Beef was furnished the Indians on the hoof and calculated by the pound, and the weight of some of those long-horn steers, once they got upon the Agency scales, would have done credit to a mastodon. By this method the Indian got the number of pounds of meat he was entitled to per capita, and there was some left over that the agent might dispose of to his friends. As for the heavy-weight steers, when the Apache received them, he tortured them to death with his customary ingenuity. It made the meat tender; and he was an epicure in his way. The situation in the territory, whichever way you looked at it, was not hopeful.
She jumped to her feet. "I ain't going to do it." "You can go whenever you like now," Cairness told her. She demanded to know where she was to go to, and he answered that that was not his affair, but that he would suggest a safe distance. "Somebody else getting hold of the truth of the Kirby business mightn't be so easy on you as I am."
"But that is sport," she answered carelessly.
It was the post-trader, he told Felipa when he came back, and he was asking for help from the officer-of-the-day. Some citizens down at the store were gambling and drinking high, and were becoming uproarious.
He put out his hand and touched a warm, smooth flank. The horse gave a little low whinny. Quick as a flash he whipped out his knife and hamstrung it, not that one only, but ten other mules and horses before[Pg 207] he stopped. He groped from stall to stall, and in each cut just once, unerringly and deep, so that the poor beast, which had turned its head and nosed at the touch of the hand of one of those humans who had always been its friends, was left writhing, with no possible outcome but death with a bullet in its head.
He knew that the stores which should have gone to him were loaded upon wagon-trains and hurried off the reservation in the dead of night; but he did not know why the Apache who was sent to humbly ask the agent about it was put in the guard-house for six months without trial. He knew that his corn patches were trampled down, but not that it was to force him to purchase supplies from the agent and his friends, or else get out. He knew that his reservation—none too large, as it was, for three thousand adults more or less—had been cut down without his consent five different times, and that Mormon settlers were elbowing him out of what space remained. But, being only a savage, it were foolish to expect that he should have seen the reason for these things. He has not yet learned to take kindly to financial dishonesty. Does he owe you two bits, he will travel two hundred miles to pay it. He has still much to absorb concerning civilization.
The puppy which had been born the same day as the little Reverend, a beast half coyote, half shepherd, and wholly hideous, came and sat itself down beside them on the sill, looked up with its tongue hanging out to one side, and smiled widely. The beaming good nature of the two Reverends was infectious. The baby squealed gleefully, and kicked until it was set down on the doorstep to pat the dog.
It was impossible to misunderstand, and Brewster was vexed beyond the bounds of all wisdom. "The squaws have their good traits, too, I guess. I hear one had her nose cut off on your account." He should not have said it. He knew it, and he knew that the private knew it, but the man made no reply whatever.