“I do not like the way in which Nan-tan-des-la-par-en spoke to me,” said Geronimo. “I know that he did not speak the truth when he said that he had not ordered the soldiers to catch me and to kill me if I resisted. Perhaps he is not telling me the truth now.”
“They have lied to us always before,” said Na-chi-ta. “Now, if we go back with them to Fort Bowie, how do we know that they will not put us in prison. We are chiefs. If they wish to frighten our people they may kill us. The white-eyed men are crying for the blood of Geronimo.”
“If they kill Geronimo they will kill Na-chi-ta also,” said Shoz-Dijiji.
“I have thought of that,” replied Na-chi-ta. “They will not kill us,” said Chihuahua. “They will be content to know that we are no longer on the war-trail. We have taught them a lesson this time. Now, maybe, they will let us alone.”
“Chihuahua thinks only of the little farm the white-eyes let him work—like a woman,” scoffed Shoz-Dijiji. “I hate them. I shall not go back to live upon a reservation. I shall not go back to be laughed at by white-eyed men, to hear them call me a damn Siwash, to listen while they make fun of my gods and insult my mother and my sisters.”
“Shoz-Dijiji will go upon the war-trail alone and do battle with all the soldiers of two great nations?” sneered Chihuahua.
“Then Shoz-Dijiji will at least die like a man and a warrior,” replied the Black Bear.
“Have we not troubles enough without quarreling among ourselves?” demanded Geronimo.
“And now Gian-nah-tah is bringing more trouble into our camp,” said Chihuahua. “Look!” and he pointed toward the young warrior, who was walking toward them.
In each hand Gian-nah-tah carried a bottle of whiskey, and his slightly unsteady gait was fair evidence that he had been drinking. He approached the group of men, women, and children and extended one of the bottles toward Geronimo. The old chief took a long drink and passed the bottle to Na-chi-ta.
Shoz-Dijiji stood eyeing them silently. By no changed expression did he show either disapproval or its opposite, but when Na-chi-ta passed the whiskey on to him, after having drunk deeply, he shook his head and grinned.
“Why do you smile?” demanded Na-chi-ta.
“Because now I shall not turn back into Mexico alone,” replied the Black Bear.
“Why do you say that?” asked Geronimo.
The bottle went the rounds, though all did not drink. Chihuahua was one who did not.
“Where did you get this, Gian-nah-tah?” asked Geronimo.
“A white-eyed man is selling it just across the border in Mexico. He is selling it to the soldiers too. He says that they are boasting about what they are going to do to Geronimo and his band. They make much bad talk against you.”
“What do they say they are going to do to us?” demanded Geronimo, taking another drink.
“They are going to shoot us all as soon as we are across the border.”
Chihuahua laughed. “The foolish talk of drunken men,” he said.
“Many of the white-eyed soldiers are drunk,” continued Gian-nah-tah. “When they are drunk they may kill us. Let us turn back. If we must be killed let us be killed in battle and not shot down from behind by drunken white-eyes.”
“Now would be a good time to attack them,” said Na-chi-ta, “while they are drunk.”
“If we do not kill them they will kill us,” urged Gian-nah-tah. “Come!”
“Shut up, Gian-nah-tah!” commanded Shoz-Dijiji. “The strong water of the white-eyed men does not make you a war chief to lead the braves of the Shis-Inday into battle—it only makes you a fool.”
“Shoz-Dijiji calls Gian-nah-tah a fool?” demanded the young warrior angrily. “Shoz-Dijiji does not want to fight the pindah-lickoyee because Shoz-Dijiji is a coward and himself a pindah-lickoyee.”
Shoz-Dijiji’s eyes narrowed as he took a step toward Gian-nah-tah. The latter drew his great butcher knife, but he retreated. Then it was that Geronimo stepped between them. “If you want to kill,” he said, “there is always the enemy.”
“I do not want to kill Gian-nah-tah, my best friend,” said Shoz-Dijiji. “Perhaps it was the strong water of the pindah-lickoyee that spoke through the mouth of Gian-nah-tah. Tomorrow, when he is sober, Shoz-Dijiji will ask him; but no man may call Shoz-Dijiji a white-eyes and live. Juh learned that when Shoz-Dijiji killed him.”
“Shut up, Gian-nah-tah,” advised Na-chi-ta, “and go to the white-eyed fool who sold you this strong water and buy more. Here!” He handed Gian-nah-tah several pieces of silver money. “Get plenty.”
Many of the braves already felt the effects of the adulterated, raw spirits that Tribollet was selling them at ten dollars a gallon, and most of those that had been drinking were daubing their faces with war paint and boasting of what they would do to the soldiers of the pindah-lickoyee.
They greeted Gian-nah-tah with shouts of savage welcome when he returned with more whiskey, and as they drank they talked loudly of killing all the white soldiers first and then taking the war-trail in a final campaign that would wipe out the last vestige of the white race from the land of the Shis-Inday.
Shoz-Dijiji looked on in sorrow—not because they were drunk or because they talked of killing the white-eyed people; but because he knew that if they were not stopped they would soon be so drunk that they could not even defend themselves in the event that the soldiers of the pindah-lickoyee set upon them, as persistent rumors from Tribollet’s ranch suggested might occur before dawn.
He went to Geronimo and urged him to make some effort to stop the drinking; but Geronimo, himself inflamed by drink, would do nothing. As a matter of fact there was really nothing that he could do since the Apache is a confirmed individualist who resents receiving orders from anyone.
Shoz-Dijiji considered the advisability of taking a few of the warriors who had not drunk to excess and leading them in a raid upon Tribollet’s ranch, but he had to abandon the idea because he knew that it would lead to killing and that that would bring the soldiers down upon their camp.
In the end he hit upon another plan; and shortly after, he was in the camp of the Apache scouts where he aroused Alchise and Ka-e-ten-na.
“Listen,” said Shoz-Dijiji, “to the sounds you can hear coming from the camp of Geronimo.”
“We hear them,” said Alchise. “Are you fools that you do not sleep when tomorrow you must march all day in the hot sun?”
“They are all drunk upon the tizwin of the white-eyes,” said Shoz-Dijiji. “If more of it is brought into the camp of Geronimo there will be trouble. Already many of the braves have put on the war paint. Shoz-Dijiji has come to you to ask that you go to Nan-tan-des-la-par-en and tell him that he must send soldiers to prevent the white-eyed fool from selling more fire water to the Apaches and to stop the stories that are being told to our people. Otherwise there will be trouble.”
“When did Shoz-Dijiji begin to fear trouble with the white-eyed men?” demanded Ka-e-ten-na.
“When he saw the warriors of his people getting so drunk that soon they will be unable to defend themselves, though not so drunk but that some one of them, who may be a bigger fool than the others, will certainly fire upon the first pindah-lickoyee he sees when dawn comes. That is when Shoz-Dijiji began to fear—not war but certain defeat.”
“Did Na-chi-ta send you with this message?” asked Alchise.
“Na-chi-ta is so drunk that he cannot stand upon his feet,” replied Shoz-Dijiji.
“We will go to Nan-tan-des-la-par-en,” said Ka-e-ien-na, “and ask him to let us take some scouts and stop the sale of this stuff to all Apaches.”
“Shoz-Dijiji will wait here until you return,” said the Black Bear.
As Shoz-Dijiji waited, the sounds that came to his ears indicated restlessness and activity in the camp of the white soldiers that lay at no great distance from that of the scouts, and these sounds aroused his suspicions, for at this hour of the night the camp should have been quiet. He read in them preparation for attack—treachery. He could not know that they were caused by a few drunken soldiers and portended nothing more serious than a few days in the guard house for the culprits when they reached the Post.
The false rumors that Tribollet and his men had spread among the renegades were working in the mind of Shoz-Dijiji, and he was already upon the point of returning to his own camp when Ka-e-ten-na and Alchise came back from their interview with Crook.
“Has Nan-tan-des-la-par-en told you to take warriors and stop the sale of fire water to the Apaches?”demanded Shoz-Dijiji.
“No,” replied Alchise.
“He is going to send white-eyed soldiers instead?” asked the Black Bear.
“He will send no one,” said Ka-e-ten-na.
“We do not know.”
Shoz-Dijiji was worried when he came again to the camp of the renegades. Na-chi-ta was lying helpless upon the ground. Geronimo was drunk, though he still could walk. Most of the braves were asleep. Shoz-Dijiji went at once to Geronimo.
“I have just come from the camp of the scouts,” he said. “I could hear the white-eyed soldiers preparing for battle. Perhaps they will attack us before dawn. Look at your warriors, Geronimo. They are all drunk. They cannot fight. All will be killed. You would not listen to Shoz-Dijiji then, but now you must. I am war chief of the Be-don-ko-he. You are war chief of all the Apaches, but you are too drunk to lead them in battle or to counsel them with wisdom. Therefore you shall listen to Shoz-Dijiji and do what he says. Only thus may we save our people from being wiped out by the soldiers of the pindah-lickoyee before chigo-na-ay has risen above the tree tops.”
The words of Shoz-Dijiji had a slightly sobering effect upon Geronimo. He looked about him. By the flickering light of dying fires he saw the flower of his fighting force lying in drunken stupor, prone upon the ground, like beasts.
Shoz-Dijiji stood with a sneer upon his lip. “The pindah-lickoyee want the Shis-Inday to come out of the mountains and live as they live,” he said. “They want the poor Apache to be like them. Here is the result. We have come out of the mountains, and already we are like the pindah-lickoyee. If we live among them long our women will be like their women; and then you will not see an Apache woman whose nose has not been cut off or an Apache man who is not always lying in the dirt, drunk.
“But that will not be for those of us who are here, Geronimo, if we stay here until after Tapida brings the new day, for we shall all be dead. The soldiers of the white-eyes are already preparing to attack us. How may drunken men defend their families and themselves? We shall all be killed if we do not go at once. I have spoken.”
Slowly Geronimo gathered his muddled wits. The words of Shoz-Dijiji took form within his brain. He saw the condition of his warriors, and he recalled not only the rumors that had come from Tribollet’s but also the treacherous attacks that had been made upon his people by the white-eyed soldiers in the past.
“There is yet time,” said Shoz-Dijiji. “The night is dark. If we leave at once and in silence we can be far away before they know that we have left. Another day, when our warriors are sober, we can fight them but not today.”
“Awake them all,” said Geronimo. “Gather the women and children. Tell them that we are going back into the mountains of Mexico. Tell them that we are not going to remain here to be murdered by our enemies or taken back to Bowie to be hanged.”
They did not all answer the summons of Geronimo. Na-chi-ta went but he did not know that he was going or where. They threw him across the back of a mule; and Shoz-Dijiji loaded Gian-nah-tah upon another, and Geronimo rode silently out through the night with these and eighteen other warriors, fourteen women, and two boys, down into the mountains of Mexico; and the results of months of the hardest campaign that, possibly, any troops in the history of warfare ever experienced were entirely nullified by one cheap white man with a barrel of cheap whiskey.