Apache Devil

Chapter Four

Gian-Nah-Tah Relents

Edgar Rice Burroughs

“I CARE for you a great deal, Ad!” Shoz-Dijiji heard these words and recognized the voice of the girl who had spurned his love. Now he recognized her companion also.

Wounded pride, racial hatred, the green eyed monster, jealousy, clamored at the gates of his self-restraint, sought to tear down the barriers and loose the savage warrior upon the authors of his misery. His hand crept to the hunting knife at his hip, the only weapon that he carried; but Shoz-Dijiji was master of his own will; and the two passed on, out of his sight, innocent of any faintest consciousness that they had paused within the shadow of the Apache Devil.

A half hour later a tall, straight figure loomed suddenly before the sentry at Headquarters. The cavalryman, dismounted, snapped his carbine to port as he challenged: “Halt! Who is there?”

“I have come to talk with Nan-tan-des-la-par-en,” said Shoz-Dijiji in Apache.

“Hell!” muttered the sentry, “if it ain’t a damned Siwash,” and shouted for the corporal of the guard. “Stay where you are, John,” he cautioned the Indian, “until the corporal comes, or I’ll have to make a good Indian of you.”

“No sabe,” said Shoz-Dijiji.

“You’d better savvy,” warned the soldier.

The corporal of the guard appeared suddenly out of the darkness. “Wot the hell now?” he demanded. “Who the hell’s this?”

“It’s a God damn Siwash.”

“How the hell did he get inside the lines?”

“How the hell should I know? Here he is, and he don’t savvy United States.”

The corporal addressed Shoz-Dijiji. “Wot the hell you want here, John?” he demanded.

Again the Apache replied in his own tongue. “Try Mex on him,” suggested the sentry.

“Some of ’em savvy that lingo all right.”

In broken, badly broken, Spanish the corporal of the guard repeated his questions.

“No sabe,” lied Shoz-Dijiji again.

“Hadn’t you better shove him in the guard house?” suggested the sentry. “He aint got no business inside the post at night.”

“I think he wants to talk to the Old Man—he keeps sayin’ that fool Siwash name they got for Crook. You hold him here while I goes and reports to the O.D. And say, if he ain’t good don’t forget that it costs Uncle Sam less to bury a Injun than to feed him.”

It chanced that the Officer of the Day was one of the few white men in the southwest who understood even a little of the language of the Apaches, and when he returned with the corporal he asked Shoz-Dijiji what he wanted.

“I have a message for Nan-tan-des-la-par-en!!’ replied the Apache.

“You may give it to me!”! said the officer. “I will tell General Crook.”

“My message is for General Crook! not for you,” replied Shoz-Dijiji.

“General Crook will be angry if you bother him now with some matter that is not important. You had better tell me.”

“It is important,” replied Shoz-Dijiji.

“Come with me,” directed the officer, and led the way into the headquarters building.

“Please inform General Crook,” he said to the orderly in the outer office, “that Captain Crawford has an Apache here who says that he brings an important message for the General.”

A moment later Shoz-Dijiji and Captain Crawford stepped into General Crook’s presence. Captain Cullis was sitting at one end of the table behind which Crook sat, while Lieutenant King stood facing the commanding officer from whom he had just requested leave to escort Wichita Billings to her home.

“Just a moment King,” said Crook. “You needn’t leave.

“Well, Crawford,” turning to the Officer of the Day, “what does this man want?”

“He says that he has an important message for you, sir. He refuses to deliver it to anyone else; neither and as he apparently speaks nor understands English I came with him to interpret, if you wish, sir.”

“Very good! Tell him that I say you are to interpret his message. Ask him who he is and what he wants.”

Crawford repeated Crook’s words to Shoz-Dijiji.

“Tell Nan-tan-des-la-par-en that I am Shoz-Dijiji, the son of Geronimo. I have come to tell him that my father has left the reservation.”

Shoz-Dijiji saw in the faces of the men about him the effect of his words. To announce that Geronimo had gone out again was like casting a bomb into a peace meeting.

“Ask him where Geronimo has gone and how many warriors are with him,” snapped Crook.

“Geronimo has not gone on the war-trail,” replied Shoz-Dijiji after Crawford had put the question to him, waiting always for the interpretation of Crook’s words though he understood them perfectly in English. “There are no warriors with Geronimo other than his son. He has taken his wife with him and his small children. He wishes only to go away and live in peace. He cannot live in peace with the white-eyed men. He does not wish to fight the white-eyed soldiers any more.”

“Where has he gone?” asked Crook again.

“He has gone toward Sonora,” lied Shoz-Dijiji, that being the opposite of the direction taken by Geronimo; but Shoz-Dijiji was working with the cunning of an Apache. He knew well that Geronimo’s absence from the reservation might well come to the attention of the authorities on the morrow; and he hoped that by announcing it himself and explaining that it was not the result of warlike intentions they might pass it over and let the War Chief live where he wished, but if not then it would give Geronimo time to make good his escape if the troops were sent upon a wild goose chase toward Sonora, while it would also allow Shoz-Dijiji ample time to overhaul his father and report the facts. Furthermore, by bringing the message himself and by assuming ignorance of English, he was in a position where he might possibly learn the plans of the white-eyed men concerning Geronimo. All-in-all, Shoz-Dijiji felt that his strategy was not without merit. Crook sat in silence for a moment, tugging on his great beard. Presently he turned to Captain Cullis. “Hold yourself in readiness to march at daylight, Cullis, with all the available men of your troop. Proceed by the most direct route to Apache Pass and try to pick up the trail. Bring Geronimo back, alive if you can. If he resists, kill him.

“Crawford, I shall have you relieved immediately. You also will march at dawn. Go directly south. You will each send out detachments to the east and west. Keep in touch with one another. Whatever else you do, bring back Geronimo!”

He swung back toward Shoz-Dijiji. “Crawford, give this man some tobacco for bringing me this information, and see that he is passed through the sentries and sent back to his camp. Tell him that Geronimo had no business leaving the reservation and that he will have to come back, but do not let him suspect that we are sending troops after him.”

The corporal of the guard escorted Shoz-Dijiji through the line of sentries, and as they were about to part the Apache handed the soldier the sack of tobacco that Captain Crawford had given him.

“You’re not such a bad Indian, at that,” commented the corporal, “but,” he added, scratching his head, “I’d like to know how in hell you got into the post in the first place.”

“Me no sabe,” said Shoz-Dijiji.


Mrs. Cullis arose early the following morning and went directly to Wichita’s room, where she found her guest already dressed in flannel shirt, buckskin skirt, and high heeled boots, ready for her long ride back to the Billings’ ranch.

“I thought I’d catch you before you got dressed,” said the older woman.


“You can’t go today. Geronimo has gone out again. ‘B’ Troop and Captain Crawford’s scouts have started after him already. Both Captain Cullis and Mister King have gone out with ‘B’ Troop; but even if there were anyone to go with you, it won’t be safe until they have Geronimo back on the reservation again.”

“How many went out with him?” asked the girl.

“Only his wife and children. The Indians say he has not gone on the war path, but I wouldn’t take any chances with the bloodthirsty old scoundrel.”

“I’m not afraid,!” said Wichita. “As long as it’s only Geronimo I’m in no danger even if I meet him, which I won’t. You know we are old friends.”

“Yes, I know all about that; but I know you can’t trust an Apache.”

“I trust them,” said Wichita. She stooped and buckled on her spurs.

“You don’t mean that you are going anyway!”

“Why of course I am.”

Margaret Cullis shook her head. “What am I to do?” she demanded helplessly.

“Give me a cup of coffee before I leave,” suggested Wichita.


The business at the Hog Ranch had been good that night. Two miners and a couple of cattlemen, all well staked, had dropped in early in the evening for a couple of drinks and a few rounds of stud. They were still there at daylight, but they were no longer well staked.

“Dirty” Cheetim and three or four of his cronies had annexed their bank rolls. The four guests were sleeping off the effects of their pleasant evening on the floor of the back room.

“Dirty” and his pals had come out on the front porch to inhale a breath of fresh air before retiring. An Indian, lithe, straight, expressionless of face, was approaching the building.

“Hello, John!” said “Dirty” Cheetim through a wide yawn. “What for you want?”

“Whiskey,” said the Apache. “Le’me see the color of your dust, John.”

A rider coming into view from the direction of the post attracted Cheetim’s attention. “Wait till we see who that is,” he said. “I don’t want none of those damn long hairs catchin’ me dishin’ red-eye to no Siwash.”

They all stood watching the approaching rider. “Why it’s a woman,” said one of the men.

“Durned if it ain’t,” admitted another. “Hell!” exclaimed Cheetim. “It’s Billings’ girl—the dirty—!”

“What you got agin’ her?” asked one of the party.

“Got against her? Plenty! I offered to marry her, and she turned me down flat. Then her old man run me offen the ranch. It was lucky for him that they was a bunch of his cow-hands hangin’ around.”

The girl passed, her horse swinging along in an easy, running walk—the gait that eats up the miles. Down the dusty trail they passed while the five white men and the Apache stood on the front porch of the Hog Ranch and watched.

“Neat little heifer,” commented one of the former.

“You fellers want to clean up a little dust?” asked Cheetim.

“How?” asked the youngest of the party, a puncher who drank too much to be able to hold a job even in this country of hard drinking men.

“Help me c’ral that critter—she’d boom business in the Hog Ranch.”

“We’ve helped you put your iron on lots of mavericks; Dirty,” said the young man. “Whatever you says goes with me.”

“Bueno! We’ll just slap on our saddles and follow along easy like till she gets around Pimos Canyon. They’s a old shack up there that some dude built for huntin’, but it ain’t been used since the bronchos went out under Juh in ’81—say, that just natch’rly scairt that dude plumb out o’ the country. I’ll keep her up there a little while in case anyone raises a stink, and after it blows over I’ll fetch her down to the Ranch. Now who’s this a-comin’?”

From the direction of the post a mounted trooper was approaching at a canter. He drew rein in front of the Hog Ranch.

“Hello, you dirty bums!” he greeted them, with a grin. “You ain’t worth it, but orders is orders, and mine is to notify the whites in this neck o’ the woods that Geronimo’s gone out again. I hope to Christ he gets you,” and the messenger spurred on along the trail.

Cheetim turned to the Apache. “Is that straight, John?” he asked. “Has Geronimo gone out?”

The Indian nodded affirmatively.

“Now I reckon we got to hang onto our scalps with both hands for another couple months,” wailed the young puncher.

“Geronimo no go on war-trail,” explained the Apache. “Him just go away reservation. Him no kill.”

“Well, if he ain’t on the war-path we might as well mosey along after the Billings heifer,” said Cheetim, with a sigh of relief. He turned to the Indian. “I ain’t got no time now!” he said. “You come round tomorrow—maybe so I fix you up then, eh?”

The Apache nodded. “Mebbe so, mebbe not,” he replied, enigmatically; but Cheetim, who had already started for the corral, failed to note any hidden meaning in the words of the Indian. Perhaps none had been intended. One seldom knows what may be in the mind of an Apache.

As the five men saddled and prepared to ride after Wichita Billings the Indian started back toward the reservation. He had not understood every word that the white men had spoken; but he had understood enough, coupled with his knowledge of the sort of men they were, to fully realize their purpose and the grave danger that threatened the white girl.

In the heart of Gian-nah-tah was no love for her. In the breast of Gian-nah-tah burned sullen resentment and anger against Shoz-Dijiji. When Cheetim’s purpose with the girl had first dawned upon him it had not occurred to him that he might interfere. The girl had spurned Shoz-Dijiji. Perhaps it would be better if she were out of the way. But he knew that Shoz-Dijiji loved her and that even though she did not love the war chief of the Be-don-ko-he he would protect her from injury if he could.

He recalled how Shoz-Dijiji had struck the whiskey from his hand the previous day; he felt the blows upon his face as Shoz-Dijiji slapped him; he burned at recollection of the indignities that had been: put upon him before the eyes of the white-eyed man; but he kept on in the direction of the Be-don-ko-he camp.

They say that an Apache is never moved by chivalry or loyalty—only by self-interest; but this day Gian-nah-tah gave the lie to the author of this calumny.

As Wichita Billings was about to pass the mouth of Pimos Canyon she heard the sound of galloping hoofs behind her. In effete society it is not considered proper for a young lady to turn and scrutinize chance wayfarers upon the same road; but the society of Arizona in the ’80’s was young and virile—so young and so virile that it behooved one to investigate it before it arrived within shooting distance.

Impelled, therefore, by a deep regard for Nature’s first law Wichita turned in her saddle and examined the approaching horsemen. Instantly she saw that they were five and white. It occurred to her that perhaps they had seen her pass and were coming to warn her that Geronimo was out, for she knew that word of it would have passed quickly throughout the country.

As the riders neared she thought that she recognized something vaguely familiar in the figure and carriage of one of them, for in a country where people go much upon horseback individual idiosyncrasies of seat and form are quickly and easily observable and often serve to identify a rider at considerable distances.

Cheetim rode with an awkward forward hunch and his right elbow higher than his left. It was by these that Wichita recognized him even before she saw his face; though she was naturally inclined to doubt her own judgment, since she had believed “Dirty” Cheetim dead for several years.

An instant later she discerned his whiskered face. While she did not know that these men were pursuing her, she was quite confident that there would be trouble the instant that Cheetim recognized her; and so she spurred on at a faster gait, intending to keep ahead of the five without actually seeming to be fleeing them.

But that was to be more easily planned than executed, for the instant that she increased her speed they spurred after her at a run, shouting to her to stop. She heard them call that Geronimo was out, but she was more afraid of Cheetim than she was of Geronimo.

So insistent were they upon overtaking her that presently her horse was extended at full speed, but as it is seldom that a horse that excels in one gait is proportionally swift at others it was soon apparent that she would be overhauled.

Leaning forward along her horse’s neck, she touched him again with her spurs and spoke encouraging words in his back-laid ears. The incentiveof spur and spoken word, the lesser wind resistance of her new position, had their effects with the result that for a short time she drew away from her pursuers; but presently the young cow-puncher, plying long rowels, wielding pliant, rawhide quirt that fell with stinging blows alternately upon either flank of his wiry mount, edged closer.

“Hold on, Miss!” he called to her. “You gotta come back—Geronimo’s out!”

“You go back and tell ‘Dirty’ Cheetim to lay off,” she shouted back over her shoulder. “If I’ve got to choose between him and Geronimo, I’ll take the Apache.”

“You better stop and talk to him,” he urged. “He ain’t goin’ to hurt you none.”

“You’re damn tootin’ cow-boy,” she yelled at him; “he sure ain’t if I know it.”

The young puncher urged his horse to greater speed. Wichita’s mount was weakening. The man drew closer. In a moment he would be able to reach out and seize her bridle rein. The two had far outdistanced the others trailing in the dust behind.

Wichita drew her six-shooter. “Be careful, cow-boy!” she warned. “I aint got nothin’ agin you, but I’ll shore bore you if you lay ary hand on this bridle.”

Easily Wichita lapsed into the vernacular she had spent three years trying to forget, as she always and unconsciously did under stress of excitement.

“Then I’ll run that cayuse o’ yourn ragged,” threatened the man. “He’s just about all in how.”

“Yours is!” snapped Wichita, levelling her six-shooter at the horse of her pursuer and pulling the trigger.

The man uttered an oath and tried to rein in to avoid the shot. Wichita’s hammer fell with a futile click. She pulled the trigger again and again with the same result. The man voiced a loud guffaw and closed up again. The girl turned her horse to one side to avoid him. Again he came on in the new direction; and when he was almost upon her she brought her mount to its haunches, wheeled suddenly and spurred across the trail to the rear of the man and rode on again at right angles to her former direction, but she had widened the distance between them.

Once more the chase began, but now the man had taken down his rope and was shaking out the noose. He drew closer. Standing in his stirrups, swinging the, great noose, he waited for the right instant. Wichita tried to turn away from him but she saw that he would win that way as easily, since she was turning back toward the other four who were already preparing to intercept her.

Her horse was heavier than the pony ridden by the young puncher and that fact gave Wichita a forlorn hope. Wheeling, she spurred straight toward the man with the mad intention of riding him down. If her own horse did not fall too, she might still have a chance.

The puncher sensed instantly the thing that was in her mind; and just before the impact he drove his spurs deep into his pony’s sides, and as Wichita’s horse passed behind him he dropped his noose deftly to the rear over his left shoulder, and an instant later had drawn it tight about the neck of the girl’s mount.

She reached forward and tried to throw off the rope, but the puncher backed away, keeping it taut; and then “Dirty” Cheetim and the three others closed in about her.

Apache Devil - Contents    |     Chapter Five - The Snake Look

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