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Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land, Complete

Page: 207

Catching up the Spaniard, the Indian tied him to the back of a horse and set off beside him. Thus they journeyed until they came to his lodge, where he released the trader from his horse and fed him, but kept his hands and legs hard bound, and paid no attention to his questions and his appeals for liberty. Tying a strong and half-trained horse at his door, Ta-in-ga-ro placed a wooden saddle on him, cut off the Spaniard's clothes, and put him astride of the beast. After he had fastened him into his seat with deer-skin thongs, he took Zecana's corpse from its wrapping and tied it to his prisoner, face to face.

Then, loosing the horse, which was plunging and snorting to be rid of his burden, he saw him rush off on the limitless desert, and followed on his own strong steed. At first the Spaniard fainted; on recovering he struggled to get free, but his struggles only brought him closer to the ghastly thing before him. Noon-day heat covered him with sweat and blood dripped from the wales that the cords cut in his flesh. At night he froze uncovered in the chill air, and, if for an instant his eyes closed in sleep, a curse, yelled into his ear, awoke him. Ta-inga-ro gave him drink from time to time, but never food, and so they rode for days. At last hunger overbore his loathing, and sinking his teeth into the dead flesh before him he feasted like a ghoul.

Still they rode, Ta-in-ga-ro never far from his victim, on whose sufferings he gloated, until a gibbering cry told him that the Spaniard had gone mad. Then, and not till then, he drew rein and watched the horse with its dead and maniac riders until they disappeared in the yellow void. He turned away, but nevermore sought his home. To and fro, through the brush, the sand, the alkali of the plains, go the ghost riders, forever.





THE DIVISION OF TWO TRIBES

When white men first penetrated the Western wilderness of America they found the tribes of Shoshone and Comanche at odds, and it is a legend of the springs of Manitou that their differences began there. This "Saratoga of the West," nestling in a hollow of the foot-hills in the shadow of the noble peak of Pike, was in old days common meeting-ground for several families of red men. Councils were held in safety there, for no Indian dared provoke the wrath of the manitou whose breath sparkled in the "medicine waters." None? Yes, one. For, centuries ago a Shoshone and a Comanche stopped here on their return from a hunt to drink. The Shoshone had been successful; the Comanche was empty handed and ill tempered, jealous of the other's skill and fortune. Flinging down the fat deer that he was bearing homeward on his shoulders, the Shoshone bent over the spring of sweet water, and, after pouring a handful of it on the ground, as a libation to the spirit of the place, he put his lips to the surface. It needed but faint pretext for his companion to begin a quarrel, and he did so in this fashion: "Why does a stranger drink at the spring-head when one of the owners of the fountain contents himself with its overflow? How does a Shoshone dare to drink above me?"


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