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Title: I Married a Ranger

Author: Dama Margaret Smith

Release Date: June 8, 2006 [EBook #18538]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Audrey Longhurst, Janet Blenkinship and the
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I Married a Ranger

By Dama Margaret Smith

(Mrs. "White Mountain")


Copyright 1930 by the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University All Rights Reserved Published 1930


This book is lovingly dedicated
White Mountain Smith
who has made me glad
I married a Ranger


I Married a Ranger is an intimate story of "pioneer" life in a national park, told in an interesting, humorous way, that makes it most delightful.

To me it is more than a book; it is a personal justification. For back in 1921, when the author came to my office in Washington and applied for the clerical vacancy existing at the Grand Canyon, no woman had been even considered for the position. The park was new, and neither time nor funds had been available to install facilities that are a necessary part of our park administrative and protective work. Especially was the Grand Canyon lacking in living quarters. For that reason the local superintendent, as well as Washington Office officials, were opposed to sending any women clerks there.

Nevertheless, after talking to the author, I decided to make an exception in her case, so she became the first woman Government employee at the Canyon. I Married a Ranger proves that the decision was a happy one.

It is a pleasure to endorse Mrs. Smith's book, and at the same time to pay a tribute of admiration to the women of the Service, both employees and wives of employees, who carry on faithfully and courageously under all circumstances.

Arno B. Cammerer
Associate Director,
National Park Service


I."Out in Arizona, Where the Bad Men Are"1
II."This Ain't Washington!"11
III."I Do!"21
IV.Celebrities and Squirrels31
V.Navajo Land42
VI."They Killed Me"56
VII.A Grand Canyon Christmas67
VIII.The Day's Work77
IX.The Doomed Tribe89
X.Where They Dance with Snakes104
XI.The Terrible Badger Fight121
XII.Grand Canyon Ups and Downs131
XIII.Sisters under the Skin147
XIV.The Passing Show158
XV.Fools, Flood, and Dynamite170

[Pg 1]

Chapter Header


"So you think you'd like to work in the Park Office at Grand Canyon?"

"Sure!" "Where is Grand Canyon?" I asked as an afterthought.

I knew just that little about the most spectacular chasm in the world, when I applied for an appointment there as a Government worker.

Our train pulled into the rustic station in the wee small hours, and soon I had my first glimpse of the Canyon. Bathed in cold moonlight, the depths were filled with shadows that disappeared as the sun came up while I still lingered, spellbound, on the Rim.

On the long train journey I had read and re-read the Grand Canyon Information Booklet, published by the National Park Service. I was still unprepared for what lay before me in carrying out my rôle as field clerk there. So very, very many pages of that booklet have never been written—pages replete with dangers and hardships, lone[Pg 2]liness and privations, sacrifice and service, all sweetened with friendships not found in heartless, hurrying cities, lightened with loyalty and love, and tinted with glamour and romance. And over it all lies a fascination a stranger without the gates can never share.

I was the first woman ever placed in field service at the Grand Canyon, and the Superintendent was not completely overjoyed at my arrival. To be fair, I suppose he expected me to be a clinging-vine nuisance, although I assured him I was well able to take care of myself. Time softens most of life's harsh memories, and I've learned to see his side of the question. What was he to do with a girl among scores of road builders and rangers? When I tell part of my experiences with him, I do so only because he has long been out of the Service and I can now see the humorous aspect of our private feud.

As the sun rose higher over the Canyon, I reluctantly turned away and went to report my arrival to the Superintendent. He was a towering, gloomy giant of a man, and I rather timidly presented my assignment. He looked down from his superior height, eyed me severely, and spoke gruffly.

"I suppose you know you were thrust upon me!"

"No. I'm very sorry," I said, quite meekly.

While I was desperately wondering what to do or say next, a tall blond man in Park uniform entered the office.

The Superintendent looked quite relieved.

"This is White Mountain, Chief Ranger here. I guess I'll turn you over to him. Look after her, will you, Chief?" And he washed his hands of me.[Pg 3]

In the Washington office I had often heard of "White Mountain" Smith. I recalled him as the Government scout that had seen years of service in Yellowstone before he became Chief Ranger at Grand Canyon. I looked him over rather curiously and decided that I liked him very well. His keen blue eyes were the friendliest I had seen since I left West Virginia. He looked like a typical Western man, and I was surprised that his speech had a "down East" tone.

"Aren't you a Westerner?"

"No, I'm a Connecticut Yankee," he smiled. "But we drift out here from everywhere. I've been in the West many years."

"Have you ever been in West Virginia?" I blurted. Homesickness had settled all over me.

He looked at me quickly, and I reckon he saw that tears were close to the surface.

"No-o, I haven't been there. But my father went down there during the Civil War and helped clean up on the rebels!"

Sparks flew then and I forgot to be homesick. But he laughed and led me toward my new home.

We strolled up a slight rise through wonderful pine trees, with here and there a twisted juniper giving a grotesque touch to the landscape. The ground was covered with springy pine needles, and squirrels and birds were everywhere. We walked past rows and rows of white tents pitched in orderly array among the pines, the canvas village of fifty or more road builders. By and by we came to a drab gray shack, weather-beaten and discouraged,[Pg 4] hunched under the trees as if it were trying to blot itself from the scene. I was passing on, when the Chief (White Mountain) stopped me with a gesture.

"This is your home," he said. Just that bald statement. I thought he was joking, but he pushed the door open and we walked inside. The tiny shack had evidently seen duty as a warehouse and hadn't been manicured since! But in view of the fact that the Park Service was handicapped by lack of funds, and in the throes of road building and general development, I was lucky to draw a real house instead of a tent. I began to see why the Superintendent had looked askance at me when I arrived. I put on my rose-colored glasses and took stock of my abode.

It was divided into two rooms, a kitchen and a combination living-dining-sleeping-dressing-bath-room. The front door was a heavy nailed-up affair that fastened with an iron hook and staple. The back door sagged on its leather hinges and moved open or shut reluctantly. Square holes were cut in the walls for windows, but these were innocent of screen or glass. Cracks in the roof and walls let in an abundance of Arizona atmosphere. The furniture consisted of a slab table that extended all the way through the middle of the room, a wicker chair, and a golden-oak dresser minus the mirror and lacking one drawer.

White Mountain looked surprised and relieved, when I burst out laughing. He didn't know how funny the financial inducements of my new job sounded to me while I looked around that hovel: "So much per annum and furnished quarters!"[Pg 5]

"We'll fix this up for you. We rangers didn't know until this morning that you were coming," he said; and we went down to see if the cook was in a good humor. I was to eat at the "Mess House" with the road crew and rangers, provided the cook didn't mind having a woman around. I began to have leanings toward "Equal-Rights-for-Women Clubs," but the cook was as nice as could be. I fell in love with him instantly. Both he and his kitchen were so clean and cheerful. His name was Jack. He greeted me as man to man, with a hearty handclasp, and assured me he would look after me.

"But you'll have to eat what the men do. I ain't got time to fix fancies for you," he hastened to add.

A steel triangle hung on a tree near the cookhouse door, and when dinner was ready Jack's helper struck it sharply with an iron bar. This made a clatter that could be heard a mile and brought the men tumbling from their tents to eat. As I was washing my hands and face in the kitchen I heard Jack making a few remarks to his boarders: "Now don't any you roughnecks forget there's a lady eatin' here from now on, and I'll be damned if there's goin' to be any cussin', either." I don't believe they needed any warning, for during the months I lived near their tents and ate with them they never "forgot."

Many of them no doubt had come from homes as good as mine, and more than one had college degrees. As they became accustomed to having me around they shed their reserve along with their coats and became just what they really were, a bunch of grown-up boys in search of adventure.[Pg 6]

A week later it seemed perfectly natural to sit down to luncheon with platters of steak, bowls of vegetables, mounds of potatoes, and pots of steaming black coffee; but just then it was a radical change from my usual glass of milk and thin sandwich lunch. The food was served on long pine tables, flanked by backless benches. Blue and white enamel dishes, steel knives and forks, and of course no napkins, made up the service. We drank coffee from tin cups, cooling and diluting it with condensed milk poured from the original can. I soon learned that "Shoot the cow!" meant nothing more deadly than "Pass the milk, please!"

The rangers ate at a table apart from the other men. The Chief sat at the head of the table, and my plate was at his right. Several rangers rose to greet me when I came in.

"I'm glad you came," said one of them. "We are apt to grow careless without someone to keep the rough edges polished for us." That was Ranger Charley Fisk, the most loyal, faithful friend one could wish for. He was never too tired nor too busy to add a shelf here or build a cabinet there in my tiny cabin for me. But all that I had to learn later. There was Frank, Ranger Winess; he and the Chief had been together many years in Yellowstone; and Ranger West, and Ranger Peck. These and several more were at the table.

"Eat your dinner," the Chief advised, and I ate, from steak to pie. The three meals there were breakfast, dinner, and supper. No lettuce-leaf lunch for them.

Dinner disposed of, I turned my attention to making[Pg 7] my cabin fit to live in. The cook had his flunky sweep and scrub the floor, and then, with the aid of blankets, pictures, and draperies from my trunks, the little place began to lose its forlorn look. White Mountain contributed a fine pair of Pendleton blankets, gay and fleecy. He spread a Navajo rug on the floor and placed an armful of books on the table. Ranger Fisk threw the broken chair outside and brought me a chair he had made for himself. Ranger Winess had been riding the drift fence while we worked, but he appeared on the scene with a big cluster of red Indian paintbrush blossoms he had found in a coulee. None of us asked if they were picked inside the Park.

No bed was available, and again Ranger Fisk came to the rescue. He lent me his cot and another ranger contributed his mattress.

White Mountain was called away, and when he returned he said that he had hired a girl for the fire look-out tower, and suggested that I might like to have her live there with me. "She's part Indian," he added.

"Fine. I like Indians, and anyway these doors won't lock. I'm glad to have her." So they found another cot and put it up in the kitchen for her.

She was a jolly, warm-hearted girl, used to life in such places. Her husband was a forest ranger several miles away, and she spent most of her time in the open. All day she stayed high in the fire tower, with her glasses scanning the surrounding country. At the first sign of smoke, she determined its exact location by means of a map and then telephoned to Ranger Headquarters. Men[Pg 8] were on their way immediately, and many serious forest fires were thus nipped in the bud.

She and I surveyed each other curiously. I waited for her to do the talking.

"You won't stay here long!" she said, and laughed when I asked her why.

"This is a funny place to put you," she remarked next, after a glance around our new domain. "I'd rather be out under a tree, wouldn't you?"

"God forbid!" I answered earnestly. "I'm no back-to-nature fan, and this is primitive a-plenty for me. There's no bathroom, and I can't even find a place to wash my face. What shall we do?"

We reconnoitered, and found the water supply. We coaxed a tin basin away from the cook and were fully equipped as far as a bathroom was concerned.

Thea—for that was her Indian name—agreed that it might be well to fasten our doors; so we dragged the decrepit dresser against the front portal and moved a trunk across the back entrance. As there were no shades at the windows, we undressed in the dark and retired.

The wind moaned in the pines. A querulous coyote complained. Strange noises were everywhere around us. Scampering sounds echoed back and forth in the cabin. My cot was hard and springless as a rock, and when I stretched into a more comfortable position the end bar fell off and the whole structure collapsed, I with it. Modesty vetoed a light, since the men were still passing our cabin on their way to the tents; so in utter darkness I[Pg 9] pulled the mattress under the table and there made myself as comfortable as possible. Just as I was dozing, Thea came in from the kitchen bringing her cot bumping and banging at her heels. She was utterly unnerved by rats and mice racing over her. We draped petticoats and other articles of feminine apparel over the windows and sat up the rest of the night over the smoky lamp. Wrapped in our bright blankets it would have been difficult to tell which of us was the Indian.

"I'll get a cat tomorrow," I vowed.

"You can't. Cats aren't allowed in the Park," she returned, dejectedly.

"Well, then rats shouldn't be either," I snapped. "I can get some traps I reckon. Or is trapping prohibited in this area?"

Thea just sighed.

Morning finally came, as mornings have a habit of doing, and found me flinging things back in my trunk, while my companion eyed me sardonic-wise. I had spent sufficient time in the great open spaces, and just as soon as I could get some breakfast I was heading for Washington again. But by the time I had tucked in a "feed" of fried potatoes, eggs, hot cakes, and strong coffee, a lion couldn't have scared me away. "Bring on your mice," was my battle cry.

At breakfast Ranger Fisk asked me quite seriously if I would have some cackle berries. I looked around, couldn't see any sort of fruit on the table, and, remembering the cook's injunction to eat what he set before me, I answered: "No, thank you; but I'll have an egg, please."[Pg 10] After the laughter had subsided, White Mountain explained that cackle berries were eggs!

I told the rangers about the mice in my house, and the cook overheard the conversation. A little later a teamster appeared at my cabin with a tiny gray kitten hidden under his coat.

"Cook said you have mice, Miss. I've brought 'Tuffy' to you. Please keep him hid from the rangers. He has lived in the barn with me up to now."

With such a loyal protector things took a turn for the better, and my Indian friend, my wee gray cat, and myself dwelt happily in our little Grayhaven.[Pg 11]

Chapter Header


"This ain't Washington, and we don't keep bankers' hours here," was the slogan of the Superintendent. He spoke that phrase, chanted it, and sang it. He made a litany of it; he turned it into a National Anthem. It came with such irritating regularity I could have sworn he timed it on a knotted string, sort of "Day-by-day-in-every-way" tempo, one might say. And it wasn't Washington, and we didn't live lives of ease; no banker ever toiled from dawn until all hours of the night, Sunday included!

I made pothooks and translated them. I put figures down and added them up. For the road crew I checked in equipment and for the cook I chucked out rotten beef. The Superintendent had boasted that three weeks of the program he had laid out for me would be plenty to send me back where I came from and then he would have a regular place again. But I really didn't mind the work. I was learning to love the Arizona climate and the high thin air that kept one's spirits buoyed up in spite of little irritations. I was not lonely, for I had found many friends.[Pg 12]

When I had been at the Canyon a few days the young people gave a party for me. It was my début, so to speak. The world-famous stone building at Hermit's Rest was turned over to us for the evening by the Fred Harvey people, and, attended by the entire ranger force, I drove out the nine miles from Headquarters. We found the house crowded with guides, cowboys, stage-drivers, and their girls. Most of the girls were Fred Harvey waitresses, and if you think there is any discredit attached to that job you had better change your mind. The girls there were bookkeepers, teachers, college girls, and stenographers. They see the world and get well paid while doing it.

The big rendezvous at Hermit's Rest resembles an enormous cavern. The fireplace is among the largest anywhere in the world, and the cave impression is further carried out by having flat stones laid for the floor, and rock benches covered with bearskins and Navajo rugs. Many distinguished guests from all parts of the globe have been entertained in that room, but we forgot all about distinguished personages and had a real old-fashioned party. We played cards and danced, and roasted weenies and marshmallows. After that party I felt that I belonged there at the Canyon and had neighbors.

There were others, however. The Social Leader, for instance. She tried to turn our little democracy into a monarchy, with herself the sovereign. She was very near-sighted, and it was a mystery how she managed to know all about everything until we discovered she kept a pair of powerful field-glasses trained on the scene most of the time. The poor lady had a mania for selling discarded[Pg 13] clothing at top prices. We used to ask each other when we met at supper, "Did you buy anything today?" I refused point-blank to buy her wreckage, but the rangers were at a disadvantage. They wanted to be gentlemen and not hurt her feelings! Now and then one would get cornered and stuck with a second-hand offering before he could make his getaway. Then how the others would rag him! One ranger, with tiny feet, of which he was inordinately proud, was forced to buy a pair of No. 12 shoes because they pinched the Social Leader's Husband's feet. He brought them to me.

"My Gawd! What'll I do with these here box cars? They cost me six bucks and I'm ruined if the boys find out about it."

An Indian squaw was peddling baskets at my house, and we traded the shoes to her for two baskets. I kept one and he the other. Not long after that he was burned to death in a forest fire, and when I packed his belongings to send to his mother the little basket was among his keepsakes.

There was a Bridge Fiend in our midst, too! She weighed something like twenty stone, slept all forenoon, played bridge and ate chocolates all afternoon, and talked constantly of reducing. One day she went for a ride on a flop-eared mule; he got tired and lay down and rolled over and over in the sand. They had some trouble rescuing her before she got smashed. I told her the mule believed in rolling to help reduce. She didn't see the joke, but the mule and I did. Grand Canyon life was too exciting for her, so she left us.[Pg 14]

A quaint little person was the rancher's wife who brought fresh eggs and vegetables to us. She wore scant pajamas instead of skirts, because she thought it "more genteel," she explained. When a favorite horse or cow died, she carefully preserved the skull and other portions of the skeleton for interior-decoration purposes.

Ranger Fisk and I took refuge in her parlor one day from a heavy rain. Her husband sat there like a graven image. He was never known to say more than a dozen words a day, but she carried on for the entire family. As Ranger Fisk said, "She turns her voice on and then goes away and forgets it's running." She told us all about the last moments of her skeletons before they were such, until it ceased to be funny. Ranger Fisk sought to change the conversation by asking her how long she had been married.

"Ten years; but it seems like fifty," she said. We braved the rain after that.

Ranger Fisk was born in Sweden. He ran away from home at fourteen and joined the Merchant Marine, and in that service poked into most of the queer seaports on the map. He had long since lost track of his kinsfolk, and although he insisted that he was anxious to marry he carefully kept away from all marriageable ladies.

Ranger Winess was the sheik of the force. Every good-looking girl that came his way was rushed for a day and forgotten as soon as another arrived. He played his big guitar, and sang and danced, and made love, all with equal skill and lightness. The only love he was really constant to was Tony, his big bay horse.[Pg 15]

Ranger West, Assistant Chief Ranger, was the most like a storybook ranger of them all. He was essentially an outdoor man, without any parlor tricks. I have heard old-timers say he was the best man with horses they had ever known. He was much more interested in horses and tobacco than he was in women and small talk. But if there was a particularly dangerous task or one requiring sound judgment and a clear head, Ranger West was selected.

He and Ranger Fisk and Ranger Winess were known as the "Three Musketeers." They were the backbone of the force.

Sometimes I think my very nicest neighbor was the gardener at El Tovar Hotel. He saw me hungrily eying his flowers, and gave me a generous portion of plants and showed me how to care for them. I planted them alongside my little gray house, and after each basin of water had seen duty for cleansing purposes it went to water the flowers. We never wasted a drop of water. It was hauled a hundred miles in tank cars, and cost accordingly. I sometimes wondered if we paid extra for the red bugs that swam around in it so gaily. Anyway, my flowers didn't mind the bugs. They grew into masses of beautiful foliage and brilliant blossoms. I knew every leaf and bud on them. I almost sat up nights with them, I was so proud of their beauty. My flowers and my little gray kitten were all the company I had now. The fire guard girl had gone home.

One of my neighbors asked me to go with a group of Fred Harvey girls to visit the Petrified Forest, lying more[Pg 16] than a hundred miles southeast of the Canyon. As I had been working exceptionally hard in the Park Office, I declared myself a holiday, and Sunday morning early found us well on the way.

We drove through ordinary desert country to Williams and from there on past Flagstaff and eastward to Holbrook. Eighteen miles from there we began to see fallen logs turned into stone.

My ideas of the Petrified Forest were very vague, but I had expected to see standing trees turned to stone. These big logs were all lying down, and I couldn't find a single stump! We drove through several miles of fallen logs and came to the Government Museum where unique and choice specimens had been gathered together for visitors to see. It is hard to describe this wood, that isn't wood. It looks like wood, at least the grain and the shape, and knotholes and even wormholes are there; but it has turned to beautifully brilliant rock. Some pieces look like priceless Italian marble; others are all colors of the rainbow, blended together into a perfect poem of shades.

Of course I asked for an explanation, and with all the technical terms left out, this is about what I learned: "These trees are probably forty million years old! None of them grew here. This is proved in several ways: there are few roots or branches and little bark."

The ranger saw me touch the outside of a log that was covered with what looked to me like perfectly good bark! He smiled.

"Yes, I know that looks like bark, but it is merely an[Pg 17] outside crust of melted sand, et cetera, that formed on the logs as they rolled around in the water."

"Water?" I certainly hadn't seen any water around the Petrified Forest.

"Yes, water. This country, at one time, was an arm of the Pacific Ocean, and was drained by some disturbance which brought the Sierra Mountains to the surface. These logs grew probably a thousand miles north of here and were brought here in a great flood. They floated around for centuries perhaps, and were thoroughly impregnated with the mineral water, doubtless hot water. When the drainage took place, they were covered by silt and sand to a depth of perhaps two thousand feet. Here the petrifaction took place. Silica was present in great quantities. Manganese and iron provided the coloring matter, and through pressure these chemicals were forced into the grain of the wood, which gradually was absorbed and its cell structure replaced by ninety-nine per cent silica and the other per cent iron and manganese. Erosion brought what we see to the top. We have reason to believe that the earth around here covers many thousand more."

After that all soaked in I asked him what the beautiful crystals in purple and amber were. These are really amethysts and topazes found in the center of the logs. Formed probably by resin in the wood, these jewels are next hardest to diamonds and have been much prized. One famous jeweler even had numberless logs blown to splinters with explosives in order to secure the gems.

The wood is very little softer than diamond, and polishes beautifully for jewelry, book-ends, and table tops.[Pg 18] The ranger warned us against taking any samples from the Reserve.

We could have spent days wandering around among the fallen giants, each one disclosing new beauties in color and formation; but we finally left, reluctantly, each determined to come back again.

It was quite dark when we reached the Canyon, and I was glad to creep into bed. My kitten snuggled down close to the pillow and sang sleepy songs, but I couldn't seem to get to sleep. Only cheesecloth nailed over the windows stood between me and all sorts of animals I imagined prowled the surrounding forest. The cheesecloth couldn't keep the noises out, and the cry that I heard might just as well have been the killing scream of a cougar as a bed-time story of a tree frog. It made my heart beat just as fast. And although the rangers declared I never heard more than one coyote at a time, I knew that at least twenty howling voices swelled the chorus.

While I was trying to persuade myself that the noise I heard was just a pack rat, a puffing, blowing sound at the window took me tremblingly out to investigate. I knew some ferocious animal was about to devour me! But my precious flowers were the attraction. A great, gaunt cow had taken the last delectable bite from my pansy bed and was sticking out a greedy tongue to lap in the snapdragons. Throwing on my bathrobe, I grabbed the broom and attacked the invader. I whacked it fore and aft! I played a tune on its lank ribs! Taken completely by surprise, it hightailed clumsily up through the pines, with me and my trusty broom lending encourage[Pg 19]ment. When morning came, showing the havoc wrought on my despoiled posies, I was ready to weep.

Ranger Winess joined me on my way to breakfast.

"Don't get far from Headquarters today," he said. "Dollar Mark Bull is in here and he is a killer. I've been out on Tony after him, but he charged us and Tony bolted before I could shoot. When I got Tony down to brass tacks, Dollar Mark was hid."

I felt my knees knocking together.

"What's he look like?" I inquired, weakly.

"Big red fellow, with wide horns and white face. Branded with a Dollar Mark. He's at least twenty years old, and mean!"

My midnight visitor!

I sat down suddenly on a lumber pile. It was handy to have a lumber pile, for I felt limp all over. I told the ranger about chasing the old beast around with a broom. His eyes bulged out on stems.

Frequent appearances of "Dollar Mark" kept me from my daily tramps through the pines, and I spent more time on the Rim of the Canyon.

Strangely, the great yawning chasm itself held no fascination for me. I could appreciate its dizzy depths, its vastness, its marvelous color effects, and its weird contours. I could feel the immensity of it, and it repelled instead of attracted. I seemed to see its barrenness and desolation, the cruel deception of its poisonous springs, and its insurmountable walls. I could visualize its hapless victims wandering frantically about, trying to find the way out of some blind coulee, until, exhausted and thirst-[Pg 20]crazed, they lay down to die under the sun's pitiless glare. Many skeletons, half buried in sand, have been found to tell of such tragedies.

It was only in the evenings, after the sun had gone down, that I could feel at ease with the Canyon. Then I loved to sit on the Rim and look down on the one living spot far below, where, almost a century ago, the Indians made their homes and raised their crops, watering the fields from the clear, cold spring that gushes out of the hillside. As the light faded, the soft mellow moon would swim into view, shrouding with tender light the stark, grim boulders. From the plateau, lost in the shadows, the harsh bray of wild burros, softened by distance, floated upward.

On a clear day I could see objects on the North Rim, thirteen miles away, and with a pair of strong field glasses I could bring the scene quite close. It looked like a fairyland over there, and I wanted to cross over and see what it was really like. White Mountain advanced the theory that if we were married we could go over there for our honeymoon! I had to give the matter careful consideration; but while I considered, the moon came up, and behind us in the Music Room someone began to play softly Schubert's "Serenade." I said, "All right. Next year we'll go!"[Pg 21]

Chapter Header

Chapter III: "I DO!"

The Washington Office decided, by this time, that I was really going to stay, so they sent another girl out to work with me. The poor Superintendent was speechless! But his agony was short-lived. Another superintendent was sent to relieve him, which was also a relief to me!

My new girl was from Alabama and had never been west of that state. She was more of a tenderfoot than I, if possible. At first she insisted one had to have a bathtub or else be just "pore white trash," but in time she learned to bathe quite luxuriously in a three-pint basin. It took longer for her to master the art of lighting a kerosene lamp, and it was quite a while before she was expert enough to dodge the splinters in the rough pine floor. I felt like a seasoned sourdough beside her!

We "ditched" the big cookstove, made the back room into sleeping quarters, and turned our front room into a sort of clubhouse. White Mountain gave us a wonderful phonograph and plenty of records. If one is inclined to belittle canned music, it is a good plan to live for a while[Pg 22] where the only melody one hears is a wailing coyote or the wind moaning among the pines.

We kept getting new records. The rangers dropped in every evening with offerings. Ranger Winess brought us love songs. He doted on John McCormack's ballads, and I secretly applauded his choice. Of course I had to praise the Harry Lauder selections that Ranger Fisk toted in. White Mountain favored Elman and Kreisler. The violin held him spellbound. But when Pat came we all suffered through an evening of Grand Opera spelled with capital letters!

Nobody knew much about "Pat." He was a gentleman without doubt. He was educated and cultured, he was witty and traveled. His game of bridge was faultless and his discussion of art or music authentic. He was ready to discuss anything and everything, except himself.

In making up personnel records I asked him to fill out a blank. He gave his name and age. "Education" was followed by "A.B." and "M.A." Nearest relative: "None." In case of injury or death notify—"Nobody." That was all. Somewhere he had a family that stood for something in the world, but where? He was a striking person, with his snow-white hair, bright blue eyes, and erect, soldier-like bearing. White Mountain and Ranger Winess had known him in Yellowstone; Ranger Fisk had seen him in Rainier; Ranger West had met him at Glacier. He taught me the game of cribbage, and the old game of gold-rush days—solo.

One morning Pat came to my cabin and handed me a book. Without speaking he turned and walked away.[Pg 23] Inside the volume I found a note: "I am going away. This is my favorite book. I want you to have it and keep it." The title of the book was Story of an African Farm. None of us ever saw Pat again.

The yearly rains began to come daily, each with more force and water than the preceding one. Lightning flashed like bombs exploding, and thunder roared and reverberated back and forth from Rim to Rim of the Canyon. We sank above our shoes in mud every time we left the cabin. The days were disagreeable, but the evenings were spent in the cabin, Ranger Winess with his guitar and the other boys singing while we girls made fudge or sea-foam. Such quantities of candy as that bunch could consume! The sugar was paid for from the proceeds of a Put-and-Take game that kept us entertained.

We had a girl friend, Virginia, from Washington as a guest, and she fell in love with Arizona. Also with Ranger Winess. It was about arranged that she would remain permanently, but one unlucky day he took her down Bright Angel Trail. He provided her with a tall lank mule, "By Gosh," to ride, and she had never been aboard an animal before. Every time By Gosh flopped an ear she thought he was trying to slap her in the face. On a steep part of the trail a hornet stung the mule, and he began to buck and kick.

I asked Virginia what she did then.

"I didn't do anything. By Gosh was doing enough for both of us," she said. Ranger Winess said, however, that she turned her mule's head in toward the bank and whacked him with the stick she carried. Which was the[Pg 24] logical thing to do. Unfortunately Ranger Winess teased her a little about the incident, and a slight coolness arose. Just to show how little she cared for his company, Virginia left our party and strolled up to the Rim to observe the effect of moonlight on the mist that filled it.

Our game of Put-and-Take was running along merrily when we heard a shriek, then another. We rushed out, and there was Dollar Mark Bull chasing Virginia around and around among the big pine trees while she yelled like a calliope. Seeing the door open she knocked a few of us over in her hurry to get inside. Then she bravely slammed the door and stood against it! Fortunately, Dollar Mark retreated and no lives were lost.

The rangers departed, we soothed Virginia, now determined not to remain permanently, and settled down for the night. Everything quiet and peaceful, thank goodness!

Alas! The most piercing shrieks I ever heard brought me upright in bed with every hair standing on end. It was morning. I looked at Virginia's bed. I could see her quite distinctly, parts of her at least. Her head was buried, ostrich-wise, in the blankets, while her feet beat a wild tattoo in the air. Stell woke up and joined the chorus. The cause of it all was a bewildered Navajo buck who stood mutely in the doorway, staring at the havoc he had created. At arm's length he tendered a pair of moccasins for sale. It was the first Reservation Indian in native dress, or rather undress, the girls had seen, and they truly expected to be scalped.

It never occurs to an Indian to knock at a door, nor[Pg 25] does the question of propriety enter into his calculations when he has an object in view.

I told him to leave, and he went out. An hour later, however, when we went to breakfast, he was squatted outside my door waiting for us to appear. He had silver bracelets and rings beaten out of Mexican coins and studded with native turquoise and desert rubies. We each bought something. I bought because I liked his wares, and the other girls purchased as a sort of thank-offering for mercies received.

The bracelets were set with the brilliant rubies found by the Indians in the desert. It is said that ants excavating far beneath the surface bring these semi-precious stones to the top. Others contend that they are not found underneath the ground but are brought by the ants from somewhere near the nest because their glitter attracts the ant. True or false, the story results in every anthill being carefully searched.

Virginia's visit was drawing to a close, and White Mountain and I decided to announce our engagement while she was still with us. We gave a dinner at El Tovar, with the rangers and our closest friends present. At the same party another ranger announced his engagement and so the dinner was a hilarious affair.

One of the oldest rangers there, and one notoriously shy with women, made me the object of a general laugh. He raised his glass solemnly and said: "Well, here's wishin' you joy, but I jest want to say this: ef you'd a played yo' cyards a little bit different, you wouldn't 'a had to take White Mountain."[Pg 26]

Before the dinner was over a call came from the public camp ground for aid. Our party broke up, and we girls went to the assistance of a fourteen-year-old mother whose baby was ill. Bad food and ignorance had been too much for the little nameless fellow, and he died about midnight. There was a terrible electric storm raging, and rain poured down through the old tent where the baby died.

Ranger Winess carried the little body down to our house and we took the mother and followed. We put him in a dresser drawer and set to work to make clothes to bury him in. Ranger Fisk and Ranger Winess made the tiny casket, and we rummaged through our trunks for materials. A sheer dimity frock of mine that had figured in happier scenes made the shroud, and Virginia gave a silken scarf to line the coffin. Ranger Winess tacked muslin over the rough boards so it would look nicer to the young mother. There were enough of my flowers left by Dollar Mark to make a wreath, and that afternoon a piteous procession wended its way to the cemetery. And such a cemetery! Near the edge of the Canyon, a mile or so from Headquarters it lay, a bleak neglected spot in a sagebrush flat with nothing to mark the cattle-tramped graves, of which there were four. At the edge of the clearing, under a little pine, was the open grave, and while the coffin was lowered the men sang. I never heard a more lonesome sound than those men singing there over that little grave. White Mountain read the burial service.

We took the mother back to our cabin while the grave was being filled in. I used to see her walking out there each morning with a few wild flowers to put on the[Pg 27] mound. Ranger Winess managed to ride that way and keep her in sight until she returned to the camp ground. While the blue lupine blossomed she kept the mound covered with the fragrant flowers.

Ranger Fisk had a vacation about this time, and he insisted White Mountain and I should get married while he could act as best man. So we journeyed to Flagstaff with him and were married. It seemed more like a wedding in a play than anything else. Ranger Fisk was burdened with the responsibility of the wedding-ring, license, minister's fee, and flowers for the occasion. He herded us into the clerk's office to secure the necessary papers, and the girl clerk that issued them was a stickler for form. We gave our names, our parents' names, our ages, birth-places, and previous states of servitude. I was getting ready to show her my vaccination scar, when she turned coldly critical eyes on me and asked: "Are you white?" This for a Virginian to answer was quite a blow.

We went to the minister's house, and since two witnesses were necessary, the wife was called in from her washing. She came into the parlor drying her hands on her apron, which she discarded by rolling up and tossing into a chair. Ranger Fisk produced the ring, with a flourish, at the proper moment, gave the minister his money, after all the "I do's" had been said, and the wedding was over. So we were married. No wedding march, no flower girls, no veil, no rice, no wedding breakfast. Just a solemn promise to respect each other and be faithful. Perhaps the promise meant just a little more to us because it was not smothered in pomp.[Pg 28]

For a wedding-trip we visited the cliff dwellings in Walnut Canyon. Here, hundreds of years ago, other newly married couples had set up housekeeping and built their dreams into the walls that still tell the world that we are but newcomers on this hemisphere.

The news of our marriage reached the Canyon ahead of us, and we found our little cabin filled with our friends and their gifts. They spent a merry evening with us and as we bade them goodnight we felt that such friendship was beyond price indeed.

But after midnight! The great open spaces were literally filled with a most terrifying and ungodly racket. I heard shrieks and shots, and tin pans banging. Horrors! The cook was on another vanilla-extract jamboree!! But—drums boomed and bugles blared. Ah, of course! The Indians were on the warpath; I never entirely trusted those red devils. I looked around for a means of defense, but the Chief told me not to be alarmed—it was merely a "shivaree."

"Now, what might that be?" I inquired. I supposed he meant at least a banshee, or at the very least an Irish wake! It was, however, nothing more or less than our friends serenading us. They came inside, thirty strong; the walls of the cabin fairly bulged. They played all sorts of tricks on us, and just as they left someone dropped a handful of sulphur on top of the stove. Naturally, we went outside with our visitors to wish them "godspeed!"

"I'll never get married again; at least not in the land of the shivaree," I told White Mountain as we tried to repair the damage.[Pg 29]

I guess we were let off easy, for when our ranger friend returned with his bride they suffered a much worse fate. The groom was locked for hours in the old bear cage on the Rim, and his wife was loaded into a wheelbarrow and rolled back and forth across the railroad tracks until the Chief called a halt to that. He felt the treatment was a little too severe even for people in love.

Since I could not go to live in the bachelor ranger quarters, White Mountain moved into my cabin until our house could be completed. A tent house was built for Stell in the back yard of our cabin. She was afraid to live alone, and used to wake us at all hours of the night. Once she came bursting into our cabin, hysterical with fright. A bunch of coyotes had been racing around and around her tent trying to get into the garbage can. They yelped and barked, and, finally, as she sobbed and tried to explain, "They sat down in my door and laughed like crazy people." She finished the night on our spare cot, for anybody that thinks coyotes can't act like demons had better spend a night in Arizona and listen to them perform.

Stell wasn't a coward by any means. She was right there when real courage was needed. A broken leg to set or a corpse to bathe and dress were just chores that needed to be done, and she did her share of both. But seven thousand feet altitude for months at a time will draw a woman's nerves tauter than violin strings. I remember, one morning, Stell and I came home in the dawn after an all-night vigil with a dying woman. We were both nearly asleep as we stumbled along through the pines, but not too far gone to see Dollar Mark come charging at us.[Pg 30] We had stopped at the cookhouse and begged a pot of hot coffee to take to our cabins. Stell was carrying it, and she stood her ground until the mean old bull was within a few feet of her. Then she dashed the boiling-hot coffee full in his gleaming red eyes, and while he snorted and bellowed with pain we shinnied up a juniper tree and hung there like some of our ancestors until the road crew came along and drove him away. We were pretty mad, and made a few sarcastic remarks about a ranger force that couldn't even "shoot the bull." We requested the loan of a gun, if necessary! Ranger Winess took our conversation to heart, and next morning hung a notice in Headquarters which "Regretted to report that Dollar Mark Bull accidentally fell over the Rim into the Canyon and was killed." In my heart I questioned both the "regret" and the "accidental" part of the report, and in order to still any remorse that the ranger might feel I baked him the best lemon pie I had in my repertoire![Pg 31]

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Soon after our wedding the Chief crossed to the North Rim to meet a party of celebrities, which included his old friend Emerson Hough. This was to have been our honeymoon trip, but I was left at home! The new Superintendent needed me in the office; therefore White Mountain spent our honeymoon trip alone. I had heard of such a thing, but never expected it to happen to me. I might have felt terribly cut up about it but on the South Rim we were fermenting with excitement getting ready to entertain important guests.

General Diaz of Italy and his staff were coming, soon to be followed by Marshal Foch with his retinue. And in the meantime Tom Mix and Eva Novak had arrived with beautiful horses and swaggering cowboys to make a picture in the Canyon. What was a mere honeymoon compared to such luminaries?

Tom and Eva spent three weeks making the picture, and we enjoyed every minute they were there. Ranger Winess was assigned to duty with them, and when they[Pg 32] left the Canyon he found himself with the offer of a movie contract. Tom liked the way the ranger handled his horse and his rifle, and Tom's wife liked the sound of his guitar. So we lost Ranger Winess. He went away to Hollywood, and we all went around practicing: "I-knew-him-when" phrases. But Hollywood wasn't Grand Canyon, and there wasn't a horse there, not even Tom's celebrated Tony, that had half as much brains as his own bay Tony of the ranger horses. So Winess came back to us, and everybody was happy again.

While the picture was being made, some of the company found a burro mother with a broken leg, and Ranger Winess mercifully ended her suffering. A tiny baby burro playing around the mother they took to camp and adopted at once. He was so comical with his big velvet ears and wise expression. Not bigger than a shepherd dog, the men could pick him up and carry him around the place. Tom took him to Mixville and the movie people taught him to drink out of a bottle, so he is well on the road to stardom. Ranger Winess, visiting in New Jersey a couple of years later, dropped into a theater where Tom Mix was in a vaudeville act. Mix spied the ranger, and when the act was over he stepped to the edge of the stage and sang out: "Hey, Winess, I still got that burro!"

A dummy that had been used in the picture was left lying quite a distance up the side of a mountain, but quite visible from their movie camp. Tom bet his Director, Lynn Reynolds, twenty-five dollars that the dummy was six feet tall. He knew quite well that it was not six feet tall, and knew that Reynolds knew so too. But the bet[Pg 33] was on. A guide going to the top, was bribed by a ten-dollar bill from Tom, to stretch the dummy out to the required length. This guide went up the trail a few hours before Tom and Reynolds were due to measure the dummy. Imagine their feelings when they arrived, and found the money and this note pinned to the object of dispute:

"Mr. Tom Mix, deer sir. I streetched the dam thing till it busted. It hain't no higher than me, and I hain't six feet. You'll plees find herein yore money.

Youers truly,

It is said that Reynolds collected in full and then hunted Shorty up and bestowed the twenty-five dollars on him.

White Mountain returned from the North Rim full of his trip. He, together with Director Mather and Emerson Hough, had been all through the wonderful Southern Utah country, including Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park. Mr. Hough had just sold his masterpiece, The Covered Wagon, to the Saturday Evening Post, and was planning to write a Canyon story. He told White Mountain he felt that he was not big enough to write such a story but intended to try. His title was to be "The Scornful Valley." Before he could come to the Canyon again, he died on the operating table.

Preparations were made for the visit of General Diaz, who came about Thanksgiving time. A great deal of pomp and glory surrounded his every movement. He and[Pg 34] White Mountain were alone for a moment on one of the points overlooking the Canyon, and the General, looking intently into the big gorge, said to the Chief: "When I was a small boy I read a book about some people that stole some cattle and hid away in the Canyon. I wonder if it could have been near here?" White Mountain was able to point out a place in the distance that had been a crossing place for cattle in the early days, which pleased the soldier greatly.

Hopi Joe and his Indian dancers gave an unusually fine exhibition of their tribal dances for the visitors. The General expressed his appreciation quite warmly to Joe after the dance ended, and asked Joe to pose with him for a picture. He was recalling other boyhood reading he had done, and his interest in the Indians was quite naïve. Joe took him into the Hopi House and they spent an hour or so going over the exhibition of Indian trophies there.

After dinner, the General retired to his private car to rest, but the staff remained at the hotel and we danced until well after midnight. The General's own band furnished the music. There were no women in the visitor's party, but there was no lack of partners for the handsome, charming officers. That few of them spoke English and none of us understood Italian made no difference. Smiles and flirtatious glances speak a universal language, and many a wife kept her wedding-ring out of the lime-light.

While we all enjoyed the visit of this famous man, we took a personal interest in Marshal Foch. And I'm not sure that General Diaz would have been entirely pleased could he have seen the extra special arrangements that[Pg 35] were made to welcome Marshal Foch a few days later. Every ranger was called in from outlying posts; uniforms were pressed, boots shined, and horses groomed beyond recognition. Some of the rangers had served in France, and one tall lanky son of Tennessee had won the Croix de Guerre. To his great disgust and embarrassment, he was ordered to wear this decoration. When the special train rolled in, the rangers were lined up beside the track. The gallant old warrior stepped down from his car and walked along the line. His eye rested on that medal. He rushed up and fingered it lovingly "Croix de Guerre! Oui, oui, Croix de Guerre!" he kept repeating, as delighted as a child would be at the sight of a beloved toy. The ranger's face was a study. I believe he expected to be kissed on both cheeks, as he probably had been when the medal was originally bestowed upon him.

White Mountain was presented to the Marshal as "Le Chieftain de le Rangeurs," and, as he said later, had a handshake and listened to a few words in French from the greatest general in history!

The Marshal was the least imposing member of his staff. Small, unassuming, and even frail, he gave the impression of being infinitely weary of the world and its fighting, its falseness, and its empty pomp. He spoke practically no English, but when a tiny Indian maid crept near in her quaint velvet jacket and little full skirts, he extended a hand and said quite brokenly: "How are you, Little One?" In fact he spoke very little even in his own language.

Several hours were consumed in viewing the Canyon[Pg 36] and at lunch. Then he was taken out to Hermit's Rest and sat in front of the great fireplace for an hour, just resting and gazing silently into the glowing embers. All the while he stroked the big yellow cat that had come and jumped upon his knee as soon as he was settled. Then he walked down the trail a little way, refusing to ride the mule provided for him. When it was explained that his photograph on the mule was desired, he gravely bowed and climbed aboard the animal.

Our new Superintendent, Colonel John R. White, had been in France and spoke French fluently. He hung breathlessly on the words of the Marshal when he turned to him after a long scrutiny of the depths below. "Now," thought Colonel White, "I shall hear something worthy of passing along to my children and grandchildren."

"What a beautiful place to drop one's mother-in-law!" observed the Marshal in French. Later he remarked that the Canyon would make a wonderful border line between Germany and France!

Hopi Joe gave his tribal dances around a fire built in the plaza. After the dance was over, the Marshal asked for an encore on the War Dance. Joe gave a very realistic performance that time. Once he came quite near the foreign warrior, brandishing his tomahawk and chanting. A pompous newspaper man decided to be a hero and pushed in between Joe and Marshal Foch. The General gave the self-appointed protector one look, and he was edged outside the circle and told to stay there, while Joe went on with his dance.

A marvelous Navajo rug was presented to the visitor[Pg 37] by Father Vabre, with the information that it was a gift from the Indians to their friend from over the sea. He was reminded that when the call came for volunteers many thousands of Arizona Indians left their desert home and went across the sea to fight for a government that had never recognized them as worthy to be its citizens.

The General's face lighted up as he accepted the gift, and he replied that he would carry the rug with him and lay it before his own hearthstone, and that he would tell his children its story so that after he had gone on they would cherish it as he had and never part with it. One likes to think that perhaps during his last days on earth his eyes fell on this bright rug, reminding him that in faraway Arizona his friends were thinking of him and hoping for his recovery.

A wildcat presented by an admirer was voted too energetic a gift to struggle with, so it was left in the bear cage on the Rim. Somebody turned it out and it committed suicide by leaping into the Canyon.

A raw cold wind, such as can blow only at the Canyon, swept around the train as it carried Marshal Foch away. That wind brought tragedy and sorrow to us there at El Tovar, for, exposed to its cold blast, Mr. Brant, the hotel manager, contracted pneumonia. Travelers from all parts of the world knew and loved this genial and kindly gentleman. He had welcomed guests to El Tovar from the day its portals were first opened to tourists. Marshal Foch was the last guest he welcomed or waved to in farewell, for when the next day dawned he was fighting for life and in a few days he was gone.[Pg 38]

He had loved the Canyon with almost a fanatic's devotion, and although Captain Hance had not been buried on its Rim as had been his deep desire, Mr. Brant's grave was located not far from the El Tovar, overlooking the Great Chasm. The tomb had to be blasted from solid rock. All night long the dull rumble of explosives told me that the rangers, led by the wearer of the Croix de Guerre, were toiling away. The first snow of the season was falling when the funeral cortège started for the grave. White Mountain and other friends were pall-bearers, and twenty cowboys on black horses followed the casket. Father Vabre read the burial service, and George Wharton James spoke briefly of the friendship which had bound them together for many years. Since that time both the good priest and the famous author have passed on.

Mr. Brant had an Airedale dog that was his constant companion. For days after his death this dog would get his master's hat and stick and search all over the hotel for him. He thought it was time for their daily walk. When the dog died they buried him near his master's grave. This had been Mr. Brant's request.

The snow grew deeper and the mercury continued to go down, until it was almost impossible to spend much time outside. But the little iron stove stuffed full of pine wood kept the cabin fairly warm, and the birds and squirrels learned to stay close to the stovepipe on the roof.

The squirrels would come to the cabin windows and pat against them with their tiny paws. They were begging for something to eat, and if a door or window were left open a minute it was good-by to anything found on the[Pg 39] table. Bread, cake, or even fruit was a temptation not to be resisted. One would grab the prize and dart up the trunk of a big pine tree with the whole tribe hot-footing it right after him. One bold fellow waylaid me one morning when I opened the door, and bounced up on the step and into the kitchen. I shoved him off the cabinet, and he jumped on top of the stove. That wasn't hot enough to burn him but enough to make him good and mad, so he scrambled to my shoulder, ran down my arm, and sank his teeth in my hand. Then he ran up to the top of the shelves and sat there chattering and scolding until the Chief came home and gave him the bum's rush. This same fellow bit the Chief, too; but I always felt he had it coming to him. White Mountain had a glass jar of piñon nuts, and he would hold them while the squirrels came and packed their jaws full. They looked too comical with their faces puffed up like little boys with mumps. When "Bunty" came for his share, the Chief placed his hand tightly over the top, just to tease him. He wanted to see what would happen. He found out. Bunty ran his paws over the slick surface of the jar two or three times, but couldn't find any way to reach the tempting nuts. He stopped and thought about the situation a while, then it seemed to dawn on him that he was the victim of a practical joke. All at once he jumped on the Chief's hand, buried his teeth in his thumb, then hopped to a lumber pile and waited for developments. He got the nuts, jar and all, right at his head. He side-stepped the assault and gloated over his store of piñons the rest of the afternoon.

It had been an off year for piñons, so boxes were put up[Pg 40] in sheltered nooks around the park and the rangers always put food into them while making patrols. I carried my pockets full of peanuts while riding the trails, and miles from Headquarters the squirrels learned to watch for me. I learned to look out for them also, after one had dropped from an overhanging bough to the flank of a sensitive horse I was riding. The Fred Harvey boys purchased a hundred pounds of peanuts for the little fellows, and the animals also learned to beg from tourists. All a squirrel had to do in order to keep well stuffed was to sit up in the middle of the road and look cunning.

One day a severe cold kept me in bed. Three or four of the little rascals found an entrance and came pell-mell into the house. One located a cookie and the others chased him into my room with it. For half an hour they fought and raced back and fourth over my bed while I kept safely hidden under the covers, head and all. During a lull I took a cautious look around. There they sat, lined up like schoolboys, on the dresser, trying to get at the impudent squirrels in the glass! Failing in that, they investigated the bottles and boxes. They didn't care much for the smell of camphor, but one poke-nosey fellow put his nose in the powder jar and puffed; when he backed away, he looked like a merry old Santa Claus, his whiskers white with powder and his black eyes twinkling.

Once the Chief gave them some Eastern chestnuts and black walnuts. They were bewildered. They rolled them over and over in their paws and sniffed at them, but made no effort to cut into the meat. We watched to see what they would do, and they took those funny nuts out under[Pg 41] the trees and buried them good and deep. Maybe they thought time would mellow them.

But the worst thing those little devils did to me happened later. I had cooked dinner for some of the powers-that-be from Washington, and for dessert I made three most wonderful lemon pies. They were dreams! Each one sported fluffy meringue not less than three inches thick (and eggs eighty cents a dozen). They were cooling on a shelf outside the door. Along comes greedy Mr. Bunty looking for something to devour.

"You go away. I'm looking for real company and can't be bothered with you!" I told him, and made a threatening motion with the broom.

He went—right into the first pie, and from that to the middle one; of course he couldn't slight the third and last one, so he wallowed across it. Then the horrid beast climbed a tree in front of my window. He cleaned, and polished, and lapped meringue off his gray squirrel coat, while I wiped tears and thought up a suitable epitaph for him. A dirty Supai squaw enjoyed the pies. She and her assorted babies ate them, smacking and gabbling over them just as if they hadn't been bathed in by a wild animal.[Pg 42]

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Indians! Navajos! How many wide-eyed childhood hours had I spent listening to stories of these ferocious warriors! And yet, here they were as tame as you please, walking by my door and holding out their native wares to sell.

From the first instant my eyes rested upon a Navajo rug, I was fascinated by the gaudy thing. The more I saw, the more they appealed to the gypsy streak in my makeup. Each Navajo buck that came to my door peddling his rugs and silver ornaments was led into the house and questioned. Precious little information I was able to abstract at first from my saturnine visitors. As we became better acquainted, and they learned to expect liberal draughts of coffee sweetened into a syrup, sometimes their tongues loosened; but still I couldn't get all the information I craved regarding those marvelous rugs and how they were made.

Finally the Chief decided to spend his vacation by taking me on a trip out into the Painted Desert, the home[Pg 43] of this nomadic tribe. We chose the early days of summer after the spring rains had brought relief to the parched earth and replenished the water holes where we expected to camp each night. Another reason was that a great number of the tribal dances would be in full swing at this time. Old "Smolley," an antique "navvy," had just disposed of a supply of rugs and was wending his way homeward at the same time. Not choosing to travel in solitude, he firmly fastened himself to our caravan. I would have preferred his absence, for he was a vile, smelly old creature with bleary eyes and coarse uncombed gray hair tied into a club and with a red band around his head. His clothes were mostly a pair of cast-off overalls, which had not been discarded by the original owner until he was in danger of arrest for indecent exposure. Incessant wear night and day by Smolley had not improved their looks. But Smolley knew that I never could see him hungry while we ate; consequently he stuck closer than a brother. Our hospitality was well repaid later, for he took care that we saw the things we wanted to see in Navajo Land.

The first day we rode through magnificent groves of stately yellow pines which extended from Grand Canyon out past Grand View and the picturesque old stage tavern there which is the property of Mr. W. R. Hearst. Quite a distance beyond there we stopped for lunch on a little knoll covered with prehistoric ruins. I asked Smolley what had become of the people who had built the homes lying at our feet. He grunted a few times and said that they were driven out on a big rock by their enemies and then the god caused the rock to fly away with them some[Pg 44]where else. Interesting, if true. I decided that my guess was as good as his, so let the subject drop. It must have been a long time ago, for there were juniper trees growing from the middle of these ruins that the Chief said were almost three thousand years old. (He had sawed one down not much larger than these, polished the trunk and counted the annual rings with a magnifying-glass, and found it to be well over that age.) Among the rocks and débris, we found fragments of pottery painted not unlike the present Zuñi ware, and other pieces of the typical basket pottery showing the marks of woven vessels inside of which they had been plastered thousands of years ago. I fell to dreaming of those vanished people, the hands that had shaped this clay long since turned to dust themselves. What had their owner thought of, hoped, or planned while fashioning this bowl, fragments of which I turned over in my palms aeons later? But the lunch-stop ended, and we moved on.

That night we camped at Desert View and with the first streak of dawn we prepared to leave the beaten path and follow a trail few tourists attempt. When we reached the Little Colorado, we followed Smolley implicitly as we forded the stream. "Chollo," our pack mule, became temperamental halfway across and bucked the rest of the way. I held my breath, expecting to see our cargo fly to the four winds; but the Chief had not packed notional mules for years in vain. A few pans rattled, and later I discovered that my hair brush was well smeared with jam. No other damage was done.

All day long we rode through the blazing sun. I kept[Pg 45] my eyes shut as much as possible, for the sun was so glaring that it sent sharp pains through my head. In front the Chief rode placidly on. Outside of turning him into a beautiful brick red, the sun seemingly did not affect him. Smolley was dozing. But I was in agony with thirst and heat and weariness. My horse, a gift from the Chief which I had not been wise enough to try out on a short journey before undertaking such a trip, was as stiff as a wooden horse. I told the Chief I knew Mescal was knock-kneed and stiff-legged.

"Oh, no," was the casual reply, "he's a little stiff in the shoulders from his fall."

"What fall?"

"Why, I loaned him to one of the rangers last week and he took him down the Hermit Trail and Mescal fell overboard."

"Is he subject to vertigo?" I wanted to know. I had heard we should have steep trails to travel on this trip.

"No; the ranger loaded him with two water kegs, and when Mescal got excited on a steep switchback the ranger lost his head and drove him over the edge. He fell twenty feet and was knocked senseless. It took two hours to get him out again."

"Some ranger," was my heated comment; "who was it?"

"No matter," said the Chief. "He isn't a ranger any more." The Chief said Mescal did not suffer any from the stiffness, but I'll admit that I suffered both mentally and physically. Anyway I had that to worry about and it took my mind off the intolerable heat.[Pg 46]

Almost before we knew it a storm gathered and broke directly over our heads. There was no shelter, so we just kept riding. I had visions of pneumonia and sore throat and maybe rheumatism. In fact I began to feel twinges of rheumatics, but the Chief scoffed. He said I should have had a twelve-inch saddle instead of a fourteen and if I wasn't so dead set on a McClellan instead of a Western Stock I would be more comfortable. He draped a mackinaw around me and left me to my fate. I wasn't scared by the storm, but Mescal was positively unnerved. He trembled and cringed at every crash. I had always enjoyed electrical storms, but I never experienced one quite so personal before. Cartwheels and skyrockets exploded under my very nose and blue flame wrapped all around us. The Chief had gone on in search of the pack mule, and I was alone with Smolley. Through a lull in the storm I caught a glimpse of him. He slouched stolidly in the saddle as unconcernedly as he had slouched in the broiling heat. In fact I think he was still dozing.

As suddenly as the storm had come it was gone, and we could see it ahead of us beating and lashing the hot sands. Clouds of earthy steam rose enveloping us, but as these cleared away the air was as cool and pure and sweet as in a New England orchard in May. On a bush by the trail a tiny wren appeared and burst into song like a vivacious firecracker. Rock squirrels darted here and there, and tiny cactus flowers opened their sleepy eyes and poured out fragrance. And then, by and by, it was evening and we were truly in Navajo Land.

We made our camp by a water hole replenished by[Pg 47] the recent rain. While the Chief hobbled the horses I drank my fill of the warm, brackish water and lay back on the saddles to rest. The Chief came into camp and put a can of water on the fire to boil. When it boiled he said, "Do you want a drink of this hot water or can you wait until it cools?"

"Oh, I had a good drink while you were gone," I answered drowsily.

"Where did you get it? The canteens were dry."

"Why, out of the waterhole, of course"; I was impatient that he could be so stupid.

"You did? Well, unless God holds you in the palm of his hand you will be good and sick. That water is full of germs. To say nothing of a dead cow or two. I thought you had better sense than to drink water from holes in the ground." I rose up and took another look at the oasis. Sure enough, horns and a hoof protruded from one end of the mudhole. I sank back weakly and wondered why I had ever thought I wanted to visit the Navajos. I hoped my loved ones back in the Virginias would not know how I died. It sounded too unromantic to say one passed out from drinking dead cow! I might as well say here that evidently I was held firmly by the Deity, for I felt no ill effects whatever. I couldn't eat any supper, but I knew Smolley would soon blow in and it would not be wasted.

As dusk settled around us we could almost hear the silence. Here and there a prairie owl would whirl low to the ground with a throaty chuckle for a time, but that soon ceased. Across the fire I could see the dull glow of[Pg 48] the Chief's cigarette, but the air was so quiet that not the faintest odor of tobacco drifted to me. While we lolled there, half waking, half dreaming, Old Smolley stepped noiselessly into camp and at a wave of the Chief's hand swiftly emptied the coffeepot and skillet. He wiped his greasy mouth on his sleeve and said: "Sing-sing this night. Three braves sick. Sing 'em well. You wanna see?"

Did we! I was up and ready before his last word was out. We followed him for ten minutes up a dry wash filled with bowlders and dry brush. I stepped high and wide, fully expecting to be struck by a rattlesnake any minute. I knew if I said anything the Chief would laugh at me, so I stayed behind him and looked after my own safety. We reached a little mesa at the head of the coulee and found Indians of all shapes and sizes assembled there. Two or three huge campfires were crackling, and a pot of mutton stewed over one of them. Several young braves were playing cards, watched by a bevy of giggling native belles. The lads never raised their eyes to the girls, but they were quite conscious of feminine observation.

Three men, grievously ill indeed, and probably made worse by the long ride to the scene of the dance, were lying in a hogan built of cottonwood branches. Outside, standing closely packed together, were the Navajo bucks and the medicine men. When an Indian is sick he goes to the doctor instead of sending for the doctor to visit him. And then invitations are sent out all over the Reservation for the singers to come and assist in the cure. The Navajos had responded loyally on this occasion and were grouped according to location. One group would[Pg 49] sing the weird minor wail for half an hour and then another bunch would break in for a few minutes, only to have still a third delegation snatch the song away from them. So closely did they keep time and so smoothly did one bunch take up where another left off that we, standing less than twenty feet away, could not tell which group was singing except when the Tuba City crowd took up the plaint. Their number was so small that they couldn't get out much noise. The Indians had discarded their civilized garb for the occasion and were clad mostly in atmosphere helped out with a gee-string of calico. Some had streaks of white and black paint on them. I fell to dreaming of what it would have meant to be captured by such demons only a few years ago, and it wasn't long until I lost interest in that scene. I was ready to retreat. We watched the medicine men thump and bang the invalids with bunches of herbs and prayer sticks a few minutes longer; then with Smolley as our guide we wandered over to the Squaw Dance beside another bonfire, located at a decorous distance from the improvised hospital hogan.

The leading squaw, with a big bunch of feathers fastened to a stick, advanced to the fire and made a few impressive gestures. She was garbed in the wide, gathered calico skirt, the velvet basque trimmed with silver buttons, and the high brown moccasins so dear to feminine Navajos. The orchestra was vocal, the bucks again furnishing the music. After circling around the spectators a few times the squaw decided on the man she wanted and with one hand took a firm grasp of his shirt just above the belt. Then she galloped backward around him while he[Pg 50] was dragged helplessly about with her, looking as sheepish as the mutton simmering in the kettle. Other squaws picked partners and soon there were numerous couples doing the silly prance. Silly it looked to us, but I thought of a few of our civilized dances and immediately reversed my opinion.

The squaws occasionally prowled around among the spectators, keeping in the shadows and seeking white men for partners. These, mostly cowboys and trading-post managers, were wary, and only one was caught napping. It cost him all the loose silver he had in his pocket to get rid of the tiny fat squaw that had captured him.

We were told that dances and races would continue for several days, and so, firmly bidding good night to Smolley, we went back to camp and fell asleep with the faint hubbub coming to us now and then.

Almost before the Chief had breakfast started the next morning Smolley stepped into the scene and took a prominent seat near the steaming coffeepot. "You arrive early," I remarked. "Now how could you know that breakfast was so near ready?" This last a trifle sarcastically, I fear. "Huh, me, I sleep here," pointing to the side of a rock not ten feet from my own downy bed. That settled me for keeps. I subsided and just gazed with a fatal hypnotism at the flapjacks disappearing down his ample gullet. It was fatal, for while I was spellbound the last one disappeared and I had to make myself some more or go without breakfast. When Smolley had stilled the first fierce pangs of starvation he pulled a pair of moccasins out of the front of his dirty shirt and tossed them to me.[Pg 51] (The gesture had somewhat the appearance of tossing a bone to an angry dog.) Anyway the dog was appeased. The moccasins had stiff rawhide soles exactly shaped to fit my foot, and the uppers were soft brown buckskin beautifully tanned. They reached well above the ankles and fastened on the side with three fancy silver buttons made by a native silversmith. A tiny turquoise was set in the top of each button. I marveled at the way they fitted, until the Chief admitted that he had given Smolley one of my boudoir slippers for a sample. Eventually the other slipper went to a boot manufacturer and I became the possessor of real hand-made cowboy boots.

Breakfast disposed of, we mounted and went in search of a rug factory, that being the initial excuse for the journey. A mile or two away we found one in operation. The loom consisted of two small cottonwood trees with cross-beams lashed to them, one at the top and the other at the bottom. A warp frame with four lighter sticks forming a square was fastened within the larger frame. The warp was drawn tight, with the threads crossed halfway to the top. Different-colored yarns were wound on a short stick, and with nimble fingers a squaw wove the pattern. There was no visible pattern for her to follow. She had that all mapped out in her brain, and followed it instinctively. I asked her to describe the way the rug would look when finished, and she said, "No can tell. Me know here," tapping her forehead. I liked the way the weaving was begun, and so I squatted there in the sunshine for two hours trying to get her to talk. Finally I gave her ten dollars for the rug when it should be finished and little[Pg 52] by little she began to tell me the things I wanted to know. We made no real progress in our conversation until I learned that she had been a student at Sherman Indian Institute for eight years. When she found that I knew the school well and some of the teachers, a look of discontent and unhappiness came over her face. She said that she had been very, very happy at Sherman. With a wave of her slender brown hand she said: "Look at this!" Her eyes rested with distaste on the flock of sheep grazing near, turned to the mud-daubed hogan behind us, and swept on across the cactus-studded desert. "They teach us to sleep in soft, white beds and to bathe in tile bathtubs. We eat white cooking. We cook on electric stoves. We are white for years, and then they send us back to this! We sleep on the earth, we cook with sheep-dung fires; we have not water even for drinking. We hate our own people, we hate our children when they come!" I was so startled at the outburst. Her English was faultless. I had enough sense to keep still, and she went on more quietly: "When I left Sherman I hoped to marry a boy there who was learning the printer's trade. Then we could have lived as your people do. My father sold me for ten ponies and forty sheep. I am a squaw now. I live as squaws did hundreds of years ago. And so I try to be just a squaw. I hope to die soon." And there it was, just as she said. Turned into a white girl for eight years, given a long glimpse of the Promised Land, then pushed back into slavery. We saw lots of that. It seemed as though the ones that were born and lived and died without leaving the reservation were much happier.[Pg 53]

"What is your name?" I asked after we had been silent while her swift, nervous fingers wove a red figure into a white background. "I'm Mollie, Smolley's daughter." So the greedy old dog had sold his own child. That is the usual thing, Mollie said. Girls are sold to the highest bidder, but fortunately there is a saving clause. In case the girl dislikes her husband too much she makes him so miserable he takes her back to her father and they are divorced instantly. The father keeps the wedding gifts and sells her again for more sheep and horses. The flocks really belong to the women, but I can't see what good they do them. The women tend them and shear them and even nurse them. They wash and dye and card and weave the wool into rugs, and then their lordly masters take the rugs and sell them. A part of the money is gambled away on pony races or else beaten into silver jewelry to be turned into more money. A certain number of rugs are turned in to the trading-post for groceries, calico, and velvet. Navajos never set a table or serve a meal. They cook any time there is anything to cook, and then when the grub is done, eat it out of the pot with their fingers. They have no idea of saving anything for the next meal. They gorge like dogs, and then starve perhaps for days afterward.

Mollie had two children, a slim, brown lad perhaps ten years old, who was watching the sheep near by, and a tiny maid of three, sitting silently by her mother. The boy seemed to have inherited some of his mother's rebellion and discontent, but it appeared on his small face as wistfulness. He was very shy, and when I offered him a[Pg 54] silver coin he made no move to take it. I closed his fingers around it, and he ran to his mother with the treasure. As he passed me going back to his sheep, he raised his great, sad black eyes and for a second his white teeth flashed in a friendly grin.

The men folks had wandered on to the races a mile away, and Mollie, the babe, and I followed. There was no business of closing up house when we left. She just put the bright wool out of the reach of pack rats and we were ready. I admired her forethought, for only the night before I had lost a cake of soap, one garter, and most of my hairpins. Of course the rat was honest, for he had left a dried cactus leaf, a pine cone, and various assorted sticks and straws in place of what he took. That's why this particularly vexing rodent is called a "trade rat." I used to hear that it takes two to make a bargain. That knowledge has not penetrated into pack-ratdom.

A few Hopi and Supai Indians were darting around on show ponies, spotted and striped "Paints," as they call them. A Navajo lad came tearing down upon us, riding a most beautiful sorrel mare. It seemed that he would ride us down; but I never did run from an Indian, so I stood my ground. With a blood-chilling war whoop he pulled the mare to her haunches and laughed down at me. He was dressed as a white man would be and spoke perfect English. He was just home from Sherman, he explained, and was going to race his mare against the visitors. I took his picture on the mare, and he told me where to send it to him after it was finished. "I hope you win. I'm betting on you for Mollie," I told him and gave[Pg 55] him some money. He did win! Around the smooth hillside the ponies swept, and when almost at the goal he leaned forward and whistled in the mare's ear. She doubled up like a jackknife and when she unfolded she was a nose ahead of them all. Every race ended the same way. He told me he won two hundred silver dollars all told. I am wearing a bracelet now made from one of them. Very seldom does one see a rattlesnake portrayed in any Hopi or Navajo work, but I had my heart set on a rattlesnake bracelet. Silversmith after silversmith turned me down flat, until at last Mollie and the boy told me they would see that I got what I wanted. A month later a strange Indian came to my house, handed me a package with a grunt, and disappeared. It was my bracelet. I always wear it to remind me of my visit to Navajo Land.[Pg 56]

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White Mountain and I walked out to the cemetery one evening at sunset, and I asked him to tell me about the four sleeping there. One trampled grave, without a marker, was the resting-place of a forest ranger who had died during the flu epidemic. At that time no body could be shipped except in a metal casket, and since it had been impossible to secure one he was buried far from his home and people. The mother wrote she would come and visit the grave as soon as she had enough money, but death took her too and she was spared seeing his neglected grave.

The Chief stood looking down at the third grave, which still held the weather-beaten débris of funeral wreaths.

"Cap Hance is buried here," he said. "He was a dear friend of mine."

From his tone I scented a story, and as we strolled back to Headquarters he told me something of the quaint old character. In the days that followed, I heard his name[Pg 57] often. Travelers who had not been at the Canyon for several years invariably inquired for "Cap" as soon as they arrived. I always felt a sense of personal shame when I heard a ranger directing them to his grave. He had begged with his last breath to be buried in the Canyon, or else on the Rim overlooking it. "God willing, and man aiding," as he always said. However, his wish had been ignored, for the regular cemetery is some distance from the Rim.

This Captain John Hance was the first settler on the Rim of the Grand Canyon. The Hance Place is located about three miles east of Grand View Point. Here he built the old Hance Trail into the Canyon, and discovered numerous copper and asbestos mines. Many notables of the early days first saw the Canyon from his home, staging in there from Flagstaff, seventy miles away. He had an inexhaustible fund of stories, mostly made up out of whole cloth. These improbable tales were harmless, however, and in time he became almost an institution at the Canyon. The last years of his life were spent at El Tovar, regaling the tourists with his colorful and imaginary incidents of the wild and woolly days.

He was quite proud of his Munchausenian abilities. Another old-timer at the Canyon, W. W. Bass, who is still alive, was Cap's best friend. Cap Hance was often heard to declare: "There are three liars here at the Canyon; I'm one and Bass is the other two."

Romantic old ladies at El Tovar often pressed him for a story of his early fights with the Indians. Here is one of his experiences:[Pg 58]

"Once, a good many years ago when I was on the outs with the Navajos, I was riding the country a few miles back from here looking up some of my loose horses. I happened to cast my eye over to one side and saw a bunch of the red devils out looking for trouble. I saw that I was outnumbered, so I spurred old Roaney down into a draw at the left, hoping that I hadn't been seen. I got down the draw a little piece and thought I had given them the slip, but the yelling told me that they were still after me. I thought I could go down this draw a ways and then circle out and get back to my ranch. But I kept going down the canyon and the walls kept getting steeper and steeper, and narrower and narrower until finally they got so close together that me and Roaney stuck right there."

At this point he always stopped and rolled a cigarette. The ladies were invariably goggle-eyed with excitement and would finally exclaim:

"What happened then, Captain Hance?"

"Oh, they killed me," he'd say simply.

Another time he was again being chased by Indians, and looking back over his shoulder at them, not realizing that he was so near the Rim of the Canyon, his horse ran right up to the edge and jumped off into space.

"I'd a been a goner that time," he said, "if I hadn't a had time to think it over and decide what to do." (He fell something like five thousand feet.) "So when my horse got within about fifteen feet from the ground, I rose up in the stirrups and gave a little hop and landed on the ground. All I got was a twisted ankle."[Pg 59]

A lady approached him one day while he stood on the Rim gazing into the mile-deep chasm.

"Captain Hance," she said, "I don't see any water in the Canyon. Is this the dry season, or does it never have any water in it?"

Gazing at her earnestly through his squinty, watery eyes, he exclaimed:

"Madam! In the early days many's the time I have rode my horse up here and let him drink right where we stand!"

The old fellow was a bachelor, but he insisted that in his younger days he had married a beautiful girl. When asked what had become of her he would look mournful and tell a sad tale of her falling over a ledge down in the Canyon when they were on their honeymoon. He said it took him three days to reach her, and that when he did locate her he found she had sustained a broken leg, so he had to shoot her.

As he grew feeble, he seemed to long for the quiet depths of the gorge, and several times he slipped away and tried to follow the old trail he had made in his youth. He wanted to die down at his copper mine. At last, one night when he was near eighty years old, he escaped the vigilance of his friends and with an old burro that had shared his happier days he started down the trail. Ranger West got wind of it and followed him. He found him where he had fallen from the trail into a cactus patch and had lain all night exposed to the raw wind. He was brought back and cared for tenderly, but he passed away. Prominent men and women who had known and en[Pg 60]joyed him made up a fund to buy a bronze plate for his grave. Remembering the size of his yarns, whoever placed the enormous boulders at his head and feet put them nine feet apart.

Halfway between my cabin and the Rim, in the pine woods, is a well-kept grave with a neat stone and an iron fence around it. Here lies the body of United States Senator Ashurst's father, who was an old-timer at the Canyon. Years ago, while working a mine at the bottom of the Canyon, he was caught by a cave-in and when his friends reached him he was dead. They lashed his body on an animal and brought him up the steep trail to be buried. While I was in Washington, Senator Ashurst told me of his father's death and something of his life at the Canyon. He said that often in the rush and worry of capitol life he longed for a few peaceful moments at his father's grave.

I never saw Senator Ashurst at the Grand Canyon, but another senator was there often, stirring up some row or other with the Government men. He seemed to think he owned the Canyon, the sky overhead, the dirt underneath, and particularly the trail thereinto. His hirelings were numerous, and each and every one was primed to worry Uncle Sam's rangers. As dogs were prohibited in the Park, every employee of the Senator's was amply provided with canines. Did the tourists particularly enjoy dismounting for shade and rest at certain spots on the trail, those places were sure to get fenced in and plastered with "Keep Off" signs, under the pretense that they were mining claims and belonged to him. We used to wonder what time this Senator found to serve his constituents.[Pg 61]

Uncle Sam grew so weary of contesting every inch of the trail that he set himself to build a way of his own for the people to use. Several men under the direction of Ranger West were set to trail-building. They made themselves a tent city on the north side of the river and packers were kept busy taking mule loads of materials to them daily. Hundreds of pounds of TNT were packed down safely, but one slippery morning the horses which had been pressed into service lost their footing, slid over the edge of the trail, and hit Bright Angel again a thousand feet below. The packers held their breath expecting to be blown away, as two of the horses that fell were loaded with the high explosive. It was several minutes before they dared believe themselves safe. They sent for White Mountain, and when he reached the animals he found they were literally broken to pieces, their packs and cargoes scattered all over the side of the mountain. They dragged the dead animals a few feet and dropped them into a deep fissure which was handy. Fresh snow was scraped over the blood-stained landscape, and when the daily trail party rode serenely down a few minutes later there was nothing to show that a tragedy had taken place.

Later an enormous charge of this high explosive was put back of a point that Rees Griffith, the veteran trail-builder, wished to remove, and the result was awaited anxiously. About four in the afternoon Rees called Headquarters and reported that the shot was a huge success. He was greatly elated and said his work was about done.

It was.

An hour later Ranger West called for help: Rees had[Pg 62] climbed to the top to inspect the shot at close range, and a mammoth boulder loosened by the blast came tumbling down, carrying Rees to the rocks below. He was terribly crushed and broken, but made a gallant fight to live. In looking over some notes I found a copy of White Mountain's report, which tells the story much more completely than I could hope to:

"In accordance with instructions, accompanied by Nurse Catti from El Tovar I left Headquarters about 6:30 P.M. bound for Camp Roosevelt, to be of such assistance as possible to Rees Griffith, who had been injured by a falling rock.

"The night was not very cold, rather balmy than otherwise, and the descent into the Canyon was made as quickly as possible, the factor of safety being considered. Had we been engaged in any other errand the mystical beauty of the Canyon, bathed in ethereal moonlight, would have been greatly enjoyed. We reached the packers' camp at Pipe Creek at nine o'clock and found hot coffee prepared for us. Miss Catti borrowed a pair of chaps there from one of the boys, as the wind had come up and it was much colder. We were warned to proceed slowly over the remainder of the trail on account of packed ice in the trail. We covered Tonto Trail in good time, but below the 1,500-foot level on down was very dangerous. The tread of the trail was icy and in pitch darkness, the moonlight not reaching there. However, we reached the bottom without mishap. Miss Catti never uttered a word of complaint or fear, but urged me to go as fast as I considered safe.[Pg 63]

"When we reached Kaibab Suspension Bridge a ranger was waiting to take our mules. We walked across the bridge and found other mules there. We thus lost no time in crossing the bridge with animals.

"We arrived at Camp Roosevelt a few minutes after eleven and went immediately to where Rees had been carried. Examination showed that he had been dead probably fifteen minutes. He had been unconscious since nine-thirty. Two fellow-Mormons sat with the body the rest of the night.

"When morning came arrangements were made with Rangers West and Peck to pack the body out of the Canyon if it should be so ordered. (We would have mounted a platform on a mule's back, lashed the body in place, and packed it out in that manner.) However, we all felt that it would be much better to bury him in the Canyon near the place where he lost his life. After conferring with the Superintendent by telephone, Miss Catti, Landscape Engineer Ferris, Rangers West, Peck, and myself selected a spot considered proper from the point of landscape engineering, high water, surface wash, and proximity to the trail. This place is about five hundred yards west of the bridge in an alcove in the Archaean Rock which forms the Canyon wall. We dug a grave there.

"The carpenter made a very good coffin from materials at hand, and we lined it with sheets sent down by Mrs. Smith for that purpose. She also sent a Prayer Book and a Bible to us by Ranger Winess, who accompanied the coroner to the scene of the accident. An impaneled jury of six[Pg 64] declared the death to be due to unavoidable accident. After the inquest the coroner turned the personal effects of Rees over to me. They consisted of a gold watch and two hundred and ninety dollars in a money belt. I hold these subject to instructions from the widow. The body was prepared for burial by wrapping it in white according to Mormon custom. The coffin was carried to the grave, and, while our small company stood uncovered, I said a few words to the effect that it was right that this man should be laid to rest near the spot where he fell and where he had spent a great part of his life; that it was fitting and proper that we who had known him, worked with him, and loved him should perform this last duty. Then the services for the burial of the dead were read, and we left him there beside the trail he built."

In the meantime I had been hovering anxiously at the phone, worried about the dark, icy trail White Mountain and Nurse had to travel, and fearing to hear that Rees was seriously injured. As soon as they reached camp they called and said he had gone before they could get there. He told me to wire the doctor at Williams and tell him he was not needed; also to see that a message was sent to the wife and children of the dead man telling them he would have to be buried in the Canyon where he was killed. These errands were to be attended to over the local phone, but for some reason the wire was dead. I was in a quandary. Just having recovered from a prolonged attack of flu, I felt it unwise to go out in several feet of snow, but that was my only course.

Dressing as warmly as I could, I started up through[Pg 65] the woods to ranger quarters. The snow was above my waist, and I bumped into trees and fell over buried logs before I reached the building. The long hall was in darkness. I knew that most of the boys were out on duty. What if no one were there! I knew my strength was about used up, and that I could never cross the railroad tracks to the Superintendent's house.

I went down the long cold hall knocking on every door. Nothing but silence and plenty of it. I reached the door at the end of the hall and knocked. Instantly I remembered that room belonged to Rees. His dog, waiting to be taken down into the Canyon, leaped against the inside of the door and went into a frenzy of howling and barking. I was panic-stricken, and my nerve broke. I began to scream. Ranger Winess had slept all through my knocking, but with the first scream he developed a nightmare. He was back in the Philippines surrounded by fighting Moros and one was just ready to knife him! He turned loose a yell that crowded my feeble efforts aside. Finally he got organized and came to my rescue. I told him Rees was dead and gave him the Chief's message.

"All right. I'll get dressed and attend to everything. You better get back to bed."

I informed him I would not move an inch until I had company back through the darkness. He then took me home, and went to make arrangements.

I called the Chief and told him Ranger Winess was on the job. Then I tried to sleep again. Coyotes howled. Rees' dog barked faintly; a screech owl in a tree near by[Pg 66] moaned and complained, and my thoughts kept going with the sad news to the little home Rees had built for his family in Utah.

Strange trampling, grinding noises close to the window finally made me so nervous I just had to investigate. Taking the Chief's "forty-five," which was a load in itself, I opened the rear door and crept around the house. And there was a poor hungry pony that had wandered away from an Indian camp, and found the straw packed around our water pipes. He was losing no time packing himself around the straw. I was so relieved I could have kissed his shaggy nose. I went back to bed and slept soundly.[Pg 67]

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Funny how one can never get over being homesick at Christmas. Days and weeks and even months can pass by without that yearning for family and home, but in all the years since I hung my stocking in front of the big fireplace in the old home I have never learned to face Christmas Eve in a strange place with any degree of happiness. I believe the rangers all felt the same way. Several days before Christmas they began to plan a real "feed."

We had moved into our new house now, and it was decided to make a home of it by giving a Christmas housewarming.

The rangers all helped to prepare the dinner. Each one could choose one dish he wanted cooked and it was cooked, even if we had to send to Montgomery Ward and Company for the makin's. Ranger Fisk opined that turkey dressing without oysters in it would be a total loss as far as he was concerned, so we ordered a gallon from the Coast. They arrived three days before Christmas, and it[Pg 68] was his duty to keep them properly interred in a snow drift until the Great Day arrived.

Ranger Winess wanted pumpkin pies with plenty of ginger; White Mountain thought roast turkey was about his speed. Since we would have that anyway, he got another vote. This time he called for mashed turnips and creamed onions. The Superintendent, Colonel White, being an Englishman, asked plaintively if we couldn't manage a plum pudding! We certainly managed one just bursting with plums. That made him happy for the rest of the day.

I didn't tell anybody what I intended to have for my own special dish, but when the time came I produced a big, rich fruit cake, baked back home by my own mother, and stuffed full of nuts and fruit and ripened to a perfect taste.

All the rangers helped to prepare the feast. One of them rode down the icy trail to Indian Gardens and brought back crisp, spicy watercress to garnish the turkey.

After it became an effort to chew, and impossible to swallow, we washed the dishes and gathered around the blazing fire. Ranger Winess produced his omnipresent guitar and swept the strings idly for a moment. Then he began to sing, "Silent Night, Holy Night." That was the beginning of an hour of the kind of music one remembers from childhood. Just as each one had chosen his favorite dish, now each one selected his favorite Christmas song. When I asked for "Little Town of Bethlehem" nobody hesitated over the words. We all knew it better than we do "Star Spangled Banner!" I could have prophe[Pg 69]sied what Colonel White would call for, so it was no surprise when he swung into "God rest ye merry, gentlemen, let nothing ye dismay." Fortunately, most of us had sung carols in our distant youth, and we sang right with the Colonel.

Someone suggested that each one tell of the strangest Christmas Day he or she had ever spent. For a while none of us were in Arizona. Ranger Winess was in a state of siege in the Philippines, while the Moros worked themselves into a state of frenzy for the attack that followed; Ranger Fisk scaled Table Mountain, lying back of Capetown, and there picked a tiny white flower which he had pressed in the Bible presented to him there that day; each sailor in port had received a Bible that day with this inscription: "Capetown, Africa, Christ's Birthday, December 25, 19—." White Mountain snowshoed twenty miles in Yellowstone to have Christmas dinner with another ranger, but when he got there he found his friend delirious with flu. "Did he die?" we questioned anxiously. Ranger Winess and the Chief looked at each other and grinned.

"Do I look like a dead one?" Ranger Winess demanded.

"I couldn't let him die," White Mountain said. "We had just lost one Government man, mysteriously, and hadn't any more to spare. So I got his dogs and sledge and hauled him into Headquarters."

Of course we wanted to know about the "lost" ranger. It seemed that there had broken out among the buffalo herd in the Park a strange malady that was killing them[Pg 70] all off. An expert from Washington was en route to make a study of the ailment, and was due to arrive just before Christmas. Days passed into weeks and still he didn't show up. Inquiries to Washington disclosed that he had started as per schedule. Tracing his journey step by step it was discovered that on the train out of Chicago he had become ill with flu and had been left in a small town hospital. There he had died without recovering his speech, and had been buried in the potter's field!

"Well, then what happened to the buffalo?"

"Washington sent us a German scientist. We loved that nation just about that time, and on his arrival diplomatic relations were badly strained. He was too fat and soft to use snowshoes or skis, so we loaded him on a light truck and started for the buffalo farm. We stalled time and again, and he sat in lordly indifference while we pushed and shoveled out. We seemed hopelessly anchored in one drift, and from his perch where he sat swaddled up like a mummy came his 'Vy don't you carry a portable telephone so ve couldt hook it over the vires and call for them to come and pull us oudt?' One of the rangers replied, 'It would be nice for us to telephone ourselves to please pull us oudt. We are the them that does the pulling around here.'

"The old boy mumbled and sputtered but rolled out and put a husky shoulder to the wheel, and we went on our way rejoicing. He won our respect at the buffalo farm for he soon discovered the germ that was killing our charges, and he prepared a serum with which we vaccinated the entire herd."[Pg 71]

"Wow!" Colonel White exclaimed. "I think I'd rather fight Moros than vaccinate buffalo." He, too, had spent years in foreign warfare; his experiences are graphically told in Bullets and Bolos.

While we heard about the buffalo, one of the rangers left the room. He came back presently, and White Mountain said to me: "Don't you want to see your Christmas present?"

I looked across at my proud new riding-boots, with their fancy stitching, and funny high heels just like those the rangers wore. "I'm crazy about them," I said.

But the whole bunch were laughing. White Mountain led me to the door, and there I had my first glimpse of Tar Baby! He was a four-year-old horse that had spent those years running wild on the range. A few months before he had been captured and partly tamed. But he was hard-mouthed, and stiff-necked and hell-bent on having his own way about things. I didn't know all that when I saw him this Christmas Day. To me he was perfect. He was round and fat, shiny black, with a white star in his forehead, and four white feet. One eye was blue, and the other one the nicest, softest, kindest brown! He was just that kind of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde horse, too! He was fitted out with a new saddle, a gaudy Navajo saddle blanket, and a bridle with silver inlaid fittings. The spade bit was necessary. I found that out later, also.

I would have stood there speechless with admiration the rest of the day, but the others reminded me it was time to light the big tree we had planned for the children in the Park.[Pg 72]

The rangers had brought a slender fir into the Information Room and we had it trimmed within an inch of its life. Cranberries and popcorn ropes festooned its branches, and again Montgomery Ward and Company's catalogue had been searched for treasures to load it with. Every child in the Park, regardless of race or color, was remembered. Little brown brothers, whose Filipino mothers worked in the laundry, found themselves possessors of strange toys; Navajo babies and Hopi cupids from the Hopi House were well supplied. One small Hopi lass wailed loudly at the look of the flaxen-haired doll that fell to her lot. She was afraid to hold it—she wouldn't let anybody else touch it—so she stood it in a corner and squalled at it from a safe distance. When the party was over, an older sister had to carry it for her. I suspect she much preferred her native dolls.

After the tree was bare, we all went down to the Fred Harvey Recreation Room and danced the rest of the evening away.

I could hardly wait for morning to go for a ride on Tar Baby. Ranger West brought him down to the house to saddle him. While I dressed up in my new boots I overheard the conversation between the ranger and the horse. It was a rather one-sided talk, but quite interesting.

"Whoa there, Tar Baby!" very firmly and casually. "Stand still now!"

"Hey, now, you black devil, don't you try bitin' me again! Yes, he's a nice baby horse," this last remark quite saccharine. A slight silence fell while the cinches were being tightened, then—heels beating a tune on the side of[Pg 73] the shed, and sultry, sulphuric remarks being fitted to the tune. About that time I was ready to go out.

"Have any trouble with Tar Baby?"

"No, oh, no. None whatever. Ready to go?"

Every morning as soon as I was in the saddle we had the same argument. Would he go where and as fast as I desired, or would he run as fast and as far as he pleased? Sore wrists and a strained disposition were the price I paid for winning the battle. He just went wild if he could race with another horse. Of course White Mountain put his foot down on such racing, and since the rangers were such good sports their Chief never learned that racing was part of the daily program!

One day, when some of the Washington officials were there, the Chief borrowed Tar Baby to ride. He said it took him half a day to get him to stay on the ground with the other horses. He came home fully determined that I must trade my Christmas gift for a more sensible horse. Tears and coaxing availed nothing, but I did win his consent to one more ride before I gave him up.

Ranger West was going to ride the drift fence and I started out with him. Tar Baby was a handful that day, and I was having all I could do to control him. We passed a bunch of tourists having lunch out of paper sacks, and one of the men had a wonderful idea. He said something to the others, and while they giggled he blew one of the bags full of air and exploded it right under my horse. Of course Tar Baby bolted, and even as he ran away I admired his ability to keep ahead of Ranger West, who was running full tilt after us. It was five minutes before I could[Pg 74] get the bit out of his teeth and bring the spade device into play. I had to choke him into submission.

Ranger West and Ranger Fisk conducted those tourists out of the Park, and they had to leave without seeing the Canyon.

"Ve drove here from New York to see this Canyon," one complained, and made wide gestures with both hands.

"It wouldn't do you any good to see it," Ranger West told him grimly. "You'd probably push somebody over the edge to have a little fun."

I was sure the Chief would take Tar Baby away after that. But I guess he thought if the horse hadn't killed me with such a good chance as he had, I was safe. He never said another word about selling him.

Several Indians were camped around in the woods near the Park, and we visited them quite often. An Indian has as many angles in his makeup as a centipede has legs. Just about the time you think you have one characteristically placed, you put your finger down and he isn't there. Charge one with dishonesty, and the next week he will ride a hundred miles to deliver a bracelet you paid for months before. Decide he is cruel and inhuman, and he will spend the night in heart-breaking labor, carrying an injured white man to safety.

I suggested hiring a certain Navajo to cut some wood, and was told that he was too lazy to eat what he wanted. In a few days this same brave came to Headquarters with the pelt of a cougar. He had followed the animal sixty miles, tracking it in the snow on foot without a dog to help him. We knew where he took the trail and where it[Pg 75] ended. He killed the big cat, skinned it, and carried the pelt back to the Canyon. You won't find many white men with that much grit! A tourist from New York saw the pelt and coveted it. He offered twenty-five dollars. Neewah wanted fifty. The tourist tried to beat him down. There wasn't any argument about it. The whole conversation was a monologue. The Indian saw that the tourist wanted the skin badly, so he just sat and stared into space while the tourist elaborated on how much twenty-five dollars would buy and how little the pelt had cost the Indian! The buck simply sat there until it was about time for the train to pull out, then he picked up the hide and stalked away. Mr. Tourist hastened after him and shelled out fifty pesos. I expect he told the home folks how he shot that panther in self-defense.

Ranger West did shoot a big cougar soon afterward. Not in self-defense but in revenge.

Not many deer lived on the South Rim then. That was before the fawns were brought by airplane across the Canyon! The few that were there were cherished and protected in every possible way. A salt pen was built so high the cattle couldn't get in, and it was a wonderful sight to see the graceful deer spring over that high fence with seemingly no effort at all. Ranger West came in one morning with blood in his eye—one of his pets had been dragged down under the Rim and half devoured by a giant cougar. A hunt was staged at once. I was told to stay at home, but that didn't stop me from going. Ranger Fisk always saddled Tar Baby for me when everybody else thought it best to leave me behind. So I wasn't far[Pg 76] away when the big cat was treed by the dogs. He sat close to the trunk of the dead tree, defying the dogs and spitting at them until they were almost upon him. Then he sprang up the tree and lay stretched out on a limb snarling until a rifle ball brought him down. He hit the ground fighting, and ripped the nose of an impetuous puppy wide open. Another shot stretched him out. He measured eight feet from tip to tip. His skin was tanned by an Indian and adorns a bench in the Ranger Office.[Pg 77]

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The snow had been tumbling down every day for weeks, until several feet lay on the ground. After each storm the rangers took snow plows and cleared the roads along the Rim, but the rest of our little world lay among big snow drifts. As we walked around among the houses, only our heads and shoulders showed above the snow. It was like living in Alaska. The gloomy days were getting monotonous, and when the Chief announced he was going to make an inspection trip over Tonto Trail, I elected myself, unanimously, to go along.

"But it's cold riding down there, even if there is no snow," protested White Mountain. "And, besides, your horse is lame."

"Well, it isn't exactly hot up here, and I'll borrow Dixie. I'm going!"

Ranger West obligingly lent Dixie to me and I went. The thermometer registered well below zero when we started down Bright Angel Trail. On account of the icy trail my descent threatened to be a sudden one. Dixie slid[Pg 78] along stiff-legged, and I was half paralyzed with fright and cold. But every time the Chief looked back, I pulled my frozen features into what I considered a cheerful smile. I got more and more scared as we went farther down, and finally had a brilliant idea. "My feet are awfully cold, and couldn't I walk a while?" The Chief had probably heard that same excuse from a thousand others, but he gravely assented and helped me dismount. I started down the trail leading Dixie. My feet really were so cold they were numb. This was probably a mercy, since Dixie kept stepping on them! I began to run to "keep out from in under," and she kept pace until we were almost galloping down the trail. When we got below the snow line, my excuse wouldn't work, and I had to ride again.

There was sagebrush and sand and cactus. Then sand and cactus and sagebrush. Here and there we saw a lop-eared burro, and far away I saw an eagle sailing around. Having nothing else to do I counted the burros we passed—seventy. A bunch grazing near the trail looked interesting, so I made a careful approach and took their picture. Of course I forgot to roll the film, and a little later Friend Husband decided to photograph the enormous pillar that gives the name to Monument Creek. The result was rather amazing when we developed the film a week later. The wild burros were grazing placidly on the summit of a barren rock, a couple of hundred feet in the air, without visible means of ascent or descent. The Chief made a few sarcastic remarks about this picture, but I firmly reminded him my burros were there first! He didn't say anything else—aloud.[Pg 79]

It took a long day's riding to reach Hermit's Camp just at dusk. We were warmly welcomed by a roaring fire and hot supper. After I ate and then sat a while I was too stiff to move. I knew I would stay awake all night and nurse my aches. That, added to my fear of "phoby cats," made me reluctant to retire. What's a hydrophobia cat? I don't know for sure that it's anything, but the camp man told me to keep my door locked or one would sneak in and bite me. He also said that I would go crazy if one chewed on me. I intended to keep at least one ear cocked for suspicious noises; but when I hit the cot everything was a blank until I heard the Chief making a fire in the little tin stove.

"Wake up and get dressed. Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes, and I want you to walk down to the creek and see the trout."

"Walk?" I never expected even to crawl again. Sore! Stiff!! I labored all of ten minutes trying to get my boots on. And I had to ride up Hermit Trail that day. I was glad to ride. I never mentioned walking to warm my feet. The trail wound up and up. Today I slid down on Dixie's tail, whereas yesterday I had braced my heels against her ears. A young snowslide came down the mountainside, and we almost went on with it. It missed us by such a very slight margin that fugitive snowballs rolled around Dixie's feet and left her trembling and cringing with fright.

Dixie and I had been loitering quite a distance behind, because White Mountain had made us a little mad about something; but we decided we really had no right to be[Pg 80] killed without letting him know about it, and we kept close to his heels the rest of the way.

All too soon we reached near-zero weather again. It got zero, then zero-er, and quickly zero-est. I thought of all the hot things I could remember, endeavoring to raise the temperature.

Real chili con carne.

Pennsylvania Avenue in August.

Hornet stings.

Spankings sustained in my youth!

It was useless. I couldn't qualify as a Scientist. Maybe I lacked concentration, for between looking out for another avalanche and wondering how soon I could decently ask for another cup of coffee from the thermos bottle, my thoughts wandered.

Perhaps the Chief was cold, too. Anyway, we stopped at Santa Maria Spring and spread out our lunch. The quaint little shelter over the spring was being rapidly covered with Boston ivy. White Mountain said Earl Shirley used to ride down there twice a week after a hard day's work to water the newly set plants so they would grow. One is always learning new things about Western men!

It was mighty good to find Ranger Fisk at the top of the trail. He said he thought I would be cold and tired so he brought a flivver to take me the remaining six miles in to Headquarters. He had the house warm and had melted snow for drinking-water. All the water pipes had frozen while we were gone, and I washed my face with cold cream for several days.[Pg 81]

I hadn't more than settled down comfortably when the Chief found it necessary to make another trip down. When he mentioned going I played the piano so loud I couldn't hear him. I had no desire to go. Not while I could sit in my warm house and read and sew in my comfortable rocking chair. It was without a single qualm that I waved him a floury adieu from the midst of cookie-making. I closed the door and went back to my baking, which was abruptly terminated by a blazing board falling into the crock of dough. The house was burning over my luckless head. I turned around and around a few times in the same spot, then tried to throw a bucket of water up against the ceiling. Had I been the conflagration it would have ended then and there, for I was thoroughly drenched. Failing to be my own fire engine I ran out and happened to see Ranger Winess crossing the road. He must have been startled at my war whoop, for he came running. By that time the smoke was rolling out through the roof. While he climbed into the loft and tore pieces of blazing boards away, I gave the emergency call by telephone, and soon we had plenty of help. After the fire was conquered, I went to the hotel and stayed until the Chief got back.

The months from Christmas to April are the dullest at Grand Canyon. Of course tourists still come but not in the numbers milder weather brings. There is little or no automobile travel coming in from the outside world. Very few large groups or conventions come except in June, which seems to be the month for brides and large parties. That left the ranger family more time for play, especially[Pg 82] in the evenings, and we had jolly parties in our big living-room. The piano was the drawing card, and combined with Ranger Winess' large guitar manufactured strange music. When the other rangers joined in and sang they managed to make quite a racket. Perhaps the songs they sang would not have met with enthusiasm in select drawing-rooms, but they had a charm for all that. Cowboy songs, sea chanties, and ballads many years old were often on call. Kipling's poems, especially "I Learned about Women from Her" were prime favorites.

I soon learned to take my sewing close to the fire and sit there quietly a few minutes in order to be forgotten. There are realms of masculine pleasure into which no mere woman should intrude. Besides that, I never could negotiate the weird crooks and turns they gave to their tunes. Every time an old favorite was sung, it developed new twists and curves. Ranger Winess would discover a heretofore unknown chord on his guitar: "Get that one, boys. That's a wicked minor!" Then for the ensuing five minutes, agonizing wails shattered the smoke screen while they were on the trail of that elusive minor. I had one set rule regarding their concerts—positively no lighted cigarettes were to be parked on my piano!

One song Ranger Winess always rendered as a solo, because all the others enjoyed hearing it too much to join in with him:


I was hangin' 'round the town, and I didn't have a dime.
[Pg 83]I was out of work and loafin' all the time.
When up stepped a man, and he said, "I suppose
You're a bronco-buster. I can tell by your clothes."

Well, I thought that I was, and I told him the same.
I asked him if he had any bad ones to tame?
"I have an old pony what knows how to buck;
At stacking up cowboys he has all the luck."'

I asked him what'd he pay if I was to stay
And ride his old pony around for a day.
"I'll give you ten dollars;" I said, "That's my chance,"
Throwed my saddle in the buckboard and headed for the ranch.

Got up next morning, and right after chuck
Went down to the corral to see that pony buck.
He was standin' in the corner, standin' all alone——
That pig-eyed pony, a strawberry roan!

Little pin ears that were red at the tip;
The X-Y-Z was stamped on his hip.
Narrow in the chest, with a scar on his jaw,
What all goes with an old outlaw!

First came the bridle, then there was a fight;
But I throwed on my saddle and screwed it down tight,
Stepped to his middle, feelin' mighty fine,
Said: "Out of the way, boys, watch him unwind!"

Well, I guess Old Roaney sure unwound;
Didn't spend much of his time on the ground!
Went up in the East, come down in the West——
[Pg 84]Stickin' to his middle, I was doin' my best!

He went in the air with his belly to the sun
The old sun-fishin' son-of-a-gun!
Lost both the stirrups and I lost my hat
Reached for the horn, blinder than a bat.

Then Old Roaney gently slid into high,
Left me sittin' on nothin' but the sky.
There ain't no cowboy who is alive
Can ride Old Roaney when he makes his high dive!

When the piano player stopped and Frank struck a few soft chords on his guitar I knew they were getting sentimental. Pretty soon someone would begin to hum: "When the dew is on the rose, and the world is all repose." ... Those rangers lived close to danger and hardships every day, but they had more real sentiment in their makeup than any type of men I know. Maybe it's because women are so scarce around them that they hold all womanhood in high regard. Most of them dreamed of a home and wife and children, but few of them felt they had a right to ask a woman to share their primitive mode of living. They might not jump up to retrieve a dropped handkerchief, or stand at attention when a woman entered a room, but in their hearts they had a deep respect for every woman that showed herself worthy.

Now and then, a certain son of Scotland, Major Hunter Clarkson, dropped in. He was a real musician, and while I sewed and the Chief smoked he treated us to an hour of true melody. He used to play the bagpipes at home with his four brothers, he said, and he admitted that at times the racket they made jarred his mother's china from the shelves![Pg 85]

He had served with the British forces in Egypt, and if he could have known how interested we were in his experiences, he would have given us more than a bare hint of the scenes that were enacted during the defense of the Dardanelles and the entrance into Jerusalem.

One night he was telling us something about the habits of the Turks they fought, when the telephone rang and interrupted the narrative, which was never finished. The Chief had to go and investigate an attempted suicide.

It seemed that a lad under twenty, in Cleveland, had seen on a movie screen a picture of Grand Canyon. He tucked that vision away somewhere in his distorted brain, and when he had his next quarrel with his mother he gathered together all his worldly wealth and invested it in a ticket to Grand Canyon. There he intended to end his troubles, and make his mother sorry she hadn't sewed on a button the instant he had asked her to! That was a touching scene he pictured to himself—his heart-broken mother weeping with remorse because her son had jumped into the Canyon.

But! When he reached the Rim and looked over, it was a long way to the bottom, and there were sharp rocks there. Perhaps no one would ever find him, and what's the use of killing one's self if nobody knows about it? Something desperate had to be done, however, so he shot himself where he fancied his heart was located (he hit his stomach, which was a pretty close guess) with a cheap pistol he carried, hurled the gun into the Canyon, and started walking back to Headquarters. He met Ranger Winess making a patrol and reported to him that he had[Pg 86] committed suicide! Rangers West and Winess took care of him through the night, with Nurse Catti's supervision, and the next day the Chief took him to Flagstaff, where the bullet was removed and he was returned to his mother a sadder and a wiser boy.

There is some mysterious power about the Canyon that seems to make it impossible for a person to face the gorge and throw himself into it.

A young man, immensely wealthy, brought his fiancée to the Canyon for a day's outing. At Williams, where they had lunch, he proposed that she go on to the Coast with him, but she refused, saying that she thought it was not the thing to do, since her mother expected her back home that night. He laughed and scribbled something on a paper which he tucked carelessly into a pocket of his overcoat. They went on to the Canyon and joined a party that walked out beyond Powell's Monument. He walked up to the Rim and stared into the depths, then turned facing his sweetheart. "Take my picture," he shouted; and while she bent over the kodak, he uttered a prayer, threw his arms up, and leaped backward into the Canyon. He had not been able to face it and destroy the life God had given him. Hours later rangers recovered his body, and in his pocket found the paper on which he had written: "You wouldn't go with me to Los Angeles, so it's goodbye!"

Ranger West came in one day and told me that there was a lot of sickness among the children at an Indian encampment a few miles from Headquarters. I rode out with him to see what was the matter and found that[Pg 87] whooping-cough was rampant. For some reason, even though it was a very severe winter, the Supai Indians had come up from their home in Havasu Canyon, "Land of the Sky-Blue Water," made famous by Cadman, and were camped among the trees on a hillside. The barefoot women and dirty children were quite friendly, but the lazy, filthy bucks would have been insolent had I been alone. They lolled in the "hewas," brush huts daubed with mud, while the women dragged in wood and the children filled sacks with snow to melt for drinking purposes. To be sure they didn't waste any of it in washing themselves.

They would not let me doctor the children, and several of them died; but we could never find where they were buried. It is a custom of that tribe to bury its members with the right arm sticking up out of the ground. In case it is a lordly man that has passed to the Happy Hunting Ground his pony is shot and propped upright beside the grave with the reins clutched in the dead master's hand.

I thought I might be able to reach a better understanding with the women if the men were not present, so I told them to bring all the baskets they made to my house and I would look at them and buy some of them. Beautiful baskets were brought by the older squaws, and botched-up shabby ones by the younger generation. Sometimes a sick child would be brought by the mother, but there was little I could do for it outside of giving it nourishing food. An Indian's cure-all is castor oil. He will drink quarts of that if he can obtain it.[Pg 88]

The Supai women are without dignity or appeal, and I never formed the warm friendships with them that I did with women of other tribes. They begged for everything in sight. One fat old squaw coveted a yellow evening gown she saw in my closet; I gave it to her, also a discarded garden hat with big yellow roses on it. She draped the gown around her bent shoulders and perched the hat on top of her gray tangled hair and went away happier than Punch. In a few minutes a whole delegation of squaws arrived to see what they could salvage.

Wattahomigie, their chief, and Dot, his wife, are far superior to the rest of the tribe, and when it was necessary to have any dealing with their people the Chief acted through Wattahomigie. He had often begged us to visit their Canyon home, and we promised to go when we could. He came strutting into our house one summer day and invited us to accompany him home, as the season of peaches and melons was at its height. He had been so sure we would go that he left orders for members of the tribe to meet us at Hilltop where the steep trail begins. We listened to him.[Pg 89]

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Wattahomigie reminded us the next morning that we had promised to go with him, so we rushed around and in an hour were ready to follow his lead.

It's a long trail, winding through forest and desert, up hill and down, skirting sheer precipices and creeping through tunnels. And at the end of the trail one stumbles upon the tiny, hidden village where the last handful of a once powerful nation has sought refuge. Half-clad, half-fed, half-wild, one might say, they hide away there in their poverty, ignorance, and superstition. But oh, the road one must travel to reach them! I hadn't anticipated Arizona trails when I so blithely announced to White Mountain, "Whither thou goest, I will go." Neither had I slept in an Indian village when I added, "And where thou lodgest, I will lodge."

We loaded our camp equipment into the Ford, tied a canvas bag of water where it would be air-cooled, strapped[Pg 90] a road-building shovel on the running-board, and were on our way.

The first few miles led through forests of piñon and pine. Gradually rising, we reached the desert, where only cactus, sagebrush, and yucca grew. As far as we could see the still, gray desert lay brooding under the sun's white glare. Surely no living thing could exist in that alkali waste. But look! An ashen-colored lizard darts across the trail, a sage rabbit darts behind a yucca bush, and far overhead a tireless buzzard floats in circles. Is he keeping a death watch on the grizzled old "Desert Rat" we pass a little later? His face burned and seamed with the desert's heat and storms, the old prospector cheerfully waved at us, as he shared his beans and sour dough with a diminutive burro, which bore his master's pack during the long search through the trackless desert for the elusive gold. For us it would be suicide to leave the blazed trail. The chances are that the circling buzzard and hungry coyotes will be the only mourners present at his funeral.

Now and then we passed a twisted, warped old juniper that was doubtless digging for a foothold while Christ walked on earth. The Chief said these old junipers vie with the Sequoias in age. Nothing else broke the monotony of the heat and sand, until we came to the first water hole.

It was dry now, for the summer rains were long overdue, and bogged firmly in the red adobe mud was a gaunt long-horned cow. The Chief was too tender-hearted to shoot her and drive on, as he knew he should. Instead he stopped the car and got out to see if he could possibly[Pg 91] "extract" her. Failing to frighten her into pulling herself out, he goaded her into a frenzy by throwing sharp stinging rocks at her. One landed on her tender flank and she tossed her horns and struggled. The Chief stooped, with his back to her, for another rock, just as she pulled out.

"Look out. She's coming for you!" I yelled.

Straight at her rescuer she charged with an angry rumble. Round and round a stunted piñon they raced, hot and angry. I was too helpless with mirth to be of any aid, and the Chief's gun was in the car. Still, an angry range cow on the prod is no joke, and it began to look serious. At last the impromptu marathon ended by the Chief making an extra sprint and rolling into the Ford just as her sharp horns raked him fore and aft.

"Well!" he exploded, and glared at me while I wiped the tears out of my eyes.

"Shall we drive on?" I inquired meekly. We drove on.

A few miles along the way a piteous bawling reached us. Since even Arizona cattle must drink sometimes, a cow had hidden her baby while she went to a distant water hole. Three coyotes had nosed him out and were preparing to fill up on unwilling veal. He bobbed about on his unsteady little legs and protested earnestly. The sneaking beasts scattered at our approach, and we drove on thinking the calf would be all right. Looking back, however, we saw that the coyotes had returned and pulled him down. This time the Chief's forty-five ended the career of one, and the other two shifted into high, getting out of range without delay. The trembling calf was loaded into the machine and we dropped him when the[Pg 92] main herd was reached. Here he would be safe from attack, but I have often wondered if the mother found her baby again. At the next water hole a lean lynx circled warily around with his eye fixed hungrily on some wild ducks swimming too far from shore for him to reach. It seemed that the sinister desert mothered cruel breeds.

We had reached the "Indian Pasture" now, where the Indians kept their ponies. A score of Supai bucks were digging a shallow ditch. Upon being questioned they said the ditch was a mile long and would carry water to the big dam in their pasture when the rains fell. They were finishing the ditch just in time, for the first of the season's storms was closing down upon us. There was an ominous stillness, then the black cloud was rent with tongues of flame. And the rains descended—more than descended. They beat and dashed and poured until it seemed that the very floodgates of heaven had opened over our unfortunate heads. It was impossible to stay in the glue-and-gumbo road, so we took to the open prairie. Since this part of the country is well ventilated with prairie-dog holes, we had anything but smooth sailing.

"Stop," I shouted, trying to make myself heard above the roar of the storm.

"No time to stop now," was the answer.

We pulled under a sheltering juniper and slowed up.

"What did you want to stop there for? Don't you know we have to keep on moving if we reach a shelter tonight?" inquired the pilot of our ship. He had evidently been brooding over my unseemly mirth at the mad cow episode.[Pg 93]

"Oh, all right," I agreed, "but the bedding-roll bounced out and I thought you might want to pick it up." The fugitive bedding recovered, we resumed our journey.

The storm ended as suddenly as everything else happens in that topsy-turvy land and in the eastern sky hung a double quivering rainbow. I rubbed my eyes and looked again. It was double! The Chief explained that this was due to a mirage, but I placed it to the credit of altitude, like all other Arizona wonders.

At Hilltop we found Indian guides with trail ponies to take us the rest of the way. They had been waiting two days for us, they said. Strolling to the Canyon's brink I encountered a fearful odor. "What in the world is that?" I asked Wattahomigie (which by the way means "Good Watchful Indian"). "Him pony," was the stolid reply. "But—?" "Buck and fall over trail," explained my Indian brave. I fled to the Chief for comfort and change of air. He investigated and found that when Wattahomigie had brought the ponies up from the village one had become unruly and pitched over the Rim, landing squarely across the trail a hundred feet below. It was the only trail, but it never occurred to the Noble Red Man to remove the dead horse. No indeed! If it proved impossible to get around the obstacle, why, stay off the trail until Providence cleared the way. In other words let Nature take its course. The Chief procured a few pounds of TNT from the Government warehouse located there, and with the aid of that soon cleared the trail.

"That good way to clear trail," approved Wattahomigie. "No pull, no dig, no nothin'." I hoped no TNT[Pg 94] would be left roaming at large for promiscuous experiments by Wattahomigie while we were natives of his village.

We camped there at Hilltop that night, and after a supper of fried sage-rabbit, corn cakes, and coffee, I rolled into the blankets and fell asleep without worrying about the morrow. Something awakened me. I certainly had heard something. Inch by inch I silently lifted myself from the blankets and peered into the shadows. Standing there like a graven image was a beautiful doe with twin fawns playing around her. Curiosity had conquered caution and she was investigating our camp. Just then a coyote's wild cry sounded from the distance. She lifted her sensitive nose and sniffed the air, then wheeled and glided into the deep shadows. Other coyote voices swelled the chorus. Hundreds it seemed were howling and shrieking like mad, when I dropped to sleep to dream I was listening to grand opera at the Metropolitan.

Morning dawned clear and crisp. "Will it rain today?" I asked an Indian. "No rain; three sleeps, then rain," he told me; and this proved correct.

Wattahomigie had provided a long-legged race horse for me to ride. "Will he carry her all right?" the Chief asked him. Wattahomigie looked me over carefully and one could almost see him comparing me mentally with a vision of his fat squaw, Dottie. His white teeth flashed a smile: "Sure, my squaw him all time ride that pony." That settled the matter. "Him squaw" weighs a good two hundred pounds and is so enveloped in voluminous skirts that the poor horse must feel completely submerged.[Pg 95]

This trail does not gradually grow steeper—it starts that way. I had been told that all other trails we had traveled were boulevards compared to this one, and it was well that I had been warned beforehand. My place was near the center of the caravan, and I was divided between the fear that I should slide down on top of the unwary Indian riding ahead and the one that the Chief's horse directly behind would bump me off the trail. It was a cheerful situation. The Canyon walls closed in upon us, and the trail grew worse, if that could be possible. The firm rock gave way to shale that slipped and slid under the feet of the horses. It was so narrow that one slip of a hoof would send the horse crashing on the rocks hundreds of feet beneath. Still this is the only path it has been possible to make down to the Indian retreat. It was carved out by a past generation when they crept down into the valley far below to make their last futile stand.

We rounded a point and came out near a sparkling pool of clear, inviting water fed by a stream bursting out of what appeared to be solid rock. I knelt to drink, but was jerked to my feet sharply by a watchful Indian. The water is unfit to drink on account of the arsenic it contains. I noticed that none of the hot, tired horses even dipped their dusty noses into the pool. Safely away from this unhealthy spot we came into Rattlesnake Canyon, so named for obvious reasons, where the riding was much easier. Twelve miles onward and two thousand feet farther down found us among bubbling springs and magnificent cotton woods. This is where the Thousand Springs come into the sunlight after their rushing journey through[Pg 96] many miles of underground caverns. New springs broke out from the roots of the trees and along the banks of the stream until it was a rushing little river.

We were evidently expected, for when we reached the village the natives all turned out to see and be seen: brown children as innocent of clothing as when they first saw the light; fat, greasy squaws with babies on their backs; old men and women—all stared and gibbered at us.

"Big Jim" and "Captain Burros" headed what seemed to be the committee of welcome. Big Jim was clad in a full-dress suit and silk hat donated to him by Albert, King of the Belgians, and with that monarch's medal of honor pinned to his front, Jim was, speaking conservatively, a startling vision. Captain Burros wore the white shirt of ceremony which he dons only for special occasions, with none of the whiteness dimmed by being tucked into his trousers.

Big Jim welcomed us gravely, asking the Chief: "Did you bring my fermit?" This permit, a paper granting Big Jim a camping location on Park grounds, having been duly delivered, Jim invited us to share his hewa, but after one look at the surroundings we voted unanimously to camp farther up the stream among the cottonwoods. We chose a level spot near the ruins of an old hewa.

While supper was being prepared an aged squaw tottered into camp and sat down. She wailed and beat her breast and finally was persuaded to tell her troubles. It seemed that she and her husband had lived in this hewa until his death a year or two before. Then the hewa was thrown open to the sky and abandoned, as is their custom.[Pg 97] She disliked to mention his name because he might hear it in the spirit world and come back to see what was being said about him.

"Don't you want him to come back?" I asked idly, thinking to tease her. Her look of utter terror was answer enough and shamed me for my thoughtlessness. These Indians have a most exaggerated fear of death. When one dies he and his personal belongings are taken to a wild spot and there either cremated or covered with stones. No white man has ever been permitted to enter this place of the dead. Any hour of the day or night that a white man approaches, an Indian rises apparently from out of the earth and silently waves him away. Until a few years ago the best horse of the dead Indian was strangled and sent into the Happy Hunting Ground with its owner, but with the passing of the older generation this custom has been abandoned.

From a powerful and prosperous tribe of thousands this nation has dwindled down to less than two hundred wretched weaklings. Driven to this canyon fastness from their former dwelling-place by more warlike tribes, they have no coherent account of their wanderings or their ancestors. About all they can tell is that they once lived in cliff dwellings; that other Indians drove them away; and that then Spaniards and grasping whites pushed them nearer and nearer the Canyon until they descended into it, seeking refuge. They are held in low esteem by all other Indian tribes and never marry outside of their own people. Ridiculous and unreasonable tales about their savage customs have kept timid explorers at a safe distance,[Pg 98] and thus little has been learned about them. This last fragment will pass away within a few years and all trace will be lost. Tuberculosis claims a dozen yearly; the children are weaklings from diseased parents and the result of intermarriage, so they fall victims of comparatively harmless ailments. A few years ago an epidemic of measles swept through the tribe. Poor ignorant creatures, trying to cool the burning fever they spent hours bathing in the cold waters of the stream flowing through the village. More than eighty died in one week from the effects, and others that lived through it are invalids. This was almost too much for their superstitious minds. They were for fleeing from that accursed place, but the old men said: "Where can we go? We have no other place but this. Let us wait here for death." So they spent hours in dancing and ceremonies to appease the angry gods. They have no favoring gods, only evil spirits which they must outwit or bribe with dances. The Peach Dance which we had gone to see was for the purpose of celebrating good crops of melons, corn, and other products and to implore the mercy of harmful powers during the winter months.

After the sun was out of sight we followed Wattahomigie to the scene of the dance. There was no other light than that of the brush fires. A huge circle of howling, chanting Indians had formed a wide ring in which a dozen or more bucks and as many squaws were gathered. There seemed to be no prearranged procedure. When one of the dancers would feel so inclined, he, or she, would start a wild screeching and leaping about. This would continue until the singer ran out of breath.[Pg 99] Occasionally a squaw would grow so enthused she would be quite overcome with emotion and fall to the ground, foaming at the mouth. No notice would be taken except to grab her by the hair and drag her to the edge of the circle. The dance lasted until the gray dawn and was the most ghastly and weird experience I ever went through. All I can compare it to is the nightmare I used to have after too much mince pie.

Safely back at our camp with a brisk fire crackling under a pot of coffee, I began to throw off the shivering sensation, and by the time the coffee pot was empty I was ready for new adventures. Word had gone forth that I would buy all the baskets the squaws brought to me. I hoped in this way to get some first-hand information about the feminine side of affairs. Squaws and baskets and information poured in. Baskets of all sizes and shapes were brought, some good, some bad, but I bought them all. If I hesitated a moment over one the owner put the price down to a few cents. Just a dime or two for a whole week's work. Time has no value to them, and the creek banks are covered with the best willows in the world for basket-making. The basket-making art is the only talent these squaws have, while the bucks excel in tanning buckskin and other skins. These they trade to the Navajo Indians for silver and blankets. Then they race their ponies or gamble for the ownership of the coveted blankets. How they do love to gamble! Horses, blankets, squaws—anything and everything changes hands under the spell of the magic cards. Even the squaws and children gamble for beads and bright-colored calico. When a[Pg 100] few pieces of real money are at stake, all is wild excitement. How the black eyes snap, and how taut is every nerve!

Their hewas are merely shelters of willow, and there is absolutely no privacy about anything. Yet they are neither immoral nor unmoral. The girls all marry very young. At the age of twelve or thirteen the girl is chosen by some brave, who bargains with the father for her. A pony or its value in buckskin will buy almost any father's favorite daughter. But the girl is not forced to go with a lover whom she does not approve. The marriage ceremony is not elaborate; after all preliminaries are disposed of, the would-be bridegroom takes his blanket and moves into the hewa of the girl's people. If two or three moons pass without any quarrels between the young people, they move into a hewa of their own, and thus it is known that they are married. Divorce is just as simple; he merely sends her back to her father. An Indian brave of the Supai tribe can have as many wives as he can buy according to the tribal law. But since there is only about one squaw to every three braves, a man is lucky to have any wife, and divorce is rare. When two or more braves center their affections on one fair damsel, things are likely to happen. But three Indian judges solemnly sit in council and settle the question. Their solution is usually final, although two or three disgruntled braves have journeyed to our home at El Tovar sixty miles away to appeal to White Mountain for aid.

The valley is fertile, and all sorts of fruits and vegetables thrive. In fact the natives live on what they raise[Pg 101] in their haphazard way. They have a rude system of irrigation which carries water to every little garden. One other thing grows in abundance there—dogs! Such a flock of surly, mangy mongrels one would have to travel far to find. I don't know what they live on, for I never saw one of them being fed.

"Big sing tonight," said one of the squaws squatting by our campfire.

"What is a sing, Dottie?"

"Much sing and dance. Medicine man drive away bad spirit from blind man."

Of course we were present at the "sing," although I would never have called it that. An old half-blind Indian afflicted with granulated eyelids was the victim. The night was chilly, but he was clothed only in a look of resignation. The medicine man had a shot-filled gourd, a bunch of dried herbs, and an unlimited capacity for howling. First of all the patient was given a "sweat bath." He was put into a little teepee made of willows closely covered with burlap. Hot rocks were introduced and a pan of water thrown on them. More rocks and more water went inside until the poor Indian could stand it no longer. He came forth choking and gasping with the perspiration running from him. Buckets of cold water were then dashed over him and the medicine man got busy beating him over the head with the bunch of herbs, keeping up an unearthly screeching. This would last until morning, they said, but my interest flagged just about the time the priest found his second wind, and I retired.

Five beautiful waterfalls are scattered down the valley,[Pg 102] and I was most anxious to visit these. For some reason Wattahomigie hung back and we had trouble in persuading him to take us there. He reluctantly accompanied us when he saw we intended to go either with him or without. His attitude was explained when we were well along the trail; some freak of formation has made great sounding boxes of the Canyon, and these gather the noises of the water and the wind and return them again in shrieks of demoniacal laughter, barking of dogs, and sounds of talking and singing. It is startling to say the least, and no amount of explaining would convince Wattahomigie that it is not the revel hall of departed Indian spirits. The sun is lost there at midday, and darkness settles down soon after.

We camped at Mooney Falls that night, so called on account of an adventurous prospector of that name losing his life by falling over the ledge there. It took ten months for his comrades to get equipment together and recover his body, which they buried at the foot of the falls. This place naturally holds no attraction for our Indian friends, and we had literally to push them from under our feet. They almost sat in the campfire, so determined were they to stay near us.

The next day we started to Hilltop, with Big Jim and his squaw with us as an escort of honor. Jim rode serenely along, while Mary trudged after on foot.

"Jim," said the Chief, "how is it that you ride and Mary walks?"

Jim's voice was reproachfully astonished that anyone could be so dense: "Mary, she no got um horse!"[Pg 103]

The Indians gathered to see us off. I looked at the faces before me. Even the babies seemed hopeless and helpless. It is a people looking backward down the years with no thought of the morrow.

"Can't you get them to be more hopeful or cheerful? Won't they even try to help themselves?" I asked Wattahomigie in desperation. He sadly shook his head.

"No help," he said; "plenty for today, maybe no tomorrow."

And maybe he's right. Not many more morrows for that doomed tribe.[Pg 104]

Chapter Header


A few days after our visit to Supai, Ranger Fisk dropped in.

"Going to the Snake Dance?" he asked me.

"What's a Snake Dance, and where is it?"

"Oh, it's over in the Hopi Reservation, and the crazy redskins hop around with rattlesnakes in their mouths so it'll rain."

"I don't believe that. I'm going over and ask Joe about it," I replied, indignant that Charlie would try to tell me anything so improbable.

I returned pretty soon from my visit to Joe, who is Chief of the Hopi Indians. He made his home with the Spencers at the Hopi House, and we were tried and true friends.

"What did he say?" Both the Chief and Ranger Fisk hurled the question at me.[Pg 105]

"He said rattlesnakes are their brothers and they carry messages to the rain gods telling them of the need for rain in Hopi land. He didn't want to tell me much about it. White Mountain, let's go. Please!"

So we went. But before we started I managed to gather a little more information about the yearly ceremony that is held in the Painted Desert country. Joe told me that the Government at Washington was opposed to their Snake Dance. He told me to bear in mind that water is the very breath of life to the desert dwellers, and that while his people did not like to oppose the agents placed there by the Government they certainly intended to continue their dance.

We loaded the flivver with food and water, since we knew our welcome would be a shade warmer if we did not draw on the meager water supply in the Reservation. We dropped down to Flagstaff, and there on every street corner and in every store and hotel the Hopi Snake Dance was the main subject of conversation. It seemed that everybody was going!

We left the main road there and swung off across the desert for the Hopi villages, built high on rocky mesas overlooking the surrounding country. It was delightful during the morning coolness, but all too soon the sun enveloped us. We met two or three Navajo men on their tough little ponies, but they were sullen and refused to answer my waves to them. While we repaired a puncture, a tiny Navajo girl in her full calico skirt and small velvet basque drove her flock of sheep near and shyly watched us. I offered her an apple and she shied away like a timid[Pg 106] deer. But candy was too alluring. She crept closer and closer, and then I got sorry for her and placed it on a rock and turned my back. She lost no time in grabbing the sweet and darting back to her flock.

The road was badly broken up with coulees and dry washes that a heavy rain would turn into embryo Colorados. I found myself hoping that the Snake Dance prayer for rain would not "take" until we were safely back over this road.

Evening found us encamped at the foot of the high mesa upon which was built the Hopi village where the dance would be held this year. Close beside was the water hole that furnished the population with a scant supply. It was a sullen, dripping, seeping spring that had nothing in common with our gushing, singing springs of the Southern mountains. The water was caught in a scooped-out place under the cliff, crudely walled in with stones to keep animals away. Some stray cattle, however, had passed the barrier and perished there, for their bones protruded from the soft earth surrounding the pool. It was not an appetizing sight. Rude steps were cut in the rocky trail leading to the pueblo dwellings above two miles away, from whence came the squaws with big ollas to carry the water. This spring was the gossiping ground for all the female members of the mesa. They met there and laughed and quarreled and slandered others just as we white women do over a bridge table.

I found myself going to sleep with my supper untasted, and leaving White Mountain to tidy up I went to bed with the sand for a mattress and the stars for a roof.[Pg 107] Some time in the night I roused sufficiently to be glad that all stray rattlers, bull snakes, and their ilk were securely housed in the kivas being prayed over by the priests. At dawn we awakened to see half a score of naked braves dash by and lose themselves in the blue-shadowed distance. While we had breakfast I spoke of the runners.

"Yes," said the Chief, "they are going out to collect the rattlesnakes."

"Collect the rattlesnakes! Haven't they been garnered into the fold yet?"

"No, today they will be brought from the north, tomorrow from the west, next day from the south, and last from the east." He glanced at me. "Provided, of course, that they don't show up here of their own accord. I have heard that about this time of year every snake within a radius of fifty miles starts automatically for the Snake Dance village."

"Well, I shall sleep in the car tomorrow night and the next night and the next one, too."

"Where will you sleep tonight?"

"I'll not sleep. I intend to sit on top of the machine and see if any snakes do come in by themselves. Not that I'm afraid of snakes," I hastened to add; "but I'd hate to delay any pious-minded reptile conscientiously bent on reaching the scene of his religious duties."

We solved the difficulty by renting a room in one of the pueblo houses.

We followed the two-mile trail up the steep cliff to Walpi and found ourselves in a human aerie. Nobody[Pg 108] knows how many centuries have passed since this tribe first made their home where we found them now. Living as they do in the very heart of a barren, arid waste, they control very little land worth taking from them and have therefore been unmolested longer than they otherwise would have been. They invite little attention from tourists except during the yearly ceremonial that we had come to witness. What is this Snake Dance? The most spectacular and weird appeal to the gods of Nature that has ever been heard of!

To gain an understanding of what rain means to these Indians we had only to live in their village the few days preceding the dance. They are compelled to exist on the water from winter's melting snow and the annual summer showers, which they catch in their rude cisterns and water holes. One's admiration for this unconquerable tribe is boundless, as the magnitude of their struggle for existence is comprehended. Choosing the most inaccessible and undesirable region they could find in which to make a determined and successful stand against the Spanish and the hated friars, they have positively subjugated the desert. Its every resource is known and utilized for their benefit. Is there an underground irrigation that moistens the soil, they have searched it out and thrust their seed corn into its fertile depths. The rocks are used to build their houses; the cottonwood branches make ladders and supports for the ceilings; the clay is fashioned into priceless pottery; grasses and fiber from the yucca turn into artistic baskets under their skillful fingers. Every drop of water that escapes from the springs nourishes beans and pumpkins[Pg 109] to be stored away for winter use. Practically every plant on the desert is useful to them, either for their own needs or as food for their goats and burros.

We knew and were known by many of the younger members of the tribe who had visited at the Grand Canyon, so we found a warm welcome and ready guides in our stroll around the village.

The Hopi Indians are friendly and pleasant. They always respond to a greeting with a flashing smile and a cheery wave of the hand. This is not the way the sullen Navajos greet strangers. We saw many of that nomad tribe walking around the Hopi village. They were just as curious as we were about this snake dance.

"Do the Navajos believe your dance will make the rain come?" I asked a young Hopi man who was chatting with the Chief.

"Oh, yes. They believe."

"Well, why don't you Hopis make them pay for their share of the rain you bring. It falls on their Reservation." That was a new thought to the Hopi and we left him staring over the desert, evidently pondering. I hope I didn't plant the seed that will lead to a desert warfare!

I watched with fascinated eyes the antics of round, brown babies playing on the three-story housetops. I expected every instant that one would come tumbling off, but nobody else seemed to worry about them. On one housetop an aged Hopi was weaving a woolen dress for his wife. What a strange topsy-turvy land this was—where the men do the weaving and the wives build the houses. For the women do build those houses. They are[Pg 110] made from stone brought up from the desert far below, and then they are thickly plastered with a mixture of adobe and water. Many families live in the same pueblo, but there are no openings from one room to another. Each house has its own entrance. There are generally three stories to each pueblo, the second one set back eight or ten feet on the roof of the first, and the third a like distance on the top of the second. This forms a terrace or balcony where many household duties are performed.

I noticed that one pueblo was completely fenced in with head and foot pieces of ornate iron beds! Evidently the Government had at some time supplied each family with a bed and they had all passed into the hands of this enterprising landscape engineer. The houses we peeped into were bare of furniture with the exception of a Singer sewing machine. I venture to say there was one in every home up there. Many family groups were eating meals, all sitting in a circle around the food placed in dishes on the floor. It was difficult to see what they were serving, on account of the swarms of flies that settled on everything around. I saw corn on the ear, and in many places a sort of bean stew. Where there was a baby to be cared for, the oldest woman in the family sat apart and held it while the others ate. One old grandmother called my attention to the child she had on her lap. He was a big-eyed, shrunken mite, strapped flat to his board carrier. The day was broiling hot, but she motioned me to touch his feet. "Sick," she said. His tiny feet were like chunks of ice. It was a plain case of malnutrition, and what could I do to help, in the few days I was to be there?[Pg 111]

Many of the school boys and girls from boarding-schools were home for vacation, but they knew little or nothing about the meaning of the different dances and ceremonies that were going on in a dozen underground kivas in the village. One pretty maiden with marvelous masses of gleaming black hair volunteered to help us interview her uncle, an old Snake Priest, about his religion. We found "Uncle" lounging in the sunshine, mending his disreputable moccasins. He was not an encouraging subject as he sat there with only a loin cloth by way of haberdashery. He welcomed us as royally, however, as if he wore a king's robes, and listened courteously while the girl explained our errand.

If there is a more difficult feat in the world than extracting information from a reluctant Indian I have never come across it. We gave up at last, and waited to see what was going to happen.

The exact date of the dance is determined by the Snake Priest, and announced from the housetops nine days before it takes place. The underground "kivas" are filled with the various secret orders, corresponding to our lodges, going through their mystic ceremonies. From the top of the ladder that extends above the kiva opening, a bunch of turkey feathers hung, notifying outsiders that lodge was in session and that no visitors would be welcome.

What candles and a cross mean to good Catholics, feathers mean to a Hopi. Flocks of turkeys are kept in the village for the purpose of making "bahos," or prayer sticks. These little pleas to spirits are found stuck all over the place. If a village is particularly blessed, they have a[Pg 112] captive eagle anchored to a roof. And this bird is carefully fed and watered in order that its supply of feathers may not fail.

Days before the dance, the young men are sent out to bring in the snakes. Armed with a little sacred meal, feathers, a long forked stick, and a stout sack, they go perhaps twenty miles from the village. When a snake is located dozing in the sun, he is first sprinkled with the sacred meal. If he coils and shows fight the ever trusty feather is brought into play. He is stroked and soothed with it, and pretty soon he relaxes and starts to crawl away. Quick as a flash he is caught directly behind the head and tucked away in the sack with his other objecting brethren. Every variety of snake encountered is brought in and placed in the sacred kiva.

The legend on which they so firmly base their belief in snake magic is this:

An adventurous Hopi went on a journey to find the dwelling-place of the Rain God, so that he might personally present their plea for plenty of showers. He floated down the Colorado until he was carried into the Underworld. There he met with many powerful gods, and finally the Snake God taught him the magic of making the rain fall on Hopi fields. They became fast friends, and when the Hopi returned to his home the Snake God presented him with his two daughters, one for a wife to the Hopi's brother, who belonged to the Antelope Clan, and the other to become his own bride. When the weddings took place all the snake brothers of the brides attended, and a great dance was made in their honor. Since that[Pg 113] time a yearly dance and feast is held for the snakes, and they then descend to their Snake God father and tell him the Hopis still need rain.

While the men garner snakes and perform in the kivas, the women are not idle. Far from it! Pottery-makers are busy putting the last touches of paint on their pottery, and basket makers add the last row of weaving to the baskets. These wares are displayed in every doorway and window, where they are most likely to catch the tourist eye. The best specimens are not put out for sale. I believe the attitude is, "Why place pearls before swine?"

Houses are swept, and new plaster is applied inside and out. The girls chatter over their grinding stones, where they crush the meal for making "piki." Others mix and bake this piki, and it is piled high on flat baskets. It is made of cornmeal and water, and is baked on hot flat stones. The stone is first greased with hot mutton tallow, then the cook dips her fingers into the mixture and with one swift swipe spreads it evenly over the scorching surface. How they escape blistered fingers is always a marvel to me.

Squaws are wearily climbing the steep trail with heavy ollas of water on their backs, held there by a shawl knotted around their foreheads. Others pass them going to the spring, where they sit and gossip a while before starting back with their burdens. It takes about the last of the hoarded water to prepare for the dance, since religion demands that every house and street be sprinkled and each and every Hopi must have his yearly bath and shampoo.[Pg 114]

I found a pretty girl having her hair put up in squash blossoms for the first time. Her mother told me she was ready to choose her husband now, and that the hairdress would notify the young braves to that effect. In Hopi land the girl chooses her own husband, proposes, and then takes him to live in her house. If she tires of him she throws his belongings out, and he "goes back to mother!" After the Snake Dance my little girl would make her choice. I tried to get advance information, but she blushed and giggled like any other flapper.

The old men were going to and from the planting grounds, many miles away in the valley. They went at a sort of dog trot, unless one was rich enough to own a burro; in that case it did the dog trotting. After the fields are planted, brush shelters are built and the infirm members of the tribe stay there to protect the fields from rabbits and burros. Who could blame a hungry little burro for making away with a luscious hill of green corn in the midst of a barren desert? And yet if he is caught he has to pay, literally—one of his ears for the ear of corn he has eaten. Very few Hopi burros retain their original couple of ears.

The agents say that the time and strength consumed by the Indians in going to and from their fields, and in carrying water up to the village, could better be spent cultivating the crops. Therefore, many attempts have been made to move the Hopis from their lofty homes on the crags to Government houses on the level below. But they steadfastly refuse to be moved.

Stand at the mesa edge and look out across the en[Pg 115]chanting scene. To the far south the snow-crowned San Francisco peaks rear their lofty heights. To the north and east the sandy desert stretches away in heart-breaking desolation, relieved only by the tiny green patches of peach trees and corn fields. The blazing sun beats down appallingly. A purple haze quivers over the world. But evening comes, and as the sun drops out of sight a pink glow spreads over the eastern sky, giving a soft radiance to the landscape below. Soon this desert glow fades, and shadows creep nearer and nearer, until one seems to be gazing into the sooty depths of a midnight sea. Turn again toward the village. Firelight darts upward and dies to a glow; soft voices murmur through the twilight; a carefree burst of laughter comes from a group of returned school children.

It suddenly dawns on one that this is the home of these people, their home as it was their fathers' and their fathers' home before them. They are contented and happy. Why leave their sun-kissed, wind-swept heights, seven thousand feet high, for the scorching desert below?

The village was seething at the first hint of dawn on the day of the actual snake dance. Crowding the dizzy mesa edges were masses of Indians and whites drawn there for the ceremony. Somewhere, far below, through the desert dawn, a score of young men were running the grilling race to reach the village. The first to arrive would secure the sacred token bestowed by the Head Priest. This would insure fruitful crops from his planting next year and, perhaps more important, the most popular girl in the village would probably choose him for a husband. We[Pg 116] stood near our squash-blossom girl, and the progress of the race was written on her face. I knew her choice was among the runners, and when the first one to arrive darted, panting, up to the priest and grasped the token, I knew who was her choice!

The white visitors spent the forenoon strolling around the mesa, tasting Hopi food, feeding candy to the naked, roly-poly babies, or bargaining with visiting Navajos for rugs and silver jewelry. French, Spaniards, Mexicans, Germans, Americans, and Indians jostled each other good-naturedly. Cowboys, school teachers, moving-picture men, reporters, missionaries, and learned doctors were all there. One eminent doctor nudged the Chief gleefully and displayed a small flask he had hidden under his coat. I wondered if he had fortified himself with liquor in case of snakebite. He surely had! And how? He had heard for years of the secret antidote that is prepared by the Snake Priest and his wife, to be used all during the nine days the snakes are being handled. He traveled there from Chicago to secure a sample of that mixture. He found the ready ear of a Hopi youth, who supplied him with a generous sample in return for five dollars. The doctor was satisfied, for the time being, and so was the mischief-loving kid. He told us a few minutes later that he had sold seven such samples on the Q.T. and that he was going to have to mix up another brew! "What are you selling them?" I asked, trying to be as stern as possible. "Water we all washed in," he said, and we both had a good laugh.

At noon the snakes were taken from the big jars and[Pg 117] washed in other ollas of water. This is a matter of politeness. Since the snake brothers cannot wash themselves, it must be done for them.

The middle of the afternoon found the crowd choosing places of vantage for the Snake Dance, which would begin just before sundown and last perhaps half an hour. Owners of houses were charging a dollar a seat on their roofs, and they could have sold many more seats had there been room for them.

Scarcely a person seemed to realize that they were there to witness a religious ceremony and that to the Indians it was as sacred as could be any High Church service. Shouting and cheering, they waited for the dancers to appear.

Finally a naked Indian, painted white and black and red, with a lot of strung shells draped over his chest, appeared, carrying the olla of snakes. These he deposited in a hut built of willow boughs with a bearskin for a door.

Following him came twenty priests painted as he was, each with a loin cloth and a coyote skin hanging from the cloth behind. These went around the circle seven times, which seems to be the mystic number used in all these ceremonies. They chanted a weird, wordless tune all the time. Then they gathered in front of the kiva, where the snakes could be heard keeping up a constant dull rattling, and chanted this same tune seven times, stamping on the boards that covered the opening to the Underworld, in order that the gods down there might know they were on the job. One priest had a piece of board on the end of a strong string and every so often he would step out in front[Pg 118] of the others and whirl and whiz that board around until it wailed like a lost soul. That was the wind before the rain!

A priest entered the snake kiva and passed a snake out to a priest dancer. The dancer placed this big rattler in his mouth and began the circle. Close beside him danced a companion called the "hugger." This protecting Indian kept one arm around the dancer's shoulders and his other hand occupied with a bunch of feathers with which he kept the snake's head from coming too close to the dancer's face. Entirely around the ring they went until the starting-place had been reached, when, with a quick, sharp jerk of his head, the dancer threw the snake into the center of the plaza. It lay there coiled, sputtering, and rattling in rage for a moment, then started to glide away. Quick as a flash a "gatherer" snatched him up and twirled him around his arm.

As soon as the first dancer was rid of his snake he went for another, and we noticed that he was always given rattlers. Some of the other priests had thin, nervous whip snakes; some had big, sluggish bull snakes; but at least eighty per cent of the snakes were active, angry rattlers. The first dancer was an old man, gray-headed, and rather stooped. He had a poor hugger, for at least three times during the dance the hugger let a rattler strike the old priest. Once the priest flinched with pain and let the snake loose from his mouth. It hung on to his cheek with its fangs firmly implanted, and at last he tore him loose with both hands. The blood spurted from the wound, and a Hopi man beside me made a nervous clucking sound.[Pg 119]

"Will he die from that bite?" I asked the Hopi.

"I think not. Maybe. I don't know." And I'm sure he didn't know any more about it than I did. But the old fellow continued with his dancing as if nothing had happened. At last about eighty snakes had been danced with and were now writhing, animated bouquets in the hands of the gatherers. A squaw came out and made a circle of sacred meal. Into this all the snakes were dumped, and more meal was sprinkled on them. Then each carrier, of which there were four, gathered all the snakes he could grasp by thrusting his arms into the squirming mass, and one carrier departed in each direction. We watched one running swiftly down the cliff until he reached the level desert, where he dumped his cargo, and came back to the plaza. There he and his other returned companions lined up on the edge of the mesa and drank a big draught of the secret preparation prepared by the Snake Priest and his wife. Then they let nature take its course. Such a heaving, vomiting set of redskins you never saw!

This little chore attended to, they removed their paint and prepared to join in the feast and dancing that would last through the night.

Before I left I hunted up the old Snake Priest and pressed him for an explanation of why the snake bites did not harm them. This is what he told me.

"We do not extract the fangs. We do not cause the snakes to bite at things and exhaust their poison. We do not stupefy them with drugs as you could well see. But we do cleanse the priests so thoroughly that the poison cannot take hold. For nine days they fast, partaking of no food,[Pg 120] and only of herb drinks prepared by our wise ones. They have many sweat baths and get the harmful fluids out of their blood. They have absolutely no fear of the snakes, and convey to them no nervousness or anger. Just before the dance they have a big drink of the herb brew, and they are painted thickly with an ointment that contains herbs that kill snake poison. Then after the dance, the emetic. That is all."

"How many of your tribe know of this secret preparation?"

"Only two. Myself and my squaw. Should I die my squaw tell the secret to my son. When my squaw die he teach his squaw."

Probably because this dance is staged at the time of year the rains are due in Arizona, it is seldom that twenty-four hours elapse after the dance before a downpour arrives. Hopi Snake Priests are good weather prophets![Pg 121]

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When winter ends, spring comes with a rush at the Canyon, and flowers pop up over night. They follow the melting snow until the hills are covered with flaming paintbrushes and tender blue lupine. Greasewood and manzanita put out fragrant, waxy blossoms, and wild pinks and Mariposa lilies hedge the trails.

Encouraged by the glorious display of wild flowers, I planned, with more enthusiasm than judgment, to have a real flower garden beside our new house.

I built a low rock wall around the space I had selected, and piled it full of rich black loam as fine as any green-house could afford. Father had sent seeds from the old garden at home, and various friends had contributed from their gardens in the East. These seeds had been planted in boxes which I kept near the stove until frost was gone. They were full of promising plants. Hollyhocks, larkspur, pansies, and foxglove were ready to transplant, when a terrible catastrophe occurred—a little neighbor girl called[Pg 122] on me, and, finding me gone, was right peeved. She entertained herself by uprooting my posies. With a complete thoroughness she mixed plants and dirt together, stirring water into the mixture with my trowel. If her grown-up cake-making is done as conscientiously as was that job, she'll be a wonderful pastry cook! I discovered the mischief while it was still fresh, and out of the wreckage salvaged a few brave seedlings. They pouted awhile before they took heart, and root, but finally perked up again. Time healed their wounds and if an ambitious squirrel hadn't been looking for a place to hide a nut I might still have taken prizes in the state fair. As it was, only a very few sturdy plants lived to grace the garden. They flourished, and I had begun to look in their direction without crossing my fingers when a hungry cow and her yearling boy appeared on the scene.

"Help yourself, son!" Ma cow said, suiting her actions to the advice given.

Midsummer found a lonely cactus and a horned toad blooming in my garden.

The weather got hotter and more hot, and my bird bath was duly appreciated by the feathered population. They gathered there in flocks, and the news went far and wide that water was to be had at the Chief's house. All the birds that had been fed during the winter brought their aunts, uncles, and cousins seventy times seven removed, until all I had to do was lie in my hammock and identify them from a book with colored plates.

White Mountain's special pet was a tiny chickadee. This fragile little speck of birddom fluttered into the[Pg 123] house one stormy day, and the Chief warmed it in his hands and fed it warm milk and crumbs. From that day on it belonged, brave soul and wee body, to him. As the days grew warmer it spent its time somewhere in the forest, but at mealtime when the Chief came home all he had to do was step outside the door and whistle. Out of the sky a diminutive atom would hurl itself downward to light on his outstretched palm. While we ate it would perch on White Mountain's shoulder and twitter and make soft little noises in its throat, now and then coming across to me but soon returning to its idol. There was something so touching in the confidence of the helpless bird, it brought a tight feeling into one's throat.

At the height of the drought a national railroad strike was called, and for a few weeks things looked serious for us poor mortals stranded a hundred miles from our water supply. Life took a backward leap and we lived as our forefathers did before us. No water meant no light except oil lamps, and when the oil supply failed we went to bed at dark. Flashlights were carefully preserved for emergencies. We learned that tomato juice will keep life in the body even if it won't quench thirst.

There was one well four miles away, and rangers were stationed there to see that nothing untoward happened to that supply. The water was drawn with a bucket, and it was some job to water all the park animals. Visitors were at that time barred from the Park, but one sage-brusher managed to get in past the sentry. He camped at Headquarters and sent his ten-year-old boy walking to Rowe Well to fill a pail with water and carry it back.[Pg 124] Just before dark that night the Chief and I coming in from Hilltop met the little fellow, courageously struggling along eight miles from Headquarters and getting farther away every step. His bucket was leaky, and little of the precious water remained. We took him back to the well again, filled his bucket, and delivered him to his father. The lad pulled a dime from his pocket and extended it toward the Chief.

"You keep it, son," said White Mountain.

"Better take it, Mister. You hauled me quite a ways."

The Chief leaned toward him confidentially. "You see it's like this. I work for the Government and Uncle Sam doesn't like for us to take tips."

And so the matter rested. The boy had discharged his obligation like a gentleman. He didn't know he had offered the Chief Ranger a dime for saving his life.

A few stray I. W. W.'s ("I Won't Works," the rangers called them) came in to see that nobody did anything for the Santa Fe. Of course the rangers were put on for guard duty around the railroad station and power house, day and night, and the fact that they protected the railroad's property at odd hours did not relieve them from their own regular duties the rest of the time. For weeks they did the work of three times their actual number, and did it cheerfully. It finally became necessary to import Indians from the Navajo Reservation to help with the labor around the car yard and the boiler yard. These could hardly be described as having a mechanical turn of mind, but they were fairly willing workers, and with careful supervision they managed to keep steam up and the wheels turning.[Pg 125] The shop foreman, however, was threatened with apoplexy a dozen times a day during their term of service.

When it seemed that we just couldn't endure any more, some boss somewhere pulled a string and train service was resumed. This brought in a mass of tourists, and the rangers were on the alert again to keep them out of messes.

One day as the Chief and I were looking at some picturegraphs near the head of Bright Angel Trail we saw a simple old couple wandering childlike down the trail.

"You mustn't go far down the trail," advised White Mountain. "It's very hot today, and you would not be able to make the return trip. It's lots harder coming back, you know."

The old folks smiled and nodded, and we went on home. About midnight the phone rang, and the Chief groaned before he answered it. A troubled voice came over the wire.

"My father and mother went down the trail to the river and haven't come back. I want the rangers to go and find them," said their son.

"In the morning," replied the Chief.

"Right now!" ordered the voice.

"I, myself, told your father and mother not to go down there. They went anyway. They are probably sitting on a rock resting, and if so they are safe. If they are not on the trail the rangers could not find them, and I have no right to ask my men to endanger their lives by going on such a wild-goose chase."

The son, a middle-aged man, acted like a spoiled child.[Pg 126] He threatened and blustered and raved until the Chief hung up the receiver. At dawn the rangers went after the two old babes in the wood and found them creeping slowly up the trail.

"Ma give out," puffed the husband.

"Pa was real tuckered hisself," explained Ma. "But we had a nice time and we'll know to do what we're told next time." She was a game old sport. Son was speedily squelched by Ma's firm hand, and the adventure ended. Ma confessed to me that she had sat through the night in deadly fear of snakes, catamounts, and other "varmints," but, with a twinkle in her eye: "Don't you dare tell them men folks I was a-scairt!" I knew just how she felt.

Everything was up in the air over the Fourth of July celebration that we intended to stage. It was to be a combination of Frontier Days, Wild West Show, and home talent exhibition. Indians came from the various reservations; cow-hands drifted in from the range; tourists collected around the edges; the rangers were there; and every guide that could be spared from the trail bloomed out in gala attire. We women had cooked enough grub to feed the crowd, and there was a barrel of lemonade, over which a guard was stationed to keep the Indians from falling in head first.

The real cowboys, unobtrusive in their overalls and flannel shirts, teetered around on their high-heeled tight boots and gazed open-mouthed at the flamboyance of the Fred Harvey imitations. Varied and unique remarks accompanied the scrutiny. Pretty soon they began to nudge each other and snicker, and I saw more than one of them[Pg 127] in consultation with the rangers. I felt in my bones that mischief was brewing.

The usual riding and roping and tying stunts were pulled off, and in the afternoon the Indians were challenged to race horses with the white boys. The race was for half a mile and back, around the curve of a hillside. Off they went amid the wildest war-whoops and cowboy yells I ever heard. The Indians had the advantage, since they burdened their mounts with neither saddle nor bridle. Stretched flat along the pony's back, the rider guided him by knee pressure and spurred him to victory by whistling shrilly in a turned back ear. I was amused to see how the wily Indians jockeyed for the inside of the track, and they always got it too. Not a white man's horse won a dollar in the race. It might have been different, probably would have, in an endurance race, for Indian horses are swift only in short runs. They never have grain, and few of them have as much water as they need.

Just before the sports ended, White Mountain announced that some of the cowboys had brought a badger into Headquarters with them and that they had another one located. If they succeeded in capturing it, there would be a badger fight at the Fred Harvey mess hall that night—provided no gambling or betting was done. Since the show was to be put on by the cowboys, they themselves should have the honor of picking the men fortunate enough to hold the ropes with which the badgers would be tied. Among the rangers broke out a frenzied dispute as to which ones should be chosen. That was more than the guides could stand for. No ranger could put that over[Pg 128] on them. They pushed in and loudly demanded their rights from the owners of the fightin' badgers. In fair play to both sides, Frank Winess was chosen from the ranger force and a sheik stage-driver, newly arrived, represented Fred Harvey. The guides were forced to be satisfied with this arrangement. We disbanded to meet at seven for the fight. In case the other badger made good his escape we could still have a look at the one already in captivity and the evening would not be wasted.

"Better wear your riding boots," Ranger Winess advised me. "Badgers scratch and fight like forty, and you know your failing when it comes to getting into the middle of a bad fix." I didn't reply to this, but I put on my high boots.

At seven we reached the scene of battle. I was not entirely pleased with the idea of letting two frantic animals scratch each other to death, but the Chief seemed quite serene and I had the utmost confidence in his kindness to dumb animals. Two or three hundred onlookers, including tourists, were circled around an open space, which was lighted with automobile headlights. Under each of two big wooden boxes at opposite sides of the circle, a combatant lay.

"Stand well back," ordered the Chief. And the crowd edged away. "Hey, you, Billy, I said no betting!" Billy Joint hastily pocketed the roll of bills he had been airing.

"What's wrong, Frank?" For Ranger Winess limped into the ring, flinching at every step.

"Nothin', Chief," bravely trying to cover up the pain with a grin.[Pg 129]

"I asked you what's the matter!"

"Well, gee whiz, if you have to know everything, one of them broncs piled up with me this afternoon, and I busted my knee."

The Chief felt sorry for Frank, because he knew how his heart was set on the sport in hand.

"Sorry, Winess, but you'll have to step out and let Charley take your place."

Ranger Fisk began to protest: "Gee, Chief, I ain't a fightin' man. I don't hanker to hold that tearing varmint." Frank was too crushed to say anything. But Shorty—in the foremost ranks stood Shorty! No guide so wonderfully chapped, so brightly handkerchiefed, so amazingly shirted, or so loudly perfumed as Shorty. He had a tourist girl on his manly arm and he longed for worlds to conquer.

He advanced with a firm and determined tread. "Look here, Chief Ranger. Your man has been disqualified. The rangers have had their chance. It's up to us guides now. I demand the right to enter this ring."

The Chief considered the matter. He looked at the rangers, and after a few mutters they sullenly nodded.

"All right, Shorty. But you are taking all responsibility. Remember, whatever happens you have made your own choice. Charley, you and Frank look out for Margie. You know how foolish she is. She's likely to get all clawed up."

I was mad enough to bite nails into tacks! Foolish! Look out for me! He was getting awfully careful of me all of a sudden. I jerked my arm loose from Ranger Fisk[Pg 130] when he tried to lead me back from the front, and he reluctantly stayed beside me there.

The pretty stage-driver was nervous. With his gloved hand he kept smoothing his hair back and he shifted from one foot to the other, while he grasped the rope firmly. As for Shorty, he was entirely unconcerned, as became a brave bold man. He merely traded his sheepskin chaps for a pair of silver-studded leather ones. Then he clamped his wide sombrero firmly on his head and declared himself ready.

"Jerk quick and hard when we raise the boxes," the referee directed. "If they see each other at once, you boys aren't so liable to get bit up."

"Jerk them out," bellowed Frank.

They jerked. The onlookers gasped; then howled! then roared!!

The gladiators fled! Nor stood on the order of their going.

In the middle of the ring, firmly anchored to the ropes, were two articles of crockery well known to our grand-mothers in the days when the plumbing was all outside.

So ended the Glorious Fourth.[Pg 131]

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I was busy baking pies one morning when White Mountain sauntered into the kitchen and stood watching me. "How soon can you be ready to start across the Canyon?" he asked, as carelessly as though I had not been waiting for that priceless moment nearly two years.

"How soon?" I was already untying my apron. "Right now!"

"Oh, not that sudden. I mean can you be ready to start in the morning?"

And with no more ceremony than that my wonderful adventure was launched. Long before dawn the next morning I was up and dressed in breeches, wool shirt, laced boots, and a wide felt hat, and felt like a full-fledged "dude." The Chief had insisted that I should ride a mule, but I had my own notions about that and "Supai Bob" was my mount. This was an Indian racing horse, and the[Pg 132] pride of Wattahomigie's heart, but he cheerfully surrendered him to me whenever I had a bad trail to ride. He was high from the ground, long-legged, long-necked and almost gaunt, but gentle and sure-footed.

We left El Tovar before anybody was stirring and while the depths of the Canyon were still lost in darkness. At the head of the trail I involuntarily pulled up short. "Leave hope behind all ye who enter here," flashed through my brain. Dante could have written a much more realistic Inferno had he spent a few days in the Grand Canyon absorbing local color. Far below, the trail wound and crawled, losing itself in purple shadows that melted before the sun as we descended. The world still slept, with the exception of a few saucy jays who flew about us loudly claiming the heavens, the earth, and the waters beneath, should there be any. Two hours of steady descent brought us to the base of the red-wall limestone. In that two hours we had passed from the belt of pine and shrub to the one of sagebrush and cactus. Half an hour farther, and we arrived at Indian Gardens, a clump of willows and cottonwoods shading a stream of cold bubbling water from a never-failing spring. This little stream is full of delicious watercress, and more than once on festive occasions a ranger had gone down and brought back a supply to garnish the turkey. Not until I made the ride myself could I appreciate his service. At one time this spot was cultivated by the Havasupai Indians; hence the name. Every dude that has followed a Fred Harvey guide down the trail remembers this God-given oasis with gratitude. Water and shade and a perfectly good excuse[Pg 133] for falling out of the saddle! No flopping mule ears; no toothache in both knees; no yawning void reaching up for one. Ten whole minutes in Paradise, and there's always a sporting chance that Gabriel may blow his horn, or an apoplectic stroke rescue one, before the heartless guide yells: "All aboard."

We filled our canteens from the spring, for this is really the last good water until the bridge is crossed, and rode across the Tonto Trail along the plateau for five miles, through sagebrush, cactus, and yucca. Here and there a chuckwalla darted across the trail or a rock squirrel sat on his haunches and scolded as we passed. Nothing broke the monotony of the ride. At one point on the ride the trail hangs over the edge of Pipe Creek, a mere little chasm two thousand feet deep. Anywhere else this crevice between sheer walls of blackened, distorted, jagged rocks would be considered one of the original Seven Wonders. Placed as it is, one tosses it a patronizing glance, stifles a yawn, and rides on. A mile or so along we crossed a trickle of water coming from Wild Burro Springs, so named because the burros common to this region come there to drink. Just as we drew rein to allow our horses to quench their thirst, the sultry silence was shattered beyond repair. Such a rasping, choking, jarring sound rolled and echoed back and forth from crag to crag! "What's that?" I gasped, after I had swallowed my heart two or three times. The Chief pointed to a rock lying a few feet away. Over the top of this an enormous pair of ears protruded, and two big, solemn eyes were glued on us unblinkingly. It was only a wee wild burro, but what a[Pg 134] large voice he owned! The thousand or more of these small gray and black animals are a heritage from the day of the prospector. Some of them are quite tame. One called "Bright Angel" was often utilized by tourists as a mount while they had pictures snapped to take to the admiring family left behind.

We passed on across the plateau and rounded O'Neill Butte, named for Bucky O'Neill, one of Roosevelt's Rough Riders killed at San Juan Hill, and we suddenly came to the "sure 'nuff" jumping-off place at the edge of Granite Gorge. One should have at least a week's warning before this scene is thrown upon the screen. I think it was here that Irvin Cobb tendered his resignation—effective immediately. Straight down, fifteen hundred feet beneath one, flows the Colorado. There are no words to describe this. One must see it for one's self. Down, down, back and forth zigzags that trail, jumping from crag to crag and mesa to mesa, finally running on to the mere thread suspended from wall to wall high above the sullen brown torrent. When once started down this last lap of the journey riverward, one finds that the trail is a great deal smoother than that already traveled. But the bridge! Picture to yourself a four-foot wooden road, four hundred and twenty feet long, fenced with wire, and slung on steel cables fifty feet above a rushing muddy river, and you will see what I was supposed to ride across. My Indian horse stopped suddenly, planted himself firmly—and looked. I did likewise.

"Those cables look light," I said, seeking some excuse to stay right where I was. But the Chief calmly informed[Pg 135] me that they were "heavy enough." I presume he should know, having helped to carry them down that twelve-mile trail. Pride alone prevented me from turning and fleeing back up that steep trail like a fly up a wall. I looked at White Mountain. He was riding serenely on, never doubting my close attendance at his horse's heels. I told myself that I had undoubtedly reached a bridge that had to be crossed, and so I spoke firmly, or as firmly as possible under the circumstances, to Supai Bob. No results. Bob was as unresponsive as any other Indian when he doesn't want to "savvy." I coaxed, I pulled, I pushed. I spanked with a board. Bob was not interested in what was across the river. Then and there I formed a high regard for that pony's sound judgment and will-power. At last the Chief looked back and saw my predicament. He turned his horse loose to continue across alone and came back over the wildly swaying bridge to me.

"What's the matter?"

Just as if he couldn't well see! I glared at him and he grinned.

"Why don't you talk to him in Supai language?"

"Speak to him yourself," I snapped and stalked out on that heaving horror. I never learned the details of the conversation, but a clatter of hoofs sounded behind me and Bob anchored his nose against my shoulder, there to remain until terra firma was regained. I worried all the rest of the way over and back about having to get him across again, but returning, he walked on to the bridge as if crossing it were his life work.

On the north end of the bridge where the cables are[Pg 136] anchored is a labyrinth of trails crossing and recrossing. The Chief explained that Bright Angel, the little wild burro, had made those at a time when high water had marooned him on that small area. While the bridge was being built he hung around constantly, and when it was completed he was the first animal allowed to cross it. I wonder what he thought of the promised land he had gazed at so longingly for years. Poor Brighty fell a victim to a tramp who refused to listen to advice, and crossed to the North Rim after the snows had come. Perhaps he had reasons for hiding away, but he took little Brighty from his winter home in the bottom of the Canyon to carry his pack for him. After being snowed in for several weeks in a cattle cabin several miles back from the Rim, Brighty died of starvation and was eaten by the man. Brighty had plenty of friends that miss him when they go down into the Canyon, and it will fare badly with his murderer if any of the rangers or guides see him again.

Beside the trail, just across the bridge, is a prehistoric ruin. When Major Powell landed there on his first trip down the Colorado River in 1869, he found broken pottery, an old "matate" and many chipped flints, indicating that this had been the home of an arrowmaker. The mealing stone, or matate, can be seen at Phantom Ranch, half a mile on along the trail.

And just at this point of the trip we came to a tragic spot, the one where Rees Griffith lies buried beside his own well-built trail. It had been in the dead of winter when Rees was buried there by his friends, and now the summer's scorching sun was streaming down on his grave.[Pg 137] The colorful lines of the half-breed Déprez drifted through my mind:

And there he lies now, and nobody knows;
And the summer shines, and the winter snows,
And the little gray hawk floats aloft in the air,
And the gray coyote trots about here and there,
And the buzzard sails on,
And comes back and is gone,
Stately and still like a ship on the sea;
And the rattlesnake slides and glitters and glides
Into his rift in a cottonwood tree.

Just that lonely and already forgotten was the resting-place of the master trail-builder.

It was noontime now, and all our grub, with the exception of a box of crackers and a jar of fig jam, likewise our bedding, was far ahead on a pack mule which had decided not to stop for lunch or dinner. Since we were not consulted in the matter we lunched on jam and crackers and then dined on crackers and jam. We hung the remainder of the feast in a tree and breakfasted on it a week later on our return trip.

When one tries to describe the trail as it was to the North Rim in those days, words prove weak. The first twelve miles we had already traveled are too well known to need description; the remaining twenty—all rebuilt since that time—defy it. Sometimes the trail ran along in the creek bed for yards and yards. This made it impassable during the spring freshets. Arizona horses are trained to drink at every opportunity for fear there may never be another chance, and our mounts had learned[Pg 138] their lesson well. They tried to imbibe at every crossing, and long after they were loaded to the gunwales they dipped greedy noses into the current.

Six miles north of the river we turned aside from the main trail and followed a path a few rods to Ribbon Falls. We had intended to spend the night there, and I supposed we were to sleep standing up; but there was Chollo, our prodigal pack mule, who had found a luscious patch of grass near the Falls and decided to make it her first stopping-place. In that manner we recovered the bedding roll. White Mountain murmured a few sweet nothings into her innocent ear and anchored her firmly to a stake. That didn't please her at all. She complained loudly to her wild brethren, and they sympathized in heart-comforting brays from all points near at hand. Our horses were given grain and turned into the grassy cove, and supper was prepared. And while the coffee boiled we had a refreshing swim in Nature's bathtub at the bottom of the Falls. High above, the crystal stream bursts forth from the red cliff and falls in a sparkling cascade seventy feet, to strike against a big rock upholstered in softest green. Here it forms a morning-glory pool of almost icy coolness. Hot coffee and bacon with some of White Mountain's famous biscuits baked in a reflector tasted like a feed at Sherry's. I watched the Chief mix his biscuits while I lay resting against the piled-up saddles. I wondered how he intended to cook them, but managed to keep still and find out for myself. He took a folded piece of tin from his pack and with a few magic passes turned it into a roof-shaped structure resting on its side on two short steel legs. Another[Pg 139] twist of the wrist lifted a little tin shelf into place. This contraption was set about a yard from the glowing fire and the pan of biscuits was placed on the shelf. As I stared at the open-work baker the biscuits puffed into lightness and slowly turned a rich tempting brown. After we had eaten the last one and the camp was put in order, we sat watching a fat moon wallow lazily up from behind the Rim. Strange forms crept into sight with the moon-rise—ruined Irish castles, fortresses hiding their dread secrets, sculptured groups, and weird goblins. By and by a few stars blossomed—great soft golden splashes, scattered about in an inverted turquoise bowl. The heavens seemed almost at our fingertips from the bottom of this deep southern gorge.

While Bright Angel Creek murmured a soft accompaniment, the Chief told me how it received its name. An old legend says: Among the first Spanish explorers a small party attempted to cross the Colorado Canyon. They wandered down on to the plateau north of the river, and there their food and water gave out. Many hundreds of feet below them at the bottom of a sheer precipice flowed the great river. Their leader swooned from thirst and exhaustion. It seemed certain that death was near. Above them towered a wall they could not surmount. Just as they were ready to throw themselves into the river so far below, their leader revived and pleaded with them to keep going a little longer. He said: "In my dreams I have seen a beautiful luminoso angelo with sparkling water dripping from his pinions. He beckons us on, and promises to lead to water." They took fresh courage and struggled on in[Pg 140] desperation, when, lo, at their very feet flowed a crystal stream of life-giving water. In remembrance of the vision this stream was called "Bright Angel." Pretty as this legend is, the bestowal of the name is now officially credited to Major Powell.

After the story ended I crept between my blankets, and as soon as I became sufficiently inured to the conversation between Chollo and her sympathizers I fell asleep. But along toward morning some inquisitive deer came in to share the grain our horses had scattered, and a big porcupine came home from lodge, quarreling and debating with himself about something. He stopped near us and chattered angrily about it, permanently ending our sleep.

After breakfast we followed the trail through more ancient ruins, into a cottonwood grove and then on to a sandy flat. Sitting low in my saddle, almost dozing, I revived suddenly at a never-to-be-mistaken B-u-u-z-z-z! The horses recognized it instantly and froze in their tracks. Sibilant, wicked, it sounded again, and then a yellow streak slid across the trail and disappeared under a low bush. We waited, and pretty soon a coffin-shaped head came up and waved slowly to and fro. The Chief shot him with his forty-five and the snake twisted and writhed into the trail, then lay still. A moment later I had the rattles in my hatband for a souvenir. "Look out for his mate," the Chief said; but we didn't see it, and a few days later a ranger camping there found it coiled in his bed, and its rattles joined the ones already in my possession.

On and on climbed the trail, growing steeper at every turn. I could have walked with a greater degree of com[Pg 141]fort, but the Chief said: "Ride!" So I rode; and I mean just that. I rode every inch of that horse several times over. What time I wasn't clinging to his tail being dragged up a precipice, I was hanging around his neck like a limpet. One time, when the girth slipped, both the saddle and I rode upside down under his belly. Some time ago I saw a sloth clinging, wrong end to, to the top bars of his cage. It brought back painful memories of when the saddle slipped.

When we reached the blue-wall a mighty roaring was audible. Far above, a torrent of water from some subterranean cavern bursts from the ledge with such force that the sound carries for miles. This is called Roaring Springs. Getting up over the blue-wall limestone was arduous. This limestone formation is difficult to conquer wherever it is found. Almost straight up, clinging to the horse's mane, we climbed, stopping frequently to let the panting animals breathe.

As we neared the North Rim, now and then along the trail a wild rose blossomed, and as we climbed higher we threaded a maze of sweet locust, fern, and bracken. It was a fairyland. And then the trail topped out at an elevation of eight thousand feet into the forest primeval. Towering yellow pines, with feet planted in masses of flowers, pushed toward heaven. Scattered among the rugged pines were thousands of slender aspen trees, swaying and quivering, their white trunks giving an artificial effect to the scene as if the gods had set a stage for some pagan drama. Ruffed grouse strutted about, challenging the world at large. Our horses' hoofs scattered a brood and[Pg 142] sent them scuttling to cover under vines and blossoms. Roused from his noonday siesta, a startled deer bounded away. One doe had her fawn secreted near the trail and she followed us for some distance to make sure her baby was safe.

As we swung around a curve into an open valley, we came to a decrepit signpost. And what do you suppose it said? Merely: "Santa Fe R. R. and El Tovar," while a hand pointed back the way we had come. I wondered how many travelers had rushed madly around the corner in order to catch the Santa Fe Limited. But in those days the North Rim seemed to sprout signs, for soon we overtook this one:


Of course the signing of Park lands is contrary to the policies of the National Park Service, and after White Mountain's inspection trip, these were promptly removed.

At length we arrived at Jim's camp. Uncle Jim must have caught several cougars to order, for the cabin walls were covered with pelts and murderous-looking claws frescoed the ceiling. Uncle Jim told us that he has caught more than eleven hundred cougars in the past twenty years. He guided Teddy Roosevelt on his hunts in Arizona, and I doubt if there is a hunter and guide living today that is as well known and loved by famous men as is Jim Owens. He has retired from active guiding now,[Pg 143] and spends his time raising buffalo in the Rock House Valley.

Scenery on the North Rim is more varied and beautiful than that where we lived at El Tovar. Do you favor mountains? "I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help." Far across the Canyon loom the snow-capped heights of San Francisco Peaks. Truly from those hills comes help. Water from a huge reservoir filled by melting snow on their summits supplies water to towns within a radius of a hundred miles.

Look to the south and you see the Navajo Reservation, and the glorious, glowing Painted Desert. If peaceful scenes cloy, and you hanker for a thrill, drop your glance to the Colorado River, foaming and racing a mile or so below. Sunset from this point will linger in my memory while I live. A weird effect was caused by a sudden storm breaking in the Canyon's depths. All sense of deepness was blotted out and, instead, clouds billowed and beat against the jutting walls like waves breaking on some rock-bound coast.

Point Sublime has been featured in poems and paint until it needs little introduction. It was here that Dutton drew inspiration for most of his poems of Grand Canyon, weaving a word picture of the scene, awe-inspiring and wonderful. How many of you have seen the incomparable painting of the Grand Canyon hanging in the Capitol at Washington? The artist, Thomas Moran, visited Point Sublime in 1873 with Major Powell, and later transferred to canvas the scene spread before him.

Deer and grouse and small animals were about us all[Pg 144] the way, and I had the pleasure of seeing a big white-tailed squirrel dart around and around a tree trunk. This squirrel is found nowhere else.

That evening at sunset we drove with Blondy Jensen to VT Park through the "President's Forest." At first we saw two or three deer together, and then we came upon them feeding like herds of cattle, literally hundreds of them. They were all bucks. Blondy said the does were still back in the deep woods with their fawns. We reached the Diamond Bar Ranch just as supper was ready, and the cowboys invited us to eat. Two big Dutch ovens were piled with live coals before the fireplace. I eyed them with a lot of curiosity until a smiling cowboy lifted the lids for me to peep within. One was full of simmering tender beef and the other held biscuits just turning a delicious brown. I made up our minds then, and we all stayed for supper.

It was late when we started back to our camp on the Rim, and the big car slid along at a great rate. Suddenly Blondy jammed on the brakes and almost lost me through the windshield. An enormous full-grown deer loomed directly in front of the headlights. There he stood, head thrown back, nostrils distended, monarch of all he surveyed. A moment longer he posed, then leaped away into the darkness, leaving us wondering if we had really seen anything.

All too soon it was time for us to start back to the South Rim, and we made a reluctant departure. It rained on us part of the way, and loosened rocks made the going perilous. Halfway down the steepest part we met half[Pg 145] a dozen loose pack mules. One of the first rules of safety for a trail without turnouts is that no loose stock must be allowed on it. My Indian horse chose that particular time and place to throw a fit of temperament, and he climbed out of the way of the wild mules by scrambling up a perpendicular rock and flattening out against the hillside. I slid off over his tail and landed in the trail on the back of my neck, but popped up to see what had happened to the Chief. The pack mules were being urged on from the rear by a fool mule-skinner, and they had crowded Tony, the Chief's mount, off the trail on to a good-sized rock that stuck out over the brink. He stood trembling on the rock and the Chief stood beside him on the same rock with an arm around the scared horse's neck, talking to him in his usual slow, calm way, all the time stroking Tony's ears and patting his neck. Inch by inch the rock was parting from the earth holding it, and it seemed to me I would just die of terror. White Mountain just kept on talking to the horse and trying to coax him back into the trail. At last Tony turned an almost human look on the Chief and then stepped back into the trail, just as the boulder gave way and went crashing down the incline, carrying trees, rocks, and earth with it.

"Why didn't you let him go? Why did you just stand there like an idiot?" I raved. The reaction was so great that I entirely lost my temper.

"Oh, my good new saddle was on him. I couldn't let that go, you know," said White Mountain.

In the meantime the mules continued to mill and buck in the trail. Up rushed Mr. Mule-Skinner. He addressed[Pg 146] the Chief in about these words: "Get the hell outa my way, you —— —— fool. Ain't you got no sense at all?"

We will skip the next inch or two of this narrative, and let kind oblivion cover it as cool dusk masks the ravages of burning noon. Anyway, this was part of a hunting outfit, including Fred Stone, bound for the North Rim. To this day I can't see any comedy in Mr. Stone's acting.

Tony seemed quite unnerved by his encounter, and as we crossed the swinging bridge he became startled at something and plunged wildly against the wire fencing the bridge. The Chief threw out a hand to steady himself and his ring, caught on a broken wire, cut into and buried itself in his flesh. When we reached the south end of the bridge we dismounted and tried to care for the painful wound, but with no medicine or water there was little we could do. We bound it up in a handkerchief and went on to the top, the Chief suffering agonies with the injury and the intense heat. On top a ranger cut the flesh away and filed the ring off. I added it to my other souvenirs.[Pg 147]

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"For the Colonel's Lady and Judy O'Grady
Are sisters under the skin!"

"And what of the women and children? How do they live?" I have been asked again and again, when speaking of Indians of the Southwest. And who isn't interested in the intimate details of the home life of our Indian sisters?

What of their work? Their homes? Their dress? And—most interesting to us paleface women—what of their love affairs?

Most of you have seen the stolid squaw, wrapped in a soiled blanket, silently offering her wares to tourists throughout the Southwest. Does it seem strange to you that this same stoical creature is just bubbling over with femininity? That she loves with devotion, is torn with passionate jealousy, and adorns herself just as carefully within her limited means for the benefit of masculine[Pg 148] eyes, as you do? Among friends she sparkles, and laughs and gossips with her neighbors over a figurative back fence just as you do in Virginia or Vermont. Just living, loving, joyous, or sorrowing women are these brown-skinned sisters of ours.

Were I looking for inspiration to paint a Madonna I would turn my steps toward the Painted Desert, and there among the Indian people I would find my model. Indian mothers are real mothers. Their greatest passion is mother-love. Not a pampering, sheltering, foolish love, but a great, tender love that seeks always what is best for the child, regardless of the mother's feelings or the child's own desires. The first years of an Indian baby's life are very simple. Apart from being fed without having to catch his dinner, there is not much to choose between his existence and that of any other healthy young animal. He and his little companions dart about in sunshine and rain, naked as little brown kewpies. I have never seen a deformed Indian baby or one with spinal trouble. Why? Because the mothers grow up living natural lives: they dress in loose-fitting, sensible clothing; they wear flat-heeled shoes or moccasins; they eat plain, nourishing food; and they walk and ride and work until almost the minute the child is born. They take the newborn babe to a water hole, bathe it, then strap it on a straight board with its little spine absolutely supported. Here it spends the first six months of its existence.

The child's chin is bound round with a soft strip of leather, so that its breathing is done through its nostrils; no adenoids or mouth breathing among the Indians, and[Pg 149] very little lung trouble as long as they do not try to imitate the white man's ways.

Different tribes celebrate the birth of a child in different ways. The gift is always welcome when a little new life comes into an Indian home. The Hopi mother rubs her baby with wood ashes so that its body will not be covered with hair. Then a great feast is held and thank-offering gifts are received. Each relative brings an ear of corn to the mother and gives a name to the child. It may receive twenty or more names at birth, and yet in later life it will choose a name for itself or be named by its mother.

Not so much ceremony greets the Navajo baby. Navajo mothers are far too busy and baby additions are too frequent to get excited about. The mother bathes herself and the newcomer in cold water, wraps him in his swaddling clothes of calico, straps him on his board cradle, suspends it on a limb, and goes on with the spinning or weaving that had occupied her a few minutes before. All Indian babies are direct gifts from the Powers That Be, and a token of said Powers' favor. A childless Indian wife is pitied and scoffed at by her tribe.

After a few months the child is released from his cradle prison and allowed to tumble around the mother's loom while she weaves her blankets. He entertains himself and learns to creep and then to walk without any help. If there is an older child he is left in its care. It is not unusual to see a two or three-year-old youngster guarding a still younger one, and keeping it out of the fire or from under the hoofs of the ponies grazing around the camp.

As the children grow older they are trained to work.[Pg 150] The boys watch the flocks and help cultivate the fields, if fields there be, and the little girls are taught the household tasks of tanning the sheep hides, drying the meat in the sun, braiding the baskets, carding and spinning wool and making it into rugs, shaping the pottery and painting and baking it over the sheep-dung fires. These and dozens of other tasks are ever at hand for the Indian woman to busy herself with. If you think for an instant that you'd like to leave your own house and live a life of ease with the Indian woman, just forget it. It is a life of labor and hardship, of toil and endless tasks, from day-break until long after dark, and with the most primitive facilities one can imagine. Only on calendars do we see a beauteous Indian maiden draped in velvet, reclining on a mossy bank, and gazing at her own image in a placid pool. That Indian is the figment of a fevered artist brain in a New York studio. Should a real Indian woman try that stunt she'd search a long way for the water. Then she'd likely recline in a cactus bed and gaze at a medley of hoofs and horns of deceased cows bogged down in a mud hole. Such are the surroundings of our real Indians.

Indian women are the home-makers and the home-keepers. They build the house, whether it be the brush hewa of the Supai or the stone pueblo of the Hopi. They gather the piñon nuts and grind them into meal. They crush the corn into meal, and thresh and winnow the beans, and dry the pumpkin for winter use. They cut the meat into strips and cure it into jerky. They dry the grapes and peaches. They garner the acorns and store them in huge baskets of their own weaving. They shear[Pg 151] the sheep, and wash, dye, spin, and weave the wool into marvelous blankets. They cut the willows and gather sweet grasses for the making of baskets and trays. They grind and knead and shape clay into artistic pottery and then paint it with colors gleaned from the earth. They burn and bake the clay vessels until they are waterproof, and they carry them weary miles to the railway to sell them to the tourists so that their children may have food and clothing.

The Hopi woman brings water to the village up a mile or two of heart-breaking trail, carrying it in great ollas set on her head or slung on her back. She must have water to make the mush for supper, and such trivial things as a shampoo or a bath are indulged in only just before the annual Snake Dance. Religion demands it then!

Where water is plentiful, however, the Indians bathe and swim daily. They keep their hair clean and shining with frequent mud baths! Black, sticky mud from the bottom of the river is plastered thickly over the scalp and rubbed into the hair, where it is left for several hours. When it is washed away the hair is soft, and gleams like the sheeny wing of the blackbird. Root of the yucca plant is beaten into a pulp and used as a shampoo cream by other tribes. Cosmetics are not greatly in use among these women. They grow very brown and wrinkled at an early age, just when our sheltered women are looking their best. This is accounted for by the hard lives they live, exposed to the burning summer suns and biting winter winds, and by cooking over smoky campfires or hovering over them for warmth in the winter.[Pg 152]

An Indian's hands are never beautiful in an artistic sense. How could they be? They dress and tan the sheep and deer hides; they make moccasins and do exquisite bead work; they cut and carry the wood and keep the fires burning. They cook the meals and sit patiently by until the men have gobbled their fill before they partake. They care tenderly for the weaklings among the flocks of sheep and goats. Navajo women often nurse a deserted or motherless lamb at their own ample breasts. They make clothes for themselves and their families, although to look at the naked babies one would not think the dress-making business flourished.

But with all the duties incumbent on an Indian mother she never neglects her children. They are taught all that she thinks will help them live good lives. The girls grow up with the knowledge that their destiny is to become good wives and mothers. They are taught that their bodies must be kept strong and fit to bear many children. And when the years of childhood are passed they know how to establish homes of their own.

Many interesting customs are followed during courtship among the tribes. The Pueblos, among whom are the Hopis, have a pretty way by which the maidens announce their matrimonial aspirations. How? By putting their soft black hair, which heretofore has been worn loose, into huge whorls above the ears. This is called the squash-blossom headdress and signifies maturity. When this age is reached, the maiden makes up her mind just which lad she wants, then lets him know about it. The Hopi girl does her proposing by leaving some cornmeal[Pg 153] piki or other edible prepared by her own hands at the door of the selected victim under cover of darkness. He usually knows who has left it, and then, if "Barkis is willin'," he eats out of the same bowl of mush with her, the medicine man holds a vessel of water into which both dip their hands, and the wedding ceremony is finished. He moves into the bride's house and they presumably live happily ever afterward. However, squalls do arise sometimes, and then the husband is likely to come home from work in the fields or a night at the lodge and find his wardrobe done up in his Sunday bandanna waiting on the doorstep for him. In that case all he can do is take his belongings and "go home to mother." His wife has divorced him by merely throwing his clothes out of her house.

Navajo bucks purchase their wives for a certain number of sheep or horses, as do also the Supai, Cheyenne, Apache, and other desert tribes. There is not much fuss made over divorce among them, either. If a wife does not like her husband's treatment of her, she refuses to cook for him or to attend to any of her duties, and he gladly sends her back to her father. He, like Solomon of old, agrees that "it is better to dwell alone in the wilderness than with an angry and contentious woman." The father doesn't mind getting her back, because he keeps the original purchase price and will also collect from the next brave that wants to take a chance on her; why should he worry? In a few instances braves have been known to trade wives and throw in an extra pony or silver belt to settle all difficulties. The missionaries are[Pg 154] doing much to discourage this practice and are trying to teach the Indians to marry in a civilized manner. In case they do succeed let us hope that while the savages embrace the marrying idea they will not emulate civilized people in divorce matters.

For a primitive people with all the untrained impulses and natural instincts of animals, there is surprisingly little sexual immorality among the tribes. It seems that the women are naturally chaste. For there is no conventional standard among their own people by which they are judged. If an unmarried squaw has a child, there are deploring clucks, but the girl's parents care tenderly for the little one and its advent makes no difference in the mother's chances for a good marriage. Also the child does not suffer socially for its unfortunate birth, which is more humane at least than our method of treating such children. The children of a marriage take the mother's name and belong to her clan. She has absolute control of them until the girl reaches a marriageable age; then Dad collects the marriage price.

Another thing we civilized parents might take into consideration. Indian babies are never punished by beating or shaking. It is the Indian idea that anything which injures a child's self-respect is very harmful. Yet Indian children are very well-behaved, and their respect and love for their elders is a beautiful thing. I have never seen an Indian child cry or sulk for anything forbidden it.

Schools for Reservation children are compulsory, but whether they are altogether a blessing or not is still doubtful. To take an Indian child away from its own free,[Pg 155] wild life, teach it to dress in white man's clothes, eat our food, sleep in our beds, bathe in white-tiled bathtubs, think our thoughts, learn our vices, and then, having led them to despise their own way of living, send them back to their people who have not changed while their children were being literally reborn—what does this accomplish? Doesn't Aesop tell us something of a crow that would be a dove and found himself an outcast everywhere? We are replacing the beautiful symbolism of the Indian by our materialism and leaving him bewildered and discouraged. Why should he be taught to despise his hogan, shaped after the beautiful rounded curve of the rainbow and the arched course of the sun in his daily journey across the sky—a type of home that has been his for generations? Do we ever stop to think why the mud hut is dome-shaped, why the door always faces the east?

I have been watching one Hopi family for years. In this case simple housekeeping, plain sewing, and suitable cooking have been taught to the girl in school. The mother waits eagerly for the return of the daughter from school so that she can hear and learn and share what has been taught to her girl. Her efforts to keep pace with the child are so intense and her pride in her improved home is so great that it is pitiful. Isn't there some way the elders can share the knowledge we are trying to give the younger generation, so that parents and children may be brought closer together rather than estranged?

No matter what color the skin, feminine nature never varies! Let one squaw get a new calico dress, and it creates a stir in every tepee. The female population gathers[Pg 156] to admire, and the equivalent to our ohs and ahs fills the air. It takes something like twenty yards of calico to make an Indian flapper a skirt. It must be very full and quite long, with a ruffle on the hem for good measure. There is going to be no unseemly display of nether limbs. When a new dress is obtained it is put on right over the old one, and it is not unusual for four or five such billowing garments to be worn at once. A close-fitting basque of velvet forms the top part of this Navajo costume, and over all a machine-made blanket is worn. Store-made shoes, or more often the hand-made moccasins of soft doeskin trimmed with silver and turquoise buttons, are worn without stockings. The feet of Indian women are unusually small and well-shaped. The amount of jewelry that an Indian wears denotes his social rank, and, like their white brothers, they adorn the wife, so that it is not unusual to see their women decked out until they resemble prosperous Christmas trees. Many silver bracelets, studded with the native turquoises, strings and strings of silver beads, and shell necklaces, heavy silver belts, great turquoise earrings, rings and rings, make up the ensemble of Navajo jewelry. Even the babies are loaded down with it. It is the family pocketbook. When an Indian goes to a store he removes a section of jewelry and trades it for whatever takes his fancy. And one thing an Indian husband should give fervent thanks for—his wife never wears a hat.

Our Indian sisters are not the slaves of their husbands as we have been led to believe. It is true that the hard work in the village or camp is done by the squaws, but it[Pg 157] is done cheerfully and more as a right than as a duty. In olden times the wives kept the home fires burning and the crops growing while the braves were on the warpath or after game. Now that the men no longer have these pursuits, it never occurs to them to do their wives' work. Nor would they be permitted to do it.

After the rugs, baskets, or pottery are finished, the husband may take them to the trading-post or depot and sell them; but the money must be turned over to the wife or accounted for to her full satisfaction.

All the Indian women are tireless and fearless riders. They ride astride, with or without a saddle, and carry two or three of the smaller children with them. However, if there is only one pony, wifie walks, while her lordly mate rides. That is Indian etiquette.[Pg 158]

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Tourists! Flocks of them, trainloads and carloads! They came and looked, and passed on, and were forgotten, nine-tenths of them at least.

Anyone who is interested in the study of human nature should set up shop on the Rim of the Grand Canyon and watch the world go by. I have never been able to determine why Eastern people can't act natural in the West! For instance: Shy spinster schoolma'ams, the essence of modesty at home, catch the spirit of adventure and appear swaggering along in the snuggest of knickers. They would die of shame should their home-town minister or school president catch them in such apparel. Fat ladies invariably wear breeches—tight khaki breeches—and with them they wear georgette blouses, silk stockings, and high-heeled pumps. I have even seen be-plumed chapeaux top the sport outfit. One thing is a safe bet—the plumper the lady, the snugger the breeches!

Be-diamonded dowagers, hand-painted flappers, timid wives from Kansas, one and all seem to fall for the "My[Pg 159] God" habit when they peer down into the Canyon. Ranger Winess did tell me of one original damsel; she said: "Ain't it cute?"

I was standing on the Rim one day, watching a trail party through field glasses, when a stout, well-dressed man stopped and asked to borrow my glasses. He spoke of the width and depth of the Canyon, and stood seemingly lost in contemplation of the magnificent sight. I had him classified as a preacher, and I mentally rehearsed suitable Biblical quotations. He turned to me and asked, "Do you know what strikes me most forcibly about this place?"

"No, what is it?" I hushed my soul to listen to some sublime sentiment.

"I haven't seen a fly since I've been here!"

I was spluttering to White Mountain about it and wishing I had pushed him over the edge, but the Chief thought it was funny. He said the man must have been a butcher.

It is a strange fact that tourists will not listen to what Rangers tell them to do or not to do. The Government pays men who have spent their lives in such work to guide and guard strangers when they come into the National Parks. Many visitors resent advice, and are quite ready to cry for help when they get into difficulties or danger by ignoring instructions. And usually they don't appreciate the risks that are taken to rescue them from their own folly.

A young man from New York City, with his companion, walked down the Bright Angel Trail to the Colo[Pg 160]rado River. Everybody knows, or should know, that the Colorado River is a most treacherous river. One glance at the sullen, silt-filled current tells that story. It seldom gives up its dead. But the New Yorker swam it, with his shoes and underclothing on. By the time he reached the far side he was completely exhausted. More than that he was panic-stricken at the undercurrents and whirlpools that had pulled at him and almost dragged him under. He would not swim back. His companion signaled and yelled encouragement, but nothing doing.

Behind him rose a hundred-foot precipice; his clothes and his friend were on the southern bank. The bridge was four miles above, but unscalable walls made it impossible for him to reach that. Furthermore, night was at hand.

When his friend knew that it was hopeless to wait any longer, he left him perched on a rock and started to Headquarters for help. This was a climb over seven miles of trail that gained a mile in altitude in that distance. Disregarding the facts that they had already done their day's work, that it was dark, and that his predicament was of his own making, the rangers went to the rescue.

A canvas boat was lashed on a mule, another mule was led along for the victim to ride out on, and with four rangers the caravan was off. It was the plan to follow the trail to the Suspension Bridge, cross to the northern bank, follow down the river four miles to the cliff above the spot where the adventurer was roosting let the boat down over the ledge to the river, and, when the New Yorker got in, pull the boat upstream by means of the ropes until they found a safe place to drag it to shore.[Pg 161]

When almost down the trail they met the lad coming up, and he was mad! "Why didn't they come quicker? Why wasn't there a ranger down there to keep him from swimming the river?" And so forth. But no thanks to the men that had gone willingly to his rescue. However, they said they were well paid by the sight of him toiling up the trail in the moonlight, au naturel! They loaded him on a mule and brought him to the top. Then he refused to pay Fred Harvey for the mule. I might add he paid!

I often wondered why people pay train fare across the continent and then spend their time poking around in our houses. They would walk in without knocking, pick up and examine baskets, books, or anything that caught their fancy. One woman started to pull a blanket off my couch, saying "What do you want for this?" It was an old story to members of the Park Service, and after being embarrassed a few times we usually remembered to hook the door before taking a bath.

One day Chief Joe and I were chatting in front of the Hopi House. His Indians had just completed one of their entertaining dances. As it happened we were discussing a new book that had just been published and I was interested in his view of the subject, Outline of History. All at once an imposing dowager bore down upon us with all sails set.

"Are you a real Indian?"

"Yes, madam," Joe bowed.

"Where do you sleep?"

"In the Hopi House."[Pg 162]

"What do you eat?" She eyed him through her lorgnette.

"Most everything, madam," Joe managed to say.

Luckily she departed before we lost control of ourselves. Joe says that he has been asked every question in the category, and then some. I think some of our stage idols and movie stars would be jealous if they could see the number of mash notes Joe receives. He is flattered and sought after and pursued by society ladies galore. The fact that he is married to one of his own people and has a fat, brown baby does not protect him.

The Fred Harvey guides could throw interesting lights on tourist conduct if they wished, but they seldom relate their experiences. Our card club met in the recreation room of the guide quarters, and sometimes I would get a chance to listen in on the conversation of the guides. Their narrations were picturesque to say the least.

"What held you up today, Ed?"

"Well," drawled Ed, "a female dude wouldn't keep her mule movin' and that slowed up the whole shebang. I got tired tellin' her to kick him, so I jest throwed a loop round his neck and hitched 'im to my saddle horn. She kept up then."

"Make her mad?"

"Uh-huh." A pause while he carefully rolled and lighted a cigarette. "I reckon so. When we topped out an' I went to help her down, she wuz right smart riled."

"Say she wuz goin' to report you to the President of these here United States?"

"Don't know about that. She gimme a cut across the[Pg 163] face with her bridle reins." Another pause. "'Twas real aggravatin'."

Personally, I marveled at his calm.

"What made you late in toppin' out?" Ed asked in his turn.

"Well, we wuz late in startin' back, anyhow, and then I had to stop fer an hour pickin' cactus thorns outta an old-maid female."

"Mule unload her in a patch, or did she sit down on one?" Ed was interested.

"Naw, didn't do neither one. She tried to eat a prickly pear offa bush of cactus, and got her tongue full uv stickers. Said she always heard tell them cactus apples wuz good eatin'. I propped her mouth open with a glove so she couldn't bite none, and I picked cactus stickers till I wuz plumb weary."

"Yeh, women is funny that way," philosophized the listener. "They do say Eve et an apple when she shouldn't ought to had."

Another lad was lamenting because he had a pretty girl next to him in the trail party; as he said: "I was sure tryin' to make hay before the sun went down. Every time I'd say something low and confidential for her ear alone, a deaf old coot on the tail-end of the line would let out a yarp—

"'What'd you say, Guide?' or, 'I didn't get that, Guide.'

"I reckon he thought I was exclaimin' on the magnificence of the picturesque beauty of the scenery, and he wasn't gittin' his money's worth of the remarks."[Pg 164]

One guide said he had trouble getting a man to make the return trip. He was so scared going down he figured he'd stay down there rather than ride back up the trail.

Every morning, rain, snow, or shine, these guides, in flaming neckerchiefs, equally audible shirts, and woolly chaps, lead their string of patient mules up to the corral at the hotel, where the trail parties are loaded for the trip into the Canyon. Each mule has a complete set of individual characteristics, and mules are right set in their ways. If one wants to reach over the edge of a sheer precipice and crop a mouthful of grass, his rider may just as well let him reach. Mules seldom commit suicide, although at times the incentive must be strong.

"Powder River," "Dishpan," "Rastus," and a few other equally hardy mule brethren are allotted to carry helpless fat tourists down the trail. It's no use for a fragile two-hundred-pound female to deny her weight. Guides have canny judgment when it comes to guessing, and you can't fool a Harvey mule.

"Saint Peter," "Crowbar," and "By Jingo" are assigned to timid old ladies and frightened gentlemen.

If I were issuing trail instructions for Canyon parties I would say something like this, basing my directions on daily observation:

"The trail party starts about nine o'clock, and the departure should be surrounded with joyous shouts of bravado. After you have mounted your mule, or been laboriously hoisted aboard, let your conscience guide you as to your actions up and down the trail. When you top out at the end of the day and it is your turn to be unloaded,[Pg 165] weakly drag your feet out of the stirrups, make sure that the guide is planted directly underneath you, turn loose all holds, and fall as heavily as possible directly on top of him.

"After you have been placed on your feet, say about the third time, it might be well to make a feeble effort to stand alone. This accomplished, hobble off to the hotel, taking care to walk as bow-legged as possible. If you have a room with bath, dive into a blistering hot tubful and relax. If you were having a stingy streak when you registered, order a bath at the public bathroom and be thankful you have seventy-five cents with which to pay for it. Later take an inventory of your damages and, if they are not too severe, proceed to the dining-room and fill up on the most soul-satisfying meal Fred Harvey ever placed before the public.

"Afterward, in the lobby, between examinations of 'I wish you were here' postcards, it might be well to warn newcomers about the dangers of the trip. Probably few tourists are as expert riders as you."

We liked to poke fun at the saddle-sore dudes, but all the same the trip is a soul-trying one, and the right to boast to home folks about it is hardly earned.

It is really a revelation to study the reaction of the Canyon on various races. On leaving the train a Japanese or Korean immediately seeks out a ranger or goes to the Park Office and secures every bit of information that is to be had. Age, formation, fauna, and flora are all investigated. Then armed with map, guidebook, and kodak he hikes to the bottom of the trail, and takes everything apart[Pg 166] en route to see how it is made. English and German travelers come next in earnest study and observation. I am sorry to say that all foreigners seemed to show more intelligent interest in the Canyon than our own native Americans. Perhaps that is because only the more educated and intellectual foreigners are able to make the trip across the ocean. Lots of Americans never get farther than El Tovar, where they occupy easy chairs, leaving them several times a day to array themselves in still more gorgeous raiment.

Of course, out of the hundreds of thousands that come to Grand Canyon, only a stray one now and then causes any anxiety or trouble. It is human nature to remember those that make trouble while thousands of the finest in the land pass unnoticed. Any mother can tell you that gentle, obedient Mary is not mentioned once, whereas naughty, turbulent Jane pops into the conversation continually. Rangers feel the same way about their charges.

Perhaps a hundred people got on the train leaving the Canyon one snowy zero night. Those people were forgotten instantly, but not so the bellicose dame found wandering around the station asking when her train would go. She had a ticket to New York, and stood on the platform like Andy Gump while the train with her baggage aboard pulled out.

"It was headed the wrong way!" she explained tearfully, and stuck to her story, even when the sorely tried superintendent led her to the tracks and showed her that said track absolutely and finally ended there, without argument or compromise. And she was furious. Her[Pg 167] former outburst was a mild prelude to what poured forth now. She would not stay there until morning when the next train left. She demanded a special train; she ordered a handcar with which to overtake the recreant train; she called for a taxi to chase across to Williams with her, a mere eighty miles of ten-foot snowdrifts. Only shortage of breath occasioned by altitude and outraged sensibilities prevented her commandeering an airplane! None of these vehicles being forthcoming, she would stop in Washington if she ever made her escape from this God-forsaken hole, and have every Park employee fired. The Superintendent took her to the hotel, then came to me for help.

"Please lend her a comb and a nightgown," he begged.

"All right." I was used to anything by now. "Silk or flannel?"

"Well," he said thoughtfully. "She acts like red flannel but probably expects crêpe de chine."

I sent both over, and never saw either again.

My heart went out to a poor little lady, sent by heartless relatives, traveling with only a maid. She was not mentally able to care for herself and certainly should not have been allowed to visit Grand Canyon. However, she and the maid arrived, with other visitors, and the maid seated her charge on a bench near the Rim, then went away about her own business. When she came back, behold, the little lady had vanished. After a long time, the maid reported her absence to the Ranger Office, and a search was organized. Soon after the rangers had set out to look for her, an automobile traveling from Flagstaff reported they had met a thinly dressed woman walking[Pg 168] swiftly out into the desert. She had refused to answer when they spoke to her, and they were afraid she was not responsible for her actions.

Ranger Winess, the Chief, and I climbed into the ever-ready Ford and took up the trail. A heavy storm was gathering and the wind cut like a knife. For several miles we saw nothing; then we saw her tracks in the muddy road where the sun had thawed the frozen ground earlier in the day. After a while great flakes of snow came down, and we lost all trace. Backtracking ourselves, we found where she had left the road and had hidden behind a big rock while we had passed. For an hour, through the falling snow, with night closing around us, we circled and searched, keeping in touch with each other by calling back and forth continually. It would have been easy enough for the rangers to have lost me, for I had no idea what direction I was moving in. We were about to give up and go back to Headquarters for men and lights when Ranger Winess stumbled over her as she crouched behind a log. She would have frozen to death in a very short time, and her coyote-picked bones would probably never have been discovered. She insisted she knew what she was about, and we had literally to lift her into the car and take her back to El Tovar.

Whether the Canyon disorganized their judgment or whether they were equally silly at home I cannot tell, but certainly the two New England school teachers who tried horseback-riding for the first time, well—! I was mixing pie crust when the sound of thundering hoofbeats down through the woods took me to the door. Just at my porch[Pg 169] some men were digging a deep ditch for plumbing. Two big black horses, a woman hanging around the neck of each, came galloping down on us, and as the foremost one gathered himself to leap the ditch, his fainting rider relaxed and fell right into the arms of a young Mormon workman. He carried her into my house, and I, not being entirely satisfied with the genuineness of the prolonged swoon, dismissed the workman and dashed the ice-cold pie crust water in her face. She "came to" speedily. Her companion arrived about that time and admitted that neither of them had ever been on a horse before, and not wanting to pay for the services of a guide they had claimed to be expert riders. It hadn't taken the horses long to find out how expert their riders were, and they had taken matters into their own hands, or perhaps it might be better to say they had taken the bits in their teeth and started for their stable.

The girl on the leading horse said she had been looking for quite a while for a suitable place to fall, and when she saw the Mormon she knew that was her chance!

It wasn't always the humans that got into trouble, either. I remember a beautiful collie dog that was being given an airing along the Rim. He suddenly lost his head, dashed over the low wall, and leaped to his death a thousand feet below. It took an Indian half a day of arduous climbing around fissures and bluffs to reach him and return him to his distracted owners for burial. They could not bear to leave the Canyon until they knew he was not lying injured and suffering on a ledge somewhere.[Pg 170]

Chapter Header


The Chief and I stayed home for a few days, and life rambled on without untoward incident. I began to breathe easier and stopped crossing my fingers whenever the phone rang.

I even grew so placid that I settled myself to make a wedding dress for the little Mexican girl who helped me around the house. Her father was head of the Mexican colony whose village lies just out of Headquarters. Every member of the clan was a friend of mine, for I had helped them when they were sick and had saved all the colored pictures in magazines for their children.

The wedding day dawned early, very early! At five o'clock I dragged myself from my warm bed and went to the schoolhouse where the wedding was staged. Father Vabre married the couple, and then we all went home with the happy pair. An accordion and a harmonica furnished music enough for several weddings; at least they made plenty of racket. We were seated at the table with[Pg 171] the bride and groom. They sat there all day long, she still wearing her long wedding veil. The groom was attired in the niftiest shepherd-plaid suit I ever beheld. The checks were so large and so loud I was reminded constantly of a checker-board. A bright blue celluloid collar topped the outfit. I do not think the bridal couple spoke a word all day. They sat like statues and stonily received congratulations and a kiss on each cheek from all their friends. There was such a lot of dancing and feasting, and drinking the native wine secured for that grand occasion. Our plates were loaded with food of all sorts, but I compromised with a taste of the wine and a cup of coffee. The dancing and feasting lasted two or three days, but one day exhausted my capacity for endurance.

Soon after the wedding, a tiny baby sister of the bride died, and its father came to get permission to bury it in the Park cemetery. I asked if I could do anything to help them, and Sandoval said I was to make the dress and put it on the baby for them. He produced bright orange organdie and pink ribbons for the purpose. Next morning I took the completed dress and some flowers the El Tovar gardener had contributed down to their home. I dressed the wee mite in the shroud, which was mightily admired, and placed the crucifix the mother gave me in its tiny waxen fist. Then the bride came with her veil and wreath of orange blossoms, and said she wanted to give them to the little sister. The mother spoke no English, but she pointed here and there where she wanted the flowers and bright bows of ribbon pinned. Strange, it looked to me, the little dead baby decked out in wedding finery, but[Pg 172] the poor mother was content. She patted a ribbon and smoothed the dress, saying to me in Spanish:

"The Madonna will find my baby so beautiful!"

One hot August day, the Chief and Ranger West went down into Salt Creek Basin, at the bottom of the Canyon, to look for some Government horses that had strayed away. In spite of their feeble protests I tagged along.

We had checked up on the stock and were following the trail homeward. Ranger West rode in front on Black Dixie. Ordinarily he would have been humming like an overgrown bumblebee, or talking to Dixie, who he said was the only female he knew he would tell secrets to. But we had ridden far that day, and the heat radiated from the great ore rocks was almost beyond endurance. Now and then we could catch a glimpse of the river directly at the foot of the ledge our trail followed, and the water looked invitingly cool. All at once Dixie stopped so suddenly that Ranger West almost took a header. A man's hat was lying in the trail. Dismounting, the men looked for tracks. A quite legible story was written there for them to read. Some tenderfoot, thirst-crazed, had stumbled along that trail since we had passed that way a couple of hours earlier. Putting our horses to a lope we rode on until we came to his empty canteen; and a little farther on to a discarded coat and shirt. The tracks in the sand wavered like those of a drunken man.

"We'll find his shoes next," the Chief called to Ranger West; "and then pretty soon the end of the trail for him. Can't go far barefoot in this hot sand."

"Say," Ranger West shouted, "White Mountain, Poi[Pg 173]son Spring is just around the bend. We'll find the poor devil flattened out there sure. You ride slow, Margie, and we'll hurry along."

I didn't say anything, but I hurried along too. This spring he spoke of was strongly impregnated with arsenic. Even the wild burros shunned it; but I hardly dared to hope this desperate man would pass by it. The men rode over the expected shoes without stopping, but I got off of Tar Baby and got them. I began to think I would stay a little way behind. I felt rather weak and sick. Rounding the turn I could see there was nothing at the spring, and in the distance a stumbling figure was weaving along. The men were nearing him, so I spurred to a run. Every now and then the man would fall, lie prone for a minute, then struggle to his feet and go on. Suddenly my heart stood still. The figure left the trail and headed straight for the edge of the precipice. The river had made itself heard at last.

Ranger West turned Dixie from the trail and rode straight across the plateau to where the man had disappeared behind a big boulder. The Chief followed West, but I rode the trail and kept my eyes resolutely ahead of me. I knew I couldn't endure seeing the man jump to certain death when we were at his heels with water and life.

When I looked up again Ranger West had his rope in his hand widening the loop. White Mountain was with him. They were ten or fifteen feet from the man, who was lying on his stomach peering down at the water. As the poor fellow raised himself for the plunge, with a[Pg 174] quick flirt of his wrist the ranger tossed the rope across the intervening space, and as the noose settled around the man's arms White Mountain and the ranger dragged him back from death.

He lay stunned for a space, then twisted himself over, and mumbled through swollen, bleeding lips: "Is that really water down there?"

They helped him back into the trail and gave him a swallow from a canteen. It took both the men to manage him, for with the first taste of water he went raving crazy. He fought and cursed them, and cried like a baby because he couldn't hold the canteen in his own hands. They laid him in the shade of our horses and poured a few drops down his throat at intervals until a degree of sanity returned. He was then placed on the Chief's horse, and the Chief and Ranger West took turns, one riding Dixie while the other helped the man stay in the saddle. We found later he was a German chemist looking for mineral deposits in the Canyon.

Each morning a daily report of the previous day's doings is posted in Ranger Headquarters. I was curious to know what Ranger West's contribution would be for that day. This is what he said:

"Patrolled Tonto Trail looking for lost horses. Accompanied Chief Ranger and wife. Brought in lost tenderfoot. Nothing to report."

And that was that.

The Chief decided to drive out to Desert View the afternoon following our Canyon experience, and he said I could go if I liked; he said he couldn't promise any[Pg 175] excitement, but the lupine was beautiful in Long Jim Canyon, and I might enjoy it.

"Thank God for a chance to be peaceful. I'm fed up on melodrama," I murmured, and I climbed into that old Ford with a breath of relief.

We had such a beautiful drive. I waded waist-high in the fragrant lupine, and even took a nap on pine needles while White Mountain located the bench mark he was seeking. When he came back to me he said we had better start home. He saw a cloud that looked as if it might rain.

Before we reached the Ford, the rain came down; then more rain came, and then there was a cloudburst. By that time we were well down toward the middle of Long Jim Canyon. This canyon acts just like a big ditch when rain falls. We had to keep going, and behind us a wall of water raced and foamed and reached out for us. It carried big logs with it, and maybe that water didn't make some time on the down grade.

"Hang on, hold everything!" the Chief yelled in my ear, and we were off on as mad a race as John Gilpin ever rode. Henry would be proud of his offspring if he knew how one could run when it had a flood behind it.

"Peaceful! Quiet!! Restful!!!" I hissed at the Chief, between bumps. Driving was rather hazardous, because the water before us had carried trees and débris into the road almost blocking it at places. Now and then we almost squashed a dead cow the flood had deposited in our path.

I hoped the gasoline would hold out. I prayed that the tires would last. And I mentally estimated the endur[Pg 176]ance power of springs and axles. Everything was jake, to use a cowboy expression, and we reached the mouth of the Canyon where both we and the flood could spread out.

"Whew!" said the Chief, wiping his face. I didn't say anything.

I can't remember that anything disastrous happened for two or three days after the flood. Life assumed an even tenor, and I yawned occasionally from sheer ennui.

To break the monotony I made a salad. That was momentous! Salads meant something in our young lives out there. One of the rangers on leave had returned and brought me a fine head of lettuce—an entirely rash way of saying it with flowers. One last can of shrimp reposed on the shelf. It almost had cobwebs on it, we had cherished it so long, saving it for some grand spree. The time had arrived. That salad looked tempting as I sliced the rosy pimiento on top and piled it in the blue and white bowl. The ranger who contributed the lettuce was an invited guest, and he stood on one foot, then on the other, while the dressing was mixed. Even White Mountain hovered over it anxiously.

Just then came a knock! A very famous "bugologist" had come to call on us. Of course the Chief invited him to dinner, while the ranger and I looked glumly at each other. Maybe there wouldn't be plenty of salad for four!

Our guest was deep in his favorite sport, telling us all about the bugs that killed the beautiful yellow pines at the Canyon.

"Have some butter, Professor, and try this salad," invited White Mountain.[Pg 177]

"Thanks, it looks enticing," answered our distinguished guest, and he placed the bowl with all its contents on his plate. Bite by bite the salad disappeared, while he discoursed on the proper method of killing the Yellow Pine Beetle.

"Why aren't you folks eating some of this delicious salad? You deprive yourself of a treat when you refuse to eat salads. The human body requires the elements found in fresh, leafy plants, etc., etc."

I gave the Chief's shins a sharp little kick.

"We seldom eat salads," murmured White Mountain.

I think I heard the disappointed ranger mutter: "Damn right we don't!"

When the last bite was gone we all stepped outside to look for signs of the dread beetle on our own trees. While we stood there a blast was put off by the construction gang on the railway directly in front of our house. Rocks, 'dobe, and pine cones rattled down all around us. We beat a retreat into the house and the Chief called to the man in charge and warned him that such charges of powder as that must be covered if any more blasting were to be done.

Again next morning big rocks struck the house, and broke a window. In the absence of a ranger, I walked down and requested the Turk in charge of the labor to use a little more discretion. Our house was newly painted inside and out. My windows were all clean, new curtains were up, the floors were newly waxed, and we were quite proud of our place of abode. I said to the Turk I was afraid the roof would leak if such sharp rocks hit it. He[Pg 178] replied insolently that if he blew the roof off, the Santa Fe would put another on. I went back to the house in fear and trembling, and picked up my sewing. For half an hour I sewed in quiet. Then a terrific explosion rent the air. There was ominous silence for an instant, then the house crumpled over my head. The ridgepole came crashing down, bringing part of the roof and ceiling with it. Rocks and a great boulder fell into the room, knocking the stove over. Ashes and soot went everywhere. One rock grazed me and knocked the sewing basket from my lap. Part of a railroad tie carried the window sash and curtains in with it and landed on the piano.

I have a vague recollection of searching vainly for my thimble, and then of grimly determining to locate the Chief's gun. It is well he wore his arsenal that day, else the usual order of things would have been reversed—a Christian would have massacred a Turk!

While I was aimlessly wandering around through the wreckage, half dazed, White Mountain and the Superintendent rushed in. They frantically pulled me this way and pushed me that, trying to find out if I were hopelessly injured, or merely killed. They found out I could still talk! Then they turned their attention to the Turk and his men who came trooping in to view the remains. It seemed they had put down a charge of four sticks and it had failed to explode. So they had added four more and let her ramble. It was some blow-up! At least the Turk found it so.

"What do you want me to do?" that unfortunate asked me, after the Park men finished with him.[Pg 179]

"Oh, go outside and die!"

"White Mountain, give me your pocketbook. I'm going to buy a ticket to West Virginia. I've had enough of the great open spaces," I continued.

"Why go now?" he wanted to know. "You've escaped death from fire, flood, and fools. Might as well stay and see it through."

So we started shoveling out the dirt.


[1] Reprinted, by permission, with a few changes, from Good Housekeeping.

[2] Reprinted, by permission, with a few changes, from Good Housekeeping.

[3] Reprinted, by permission, with a few changes from Good Housekeeping.

[4] Reprinted, by permission, from the Los Angeles Times Sunday magazine.

End of Project Gutenberg's I Married a Ranger, by Dama Margaret Smith


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