'L EV’N o’-clo-o-ck en*
aw-l-’s we-ll!” drawled the sentry on Post Number One.
This was echoed around
the garrison by the other sentries.
We were in the act of
rising to our feet
There was the grating of
a key in the door.
We lay down quickly,
shackles in hand, and drew our blankets over us.
The black face of the
sergeant appeared in the light of the lantern he held aloft.
He took a couple of
steps, flashed his lantern over us and up to the grated window, and
turned his eyes slowly up toward the hole.
Another instant and that
negro would have earned a mighty sore head. But he turned, went out and
locked the door.
Up we got. Gee Whiz
climbed into the loft I quickly followed.
On the comb of the roof
there was a lattice-like ventilator. From the ground it looked like an
easy thing to break through, but now the slats seemed to be of iron.
Gee Whiz whispered down
to Jack for the old pocket-knife which he had left on the window-sill.
After what seemed like
hours we got it, and my comrade went to work on the slats like a beaver.
The night was very still,
the faintest noise carrying a long distance. The sound of the whittling
seemed to my tense ears loud enough to be heard all over the post.
The walls of the
guardhouse were made of scrub-oak logs, two rows of which were set into
the ground six or seven feet deep and about two feet apart The space
between was filled with gravel and cement So, the only possible way for
us to get out was the way we took.
At last enough of the
slats were cut We crawled out and straddled the comb of the roof. It was
very steep, and as we looked down we could just see the top of a
sentry’s head on either side of the guardhouse, as he paced his beat
They met at each end of the building.
As my comrade and I sat
there astride the roof I lifted my eyes toward the northern sky. Across
it flared a long serpent-like streak. I had never seen anything like it
It was an awesome thing. I pointed it out to Gee Whiz. He took one good
look at it over his shoulder and whispered:
“That’s a comet, Kid, en’
it means good luck.”
There was no moon that
night, but the stars looked down out of a clear sky. The eyes of
Those-Above were giving us just light enough.
Gee Whiz took my hand in
a grasp of true fellowship.
“Now, Kid, we’ll go
together, er we’ll die together,” he whispered.
The sentries passed
around the comers of the building, and stood, as we thought, talking in
We slid down to the edge
of the roof at the back of the building and dropped together.
We had scarcely struck
the ground before both sentries were blazing away at us.
My feet balanced on the
edge of a gutter and threw me backward against the wall. Gee Whiz was
well away when he discovered I wasn’t with him.
The sentries blazed
briskly, but he came back.
Grabbing me by the
throat, he shook me hard.
“Damn yeh, air yeh hurt?”
he breathed huskily.
“N-no,” I gasped.
“Wal, come on then!” he
growled, and jerked me on.
Away we went together.
The sentries blazed
busily. Their fire burned holes only in the night.
Soon pandemonium broke
loose. Bugles blared. The long roll sounded. Orders were shouted.
We reached the Cheyenne
camp down by the river. I spotted the horse I wanted. He was picketed. I
pulled up the stake. With the rope in one hand, I laid the other on his
withers, ready to leap to his back.
An Indian’s head rose on
the other side.
“My horse!” he grunted.
I didn’t wait to argue
Gee Whiz also failed in
The camp was in an
uproar. Wild whoops filled the air.
But neither Indians nor
soldiers knew what the rumpus was all about until we had made a good
We neared the place where
Nacoomee was to be with the horses. A figure started up from the roots
of a tree. It was an Indian woman with a bundle in her arms.
It was not Nacoomee.
The woman stood in
silence for a time, despite my anxious questioning. Then she told me
simply that in trying to bring the horses across the river, Nacoomee
with the horses, had sunk in the quicksand.
But a few hours ago she
had left me at the iron-barred door of my cell.
The Great Silence made no
answer to my silent call.
I was left alone on the
trail too narrow for two to walk abreast.
When I came to myself Gee
Whiz was shaking me and trying to pull me away from the place.
There were shouts and
yells up toward the post, and the sound of running horses coming nearer.
I had my child in my
arms. I begged my comrade to leave me.
The woman spoke.
“Go, and some time come
back,” she advised “I will care for Tahpahyeete.”
I knew she would.
“Come, be quick, Kid!”
urged the man.
I put my child into the
woman’s arms and darted away with Gee Whiz.
It is wise for the hunted
to do what the hunter least expects.
We went around the post,
once narrowly avoiding a squad of soldiers, and started south parallel
with the road toward Fort Sill. The officers would be least likely to
look for us in that direction.
How good it was to feel
the springy turf under my feet and the cool breeze in my face!
“Think of it, Kid, it’s
jes’ thirty days sence I took a good full-sized step,” exulted Gee Whiz.
He stretched his long
legs into increased speed. But he soon slowed down. We had a long trail
before us, and we needed to save our strength.
It was coming daylight
when we arrived at the South Fork of the Canadian River.
For the first time I was
aware that Gee Whiz was in his stocking feet. He had left his shoes in
the guardhouse. I made him take off his socks. His feet and ankles were
bleeding. The prairie briars had torn away the skin and flesh.
My ankles were fully as
bad. My moccasins had kept my feet in better condition.
Before we started across
the wide stretch of sand on the river’s edge, I showed my comrade how to
walk as an Indian walks, with his toes turned inward, so his tracks
would not be so easily recognised.
When we had crossed the
river he sat down and tenderly nursed his feet. The sharp clinging
sand-burs had been torment to him. It was quite a while before he
yielded to my coaxing to go on.
Before the sun came up we
had found a hiding-place in a fringe of bushes by a little stream. Here
Gee Whiz buried his feet in the cool mud all day, while I alternately
slept and watched for signs of pursuers.