Apache Devil

Chapter Fourteen

Skeleton Canyon

Edgar Rice Burroughs

THE WEEKS dragged on—lean and hungry weeks of slinking through the mountains with an implacable enemy always on their heels. The renegades had little food and little rest. Their cause seemed hopeless even to the most war-like and the most sanguine of their number. Only Shoz-Dijiji held out for war. That was because he had nothing to live for. He courted death, but no bullet found him.

At last the others determined to give up; and Geronimo sent a messenger to the commander of a body of Mexican troops that was camped near them, asking for a parley.

All that the Mexicans asked was that Geronimo should take his band out of Mexico; and this the old chieftain promised to do, both sides agreeing not to fight any more against the other.

Moving northward toward the border, Geronimo made no effort to elude the American troops, as he was really anxious to arrange for a parley with them; but by chance they did not come into contact with any, and at last the renegades went into camp near the big bend of the Bivaspe River in Sonora.

“How can you remain here?” demanded Shoz-Dijiji. “You have promised the Mexicans that you will leave their country, and you cannot go into Arizona or New Mexico because the soldiers of the pindah-lickoyee will not let you. Where are you going? You should not have promised the Mexicans that you would leave. Now they will attack you, when they find that you have not left, for they know that you have had time enough to get out of Mexico.”

“We cannot remain here,” replied Geronimo, “and we cannot go elsewhere—as long as we are at war with the pindah-lickoyee. We are too few to fight them. There remains nothing but to make the best peace with them that we can.”

“It is right that you should do so,” said Shoz-Dijiji, “for that is to the best interests of the Be-don-ko-he for the welfare of the tribe; but for Shoz-Dijiji there can be no peace. I shall not go back to the reservation with you.”

“That is the right of every Apache, to choose for himself,” said Na-chi-ta; “but for the tribe it is better that we make peace and go back to the reservation. Na-chi-ta will vote for peace if the pindah-lickoyee will promise not to kill any of us.”

“I shall send White Horse, my brother, to arrange for a parley with the white-eyed chiefs,” said Geronimo. The day after White Horse left upon his mission the renegades sent two squaws into Fronteras to purchase food and mescal, and as they returned to camp they were followed to the last hiding place of the great war chief of all the Apaches.

Scarcely had the squaws laid aside their burdens when one of Geronimo’s scouts hurried into the camp and reported to the war chief that two government scouts had come, bringing a message to Geronimo.

“I will talk with them,” said the old chief, and a few minutes later Ka-yi-tah, the Cho-kon-en, and Marteen, the Ned-ni, stood before him, the red head-bands of their service alone differentiating them from the warriors who crowded about them.

“You bring a message from the white-eyed chiefs to Geronimo?” demanded the war chief.

“With Lieutenant Gatewood we have brought a message from General Miles, the new chief of the white-eyed soldiers,” replied Ka-yi-tah.

“Speak!” commanded Geronimo.

“The message is that if you will surrender you will not be killed, but will be taken some place to the East, you and your families—all of you who are now upon the war-trail and who will surrender.”

“How many soldiers has Gatewood with him?” demanded Geronimo.

“There are no soldiers with Gatewood,” replied Ka-yi-tah, “but Lawton’s soldiers are not far away.”

“Geronimo will talk with Gatewood,” announced the old chief, “but with no one else. Gatewood does not tell lies to the Apache. Tell them not to let any soldiers come near my camp, and I shall talk with Gatewood. Go!”

And so it was that through the confidence that Geronimo felt in Lieutenant Charles B. Gatewood, Sixth United States Cavalry, arrangements were made for a parley with General Miles; and on September 4th 1886 Geronimo and Na-chi-ta surrendered at Skeleton Canyon, Arizona.

Shoz-Dijiji did not accompany the other chiefs to the parley. With only his own sad thoughts as company he remained in camp, and there Geronimo found him when the parley was over. Shoz-Dijiji arose and faced the old chieftain.

“I do not need to ask Geronimo what has happened,” said the young chief. “I see sorrow in his eyes. It is the end of the Apaches.”

“Yes,” replied Geronimo, “it is the end.”

“What talk passed between Geronimo and the white-eyed war chief?” asked Shoz-Dijiji.

“We shook hands; and then we sat down, and the white-eyed war chief said to Geronimo: ‘The President of the United States has sent me to speak to you. He has heard of your trouble with the white men, and says that if you will agree to a few words of treaty we need have no more trouble. Geronimo, if you will agree to a few words of treaty all will be satisfactorily arranged.’

“He told me how we could be brothers to each other. We raised our hands to heaven and said that the treaty was not to be broken. We took an oath not to do any wrong to each other or to scheme against each other.”

“And you believed the pindah-lickoyee?” demanded Shoz-Dijiji. “Each time that we go upon the war-trail they promise us many things to induce us to lay down our arms—and do they keep their promises? No! Nor will they keep this promise.”

“I do not know. All that I can do is hope, for no longer can we fight against them,” answered Geronimo, wearily.

“What else said the pindah-lickoyee?” asked the Apache Devil.

“He talked with me for a long time and told me what he would do for me in the future if I would agree to the treaty. I did not greatly believe him, but because the President of the United States had sent me word I agreed to make the treaty and to keep it.

“He said to me: ‘I will take you under government protection; I will build you a house; I will fence you much land; I will give you cattle, horses, mules, and farming implements. You will be furnished with men to work the farm, for you yourself will not have to work. In the fall I will send you blankets and clothing so that you will not suffer from cold in the winter time.”

“There is plenty of timber, water, and grass in the land to which I shall send you,” he told me. He said that I should live with my tribe and with my family and that if I agreed to the treaty I should be with my family within five days.

“Then I said to General Miles: ‘All the officers that have been in charge of the Indians have talked that way, and it sounds like a story to me; I hardly believe you.’

“’This time,’ he said, ‘it is the truth,’ and he swept a spot of ground clear with his hand and said: ‘Your past deeds shall be wiped out like this, and you will start a new life.’

“All this talk was translated from English into Spanish and from Spanish into Apache. It took a long time. Perhaps the interpreters did not make any mistakes. I do not know.”

“Are you going to live on the reservation at San Carlos?” asked Shoz-Dijiji.

“No. They are going to send us out of Arizona because they say that the white men whose families and friends we have killed would always be making a lot of trouble for us, that they would try to kill us.”

“Where are they going to send you?”

“To Fort Marion in a country called Florida.” The old man bowed his head. Could it be that there were tears in those cold blue eyes? Shoz-Dijiji placed a hand on his father’s shoulder.

“I know now that I shall never see you again,” he said.”The pindah-lickoyee, who have never kept a promise that they have made to the Shis-Inday, will not keep this one. When you have laid down your arms they will kill you; as they killed Mangas Colorado.

“It is not too late even now to turn back,” continued the young man. “We have ponies, we I have arms, we have ammunition; and there are places in the mountains of Sonora where a few men could elude the pindah-lickoyee forever. Do not let, them take you to a strange country where they will either kill you or make a slave of you.”

Geronimo shook his head. “No, my son,” he said, “that cannot be. The war chief of the pindah-lickoyee and the war chief of all the Apaches stood between his troopers and my warriors. We placed a large stone on the blanket before us. Our treaty was made by this stone, and it was to last until the stone should crumble to dust. So we made the treaty and bound each other with an oath. Geronimo will keep that treaty.”

Slowly Shoz-Dijiji turned and walked away. Far up among the rocks above the rocky camp site he went; and there he remained all night praying to Usen, praying to Intchi-Dijin, the black wind, asking for guidance, asking for wisdom; for Shoz-Dijiji, the Black Bear, did not know what to do.

When morning came he returned to the camp of the renegades; and there he found his people, sullen and morose, preparing to lay down their weapons and give themselves up as prisoners of war to the enemy that they feared, hated, and mistrusted.

He went to the pony herd and caught Nejeunee and brought him back to camp. Then he squatted beside a rock, and with a bronze forefinger laid the war paint of the Apache Devil across his face. Upon his head he placed his war bonnet of buckskin with its crest of feathers; about his neck he hung a single strand of turquoise and silver beads; in his ears were small silver rings, and covering his feet and legs were stout Apache war moccasins.

A belt of ammunition encircled his slim waist, and from it hung two pistols and a great butcher knife. He carried a rifle and bow and arrows.

The others saw his preparations, but they made no comment. When he was done he mounted Nejeunee—an Apache war chief tricked out in all the panoply of the war-trail.

He rode to where Geronimo sat stolidly upon a pony waiting for the preparations for departure to be completed. The old war chief looked up as the younger man approached, but the expression upon his inscrutable face did not change as he saw the war paint and the weapons.

“My father,” said Shoz-Dijiji, “all night I have prayed. in high places, prayed to Usen and to Intchi-Dijin, asking them to give me some sign if they wished me to give myself up to the enemy and go into bondage with Geronimo and our people. But they gave me no sign, and so I know that they do not wish me to do these things; and I am satisfied.

“Therefore I ride out alone, the last of the Apaches, upon the war-trail against the enemies of my people. While I live I shall devote my life to killing the pindah-lickoyee. I, Shoz-Dijiji, war chief of the Be-don-ko-he, have spoken.”

“Wait,” said Geronimo. “Wait until you have heard the words of Geronimo before you bind yourself to such an oath.

“We go into bondage. We shall never take the war-trail again. Had it been otherwise I should never have told you what I am going to tell you now.

“All your life you have been as a son to me. I have loved you. I have been proud of you. It is because I love you, Shoz-Dijiji, that I am going to tell you this thing now. When I have told you you will know that you need not throw away your life fighting the pindah-lickoyee, fighting the battles of the Apaches.

“Shoz-Dijiji, you are not an Apache. You are not a Shis-Inday. You are a pindah-lickoyee.”

The eyes of the Apache Devil narrowed. “You are my father,” he said, “but not even you may call Shoz-Dijiji a pindah-lickoyee and live. That, Juh learned.”

Geronimo shook his head sadly. “Juh knew,” he said. “He was with me when we killed your father and mother in a pass in the Stein’s Peak Range. It was Juh who dragged you from the wagon and would have killed you but for Geronimo.”

“It is a lie!” growled Shoz-Dijiji.

“Has Geronimo ever lied to you?” asked the old war chief.

“Cochise swore before the council fire that I was as much an Apache as he,” cried the young man.

“Cochise did not lie,” said Geronimo. “You are as much an Apache as any of us in heart and spirit, but in your veins flows the blood of your white-eyed father.

“Twenty three times have the rains come since the day that I killed him; and I have kept my lips sealed because I loved you and because you were as much my son to me as though you were flesh of my own flesh; but now the time has come that you should know, for as an Apache every man’s hand will be turned against you, but as a pindah-lickoyee you will have a chance that no Apache ever may have.”

For a few moments Shoz-Dijiji sat in brooding silence. Presently he spoke.

“Pindah-lickoyee! White-eyed man!” he cried contemptuously, almost spitting the words from his mouth. “Had you told me that I am a coyote I could have carried my shame and faced the world, but to be a white man!” He shuddered.

“My son,” said Geronimo, “it is not the color of our skin or the blood that runs in our veins that makes us good men or bad men. There are bad Apaches and there are good white men. It is good to be a good Apache. It is not bad to be a good white man. Now, perhaps, it is better to be a good white man than even a good Apache. Times have changed. Usen does not look with favor upon the Shis-Inday. Time will heal your wound. Go and live among your own people, and some day you will thank Geronimo because he told you.”

“Never!” cried the Black Bear. “Good-bye, Geronimo. You have been a good father to Shoz-Dijiji. Now Shoz-Dijiji has no father. Shoz-Dijiji has no mother. Shoz-Dijiji has no people, for he is not an Apache; and he will not be a pindah-lickoyee. But he is still a war chief of the Apaches. He is the only war chief that goes upon the war trail. Now, I think, he is the only Apache left in the world. All the rest of you are pindah-lickoyee, for do you not go to live with the pindah-lickoyee? Only Shoz-Dijiji lives like an Apache.”

He wheeled Nejeunee about, and then turned on his blanket and faced Geronimo again.

“Good-bye, Shoz-Dijiji, last of the Apaches, war chief of all the Apaches, rides out upon the last war-trail.”

Down the rocky hill side toward the south the pinto war pony bore his gorgeous master, while an old man, seeing dimly through blue eyes that were clouded by unaccustomed tears, watched the last martial gesture of his once powerful people until pinto stallion and painted war chief disappeared into the blue haze that lay upon the early morning trail that wound southward toward Sonora.

Apache Devil - Contents    |     Chapter Fifteen - The Last of the Renegades

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