Apache Devil

Chapter Eight

Geronimo and Crook

Edgar Rice Burroughs

CRAWFORD’S Scouts were preparing to ride with the coming of the new day when there appeared upon a little eminence near their camp the figure of an Indian. Silent and erect it stood—a bronze statue touched by the light of the rising sun. Slowly, to and fro, it waved a white rag that was attached to the muzzle of a rifle. A scout called Crawford’s attention to the flag of truce; and the cavalry officer, bearing a similar emblem, went out alone and on foot toward the messenger, who now came slowly forward until the two met a couple of hundred yards from the camp.

Crawford recognized the Black Bear and nodded, waiting for him to speak.

“Shoz-Dijiji brings a message from Geronimo,” said the Apache.

“What message does Geronimo send me?” asked the officer. Both men spoke in the language of the Shis-Inday.

“Geronimo has heard that Nan-tan-des-la-par-en wishes to hold a parley with him,” replied Shoz-Dijiji.

“Nan-tan-des-la-par-en wishes only that Geronimo surrenders with all his warriors, women, and children,” said Crawford. “There is no need for a parley. Tell Geronimo that if he will come to my camp with all his people, bringing also all his horses and mules, and lay down his arms, I will take him to Nan-tan-des-la-par-en in safety.”

“That is surrender,” replied Shoz-Dijiji. “Geronimo will not surrender. He will make peace with Nan-tan-des-la-par-en, but he will not surrender.”

“Black Bear,” said Crawford, “you are a great warrior among your people, you are an intelligent man, you know that we have you surrounded by a greatly superior force, you are worn by much fighting and marching, you are short of food, you cannot escape us this time. I know these things; you know them; Geronimo knows them.

“It will be better for you and your people if you come in peaceably now and return with me. Nan-tan-des-la-par-en will not be hard on you if you surrender now, but if you cause us any more trouble it may go very hard indeed with you. Think it over.”

“We have thought it over,” replied the Black Bear. “We know that a handful of braves cannot be victorious over the armies of two great nations, but we also know that we can keep on fighting for a long time before we are all killed and that in the meantime we shall kill many more of our enemies than we lose. You know that these are true words. Therefore it would be better for you to arrange for a parley with Nan-tan-des-la-par-en than to force us back upon the war-trail.

“Geronimo is a proud man. The thing that you demand he will never consent to, but a peace parley with Nan-tan-des-la-par-en might bring the same results without so greatly injuring the pride of Geronimo.

“These things I may say to you because it is well known that your heart is not bad against the Apaches. Of all the pindah-lickoyee you are best fitted to understand. That is why Geronimo sent me to you. He would not have sent this message to any white-eyed man ,but you or Lieutenant Gatewood. Him we trust also. We do not trust Nan-tan-des-la-par-en any more; but if we have your promise that no harm shall befall us we will go with you and talk with him, but we must be allowed to keep our weapons and our live-stock. I have spoken.”

“I get your point,” said Crawford after a moment of thought. “If Geronimo and the warriors in his party will give me their word that they will accompany us peaceably I will take them to General Crook and guarantee them safe escort, but I cannot promise what General Crook will do. Geronimo knows that I have no authority to do that.”

“We shall come in and make camp near you this afternoon,” said Shoz-Dijiji. “Tell your scouts not to fire upon us.”

“When you come stop here, and I will tell you where to camp,” replied Crawford. “Geronimo and two others may come into my camp to talk with me, but if at any time more of you enter my camp armed I shall consider it a hostile demonstration. Do you understand?”

Shoz-Dijiji nodded and without more words turned and retraced his steps toward the camp of the renegades, while Crawford stood watching him until he had disappeared beyond a rise of ground. Not once did the Apache glance back. The cavalry officer shook his head. “It is difficult,” he mused, “not to trust a man who has, such implicit confidence in one’s honor.”

That afternoon, January 11, 1886, promised to witness the termination of more than three hundred years of virtually constant warfare between the Apaches and the whites. Captain Crawford and Lieutenant Maus were jubilant—they were about to succeed where so many others had failed. The days of heat and thirst and gruelling work were over.

“Geronimo is through,” said Crawford. “He is ready to give up and come in and be a good Indian. If he wasn’t he’d never have sent the Black Bear with that message.”

“I don’t trust any of them,” replied Maus, “and as for being a good Indian—there’s only one thing that’ll ever make Geronimo that”—he touched the butt of his pistol.

“That doctrine is responsible to a greater extent than any other one thing for many of the atrocities and the seeming treachery of the Apaches,” replied Crawford. “They have heard that so often that they do not really trust any of us, for they believe that we all hold the same view. It makes them nervous when any of us are near them, and as they are always suspicious of us the least suggestion of an overt act on our part frightens them onto the war-trail and goads them to reprisals.

“It has taken months of the hardest kind of work to reach the point where Geronimo is ready to make peace—a thoughtless word or gesture now may easily undo all that we have accomplished. Constantly impress upon the scouts by word and example the fact that every precaution must be taken to convince the renegades that we intend to fulfill every promise that I have made them.”


Shoz-Dijiji came and stood before Geronimo. “What did the white-eyed chief say to you?” demanded the old war chief.

“He said that if we lay down our arms and surrender he will take us to Nan-tan-des-la-par-en,” replied Shoz-Dijiji.

“What did Shoz-Dijiji reply?”

“Shoz-Dijiji told the white-eyed man that Geronimo would not surrender, but that he would hold a parley with Nan-tan-des-la-par-en. At last the white-eyed chief agreed. We may retain our arms, and he promises that we shall not be attacked if we accompany him peaceably to the parley with Nan-tan-des-la-par-en.”

“What did you reply?”

“That we would come and make camp near him this afternoon. He has promised tha this scouts will not fire upon us.”

“Good!” exclaimed Geronimo. “Let us make ready to move our camp, and let it be understood that if the word made between Shoz-Dijiji and the white-eyed chief be broken and shots fired in anger the first shot shall not be fired by a member of my band. I have spoken!”

As the renegades broke camp and moved slowly in the direction of Crawford’s outfit a swart Mexican cavalryman, concealed behind the summit of a low hill, watched them, and as he watched a grim smile of satisfaction played for an instant about the corners of his eyes. Ten minutes later he was reporting to Captain Santa Anna Perez.

“They shall not escape me this time,” said Perez, as he gave the command to resume the march in pursuit of the illusive enemy.

A short distance from Crawford’s camp Geronimo halted his band and sent Shoz-Dijiji ahead to arrange a meeting between Geronimo and Crawford for the purpose of ratifying the understanding that Shoz-Dijiji and the officer had arrived at earlier in the day.

With a white rag fastened to the muzzle of his rifle the Black Bear approached the camp of the Scouts and, following the instructions of Crawford to his men, was permitted to enter. Every man of Crawford’s command Shoz-Dijiji knew personally. With many of them he had played as a boy; and with most of them he had gone upon the war-trail, fighting shoulder to shoulder with them against both Mexicans and pindah-lickoyee; but today he passed among them with his head high, as one might pass among strangers and enemies.

Crawford, waiting to receive him, could not but admire the silent contempt of the tall young war chief for those of his own race whom he must consider nothing short of traitors; and in his heart the courageous cavalry officer found respect and understanding for this other courageous soldier of an alien race.

“I am glad that you have come, Shoz-Dijiji,” he said. “You bring word from Geronimo? He will go with me to General Crook?”

“Geronimo wishes to come and make talk with you,” replied the Black Bear. “He wishes his own ears to hear the words you spoke to Shoz-Dijiji this morning.”

“Good!” said Crawford. “Let Geronimo—” His words were cut short by a fusilade of shots from the direction of the renegades’ position.

Crawford snatched his pistol from its holster and covered Shoz-Dijiji.

“So that is the word Geronimo sends?” he exclaimed. “Treachery!”

The Apache wheeled about and looked in the direction of his people. The scouts were hastily preparing to meet an attack. Every eye was on the renegades—in every mind was the same thought that Crawford had voiced—treachery!

Shoz-Dijiji pointed. “No!”, he cried. “Look! It is not the warriors of Geronimo. Their backs are toward us. They are firing in the other direction. They are being attacked from the south. There! See! Mexican soldiers!”

The renegades, firing as they came, were falling back upon the scouts’ camp; and, following them, there now came into full view a company of Mexican regulars.

“For God’s sake, stop firing!” cried Crawford. “These are United States troops.”

Captain Santa Anna Perez saw before him only Apaches. It is true that some of them wore portions of the uniform of the soldiers of a sister republic; but Captain Santa Anna Perez had fought Apaches for years, and he well knew that they were shrewd enough to take advantage of any form of deception of which they could avail themselves, and he thought this but a ruse.

Two of his officers lay dead and two privates, while several others were wounded, and now the Apaches in uniform, as well as those who were not, were firing upon him. How was he to know the truth? What was he to do? One of his sbordinates ran to his side. “There has been a terrible mistake!” he cried.”Those are Crawford’s scouts—I recognize the captain. In the name of God, give the command to cease firing!”

Perez acted immediately upon the advice of his lieutenant, but the tragic blunder had not as yet taken its full toll of life. In the front line a young Mexican soldier knelt with his carbine. Perhaps he was excited. Perhaps he did not hear the loudly shouted command of his captain. No one will ever know why he did the thing he did.

The others on both sides had ceased firing when this youth raised his carbine to his shoulder, took careful aim, and fired. Uttering no sound, dead on his feet, Captain Emmet Crawford fell with a bullet in his brain.

Shoz-Dijiji, who had been standing beside him, had witnessed the whole occurrence. He threw his own rifle to his shoulder and pressed the trigger. When he lowered the smoking muzzle Crawford had been avenged, and that is why no one will ever know why the Mexican soldier did the thing he did.

With difficulty Perez and Maus quieted their men, and it was with equal difficulty that Geronimo held his renegades in check. They were gathered in a little knot to one side, and Shoz-Dijiji had joined them.

“It was a ruse to trap us!” cried a brave. “They intended to get us between them and kill us all.”

“Do not talk like a child,’t exclaimed Shoz-Dijiji. “Not one of us has been killed or wounded, while they have lost several on each side. The Mexicans made a mistake. They did not know Crawford’s scouts were near, nor did Crawford know that the Mexican soldiers were approaching.”

The brave grunted. “Look,” he said, pointing; “the war chiefs of the Mexicans and the pindah-lickoyee are holding a council. If they are not plotting against us why do they not invite our chiefs to the council? It is not I who am a child but Shoz-Dijiji, if he trusts the pindah-lickoyee or the Mexicans.”

“Perhaps they make bad talk about us,” said Geronimo, suspiciously. “Maus does not like me; and, with Crawford dead, there is no friend among them that I may trust. The Mexicans I have never trusted.”

“Nor does Shoz-Dijiji trust them,” said the Black Bear. “The battle they just fought was a mistake. That, I say again; but it does not mean that I trust them. Perhaps they are plotting against us now; for Crawford is dead.”

“Maus and the Mexican could combine forces against us,” suggested Geronimo, nervously. “Both the Mexicans and pindah-lickoyee have tricked us before. They would not hesitate to do it again. We are few, they are many—they could wipe us out, and there would be none left to say that it happened through treachery.”

“Let us attack them first,” suggested a warrior. “They are off their guard. We could kill many of them and the rest would run away. Come!”

“No!” cried Geronimo. “Our women are with us. We are very few. All would be killed. Let us withdraw and wait. Perhaps we shall have a better chance later. Only fools attack when they know they cannot win. Perhaps Nan-tan-des-la-par-en will come and we shall make peace. That will be better. I am tired of fighting.”

“Let us go away for a while, at least until the Mexicans have left,” counseled Shoz-Dijiji. “Then, perhaps, we can make terms with Maus. If not we can pick our own time and place to fight.”

“That is good talk,” said Geronimo. “Come! We shall move away slowly.”

Maus and Perez, engaged in arranging terms for the removal of Crawford’s body and exchanging notes that would relieve one another of responsibility for the tragic incident of the battle between the troops of friendly nations, paid little attention to the renegades, and once again Geronimo slipped through the fingers of his would-be captors, and as Maus’ and Perez’ commands marched away together toward Nacori the scouts of the old war chief watched them depart and carried the word to Geronimo.

“They have marched away together—the Mexicans and the pindah-lickoyee?” demanded Geronimo. “That is bad. They are planning to join forces against us. They will return, but they will not find us here.”

Again the renegades changed camp; this time to a still more remote and inaccessible position. The days ran into weeks, the weeks to months. The band scattered, scouting and hunting. At all times Geronimo knew the location of Maus’ command; and when he became reasonably convinced that Maus was waiting for the arrival of Crook and was not planning a hostile move against the renegades he made no further attempt to conceal his location from the white officer, but he did not relax his vigilance.

It was late in March. Geronimo, Shoz-Dijiji, Gian-nah-tah, and several others were squatting in the shade of a sycamore, smoking and chatting, when two Apaches entered the camp and approached them. One was one of Geronimo’s own scouts, the other wore the red head-band of a government scout. When the two halted before Geronimo the war chief arose.

“What do you want in the camp of Geronimo?” he asked, addressing the government scout as though he had been a total stranger.

“I bring a message from Maus,” replied the other. “Nan-tan-des-la-par-en has come. He is ready to hold a parley with you. What answer shall I take back?”

“Tell Nan-tan-des-la-par-en that Geronimo will meet him tomorrow in the Canyon of Los Embudos.”

When the morning came Geronimo set out with a party of chiefs and warriors for the meeting place. Mangas was with him and Na-chi-ta, and there were Shoz-Dijiji, Gian-nah-tah, Chihuahua, Nanay, and Kut-le in the party. General Crook was awaiting them in the Canyon of Los Embudos. The two parties exchanged salutations and then seated themselves in a rough circle under the shade of large sycamore and cottonwood trees.

General Crook addressed Geronimo almost immediately. “Why did you leave the reservation?” he demanded.

“You told me that I might live in the reservation the same as white people live,” replied Geronimo, “but that was not true. You sent soldiers to take my horses and cattle from me. I had a crop of oats almost ready to harvest, but I could not live in the reservation after the way you had treated me. I went away with my wife and children to live in peace as my own people have always lived. I did not go upon the war-trail, but you told your soldiers to find me and put me in prison and if I resisted to kill me.”

“I never gave any such orders,” snapped Crook.

Geronimo did not reply.

“But,” continued Crook, “if you left the reservation for that reason, why did you kill innocent people, sneaking all over the country to do it? What did those innocent people do to you that you should kill them, steal their horses, and slip around in the rocks like coyotes?

“You promised me in the Sierra Madre that that peace should last, but you have lied about it. When a man has lied to me once I want some better proof than his own word before I can believe him again.”

“So does Geronimo,” interrupted the war chief.

“You must make up your mind,” continued Crook, “whether you will stay out on the war path or surrender unconditionally. If you stay out I’ll keep after you and kill the last one if it takes fifty years.”

“I do not want to fight the white man,” replied Geronimo; “but I do not want to return to the reservation and be hanged, as many of the white people have said that I should be. People tell bad stories about me. I do not want that any more. When a man tries to do right, people should not tell bad stories about him. I have tried to do right. Does the white man try to do right? I am the same man. I have the same feet, legs, and hands; and the sun looks down upon me, a complete man.

“The Sun and the Darkness and the Winds are all listening to what we say now. They know that Geronimo is telling the truth. To prove to you that I am telling the truth, remember that I sent you word that I would come from a place far away to speak to you here; and you see me now. If I were thinking bad, or if I had done bad, I would never have come here.”

He paused, waiting for Crook to reply.

“I have said all that I have to say,” said the General; “you had better think it over tonight and let me know in the morning.”

For two more days the parley progressed; and at last it was agreed that Geronimo and his band should accompany Lieutenant Maus and his battalion of scouts to Fort Bowie, Arizona. The northward march commenced on the morning of March 25th and by the night of the 29th the party had reached the border between Mexico and Arizona.

Apache Devil - Contents    |     Chapter Nine - Red Fools and White Scoundrels

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