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   Chapter 2 No.2

Peck's Bad Boy with the Cowboys By George W. Peck Characters: 11394

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03

Indian Chief Compels Bad Boy's Pa to Herd with the Squaws-He Shows Them How to Make Buckwheat Cakes and Is Kept Making Them a Week-He Talks to the Squaws About Women's Rights and They Organize a Strike-Pa's Success in a Wolf Hunt-The Strike is Put Down and the Indians Prepare to Burn Pa at the Stake.

Since Pa's experience in trying to kill a grizzly by making the animal chase him and die of heart disease, the chief has made Pa herd with the squaws, until he can prove that he is a brave man by some daring deed. The Indians wouldn't speak to him for a long time, so he decided to teach the squaws how to keep house in a civilized manner, and he began by trying to show them how to make buckwheat pancakes, so they could furnish something for the Indians to eat that does not have to be dug out of a tin can, which they draw from the Indian agent. Pa found a sack of buckwheat flour and some baking powder, and mixed up some batter, and while he was fixing a piece of tin roof for a griddle, the squaws drank the pancake batter raw, and it made them all sick, and the chief was going to have Pa burned at the stake, when the Carlisle Indian who had eaten pancakes at college when he was training with the football team, told the chief to let up on Pa and he would give them something to eat that was good, so Pa mixed some more batter and when the buckwheat pancakes began to bake, and the odor spread around among the Indians, they all gathered around, and the way they ate pancakes would paralyze you. They got some axle grease to spread on the pancakes, and fought with each other to get the pancakes, and they kept Pa baking pancakes all day and nearly all night, and then the squaws began to feel better, and Pa had to bake pancakes for them, and when the flour gave out the chief sent to the agency for more, and for a week pa did nothing but make pancakes, but finally the whole tribe got sick, and Pa had to prescribe raw beef for them, and they began to get better, and then they wanted Pa to go on a coyote hunt, and kill a kiota, which is a wolf, by jumping off his horse and taking the wolf by the neck and choking it to death. Pa said he killed a tom cat that way once, and he could kill any wolf that ever walked, so they arranged the hunt Before we went on the hunt pa sent to Cheyenne for two dozen little folding baby trundlers for the squaws to wheel the papooses in, 'cause he didn't like to see them tie the children on their backs and carry them around. Where the trundlers came Pa showed the squaws how they worked, by putting a papoose in one of the baby wagons, and pushing it around the camp, and by gosh, if they didn't make Pa wheel all the babies in the tribe, for two days, and the Indians turned out and gave the great father three cheers, but when the squaws wanted to get in the wagons and be wheeled around, Pa kicked. After teaching the squaws how to put the children in the wagons and work them, we went off on the hunt, and when we came back every squaw had her papoose in a baby wagon, but instead of wheeling the wagon in civilised fashion, they slung the wagons, babies and all, on their backs, and carried the whole thing on their backs. Gee, but that made Pa hot. He says you can't do anything with a race of people that haven't got brain enough to imitate. He says monkeys would know better than to carry baby wagons on their backs. I never thought that Indians could be jealous, but they are terrors when the jealousy germ begins to work. There is no doubt but that the squaws got to thinking a great deal of pa, 'cause he talked with them, through the Carlisle Indian for an interpreter, and as he sat on a camp chair and looked like a great white god with a red nose, and they gathered around him, and he told them stories of women in the east, and how they dressed and went to parties, and how the men worked for them that they might live in luxury, and how they had servants to do their cooking, and maids to dress them, and carriages to ride in, and lovers to slave for them, it is not to be wondered at that those poor creatures, who never had a kind word from their masters, and who were looked upon as lower than the dogs, should look upon Pa as the grandest man that ever lived, and I noticed, myself, that they gave him glances of love and admiration, and when they would snuggle up closer to pa, he would put his hand on their heads and pat their hair, and look into their big black eyes sort of tender, and pinch their brown cheeks, and chuck them under the chin, and tell them that the great father loved them, and that he hoped the time would come when every good Indian would look upon his squaw, the mother of his children, as the greatest boon that could be given to man, and that the now despised squaw would be placed on a pedestal and honored by all, and worshiped as she ought to be.

{Illustration: The Squaws Seemed to Be Worshiping Pa.}

That was all right enough, but Pa never ought to have gone so far as to advise them to strike for their rights, and refuse to be longer looked upon as beasts of burden, but demand recognition as equals, and refuse longer to be drudges. I could see that trouble was brewing, for every squaw insisted on kissing the great father, and then there came a baneful light in their eyes, and they drew away together and began to talk excitedly, and Pa said he guessed they were organizing a woman's rights union. Pa and the Carlisle Indian and I went out for a stroll in the forest, and were gone an hour or so, and Pa got tired and he and I went back to camp before the Carlisle Indian did, and when we got in sight of camp we could see by the commotion that the squaw strike was on, 'cause

the squaws were talking loud and the Indians were getting their guns and it looked like war. We crawled up close, and the squaws drew butcher knives and made a rush on the Indians, and the Indians weakened, and the squaws tied their hands and feet, and then the squaws had a war dance, and they told the Indians that they were now the bosses, and would hereafter run the affairs of the tribe, like white women did, and that the Indians must do the cooking, and do the work, while the squaws sat in the tents to be waited on, and that they would never do another stroke of hard work that an Indian could do. I never saw such a lot of scared Indians in my life, but when the squaws put the butcher knives to their necks, and looked fierce, and grabbed the Indians by the hair and looked as though they were going to scalp them, the Indians agreed to do all the work, and just then Pa and I came up, and the squaws hailed Pa as their deliverer, and they fell on his neck and hugged him, and they placed a camp chair for him, and put a tiger skin cloak around him, and a necklace of elk's teeth around his neck, and all kneeled down and seemed to be worshiping him, while the Indians looked on in the most hopeless manner, and then the Carlisle Indian came and said the squaws had made Pa the chief squaw of the tribe, and that the Indians had agreed to do the work hereafter. Pa counted the elk teeth on his necklace and figured that he could sell them for two dollars apiece, and pay the expenses of the trip. Then the squaws cut the strings that bound the Indians, and set them to work cooking dinner, and it was awful the way the spirit seemed to be knocked out of the Indians, just by a little rising on the part of the downtrodden squaws. The Indians cooked dinner, and waited on the squaws, and Pa and all of us whites, and after dinner the squaws ordered the horses and the squaws and us whites went off on a wolf hunt, with the dogs, where Pa was to show his bravery to the squaws instead of the Indians. The squaws gave Pa the old chief's horse, and the best one in the tribe, and leaving the chief to wash the dishes, and the Indians to clean up the camp, and clean some fish for supper, the victorious squaws with Pa at the head, and the rest of us whites on ponies, went out on the mesa and turned the dogs loose, and pretty soon they were after a wolf and Pa led out ahead on his racing pony, cheered by the yells of the squaws, and it was a fine race for about two miles. Pa and the cowboy and the big game hunter and I got ahead of the squaws, and after awhile we got up pretty near to the wolf, and the big game hunter said to pa: "Now, old man, is your chance to make yourself solid with the squaws. We will hold hack and when the dogs get the wolf surrounded you rush in and kill him or your name's Dennis." Pa said: "You watch my smoke, and see me eat that wolf alive." So we held up our horses, and let Pa go ahead. He rode up to the wolf, and I never saw a man with such luck as Pa had. Just as he got near the wolf and the animal showed his teeth, Pa tried to steer his horse away from the savage animal, but the horse stumbled in a prairie dog hole, and fell right on top of the wolf, crushing the life out of the animal, and throwing Pa over his head. Pa was stunned, but he soon came to, and when he realized that the wolf was dead, he grabbed the animal by the neck with one hand, and by the lower jaw with the other, and held on to it till the crowd came up, and when the squaws saw that Pa had killed the biggest wolf ever seen on the reservation, by rushing in single handed and choking the savage animal to death, they gave Pa an ovation that was enough to turn the head of any man. Us white fellows knew that Pa couldn't have been hired to go near that wolf until the horse fell on it and killed it, but we wanted to give Pa a reputation for bravery, and so we let the squaws compliment Pa and hug him, and make him think he was a holy terror. So they tied the wolf on the saddle in front of pa, and we all went back to camp, the squaws shouting for pa, and telling the Indians how the great white father had strangled the father of all wolves, and then the Indians served the fish supper, and all looked as though there had been a bloodless revolution, and that the squaws were in charge of the government, and Pa was "it," but I could see the Carlisle Indian whispering to the Indians, and it seemed to me I could see signs of an uprising, and when the Indians had the supper dishes washed, and all seemed going right, and the squaws were rejoicing at being emancipated, just as the sun was setting, every Indian pulled out a bull whip and began to lash the squaws to their tents, and some young braves grabbed Pa and removed the leopard skin cloak, and the elk's teeth necklace, and tied his hands and feet, and carried him into a circle made by the Indians. I asked the Carlisle Indian what was the matter, and he said, pointing to some wood that had been piled at the roots of a tree: "The great white father is going to be tried for inciting a rebellion among the squaws, and the chances are that before the sun shall rise tomorrow your old dad will be broiled, fricasseed and baked to a turn." I went up to Pa and said: "Gee, dad, but they are going to burn you at the stake," and Pa called the cowboy, and told him to ride to the military post and ask for a detail of soldiers to hurry up and put a stop to it, and then Pa said to me: "Hennery, it may look as though I was in a tight place, but I place my trust in the squaws and soldiers," and Pa rolled over to take a nap.

{Illustration: The Horse Stumbled, Throwing Pa Over His Head and Killing the Wolf}

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