At last he came to a conclusion and with stern set face he issued a few short orders to his companions. The canteens were refilled. Kut-le lifted Rhoda and the trail was taken to the west. Alchise would have relieved him of his burden, willingly, but Kut-le would not listen to it. Molly trotted anxiously by the young Apache’s side, constantly moistening the girl’s lips with water.
Rhoda was quite delirious now. She murmured and sometimes sobbed, trying to free herself from Kut-le’s arms.
“I’m not sick!” she said, looking up into the Indian’s face with unseeing eyes. “Don’t let him see that I am sick!”
“No! No! Dear one!” answered Kut-le.
“Don’t let him see I’m sick!” she sobbed. “He hurts me so!”
“No! No!” exclaimed Kut-le huskily. “Molly, give her a little more water!”
“Molly!” panted Rhoda, “you tell him how hard I worked—how I earned my way a little! And don’t let him do anything for me!”
THE TURN IN THE TRAIL
The little group, trudging the long difficult trail along the mountain was a rich study in degrees: Rhoda, the fragile Caucasian, a product of centuries of civilization; and Kut-le, the Indian, with the keenness, the ferocious courage, the cunning of the Indian leavened inextricably with the thousand softening influences of a score of years’ contact with civilization; then Cesca, the lean and stoical product of an ancient and terrible savagery; and Alchise, her mate. Finally Molly—squat, dirty Molly—the stupid, squalid aborigine, as distinct from Cesca’s type as is the brown snail from the stinging wasp.
Alchise, striding after his chief, was smitten with a sudden idea. After ruminating on it for some time, he communicated it to his squaw. Cesca shook her head with a grunt of disapproval. Alchise insisted and the squaw looked at Kut-le cunningly.
“Quien sabe?” she said at last.
At this Alchise hurried forward and touched Kut-le on the shoulder.
“Take ’em squaw to Reservation. Medicine dance. Squaw heap sick. Sabe?”
“Reservation’s too far away,” replied Kut-le, shifting Rhoda’s head to lie more easily on his arm. “I’m making for Chira.”
Alchise shook his head vigorously.
“Too many mens! We go Reservation. Alchise help carry sick squaw.”
“Nope! You’re way off, Alchise. I’m going where I can get some white man’s medicine the quickest. I’m not so afraid of getting caught as I am of her getting a bad run of fever. I have friends at Chira.”
Alchise fell back, muttering disappointment. White man’s medicine was no good. He cared little about Rhoda but he adored Kut-le. It was necessary therefore that the white squaw be saved, since his chief evidently was quite mad about her. All the rest of the day Alchise was very thoughtful. Late at night the next halt was made. High up in the mountain on a sheltered ledge Kut-le laid down his burden.