Apache Devil

Chapter Twelve

“Shoz-Dijiji Knows!”

Edgar Rice Burroughs

LUIS MARIEL had attached himself to “B” Troop. He rode with it, made himself generally useful around camp; and, in return, they fed him. Incidentally he picked up a smattering of English that was much more effective than the original brand formerly purveyed by Mr. Webster, and learned to ask for either bacon or potatoes through the medium of set phrases that contained at least ten obscene or blasphemous words and did not mention either bacon or potatoes by their right names. He also discovered that one may call an American anything, provided that one smiles.

Much to his surprise he discovered that he liked the Gringoes, and because he was young and bright and good natured the soldiers liked Luis.

He had been with them four or five days when Lieutenant Samuel Adams King, half starved and rather the worse for wear, rode into camp upon an equally starved pony that Luis immediately recognized as having formerly belonged to one of his fellow vaqueros who had been killed by the Apache Devil.

Being a privileged character Luis was present when King reported to his troop commander; and when, through the medium of much profanity, a great deal of Spanish, and a few words of remote English origin he had indicated that he knew something about the pony King was riding, an interpreter was summoned and Luis told his story to Captain Cullis and the officers accompanying him.

“Well, King,” commented Cullis, “you have achieved all the distinction of a museum piece. You should have a place in the Smithsonian Institution.”

“How so, sir?”

“As the only white man who ever fell into the hands of the Apache Devil and lived to tell about it. I can’t account for it. Can you?”

For a moment King hesitated before he replied, and then: “No, sir,” he said, “I cannot.”

During that instant of hesitation King had weighed his duty as an officer against the demands of gratitude. He knew that there was a price upon the head of the Apache Devil that might spell his death at the hands of any white man, as an outlaw, even after peace was restored and the renegades returned to the reservation. He was confident that he alone knew that Shoz-Dijiji and the Apache Devil were one and the same, provided of course that the young Mexican was correct in his assumption that the Apache who had captured him actually was the Apache Devil.

Perhaps the lad was mistaken.King determined to give Shoz-Dijiji the benefit of the doubt. Gratitude would not permit him to do less.

It being evident that some of the renegades were returning to the United States, “B” Troop was ordered above the border; and with it went Luis Mariel, seeking new adventures. He attached himself to Lieutenant King and crossed the border as the officer’s civilian servant.

King, who had taken a liking to the lad, helped him with his English, learned to trust him, and eventually dispatched him to the Billings’ ranch with Nejeunee and a note to Wichita Billings asking her to take care of the little pinto war pony until King returned from the campaign.

And so Luis Mariel, the son of the woodchopper of Casa Grande, rode away; and with him went Nejeunee.

Up into New Mexico, making their way toward the range of mountains near Hot Springs, rode Geronimo and Shoz-Dijiji with five other warriors and four women. They had found it necessary to abandon the herd that Shoz-Dijiji had captured because of the impossibility of moving it through hostile country where every trail was patrolled by soldiers and every water hole guarded.

Keeping to the mountains by day, crossing the valleys under cover of night, the eleven rode north. On several occasions they were forced to pass cattle ranches, but they committed no depredations other than the killing of an occasional beef for food.

Their greatest hardship was shortage of water as they could not approach the well guarded water holes and wells, and there was a time during which they had no water for two days. They suffered greatly, and their horses all but died from thirst.

Any but Apaches would have been forced to surrender under like conditions; but, being Apaches, they knew every place where water might be found; and so they came at last to one such place, which was not guarded because the white men did not know of its existence. It was hidden in the depths of a remote, parched canyon far beneath the hard baked surface of the ground; but it was there for the digging, and in such an unlikely spot that there was scarcely a remote possibility that soldiers would interfere with the digging.

From hill tops that commanded a view of the country in all directions three keen eyed warriors watched while others dug for the precious water that would give them all, and their jaded mounts as well, a new lease on life.

And when they had drunk and their crude water bottles had been refilled, they replaced the sand and the rocks in the hole they had made; and so nicely did they erase every sign of their presence that only an Apache might have known that they had stopped there.

Into their old stamping grounds they came at last; and so cleverly had they eluded the soldiers that they ranged there in peace for weeks, while the troops searched for them in Arizona and Mexico.

Geronimo, handicapped by the paucity of his following, nevertheless kept scouts afield who watched the movements of the troops and kept fairly well in touch with the progress of the campaign through the medium of friendly reservation Indians.

Shoz-Dijiji was often engaged in some enterprise of this nature, and upon one occasion he went into the heart of the reservation at San Carlos. Returning, he rode through familiar mountains along an unmarked trail that recalled many memories of other days.

Shoz-Dijiji rode out of his way and against his better judgment. He was an Apache, iron willed and schooled to self-denial; but he was human, and so he would torture his poor heart by riding a trail that he had once ridden with her.

He would ride near the ranch. Perhaps he might see her, but she would never know that he was near.

The war chief of the Be-don-ko-he dreamed and, dreaming, relaxed his vigilance. Love, sorrow, reminiscence dulled his faculties for the moment. Otherwise he would never have been so easily surprised.The way he had chosen led here down the steep declivity of a canyon side and along the canyon’s bottom for a few hundred yards to a point where a nimble pony might clamber up the opposite side. It was very hot in the sun scorched cleft and very quiet. The only sound was the crunching of gravelly soil beneath unshod hoofs—the hoofs of the pony Shoz-Dijiji rode down the canyon and the hoofs of another pony bearing a rider up the canyon.

Perhaps chance so synchronized the gaits of the two animals that the footfalls of each hid those of the other from the ears of their riders. Perchance Fate—but why speculate?

The fact remains that as Shoz-Dijiji rounded an abrupt turn he came face to face with the other pony and its rider. Surprise was instantly reflected upon the face of the latter; but the Apache, though equally surprised, let no indication of it disturb the imperturbability of his countenance.Each reined in instantly and, for a moment, sat eyeing the other in silence. Shoz-Dijiji was the first to speak.

“You are alone?” he demanded.


“Why you ride alone when the Apaches are on the war-trail?” he asked, sternly.

“The Apaches are my friends. They will not harm me.”

“Some of the Be-don-ko-he Apaches are your friends, white girl; but there are others on the war-trail who are not your friends,” replied Shoz-Dijiji. “There are Cho-kon-en and Ned-ni with Geronimo.”

“Shoz-Dijiji and Geronimo would not let them harm me.”

“Shoz-Dijiji and Geronimo are not like the God of the white-eyed men—they cannot be here, there, and everywhere at the same time.”

Wichita Billings smiled. “But perhaps He guides them to the right place at the right time,” she suggested. “Are you not here now, Shoz-Dijiji, instead of a Cho-kon-en or a Ned-ni?”

“You have strong medicine, white girl; but so did the great izze-nantan, Nakay-do-klunni. He made strong medicine that turned away the bullets of the white-eyed soldiers, but at Cibicu Creek they killed him. The best medicine is to stay out of danger.”

“Well, to tell you the truth, Shoz-Dijiji,” admitted the girl, “I did not dream that there was a renegade within a hundred miles of here.”

“When the Shis-Inday are on the war-trail they are like your God—they are here, there, and everywhere.”

“Are there others with you, Shoz-Dijiji?”

“No, I am alone.”

“What are you doing here? Were you—were you coming to the ranch, Shoz-Dijiji?” she asked, hesitatingly. “Were you coming to see me?” There was potential gladness in her voice.

“Shoz-Dijiji has been scouting,” replied the Apache. “He is returning to the camp of Geronimo.”

“But you were going to stop and see me, Shoz-Dijiji,” she insisted.

“No. It would have made trouble. Your father does not like Shoz-Dijiji, and he would like to kill a renegade. Shoz-Dijiji does not wish to be killed. Therefore there would be trouble.”

“My father is sorry for the things he said to you, Shoz-Dijiji. Come to the ranch, and he will tell you so. He was angry, because he was very fond of Mason; and you know that they had just found Mason murdered—and scalped.”

“Shoz-Dijiji knows. He knows more about that than your father. Shoz-Dijiji knows that it was not an Apache that killed Mason.”

“How do you know? Do you know who did kill him? He was scalped.”

“Are the white-eyed men such fools that they think that only an Apache can scalp? If they were not such fools they would know that it is only occasionally that Apaches do take the scalps of their enemies. They do know this, but they do not want to admit it. They know that whenever a white-eyed man wishes to kill an enemy he need only scalp him to convince everyone that Apaches did it, because everyone wishes to believe that every murder is done by Apaches.

“Yes, I know who killed Mason and why. He was robbed in Cheetim’s Hog Ranch, and he had sworn to get Cheetim. He was looking for him with a gun. Cheetim hired a man to ride out with Mason and shoot him in the back. That is all.

“Now come. Shoz-Dijiji ride back with you until you are near the ranch. You must not ride alone again even if you are not afraid of the Apaches, for there are bad men among the white-eyes—men who would harm you even more surely than an Apache.”

He motioned her to precede him up the steep canyon side; and when the two ponies had scrambled to the summit he rode at her side, where the ground permitted, as they walked their ponies in the direction of the Billings ranch.

For a while they rode in silence, the Apache constantly on the alert against another and more dangerous surprise, the girl thoughtful, her face reflecting the cast of sadness in which her thoughts were molded.

Wichita Billings knew that the man at her side loved her. She knew that she was drawn to him more than to any other man that she had ever known, but she did not know that this attraction constituted love. Raised as she had been in an atmosphere of racial hatred, schooled in ignorance and bigotry by people who looked upon every race and nation, other than their own race and nation, as inferior, she could scarce believe it possible that she could give her love to an Indian; and so her mind argued against her heart that it was not love that she felt for him but some other emotion which should be suppressed.

Shoz-Dijiji, on his part, realized the barrier that prejudice had erected between them and the difficulty that the white girl might have to surmount it in the event that she loved him. He, too, had faced a similar barrier in his hatred of the white race, but that his love had long since leveled. A greater obstacle, one which he could not again face, was the hurt that his pride had suffered when she had recoiled from his embrace.

Thoughts such as these kept them silent for some time until Wichita chanced to recall Nejeunee.

“Shoz-Dijiji,”she exclaimed, “where is your pinto war pony?”

The Apache shrugged. “Who knows?”

“What became of him? Is he dead, or did you lose him in battle?”

“We were starving,” said the Apache. “We had eaten all the ponies except Nejeunee. It was in Sonora. Your soldiers were pressing us on one side, the Mexicans upon the other. At night I led Nejeunee close to the picket line of the white-eyed soldiers. I have not seen him since.”

“You were very fond of Nejeunee, Shoz-Dijiji.”

“In Apache Nejeunee means friend,” said the man. “One by one all of my friends are being taken from me. Nejeunee was just one more. Usen has forgotten Shoz-Dijiji.”

“Perhaps not,” replied Wichita. “What would you say if I told you that Nejeunee is alive and that I know where he is?”

“I should say that after all Usen has at last been good to me in giving me you as a friend. Tell me where he is.”

“He’s on our ranch—in the back pasture.”

“On your ranch? How did Nejeunee get there?”

“You left him near the picket line of Lieutenant King’s troop, and when they got back across the border he sent him up to me.”

“King did not tell me.”

“You have seen the lieutenant?”

“We met in Chihuahua,” said Shoz-Dijiji. “And you talked with him?”


“But you were on the war path, and he was after you. How could you have met and talked?”

“King and Shoz-Dijiji went into the cattle business together.”

“What do you mean?” demanded Wichita.

“When you see King ask him. He will tell you.”

“Were you two alone together?”

“Yes, for a day and a night.”

“And you did not kill him?”

“No. Shoz-Dijiji does not kill anyone that you love.”

“Oh, Shoz-Dijiji,” exclaimed the girl, “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that; but really you are mistaken in thinking that I love Lieutenant King.”

“All right, next time I kill him.”

“No, oh, no, you mustn’t do that.”

“Why not? He is on the war-trail against me. He kill me all right, if he get the chance.If you no love him, I kill him.”

“But he is my friend, my very good friend,” insisted the girl. “He is your friend, too, Shoz-Dijiji. If I ask you not to kill him will you promise me that you won’t?”

“Shoz-Dijiji promise you he no try to kill King. Mebbe so, in battle, Shoz-Dijiji have to kill him. That he cannot help.”

“Oh, Shoz-Dijiji, why don’t you come in and stop fighting us? It is so useless. You can never win; and you are such a good man, Shoz-Dijiji, that it seems a shame that you should sacrifice your life uselessly.”

“No, we can never win. We know that, but what else is there for us? The white-eyed men make war upon us even in peace. They treat us like enemies and prisoners. We are men, the same as they. Why do they not treat us like men? They say that we are bad men and that we torture our prisoners and that that is bad. Do they not torture us? We torture the bodies of our enemies, but the white men torture our hearts. Perhaps all the feelings of the white-eyed men are in their bodies, but that is not so with the Shis-Inday. Bad words and bad looks make wounds in our hearts that hurt us more than a knife thrust in the body. The body wounds may heal but the heart wounds never—they go on hurting forever. No, I shall not come in. I am a war chief among the Be-don-ko-he. Shall I come in to be a ‘dirty Siwash’ among the white-eyes?”

For a while the girl was silent after the Apache had ceased speaking. Their patient ponies stepped daintily along the rough trail. The descending sun cast their shadows, grotesquely, far ahead. The stifling heat of midday was gradually giving place to the promise of the coming cool of evening.

“We are almost home,” said the girl, presently. “I wish you would come and talk with my father. He is not a bad man. Perhaps he can find some way to help you.”

“No,” said Shoz-Dijiji. “His people and my people are at war. His heart is not friendly toward Apaches. It is better that I do not come.”

“But you want to get Nejeunee,” insisted the girl.

“You have told me where Nejeunee is. I will get him.”

She did not insist, and again they rode in silence until the warrior reined in his pony just below the summit of a low hill. Beyond the hill, but hidden from their sight, stood the Billings ranch house.

“Good-bye,” said Shoz-Dijiji. “I think perhaps we never see each other again. When the soldiers come back from Mexico we go back there and do not come to this country any more.”

“Oh, Shoz-Dijiji,” cried the girl, “I do not want you to go.”

“Shoz-Dijiji does not want to go,” he replied. “Your people have driven Shoz-Dijiji from his own country.”

“I should think that you would hate me, Shoz-Dijiji.”

“No, I do not hate you. I love you,” he said simply.

“You must not say that, Shoz-Dijiji,” she answered, sadly.

“If Shoz-Dijiji was a white-eyed man, you would listen,” he said.

She was silent.

“Tell me,” he demanded, “is that not true?”

“Oh, God! I don’t know, I don’t know,” she cried.

“Shoz-Dijiji knows,” said the Be-don-ko-he. “Good-bye!”

He wheeled his pony and rode away.

The sun was setting as Wichita Billings dismounted wearily at the corral back of the ranch house. Luke Jensen came from the bunk house to take her pony.

“Where’s Dad?” she asked.

“One of the boys found a beef killed this mornin’. He said it looked like Injuns hed done it. Yore Dad rid over to hev a look at it. He ought to be back right smart soon now.” Luke glanced over across the back pasture toward the east.

Wichita knitted her brows. “Did he go that way?” she asked.

“Yep,” assented Luke.

“Get one of the other boys to go with you, and ride out and meet him. If Apaches killed the beef there may be some of them around.” Wichita turned toward the ranch house, hesitated, and then walked back to Luke.

“Luke,” she said, “you don’t hate all Indians do you?”

“You know I don’t, Miss. I’d a bin dead now ef it hedn’t a-bin fer one of ’em. Why?”

“Well, if you ever meet an Apache, Luke! remember that, and don’t shoot until you’re plumb sure he’s hostile.”

Jensen scratcped his head. “Yes, Miss,” he said, “but what’s the idee?”

“There may be friendly Indians around, and if you should shoot one of them,” she explained, “the rest might turn hostile.”

As Wichita walked toward the house Luke stood looking after her.

“I don’t reckon she’s gone loco,” he soliloquized, “but she shore better watch herself.”

It was ten o’clock before Luke Jensen returned to the ranch. He went immediately to the house and knocked on the door, entering at Wichita’s invitation.

“Your Dad back?” he demanded.

“No. Didn’t you see anything of him?”

“Nary hide nor hair.”

“Where do you suppose he can be?”

“I dunno. They’s Indians around, though. I bumped plumb into one tother side of the willows in the draw outside the fer pasture gate, an’ who do you reckon it was? Why none other than that Shoz-Dijiji fellow what give me a lift that time. He must-a thought some o’ the hosses in the pasture were comin’ through them willows, fer he never tried to hide hisself at all. I jest rid plumb on top o’ him. He knew me, too. I couldn’t help but think o’ wot you told me just before I left about bein’ sure not to shoot up any friendly. Say, did you know he was around?”

“How could I know that?” demanded Wichita.

“I dunno,” admitted Luke, scratching his head; “but it did seem dern funny to me.”

“It’s funny the man with you didn’t take a shot at him,” commented Wichita. “Most all of the boys believe in shooting an Apache first and inquiring about his past later.”

“There wasn’t no one with me,” explained Luke. “There wasn’t no one around but me when I left, and I didn’t want to waste time waiting fer someone to show up. Anyways, I kin see alone jest as fer as I kin with help.”

“Well, I reckon he’ll be coming along pretty soon, Luke,” said Wichita. “Good night.”

“Good night, Miss,” replied Jensen.

Apache Devil - Contents    |     Chapter Thirteen - Back to Sonora

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