Red Sticks

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RED STICKS

by Hugh Pendexter
Author of "A New Keeper of the Wampum," "The Raven Mocker," etc.


THE red news of St. Clair's defeat on the Wabash was being carried by the triumphant Miami along the Maumee to the east, and south to the Ohio. Little Turtle, whose fathers kindled the first fires at Detroit, had counted his second great coup over the whites. His defeat of General Harmar on the Maumee the preceding Fall, however, was not to be compared with this terrific punishment of St. Clair's army. And through the desolate November forests sped the exulting messengers chosen "to carry the red." The Miami were noted for swiftness of foot, and the red news radiated rapidly. Chickasaw and Cherokee, south of the Kentucky wedge of civilization separating them from their Northern brothers, would take heart again and forget old feuds in a common assault on the white settlements. Once the red sticks proclaimed the great victory to the Eastern tribes old hopes would blaze up.

Abreast of the red sticks raced the lean and lanky Kentucky scout, Joe Bund, striving to outstrip the red death and warn the settlements and lonely cabins along the Ohio that hell was loosed, that the son of a Miami chief and a Mohican mother was reaching his tomahawk over the fair country.

The Miami called Bund the Eagle, Kendawa. He had lost precious time by sticking to the fighting till the retreat sounded and became a ghastly rout. It was midday of that fateful November fourth before he drew clear of the ruck of fugitives. And even then, although realizing many lives depended upon his fleet feet, he had tarried to answer some pitiful call for help where some lone soldier was dying slowly. He knew he should have stolen away in the first gray hour of fighting, before selected bands of Miami warriors could be dispatched for surprise attacks. But he was human and he had lingered till every vestige of hope was gone. As a result he was not the first to leave the stricken field.

All about him the silent woods were sprinkled with the swift-stealing enemy, and he could only hope there were none directly ahead. That some had passed his way was made evident by the bodies of the slain militiamen he occasionally came upon. These poor devils had fled at the first assault only to be overtaken. If a few won clear to spread the alarm their cowardice was partly atoned for.

For weapons the scout retained his knife and war-ax; for sustenance, a pouch of parched corn which he munched as he ran. For hours he sped through the interminable forest before coming to a settlement. This consisted of half a dozen new cabins on Stillwater Creek, erected a few months before when it was believed that St. Clair's expedition would make the country safe.

He groaned in deep relief as a tall man, Kentucky rifle in hand, emerged from the nearest cabin. He had feared the Indians had made the creek ahead of him. The settler on recognizing the forest dress of the scout dipped up a gourd of water from a pail and ran forward to meet the runner, his eyes lighting wildly. A woman appeared in the doorway behind him, her face strained and white, two children clinging to her skirts.

"Sainclair's licked ter hell!" were Bund's first words. "Been afeerd I'd git here too late. The Injuns are on both sides of ye but I reckon the path due south is open. Tell yer neighbors! Strike for the Ohio! Little Turtle'll be swarmin' down this crick in no time."

The man stared stupidly; the woman reacted instantly. Uttering a sharp command to the children she darted back into the cabin to make up some light packs. The children ran to the other cabins shrilly shrieking—

"Injuns! Injuns!"

The man shivered and nervously examined his rifle and glared apprehensively toward the forest wall of naked branches.

"Thought Sainclair was goin' to give 'em their needin's," he muttered as the scout leaned against a stump, pumping for breath.

Bund held out the gourd and while the settler's shaking hand was filling it he rapidly informed:

"Everything done wrong. Harmar told him he was in for a lickin'. I told him the same thing when he lost so much time at this very crick. Why, afore we left here the six-months' men was bleatin' to go home. He never oughter took any six-months' men for Injun fightin'. Right after we quit here the bread give out. Week afore we struck the river plain near St. Mary's some of the militia deserted. Colonel Hamtranck's first regiment o' reg'lars—our best troops—was sent after 'em.

"Then we was outfitted poor. Lots o' guns was no good an' some of the powder would scarcely burn. Sainclair was so sick he couldn't git on his hoss without help. I was out on a scout when the army struck the Wabash and camped. That was night [afore last. And Sainclair didn't have any guides worth shucks, and they didn't even know they'd reached the Wabash. Think o' that! I got back yesterday mornin' when it was still cold and dark, and was makin' my report to Major Ouldham—they got him—when the devils jumped us, more'n a thousand of 'em, Little Turtle in command. General Butler was killed——"

"Gawd! One of our best officers," gasped the settler.

"He had lots of comp'ny," grimly assured Bund, tightening his belt. "Inside o' four hours we dropped nine hundred men in a patch no bigger'n ten acres. For miles the woods is plastered with everything a scared man can heave away. Means hell for the Ohio. The heathen's carryin' the red sticks to the Alleghany and Kentucky. Better help yer woman hurry up a bit. I'm off."

He darted away just in time to escape a dozen men and women running forward to question him. Although young in years he was a veteran in border craft. He could not understand how commanders could proceed as had Harmar and St. Clair. He wondered if the lesson would ever be learned. The Braddock massacre on the Monongahela had taught military leaders nothing, it would seem.

He had served with the Harmar expedition when the Miami villages at the head of the Maumee were destroyed. At that time he believed he followed a leader who knew how to fight. Then he had seen the militia colonel's rash lust for battle override Harmar's judgment, with the men rushing into two deadly ambuscades. That experience and this overwhelming defeat of St. Clair sickened him with the conviction that the Ohio country was now closed to settlers for many years.

Light as a shadow he threaded the forest, skirted marshes, and crossed unnamed streams on driftwood or by swimming the icy waters, his gaze ever seeking a pioneer's smoke. All about him were speeding the red sticks. At any moment he might encounter the van of the raiders, for several bands had left the river ahead of him. Within another twenty-four hours the whole Ohio country, from the river to the great lakes, would be blazing with triumphant council fires. And he shuddered as he thought of those not fortunate enough to die in battle.


IT WAS on the edge of evening—and he had run like a machine since warning the Stillwater Creek settlement—that he came to halt. He had barely pushed back his light fur cap when an arrow clipped through his left arm and pinned it to his deerskin hunting shirt. He dropped behind a black walnut instantly, and his assailant sounded a yell of triumph and leaped from cover. With the resilience of tempered steel the scout sprang to his feet, his right arm whipping back and then forward; and the Miami went down with the war-ax buried in his forehead.

Without pausing to recover his ax Bund resumed his flight, breaking off the arrow-head and withdrawing the shaft as he ran. With his teeth and free fingers he bandaged the wound and fashioned a sling of rawhide thong.

"I'll be cussed if I ain't fetched up with 'em. Pretty good runnin', and they havin' hours' start o' me. Little Turtle started 'em south the minute he see he was winnin'. Now to break through and take the lead. Reckon that cuss's war-whoop is drawin' 'em in on me from all directions."

That this conclusion was warranted was shown by a shrill, ululating call in the west. More ominous was the answering signal on the scout's left, for it was closer at hand. The gathering darkness shortened his line of vision and forced him to lessen his pace. The war-cry of the warrior he had slain was drawing the savages in to investigate why he did not answer their signals.

Now that finesse must take the place of speed Bund halted and arranged the sling about his wounded arm and briefly pondered over his predicament. The advance guard of victorious warriors, shrewdly rushed toward the Ohio by Little Turtle instead of being allowed to tarry for the terrible scenes following the massacre, was well abreast if not entirely surrounding him. These would be picked warriors, traveling fast and furious to prevent fugitives from warning the river settlements.

The scout had lost some four hours by remaining to fight the rear-guard action. The dead Indian's war-cry had advertised the discovery of a victim; his failure to sound the scalp-halloo had told the rest of the story.

"They know he's wiped out, and now they'll try to bottle me up," Bund told himself as he felt his way with his feet through a dark grove. "Reckon I'm a mighty poor Eagle—reckon Sainclair's lickin' will send this neck o' the woods to the devil a-flyin'."

The black growth gave way to an opening as Bund discovered by the sudden reappearance of stars in the frosty heavens. He crouched warily and cursed his ill-luck. The opening was an additional handicap. To make a detour would cost precious time and probably throw him into the clutches of the Miami. To advance was to discard his last defense—secrecy—providing the warriors in the rear should be close at hand. And he believed they were.

A sharp yelp on his right, quickly answered by a similar signal on his left, forced his decision. But what put new life into his heels was the repetition of the call a short distance behind him. Without hesitating longer he scudded into the opening.

He had covered only a few rods when he struck a patch of corn, and his heart quailed in anguish. Corn meant a cabin, and a cabin with the Miami already upon it.

"I'll be cussed if they don't have their chance, such as it is," he grunted, dropping to his knees to locate the squat outlines against the skyline.

There it stood, black and silent, an outpost of the white man's hunger for home and land, symbolic of the whole bloody business of remaking a continent. Hordes of adventurers had come and gone up and down the Ohio and Mississippi without leaving a trace, except as rusty bits of war-harness and broken bones were sometimes found in the forest mold. But such wanderers had come for gold and their impress on the country was as transitory as the trails their feet had made.

This small structure of laboriously hewn logs spelled permanency, something to be defended and fought for. And, God! What dismay would his message bring to many such humble habitations were he spared to continue his mission.

He ran to the door and his flesh crawled when he found it wide open. Falling on his knees he swept his free hand over the floor of hard-packed earth.

"There ain't no one here," he whispered, his dread of finding silent forms dropping from him. "Thank God! Some o' the deserters got through and fetched the word."

Now that he was in the cabin he became conscious of an awful thirst. It seemed as though his lungs would burst if he did not find water. He located a gourd but it was empty. There was a kettle in the fireplace, also empty. By the feel of the ashes he knew the fire had died out a good twelve hours back. The occupants probably had fled early that morning, warned by soldiers who had deserted the night before the battle. Next his exploring hand fell upon a tiny moccasin, and he knew frantic parents were being handicapped in their flight by a little child. With peculiar persistency for detail his mind instantly decided the child was a girl.

But of drink there was nothing. He straightened and bumped his head on a rough shelf. His right hand flew to it at once and he grunted softly as his fingers closed about a small, wide-necked bottle.

Hungrily tearing off the birch-bark cover with his teeth he was rewarded by a faint aroma of whisky. He tipped the bottle eagerly but his lips remained dry. He was puzzled as well as disappointed. The bottle was partly filled with something that smelled of whisky. He shook it gently and felt its contents move. Despite his desperate situation he took time to place the bottle on the floor and insert two fingers. He drew forth some kind of fruit. Placing it in his mouth he chewed it ecstatically, murmuring—"Wild cherries put up in whisky, only the whisky's most gone."

He hastily placed several more of the little cherries in his mouth, intending to finish the bottle, when a soft movement outside the cabin warned him he had tarried too long. To the untrained ear it might have been the beating of a night bird's wing, or the almost inaudible footfall of a wolf. But Bund interpreted it correctly. Hastily tipping the bottle upside down in his palm he caught the preserved fruit and dropped it into a pocket of his hunting shirt. Then he drew his knife and stepped to the door.

A low signal rippled 'round the opening, telling him the cabin was inside the circle. One or more savages had come to investigate the small building. The scout stepped to the left of the door so that his knife-hand might have free play, and waited.

There was no further sound but he soon discerned a dark object on a level with his eyes and within a foot of him. A warrior had thrust his head over the threshold. The scout detected his suppressed breathing. Motionless and holding his own breath he drew back the knife, hoping the savage would withdraw and report the place deserted. The warrior made a guttural sound and began sniffing curiously.

Bund immediately guessed the truth. The Miami had caught the scent of the preserved fruit and the faint odor of whisky. He grunted joyously and stepped over the threshold his right hand falling on Bund's face. He essayed to leap back, a shriek of warning pealing from his lips, but Bund lunged fiercely. The savage went to his knees, the knife buried in his throat. Over the writhing body leaped the scout only to run into the arms of several Indians.

The shouts of triumph quickly changed to the death-cry as the Miami stumbled over the body of the dead savage. A fire sprang up as if by magic, and by its flare Bund read a fearful purpose in the ferociously painted faces.

"Kendawa!" exulted one of his captors, seizing his right hand and holding it over a blazing roll of birch bark.

"Yes, yer dog!" gritted Bund and making no effort to release his hand, but showing his contempt by spitting a cherry into the face of his torturer.

Then in the Miami dialect:

"If your chief's mother hadn't been a Mohican you'd be running toward the setting sun today. Miami men are old women. You are fleet of foot as the antelope because you've been chased from your hunting grounds by Potawatomi, Kickapoo, Shawnee, and every other tribe that's wanted your land. You have run away so much——"

He ceased his harangue to gape in amazement. The burning bark had been removed from his hand before it could do any harm, and his captors were ignoring him to stare at something held in the palm of his torturer.

It was the preserved cherry, tiny and firm and round and red. Its effect had been more striking than a bullet. The circle of morose faces were glaring at it incredulously. At last the savage holding it gingerly raised it to his nose and sniffed; then placed it in his mouth. The circle grunted and waited for his decision.

"A fresh, ripe cherry," he announced, licking his lips over the suggestion of whisky accompanying the fruit.

Bund, who had only hoped his raillery would bring a merciful death by tomahawk or knife, now understood that the cherry was a miracle to them. Taking advantage of the nickering light and the absorbed attention of his captors he managed to fish out two of the tiny fruit and pass them to his mouth unnoticed.

"An evil spirit whispers to Papakeecha," protested a warrior. "Cherries have not ripened for many moons. Snow is on the way. Do flowers grow in Winter? Do birds mate after the leaves fall? There are no ripe cherries."

Bund broke in:

"Flat Belly has heard no evil spirit. He has seen the magic of Kendawa, whose manito is mighty."

"The Eagle flies over the ground, but is he a magician?" demanded the skeptic.

"The white man's manito works when he is needed. Kendawa is a magician," replied Bund; and he expelled a cherry into the face of the last speaker.

The skeptic caught the fruit and held it close to the flaming bark to study it. He found it a bright red reminder of early Summer. There was no questioning its appearance. To make certain the savage delicately split it with his knife and disclosed the pit. As a final test he plopped it into his mouth. The others watched him with breathless interest and observed he nodded with grim enjoyment as his palate was tickled by the suggestion of fire-water, and was soothed by the piquancy of the tart fruit, doubly delectable now Winter was swinging down from the North.

"Prob'ly the first redskins to taste a wild cherry out of season," thought Bund.

"Kendawa's manito is mighty," conceded the warrior after swallowing the cherry. "We have only known him as one who runs swiftly. Now he is a magician, he shall show his magic to Michikinikwa."

The scout grew cold. He had no desire to face Little Turtle, who had won highest place among the Miami despite the fact his father's rank had helped him none. For, by the Indian rule of the Miami of tracing ancestry through the mother, he was a Mohican. He had gained place and fame while young because of his unusual merits. To impose on such would require the utmost nerve and finesse.

"He shall escape the torture so long as he spits ripe cherries," declared Flat Belly.

Bund winced. If not discovered his stock of cherries could not exceed more than forty or fifty, he estimated. If found upon him the miracle would lose nothing by the discovery, but he would be commanded to instantly refill the pocket.

"Let him spit more cherries now," urged a savage, whose wrinkled nostrils evidenced he had caught the subtle scent of the preservative.

"Kendawa's manito works not at the word of a Miami squaw," haughtily informed Bund.

The savage caught his right hand and closed his teeth on a finger, intending to bite off a nail, but Flat Belly took umbrage and pulled him back, reminding:

"He is my prisoner. Mine was the first hand to touch him."

By this time warriors were pouring in from the forest, the word having been passed that a mighty white magician had been captured; a man who held the seasons in his mouth and could spit ripe fruit whenever he would, although it be the moon of honking geese. Flat Belly quickly observed he was an object of unusual importance among his brothers.

To possess a captive whose manito controlled the seasons was a unique distinction. His was the first hand to fall on the scout as he leaped through the doorway. Not even Little Turtle could take his prisoner from him without upsetting Indian etiquette and usage. Various warriors now began bidding for the scout, eagerly offering their fresh scalps, their shares of coats, powder-horns and rifles gathered from the rout.

But all these things Flat Belly could secure for himself any time, now the red man was to conquer the white race. Twice already Little Turtle had furnished the Miami with rare pickings. But only the gods sent prisoners who could spit ripe cherries on the brink of Winter and embroider the gift with the aroma of Pennsylvania whisky. To Bund's great relief Flat Belly scorned all offers. Tying the scout's hand behind his back and placing a slip-noose about his neck the Indian drove him into the forest, making north.

Bund's veins grew hot with hope; not for himself but for the settlements along the Ohio. His capture had halted the advance of the enemy; for he was satisfied every member of the scouting party within reach of the tremendous news a white magician had been captured was following him and his proud captor. It was characteristic of the Indian mind to become unmindful of the war party's original purpose in hastening south.

"I'll be cussed if they can do any more'n burn me," he grimly decided. "Mebbe it's better I'm caught. I might 'a' led 'em full-bent on to the little gal and her folks. They have a extry chance to make the Ohio and they'll carry the word of alarm as well as me. What with 'em and the deserters who warned 'em the settlers oughter have time to cross into Kentucky."


LITTLE TURTLE was exceedingly wroth with his warriors because of their failure to push on to the Beautiful River. His anger was tempered somewhat when he learned their reason for hastening back. They had captured a white magician whose manito allowed him to transpose the seasons. He could make ripe cherries to come back when he would and the grass to grow green and lush though it be deep Winter.

He could provide pasturage for the buffalo the year 'round and stop their wandering far South in search of feed. Surely none but the Miami ever had captured such a prisoner. To be sure he was the personal property of Flat Belly, but his works must redound to the advantage and advancement of the entire Miami people.

Little Turtle did not believe these fantastic rumors, yet his curiosity was sharply aroused.

"Bring the white man to me," he commanded.

Flat Belly proudly led forth his captive, after removing the ropes from his neck and hand. Bund stood composed of bearing in the middle of the wide circle of interested warriors, his wounded arm hanging at his side, two fingers of the right hand being hooked in the pocket of his hunting shirt. Little Turtle was disappointed and harshly demanded:

"What is he called? He is not even a chief. I saw him fighting among the soldiers."

"Kendawa," spoke up Bund.

"So Michikinikwa has caught an Eagle," sneered the chief. "The others were clumsy game." And he paused to allow his proud gaze to range over the heaps of plunder awaiting distribution. "Michikinikwa has heard the eagle makes medicine."

Ignoring the irony in the chief's tone Bund gravely assured:

"Straight tongues have spoken to Michikinikwa. The manito of the Eagle is very strong."

"But the words fell strange on Michikinikwa's ears, for they spoke of magic that tosses the seasons back and forth like pebbles in the hand of a child."

"They were true words," haughtily declared Bund, now nerved to play his rôle to the limit.

"And yet this mighty manito of the white man did not help him to escape the Miami," reminded the chief.

"His capture brought back Michikinikwa's warriors. His manito willed that one should be taken that many might escape," countered the scout, palming two cherries before allowing his right hand to drop at his side.

Little Turtle's face for a moment grimaced with fury as he realized the truth of this. But his voice was gentle as he continued:

"It is said the white man's magic can make the pawpaw and black walnut put forth new leaves the year 'round."

"Even that is easy for the manito of the Eagle," quietly declared Bund.

"When crooked tongues speak to Michikinikwa he pulls them out by the roots," warned the chief, extending his sinewy fingers suggestively.

"It is good," said Bund.

He could feel the impact of the savage gaze of the warriors massed behind him, and, from the tail of his eye, observed the rapt attention of those on either side of the chief. All were rigid and silent as they watched the unfolding of the drama. Nor was there one who failed to realize that Little Turtle was aroused to a mighty pitch of fury at the calm bearing of the prisoner and his colossal claims. And Bund knew he must win out or suffer as no prisoner of the Miami had yet suffered.

"Can Kendawa make corn grow?" Little Turtle taunted.

"His manito can make corn grow now," readily answered Bund.

The circle of warriors moved uneasily. A climax dearly to the liking of the red man was at hand. In dramatic values it surpassed the stake. Nor was there lacking frank admiration for the bold demeanor of the scout. Even Little Turtle was impelled to approve of a man who composedly claimed so much.

"Will the Eagle's manito make corn grow now?" he softly asked and leaned forward to catch the answer.

Bund shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Michikinikwa, of the Toonpaoh clan, my manito is ready to tell you things of much more importance than the growing of corn."

The use of the Mohican term for "Turtle," the clan of the chief, was a subtle touch and did not fail to register an effect on the chief. It betokened the white man's knowledge of his eventful and ambitious history; it appealed to his pride that his ancestry, through mother-right, should be intimately known by his enemies. But no flattery could cause him to overlook the scout's evasion, and bis eyes lighted in triumph.

Throwing off his air of restraint he sternly commanded—

"Come, if you are a magician, make corn grow."

The encircling warriors hunched forward, their eyes glistening. The fate of the white man was ensconced within the next few seconds.

"The corn is scarcely harvested. If the Eagle showed green corn in his talons Michikinikwa would say it was some trick. Why should the mighty manito of Kendawa do child's play when its tongue is heavy with grave words for the Miami?" was the scout's answer.

A deep sigh of disappointment at such a tame conclusion rose from the spectators; and in fierce triumph Little Turtle cried out:

"Your tongue is crooked. Your manito is an old man. He is very lame. He falls down and can not get up. Papakeecha, put this man to the torture."

Bund turned aside his head as though to show his contempt and stared away to where the forest crown and leaden clouds met. He had but one card to play and he knew he must play it at the apex of the situation. His knowledge of the Indian character had warned him he must assert the dignity and independence of his manito before performing any works. And insofar as Little Turtle ignored the tribal law concerning the fate of prisoners, by so much would he weaken himself to the corresponding advantage of the captive.

"This man is a liar. Put him to the torture at once, Papacheeka," passionately repeated the chief.

Bund whistled softly and continued gazing at the somber sky. Flat Belly's face became convulsed with rage at the command. The warriors moved about uneasily. The white man was Flat Belly's prisoner, and although all envied him, yet there was the law of the tribe.

"Michikinikwa is a mighty war chief and his brothers are proud to follow him," rumbled Flat Belly. "But the white man is my prisoner. If he makes corn grow, Michikinikwa shall have the first ears—a gift from Papakeecha. The white man is my prisoner according to the law of the Miami."

His words met with low notes of approval. A wild desire to bury his war-ax in the stubborn Flat Belly's head filled the heart of Little Turtle, but he betrayed nothing of his feeling. He held his high position because of his ability to study situations from all sides. He knew his leadership would endure only so long as he was successful. He could not compel the service of any warriors.

The Indian fought when he chose and under whom he chose, and did he tire of a project he could abandon it at any time. A warrior's dream could disrupt an extensive organization for offensive war. And a war-chief without a following had no prestige. Little Turtle always spoke of the Miami people as "I," but there were lengths to which he could not go.

He inclined his head gravely as Flat Belly finished, and then addressed Bund, saying:

"Your manito has a message for me—the Miami. After it is spoken perhaps he will grow corn for me."

"I bring a message to Michikinikwa," stoutly replied Bund, believing the first crisis had passed.

"Speak, Kendawa; but we talk without belts."

The chief's words were smoothly spoken, but they contained the reminder he was committing himself none as to his future conduct.

"My manito bids me say to you, oh, Michikinikwa, that the time draws near when you will talk with peace belts to the Thirteen Fires (the thirteen colonies) and will be glad to do so."

The boldness of this speech and its insolence, in view of the unburied dead along the Wabash, wrung little exclamations of anger from the assembly.

"When I talk with the Thirteen Fires they will accept my terms or die out," hissed Little Turtle, trembling with rage. "It will take many snows to bury the dead the white men have left along the Wabash."

"Yet you will carry to the Thirteen Fires only the mnoti."

"The Miami may carry the bag containing peace belts to the Thirteen Fires as your lying manito says, but it will be only after Kendawa's magic has changed the seasons back and forth, as some foolish warriors seem to believe it can do," was the fierce retort.

Bund thrilled. He had worked the scene up to the one climax that might save him and had forced the chief to lead the way throughout. Slowly swinging his gaze back till it rested on Little Turtle's fierce countenance he demanded:

"Michikinikwa speaks of the seasons as though they were fixed in their places. Cherries blossomed and ripened months ago. Are there any ripe cherries now? Can the Miami warriors go forth and bring back ripe cherries to their war-chief?" As he awaited an answer he folded his hands before him, passing the preserved fruit into his left.

"The wild geese fill the gray sky," sullenly replied the chief. "The beaver has cut his wood for Winter. There are no ripe cherries."

As Little Turtle ceased speaking Bund took a dramatic step forward and extended his wounded arm, with the hand held palm up. Little Turtle stared as though hypnotized at the two ripe cherries thus revealed. His startled eyes were raised to meet the calm glance of the white man. Very slowly, as though held back by caution, he reached forth and gingerly took the fruit and fingered it gently.

He was amazed to find it was genuine to all appearances. He bit into one of the cherries and examined the pit, while his warriors held their breath. There were clever Indian magicians, some very skilful in legerdemain; but there was none who could produce ripe cherries in November. Little Turtle had watched them make plants grow and flower and bear fruit, but always in the shadows near some smoking camp-fire, aided and abetted by their blankets. And in all such instances plant, fruit and flower were artificial and would not bear investigation.

Although he was much more astute than his followers he still was an Indian and unable to doubt the evidence of his senses. He had tasted one cherry and found it to be genuine. He ate the other and enjoyed the relish.

"What words has the great Michikinikwa to say to the Eagle's manito now?" demanded the scout in a stentorian voice, drawing himself haughtily erect and hooking his hand into his hunting-shirt pocket. "Which is greater medicine? To make corn grow when the harvest season is just over, or to bring the moon of cherries into the moon of wild geese?"

Low murmurs of approval ran 'round the circle. Flat Belly's magician had vindicated his medicine.

Little Turtle slowly confessed—

"The manito of Kendawa is mighty."

"Michikinikwa speaks wise words. It is well. And remember, that as surely as you have eaten ripe cherries when snow is in the air, just so surely will you carry peace belts to the Thirteen Fires."

And with this forceful prophecy Bund raised his right hand above his head and scattered a shower of the fruit over Flat Belly and the warriors about him.

The effect of this demonstration was overwhelming. It left Little Turtle rigid and voiceless. The warriors lost their reserve and grunted loudly at the prodigality of the Eagle's manito. Flat Belly dropped on his knees to gather up the fruit and cram it into his slit of a mouth.

Greatly disturbed at the scout's words and at this further miracle Little Turtle, on recovering his power of speech, directed:

"Papakeecha, take the white magician away. His manito is mighty."


IN ACCEPTING the command of the third expedition against the Miami and allied tribes General Wayne, "Mad Anthony," conferred much with President Washington on Indian warfare and profited thereby. He refused to accept six-months' men, or any who were not Americans. He gave special attention to bayonet and broadsword drill and refused to take the field till his legion had been trained for two years for the bloody work ahead.

But when he finally struck the combined forces of the Indians on the Maumee he smashed the confederacy within sixty minutes of fighting, thereby cementing the United States' hold on the Northwest Territory. Among the delegates from the various Indian nations to confer with General Wayne at Greenville in the Summer of 1795 was the famous Little Turtle.

He spoke eloquently for the Miami and was answered generously by Wayne. Ninety chiefs and delegates, representing twelve tribes, signed the treaty, swearing perpetual peace and placing their people under the protection of the United States. The success of the lengthy conference was as great a triumph as was the last battle on the Maumee. Throughout the sessions Scout Bund stood behind Wayne, serving as interpreter. No signs of recognition passed between him and Little Turtle.

But after the treaty was signed and Little Turtle was about to return to his people he halted before the scout and said:

"Kendawa's manito is mighty. Michikinikwa has brought peace belts to the Thirteen Fires even as was said. Does Kendawa still have ripe cherries out of season?"

"Not since the young English officer ransomed him for a keg of rum from Papakeecha at Detroit. Now the peace bag has been opened between Michikinikwa and the Big Wind (Wayne) Kendawa's manito has no need for magic. Michikinikwa is now my brother."

"Michikinikwa salutes his brother, the Eagle. I am the last to sign the peace treaty and I will be the last to break it."

With this sententious declaration he strode into the forest. And history records that his tongue was straight and that for the remainder of his years he was faithful to his new allegiance.

 


(From "The Camp-Fire" section of the magazine)


IN CONNECTION with his story in this issue Hugh Pendexter gives us a little historical "dope":

Norway, Maine.

I have taken St. Clair's (spelled Sainclair in the old ballads) defeat and Wayne's victory over the Northwestern Confederacy for the background of this yarn. The invitation to war was given by red belts, strings and red sticks, the latter commonly being used by the Creeks and their cousins the Seminoles, and radiating from them up the Mississippi valley.

A Hidatsa Indian, living in Dakota in 1865, was held by the Indians to be a mighty magician because of his trick of producing red, ripe cherries from his mouth at any season. It is supposed he preserved them in whisky. He was known as "Cherry-in-the-Mouth." As it's never to my knowledge been played up in fiction I have transposed the trick back to 1791 for a white man to play.

Little Turtle's speech, "I am the last, etc." is a matter of history.


I HAVE shown that Bund was ransomed without narrating in detail the fact. The Indian and historical dope is O.K. Papakeecha, alias Flat Belly, lived and had his being. I have tried within the limited scope of the short story to sketch the horror caused by St. Clair's defeat, and the terrible possibilities for lonely cabin or settlement anywhere north of the Ohio. The Indians' turning back with their white prisoner instead of pressing on to the Ohio is true to life, as their service was purely voluntary and they could quit at any time without losing caste or inviting punishment.—Hugh Pendexter.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.


The author died in 1940, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.