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The Pony Rider Boys in the Grand Canyon (Chapter20)

2006-08-28 13:58

  Chapter XX. In the Home of the Havasupais

  An investigation showed that Ned Rector was right in his assertion. His rifle had been taken, likewise his revolver and his cartridges. It lent color to Stacy's statement that he had seen something, but no one believed that that something had been a ghost, unless perhaps the guide believed it, for having lived close to Nature so long, he might be a superstitious person.

  There was little sleep in the camp of the Pony Rider Boys for the rest of the night. They were too fully absorbed in discussing the events of the evening and the mysteries that seemed to surround them. First, Stacy had lost his rifle, the captive lion had mysteriously disappeared, and now another member of their party had lost his rifle and revolver. Dad directed the boys not to move about at all. He hoped to find a trail in the morning, a trail that would give him a clue in case prowlers had been in the camp.

  A search in the morning failed to develop anything of the sort. Not the slightest trace of a stranger having visited the camp was discovered. They gave up——the mystery was too much for them.

  That day Nance decided to move on. Their camp was to remain at the same place, but the half breed was directed to sleep by day and to stay on guard during the night. Jim proposed to take his charges into the wonderful Cataract Canyon, where they would pay a visit to the village of the Havasupai Indians.

  This appealed to the Pony Riders. They had seen no Indians since coming to the Grand Canyon. They did not know that there were Indians ranging through that rugged territory, red men who were as familiar with the movements of the Pony Rider Boys as were the boys themselves.

  They arrived at the Cataract Canyon on the morning of the second day, having visited another part of Bright Angel Gulch for a day en route.

  At the entrance to the beautiful canyon the guide paused to tell them something about it.

  "I will tell you," he said, "how the Havasupais came to select this canyon for their home. When the several bands of red men, who afterwards became the great tribes of the south-west, left their sacred Canyon——mat-aw-we'-dit-ta——by direction of their Moses——Ka-that-ka-na'-ve——to find new homes, the Havasupai family journeyed eastward on the trail taken by the Navajos and the Hopi. One night they camped in this canyon. Early the next day they took up their burdens to continue on their journey. But as they were starting a little papoose began to cry. The Kohot of the family, believing this to be a warning from the Great Spirit, decided to remain in the canyon.

  "They found this fertile valley, containing about five hundred acres of level land. They called the place Ha-va-sua, meaning 'Blue Water,' and after a time they themselves were known, as Havasupai——'Dwellers By the Blue water'. They have been here ever since."

  "Most interesting, most interesting," breathed the Professor. "But how comes it that this level stretch of fertile land is found in this rugged, rocky canyon, Nance?"

  "That's easily answered. During hundreds of years the river has deposited vast quantities of marl at the upper ends of this valley. Thus four great dams have been built up forming barriers across the canyon. These dams have quite largely filled up, leaving level stretches of land of great richness."

  "Do they work the land?" asked Tad.

  "In a primitive way, they do, probably following the methods they learned from the cliff dwellers, who occupied the crude dwellings you have seen all along these walls in the canyons here."

  The Cataract Canyon proved to be the most interesting of all that the boys had seen for variety and beauty. The Havasu River, foaming in torrents over Supai and Navajos Falls, fifty and seventy-five feet high, respectively, they found gliding through a narrow canyon for half a mile, in a valley matted with masses of trees, vines and ferns, the delicate green of whose foliage contrasted wonderfully with the dead gray walls of the deep, dark canyon at that point.

  For some three miles below this the Pony Riders followed the smoothly-gliding stream through a canyon whose straight up and down walls of gray limestone seemed to meet overhead in the blue of the sky. Below they seemed to be in the tropics. During that first day in the Cataract they saw another wonder, that of the filmy clouds settling down and forming a roof over the Canyon. It was a marvelous sight before which the Pony Rider Boys were lost in wonder.

  The Bridal Veil Falls they thought the most beautiful wonder of its kind they had ever seen. Here they saw the crystal waters dashing in clouds of spray through masses of ferns, moss and trees, one hundred and seventy-five feet perpendicularly into a seething pool below.

  Their delight was in the innumerable caves found along the Canyon. In these were to be seen flowers fashioned out of the limestone, possessing wonderful colors, scintillating in the light of the torches, reds that glowed like points of fire, stalactites that glistened like the long, pointed icicles they had seen hanging from the eaves of their homes in Chillicothe. They discovered lace-work in most delicate tints, masses and masses of coral and festoons of stone sponges in all the caves they visited. There were little caves leading from larger caves, caves within caves, caves below caves, a perfect riot of caves and labyrinths all filled with these marvelous specimens of limestone.

  "I think I would be content to live here always," breathed Tad after they had finished their explorations of the caves and passed on into a perfect jungle of tropical growth on their way to Ko-ho-ni-no, the canyon home of the Havasupais.

  "You'd never be lonesome here," smiled Nance.

  "Why don't you live down here, then?" asked Ned.

  "Perhaps I don't live so far from here, after all," rejoined the guide.

  "Do they have ghosts in this canyon?" asked Chunky apprehensively.

  "Full of them!"

  "Br-r-r!" shivered the fat boy.

  "A wonderful place for scientific research," mused the Professor.

  "Why don't you stay in Bright Angel for a while and study ghosts?" suggested Stacy.

  "I decline to be drawn into so trivial a discussion," answered Professor Zepplin severely.

  "You wouldn't think it was trivial were you to see one of those things."

  "Perhaps the Professor, too, has overloaded his stomach some time before going to bed," spoke up Tad Butler.

  "You are mistaken, young man. I never make a glutton of myself," was the grim retort.

  "Now will you be good, Tad Butler?" chuckled Walter Perkins.

  "Yes, I have nothing more to say," answered Tad, with a hearty laugh.

  "We are getting down on the level now," the guide informed them.

  Halting suddenly, Nance pointed to an overhanging ledge about half a mile down the valley. The boys gazed, shading their eyes, wondering what Nance saw.

  "I see," said Tad.

  "Then you see more than do the rest of us," answered Ned. "What is it?"

  "It looks to me like a man."

  "You have good eyes," nodded Nance.

  "Is it a——a man?" questioned Chunky.

  "Yes, it is an Indian lookout. He sees us and is trying to decide whether or not our mission is a friendly one."

  "Indians! Wow!" howled Chunky.

  "We are in their home now, so behave yourself," warned Nance.

  The Havasu River, which the riders followed, extended right on through the village, below which were many scattering homes of the red men, but the majority of them lived in the village itself. Almost the entire length of the creek, both in the village and below, the river is bordered with cottonwood, mesquite and other green trees, that furnish shade for the quaint village nestling in the heart of the great Canyon.

  The boys followed the water course until finally they were approached by half a dozen men——indians——who had come out to meet them.

  Nance made a sign. The Indians halted, gazed, then started forward. In the advance was the Kohot or native chief.

  "Hello, Tom," greeted the guide.

  "How!" said the chief.

  "Tom is a funny name for an Indian," observed Chunky.

  "His name is Chick-a-pan-a-gi, meaning 'the bat'," answered Jim smilingly.

  "He looks the part," muttered the fat boy.

  "Tom, I've brought some friends of mine down to see you and your folks. Have you anything to eat?"

  "Plenty eat."

  "Good."

  "Plenty meala, meula. Kuku. No ski," answered the chief, meaning that they were stocked with flour, sugar, but no bacon.

  "I know that language," confided Stacy to Tad. "It's Hog Latin."

  "Magi back-a-tai-a?" asked the chief.

  "Higgety-piggety," muttered Chunky.

  "He means, 'have we come from the place of the roaring sound?'" translated Nance.

  "You bet we have. Several of them," spoke up Ned.

  "Doesn't he speak English?" asked Walter.

  "Yes, he will soon. He likes a confidential chat with me in his own language first. By 'the place of the roaring sound' he means the big Canyon. How is Jennie, Tom?"

  "Chi-i-wa him good."

  "That's fine. We'll be moving along now. We are tired and want to rest and make peace with Chick-a-pan-gi and his people," said Nance.

  The Kohot bowed, waved a hand to his followers, who turned, marching stolidly back toward the village, followed by the chief, then by Nance and his party.

  "This sounds to me as if it were going to be a chow-chow party," grinned Stacy.

  "For goodness' sake, behave yourself. Don't stir those Indians up. They are friendly enough, but Indians are sensitive," advised Tad.

  "So am I," replied Chunky.

  "You may be sorry that you are if you are not careful. I shall be uneasy all the time for fear you'll put your foot in it," said Tad.

  "Just keep your own house in order. Mine will take care of itself. There's the village."

  "Surely enough," answered Tad, gazing inquiringly toward the scattered shacks or ha-was, as the native houses were called. These consisted of posts set up with a slight slant toward the center, over which was laid in several layers the long grass of the canyon. Ordinarily a bright, hued Indian blanket covered the opening. A tall man could not stand upright in a Havasupai ha-wa. They were merely hovels, but they were all sufficient for these people, who lived most of their lives out in the open.

  The street was full of gaunt, fierce-looking dogs that the boys first mistook for coyotes. The dogs, ill-fed, were surly, making friends with no one, making threatening movements toward the newcomers in several instances. One of them seized the leg of Chunky's trousers.

  "Call your dog off, Chief Chickadee!" yelled the fat boy.

  The Indian merely grunted, whereupon the fat boy laid a hand on the butt of his revolver. A hand gripped his arm at the same time. The hand was Tad Butler's.

  "You little idiot, take your hand away from there or I'll put a head on you right here! The dog won't hurt you." Tad was angry.

  "No, you've scared him off, now. Of course he won't bite me, but he would have done so if he hadn't caught sight of you."

  "I must be good dog medicine then," replied Tad grimly. "But, never mind," he added, with a smile, "just try to behave yourself for a change."

  About that time Chief Tom was leading out his squaw by an ear.

  "White man see Chi-i-wa," grinned the chief.

  Chi-i-wa gave them a toothless smile. She was the most repulsive-looking object the boys ever had looked upon. Chi-i-wa's hair came down to the neck, where it had been barbered off square all the way around. This was different from her august husband's. His hair lay in straight strands on his shoulders, while a band of gaudy red cloth, the badge of his office, was twisted over The forehead, binding the straight, black locks at the back of the head.

  The squaw wore baggy trousers bound at the bottom with leggings, while over her shoulder was draped a red and white Indian blanket that was good to look upon. The brilliant reds of the blankets all through the village lent a touch of color that was very pleasing to the eye.

  The chief's son was then brought out to shake hands with the white men, while Chi-i-wa squatted down and appeared to lose all interest in life. Dogs and children were by this time gathered about in great numbers regarding the new comers with no little curiosity.

  The chief's son was introduced to the boys by Nance as "Afraid Of His Face."

  Stacy surveyed the straight-limbed but ugly faced young buck critically.

  "I don't blame him," said the fat boy.

  "Don't blame him for what?" snapped Nance.

  "For being afraid of his face. So am I."

  The boys snickered, but their faces suddenly sobered at a sharp glance from the piercing eyes of the Kohot.

  "Mi-ki-u-la," said Afraid Of His Face, pointing to the much-soiled trousers of Stacy Brown.

  "He likes your trousers, he says," grinned the guide.

  "Well, he can't have them, though he certainly does need trousers," decided Stacy reflectively, studying the muscular, half-naked limbs of the young buck. "He couldn't very well appear in polite society in that rig, could he, Tad?"

  "Not unless he were going in swimming," smiled Tad.

  It was at this point that Tad Butler himself came near getting into difficulties. The chief's son, having been ordered in a series of explosive guttural sounds to do something, had started away when a yellow, wolfish looking cur got in way. Afraid Of His Face gave the dog a vicious kick, then as if acting upon second thought he grabbed up the snarling dog, and twisting its front legs over on its back, dropped the yelping animal, giving it another kick before it touched the ground.

  Tad's face went fiery red. He could not stand idly and witness the abuse of an animal. The lad leaped forward and stood confronting the young buck with flaming face. Tad would have struck the Indian had Nance not been on the spot. With a powerful hand he thrust Tad behind him, saying something in the Indian language to Afraid Of His Face, which caused the buck to smile faintly and proceed on his mission.

  "If you had struck him you never would have gotten out of here alive," whispered the guide. Stacy had been a witness to the proceeding. He smiled sarcastically when Tad came back to where the fat boy was standing.

  "Folks who live in glass houses, should not shy rocks," observed the fat boy wisely.

  By that time the squaws were setting out corn cakes, dried peaches and a heap of savory meat that was served on a bark platter. The meal was spread on a bright blanket regardless of the fact that grease from the meat was dripping over the beautiful piece of weaving. The boys thought it a pity to see so wonderful a piece of work ruined so uselessly, but they made no comment. Then all sat down, the Indians squatting on their haunches, while the white men seated themselves on the ground. There were neither knives nor forks. Fingers were good enough for the noble red man.

  First, before beginning the meal, the Kohot lighted a great pipe and took a single puff. Then he passed it to Professor Zepplin, who, with a sheepish look at the Pony Rider Boys, also took a puff.

  Stacy came next. The chief handed the pipe to the fat boy in person. Stacy's face flushed.

  "Thank you, but I don't smoke," he said politely. The lines of the chief's face tightened. It was an insult to refuse to smoke the pipe of peace when offered by the Kohot.

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