greeted me at breakfast eased an anxiety that gnawed at me below the waist. A bird in the hand is better than a bull in the bush. And after breakfast they didn't let me go, which I liked. He had a free day. I also learned that the frontiersmen of many tribes and trades are all a brotherhood of fools.

"Of course," as Long Shorty told me after breakfast, "poor Fool doesn't count. He doesn't belong to our ancient Order of Fools, who follow in the footsteps of the wandering St. Paul. We take turns mixing things up.

The prospector curled his legs around the doorstep and lit his corn cob pipe. We looked down, he said, at those old Spanish miners with their ladders, buckets instead of pumps, and Arastra mules. This is how the Fool mocks our fissured veins.

It has a pair of rotating fans, which raise a cyclone between them, and the dust from that cyclone will break a steel lever, yes, into steel dust. The rock turns to dust before it has time to break through.

"Put money into that idea and you get a mountain range like the Sierra Nevada, which costs a dollar a ton of gold. It costs us two dollars to mine and grind it, but Loco can do it for ninety cents. He can transmute the Sierra Nevada in gold, and we prospectors are losing with the buffaloes and the Indians. We are out of date, says Loco.

"So he's a genius?"

"He's a fool. His fans are reduced to dust. When I worked for him last winter, I offered, for half interest, to make fans that wouldn't be cut to pieces. I would have covered the bottom fans, which means black diamonds. , and made the fool a billionaire. Instead, he fired me. Too bad. I'd have half a corner in gold.

"What would you do?"

"Buy mama an orchard in Nova Scotia. Open the plains for a nation, see I'm Canadian. Buy a fleet and station it off the coast of China to meet the yellow peril, see I'm British. I'd buy myself a horse like the Prince Black you have, and…” He looked sadly at his long boots, which were falling apart, “yes, and a new pair of boots… if the money can hold, that is.”

We behold garlands of mist, combed by pines like torches at the tree line. "The weather will change," Long Shorty said, and then he stood up, because a six-foot man needs space when he wants to yawn. "Come on," he said, "help me point out some exercises."

That man got me thinking.

No promotion is too high for a donkey with lots of gold: Rams, for example. And here he was on top, ready for my hand, so tame I could stroke his long, seductive ears.

A lot of gold has been wasted on Loco now, and yet he could still be useful to Long Shorty and Bobbie Broach. They went to work in their tunnel and left me at the forge to sharpen bits. Nearby, among the spiraling pines, was his log cabin, with a mud chimney, while an extension of the roof formed a front porch. Farther on, a cut in the hillside gave entrance to the tunnel, whose barren rock formed a terrace filled with silver that gleamed in the sun. The place was also so beautiful, so dignified, so achingly poor. These men walked in rags and lived on half rations, but they welcomed a stranger with all they had. Poor Bobbie Broach was born in a mess and stayed there, a woman mixed up Shorty's life, but they both lived in a messed up world. He wanted to be her friend.

Rams, of their own free will, went out for a walk, hoping, like rich men, to patronize and test the poor. He thought he was back at camp, he didn't expect to see me.

"Come here," I told him. "Let's see your mouth."

"My good"

"The teeth are still good, huh? Or did Loco steal them?"

He smiled and muttered that he knew what he was doing.

I said I knew more about mining than an expert from Freiburg.

He angrily told me that he had graduated from Freiburg, the best mining school.

I pointed to the tunnel. "Isn't this the best mining school?"

He mocked the ignorant seekers, then sat down on a log in the forge, with me at his side. "They'll invite you to dinner right away," I said. Don't be nasty to them. Pretend to be friendly, but have them keep their distance. Mention your wealthy relatives. . At dinner, tell them what kind of food you are used to and ask how much you have to pay. We of the lower classes love to be patronized. So good for us."

"Do you think I'm a hell of a scoundrel?"

"Wow, Rams, you're wondering if you should tip me."

He blushed at that.

A squirrel, proud of its gaily striped fur coat, paraded on the anvil. "Cheep?" he said dismissively.

"Cheep," I said, to pass the time of day.

"Cheep!" Polite but hurried, he found the right moment to wrap his delicate tail around his furry back to please me.

"Tweet tweet!" I said, and he ran to my boot waiting for lunch.

"How's the nut business going, huh? Peep?"

"Oh yes, that's all!" He ran back to the anvil, then turned and swore at me.

The distant sound of a hammer visibly ceased, and Broach, a slimy, gaunt-faced little man, emerged from the tunnel, crossed the hut, and entered. At that moment, there was smoke from the dinner in the chimney, while from the tunnel came faint sounds of thumping, then thumping, then silence, and Shorty took off running. A hail of stones flew after him, the hillside shook, and smoke rose from the tunnel.

Rams got a thick, short, yellow, waxy looking barley sugar.

"Give it to me," I said in a high-pitched whisper.

But he was in a bad mood.

"Put it down," I said, "it's dynamite!"

I got it too late. The sheep threw the stick at my squirrel, and it went round and round and round until it hit the anvil.

A red flower seemed to sprout there, which grew into a giant bud, filling the world.

A pain in my right thigh woke me up and I found myself on a stretcher inside the hut. Shorty was cooking by the firelight, wisps of red smoke swirling around her slender body and rain drumming on the roof. The wind leapt into the cabin, roaring like a wild beast.

"Dead sheep?" Asked.

"We fixed your broken arm," she said, "and carried you to the throne. How do you feel?"

"I don't know. Surprised, I guess. Where's Broach?"

"Take your horses to camp. He'll bring food and a doctor. Here's some coffee."

It turned out that my thigh was broken, a simple fracture that my friends fixed and immobilized without bothering me. My skull was also bruised and I wasn't feeling very well when Shorty picked me up for coffee.

So she sat on the edge of the bunk with her own tin cup. "I suppose," said he, "that delicate foot has been neglected."

"I threw dynamite at a squirrel."

"There's a hole," said Shorty, "where we used to have our forge."

"How much will Rams cost?"

"I don't know yet. It's our first venture capitalist, so lucky it didn't close, huh? That arm should tie you up for six weeks while we sell it wild. We have an incredible pool of wild claims, and they can cost a fortune. specialist in Freiburg...

"He is it."

"I gave fifty thousand dollars. Thanks, old man. We appreciate it."


My blood came by inheritance, my vices by contagion. My blood was healthy, healing me quickly from the start, and as for the contagion of addiction, or filth of any kind, there really was no place in that shack. I sincerely believe that unhappy people infect their homes with selfishness, scolding, peevishness, spite, melancholy, murder, which, like the germs of disease, are living evils, the demons our Lord Christ encountered in hunting for sport. But where Shorty and Broach had their home, there was only room for faeries, and they swarmed. I know, because fairies are just like children, they love noise and disorder. Think how happy they are to hide things humans leave behind! These seekers, for example, have lost everything they haven't really lost.

But if fairies are simply messy, squirrels are dissolute. On the roof dwelt some of them, who had a squirrel maiden to help them scatter flour, nuts, and ashes. He had lost an eye and never played anything right.

In addition to these people, I had visitors, starting with Sergeant Gathercole, an ex-veterinarian, a good fellow and a sober man when sober. I remember that at meals he had the charming habit of combing his tawny mustache with his fork. Gathercole came with lots of government food, a proper splint and bandages that made me comfortable, and lots of advice, messages, and even gifts from guys I didn't like. The troop, he told me, was leaving for Wild Horse Creek, but BlackPrince would stay with our detachment from Windermere, and I could send for him when I was ready to do my duty.

During the first fortnight, I only occasionally heard from the three monsters on the Throne. They lived in the clouds, believing they held the great secret by which entire mountain ranges could be turned into gold. They dreamed of riches beyond imagination and behaved like demigods at first.

Then, at our hut, arrived, with pomp and circumstance, Dr. Eliphalet Burrows, impressively dressed in a silk hat, frock coat, and pretty brown shoes. Someone told him a long time ago that his voice was resonant, so he cultivated it, producing it like a frog from his thin hind legs. According to his niece, dona Sarde, he had a charming smile, and that too. , used randomly. In fact, it was so soft and rumbling, so big and resonant, that we could safely compare it to the drum played by Mrs. Violet.

He compared my trivial injuries to the serious condition of his dear friend Rams, who had suffered an oblique fracture of the humerus, while I had only a fractured femur. The rich man's more refined nature, so delicately bound, made him extremely susceptible to pain.

Loco then happened to find himself in a very embarrassing situation, ahem, being such that, despite the express wish of his late niece, I would not permit her to speak of the unfortunate setbacks that had occurred on my visit to her humble, ahem, abode. .

I told him mustard made hair grow.

Happy to have the distinguished English mining engineer, his late friend Rams, as an honored guest, a six-week visit was more than he deserved. The fact was, to be perfectly frank, supplies were running low - ahem - and he was looking with concern at an impending inconvenience to his distinguished guest. He now intimated that the authorities had placed at my disposal a load of pack horses of... ahem... ahem... To be precise, I thought that under the peculiar... ahem... arose from my misunderstanding of the... er... nature and uses of dynamite, should I be - ahem - willing, etc.?

I told him I would see him cursed first, and he said he would pray for me on the way home.

It is right for women to despise those who love them and love those who hate them. I loved all women, so Mrs. Violet, knowing she had me anyway, didn't bother calling me until I was in bed for a month. The good hope of catching Rams was better than the bad hold of his Blackguard, so when he finally arrived it was down to business, without the slightest pretense of feeling. I had healed her pretty well for trying this on me.

"Just meit achievedshe explained, "marry Rams, and that's all." I came to sit with you all the time now to make you jealous."

"I understand," I said, "the guarded pot never boils."

"I bubbled once or twice," he chuckled.

At 2,400 meters, water boils without being hot enough to cook an egg. Soon this mountaintop, the Rams' boiling point, was far from a great passion. "Worms are no longer slippery," said Mrs. Violet. "After all we've done, too."

Loco's party clothes and brown shoes, his own dresses, those who cry to the sky, and a bunch of white clothes, all had been bought on credit to surprise Rams. "As for provisions, oh my! Sass! Jams! Powdered eggs! Apple butter! Tomato-toe! Pait-of-turf! We put our face everywhere."

"But when Rams arrived," I said, "the beans were burned and the sow's belly turned to ash."

"Whose fault was it?" she faced. Also, it took a while to come, until it came suddenly, and we weren't even dressed. We were at the clothing store for a month, and there I got caught with my bangs in curling irons.

"Still, Rams are in clover right now."

"That's all you know. We have a house full of fancy groceries, but no food. And can you believe it? When I sent Loco for beans, flour, and bacon, the Windermere merchant wanted me to pay cash!"

"The wretch!"

"And now," he concluded, "it's your turn to lend me fifty dollars."

I didn't see the point in giving beans to sheep. Besides, my good two hundred dollars was good in my back pocket. They also stayed there.

I was an acrobat on crutches, before Freak House quality paid me another visit. This time my interlocutor was Rams, in a state of panic.

"I may have had fun," so began his complaint, "but not a womanizer. Trust me, it never, of course! never went as far as a tip, let alone a suggestion.

"Then why the noise?"

It seemed that Loco, who had enough tact to step on a locomotive, wanted to know his young friend's intentions towards his niece.

The American heavy dad, especially when he turns out to be the heavy uncle, can be frighteningly impressive in this regard. Rams also read the Wild West in his spare time, and as everyone knows, Westerns invariably shoot. In Rams' expanded vision, LocoBurrows was a Westerner, a frontiersman, with outlaw features and a gun.

"She asked me," snarled the Englishman, "if my intentions were honorable. As if I had intentions! Why, my dear, strictly in qt, she is lower middle class!"

"You don't say that?"

"Done. My father, Sir Augustus, you know, would cut me with a bump. Still, I didn't want to get shot."

"So you're engaged? Congratulations!"

The sheep fled.

But then he came back the next day in a bad mood, with an old phone number.Macleod Gaceta, with mention of Inspector Sarde. "We are delighted to announce that the popular Inspector returns to our district. Shall we be introduced to the beautiful Mrs. Sarde we've heard so much about?"

When confronted with this damning text, the lady tearfully explained that she was not exactly a widow, as her late husband lived and never married her.

At this Rams flew up passionately, buttoned up his collar and, with one end of his neck pointing towards the sun, "said a few words". I think he used language.

"What an escape!" he said. "Suppose I were to marry her! Why oh why should these horrible people be trying to hound me into marrying me? There's something fishy. I smell rat. I'm not as dumb as I look, far from it. this invention is alright, why should they... i'm leaving."

Wary of any fish that smelled like rats, he went muttering toward his house. "Try Crazy's estimates again - rigged - guess - damn - m'n-m-m -"

Clouds crept along the hill, and a light rain washed the autumn foliage in a riot of orange, fire, lemon, and soft amber, melting into mist against the sombre green of the forest and its deep blue glades. He had been alone since early yesterday, for Broach had taken his toothache to the blacksmith at Windermere, and Long Shorty had gone with him to fetch a load of provisions. I decorated the cabin red, baked a batch of bread, made dinner and my nap, then sewed a pink seat into Shorty's blue jumpsuit, while the rain turned to sleet, the sleet to snow, and a young storm woke to howls in the distance. dusk . deepened into a horrible night. So the prospector came home with my horse and an official letter. He had orders to seize all of Eliphalet Pardoe Burrows' property for debt and arrest him on charges of writing fraudulent checks. But morning would be the right time for that, and in the meantime supper should be prepared for the weary men.

And all this time there was an argument at the Throne. With unlimited capacity to deceive himself and none to deceive others, the inventor made false estimates of his great invention, and Rams, nostrils flaring with suspicion, finally found out. Here were round numbers instead of square facts, and small improvements to boring essays, a few zeros added to tedious statistics, and a rather delicate kitchen of accounts. So Rams was shaken to his soul to find rascals greater than himself, denouncing Loco for fraud, forgery and fraud, accusing Mrs. Violet from attempted bigamy and blackmail. the best From noon to midnight he made a general confession of the youth's imperfections and the depravity of the English, denounced his uncle Loco, and lamented his fate. And then trouble began for the two men, having made common cause against the lady, they quarreled with each other. They got mad and threw things, including the lamp, which set the whole place on fire. So while the woman was outside warming herself by the fire and wearying heaven itself with her indignation, the men, driven to an ignominious flight, began to snarl like two dogs. If they had come to me I should have tied them up and seen the fun, but they ignored my presence on the "ToughNut" and presented their demands for justice to the sergeant in charge at Windermere.

The sky was clearing then, and the moon rose over the silvery waves of the Alps and the deep blue valleys between them, along the stormy ranges that crown the continent.

And there the woman, no longer needing Loco or Rams, was abandoned among the black ruins on the mountainside. When a selfish soul has nothing but itself, loneliness becomes tragic. Like ivy ripped from a wall, this creature had nothing to cling to, no strength to stand alone. The biting wind of dawn swept the last sparks from her scorched world, and the biting cold sucked all the heat out of her. Then she was moaning.


In the "Tough Nut" cabin we slept soundly, having seen nothing but the falling snow, hearing nothing but the storm. But when the light of dawn woke me, I remembered that the Throne Cottages would be confiscated for debt and the Fool taken to Windermere, for which there would hardly be time on that short autumn day. So, without disturbing my friends, I made myself a cup of coffee and walked on crutches to the barn behind the cabin. I saddled Black Prince, mounted his back, and headed up the crooked path that led the wobbly tracks of Rams and Loco to Windermere. I found that the Throne huts were a heap of smoldering ashes, with a few flying sparks, and on the slab of rock that had been the doorstep lay that poor woman.

She was no less sassy than usual. I told her that the moaning and writhing completely spoiled her performance as a lady in a swoon. She wanted to play the abandoned heroine, but I was too cold and hungry for heroism, and I yelled at her to shut up. So he thought that the rescued maiden always rode with the knight's bridle, forgetting that true paladins never have game legs. I told him the walk would do him good, and a mile of stumbling through drifts certainly warmed the cat up. When we arrived at "Hard Nut", she was hungry, and after breakfast she purred, looking at the seekers, although for a whole year they had gone unnoticed.

If only I could help my friends with the wealth of that golden ass, poor crooked sheep! It was time to part ways with Shorty and BobbieBroach, and they refused to tuck the little pack in my pocket. They lent and saddled their pony to the woman, and when the Black Prince had finished his breakfast we were off.

He had a lot on his mind during that long day's march to Windermere. Loco was on his way to a prison sentence, and when he returned, his employers would not be satisfied with his overzealous caretaking as caretaker of the Throne. Rams, of course, would go back to their homeland, where there are more fools to be deceived than in any other country of equal size.

And this woman was left in my hands. What could he do with her? He had no relatives, no friends, and he couldn't find a job where there were no employers, and he was poor, many hundreds of miles in the desert. If I had been smart, I would no doubt have given him the two hundred dollars I have in my pocket to pay for his trip to the settlements and there to start his life over again. If only he had been wise...but then I doubt if any really and truly wise man would have much story to tell in narrating his life. If I were a completely bad man, I would have used this woman given up to my mercy, had her as a lover until her tongue gnawed, and then I would have released her, the worse for having known me, to take the only path open to her talents. But if everything had been bad, should I own up to my mistakes in a book?

Perhaps there were other ways of approaching the subject, but at twenty-three I lacked the experience that makes everything clear to the reader. I could only see a way consistent with decency and my honor. And all the way from the Throne to Windermere, and all the day's march from there to Canal Flats, and all the grueling journey from there to the mission, I saw no other way but marriage.

The three years since we met on the train in Winnipeg have turned the girl into a woman and the whore into a housewife. He was superficial, naturally vulgar, without heart, without morals and without mind; but by this time she had learned enough to wash herself, mind her manners, curb a high-pitched and unpleasant voice, confine her temper to occasional picnics only, and place her increase in beauty into consideration in the government of men. This young animal was given hair as glorious as sunlight, a transparent milk like skin, impregnated with the splendor of peaches and covered with a rare and lovely flower, changeable and bewildering eyes, health, strength, grace of bearing, and the temperament of spring between sun and rain. I have little fault if my five senses adored this triumph of nature's artifice, which the creature had for sale for Sarde's position, Rams' money, or any passing tempest of ambition. Older women whose souls are not for sale will be the last to judge her.

Latinos are perhaps more feminine than northern blondes, we have more sympathy and a deeper understanding of women. It was my destiny to discern, to see through them, and I had no illusions about Mrs. Violet. Her beauty appealed with terrifying strength to my manhood. Saying: "With my body I adore you", I must say the truth. But, "With my spirit, I adore you," he could say to Rain, and to no other woman he'd ever met. Passion I had for many, devotion to all things beautiful, but love for one woman, and I could not marry her.

I have spent days trying to write this passage, to express in words of clear, just and decided English the relations between a man and a woman united in marriage, where the woman has given everything but the man has given nothing because he has withheld his soul.

"He who called Armas y Letras a couple of sisters, knew nothing of their family, because there are no lineages as separate as saying and doing."

Yes, playing the man of letters, with nothing to do but look back, mumbling in the most confused way; but in those days I was a man of arms. Indeed, he might be a jester, but the jester's habit is the mask of reticence. I let the woman go, happy to ease her way as best I could, but I didn't say anything to her. How could I say to such a creature that, by giving him my hand, I gave him my mother's position, my mother's dignities? The woman may be Sarde's wife, or Sarde's discarded lover, as far as I'm concerned, but not the Marquesa de las Alpuxarras to tarnish the old and beautiful memories of my home. Position is a responsibility, sometimes a burden, something we try to forget in our private lives, not sullying ourselves with obscene talk from camp or barracks, not sullying ourselves with a woman of questionable character. Unless I could pass my knighthood on to a lady's sons, the succession would go to my brother. And so, before I left for Wild Horse Creek, I gave Dom Pedro's keeper the badge of the Golden Fleece.

The incompetent in charge of the Kootenay Mission was my friend from the church parades and he denied me the marriage. If I had been a Christian, there would have been no marriage, because I would have gladly confessed to a real priest and, on his orders, would have provided for the woman's needs. respectability welled up to stifle the blossoming of his soul. He opposed me as a Papist, the woman as a Prohibitionist or a Vegetarian, or some rude sectarian outside the arena. He opposed social misalignment, as if he were the priest of a god of etiquette. He demanded a leave of absence from my commander. He hesitated for reasons of childhood.

"We don't mind getting married," I told her, "unless you prefer this woman to be my mistress."

With that, he completely broke down and, simply to save him from getting involved in scandal, this marriage was made in hell.

"Whom God hath joined together," he said, "no man shall put asunder."

"But why blame him?" I asked, and the service ended.

Of the same race are marriage and repentance.


Our borrowed pony was left behind at Windermere, whence the lady and I rode in tandem on the Black Prince. My broken leg was barely fit to travel, and the wedding also delayed us a few hours on the way to the troop headquarters at Wild Horse Creek.

But swift and direct was a dispatch from the commanding sergeant at Windermere to the commanding officer of D Division. The news reached Sam a day before us.

He, as the nearest magistrate, was informed that Dr. Eliphalet P. Burrows was being held on charges of fraud, destroying the security of his debts, and burning down the throne cabins which he was charged with looking after. Mr. Rams was arrested on charges made by Burrows. Agent La Mancha, on horseback with Inspector Sarde's fugitive wife, was on his way to appear before the O.C.D. Division.

So we were expected, and on reaching Camp Wild Horse Creek I was immediately introduced to my commander.

"Officer," he asked, "what do you mean by bringing Ms. Sarde to my camp?"

-The lady, sir, that I bring is the lady of La Mancha.

Sam turned to the corporal's orderly. "Put this man under arrest," he said.

I handed him my weapons.

"Prisoner," said Sam, "you will be charged with passing the marriage form without permission and in defiance of the rules. You have twenty-four hours to prepare your defense."

"I'm not asking for a minute, sir." Whatever you do, it will be perfect today or tomorrow.

"You're taking a serious risk playing with me," said Sam.

"I see, sir, you are breaking camp for a march." I don't want to be a prisoner and a nuisance while there are wheels in the swamp.

That spirit powerfully attracted Sam. "Defend yourself," he said gravely. "I am your best friend."

She knew she loved him very much.

"Sir, I found this lady stranded in the Selkirks in several feet of snow. I took her to her father on the quest. This was no time for nonsense, I gave her the only protection possible. Sir, you would have done the same. Now I've come straight to report." .

"What, going through a fake marriage to an officer's wife?"

"That, sir, is not true."

"What, you accuse my brother officer! Corporal, just get out of earshot. Now, La Mancha, what the hell do you mean?"

I told him of Sarde's sham marriage to Miss Burrows, performed by Happy Bill, a bogus parson, how the facts were discovered by Joe Chambers, who died, turning the woman's defense over to me, of my dueling with Sarde to obtain her deliverance and His return. to his guardian, Loco Burrows.

"So you're not pressing charges against Inspector Sarde?" Sam asked.

"None, if you'll leave me alone."

Sam remembered the orderly corporal.

"Prisoner," he said, "you plead guilty to the charge of marrying without permission. I regret to say that it is my duty to report this matter to the commissioner, and he will pass sentence. All I can do is report firmly." Advice of tolerance, because, despite your delinquent blade, you are the best lookout in my division.

But... wow, man, you were warned by express orders from the commissioner that your next offense would be final. You have no better chance than a snowflake in hell. Don't you see, idiot, that an agent can't marry her? An officer's wife, or... or lover? It's impossible.

And I will not allow a woman to be part of my column. We may face a difficult journey crossing the Rocky Mountains. But then, we can't leave a woman here in the jungle. Get a fortnight pass and he'll show up in Fort French.

"La Mancha, I think it's generally best that you hand over your supplies, equipment, all government assets. I'll advance your payment by this date."

"Is it that bad, sir?"

'I'm afraid so, La Mancha. You must leave the camp before clock. Goodbye boy. God bless you.

Then he squeezed my hand.

And after I left, he spoke privately with the corporal. “Warn that boy,” he said, “not to show up at Fort French. I'd rather see him desert than receive a year's hard labor and be dismissed for ignominy, or even transferred to the civil courts for bigamy. Expensive sometimes, Corporal, for a gentleman, eh?

As far as the troops were aware, I had honeymoon leave, and since I was visiting the States, my gear was turned over by security. The boys scoured the camp for rags that represented my gear turned into storage, so I had my buffalo coat, blankets, and good clothes to take with me. Breeches with the torn yellow sash, boots and Brat's old coat were all I could muster by way of civilian clothes, but the officers gave me a horse, the sergeants' messenger another, the troop subscribed to saddles, pack gear and camping equipment , As a gift. wedding gift.

As I packed, I found myself in my war suit as Chief Blackfoot, gift from Many Horses, dear cross-eyed brother to Rain, on that day, just three years ago, when I made her a widow. If only I had married Rain!

I cried when I was born, and every day explains why.

The lady never guessed I was an outlaw, but she seemed more than happy with a hundred men to play with. She had descended in the world from lady inspector to poor bailiff, but seemed much more comfortable in her new role, playing crib with Red Saunders. Red 'opedshe would have' happiness.

Enthroned in Buckie's tent, she held court after dinner while I dragged my friends out and introduced them. "Let me introduce Wee James's legs - the top of it lifted." WeeJames was six feet tall.

"This is Tubby, our briefed Acting Assistant Cook. Let me introduce Detective Sergeant Ithuriel Fat McBugjuice, bai bingah, yaas. The smile with a face attached to it belongs to Mutiny. RichMixed barks and greets me with a praise "Here is Sergeant Snuffleton, all present, the correct waist measurement fifty-nine, my dear, and bustle number twelve. Curses of calamity. And here is Tribulation, with a bad cold from sleeping too long on the sentry."

I went to the lines, where Buckie and Brat were loading my packhorse, and they wouldn't let me interfere with him or the saddle. Restless, I wandered through the shops, where the boys were preparing for a tomorrow in which I would not be a part. "Let's sweat it out, poor workers," I told them. Fatigue, except good fatigue in bed.

"Forward, you dove-breasted tails, poor fledglings, pemmican-eaters, pie-eaters, ring-tailed puffers!

"Black Watch was taken young and raised on alkali, everybody's dog with beans and government pork belly, rode sweating like hell after horse thieves, rebels and coyotes, wore government socks and didn't believe in gawspel .

Sweat, slaves, whispers, moles, until the civilians send the children to camp for convent training, children of sin, but I am for the open field, and you will hear my long wolf howls in the light of night.

So I went back to Black Prince to say goodbye, and when Brat came looking for me, I turned to him with a snarl, cursing horribly.

So I mounted the lady in a saddle, mounted my own plug, took Buckie's rope to tow the packhorse, and gave Sergeant Major Samlet an Episcopal blessing. The entire troop gathered around us to shake hands as we said goodbye and to fire a volley of old boots and rice as our wedding procession moved into the dark, into the desert. Three enthusiastic applause drowned out the music of the last message, the funeral music played over open graves.

Buckie and Brat went down to the WildHorse Creek ford, and there, while Rich Mixed barked around us, I had to say goodbye. Brat was still laughing at the sergeant major's delight at myLatin's praise: "cursing! Damn it!Then our horses splashed at the ford, and I saw my dog ​​come home to camp, for the bugle cried "Lights Out" to the stars themselves. God, who mends broken hearts, might have heard me laugh when my dog ​​abandoned me.

The news of my marriage to Madame Sarde spread through the regiment like wildfire through grass. Every man now knew that Sarde had made a false marriage or that Black Watch had committed bigamy. Then Sarde's position became impossible, because his fellow officers demanded that he get rid of the scandal or submit his papers. He produced the attorney's opinion that a marriage made in good faith before any bona fide minister of religion would be under law. He obtained a warrant for his arrest and extradition on charges of kidnapping and bigamy. If it went to trial, my own innocence carried a year in prison for police desertion.

To avoid the danger of arrest, Bratand Buckie spread the news of my death, the victim of a fall from a horse somewhere in Montana. So Sarde felt safe and slandered my memory.

When God made everything that creeps, he saw that it was good. Sarde was fine but I don't think it got better with maintenance.

The story of my death passed from hearsay to belief, and old-timers remembered that Brat once had a brother, killed, poor boy, in a fall from a horse somewhere in Montana.

We who once served in the great regiment have often met by chance in recent years, meeting up with old comrades in the Klondike gold rush, or the South African field force, or the British veterans' national reserve. We make new associations for auld lang syne in Sikkim or Patagonia, Damaraland or Samoa, or, disguised as ridiculous waiters, dining at some white table in town. We set out like soldiers to meet like officers, our scoundrels are squires, our spendthrifts are rich men, but our encounters are grave with memories of Toby who died in a tramp, of Jumbo who shot himself, of Monte who was pulled over by a horse . Spirits are calling us from the depths of all continents and all oceans. The glass raised to toast the good times is broken, because from between the candles comes a remembered voice: "Well, here's luck!"

I was present when men, unsuspecting my membership, spoke of tribal memories, and one of them, I remember, kindly mentioned the Black Guard, numbered among our dead.




The husband who distrusts his wife gives everyone hope that she is dissolute. I never showed or suspected the Lady of La Mancha. As long as a ship's pump fails there may be suspicions, but when the current passes all doubts are gone and it is better to run aground on temptation. In Lonely Valley, the lady was free from temptation.

In summer he earned his living as a horseman, in winter as a wolf and hunter in the Montanaranges; but all year round my earnings went into land and fences, cattle and implements for our Lonely Valley farm.

I could not become an American citizen without perjuring my oath of allegiance to Her British Majesty, so my lady was the sole owner of that property.

Until I could earn a living on the ranch, she had to face the tragic loneliness of all the pioneer women on the frontier. And that was her test, the test of her femininity, the measure of her reality, if she wanted to be my wife. I hoped that with the advent of our son Ernesto, the woman would find her soul. Because the soul has no life in itself, it cannot be born except in love for others, or it cannot live except in the sacrifice of itself.

For the first two years, I think, I was half dead with grief, for I could not see the desert I was riding in, nor feel the glamor of the horizon, nor taste the freshness of the air, nor smell the perfume of the sea. plains. or mountains. Then came a third year, when the poignant memories faded to the point of bearing, and I began to live.

We all, I suppose, know some of the usual dangers of battle, thirst, famine, cold, pestilence, fire, flood, storm, or disease, dangers to the body which require our courage and leave very pleasant memories. I, for one, found these things to be good for me, but I look back only in wonder, horror, at the dangers of the mind. There are hurts of which even the memory is a screaming agony, and of this type was my defect of the mounted police. Forgetting or going crazy, fighting demons and casting them out, being remembered and having to fight again, giving up the resources of drugs, drinking, suicide and facing naked the terrors of memory, these were all part of my training, the best . part, evidence of torture.

I had no hope. Unless you were blind, unable to see my faults, or I was deaf, unable to hear her language, the future would become impossible for both of us. However, despair owns the impossible, and found a way to make life easier for the lady. I found out how much the dollars were worth when I tried to borrow some. But I don't need to borrow. I was twenty-five, so it was time for my crooked trustees to turn the brat's estate and myself over to my care. So at the end of my third year as a cowboy, after the beef invasion, I let the lady assume I had gone for the hills with my trappings, but I spent every dollar on a train ticket to New York. He lived on cookies. From Philadelphia I got my passage as a dead man on a cattle boat to Liverpool, thence I went to Cardiff and signed up as a deckhand on the Bilbao hobo. I crossed Spain on foot, but in Madrid I made friends with friends from home, who lent me clothes and arranged my introduction to the Queen Regent. With His Majesty's help I recovered all that was left of my stolen inheritance, a thousand dollars a year, with a few small debts. Escape was difficult at the time, but my return to Montana became uncomfortable. At Fort Benton I opened bank accounts for my brother's side and mine, informing him by letter of his succession. Brat used to address me by mail as Mr. Crucible.

So I donned my old cowboy gear once more, saddled my horse, and rode to Lonely Valley in the first of the winter storms.


Under a low, gray sky, there were patches of autumn snow on the withered brown grass.

I looked out at the red sun setting over the snowy flanks of the Rocky Mountains, and the Lonely Valley opened up below me, where the afternoon shadows stretched from hill to hill.

There was a blizzard all night, a thaw day. Only a few drifts of snow covered the turf-roofed cottage, the barn and chimney, and the plowed fire barrier. The cabin door creaked, swinging on its hinges, and in the backyard a small wolf sat staring at it, afraid to venture any closer.

I found the barn empty, as well as the cabin. Pushed into a corner, next to the stove in the cabin, was Dom Ernesto's cradle, which I had made from a soapbox with barrel staves for rocker arms. That crib was covered in dust. Outside, in the courtyard, I found a small mound of grave and, on its head, a cross made of two vices held together by a piece of duct tape. On top of the cross was an envelope scrawled with the words "My heart September 21, 1890".

As I sat by that cradle, I heard from the sodden eaves outside the hut a constant dripping and splashing of water that marked the time. Great swaying stars on the dial of the night can span eternity without a sound, but these drops of water, beating, splashing, insistent, sullen, beating time, beating time without stopping, relentlessly, horribly beating time, have driven people to craziness.

Yes, even when I crushed my ears with both hands, I could still feel those spatters pulsing through time, measuring time's punishment, time's implacable and dispassionate discipline, calming time's medicine, by which the Great Physician heals the restless candle , tremulous, but eternal. souls Because time is just force, vibrating like the waves of the sea on a coast, hitting the feet of the eternal. Why should the woman, made for eternity, be so berated, so maddened by mere time as to beat her fists against the logs in the wall until they were stained with blood? The pain of her bleeding fists eased the agony in her mind.

Unable to stand the feeling of the room, I went outside and saw footprints on the floor soaking wet from an hour, maybe more. A horse, thriving, fresh, and well-shoeed, had come down the road from Canada. A man with the chain spurs used only by the police walked across the barn to the hut, saw the dusty cradle, and visited the grave.

And how the woman would joke about something like that! They would find her kneeling by the crib and she would pretend to find some gum to light the stove. She would ostentatiously hide her bloodied hands under her apron, the covered hands of the mourner to be found, to madden my comrade, attacking the Blackguard's villainy while he went about his business, naming himself the women's champion. fabricating arguments for him to contradict them, excuses he would trample and hesitation that would goad him to use force, robbing her violently, all through his own fault, of course, and completely against her will.

And then dinner, with Mrs. Violet waiting for the man, unable to eat a bite of food herself except sneakily while she made him coffee or cooked another batch of his fries.

As he made his way to the stage, taking off his ring to place it on the dresser, his eyes devoured the scarlet of his coat, the tan of his neck, his ears waiting for the jingle of a spur as he moved, the creak of his big belt. How women underestimate what they are given and die for the things they are denied! When her time came, that woman would stage her own death and neglect her own funeral to continue flirting with the devil.

Oh yes, my lady was too desperate with grief to spend another night on the haunted scene of her calamities. She would be kidnapped immediately before the man had time to change his mind. She would break off packing with a torrent of tears as she packed away her own belongings and everything that could be sold: my best riatta, my curb, the spare gun and buffalo coat, even my father's watch and ring. that I had entrusted to him. special care.

The man led the mare and pack horse out of the meadow and, near the door of the house, dragged her luggage with a slug haul, clumsily, with such a tread that it would have made for a freight train. Then, because of her clumsiness, her dainty footprints led from the gate to where he helped her to mount. And the two of them rode south to camp in wet ground about five miles away, where I could see a dim light reflected off Skull Rock.

It is curious to remember how evil all my thoughts were while I remained in my cabin or wandered about the courtyard where the very air was stained with a stain of misery, of morbid reveries, of scandalous evils. Yet in the stable where I spent that night my thoughts were innocent, my prayers rose like smoke in the windless air, and I was comforted.

In the best of spirits, I woke from my sleep in the hay, showered, ate breakfast, got a horse from the pasture, saddled it, and rode off.

Where I had seen the glow of the dinner fire, my lady was encamped with her deliverer, in the hollow flank of the ancient Skull Rock, which towered a hundred feet above her room. They were having breakfast, caught by surprise, with no chance of catching up. their horses to escape.

I gasped at the sight of the dearly familiar scarlet serge, the morning sun burning at his belt, as the man rose to face me: my friend, Red Saunders, that vagabond Cockney sailor who, long ago, brought news of the Burrows girl in Winnipeg when she came to hire for the job. I had no grudge against him for rescuing a woman in distress, no ill will towards you for thinking my long absence meant desertion. I took off my hat, as you always do with a woman, dismounted, because you don't ride on land where you camp, then turned to my friend, hand outstretched.

"Am I dismissed?" I asked.

But Red backed away, his hand on his holster.

“Violet,” he said hoarsely, “climb the stern of this rock.

"Die first," she replied, with a defiant laugh, "you're the one who's scared, not me."

So they betrayed a guilt I didn't suspect.

I sat cross-legged before the sage fire and picked up a stick to light a cigarette as they watched, uneasily, frightened, the woman talking hysterically about the weather, the man calculating the distance to where the old mare Flukes grazed. , tinkling its bronze bell.

"Sit down,partnerI told the man. "We need to talk about this. Won't you ask the lady to sit down? Oh, please sit down. Believe me, I admire your good taste in choosing such a beautiful woman to elope with, also your friend's wife.

It's when the tone is soft that the words reach their limits.

Covering the woman with his body, Red unsnapped the holster.

"Service weapons," I told him, "are poorly thrown and take a long time to draw," and my Colt gently gestured for him to sit down.

The man's face was deadly now, covered in sweat.

"You will find," said I, "that a woman is never to blame, come what may. When love is dead, vows are broken and lovers part;... I, an imperfect brute, to her wish you all the best of luck.

"Here, cut this!" said Saunders. "I want to fight, not talk!"

"Last night," I said, "down in Lonely Valley I read the footprints and the plaque and wished, believe me, to be a better husband. Yes, I said my sad prayer to that end. I'm afraid I'm boring." you."

The lady was crying.

"This lady," I said, "was right to leave Lonely Valley."

Saunders cursed me, taunting, daring, defying, goading.

"That's right," I said. "That's right. As you say, there are three of us here, with only room for two. Is your gun loaded? You should be sure of that. The light is good, the distance - ten feet... plenty. If you can, get up. and lean on the rock behind you, you'll stabilize the target, because your hand is shaking, Red Get ready, man. For the honor of strength, don't be discouraged now that you're trapped.

The lady howled.

"The lady," I said, "was prepared for this, or she would not have brought you here." Will you do us a favor by dropping her handkerchief as a signal to fire.

Now Red was blind and deaf with passion, screaming at me to get up. But answering a curse word with another insult is cleaning up the mess with mud.

"Ah," I said, "I'm shy. I prefer to sit down so I don't fall. You're invited to step out of the line of fire." I watched her sway on her feet, swaying like she was going to fall, as she stared at me, horrified.

"As you wish," I said, "not to take part in this little disagreement, would you, Mr. Saunders, count to three slowly, firing on the word 'Three'."

Red straightened, silent, and when I looked from his gun to his eyes, I knew the kick of the gun would drive the shot past me. "One!" panting. "Two!" and with a cry, the woman threw herself into his arms, shielding him with her body, destroying her target.

I shouted: "Don't shoot!" and lowered my gun.

"Damn dog!" red screamed. "I will kill you!" And he struggled with the woman to clean it up.

I jumped to my feet and showed Red my Colt, spinning the empty cylinder. "Not loaded, Red. See? I wasn't expecting a fight."

I sheathed my Colt, grabbed Red's Enfield. "This one is loaded," I poured the rounds and slammed the gun down on the rock until the trigger broke.

"You didn't understand me," I explained. "You betrayed your friend, you betrayed this unfortunate woman into your trouble. How can you understand? I'm meticulous, and I don't do the damned honor to hire me. There, you can have your gun. Take it!"

I walked to my horse and mounted. "You can understand," I said, "that this lady was my wife, but it looked like love was buried, with a little cross on the grave." Then Mrs. the Taint was free. But I wasn't free. Brief absence on own business, or perhaps vacation. They could have taken her by force or tricked her. He can still love me and he can come back.

"I came here for proof, to know for sure which one of us she loves. She fell into your arms, not mine," she threw herself. Unproven? The honor of caring for this lady is hers, not mine.

Then Red's eyes landed on mine and he understood.

"Ma'am," I lifted my hat and bowed to her for the last time on earth. "When Bella murdered her sister Chastity, she turned into a vulture.

"You may remember that Joe Chambers died for you, and Sarde lost his career, and I was ruined, as this poor man will be ruined and others after him.

You're too beautiful to belong to a man, but God help him who changes, for you will.

"Then I congratulate you, that you ride with God.Goodbye."

Rocking my horse, I spurred home, and once more I was young.




Our souls are like musical instruments, which do not emit their melody unless touched, plucked, blown or scratched.

And in this text, I pray that you will hear my sermon.

The European has assets to add, neighbors to subtract, properties to multiply and fortunes to divide. For this arithmetic, you need brain machinery that enlarges your forehead. To him is given all knowledge, glory, pride, magnificence, mastery of the earth, mastery of the sea, mastery of the air.

But for the red-skinned Indian who has none, and whose brow is furrowed from want of exercise, all things are taken from him.

And yet it is my consolation to remember that my ancestors, who conquered the new world, married Indian women. From that blood in my veins I have the furrowed brow of an Indian, happy poverty, vagrant lassitude, who mocked the white worker.

Do you think that the Indian worships a religion that is held only on Sundays?

Can you imagine respecting the laws, a spider's web to catch the flies and free the hawk?

The white man's only ambition is to have; his years are spent in restless, aimless selfishness, for which he abandons the dignity of manhood, and, being too busy, has no time to live.

The holy ideal of the Indian is to be, to learn from nature the upward path towards God.

The Indian sees the white man as self-taught, self-conscious, self-centered, self-sufficient, self-willed, completely in himself. For this poor prisoner between the bars of self, all the windows of the soul have been darkened, so that he cannot see, hear, smell, taste, or feel the world he lives in, the most beautiful province of Heaven. . Blind and deaf, mindless, a groping creature, he is a specter that haunts Heaven, waiting for death to reveal to him the glories that life has offered him.

Right at the end, before saying goodbye to the world, I saw a bit of America, a bit of England and my native Spain. I saw Spain, the land of the past, England, the land of the present, America, the land of the future. In America I witnessed the rise of nations, in England the balance at its zenith, in Spain the fall. It was like a coast, the same coast of time, with the headlong beginning, the tumultuous roar, and the plodding, pitiful ebb of empires rising, failing, and dying. They come, they have, they fall, they pass and they are not.

From all this I turned away, leaving the storm of nations to roar and crash on the unforgiving shores of time.

"Leave everything you have, get up and follow me."

Ter is just a shadow that flies at sunset.

Do you remember that our Lord spent forty days in the spirit teaching the souls in prison? He may not have mentioned his Jewish name to them. They might have called it Love, because that is the true name of the Only Son.

And if He came again, do you think it would be for the stupendous temples, which white men need like trumpets to make their prayers heard above the deafening clamor of the cities? Wouldn't the Indians be quicker to receive it?

The world storm died in the distance.

Give me the richness of being, which is not a shadow that flies at dusk, because when my sun goes down, I will pass into the starry night, to be immortal eternal skies.


The Lonely Valley ranch belonged to you, not me. For any career greater than that of a pioneer farmer, my handwriting was childish, my spelling flashy, whereas for additions, well, if I put two and two together, there was a smudge, which I had to wipe away with my tongue. And as for being a tattered marquis in old Spain, I guess I'm still too much alive for that.

Very tall and pompous with my dreams, I donned my suede war dress as Charging Buffalo, Chief Piegan, loaded a pair of pack ponies, and rode out of Lonely Valley on my floppy-eared, doe-eyed cock. That night at camp, I boiled some herbal tea, which gave me the Indian color.

The next day a pack horse carried my saddle, for I rode bareback again, as the Indians ride, rejoicing in the natural and perfect wild grace of a riding whose rhythm is like the easy flight of birds. The half-forgotten language came back phrase by phrase, until I could think of Blackfoot as a poet might think in verse. Indian life was coming back to me, the habit tough, witty and abstaining from the vestiges of war. MountRising Wolf lifted its head above the northern horizon, and on the fourth night I crept through the meadows beside Two Medicine Lake, where once...

The mile-long ring of tribal camp was gone like any drift of snow, empty was the field where he had killed Tailfeathers in the ordeal of battle. Now, as then, the setting sun filled the valley with a golden dust, and thence my enemy went out in a swirling cloud. Standing behind my horse, I took aim - waiting - and tightened my grip on the gun as the thunderous charge swept across the target. There his horse jumped and fell dead on the ground. Here, the man's crushing fall, and he lay, writhing hideously—

Out of the golden mist came a group of people on horseback, men and women, not the fierce Blackfoot warriors of six years ago, but the poor reservation Indians, cowed wretches on their way to collect their weekly rations at the bureau.

And these, as in a dream, saw the red light of the sun ignite a buckskin war shirt, the merry wind blowing with the feathers of a war eagle, a chief of their great past, riding from the Land of Dreams.

The men sighed and the women groaned at it.

But now the Dreamland warrior reined in his horse, dismounted, took cover, and with a small, shiny revolver...

So they agreed! In this very spot, the Charging Buffalo killed the Blackfoot Nation's Rifle Shooting Champion and saved Rain, the Holy Woman, from being killed!

At their cry of welcome I mounted my horse to give them the peace sign of greeting.

Then, stepping out of their midst, motioning for them to stop, a woman came forward alone, pulling the blanket off her shoulders, smoothing her hair with little strokes and caresses, greeting me in her shy, sweet English with teasing eyes.

"So," she said, "you come!"


"My dream: he says you come."

"Rain rain!"

"Yes," he chuckled, "um, drunk boy in the morning!"

"No. Loading Buffalo!"

"How many horses do you bring to buy Rain?"

Squinting delightfully in his efforts to show Indian gravity, Rain's older brother, Many Horses, appeared, brushing past me to lend a timid hand.

"Brother," he said, in Blackfoot, "I knew you had to come back."

Well, my brother of Indian blood had no ideas of his own, but his mind was like a library for borrowing and issuing the ideas of others. And what an idea of ​​rain, he said. So she'd known all these years that he would come back to her.

Needless to say, I came back to marry Rain. All his people knew this, for when they gave me their kind welcome they went on, as they should, bringing their rations, telling Many Horses to make haste to join them. Not that a hint could penetrate her skin. But then there was no need for Rain and I to be alone, because she and I were one, and no one else existed as we rode side by side through a haze of glory. Outside of that, we arrived at a small group of tents by the lake.

Rain's only son, young Two Bears, had gone to Sand Hills, but his brother had many brown babies, three of them in his cabin, who were trying with filthy hands to mend his heart. Rain was a great lady among the Blackfeet. , daughter of Bringer-the-Sun, widow of Tail-Feathers, and holy woman, but in her brother's hut but a nurse, the oppressed victim of that triumphant wife who sits beside him, Owl-Caller- "Come", mother of real brown babies. Children were scarce as angels in Blackfoot camps, and Owl had every right to be amused.

In an uproar, she prepared a feast for me. There was a pathetic borrowing from the neighbors to make that meager dinner we all pretended to have no appetite for. Only when it was over was I able to unload my horses and, for the first time in my life, play millionaire. I never dreamed I was incredibly rich, but there were gifts for all hidden in my cargo, and enough provisions for a great feast that kept the tribe in revelry until dawn.

The Blackfeet gods have abandoned them. In one generation, his forty thousand mounted warriors became a remnant of five hundred poor, tuberculosis-sick, and drunkards. They lost faith, self-respect, innate cleanliness, the arts, games, parties, and now, in sullen apathy, they awaited death.

In at least one camp, however, dying campfires were flickering when I arrived. The Old Medicine Robe called its priests and holy women to the sweet and solemn ritual, by which I was formally adopted as Blackfoot, chief and son. The boys were encouraged to hunt and kill deer so the women could wear the skins and make clothes for Rain and me. The posts were cut, the canopy of my hut was sewn up, in which I had to sit in solitude while Rain served me meals, which she brought from home. They furnished my shelter with tunics, blankets, panther skins, backrests and parfleche chests.

Then I must take my horses and tie them to the door of my brother's hut, Many Horses. But Many Horses, not to be outdone, tied up all the ponies I had left outside the door of my new tent. That was Rain's dowry.

And finally, the wedding loafers were made, beautifully embroidered with porcupine feathers, dyed with wild herbs. Rain and Owl brought them to my quarters along with a good dinner. But Owl stood outside while Rain came in, and by that happy act she became my wife.

I kneel at my table here to pay my reverent homage to this lovely woman and her stunning beauty. Rain was a lady at her fingertips, and in any society she would have men at her feet. Shy, delicate, with a delicate and picturesque humor of her own, she took care of me and possessed me with perfect tact and a rare intelligence, for the woman who obeys. her husband rules it. If my lady had faults, I loved her for them. And where every dog ​​and baby and kitten saw her excellence, how could he be blind?

It was my right and privilege to serve my lady, but her heart was like a shrine too sacred for me to enter. To her came men in trouble, confessing their sins; and all her secrets, with many of hers, she kept to herself. She told me only what was convenient for me to know, and if she told me secrets, I can keep them. I have nothing left to keep.

For seven years I was not Blackguard, but something very different, so the chronicle of the time hardly belongs in this writing. And yet, writing is a sixth sense for someone who is absent, a consolation for someone who is alone, for someone who is lonely.

By all the codes, sanctions, and standards of judgment that constitute world opinion, I was the husband of a prostitute and had an Indian mistress.

But, by Christ's mercy, I tried to save a decaying soul from ruin before I married an honorable woman.

Our codes, our sanction, norms, opinions, views, like our bouts of bile, our selfishness, and our debts, are matters that demand attention without contributing to our well-being. Will you accept my opinions as a gift? Do I accept your opinions?

These are diseases of the mind or body that we cannot sell, give away or impose on our neighbors. Our bodies are polluted by the world, our minds are clouded until the burning truth of God burns away our impurities. It is conceivable that in a world like ours, only as outcasts can we advance in virility, in moral courage, in spiritual growth. I have climbed mountains from whose tops all the roads in the world seem as small as spider's threads, leading nowhere in particular; and if we could glimpse from the heavens these paths trodden by men, I think they would not seem to be the only paths through the star fields.

Since public opinion is hung up on the Savior of mankind, it seems to need a guide.


The fox that lost its tail tried to come into fashion in the cropped foxes.

So I, who couldn't ask for rations like an Indian, convinced my friends not to associate with the white man anymore. Their agent was a thief, their missionary, teacher and agricultural instructor were a bunch of fools, their regulations were fences to jump over, their rations poisoned their self-esteem, their clothes were sinful forms of ugliness, their suffocating buildings killed them with consumption, their uses and customs. ruined Indian women.

Our main chief gave me permission to form a band of hunters and hunters, men, women and children who swore to make a living and avoid whites, eat wild meat, wear furs and be real Indians, not fake whites.

And so we went into the forest.

During our separation Rain played the part of a woman, but from the moment of our marriage she was a girl again, for life was one long game played with happy gravity. When I confessed to her my difficulty staying away from Sarde, my enemy, because I always wanted to take his life, Rain began to play magic, with all the simple seriousness she brought to cooking eggs. In her opinion, eggs, casting out demons and making poultices were part of the housework, and she should have my soul cleansed or my socks mended, because she insisted on having a tidy husband. She banished Sarde from my thoughts, exorcised Red Saunders. She made me pray to magical animals and threatened to sacrifice all my hair to the sun unless I behaved and spoke respectfully of my mother-in-law. That mother-in-law, please, was the spirit of the beaver woman who helped Rain through his dreams. It wasn't etiquette for me to meet you.

Among the Blackfeet, as among whites and other barbarians, women rule over all they love. It was part of Rain's game to rule our wandering tribe, so we poor tribesmen obeyed her when we had to.

Her religion forbade us to eat fish or small game, but we needed some sins to keep up with the practice, so when she had properly forbidden unholy food, she used to cook. Their faith denied us killing the wolves because they were hunting companions, but I must admit that the government's reward for their scalps appealed to me more than religion, and so I gave my profits to the poor.

On the matter of bears, however, Rain's mercy was quite quarrelsome.

He wouldn't let me mention any bears, except in terms of praise, like "The Gentleman in the Fur Coat" or "The Inspector General of Berries." Once when I used the words "greedy brute" a grizzly overheard me and ate our camp that night. “I told you,” Rain said.

On shooting a grizzly bear: "He's always pissed off," Rain said. "And sometimes more." I shot that thief anyway, and my wife needs to hang her best dress up like a sacrifice to the sun before she dares touch my skin. She wet his brains with her tears as she worked on the skin, and when the work was done he refused to sleep in the cabin with her for company. In fact, it made so much noise that I stopped hunting bears and they would laugh at me every time we saw each other. The fact is, Rain had tamed me until I didn't have a single addiction to call my own.

They say that when the lion is dead, even the same hares pull its mane.

We had our little problems. There was, for example, a lot of hunger to do. But God is omnipotent: and money is his lieutenant. My pay for being a marquess, five hundred dollars a year, went a long way towards postponing the inevitable famines. Every year we also took our furs to the merchants, who marveled at the prices they had to pay for guns and ammunition, traps, tobacco and comforts. They said they appropriately called me ChargingBuffalo.

Under our chief's direction, we became weavers, making our rough blankets from ibex hair. They made a lot of money; but with pottery we were not successful. My Indian brother ManyHorses only needed one look and our best pots fell apart.

Sometimes in the spring we'd plant corn and squash and tobacco, and if we passed it in the fall we'd harvest the crop the wild things left us. Great were our harvests, too, of beds and berries, dried and stored for the winter. If we kill an Averick cow, tan the hide, dry the meat, and bury the bones, leaving no trace of our crime against the white men's buffalo. Very particular, too, was Rain with our youths, forbidding them to steal chickens or even scalp the settlers.

This was not, he said, the way to ignore white men. So, suppressing the necessities of commerce, we left them very much alone and played ghosts in our moonlit travels through outlying settlements.

Sometimes we rescue lost and hungry travelers, spreading the news of an unknown Indian tribe on the loose in the desert. Once, an employee came to take us back to our reservation, but unfortunately his interpreter didn't speak our language and, as none of us understood a single word of English, we couldn't figure out what was wrong with him. We feed this person and his performer, give him tobacco, put him to bed and sing him a lullaby; but when they fell asleep, they broke our camp and disappeared, leaving no trace on land, for we were going to fetch water, a long night march along a riverbed. The white men reported that we drowned, but Rain explained that we didn't.

We roamed the ranges where we found food, south of Mexico and north of the St. Louis Alps. Elias, wintering in alpine pastures, traveling in summer through the upper forests and lower deserts. But where we went in those happy years I have no idea, because, after all, the tranquility of the heart and the delights of life are poor geographers. We weren't careful with maps, we didn't consider the path, or we worried too much about our destination.

We were once in a valley in the Canadian Rockies, a gorge so infested with dead trees, beaver swamps, and snowslides that, despite the height of the water, we were forced to find our way from the riverbed. Then there was a cut bank dotted with fallen trees, stretching down to the middle of the creek. At that moment, the rocky ground our horses waded through ended and we plunged into deep water, forced to swim to the other shore. The ponies rolled on the waves of those swift white-manned ships in a storm at sea. I turned around and saw Rainlaughing. Then my horse sank completely, rolling over three times without touching the bottom, and we both nearly drowned.

So I asked my wife if she was scared.

"When I saw my big baby," he said, "get wet inside, I told my secret helper to swim fast. And the beaver woman dove in."

"So you were scared?"

"If you die, Big Baby, you'll have to come back to me for comfort. And when I die, I'll take care of you. And when we're both dead, we'll walk the Wolf Road together, because you are me and I am forever Nothing else matters, and there's nothing left to scare us.

The rain would be teaching me picturesque dances, or setting our house in an uproar with imitations of my face playing the flute. He teased, teased, caressed all at once and teased me with mock flirtations, pretending to fall in love with Left Hand or Bearpaw, our young warriors. Yet as she sang and chatted about her housework, like a bird flustered at nest time, I began, dimly at first, then with growing certainty, to feel that the game was forced, that my fairy was suffering, trying to get away. to hide. some illness that sapped his strength. Then, once, by accident, I saw, when she thought she was alone, agony in her body's balance, desperate fear in her eyes.

That summer, some attention from the merchants, a willingness to ask unnecessary questions, gave us the feeling that we were being watched by the authorities. Traveling with horses and leaving tracks, we were liable to be followed and interfered with. So we built birch bark canoes which, swimming upside down, gave us more baths than we really needed. At least we didn't leave footprints.

Our river, without revealing its name, gurgled gently, sending us veering in rapids through hundreds of kilometers of wonderful alpine scenery, first north, then west, then south, now into black jungles of pine trees that gave us food. Beyond, the river took perverse courses, plunging like a long stream, broken by waterfalls, into a deepening abyss whose walls were mountains. Our spider-foot tribe, as Rain called us, began to get scared.

From our next camp I went up a hill to see what was with the river; and on my way back I found a white man sitting by Rain's fire. He was a burly, lean frontiersman, whose mouth was wide for a dog, and in his eyes the smile of heaven's own sunlight. Owl's two little girls were climbing on it, the dogs adored it, and Rain had given him the rest of our coffee.

To the astute eye, this visitor addressed me in English, with a slight Texas accent.

"How much do you want for the kiddie pool?"

"More than you have," I told him.

"My goal is to make babies cheaper or give them wings."


They will need them.

"You mean there's bad water down there?"

"Yes sir. Bad for brown babies. There are billions in the sky, but they're in short supply, so I'll trade in this lot rather than watch it go to waste."

"Where does the river go?"

"To heaven. Just keep going. You can't go wrong."

"Is the canyon long?"

"If the first mile isn't enough, two hundred will come."

"We are looking for the sea."

"That's what the Fraser River is like."

"So it's Fraser!"

"I wouldn't say a man with eyes like yours is completely lost, so perhaps the country here has gone astray."

"Or perhaps our planet has strayed from the path?"

"In what way?"

"In the way of God."

"Tell me. I like you a lot. My name is Smith, except my friends call me Jesse, Sailor Jesse."

"My name is... call me Squaw-man."

"Put it in there," Jesse said.

I was easy to get to know, but of my few friendships, the one with Sailor Jesse of Caribou was perhaps the closest.

We sat together on the river bank under the golden mountains, where groves of yellow pines, like multitudes of angels, swayed in the blustering wind. We saw the brave river rush joyously towards its drowning. So my wife happily departed, fully aware of a great death.

I told Jesse about that little devil red with pain, dancing and glowing like fire inside his shoulder. To see a doctor, I must risk visiting the settlements, where the authorities would arrest my tribe and lock them up on their reservation. And that implied my own fate as a deserter from the mounted police, accused of bigamy with Sarde's wife.

Wonderfully, my friend's words eased difficult difficulties, shortened my journey and made my path easier. On the coast, he told me, the Indians were as free and unquestioned as the whites. Food was plentiful both by land and by water. He would show me where I could set up a base camp for my tribe a day's drive from a rural hospital.

Then Jesse took us in a shuttle across the coast and across the chasm of ButeInlet to a cove on Valdez Island. There the Douglaspines rose three hundred feet into the sunlight, and through the cathedral aisles stretched herds of elk. From the foot of the trees stretched the fathomless blue of a deep channel, and far below the undulating thickets of a kelp forest stretched into the darkness below.

My wife wouldn't allow me to take her to the country hospital, so she wouldn't stop loving her mess in blood and pain. "If Iesse sees me," he said, "it doesn't matter, and if I die, it will be very easy to find this camp. I will think of its waiting, guarded by spirit trees."

She left with Jesse, confident and content, and when my friend returned alone on his way home, all the news sounded good. He had been operated on for cancer, but Rain was fine and would be ready to leave the hospital in a month. For Jesse, a month was thirty days or more, but for me it was thirty years. I set my tribe to work praying for the guard and seeing to Rain's recovery, then fearing senile decay if I stayed, I prepared a one-man team with thirty days' provisions and set out in my loaded canoe to be near my wife at Comox. .

While I doubt that God believes in churches, the Catholic faith I was raised in provides me with good medicine. So I confessed to a priest and, having received his medicine, which was good, I got his help as an interpreter. He arranged with the hospital for me to hear my wife and telegraphed me to Sergeant Buckie, N.W.M.P., asking my friend to come because I was in trouble. When Buckie replied that he had applied for the license, I was happy in my camp. out of town with fasting and prayer and daily bulletins. My hair changed from black to silver gray, clear proof that God's hand was upon me. And then one morning, coming out of the bath, I found Rainwaiting sitting by the fire.

It had rained, but now, as the sunlight swept across the great colorful fields of the Gulf of Georgia below us, God's birds, like little angels, rocked the forest with their song.

My wife sat by the coals placing small twigs. "Your fire," he whispered to me, "was almost out."

Yes, almost dead. Lately, it had been difficult to keep the fire alive.

Faith is like that. She is barely seen when the sun shines, but she shines bravely at night, comfort in the dark, mercy in times of hunger, pain or loneliness. The thought of the world comes like rain to quench the fire of faith, which feeds on the winds of tribulation, blows high in the gales of persecution, sets the whole world on fire just when our need is greatest.

"Look," said my wife, "the little llamas are here. Let's make a good llama now."

Thus, a good woman makes our faith shine.

"There is no smoke now," he said.

Prayer is the smoke that rises from the fire of faith, and when the air is calm, it rises straight up. Mine had exploded during the waiting time, but now my faith glowed with great thanksgiving.

A few days later, when Rain had fully recovered and returned to camp, a telegram from Buckie told me to wait for him. So I went to the train station and saw the day train arrive.

He was looking for a non-commissioned officer of the mounted police whose scarlet and gold would make him the brightest and most conspicuous character in North America.

Buckie was looking for some kind of cowboy.

So it happened that a well-dressed civilian, with a trunk, a stick, and a rifle, arrived on the platform and was greeted with theatrical whispers by a lazy Indian. "Oh, Buckie, how could you? Pants down, umbrella rolled up, what a horrible side!"

"Liar!" he replied. "They wouldn't see me dead with an umbrella."

Oh what a dog! He wouldn't show himself dead with an umbrella! Don't let the crowd see us together. I know you".

Out of town, I let him walk beside me,

"But," he gasped, "you're an Indian!"

"Yes, Buckie. The jester is dead. Wasn't he killed nine years ago by falling off a horse in Montana?"


"He is also dead."

A comedian's fun is the echo of pain, the variegated used by sadness. But when the sadness and pain are gone, you miss them, for we only know light because it casts a shadow.

"How have you changed!" Buckie sighed.

Once upon a time there was an inventive fish who discovered water.

Someday, perhaps, an inventive man might discover love, the atmosphere our souls breathe. And other men will say to him: "How have you changed!"

When we discovered the secret of the forest and Buckie left his burden to sit on a log among the ferns, he told me a wonderful little story.

My telegram found him acting as regimental sergeant major at headquarters, and when he asked leave on urgent private business, the commissioner handed him a parchment signed and sealed by the viceroy, His Majesty's commission. He was sent to Inspector Buckie in his old D Troop at Fort French, at the special request of Sam, the commanding officer. The chief inspector was Mr. Sarde. The officer in the command room was Staff Sergeant La Mancha, my brat. The rest of the companions were new and complete strangers. Nine years. Clear.

"Your wife…" he asked.

"Oh yeah." I remembered. "How is my lady?"


"Can you try this?"

With all its strange old documents of official pleasure, Buckie showed me a letter from the sheriff of Helena. It seemed that the lady had become a woman of the people and had naturally died of drink. Only the sudden escape of her servant, Red Saunders, aroused some, perhaps unfounded, suspicions. At least the lady's death freed me.

Until now, Buckie had known nothing of my alliance under Indian law with my dear lady, and when we reached the camp, his official soul was shocked to be introduced. However, over the years, he learned to speak Blackfoot with a thick Canadian accent, and although my lady was always shy around strangers, she seemed to like my friend. After all, the guy was a gentleman, with a delicate touch, who revered women, and he soon fell for his charm. Furthermore, the pain and danger of her illness partially revealed the sweet and radiant spirit of the holy woman, so that her beauty acquired an unearthly glamour. To this my friend was sensitive.

After dinner, I told Rain about my newfound freedom and begged her to accept the marriage rite for white men. This observance seemed very trivial to her, and the rank she would give my consort as Marquise of the Alpuxarras was quite ridiculous. However, as we expected to have children, he agreed to legalize our marriage, and that afternoon we went to see the priest to whom I had confessed.

So far my lady had enjoyed herself, but when Buckie unpacked she gave him a wedding gift, an old Spanish dagger, its Toledo blade set in ivory and dull silver. I found the toy to be a most unfortunate gift, but for Rain it was a perfect revelation, the first utterly useless things she had ever owned, a possession only for pleasure and therefore priceless. We spent the rest of the wedding day searching the town's shops for objects of perfect uselessness.

It was mid-afternoon the next day when my lady, Buckie, and I set out, our canoe loaded to the side with treasure. Until dusk, we paddle gently along the coast, then until midnight in crystal clear, starlit waters. An hour's nap refreshed us for the swim upriver, then dawn broke over the shattered ice of the Coastal Range, the day lit the Vancouver Alps until they glowed like flames and the sun melted the hills into thin air. Then powerful eddies spun our canoe like a top between an eleven-knot tide and an eight-knot backwater. The dark forest closed in on either side of the tidal course, and we passed through the back gate into our little bay.

A flock of children circled like gulls as we disembarked, a group of laughing women beached the canoe. We were greeted by our one-legged Japanese cook, our three-legged dog, our lame wild goose, an old blind Siwash witch, and the whole mixed assemblage of our tribal mascots. Many Horses, Owl calling "Coming" and her youngest son, Bears, Left Hand and Bear Claw, the hunters, two dear scarecrows, who called themselves my wives because they were Rain's assistants; yes, the entire Blackfoot tribe came to greet our chief and welcome her to Death Valley. So, all together, we accompanied Rain through the dark aisles of that stupendous forest, until we reached a cedar wood fire, with its blue film. of incense There the clamor ceased, while our chief, like a priestess, burned fennel on the altar fire and gave thanks for her recovery. Then came sacred hymns and dancing, prayers and Bible reading in our own Blackfoot language. Buckie fell sound asleep standing up, and Bears animated this performance, which broke our serve with laughter.

During the weeks of his leave, Buckie shared with great pleasure our hunting in the woods, our fishing by torchlight in phosphorescent channels like liquid starlight, baths, feasts, balls, matins, dawn, vespers at dusk. But most of all, he liked to sit with me on the porch of our temple in the forest, where you could look out, between colossal pine trunks, at the channel of the sea, the distant white Alps and the great pageantry that paraded eternally across the sky of summer. . The hummingbirds, the bees, the scent of the forest, the sun's rays crossing the vast shadows and the strong music of the winds and the sea, enshrined that place in its beauty.

Sometimes the tumults of the weather drove us to our tents, when the women wore furs and made clothes, while Many Horses watched the fire and the other eye watched the children.

But in that great peace came a foreboding. Buckie and I knew full well that cancer was incurable, that sooner or later the inevitable pain would warn my wife of a death that science could only delay, prayer could only alleviate, and no power on earth could prevent. She seemed to sense death, and sometimes she would joke with Buckie that he should take her to the plains, or mutter in her sleep that she spoke of the Blackfoot camps, or at matins she would pray facing east. I wanted to go home, and I have to get it back. God will preserve me from my enemies.

I think it was at that camp that I started noticing how often dogs howled, like they do when they detect ghosts. Many times I saw Rain stop on his way through camp to speak with his long dead father, mother or friends. He saw them clearly, he said, and spoke to them familiarly, as we do to living people, without the least feeling of fear. And his own spiritual power seemed to be gaining strength daily. He was in the habit of performing magic for our amusement. On the last afternoon of Buckie's visit, a steady drizzle prompted us to build a fire inside the tent, and half the tribe gathered for a blackberry feast. So the kids asked Rain to call Wind-maker.

"Come, windmaker," he whispered into the chimney smoke, and as he threw some sweet grass on the fire we heard a sigh in the air in the distance. The bears gathered the smaller children around them, huddled together for cover, their eyes gleaming in the firelight, as if they were a pack of wolves stalking our winter camp on the Hunger Moon. "The wind maker hears!" they whispered. "The wind maker is coming! Oh Rain, don't let him get too close to us!"

In response, we heard the distant rumble of thunder.

A gust threw raindrops from the trees above us, a fine drizzle covered the tent wall, and sudden small waves hit the beach and sent us a spray of water. The smoke hole opened into a downdraft that filled the cabin with smoke as the wind sighed through the wood like hands on a harp. Then the deep notes of the storm rang out, thundering with flash after flash of lightning, crash after harrowing crash, and the melancholy notes of the flute rose to a howling hurricane blast, hitting the hundred-foot wood like a reed, swaying. the tent until the children wallowed and the women huddled together in fear. I saw Many Horses revealed in a livid flash of lightning, his hard face of rigid iron, his teeth clenched, his crossed eyes gleaming as if he rode into battle.

His son, Bears, was on his feet in glee, squealing in triumph. And around my wife arose a haze of vague human and animal spirits, while the rain roared, the cyclone howled, the thunder cracked and flew. Then my wife's hands slid slowly downwards as she obeyed, the hurricane receding and the rain easing and settling, until a last rumble of thunder like tumultuous drums murmured amidst the echoes of the coastal range.

Our lives are illusions like that. Our lives are God's dreams in which we sail, like storm-tossed ships on a sea of ​​terror. We suffer and shipwreck, supposing that our tragic miseries are all real, while God dreams up the storm of the world in which he trains our courage.




I am Inspector Buckie mentioned in the text above, and I have been entrusted with the editing and completion of this biography. I feel that in this conventional world, a man like Don José needed a friend in his biographer. A hostile witness, for example, may sway the gentile by presenting simple facts of bigamy and murder that, taken out of context, would seem offensive and inexcusable. Therefore, facts can be counted as lies.

To an outsider, my friend may have appeared to be an incredibly complex personality. He was seen alternately as the stern noble courtier of old Spain, the jovial Irish soldier, the red-haired Indian saint, and, in the end, a very dangerous bandit. However, these were just the moods of a sincere and straightforward gentleman, unusual only in his terrible strength of character, without the guidance of a strong intellect.

I, who was his comrade, saw, in my obscure official style, only the monotonous police duties and the squalor of Indian decadence. But here, in his memoirs, I realize for the first time the breadth and splendor of the regimental service, the spirituality of the Indian character, and the tremendous majesty of our wilderness. Don José had eyes to see that we lived an epic life in Canada's Homeric era. While I was blind, he saw with heroic vision.

So, having mastered its spelling, clarified its grammar, and composed its chaotic chapters into narrative form, I leave my humble task as an editor to assume the duties of a biographer.

From their camp in Valdez, La Mancha took me by canoe to Comox, the terminus of the Vancouver Island Railroad. During this thirty-six mile journey, I found occasion to warn my friend against an act of folly in which he had set his heart. As selfless as he was in bringing Rain home to die among his people, he didn't need to risk visiting the Canadian plains. There, at any time, he could be recognized by people who knew him in the past, even Inspector Sarde or Red. Saunders, mortal enemies of his. The sequel would be his arrest.

"Risk," he said, "is the only measure of value. Unless I risk my money, my liberty, or my life, how can I take pleasure in such wealth?"

I told him I didn't see any benefit in being such an asshole.

You should learn to tolerate me with pleasure. Rain and I have to go to Piegan Camp. You see, old friend, the Path of the Wolf starts from there, and I don't want my wife to walk that path alone.

"Do you want to die with her?"

"If you'll let me. At least, to accompany you on your way to Sand Hills."

"Where is it?" I asked, because I had heard of the Sand Hills as the place of the Blackfoot dead.

"I don't know where," he replied, "but if you think about it, you'll know that there must be a waiting place where those who rest tend to those who suffer."

"Are you sure," I asked, "that we survive death?"

"It stands to reason, Buckie. Love is God. Therefore love is eternal. Therefore love in us is our portion of the eternal. We are like lamps, and love is the light we carry through to escuridao".

"But the lamps go out."

"Some do, and some burn low, but Rain will carry enough light to see while she waits for me. Of course, I must go as far as I can with her."

"Think of the risk."

"The hope."

I knew then that nothing could stop him.

"Does it not matter to you," he asked, "that you are one of the lamps that light up the universe?"

And so we parted.


It was with great satisfaction that I reported to the commanding superintendent on duty at Fort French, and made the best of Mr. Sarde as an official brother with whom I had little in common. The sergeant was my own friend, Spotty Brat, now well healed from his wound and free of a limp, except when he had to hobble in winter loafers. hard work, but must be content with office work. Thanks to José, who annually sent him half of Spain's income, the Brat was rich, with his beautiful, prosperous and growing property, to which he would retire when he wanted to leave the force.

In the email we agreed never to speak about José, not even in a low voice, so that gossips wouldn't start to suspect that we had a secret. Sam, Mr. Sarde and one or two very old peons in the division, who knew Don José, believed him to be dead. Snotty and I were silent except when we went out together after fishing for mountain trout.

The well-oiled machinery of our routine found a more or less truthful chronicle in the year's report. A mild winter was giving way to an early spring when, one morning, as weekly clerk, I sat down to work with Blotch Brat in the office. There were papers to sign, requests for passes or the like. Through the window I could see a man enter, the sergeant in charge of Stand-off, our outpost with the Blood tribe of the Blackfoot confederacy. Sergeant Millard seemed to be in a hurry, and this was most unusual, for in the many years he had been a Blood confessor, the smooth perfection of his work made life dull. Now he spoke briefly to the duty sergeant, then to the sergeant major, who looked concerned and took him straight to the office. the command was at home.

Millard saluted. 'I thought it best to report in person, sir, on a case of murder-suicide. Mr. deHamel is injured.

"The Indian agent?"

"Yes, sir. Yesterday, Sunday the 5th, Mr. de Hamel came and dined in the detachment. He mentioned a Piegan family who had arrived on Saturday from the Blackfoot Reservation in Montana. The Indian seemed a complete stranger, apparently well, fixed, with a first class team, three women and a nephew of about fourteen, mounted. The three women remained in the camp.

"Names?" asked the brat.

"I have a memo here, sir, with names and descriptions."

"Okay, Sergeant."

"Mr. de Hamel mentioned that the wife was Rain, a well-known holy woman. Her medicine was said to be so strong that some people brought her gifts, but she was sick in the tent, and the two older women said it was not to be disturbed."

Murder and suicide! I looked at the Brat, whose face was as white as chalk, and envied him the writing that kept him busy during that long suspense.

“You may remember, sir,” said Millard, “and Sergeant Blur here may remember, Saunders, Red Saunders, in the police.

"Yes, go on." I wanted to know if my voice was okay.

"Well, sir, there's been a red-haired tramp going around doing odd jobs for some time. His name is Redmond. Wasteful drunk, by all accounts. Mr. de Hamel mentioned this man as a deserter: Red Saunders."

"Did you arrest him?" I asked.

'I told de Hamel I would, sir.

Deserters are useless and our comrades prefer not to catch them.

“Well, sir, from later information I found that Redmond, alias Saunders, was seen by several witnesses wandering about that tent, until just before dark, when the old ladies went out to fetch wood or water. Then he entered.

Brat coughed and I still, over the years, hear that sound. His notes were a mere pretext. I found out later that he was drawing little owls. "According to the boy, Bears went with his uncle, Loading Buffalo, to visit Many Horses, his own father, camped at Bullhorn Coulee. On his return at dusk, Loading Buffalo handed the boy his rope to lead the horses to pasture. ... As the boy walked away, he saw his uncle at the open tent door, picking up an axe. He didn't hear a sound.

"From the evidence of the child and the signs, this Indian must have found the white man assaulting his wife. He came up behind and with a single swing of the ax sawed Saunders' head in half, leaving the blade where it was. He then dragged the body away. of his wife and found her with both hands holding the handle of a knife, the blade was down to the hilt and must have gone into her heart, for she was already dead.

Brat probably couldn't take much more of this. I sent you to find Sam.

He did well to wait until Brat had left the room, because Sergeant Millard spilled details even a hardened sinner would rather forget.

"The knife, sir."

Then Millard placed on the table in front of me the Spanish punch I bought long ago as a curiosity in Winnipeg, used for many years as a paper cutter while working at Prince Albert, and finally gave it to Rain last summer as a wedding present. Now it was black. with his blood, but he saved his honor. I took it, forcing myself into indifference.

"An Italian stiletto, huh? How can an Indian woman have that?"

"Italian, sir?" Millard asked.

"Venetian," I said, examining the hilt. "It looks like a work from the 17th century. People used the knives they used at the table."

"The Indians," was Millard's comment, "have many curiosities collected in their wars."

I dropped the gun and lit a cigarette, proud that no tremor in my hands betrayed my agitation. An Indian murdered a white man, that's all, and an Indian woman committed suicide. There was nothing to identify Don José.

The sergeant was pale with fatigue and I asked him to sit down.

"I think," he said, "the Indian has gone mad." Sometimes they do. The old woman returned as she emerged from the tent with her rifle, a Winchester. It was charging when she crossed over to the agent's house.

Mr. de Hamel tells that he was smoking his cigar after dinner on the terrace when he saw the Indian arrive, quite angry. He tried to go into the house to get his gun, but was knocked down by a bullet in the doorway. inches above the knee, but Mr. de Hamel managed to crawl into the house and behind the front door. It opens inwards. Buffalo went in and looked around, but he couldn't find the agent. It was already night. After a minute or two, he ran into the pasture to get his horse."

What grudge could he have against the lord of Hamel?

"The man who harbored Red Saunders?"

An Indian, a bear or a white man will defend his companion from indignation and kill without scruples, with justice. This is an unwritten law that does not need to be written. Red Saunders must be killed, and the man who harbored such vermin must bear the consequences. But what about the law that was intended to avenge Hamel?

"How long was it, Sergeant," I asked, "until this matter was reported?"

"I thought the bodies were still warm," he replied, "the smell would still be warm, if I had the dogs I requested. But it was pitch black, no moon, the sky was overcast."

"Could you find the tracks with a flashlight?"

With weary scorn, the sergeant replied, "A flashlight? Too good a target."

The Almighty Voice, the bandit believes, killed five of our men before we pulled a gun and bombed their dig. Sergeant Millard was right not to try half measures.

"De Hamel," he told me, "had an arterial haemorrhage, and my first task was to put a tourniquet on him. Delane, and set a sentry at the gate." . home in case the lunatic returned for another drink. I saw that Mrs. de Hamel and the children did not expose themselves to the lighted windows. Then I had to deal with the Bloods: they were getting excited. I couldn't escape until now.

"You had three agents?"

"One on a pass, one on a flying sentry and one with the interpreter collecting information. In daylight, we pick up the tracks before people trample them, so I know where the man went. I want a patrol, sir."

"About this kid, Bears. Did you bring him?"

"He got away, sir."

I told him to send the Sergeant Major, then get some food and rest while he had time. So I was left alone.

Adult men in my trade are expected to maintain a state of discipline, but there are times when it's better to be alone.

And even in solitude, those of us in the North do not have the relief of tears, we would rather sacrifice respect for our fellow men than lose respect for ourselves. For us there is no relief.

My friend and I had fought shoulder to shoulder, with only death between us, who needs no more space than the edge of a knife. From stirrup to stirrup we had ridden on long patrols, through cunning blizzards and the terrible heat of the unprotected land. No word or breath of discord marred the perfection of our friendship. It was to him that she owed the satisfaction that made a small career worthwhile.

With envy, yet fear, I watched him climb heights of spiritual life I could never have dared. And now, apparently, in one hell of a fall, he was cast into hell. He was mad, a homicidal maniac, to be hunted as wolves are hunted.

From that I wanted to get away, I waited with desperate anxiety for my commander to come quickly and take over. But now Brat has returned with a stiff greeting and the official way of telling me that the superintendent in charge and Mr. Sarde were out, not to be found. The burden of command was on my shoulders, to set in motion the quest that was supposed to hunt down the one person I truly loved.

I think Brat noticed my mood, because suddenly, alone as we were, he put a hand on my shoulder. "Buckie," he whispered, "don't you get dogs? Isn't it possible, somehow? It's the only hope of getting this without bloodshed. Hire them, and if it costs me my ranch, I'll pay."

"Where can we get them?"

He backed off. "I don't know. One or two sheriffs have them in the states."

"They couldn't send them out of their own precincts. And, brat, if our interests in this business find out! No, we should take Jose and work a case good enough for the defense. A jury would say it served Jose well." "Red Saunders". , and as for DeHamel, he was only wounded."


There are so many official, published, suppressed, or even true accounts of the famous manhunt that I am overwhelmed with too much material.

The official version can be considered boring, a mileage record covered by one hundred and sixty riders in a four-month period. The combed district was about ninety square miles, or eighty hundred square miles, of complex hills and plains with bushes, expanses of boulders, and ravines that afforded sufficient protection for a hunted man.

My own story, if I were to cite the details, would explain a feverish industry, a madness of duty, a search and use of even the weakest excuses to get Mr. Sarge the hunt and take your place as leader of the patrols. In truth, I was not concerned with saving my co-worker, nor with earning his gratitude, but with avoiding an encounter between Sarde and Don José. Sarde had betrayed a woman, using the petty expedient of a false marriage; when La Mancha accounted for him in the duel outside Fort Carlton, the scoundrel was needed; and if my friend met his antagonist in the field, he would certainly kill him. I would have offered myself as La Mancha's substitute for that fine duel, but I preferred a formal and courteous encounter as between gentlemen, and I had reason to dislike it, to avoid by all possible means the death of Sarde by the Onslaught Buffalo, as a a fact that would lead my friend to a ignominious death by hanging. My main hope in hunting the man was to make the arrest myself, preventing further bloodshed. Jose wouldn't shoot me.

There are other versions of the story, melodramatic press reports that use the facts as mere foundation to create sensation, but, for the sake of truth, I leave here my private notes of what Dom José told me. After his capture, I had the prisoner brought before me in the ordinance room, posted the two sentries on duty outside the building, brought a bottle of whiskey and some cigarettes, then made a "declaration" more or less less official to use. pending judgment.

It was very curious to see the impassive Indian transform in an instant into the Spaniard, the funny and friendly gentleman. And as the narrative progressed, he went from one mood to another.

"Oh, Buckie, don't get mixed up! I'm going to be hanged, not you, so why do you look so wet? You're a heartbreaker! I've never had so much fun in my life. Tell the Society for Promoting Cruelty to Animals that foxes invented hunting. They just had to run away, and 'Tally-ho!' the hunt was ready.

“Surprised, Buckie? their songs, like any peacock.

"Lucifer's spiritual pride cast him to damnation. I didn't fare any better, and while I was crushed, I had to feel utterly shocked by actually being me. I'm so much better at being real again.

"I'm sorry about a few things, Buckie: not the justice I did Saunders, but the pain I gave de Hamel instead of a speedy dispatch. He deserved it when he sent Saunders to my chambers."

"It didn't".

"That's all you know."

On this point my friend showed stubborn irrationality; in all the rest as sound as he is.

"Poor Millard!" He continued. "With the agent to drive, not to mention the agent's wife and children, no doctor available, the Bloods were running riot, all the while waiting for me to call and shoot a bullet."

"You stayed to watch."

"Yeah. I couldn't miss the fun. I might as well have to help him with his Indians. I felt like I was back on the force, and when it comes to Indians versus whites, we all have to show our color. Millard is a real man." .

"But the fittest hero was the young Bear. He dipped the wooden tips of his arrows in his aunt's blood and also swore great oaths. Then he painted his face for war and came to me, preparing evil medicine for me . He wanted me to lift Blackfoot." He would lead the children into battle. I gave Rain's nephew the place of honor, to celebrate his aunt's funeral, killing a horse so his spirit could ride the Wolf Road. , as an offering to the Sun. Then I had to keep my permanent camp at the agency, collect and distribute rations, collect and send the news and spread rumors to deceive the police interpreters. Bears, too bad he is the son of Many Horses and not mine, I would make him Marqués de las Alpuxarras.

"When I made his eyes shine, I ran to my old companion, Many Horses. He looked after all my Blackfoot tribe in the different camps where he had placed them. He made additional camps with my two dear nursing scarecrows in charge. This he did" Those six camps, each with many ponies I could get my mounts from. The Piegans sent me horses. Now, you know, Buckie, I didn't give the old troop any exercise?"

Certainly yes!

"I'm not much of a believer in the white man's tactics, Buckie. You wasted half your strength picketing Whiskey Gap and the Rocky Mountain passes."

"Sam thought," I said, "that as an Indian you would stay in the district, where you had a lot of help. I thought that, as a white man, you would go to America. I didn't say so."

"I thought", said Dom José, "like a kind of mestizo white Indian, that before going to Spain it's better to prepare the future of my scarecrows, my teddy bears, my brother Many Horses and all my miserable ones ​retirees and bobtails." But when I tried to do business, they always complained until I had to flee."

"Why didn't you leave the business to the Brat, or me?"

"And sacrifice both to save my tribe, huh? Poor sport to make my brother and my chumac accomplices in murder."

So he remained in the district with its depot camps and pony relays. The Indians were his intelligence department, keeping him constantly informed by fire and smoke signals, by messages from cypresses in rocks or trees, or by verbal reports informing him of our every move. I remember one patrol when I had twenty men for seventy hours in the saddle, until, exhausted, we were forced to camp in the Big Bend detachment. Then a rider came flying in to report that the Charging Buffalo had just been seen at Kootenay. We white men rallied for the twenty-eight mile march, but our Indians were kicked and killed, finished, refusing to move. We left them and staggered away.

On another occasion, a Mormon farmer brought news that while he was cutting through the fence railings, the Charging Buffalo had crept out of the bushes and taken his lunch. Seeking revenge, the man led us through the woods to a small opening where we found and surrounded a tent. Two men covered the entrance with their guns while I pushed the flap aside, exposing two Mormons shaking with fear.

Farther on, in the gray dawn, we found another clearing and a second tent. Here Marmot, one of my friend's favorite scarecrows, who had ridden with him many weary days, heard our approach, looked out, and called out.

"Oh, I remember!" Buffalo told the Charge, "and Marmot screeched like a seagoing tug." I ripped the back of the tent off with my knife, rolled and hid just in time to escape a barrage. But I was still half asleep, or… I would never have missed the officer's head. Is that you, Buckie?

I showed him the hole in my hat. "You did good," I said.

"You're a poor shot, Buckie," was his comment, "or you would have had me then." As for his men, they panicked and fired their weapons into the air. Should have stabilized them with coffee for the early morning fight. " Then he groaned, counting on his fingers: "A Bill Cochrane bullock carcass, twenty-five pounds of bacon, five sacks of flour and one sack of sugar, a deerskin to make moccasins, a tent, and the woodchuck. I missed them terribly. And the following week, Sarde returned to capture Bears, setting up dispatches. All my tattered and bobtail tribe captured and imprisoned too. Many horses were captured with his wife and two girls. Yes, I only had one helper left, poor Hairdresser... Gray, who was more talkative. She and I started following your patrols, so we could sleep when you camped, which wasn't often. I used to think you fellas must be haunted by regrets because you never gave me time for a decent nap. Once, when you left two horses to die, we had to ride them another forty miles, and even Makes-Your-Grey Hair was too tired to complain. His gray hair stole the horses from the stable?

"Fyfe," I said, "was like a wet chicken."

"Leave-your-gray-hair too. Fyfe's horse took her out. Yes, and after that all the police wards were locked and guarded so we couldn't ride again. You call that sporty? You didn't make sense ." of decency. Once, at—oh, yes, at Lee's Creek, the corporal came pompously in with a lantern, and I tried to put it out, behind the horse trough.

'Yes, the bullet went through Corporal Armour's sleeve. He ran for the gun, but you galloped away.

"Good fellow that one," said the Charge Buffalo. "I liked it, but it really needed editing.

"When I was little, there used to be a story in a book, about Pussie on the road to ruin, a bad cat who took naughty ways, like me, and met a horrible end, tied to a brick in a duck." Pond. Buckie, do you know the rocks? It is said that Chief Mountain was angry and threw them at his wife. Well, Pussie rode under the rocks (on the Road to Ruin) where there was no snow to leave tracks. It was a gloomy, gray day, and Pussie was very, very unhappy, riding a rotten old screw he had stolen from Lazy H's crew.

"Pussie's legs had swollen from all the exercise. Pussie had no more cat meat to eat. Pussie's last helper had been arrested. Pussie hadn't had a nap in three or four days, and you know how bad they were." they are unhappier than good cats, especially when they are wet.

And in the Ten Commandments it says you must keep the Sabbath, there is not a word about hunting cats. Why, even foxes, in decent countries like England, can go to church on Sunday if they like.

"Besides, it was like Sarde's courage riding the Black Prince. He was the picture of sin on horseback anyway. He had a macho cop with him."

"Amber," I said.

And a scout-interpreter.

"Greengrass-that-grows-in-water," I said.

"And a body of Indians."

“They had new rifles,” I said, “all clogged with factory grease and frozen so the bolt wouldn't hit the cartridge. Sarde sent Amber twenty miles back to Pincher Creek to expel all settlers in the queen's name; then she fired. a shipment here for French, and bring your citizens to surround him, all at full gallop.

"Fool. The snow is very deep. But the Black Prince arrived safe and sound, playing among the snowdrifts, Sarde shouting to his Indians."

Sarde ordered them not to fire, or they might hit by mistake.

"Was that the problem? I wish they had! Well, Sarde came, looking at the Indians, walking towards me."

"With orders to fire on sight."

"Warrants? Damn orders! He put the gun in his thighs, he was going to arrest with apropah swaggah, dammit!"

"Acknowledge, La Mancha. A brave man!"

"Why not? If not, what was he doing in God's Own First Dragons? 'Hello!' I said, as he approached, 'how is Sarde-the-Coward?'"

"He staggered as if he had been shot.

"'Do you remember Carlton, Sarde? And your unfinished duel with don José?'

"He went gray with it, but he came close to my offside.

"'I told you, Sarde, at Carlton, I would shoot at the word 'three.' I gave you two, and you shot me, you scoundrel. ." on my part.'

He yelled, dry-mouthed, hoarse, like a stallion neighing. We were facing each other now, and my rifle rested on my knees, my left hand on the trigger, the barrel pointed under my right arm. leaning down to grab my right shoulder.

"'Get your gun,' I yelled at him. 'One! Two!' And I let it go. That ended our duel and put an end to the slanderer.

"He never used the revolver," I explained. "Ashamed of needing a weapon, holding by hand in the greatest tradition of strength, knowing you are your enemy and facing certain death to do your duty. That man died a hero!"

The Blur looked around the office, at the door and windows, and at the warrants taped above me on the wall. Then his eyes, avoiding mine, looked down at his cuffed hands. I had to fight back tears. Then he looked up with that weird crooked smile of his and like the one time many years ago when I tried to misplace him. "Buckie," he wailed, "please tell me I'm not a highwayman!"

"Not a highwayman," I almost sobbed.

La Mancha's bullet passed through Sarde's body and, deflecting the humerus from his outstretched right arm, pierced his forearm, exited his palm and landed in his gauntlet. Slowly the dead man rolled from his saddle as the Black Prince stepped forward and the bandit followed. Then the horse stopped, snorting, and as La Mancha came pulling the loose reins, the Black Prince reared, his forepaws slashing with blind rage at his master's slayer.

"He didn't know me," said my friend bitterly. "My old horse had forgotten me."

Thus arose the most extraordinary struggle for dominance between man and horse, guarded by the Indians, chasing and approaching on all sides. His rifles were useless for the moment, and to this accident La Mancha owed his escape, riding BlackPrince until, a small speck in the field of snow, he descended beyond the skyline.

"The whining," said The Spot somberly, "must be a consolation." Remorse is prescribed for sinners, and abject prayer is considered a grace.

"By the standards of this era, I should have sued for damages and entrusted my honor to the sharp tongues of a group of lawyers." He laughed softly.

"So I was wrong. Sarde was a hero to all whites and all Indians. When he cheated on a woman, he did it in private, so I killed him openly in public, and I'm a villain. What can you expect? of a ?Mere Black Guard?

"Oh, I put myself in the wrong place, there was no explanation. The Blackfoot nation said I was wrong, and they should have known better. They turned their backs on me for killing Sarde. The government offered two hundred dollars for me, the commander added fifty, which shows that I was two hundred and fifty times a scoundrel. I too was alone, with no friends in sight, and with a dreadful suspicion that the plague of respectability had infected the angels of heaven, whose wings they were clipping for fear of be considered inappropriate.

You must not kill! It was Sarde's life or mine. Dude, they made him superintendent; cross, went to the gallows and had fifteen Indians to see fair play.

"Thou shalt not kill! God gives you teeth sharp as fangs and nails tender as claws: battles to be fought without armor or natural weapons; a spirit made to fly but without wings!

"Women's honor is more sacred in the sight of God than the lives I have taken, and if He has made an agent a knight, He expects the services of chivalry from His feudatoire.

Last night, as I was lying in my cell, chained to the floor, a man on duty, a poor recruit, thought that I had caused him and the troop much needless trouble. He kicked me in the face.

"Tell me which man," I said, "or I'll have the whole guard punished."

"The years he has to live will punish him. If you act, Buckie, I will deny what I said. There has been enough revenge."

Since the Sarde massacre, La Mancha has entered a world that has become hostile. The tribes decided that her body belonged by Indian law to white men, and she should not expect mercy, help or succor from any living creature.

"Many horses believed," he said, "that their two young men, Left Hand and Bearpaw, would stand by me if all other friends failed. I went to their hut and tied the Black Prince to a bush. I couldn't bear it. , so I crept to the gate. They heard me, but when the Left Hand came out of the gate, I saw something strange in his eyes. I tried to get back on my horse and run away, but he put his arms around me and pulled me to my feet and kissed me. me on both cheeks. Then Bear Paw came behind and tied me with a rope, so that I fell. He made a half-knot along the rope, tied my arms to my body and my feet together. They carried me to the hut and threw me "In a corner. The Left Hand entered the Black Prince to look for the police, while the Bearpaw stood guard. I think between the two of them they got the two hundred and fifty dollars."

"Still, I hoped to escape. They were mending moccasins and left an awl on the floor. I managed to open an artery.

"But that sergeant came too soon," he added, his voice cracking, "and I've failed twice since then.

"The spirits of my fathers must be faced at night, when the sentry makes the rounds outside, and the moonlight points the hours like a finger. José, Marquês das Alpuxarras, hanged!

"So I pray, as the watch marches and turns and returns, marking the hours; as the moonbeam sweeps the darkness like the hand of a clock, through the long nights and long days. God will send me means to go to him to judgment ."


For four months, the troop hunted the Investing Buffalo, ridiculed for the tricks he played against us, ashamed of his extraordinary recognition, daring and endurance. The taunts of the civilians, the flight of the press, the scorn of the Blackfeet drove our men to such a degree of exasperation that, once they had the prisoner in their power, their only feeling was bitter rage.

Three times he made the most ingenious suicide attempts, clear proof that he was serious. Chained to bolts in the ground as the only possible means of avoiding self-destruction, his condition was so pitiful that the hearts of all men were touched. Then the boys began to notice that he seemed to know what kind of dancing he was leading at the side job, that he had a strange, quaint smile of sympathy for their problems, that although he didn't know any English, he was quick to get the hang of it. little ways to make things easier. for them. They began to love him, to bring him cigarettes and luxuries they could afford, and to be very tender with the bandages on his legs, both of which were chafed from heel to groin by the constant riding. and in the end they loved him.

The Brat, who had been the happiest man in the barracks, looked ill, dragging himself through the routine of the day, pale and listless. He claimed to be fine, and the doctor found no symptoms other than needing a leave of absence, which Brat cursed. They gave him tonics.

Sam was upset by the reversal of his year's training exercises and inspection tours, but treated the prisoner better than the rules allowed, snarling at the doctor for not making the man fat. No host likes skinny guests, and that true skeleton in our closet is reflected in our hospitality.

Because I knew some Blackfoot language, because I had openly taken the prisoner's side from the beginning, and because the Buffalo accuser wanted no one else as an attorney, I was authorized to defend him at trial. But when I tried to show him that his only possible motive was insanity, he refused to have me as a lawyer until I changed my mind. Still, under the pretense of questioning witnesses, with Brat's prompt cash assistance, I managed to get my friend's affairs in order and retire the tribe of rags and bobtails. Being, as it were, a temporary lawyer for the trial I had for my youngest son, a veritable learned scoundrel who had dined at the Middle Temple. Since then, he had risen through the ranks as a cop, to be the last promising young man on Sam's team. Once with the Viceroy and Viceroy of Canada as passengers, he drowned his nearby wheeler in a swollen River Belly; but he remained in his seat like a coachman, pouring leis and black serpent whips on his swimming horses, until they drew the cart, dead mare. and all, to the shore opposite to safety. Now that he was no longer deprived of information in his former profession, he toured the city in wig and toga, amidst scenes of great public enthusiasm. Of course he was punished, and naturally his wig was barred in a Canadian court, where such things are not worn; but still he made me a very good young man, conducting me as a team through formidable rites and unknown ceremonies.

More difficult to deal with than the actual case was the Tainted Brat, who insisted on attending the trial. I couldn't convince him to stay away until I showed him how his presence at court would weaken Don José, perhaps break his nerves and drive him to a full confession. The prisoner's race, nationality, and position were not matters of public interest, bore no relation to evidence of capital crimes, and were legitimately matters of private interest, to be kept secret. A confession would expose your dashing brother to shame and drag his great name into the ground to no avail. But keeping the secret made the test for me a strain at the edge of my endurance, a long agony. My nerves got out of control before the court summons. Of course, every man I met bothered me.

We had what are called "words", equivalent even to "language", when the Crown lawyer criticized me strongly personally and with venom for not having the right to appear for the prisoner.

"It is true," said the judge, "that a layman cannot go to court, but, on the other hand, the closest friend of the prisoner has a right to help him in his defence."

At my youngest son's insistence, I went to the prosecuting attorney, disputed his claim to be a British subject, demanded his naturalization papers, and told him he had no right to appear in any court except a backyard:

"The learned lawyer," said the judge, "was summoned to the Canadian bar."

He then appeared and quoted "Pot versus Kettle."

So I questioned the right of the judge to judge an Indian.

"The prisoner," I said, "is by treaty subject to no authority except that of his tribal chief. Her Majesty the Queen made a treaty with the chief as a relief, an equal sovereign, whose men are neither citizens nor subjects. of the Domain."

The judge told me not to speak nonsense or words to that effect, so I turned the appeal over to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. This bluff gave the jury a great sense of importance, and struck His Excellency, the good old humorist in the dock, as a display of charming daring.

A brief pause followed, as the prisoner whispered to his lawyer, presumably in Blackfoot, "Kill 'em, Buckie! Bite 'em! Go get 'em! Tear 'em up and eat 'em!"

"Shut up," said the lawyer, "or you'll turn yourself in." Then, addressing the court:

"Inmate pleads guilty."

Still too weak to stand, Ramming Buffalo sat on the bench, in chains, with two armed officers as his guard. His reputation still inspired terror, and journalists made good copies of his eagle features, his wolf smile. "A typical redskin warrior," they called him, hinting at the lie that he had scalped his victims.

Now the prosecution has called its witnesses, Mr. deHamel and his wife, several settlers, many of the police, several Indians attended by the official interpreter. With dry, sardonic humor, the prisoner asked his scathing questions through me. Everything the Crown had suggested about the prisoner's malice, ferocity, and methods of terrorism came crashing down, and one by one I watched the jurors pick the weaker side. Left Hand and Bearpaw, who took money to betray their friend, now had to face him, while in his own language he made them confess how one kissed him on both cheeks while the other slipped behind him on a rope. . They shuddered as if they'd been hit with a whip, their grizzled faces hunched over, hands raised to shield their eyes, as he translated word for word to a horrified courtroom and a disgusted jury.

"Tell the white chief," said my client, "that BlackRobes taught me about the white man's ways. There was a chief sorcerer of his tribe who gave thirty dollars to a white man named Judas, who went to his master and gave it to him. him thirty dollars." he kissed both cheeks. Even the white man was ashamed and hanged himself.

This is the custom of the white man. The Left Hand was paid to kiss me on both cheeks, while the Bearpaw tied me up. Did they make thirty dollars each, or thirty dollars between them?

"Tell the prisoner," said the judge, "that we cannot expect him to understand our customs."

I translated it.

"Then," replied Lunging Buffalo, "if I am not expected to understand your customs, shall I be hanged for violating them?"

"I think," the judge told me, "this is totally out of character. Please avoid the methods of cheap melodrama."

But that overwhelming response from the Indian, accusing our justice, left the entire court demoralized, because the prisoner sat down to judge. Gently, he turned to the witness who had betrayed him. "You may go," he said, "and have my mercy on you."

It was then that he told his story while I translated. He didn't call any witnesses to intimidate the prosecutor, he didn't plead not guilty, he didn't ask for clemency. Instead, he focused on the Indian faith that led him to worship his God in the distant desert until the holy woman, his wife, began to die. He brought her back to die among her people.

“Your spirit walks the Way of the Wolf,” he said, “that great path that crosses the field of stars and leads to the Waiting Place, and thither I will go. Life is very difficult to live, and death is so easy.

An approaching rainstorm filled the western sky, blotting out the sun and then darkening the air until you could barely see across the courthouse. The judge's secretary lit candles.

The patter of rain mingled now with the prisoner's quiet voice, the flash of lightning revealing his face and the gray hair braided over his shoulders.

"Think of me," he said, "not as red or black or white, but as a man. The same light shines on us all, and where the sun is high the people are black, and where the sun is low, the people are black." white, but high sun or low sun, the children of the sun are a single house. There is a Father whose light fills the sky, who makes us what we are: sons, lovers of women, fathers of little children. Because we worship our Father above, because we obey him, because we are what he made us, every son of heaven must protect his women from indignation, he must defend the weak and defenseless, he must take care of the life he has because it belongs to those who love him. and trust him, he shall hate traitors, I shall despise a liar. That is the law above all other laws, above all chiefs and councils and tribes of men, which you must obey, great chief on the throne above, and you two warriors on guard, and you men who sit. hoping to send me to death or slavery.

"My friend here, speaking for me, says if a nigger attacks one of their white women, they burn him at the stake. That's good. If an Indiana attacks a white woman, they kill him. That's good. If a man White attacks my wife, I kill him. Is it wrong? When I heard her calling me for help, should I leave her on her own and find a policeman? Would you do that? Bears and cougars, wolves and dogs know better than that. you, inferior to the common scoundrels of the camp, you who dare blame a man for his manhood?

"I slew this beast with an axe, too late to save my wife. She died by her own hand to escape dishonor. That is the right and duty of all clean women. If their wives did not do this, they would almost do it." they would. die of embarrassment."

The rain was falling, but the prisoner's voice, with its soft resonance, now seemed to fill the darkness. We could barely see him in the deep shadow, but the judge and his clerk at the table were in candlelight.

"The hideous beast I killed was called RedSaunders. It is known that he stole a white man's wife and left her to die in shame. Indian women know he was dangerous and they should have killed him. But he belonged to a powerful white chief, the indigenous agent, who protected him, fed him, used him as a servant and released him to outrage the indies. He was more dangerous than a grizzly bear, he could roam the camp without chain or muzzle. If If If If the Indians had complained about it, white people would only have laughed, as you laugh now!

The rain stopped as it had started, with astonishing rapidity; the sky was lightening, and as the light increased we saw the prisoner leaning back in his chair, face sunken with bereavement, lined with pain, eyes closed, lips drawn back, smiling, as he spoke with gentle tolerance:

"It made my wife laugh when she cried out for help and it didn't come, when she took the knife from her belt and plunged it into her body, until her heart's blood gushed out and soaked her tender, childlike, little brunette?hands?

"Laugh! For tears are weak things, drops of salt water, to be wasted; but laughter is like a crackling fire that burns towards God."

She sat up, her eyes glowing with a strange fire, her voice trembling with passion.

Do you blame the sword or the hand that wields it? Do you blame the beast or the man who guards it? Do you blame man or the God who rules you?

"I blame, not the beast I killed, but the man who possessed it. And if I shot that man for possessing such a beast, I blame God for making me what I am, the hand of justice!

If you want peace, don't lead brave men to war. If you want war, don't be surprised by carnage. clouds, passion and death of men come from injustice Treat men justly and there will be no killing.

"Was I not driven to fight, and goaded on like a bear until I was cornered, hounded day and night for four moons, until I didn't care whether I fought a hundred men or a tribe, or the whole world?

"What if I kill a chief? Should I kill mere followers? I killed a chief in front of all his men and let the rest go. Why didn't I kill more when I had dozens at my mercy on that long hunt?"

He sat back wearily, sighing.

"It is done. I am finished. War is a fire that burns a man's blood, a great glow of life, but I am burned, reduced to ashes.

"My horses were taken from me, my poor servants. There was no food. There was no sleep. There was no hope but a dignified death for the son of warriors. I earned a fighter's death. I certainly deserved a chieftain's death. " But they betrayed me.

"I have no more pride, except that I am guilty of this charge. I am not innocent, I am not a coward, but someone who deserved a great death. If I were innocent, I would deserve to be hanged or enslaved in a prison. with the natural valor that comes from Heaven, mindful of honor So I beg you to take me out into the sunlight, and pay me the learned death, the death you owe me, with rifles.

"Look," his voice was now a mere whisper, "the rain has stopped, the rain's shadow has passed, the Sun God illuminates the raindrops, even the dirty little drops along the window frame." like stars, they are small, but large enough to reflect the figures and glory of their God, who made them in his image.

"I am no more, I am no less: a thing of Heaven, stained and ashamed with the filth of this world, and yet, a reflection of God, who burns my body to call my spirit, clean, free, eternal".

The prisoner's face changed. He seemed distant from our world, far away, looking down, his smile a benediction.

"Poor laws!" he said, very softly. “Hopeful men, groping in the dark for good and truth, children playing 'Let's pretend we're God.' Go on playing your game, your boring game, in your filthy, sweltering courtroom with your old worn-out rules. But let me go, because I'm tired of this mock trial, in a mock courtroom, where kids play make-believe. . I will bring my judgment to the Court of God, whose law is truth. You have nothing but death to give. He gives life."

Silence followed, broken shortly afterwards by an emotional juror, sobbing and trying to pretend he was coughing.

The Crown lawyer had prepared a beautiful speech to deliver. It was a very ferocious and murderous redskind, committing a series of despicable and cowardly outrages, randomly rampant from the homicidal maniac, guided only by the cunning of a savage. Then we found out that this wicked man was the prisoner, and waves of joy erupted in laughter.

I will not quote my defense speech, but will only quote the points that made it useless.

There was, for example, a strong claim within my reach that, in accordance with the most ancient and fundamental principles of justice, a prisoner is entitled to be tried by a jury of his peers. However, my client was charged with a crime before a panel of all intents of his enemies, against whom he had declared war, influenced by racial bias before entering the courtroom. My junior warned me, however, that it is tactless to challenge the jury; and British practice, unlike American practice, does not allow the defense to challenge any juror who has read the public press.

My defense was then limited to arguments that the judge later derided as those of a sentimentalist trying to interpret the murder as virtuous conduct. While defending RedSaunders' killer, I had the jurors with me; even the shooting of the Indian agent could be tolerated as an act of natural rage provoked to the degree of real madness; but when I came to the Sarde massacre, the whole court turned against me with a scorn that chilled me, silenced me. As a member of the sworn police, a brother officer to Sarde and a justice of the peace, how could he defend what appeared, according to all the evidence presented, to be his ruthless, deliberate and unprovoked murder? I was forbidden to tell the real facts of the Sarde-la-Mancha duel, begun in previous years and now consummated, and without that excuse the crime seemed monstrous to me.

My argument was based, therefore, on the apparent confusion which brought a stone-age savage before a civilized tribunal, to be judged, not as it should be, by the sanctions and customs of savagery, but by the customs of a strange, mysterious, invasive people. and hostile. What chance would one of us have, tested by the unknown ways of the heavenly hosts before a court of angels? The judges laughed at me.

So, with stinging self-loathing, I sat back, a total failure, knowing that my friendship's best efforts had brought my friend one step closer to an embarrassing death.

I am, at best, a poor interpreter of La Mancha's actions. His character was built on a scale beyond my measurements, beyond, I believe, the standards by which ordinary men should measure things. There are hilly districts of India where a respectable woman must have several husbands; from North America, where a church elder can have several wives without offending his neighbors; of the Appalachian Mountains, where a man who dodges his family's blood feud murders earns his mother's scorn; and the world has never seen such a fierce duel to the death as is considered fair in the southwestern states. The standards of old England or new do not even measure up to our fellow citizens; and the moralities of the whole world are local to times and places, not pivots on which planets balance by eternal law.

So there are men whose lives are guided by the sanctions of a conscience above the plane I obey, who are the clean, efficient, useful instruments of powers beyond my comprehension. He would have to be Caesar before he could justly rule a Roman Empire, waging wars to purge distracted provinces or crushing nations between the millstones of an overcrowded peace.

Perhaps the reader will know whether my friend LaMancha fared well or badly. No.

And this is how the judge summarized:

"I am here," said he, "gentlemen of the jury, as an authority on common law and an impartial arbiter to instruct you before you render your judgment.

"The prisoner's friend has waived the right of this court to treat the Indians as British subjects. I have found that the prisoner's friend has misinterpreted His Majesty's treaty with the Blackfoot nation. This man is subject to the common law.

"He was brought here an innocent man, accused of a capital crime, free to prove his innocence and entitled to return to the world, his verdict establishing his character before all mankind.

"He has told you that he is guilty. You have heard the overwhelming evidence of the confessed facts. But is he guilty? Is he sane and is he responsible for these proven crimes? In this he must pass his trial and give his verdict. A confession has been made public, but if he is insane, the public must be watched while he remains, at the Queen's pleasure, under medical treatment.

"The defense raises a second equally serious question. It is an axiom that ignorance of the law excuses no one; but, gentlemen, an axiom, like a diamond, may be hard, impure, and defective. How can we expect this savage to understand our statutes? , obey our ordinances, and enjoy our liberties? And yet, beyond the customs of our people expressed in the common law, deep at the base of all human life, is that universal instinctual wisdom which proclaims that for the common good the murderer must be murdered. The custom of the redskins condemns this man, handed over by his tribesmen to our justice.

"Then we have to consider an appeal to something in us more powerful than our reason, a trait of man not human but divine, our sense of piety. No doubt you were moved, as I was, led astray from all reason, by the fine sincerity of the prisoner, his perfect masculinity, his uncommon argument, the purity of his thought, the rare beauty of his expression. This man is not, as the Crown claims, brutal or depraved, but, as our hearts assert, We have to deal, not with a common criminal convicted of a mere outrage, but with a man, moved by barbarous warlike motives to acts of war against us. My impulse, and yours, if I read you correctly, is to forgive.

"However, pardon, in a case like this, would gratify sentiment at the expense of a solemn duty to the state. As citizens, we cannot expose our fellow citizens to the gratuitous pursuits of native gentlemen with a taste for scalp collecting. prisoner belongs to the fiercest tribe of savages in the Americas, if not the world, and they must not be encouraged to expect us to be sentimental to be butchered and scalped by experienced Blackfooters. For the sake of their women and children, they must do their duty. .

"And it is not for pardon that this appeal is made. The prisoner fears the servitude of prison more than he fears the gallows. His only claim is the solemn demand of an honorable death. This, gentlemen, I am sure we would all be happy about." ". grant if possible. But I fear death by firing squad is a grace beyond the powers of this court, beyond the authority of the government, and possible only by special act of the Dominion parliament. Here again sentiment beats in vain against the high walls of reason. I can only warn you that, in practice, your commendation of mercy entails for the prisoner what he fears most: life imprisonment.

"To sum up: the prisoner is responsible before the law, he is guilty of a capital crime, and the only point left open for his trial is whether he should be held responsible for his actions. If he is found sane, he has only one verdict: guilty."

The case was so clear that the jury did not withdraw, but, after a short consultation, delivered its verdict: "The prisoner is guilty."

Strongly moved, visibly reluctant, the judge told me to ask the prisoner if he had any reason why the sentence should not be passed.

I asked permission to explain in Blackfoot to the prisoner everything that had happened. I was allowed. But now I didn't have the heart to repeat what my friend knew down to the last detail. I didn't dare whisper in English, words failed me in Blackfoot. All I could say was, "Be brave, be strong." So I broke down and La Mancha laughed at me. His soft, low, rippling laugh startled the silent court. Then he said aloud in Blackfoot:

"Poor old man! I'll have to help you somehow. You have to pretend you're telling me something. Say the Lord's Prayer."

And so we prayed together in Blackfoot, while I could scarcely speak with tears, or he with laughter, I with my cowardice, he with the greatness of his valor.

"Our Father," I murmured.

"That art is in heaven," he chuckled; and so, with alternating phrases, while the crowd waited in awful silence. And then I said thegloria.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. We praise you, we bless you, we adore you, we thank you for your great glory, O Lord God... for you alone are holy... Only You, oh Christ..."

I braced myself and backed off, telling the judge to continue because the prisoner was ready.

"Convey these words," he said, and his voice shook. "The prisoner will rise."

"He won't get up," I said. "He can't take it."

"Prisoner," I repeated the words in Blackfoot, "you will be taken back to where you came from and there you will be hung by the neck until you die. And may the Lord have mercy on your soul."

Then I heard the prisoner whisper in Latin:

"In your hands, oh Lord, in your hands!"


The morning after his trial, the prisoner sent for a priest, who confessed and consecrated him, taking his word that he would not attempt suicide again. Thus, we were able to free him from the shackles that tied his wrists and ankles to the floor and give him the freedom of the cell. I sent furniture and arranged food in the officers' mess: eccentric behavior that confirmed the general idea that I was crazy.

As long as there was something to do, I didn't have time to worry, and the time we have to worry is the biggest curse we've known in our little lives. My friend sent his priest to tell me that he had confessed, so with the holy father I didn't need any more secrets. Sharing a secret takes half the stress away.

And back then I didn't share secrets with Brat. He went his own way and I went mine, as we didn't dare be seen at the conference. After the trial, he took leave on doctor's orders, returning on the eve of the execution fully recovered.

Sam gently chided me for my sentimental behavior, hinting at duties other than those requiring a cap and apron. He visited the prisoner personally, speaking in sign language, telling him stories of Sitting Bull, Spotted Tail, Crow's Foot and other powerful bosses he met in the early days. My commander was a great gossip, a great disciplinarian, military man, magistrate, administrator, tyrant, friend, nothing in between. He called me a fool for being sentimental and smuggled bottles of port into the cell as a tonic to give his prisoner strength for the ordeal to come. Then he cut me and his tongue blistered.

"Buckie," he once said, "do you remember a young man we used to call Blackguard? The Blot's brother. He was killed arguing with a horse. This Charger Buffalo remembers him somehow. . Bucky."

No horse or man escaped Sam's memory.

"Buckie," said the prisoner, "I don't like betraying Sam."

"He trusts him to the limit. But what about the brat? Would a scandal ruin his chance to be Inspector?"

"I remember, Buckie, once, when he was a brat, he woke up from a dream, screaming as if there was no afterlife. 'Oh, Mama, Mama!' he sobbed, 'a fox bit my tail ., and an 'in my bed!' You know, he wouldn't make a good inspector."

"Don't blow his chance."

"Well, maybe not." Then, with a whimsical sigh: "You see, I've even lost my taste for scandal."

The condemned cell had become for me the only place free from worries, for in the presence of my dear friend I felt as if I had followed him to rest. Sadness made him laugh, and laughter shook him. Everyone who approached him was silent, as in the presence of death, and we seemed transparent to his eyes, which were lost in impenetrable shadows. He was no longer an inhabitant of this earth, but he dwelt among invisible things. She told me that Rain was always by her side, stroking her hair and mimicking her voice and manner deliciously. "I begin to see," he said, "through the veils that grow towards the light.

"You know, Buckie, when a gun goes off or lightning flashes miles and miles away, you wait and count the seconds until you hear the bang. There really isn't an instant between the flash and the bang, but we have an illusion we call of time". Does not exist. Time is just something we imagine: the pause between the flash and the bang.

"The flash and explosion of what?"

"Suppose it is a word that proceeds from the mouth of God, which calls your soul to serve. Between splendor and formlessness you enter time, you are born, you live, you leave, and all the long years whirl between happiness and sadness , sin and death". penance, passions, love, ambitions, triumphs, failures, from birth to death, exist in this instant that we call human life. We are like shooting stars, the meteors traversing the eternities of space unseen, unknown except for the momentary fiery transit of the earth's atmosphere. But we are spirits torn apart by a word from God."


"Yes. Earth and water will make your mud, but it takes heat and pressure to turn common things into gems, burn to the stars, torture to turn poor creatures like us into immortal spirits, and God only knows what terrible judgment it exudes." to his angels until they can stand triumphant in his presence. I am ready, waiting, impatient, full of ambitions I hardly dare to think about. The light is blinding.

"Do not be afraid?"

I will leave fear behind. The blind see, the dead are raised, the Gospel is preached to the poor. Blessed are the blind, the poor and the dead, for also in Christ all will be made alive, and death will be overcome by victory.”

Thus, absorbed in contemplation, this dying criminal saw not the walls that imprisoned his body, but visions of immeasurable grandeur through the wide gates of death.


It would be morbid to detail the last few days, when many Indians got to see the prisoner, when the men from Troop D who had chased him to death said goodbye, when the priest and I sat with him and took turns during the long hours we could hear the hammers working on the scaffolding across the square from our barracks. At the end of this, at nightfall, at the time of farewell, I knelt down to receive his blessing. Then I sent my valet to fetch the Black Prince, and, being off duty, spent the greater part of the night on the plains, where I could be alone. The stars were very bright, and in the highlands a touch of summer frost turned all the grass to silver. Thus it dawned, and in the distance I heard the sound of the reveille, like a great palpitating prayer furrowing the heavens.

All of the Blood and North Piegan tribes gathered to witness the public execution of the Indian who dared declare war on the empire. The chiefs and healers of the Southern Piegans, loyal friends of Buffalo Ramming as Medicine Robe's adopted son, had crossed from Montana to see his death. Even some of the Northern Blackfeet and Stonies traveled as much as 100 miles from their reservations. They all pitched their tents on the banks of the Old Man River, and at dawn I returned home through an encampment of the Blackfoot Nation worthy of days gone by.

It was daylight when I reached my quarters, with time for a shower and coffee. Fear of possible unrest among the Blackfeet made it necessary to rally our men from the detachments and assemble a general parade of the division to hold the barracks block and protect the gallows. I went on duty, took part in the parade and reported to the commander.

The prisoner, thanks to very careful attention, had been well enough for the last few days to walk, even with a little exercise, though he did not have the strength to stand to his full height. He was bent over like an old man, and when he came out of his cell he wrapped himself in his big blanket, which formed a kind of cow that covered his face. Civilians came to look, and it bothered him.

Now leaning on the priest's arm, he left the gatehouse, accompanied by the guard, who had formed around one of our waiting transport cars. At my request, some steps were placed as a mounting block, from which, with the priest, he entered the tail of the wagon. , wearing civilian clothes and a silk mask.

When the team started to walk slowly, the prisoner started to sing his song of death following the indian usage, but the priest, secondly after, he asked that he stopped, saying that the Black Pies would understand him, but the white men would think that was afraid. In deathly silence, the wagon crossed the yard and backed up to the scaffolding, which was the height of his bed. Then the priest lifted the prisoner, holding him until they were under the gallows. The executioner joined them, wearing the white cap that would be placed on the prisoner's head, hiding his face.

I remember preparing myself to see ordinary details and not seeing anything else, not thinking about anything else. A night of preparation strengthened me to face as best I could the public and shameful death of the only man I loved on earth. Even now I couldn't bear to look at that group on the scaffold, but I turned, taking in the hollow square of our parade formation, the dense mass of Indians surrounding the barracks fence, the crowd of white men. Then I heard a sudden and tremendous sigh of astonishment, of general consternation, and a single triumphant voice sounded from the scaffold.

I turned around, I couldn't believe what I was seeing, I was amazed; so I ran as fast as I could towards the platform.

The prisoner, with a great sweeping gesture, straightened to his full height, throwing aside the blanket until he held it behind him with his arms outstretched, revealing the scarlet tunic, shining breeches and boots, the four braids of gold on his sergeant-major forearms. . The blanket fell; she tore off her long gray tresses and threw a wig at her feet. There, with his curly black hair, laughing eyes and milk-white teeth, in the prime of his radiant health, laughing hysterically, was Bratla Mancha!

"Drug!" The Scream. "He didn't want to go, but I drugged him. He got away! He's already in Montana!"

Sam had jumped onto the scaffolding before I got there, and I've never seen a man as angry as my commander at that moment. "What this means?" he asked through gritted teeth.

Brat stood to attention, beaming with outrageous benevolence. "That means, sir," he replied cheerfully, "that the prisoner was my brother."

"His brother!"

-Yes sir; ex-prisoner José de la Mancha, my brother, who once switched places with me when I was in prison. Now it's my turn, sir. hang me!

"By the Lord God!"

"To him, sir," answered Dom Pedro haughtily, "you will leave my brother." I'm your prisoner.



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