WINNETOU threw off the remembrance of his sorrow with a sigh, and said to me: "Will my brother come with me to a place where when day breaks we can watch the opening of the ravine, and learn whether or not the Kiowas leave here? It may be that not finding Old Shatterhand, they will go back to their village, without trying to capture us in the morning. It is most important for us to watch their movements."
"Is there a place where we can see the mouth of the ravine?"
"I know such a place. Let my brothers take their horses by the bridles and follow me."
We did as he bade us, and after we had gone some hundred feet we came to a great group of trees, behind which we made another halt. Here we could camp without being discovered if the Kiowas came upon us in the night. The ravine lay directly within range, and when morning came we could see all that happened there.
The night was as cold as the previous one had been. I waited till my horse lay down, then lay myself in the hollow of his neck that he might warm me, and the beast kept as still as if he had understood the service required of him.
As the gray dawn lifted we scanned the ravine carefully for more than an hour. Nothing was to be seen there, so we decided to find out where the Kiowas were. I suggested to Winnetou that if we went over to the spot from which the Apache spy had discovered them yesterday, we must see whether they had gone away or not. This suggestion Winnetou approved, and we acted on it at once.
When we reached the southern side of Nugget Mountain we found two broad, clear trails, one of yesterday leading into the valley, and a fresh one leading away from it. That the Kiowas were gone there could no longer be a doubt. They had carefully made their trail unusually plain, hoping that we would follow after them, but a scornful little smile played on Winnetou's lips as he looked at it, and he said: "These Kiowas meant to act very wisely, and they have done precisely the reverse. Such a trail as this would naturally arouse our suspicion, and we should be most foolish if we followed it."
As we had already decided, we rode away in the opposite direction, intending to descend on the Kiowa village on the unprotected side. We reached the North Fork of the Red River on the next day. The water was low, but the banks were green, and afforded much needed fodder for our horses. The Salt Fork flows from the west into the Red River, south of the North Fork, and in the junction of this arm with the main stream lay the Kiowa village of which Tangua was chief. We rode straight down toward it, traveling in the night to be cautious, and early in the morning we saw the river lying before us. We were on the wrong side of the stream, and Winnetou and I left our people encamped, and rode
down further, looking for a place where we could cross with less danger of betraying our camp than if we went over directly in front of it, where our trail would lead straight to it. This care in concealing our trail cost time, but the wisdom of it was proved sooner than we expected.
We had not got back to the river, but were still on the prairie, when we saw two riders with fully a dozen pack horses coming straight toward us. One rode before, the other behind their well-laden beasts, and though we could not see their faces, their clothing was that of white men. The indications were that they had come from the Kiowa village, and we might learn something important from them. Therefore I asked Winnetou if we should not speak to them.
"Yes," he replied. "But they must not know who we are. They are pale-faces; pedlars who have been trading with the Kiowas."
"Very well. I am employed by an Indian agency, and am bound to the Kiowas on agency business. I do not understand their speech, so have taken you along. You are a Pawnee Indian."
"That is very good; my brother may speak with these two pale-faces."
We rode up to them. They raised their guns as is customary in the Far West when a stranger appears, and thus awaited our coming.
"Put down your weapons, friends," I cried when we were within hailing distance. "We won't eat you."
"It would be well for you not to try; we can bite too," one of them replied. "You strike us as doubtful characters."
"Doubtful? Why, pray?"
"Well, when two men, one white and the other red, wander around the prairies alone they are usually robbers. And your clothes are rather Indian-like. Naturally we suspect you."
"Thanks for your frankness. It is always good to know how one strikes others. But I assure you, you are quite mistaken."
"Possibly. You haven't a rogue's face, that's a fact. Perhaps you won't mind telling us where you come from."
"Not in the least. We come from beyond Washita, and are bound for the Kiowa village where Tangua is chief."
"Well, if you take my advice you'll turn round and go back, and not let a Kiowa catch sight of you. This Tangua has taken the praiseworthy resolution of killing every white man who falls into his hands, and every Indian who isn't a Kiowa. How do you happen to have this Indian with you?"
"Because I don't understand the Kiowa dialect; he is my interpreter, a Pawnee."
"Well, if you both want to be tortured to death, ride on, and you'll get your desire. Tangua has a prisoner now waiting that fate, one of Old Shatterhand's men. The Kiowas are going to capture him next, with the young Apache chief, Winnetou. This prisoner they've caught is a queer customer, who laughs all the time, and doesn't act as though death waited him."
"Have you seen him?"
"I saw him when he was brought in, and lay fastened, on the ground for an hour. Then he was taken to the island."
"An island which serves as prison?"
"Yes; it lies in the Salt Fork, some feet from the village, and is well guarded."
"Did you speak to this prisoner?"
"A few words. I asked him if I could do anything for him. He smiled at me in a friendly way, and said he dearly loved buttermilk, and if I were riding to Cincinnati he'd be much obliged if I'd bring him a glass. He's an absurd fellow. He won't be badly treated just now, though, for Old Shatterhand has a Kiowa prisoner as hostage. Only Santer exerts himself to make his life a burden to him."
"Santer! That's the name of a white man! Are there other whites among the Kiowas?"
"Only this one called Santer; a fellow that's most repulsive to me." "
Is he the chief's guest, or has he a separate tent?" "
He has one to himself, and not one like the chief's, such as they give a welcome guest, but an old leather hut quite at the end of the village. It seems to me he's not in high favor with Tangua either."
"Can't you describe this Santer's tent to me exactly?"
"What's the use? You'll be sure to see it when you get there. It's the fourth or fifth, counting up the stream. I don't believe you'll want to see much of him; he has a villain's face; look out for him. In spite of your dignity, you're still very young, and won't mind a bit of advice. Now I must go on. Good-by. I hope you'll get out with a whole skin."
"Thank you. Oh, could you tell me the name of this white prisoner?"
"Sam Hawkins, and he's a well-known trapper in spite of his absurdity. I was sorry not to be able to
help him. Possibly the chief would listen to you more favorably than he did to me if you speak a word for him."
"I'll try it. Good-by."
"We have learned enough," said Winnetou, as the honest fellows rode on. "We know nearly exactly where Sam Hawkins is, and also which is Santer's tent, and we will find them both. We will ride on till these traders are out of sight, and then go back to our camp."
The traders' forms gradually grew dimmer in the distance; they had to ride slowly because their horses were so laden. As soon as they had disappeared, we turned back, carefully obliterating our tracks, and reached our camp safely. Dick Stone and Will Parker were delighted at getting tidings of their little Sam; the Apaches rejoiced that Santer was waiting them, and everybody bestirred himself energetically in breaking up our present camp, and following Winnetou to an island where we should be more securely hidden than in our present position.
We made ourselves comfortable in the new quarters, and went to sleep, knowing that there would be no rest for us in the coming night. When it was dark we were wakened to set out for the village. We laid aside all but the necessary clothing, and for weapons carried only our knives. Then we jumped into the river, and swam up stream for an hour, when we came to the place where the Salt Fork flows into Red River, and had but to follow the former a few feet before we saw the lights of the fires in the village, which lay on the left bank.
A fire burned before each tent, at which the occupants sat warming themselves and preparing their sup-
per. The largest tent stood in the middle of the village. Its entrance was adorned with spears and eagle feathers. At the fire before this tent sat Tangua, the chief, with a young Indian perhaps eighteen years old, and two younger boys. "Those are his sons," said Winnetou. "The oldest is his favorite, and will be a brave warrior. His speed is so great that he is called Pida, which means The Deer."
I looked around for the island. The heavens were overcast, and no stars were shining, but the fire enabled us to see the islands lying at short distances from one another.
"There at the further end of the village, in the fourth or fifth tent, is Santer," whispered Winnetou. "We will not keep together. I must go to hunt up the dwelling of the murderer of my father and sister, and spy on him. You seek Sam, who is your comrade."
"And where shall we meet again?"
"Here, where we separate, or wait, that may be impossible. If you come through this safely, go back to our camp, but by an indirect way, not to betray the direction of our flight."
"Good! And if anything goes wrong with you, I will come to you."
Even as I spoke Winnetou was gone, creeping toward the tent where lay the wretch who had done him such great wrong.
I swam up stream under water, and came up to breathe at the upper end of the first island. Sam was not here, but indications pointed toward his being on the second one, the approach to which was going to be easier than I had feared. There were a great many canoes tied to the shore, and they would afford me a
shelter under which I could swim up and see the entire island.
As I lay under one of the canoes, trying in vain to get a glimpse of the prisoner and his guard, I heard a rustle above me; it was Pida, the "deer," coming in a canoe. Luckily he landed above me, and presently I heard voices; one was my good old Sam's; the other Pida's. I heard the young Indian say: "It is my father's will."
"I'll never betray it," Sam replied.
"You will suffer ten times more torture then."
"Don't be absurd. Sam Hawkins tortured! Your father wanted to torture me before, at Rio Pecos, among the Apaches. Can you tell me what was the result?"
"The cur, Old Shatterhand, made him a cripple. But you are bound hand and foot, and well guarded; how can you escape from here?"
"That is my affair, dear little boy. Wait. You can't keep me."
"You shall be free if you will tell us where he was going."
"But I never will. The good Santer was so kind as to tell me, in order to frighten me, that you had ridden to Nugget Mountain to capture Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. That would make a stone laugh. Capture Old Shatterhand, my pupil -- ha! ha! ha! And now that you've failed you want me to tell you where they've gone. You think I must know, and I tell you frankly I do know, but you'll find out soon enough without my telling you, for --"
He was interrupted by a loud cry. I could not understand the words, but the tone was as though they were
shouting: "Catch him, catch him," and I heard Winnetou's name echoed.
"Do you hear?" cried Sam in ecstasy. "Where Winnetou is, Old Shatterhand is also. They've come, they've come!"
The tumult in the village increased; I heard the Indians running. They had seen Winnetou, but he had got away. I saw the chief's son spring into his canoe, and heard him call to the sentinels: "Take your guns, and shoot the prisoner if any one tries to free him."
Then he paddled toward the shore.
I had intended to free Sam at once, but even if I had dared attempt it, armed as I was only with a knife, Pida's order put all thought of doing so out of the question. But an idea came to me. Pida was the chief's best beloved son. If I could get him in my hands I could demand Sam as ransom. The plan was a wild one, but it might succeed. A glance showed that the situation was favorable to the attempt. Winnetou had fled toward the Red River on the left, misleading his pursuers, for our camp lay toward the right. The cries of the Indians arose from that direction, to which the eyes of the sentinels also were turned, as they stood with their backs to me. Soon they crossed over to the other side where they could see better. The chief's son had reached the shore with his canoe, and was about to tie it. He stooped over, I crept up behind him; a blow knocked him down. I threw him into the canoe, sprang in myself, and paddled as hard as I could against the stream.
The rash stroke had succeeded! No one in the village had seen me, and Sam's guards were still staring in the opposite direction. I used all my strength to get out of the range of the village, lest the firelight should
fall on me and betray me. I paddled to the right shore of the Salt Fork, laid the unconscious Pida in the grass, cut the rope from the canoe to bind him, gave it a push that sent it down the stream where it would not witness against me, took my prisoner on my shoulder, and started back to our camp. It was not an easy task, for not only was my burden heavy, but as Pida came to himself he struggled as much as he could to get away.
"Who are you?" he asked at last in a towering rage. "A miserable pale-face whom Tangua, my father, will catch in the morning and kill."
"Your father won't catch me; he can't walk," I answered.
"He has countless warriors whom he will send after me."
"I laugh at your warriors. It will be with them as it was with your father if they dare fight me."
"Ugh! Have you fought my father?"
"Yes, and he fell when my shot went through both his knees."
"Ugh, Ugh! So you are Old Shatterhand?" he asked, surprised.
"Who but Winnetou and Old Shatterhand would dare rush into your village and carry off the chief's son?"
"Ugh! Then I shall die, but you will not hear a moan of pain from my lips."
"We will not kill you; we are not murderers, like the Kiowas. If your father will give up the two palefaces he has with him, you shall be free."
"Hawkins and Santer?"
"He will give them up. His son is more precious to
him than ten times ten Hawkins, and he has no respect for Santer."
After this Pida made no more resistance. I came at last opposite our island, and dawn was breaking, but the mist was too thick to allow me to see. "Hallo!" I cried.
"Hallo!" answered Winnetou's voice. "Is that my brother Shatterhand?"
"Then come; why do you call? It is dangerous."
"I have a prisoner; send over a good swimmer and a thong."
"I will come myself."
In a few' moments I saw his head in the water, and was thankful to see it, and know that he was safe. When he came over to me, and saw my prisoner, he said in amazement: "Ugh! Pida, the chief's son. Where did my brother capture him?"
"On the river shore, near Hawkins' island. I should have spoken to Sam and freed him, only you were discovered, so I had to be off."
"It was an unlucky chance. I had reached Santer's tent, when a Kiowa came over to speak to him. As they were talking the Indian saw me, and started toward me. I slipped away, but the firelight fell on me and the Kiowa recognized me. I went up, instead of down stream to deceive them, swam over and came here. And I have not got Santer."
"You shall get him. This young warrior shall be exchanged for him and Hawkins, and both he and I are sure the chief will agree to this."
"Ugh! That is good, very good. My brother has acted most wisely in securing Pida. It was the best thing that could have happened."
We tied our prize between us with his arms fast, but his legs left free to swim, and he was so far from resisting us that he willingly helped us as we crossed. The mist lay so thick over the river that we could not see twenty feet before us, but such a fog heightens every sound. We were not far from the shore when Winnetou said: "Hark! I heard something."
"A sound like a paddle above us."
"Then let us wait."
We made such slight movements as were necessary to keep us above water, and listened. Yes; Winnetou was right; somebody was paddling down the river. Should we let him see us? It might be a spy, but it might be something else. It was most important to us to see what it was. I looked inquiringly at Winnetou. He understood, and said at once: "I will not go back. I must know who this is."
We lay still, hoping not to be seen. Pida could have betrayed us by a cry, but he did not, for he knew that in any case he was safe.
Now the splash of the paddle was close on us, and an Indian canoe cleft the fog. In it sat who? As Winnetou saw the man he uttered a great cry: "Santer, escaping!" My friend, usually so calm, was beside himself at the sight of his foe. He tried to free himself to swim to the canoe, but was so fast bound to Pida that he could not get away.
"I must be free. Help me; I must have him," he cried, drawing his knife and cutting the thongs.
Santer had heard Winnetou's exclamation; he looked over and saw us. "You --" he began, but stopped, took in our situation, threw the paddle in the canoe,
snatched his gun, and cried: "Your last swim, you curs."
Fortunately Winnetou had cut himself free from Pida at that very moment; he darted forward as Pida and I dodged the shot, which fell harmless in the water.
Winnetou did not swim; he darted forward. He had his knife in his teeth, and flew after his enemy with long springs. I could only think of the stones I used to "skip" across the pond when I was a boy.
Santer was ready for another shot, and cried scornfully: "Come on, you cursed redskin. I'll send you after your father."
But he did not know Winnetou. The latter dove suddenly, intending to come up under the canoe and upset it. If he did this Santer's gun would be no more use to him, and there would be a struggle in which the Apache would be victor. Santer saw this, laid aside his gun quickly, and seized his paddle again. It was time he did, for Winnetou came up just where the canoe had been a moment before. Santer exerted himself, and got out of the reach of his furious enemy, crying: "Have you got me, dog? I'll keep my shot for our next meeting."
Winnetou used all his skill, but no swimmer, if he were the world's champion, could catch a canoe paddled down the stream. I called one of the Apaches whom the cries and the shot had brought to the shore, to help me bring Pida over, and Winnetou almost immediately returned. I had never seen him so excited. He said to his people: "Let my brothers get ready quickly. Santer has gone down the stream in a canoe, and we must go after him."
"Yes, we must go this instant," I agreed. "But
what shall we do with Sam Hawkins and our two prisoners?"
"They will be left to you," replied Winnetou.
"Shall I stay here?"
"Yes. I must have the murderer of my father and sister, but your duty is to free Sam Hawkins. We must part."
"For how long?"
He considered a moment, and then said: "I do not know. The wishes and will of man depend on the Great Spirit. I thought I should be longer with my brother Shatterhand, but Manitou has denied this; He wills it otherwise."
"I wish that I could go with you to capture Santer, but I suppose I must save Sam; I can't forsake him."
"I would never wish you to do anything contrary to your duty; you must not. But if the Great Spirit wills, we shall meet again one day."
"When you ride from here go to the Bayou Pierre, and where the Pierre flows into this river you will find one of my warriors in case we can meet."
"And if I see no warrior?"
"Then I shall still be pursuing Santer, not knowing whither he has gone, and cannot tell you where to meet me. In that case ride with your three comrades to St. Louis, to the pale-faces who would build the road for the fire-steed. But I pray you come back to us as soon as the good Manitou allows it. You will ever be welcome in the pueblo of Rio Pecos, and if I am not there, you will learn where to find me."
While he was speaking the horses had been made
ready. He gave his hand to Dick Stone and Will Parker in farewell, and then turned to me, saying: "My brother knows how glad our hearts were when we began our ride from Rio Pecos. Intschu-Tschuna and Nscho-Tschi were with us. When you return you will not hear the voice of the fairest of the daughters of the Apaches, who, instead of going to the States of the palefaces, has gone to the land of the departed. Justice now calls me from you, but love will bring you back to us. Will you promise to come back to us soon, my dear, dear brother Jack?" "
I promise you. My heart goes with you, my dear brother Winnetou."
"Then may the good Manitou guide all your steps and protect you in all your ways. How!"
He put his arms around me and kissed me, gave a brief command to his people, mounted his horse and was gone. I looked after him till he had disappeared in the mist; it seemed to me I had lost a part of my very self.
It was night before I dared attempt the final stroke of our venturesome game. Then I crept alone in the darkness to the village, as Winnetou and I had done together the day before. Again I saw the fire burning, before which sat Tangua, with only his two younger sons now. His head was sunk, and he stared gloomily in the fire. Suddenly he began the deep, monotonous death chant; he was mourning the loss of his eldest, best-beloved son. Indian fashion I crawled around to the other side of the tent, rose up, and stood in full view before the chief. "Why does Tangua sing the lamentation?" I asked. "A brave warrior should not wail; wailing is for old squaws." I could not describe how
amazed he was. He tried to speak, but could not utter a word. He stared at me with bulging eyes, and at last stammered: "Old--Old--Shat--Shat--Shatter-- How came you here?"
"I have come to speak to you," I replied.
"Old Shatterhand," I heard echoing from side to side beyond the tent, and the two boys ran away.
The chief rallied, his face took on an expression of rage, and he called out a command of which I could understand nothing but my name, because he spoke in the Kiowa tongue. A moment later a howl of rage rang through the entire village; it seemed to me the earth shook beneath my feet, as all the warriors who had not gone on Winnetou's trail, which had long before been discovered, rushed into the tent with drawn knives. I drew my knife and cried in Tangua's ear: "Shall Pida be killed? He sent me to you."
He heard, in spite of the howling of his people, and raised his hand. Silence followed, though the Kiowas pressed threateningly around us. If looks of hatred could kill, I should have fallen dead. I sat down by Tangua, looked quietly in his face, blank with amazement at my boldness, and said: "There is enmity between me and Tangua; I am not to blame for it, nor do I object. He can see whether I fear him, since I am come here to speak to him. We will be brief. Pida is in our hands, and will be hanged to a tree if I am not back at an appointed time."
No word, no movement betrayed the effect of my words. The eyes of the chief flashed with rage that he could not harm me without endangering his son. He growled between his teeth: "How did he get in your power?"
"I was over there by the island last night when he spoke to Sam Hawkins, and I captured him."
"Ugh! Old Shatterhand is beloved by the wicked spirit, who protects him. Where is my son?"
"In a safe place, where you will not find him; he himself shall tell you where it is later. You can see from these words that I do not intend to kill him. We have another Kiowa prisoner; he and your son shall be free if you will give Sam Hawkins for them."
"Ugh! You shall have him. Bring back Pida and the other Kiowa brave."
"Bring them? Well, hardly. I know Tangua, and know that I can't trust him. I give you two for one, and am unusually good and generous to you. So give me Hawkins, and send four braves with me to bring back Pida and the other prisoner. In the meantime I must see Sam, and learn from his own mouth how he has been treated."
"I must first consult my oldest braves. Go to the next tent and wait."
"Very well; only make it short, for if I'm not back at a certain time Pida will be hanged."
To an Indian hanging is the most shameful of deaths, so one may fancy how Tangua liked this remark. Nevertheless, he sent a brave to bring Sam to the tent where I waited. The little man sprang to me, holding out his fettered hands, and crying jubilantly: "Hello, Old Shatterhand. I knew you'd come. Do you want your old Sam back?"
"Yes," I said, "and the tenderfoot has come to tell you are the greatest master of the art of spying. Have they treated you badly?"
"Badly? What is the matter with you? Every Kiowa has loved me like his own baby."
"That's lucky for them now. The council seems to be over."
I went back to Tangua, and found him ready, under the pressure of circumstances, to agree to my proposition. Two canoes were made ready, and four armed braves accompanied Sam and me to bring back the hostages. The Indians were enraged at being obliged to let me go with their prisoner, and Tangua said to me in parting: "When I have my son back, I will send the whole tribe after you. We will find your trail, and catch you, even if you ride through the air."
I did not think it necessary to reply to this threat, and we departed down the river, a howl following us till we were too far away to hear it. We gave up our prisoners, who left us without a word of farewell.
Sam threw up his arms as they were unbound, crying: "Free, free again. It will be a long day before I forget you, Jack Hildreth."
We waited till we could no longer hear the splash of the paddles of the returning canoes, and then mounted, and rode down stream, away from the unattractive neighborhood of the Kiowa village.