ONE of the young
warriors, Efawhahcho—Crazy Dog—and I became fast friends. He was a
remarkable young fellow, several years older than I, and a usual doer of
unusual things. When the other men sat down to gamble, he would go aside
and pray. When they feasted, he would slip a piece of wood under his
belt against his stomach and declare that he enjoyed it more than a
stomach full of meat. In a storm when the rest of us sought shelter he
would stand out in the drenching rain or driving hail listening to the
voice of the thunder-bird, while fire-arrows pierced the clouds and the
wind howled around him. Yet with all his oddities, he had great
He was tall and athletic,
with the tread of a cat and the heart of a lion; with eyes that could
see what others could not; with ears that could hear where others were
His left eye had a most
singular appearance, for it was never closed. In battle an arrow had
struck in the comer of it, leaving a deep scar which kept the eyelid
fixed. There was a constant sparkle in the pupil, which at times seemed
to blaze as with fire. The women were afraid to look at it, for it was a
magic eye, they said.
He was a sure shot, which
was remarkable, for in firing he never raised the gun to his shoulder.
He held the breech at his belt.
I asked him how he could
take aim in that way. He put a short stick into my hand and told me to
strike the pommel of my saddle with the end of it. I did so.
“That is how I aim,” he
He possessed a strange
power over animals and could “feel” the nearness of an enemy. With this
“feeling” came always a sensation like the rising of bristles between
Once when we were riding
down a tree-covered hill —I behind him—he suddenly held up his hand in
token of silence and motioned for me to turn round and go back. I did so
without question. He followed.
After a while he rode up
to my side, and told me that a war party of Utes were camped at the foot
of the hill—that he “felt” them.
The next day we crept
down afoot and found it to be as he had said.
On a hunt one day, we
came upon a young buffalo calf under a shelving bank where its mother
had hidden it and then gone to graze with the herd. It was lying flat on
the ground, which was about the colour of itself. Efawhahcho gave it a
kick, but it didn’t move. He lifted it and let it fall. It seemed only
to spread out the more thinly like a robe. But for the twitching of an
ear and the blinking of an eye, it looked dead. Its mother had taught it
to play ’possum as a protection against enemies.
My companion finally
declared he would bring it to life. He made passes over its head with
his hands, whispered in its ear and blew in its face. The calf got up
instantly, and followed him like a dog.
Efawhahcho had been
restless for several days. He walked about in a lost way, and kept
looking off across the prairie, a faraway expression on his face. When I
tried to engage him in conversation he would answer absent-mindedly and
At last I insisted upon
his telling me his trouble.
"I don’t know what ails
me,” he said, “I seem to want something I haven’t got.”
“I know. You want a
wife,” I told him teasingly.
“You are my
brother-friend. How can you make fun of me?” he asked sheepishly.
He looked all around to
make sure we were out of earshot of the other men. Then
“I believe that’s just
what ails me,” he agreed.
And he brightened up at
“But,” he went on, “I
have never spoken love in the ear of a woman. How am I to begin?”
This was as much a
conundrum to me as it was to him. Nevertheless I suggested that we might
go some night and steal him a wife.
Efawhahcho at once took
to the idea. So after carefully laying our plans we set off for the
nearby Ute country.
Arrived there, we had no
difficulty in locating a camp. We hid in the brush on a neighbouring
hill and watched to find out where the women went for water. Several
days passed, and we were none the wiser.
One night we crept into
the camp around among the tepees. But there came no chance to seize any
one of the pretty girls and carry her off. Then we decided to lie in
wait by a water spring.
Accordingly, the next
night at dusk found us flat on our faces near the water hole, our horses
tied in the thicket near by.
As we lay there several
girls came for water at different times, but always some old woman came
Above the voices of
children and the barking of dogs, the sound of a tom-tom and of singing
floated down from the camp. Night was coming on, and we were almost
ready to give up, when two girls came tripping down the hill. Still an
old woman followed closely.
The girls filled their
vessels and started away. One loitered.
Efawhahcho sprang up, seized her and threw his blanket over her head. It
completely smothered her cries. But our captive did not give up without
a struggle. The bridegroom-to-be bore witness to this in the ugly
scratches that covered his face.
We had a lot of trouble
getting her up on the horse, but once in the saddle, with Efawhahcho
behind her, we were away, with not a Ute the wiser.
We made a brief halt the
next morning. Efawhahcho lifted the girl to the ground. She sat down
sullenly. Efawhahcho offered her food. She refused to eat Her language
was not his, so he used the sign talk. With ungentle gestures he
commanded her to obey. This made her only the more sullen. He threatened
her with the lariat.
“That's not the way to
use a woman,” I argued. “My Kiowa father used to call my mother nice
names, and make her beautiful presents. Try that way with her.”
Efawhahcho sat thinking a
long time. Then he took a string of beads from his neck and put it
“Mahye Gaitike,” he
coaxed, “I give this to you.”
With this he got under
headway, and by the time we arrived at our camp he had succeeded so well
in his love making that his bride took her place in his tepee, a most
obedient and dutiful wife. Mahye Gaitike—Good Woman—remained her name.
Efawhahcho and I were on
the scout together one spring. Away on the edge of the Navajo country we
surprised a man in the chaparral. The fellow jumped on his
scrubby-looking little horse and dodged around the bushes so that even
Efawhahcho could not get a shot at him.
We chased him out onto
the open prairie. Here he put his horse to such a rapid pace that we
were soon left far behind. After a while he halted on a little knoll and
waited until we were almost within gun-shot, then sent his little animal
across the prairie at a most amazing speed.
He repeated this
performance several times, before we finally gave up the chase through
fear of being led into a trap.
My brother-friend and I
could talk of little else but the way that horse could run, until
nothing would do but to possess him. Our own horses were far from being
stiff-legged buffaloes, but the Navajo’s mean looking creature was
brother to the wind.
We examined his track and
found we could trail him easily, for his right fore hoof had a piece
broken off. We tracked him to a water hole, and from our hiding place
near it spied a number of Navajo quo-gans, or houses. That night we
visited the herd, but the little horse was not in it.
Next morning we made a
wide circuit before we picked up his trail again. All day across the
desert we followed it, but not a glimpse of that horse did we get
Night after night, in
camp after camp, we prowled in search of him—with no better success.
The longer the search the
more eager we grew to get what we wanted.
Came a day when our
stores failed us—when our supply of dried meat was exhausted; when the
punk-fire in our buffalo horn died out; when our water-bottle—a
buffalo’s stomach—swinging from the pommel of my saddle, was pierced by
a cactus thorn, and sprung a leak.
Yet this did not swerve
us from the trail. The horse we must have, we told each other.
One evening when the long
shadows had faded, came the reward.
In the rear of a shack,
in a little log pen, we found him. Against the pen leaned some long
poles, hung with fresh sheep meat. Featherfooted we went, helped
ourselves to a piece of the meat, and slipped away to our horses in the
chaparral to wait for the right time to help ourselves to the horse in
At last the dogs ceased
their barking and only the night noises of wild things could be heard.
Now came the question
whether my brother-friend or I should go into the pen and come out with
the coveted prize. The little corral was within a few feet of the shack
where the owner slept, and we knew that he as well as his dogs had sharp
The matter was decided
with a pebble. After tossing it from one hand to the other for a while,
Efawhahcho asked me to guess the one that held it The right guess gave
me the right to go. I won.
I handed him my reins,
tightened my belt and slipped noiselessly to the back of the quogan, my
ear strained for signs of wakefulness.
From the distance came
the staccato bark of a coyote, and the quavering notes of a screech owl
shivered through the darkness. Not ten feet away a dog uttered a low
growl, but a little whine following it, told me that the dog was asleep,
dreaming perhaps of a fight with the wolves.
I crept to the pen and
carefully lifted the top poles of it to the ground, fearful the while
that the horse would snort and all would be lost Stooping low I caught
sight of him outlined against the dull sky.
Inside, I managed to drop
my lariat over his head and to spring to his back. While trying to make
him jump out I made so much noise that the dogi awoke and began to bark.
I heard the Navajo speak to them, and in sheer desperation I lashed the
horse with the rope until he leaped the fence and we were away.
I shouted to my comrade
as I passed him. A gun blazed holes into the night, but that was all.
As the distance opened up
between us and the Navajo, I gave back defiant whoops which were echoed
My new steed carried me
over the ground at such a rate that I soon lost my comrade in the
darkness. When I reached our camp I was nearly spent with weariness and
hunger. A bit of food first, then I slept the sleep of the utterly worn
from sundown till sunup.
I had been back a day
before Efawhahcho came.
My ugly little horse’s
makeup was one big laugh in itself. He had a short body, dun, dirty and
flea-bitten; a big long head, short ewe neck, and no tail worth speaking
of. His legs were long, crooked and shaggy with black stripes running
around them. He was about the colour of well-smoked buckskin, so I
called him Buckskin. His makeup was one big laugh, as I said, but when
he showed what he could do, the ridicule quickly turned to respect.
He and I soon became true
friends with an understanding of each other such as seldom occurs
between man and beast I could go to sleep anywhere knowing that he would
waken me if any one or thing came near. He would lie down or get up at
my command, would run like the wind at a word or touch, and in time
learned what I meant by the pressure of a leg on this or that side of
Once he stampeded with
the other horses in a hailstorm, and I feared he was lost to me forever.
But with the passing of the storm he came back, and always, as long as
he lived, played an important part in my life.