“This time he paused a long while before he replied.
“‘I had dreams,’ said he, ’many dreams, and they were splendid; but you told me that dreams were out of place in a Sioux, so I forgot them, along with all the things I had learned. It is better so.’
“Alicia Harman called me in a voice which I did not recognize, so I shook hands with Running Elk and turned away. He bowed his head and slunk back through the tepee door, back into the heart of his people, back into the past, and with him went my experiment. Since then I have never meddled with the gods nor given them cause to laugh at me.”
The doctor arose and stretched himself, then he entered his tent for a match. The melancholy pulse of the drums and the minor-keyed chant which issued out of the night sounded like a dirge sung by a dying people.
“What became of Running Elk?” I inquired.
The old man answered from within. “That was he I asked about the horse-races. He’s the man you couldn’t understand, who wouldn’t talk to you. He’s nearly an Indian again. Alicia Harman married a duke.”
The last place I locked wheels with Mike Butters was in Idaho. I’d just sold a silver-lead prospect and was proclaimin’ my prosperity with soundin’ brass and ticklin’ symbols. I was tuned up to G and singin’ quartettes with the bartender—opery buffet, so to speak—when in Mike walked. It was a bright morning out-side and I didn’t reco’nize him at first against the sunlight.
“Where’s that cholera-morbus case?” said he.
“Stranger, them ain’t sounds of cramps,” I told him. “It’s me singin’ ‘Hell Amongst the Yearlin’s.’” Then I seen who he was and I fell among him.
When we’d abated ourselves I looked him over.
“What you doin’ in all them good clothes?” I inquired.
“I’m a D.D.S.”
“Do tell! All I ever took was the first three degrees. Gimme the grip and the password and I’ll believe you.”
“That ain’t a Masonic symbol,” said he. “I’m a dentist—a bony fido dentist, with forceps and a little furnace and a gas-bag and a waitin’-rooms”. He swelled up and bit a hang-nail off of his cigar.
“Yep! A regular toothwright.”
Naturally I was surprised, not to say awed. “Have you got much of a practice?” I made bold to ask.
“Um-m—It ain’t what it ought to be, still I can’t complain. It takes time to work into a fashionable clienteel. All I get a whack at now is Injuns, but I’m gradually beginnin’ to close in on the white teeth.”
Now this was certainly news to me, for Mike was a foot-racer, and a good one, too, and the last time I’d seen him he didn’t know nothing about teeth, except that if you ain’t careful they’ll bite your tongue. I figured he was lyin’, so I said:
“Where did you get your degree—off of a thermometer?”