Luis Rojas Talks
From: The Heritage Of The Sioux
Three days of hiding by day in sequestered little groves or deep, hidden
canons, with only Luis Rojas to bear her company--Luis Rojas whom she
did not trust and therefore watched always from under her long straight
lashes, with oblique glances when she seemed to be gazing straight
before her; three nights of tramping through rough places where often
the horses must pause and feel carefully for space to set their feet.
Roads there were, but Luis avoided roads as though they carried the
plague. When he must cross one he invariably turned back and brushed out
their footprints--until he discovered that Annie-Many-Ponies was much
cleverer at this than he was; often he smoked a cigarette while Annie
covered their trail. Three days and three nights, and Ramon was not
there where they stopped for the third day.
"We go slow," Luis explained nervously because of the look in the
black, unreadable eyes of this straight, slim Indian girl who was
so beautiful--and so silent. "They go muy fas', Ramon an' Beel. Poco
tiempo--sure, we fin' dem little soon."
Annie-Many-Ponies did not betray by so much as a quiver of an eyelash
that Luis had mentioned Bill unwittingly. But she hid the name away in
her memory, and all that day she sat and pondered over the meager facts
that had come her way, and with the needle of her suspicion she wove
them together patiently until the pattern was almost complete.
Ramon and Bill--what Bill, save Bill Holmes, would be with Ramon?
Ramon and Bill Holmes--memory pictured them again by the rock in the
moonlight, muttering in Spanish mostly, muttering mystery always. Ramon
and Bill Holmes she remembered the sly, knowing glances between these
two at "location" though they scarcely seemed on speaking terms. Ramon
and Bill and this mysterious night-travelling, when there should be no
trouble and no mystery at all beyond the house of the priest! So much
trouble over the marriage of an Indian girl and a young Mexican cattle
king? Annie-Many-Ponies was not so stupid as to believe that; she had
seen too much of civilization in her wanderings with the show, and her
work in pictures. She had seen man and maid "make marriage," in pictures
and in reality. There should be no trouble, no mysterious following of
Ramon by night.
Something evil there was, since Bill Holmes was with Ramon.
Annie-Many-Ponies knew that it was so. Perhaps--perhaps the evil was
against Wagalexa Conka! Perhaps--her heart forgot to beat when the
thought stabbed her brain--perhaps they had killed Wagalexa Conka! It
might be so, if he had suspected her flight and had followed Ramon, and
they had fought.
In the thick shade of a pinon Luis slept with his face to the ground,
his forehead pressed upon his folded arms. Annie-Many-Ponies got up
silently and went and stood beside him, looking down at him as though
she meant to wrest the truth from his brain. And Luis, feeling in his
sleep the intensity of her gaze, stirred uneasily, yawned and sat up,
looking about him bewilderedly. His glance rested on the girl, and he
sprang to his feet and faced her.
Annie-Many-Ponies smiled her little, tantalizing, wistfully inviting
smile--the smile which luck bad whimsically called heart-twisting.
"I awful lonesome," she murmured, and sat down with her back nestling
comfortably against a grassy bank. "You talk. I not lets you sleep all
time. You think I not good for talk to?"
"Me, I not tell w'at I'm theenk," Luis retorted with a crooning note,
and sat down facing her. "Ramon be mad me."
Annie-Many-Ponies looked at him, her eyes soft and heavy with that
languorous look which will quickest befuddle the sense of a man. "You
tell; Ramon not hear," she hinted. "Ramon, he got plenty trobles for
thinking about." She smiled again. "Ramon plenty long ways off. He got
Bill Holmes for talking to. You talk to me."
How he did it, why he did it, Luis Rojas could never explain afterwards.
Something there was in her smile, in her voice, that bewitched him.
Something there was that made him think she knew and approved of
the thing Ramon had planned. He made swift, Spanish love to
Annie-Many-Ponies, who smiled upon him but would not let him touch her
hand--and so bewitched him the more. He made love--but also he talked.
He told Annie-Many-Ponies all that she wished him to tell; and some
things that she had never dreamed and that she shrank from hearing.
For he told her of the gold they had stolen, and how they had made it
look as though Luck Lindsay had planned the theft. He told her that
he loved her--which did not interest her greatly--and he told her that
Ramon would never marry her--which was like a knife thrust to her soul.
Ramon had many loves, said Luis, and he was true to none; never would he
marry a woman to rule his life and make him trouble--it were easier to
make love and then laugh and ride away. Luis was "muy s'prised"
that Annie-Many-Ponies had ever believed that Ramon would marry
her, beautiful though she was, charming though she was, altogether
irresistible though she was--Luis became slightly incoherent here and
lapsed into swift rolling Spanish words which she did not understand.
Luis, before the sun went down and it was time to eat supper and go on,
became so thoroughly bewitched that he professed himself eager to let
his share of the gold go, and to take Annie-Many-Ponies to a priest and
marry her--if she wished very much to be married by a priest. In the
middle of his exaltation, Annie-Many-Ponies chilled him with the look
she gave him.
"You big fool," she told him bluntly. "I not so fool like that. I go to
Ramon--and plenty gold! I think you awful fool. You make me tired!"
Luis was furious enough for a minute to do her violence--but
Annie-Many-Ponies killed that impulse also with the cold contempt in her
eyes. She was not afraid of him, and like an animal he dared not strike
where he could not inspire fear. He muttered a Mexican oath or two and
went mortifiedly away to lead the horses down to the little stream where
they might drink. The girl was right--he was a fool, he told himself
angrily; and sulked for hours.
Fool or not, he had told Annie-Many-Ponies what she wanted to know. He
had given food to her brooding thoughts--food that revived swiftly and
nourished certain traits lying dormant in her nature, buried alive under
the veneer of white man's civilization--as we are proud to call it.
The two ate in silence, and in silence they saddled the horses and
fared forth again in their quest of Ramon--who had the gold which
Annie-Many-Ponies boldly asserted was an added lure. "The monee--always
the man wins that has muchos monee." Luis muttered often to himself as
he rode into the dusk. Behind him Annie-Many-Ponies walked and led the
black horse that bore all her worldly possessions bound to the saddle.
The little black dog padded patiently along at his heels.
Next: Wagalexa Conka Cola!
Previous: Peace Talk