He got a freight train outside the town and rode on and on. He says he rode on for weeks and weeks; but that’s his imagination. It must of been about three days, with spells of getting off for food and to get warmed when he was freezing, and be chased by these wild hill tribes when he had done the latter. It put a crimp into his sunny nature—all this armed pursuit of him. He says if he had been a Christian, and believed in only one God, he would never of come through alive, it taking about seventy-four or five of his own gods to protect him from these maddened savages. He had a continuous nightmare of harsh words and blows. He wondered they didn’t put him in jail; but it seemed like they only wanted to keep him going.
Of course it had to end. He got to Spokane finally and sneaked round to a friend that had a laundry; and this friend must of been a noble soul. He took in the outcast and nursed him with food and drink, and repeatedly washed his clothes. Wanting a ranch cook about that time, I got in touch with him through another cousin, who said this man wanted very much to go out into a safe country, and would never leave it because of unpleasantness in getting here.
It was ten days after he got there that I saw him first, and I’ll be darned if he was any human sachet, even then. But after hearing his story I knew that time would once more make him fit for human association. He told me his story with much feeling this time and he told it to me about once a week for three months after he got here—pieces of it at a time. It used to cheer me a lot. He was always remembering something new. He said he liked the great silence and peace of this spot.
You couldn’t tell him to this day that his belief about the savage hill tribes ain’t sound. He believes anything “can happen” in that country down there. Doctor Hong Foy never paid him the twenty-five, of course, though admitting that he would of done so if the animal had not escaped, because he was in such good condition, for a skunk, that he was worth twenty-five dollars of any doctor’s money. I don’t know. As I say, they’re friendly little critters; but it’s more money that I would actually pay for one.
Through two closed doors the whine of the fiddle still penetrated. Perhaps Lew Wee’s recent loss had moved him to play later than was his custom, pondering upon the curious whims that stir the gods when they start to make things happen. But he was still no cynic. Over and over he played the little air which means: “Life comes like a bird-song through the open windows of the heart.”
On a tired evening, in front of the Arrowhead’s open fire, I lived over for the hundredth time a great moment. From the big pool under the falls four miles up the creek I had landed the Big Trout. Others had failed in years past; I, too, had failed more than once. But to-day!