The War Chief

Chapter II


Edgar Rice Burroughs

THE YEARS rolled by—happy, exciting years for the little boy, whether sitting at the feet of Morning Star listening to the legends of their people, or learning of the ways of the sun and the moon and the stars and the storms, or praying to Usen for health, for strength, for wisdom, or for protection, or being hurried to safety when enemies attacked. The chase, the battle, the wild dances, fierce oaths, loving care, savage cruelties, deep friendships, hatred, vengeance, the lust for loot, hardship—bitter, bitter hardship—a little ease; were the influences that shaped the character of the growing boy.

Go-yat-thlay told him of the deeds of his forefathers—of Maco, the grandfather of Go-yat-thlay, who had been a great warrior and hereditary chief of the Ned-ni; of Delgadito and of Mangas Colorado. He taught him how make and use the bow and the arrow and the lance, and from fierce and terrible Go-yat-thlay, who was never fierce or terrible to him, he learned that it was his duty to kill the enemies of his people—to hate them, to torture them, to kill them—and that of all the enemies of the Shis-Inday the Mexicans were the most to be hated, and next to the Mexicans, the Americans.

At eight the boy was more proficient at trailing and hunting than a white man ever becomes, nor was he any mean marksman with his primitive weapons. Already he was longing to become a warrior. Often, while Go-yat-thlay talked to him, he sat and fondled the Spencer rifle that the chief had taken from a dead soldier, his fingers itching to press the trigger as he dropped the sights upon a soldier of the white-eyes.


It was in the spring of 1873 that a boy of ten, armed with bow and arrows, moved silently up a timbered canyon along the headwaters of the Gila. He was almost naked, but for loincloth and moccasins. A strip of soft buckskin, which the loving hands of Sons-ee-ah-ray had made beautiful with colored beads, bound his brow and his straight, black hair. In a quiver of mountain lion skin he carried his arrows behind his left shoulder. He was tall for his age very straight, his skin was reddish-brown of that wondrous texture that belongs to the skin of healthy childhood; his movments were all grace, like those of a panther.

A mile below him, upon the rocky spur of the mountains, lay the camp of his people, the Be-don-ko-he Apaches, and with them were the Cho-kon-en and the Ned-ni. The boy played that he was a scout, sent out by the great Cochise, to spy upon the enemy. Thus always, surounded by a world of stern realities, he in a world of make-believe that was even sterner—so is it with children.

The boy was alone in mountains filled with dangerous beasts—panthers, lions, bears; and a country filled with dangerous enemies—white men; but he was not afraid. Fear was not one of the things that he had not been taught by Morning Star or Go-yat-thlay.

The fragrance of the cedar was in his nostrils, the thin, pure mountain air filled his growing lungs and imparted to his whole being an exhilaration that was almost intoxication. If ever there was joy in life it belonged to this chief’s son.

He turned a rocky shoulder that jutted across the narrow trail, and came face to face with shoz-dijiji, the black bear. Fear he had not been taught, but caution he had. He had learned that only a fool risks his life where there is nothing to be gained by the hazard. Perhaps the ancient Caledonian warriors from whose loins his seed had sprung had not learned this—who knows? At any rate the boy did not seek safety in retreat. He stopped and fitted an arrow to his bow, at the same time placing two more arrows between the second and third and third and fourth fingers of his right hand, ready for instant use. The bear had stopped in his tracks and stood eyeing the boy. He was of a mind to run away, but when the bow twanged and a piece of sharpened quartz tore into his neck where it joined his left shoulder he became suddenly a terrible engine of revengeful destruction, and voicing thunderously growl after growl, he rushed upon the boy with open jaws and snarling face. The lad knew that now it was too late to retreat and his second arrow, following close upon the first, sank even deeper into the bear’s neck, and the third, just as Shoz-dijiji reared upon his hind legs to seize him, entered between the ribs under the foreleg. Then the black bear was upon him and together the two toppled from the narrow trail and rolled down among the cedars growing below. They did not roll far—fifteen feet, perhaps—when they were brought up by the bole of a tree. The boy hit with his head and lost consciousness. It was several minutes before the lad opened his eyes. Beside him lay the dead body of shoz-dijiji; the last arrow had penetrated his savage heart. The son of Go-yat-thlay sat up and a broad smile illumined his face. He rose to his feet and executed a war dance around the body of his vanquished foe, bending to the right and left, backward and forward until his body was parallel with the ground; now leaping high in air, now stepping with measured tread, he circled the dead bear time and time again. Fierce shouts rose to his lips, but he held them in check for he knew that the white soldiers were searching for his people.

Suddenly he stopped dancing and looked down at shoz-dijiji, and then glanced back along the trail toward the camp that was out of sight beyond the many turns of the winding canyon. Then he stooped and tried to lift the bear; but his young muscles were not equal to the effort. Withdrawing his arrows from the bear’s body and recovering his bow he clambered to the trail and set off at a brisk trot toward camp. He was sore and lame and his head ached, but what matter? Never had he been more happy.

As he entered the camp he was discovered by some playing children. “Come, son of Go-yat-thlay!” they cried. “Come and play with us!” But the son of Go-yat-thlay passed them haughtily. He went directly to where several warriors were squatting, smoking, and waited until they noticed him.

“Where is Go-yat-thlay?” he asked.

One of the warriors jerked a thumb down the canyon. “Go-yat-thlay hunts antelope in the valley,” he said.

“I, the son of Go-yat-thlay,” said the boy, “have killed shoz-dijiji. I, alone, shee-dah, have done this thing; but alone I cannot bring in my kill. Therefore will you, Natch-in-ilk-kisn, come and help bring in the body of shoz-dijijl, yah-tats-an?”

“You no kill shoz-dijiji, you lie,” said Natch-in-ilk-kisn. “You only little ish-kay-nay.”

The lad drew himself up to his full height. “The son of Go-yat-thlay, the chief, does not lie—to his friends,” he added. Then he pointed to the scratches and the blood upon him. “Think you I got these playing tag with the other children?” he asked.” The meat of shoz-dijiji is good. Would Natch-in-ilk-kisn rather have the wolf, the coyote and the vulture eat it than to eat it himself?”

The warrior rose. “Come, little ish-kay-nay,” he said, laughing. “Natch-in-ilk-kisn joked. He will go with you.”

That night was a proud night for the son of Go-yat-thlay; for at the age of ten he had killed big game and won a name for himself. Henceforth he was to be known to man as Shoz-Dijiji, and not just as ish-kay-nay—boy. He had had a name for a long time of course, but, also of course, no one ever mentioned it in his presence, since if the bad spirits ever learned his name they could, and undoubtedly would, cause him a great deal of trouble, even to sickness and death.

Go-yat-thlay was not Go-yat-thlay’s name either, for he too, as all other Apaches, had a secret name that was really his though no one ever used it; and though he lived to be eighty years old and was better known all over the world than any Indian who ever lived, with the possible exception of the Sioux medicine man, Sitting Bull, yet to this day no white man knows what his name was, and few indeed were those who knew him even as Go-yat-thlay. By another name was he known, a name that the Mexicans gave him, a name that held in fear and terror a territory into which could have been dumped the former German Empire and all of Greece, and still had plenty of room to tuck away Rhode Island—Geronimo.

That night Go-yat-thlay was proud, too, for Shoz-Dijiji was all that the proudest Apache father could expect of any son; and according to the custom of the Apaches the boy was as much the son of Go-yat-thlay as though he had been the blood of his own blood.

Before the lad was sent to bed he sat at the knee of the grim chieftain and the man stroked the boy’s head. “You will be a brave in no time, Shoz-Dijiji,” he said. “You will be a warrior and a great one. Then you can go forth and spread terror among the pindah lickoyee, slaying them where you find them.”

“You hate the white-eyes,” said Shoz-Dijiji. “They are men like we; they have arms and legs, as do we, and they walk and talk. Why do they fight us? Why do we hate them?”

“Many years ago they came into our country and we treated them well,” replied Go-yat-thlay. “There were bad men among them, but also there are bad men among the Apaches. Not all men are good. If we killed their bad men then they killed us. If some of our bad men killed some of them they tried to punish all of us, not seeking out just the bad men among us who had made the trouble; they killed us all, men, women and children, where they found us. They hunted us as they would wild beasts.

“They took away our lands that Usen gave us. We were told that we could not hunt where our fathers had hunted since the beginning of the world; where we had always hunted. But they hunted there, where they would. They made treaties with us and broke them. The white-eyed men do not keep their promises and they are very treacherous. I will tell you now of just a single instance that you may not forget the perfidy of the white man and that you may hate him the more. This happened many years ago, while Mangas Colorado was still living.

“Some of the chiefs of the white soldiers invited us to a council at Apache Pass. Mangas Colorado, with many others, went, believing in the good intentions of the white chiefs. Just before noon they were all invited into a tent where they were told that they would be given food, but instead they were set upon by the white soldiers. Mangas Colorado drew his knife and cut his way through the side of the tent, as did several other warriors, but many were killed and captured.

“Among the Be-don-ko-hes killed then were San-za, Kia-de-ta- he, Ni-yo-ka-he and Go-pi. Remember these names and when you see a white man think of them and revenge them.”

It was another day. The squaws brewed tizwin. In a group sat the warriors and the chiefs. Go-yat-thlay was still boasting about the exploit of his little Shoz-Dijiji.

“He will make a great warrior,” said he to Cochise, hereditary chief of the Cho-kon-en and war chief of all the Apaches. “I knew it from the first, for when he was taken from the wagon of his people he did not cry, although Juh dragged him out by one leg and held him with his head down. He did not cry then; he has never cried since.”

“He is the child of the white man,” growled Juh. “He should have been killed.”

“He looked like one of us, like a Shis-Inday,” replied Go-yat-thlay. “Long time after I learned at the agency, when we had come back from Sonora, that his mother was a white woman.”

“You know it now,” said Juh.

A terrible expression crossed the cruel face of Go-yat-thlay. He leaped to his feet, whipping out his knife as he arose. “You talk much, Juh, of killing Shoz-Dijiji,” he said in a low voice. “Ten times have the rains come since first you would have killed him and you are still talking about it. Now you may kill him; but first you must kill Go-yat-thlay!”

Juh stepped back, scowling. “I do not wish to kill Shoz-Dijiji,” he said.

“Then keep still. You talk too much—like an old woman. You are not Naliza; when Naliza talks he says something.” Go-yat-thlay slipped his knife into his belt and squatted again upon his heels. With silver tweezers he plucked the hairs from about his mouth. Cochise and Naliza laughed, but Juh sat there frowning. Juh that terrible man who was already coming to be known as “the butcher.”

Shoz-Dijiji, from the interior of his father’s hut, heard this talk among his elders and when Go-yat-thlay sprang to his feet and Shoz-Dijiji thought that blood would be spilled he stepped from the doorway, in his hands a mesquite bow and a quartz-tipped arrow. His straight, black hair hung to his shoulders, his brown hide was sun-tanned to a shade even deeper than many of his full-blood Apache fellows. The trained muscles of his boyish face gave no hint of what emotions surged within him as he looked straight into Juh’s eyes.

“You lie, Juh,” he said; “I am not a white-eyes. I am the son of Go-yat-thlay. Say that I am not a white, Juh!” and he raised his arrow to a level with the warrior’s breast.

“Say that he is not white or Shoz-Dijiji will kill you!”

Cochise and Naliza and Go-yat-thlay, grinning, looked at Juh and then back at Shoz-Dijiji. They saw the boy bend the bow and then Cochise interfered.

“Enough!” he said. “Go back to the women and the children, where you belong.”

The boy lowered his weapon. “Cochise is chief,” he said. “Shoz-Dijiji obeys his chief. But Shoz-Dijiji has spoken; some day he will be a warrior and then he will kill Juh.” He turned and walked away.

“Do not again tell him that he is white,” said Cochise to Juh. “Some day soon he will be a warrior and if he thinks that he is white it will make his heart like water against the enemies of our people.”

Shoz-Dijiji did not return to the women and children. His heart was in no mood for play nor for any of the softer things of life. Instead he walked alone out of the camp and up a gaunt, parched canyon. He moved as noiselessly as his own shadow. His eyes, his ears, his nostrils were keenly alert, as they ever were, for Shoz-Dijiji was playing a game that he always played even when he seemed to be intent upon other things—he was hunting the white soldiers. Sometimes, with the other boys, he played that they were raiding a Mexican rancheria, but this sport afforded him no such thrill as did the stalking of the armed men who were always hunting his people.

He had seen the frightened peons huddled in their huts, or futilely running to escape the savage, painted warriors who set upon them with the fury of demons; he had seen the women and children shot, or stabbed, or led to death with the men; he had seen all—without any answering qualm of pity; but it had not thrilled him as had the skirmishes the soldiers of Mexico and the United—ah, there was something worthy the mettle of a great warrior!

From infancy he had listened to the stories of the deeds of the warriors of his people. He had hung breathless upon the exploits of Victorio, of Mangas Colorado, of Cochise. For over three hundred years his people had been at war with the whites; their lands had been stolen, their warriors, their women and their children had been ruthlessly murdered; they had been treated with treachery; they had been betrayed by false promises.

Shoz-Dijiji had been taught to look upon the white man not only as a deadly enemy, but as a coward and a liar; even as a traitor to his fellow whites, for it was not unknown to this little Apache boy that there were many white men who made a living selling rifles and ammunition to the Indians while their own troops were in the field against them. It was no wonder Shoz-Dijiji held the whites in contempt, or that to be called white was the bitterest insult that could be placed upon him.

Today, as he moved silently up the sun-scorched canyon he was thinking of these things and listening, listening, always listening. Perhaps he would hear the distant thud of iron-shod hoofs, the clank of a saber, and be the first to warn his people of the approaching enemy. He knew that there were scouts far afield—eagled-eyed men, past whom not even klij-litzogue, the yellow snake, could glide unseen; yet he loved to dream, for he was a boy.

The dreaming that Shoz-Dijiji practiced did not dull his senses; on the contrary it was thus that he made them more alert, for he lived his dreams, rehearsing always the part of the great warrior that he hoped some day to play upon the stage of life, winning the plaudits of his fellows.

And so it was that now he saw something behind a little bush a hundred feet away, although the thing had not moved or otherwise betrayed its presence. For an instant Shoz-Dijiji became a bronze statue, then very slowly he raised his mesquite bow as he strung his quartz-tipped arrow. With the twang of the string the arrow leaped to its mark and after it came Shoz-Dijiji. He had not waited to see if he had made a hit; he knew that he had, also he knew what had been hiding behind the bush and so he was not surprised nor particuliarly elated when he picked up ka-chu, the jack rabbit, with an arrow through its heart; but it was not ka-chu that he saw—it was the big chief of the white soldiers. Thus played Shoz-Dijiji, the Apache boy.

As he came into camp later in the afternoon be saw Cochise squatting in the shadow of his hut with several of the men of the village. There were women, too, and all were laughing and talking. It was not a council, so Shoz-Dijiji dared approach and speak to the great chief.

There was that upon the boy’s mind that disturbed him—he wished it settled once and for all—yet he trembled a little as he approached this company of his elders. Like all the other boys he stood in awe of Cochise and he also dreaded the ridicule of the men and women. He came and stood silently for what seemed a long time, looking straight at Cochise until the old chieftain noticed him.

“Shoz-Dijiji is a little boy,” said the lad, “and Cochise is a great chief; he is the father of his people; he is full of wisdom and true are the words that he speaks. Juh has said that Shoz-Dijiji is white. Shoz-Dijiji would rather be dead than white. The great chief can speak and say if Shoz-Dijiji be a true Apache that after this Juh may keep a still tongue in his head.”

Cochise arose and placed his hand on the boy’s head and looked down upon him. A fierce and terrible old man was this great war chief of the Apaches; yet with his own people and more often with children was his heart soft, and, too, he was a keen judge of men and of boys.

He saw that this boy possessed in a degree equal to his own a pride of blood that would make of him a stalwart defender of his own kind, an implacable enemy of the common foe. Year by year the fighting forces of the Apache were dwindling, to lose even one for the future was a calamity. He looked up from the boy and turned his eyes upon his warriors.

“If there be any doubt,” he said, “let the words of Cochise dispel it forever—Shoz-Dijiji is as true an Apache as Cochise. Let there be no more talk,” and he looked directly at Juh. “I have spoken.”

The muscles of Juh’s cruel face gave no hint of the rage and malice surging through his savage breast, but Shoz-Dijiji, the Black Bear, was not deceived. He well knew the relentless hatred that the war chief had conceived for him since the day that Go-yat-thlay had thwarted Juh’s attempt to dash out his infant brains against the tire of his murdered father’s wagon, even though the lad knew nothing of the details of that first encounter and had often wondered why Juh should hate him.

As a matter of fact Juh’s hatred of the boy was more or less impersonal, in so far as Shoz-Dijiji was concerned, being rather a round-a-bout resentment against Go-yat-thlay, whom he feared and of whose fame and prestige he was jealous; for Go-yat-thlay, who was one day to become world famous by his Mexican-given name, Geronimo, had long been a power in the war councils of the Apaches; further, too, the youngest and prettiest of his squaws had also been the desired of Juh. It was she who had the care of Shoz-Dijiji; it was she, Morning Star, who lavished love upon the boy. To strike at the woman who had spurned him and the man who had inflamed his envy and jealousy, Juh bided his time until he might, with impunity, wreak his passion upon the lad.

Now no one had time for thoughts of anger or revenge, for tonight was to be a great night in the camp of Cochise the war chief. For two days the bucks had eaten little or nothing in preparation for the great event; the women had brewed the tizwin; the drums were ready. Night fell. Before the entrance to his hogan stood Go-yat-thlay with his women and his children. From a beaded buckskin bag he took a pinch of hoddentin and cast it toward the moon.

“Gun-ju-le, chil-jilt; si-chi-zi, gun-ju-le; inzayu, ijanale! Be good, O Night; Twilight, be good; do not let me die!” he cried, and the women prayed: “Gun-ju-le, klego-na- ay—be good, O Moon!”

Darkness deepened. Lured by the twinkling fires of the Chihuicahuis myriad stars crept from their hiding places. The purple hills turned to silver. A coyote voiced his eerie wail and was answered by the yapping pack within the camp. A drum boomed low. A naked warrior, paint-streaked—yellow, vermillion, white, blue—moved into a slow dance. Presently others joined him, moving more rapidly to the gradually increased tempo of the drums. Firelight glistened upon sweat-sreaked bodies. The squaws, watching, moved restlessly, the spell of the dance was taking its hold upon them.

That night the warriors drank deep of the tizwin the women had brewed, and as little Black Bear lay in his blankets he heard the shouting, the wild laughter, the fighting and dreamed of the day when he, too, should be a warrior and be able to sit up and drink tizwin and dance and fight; but most of all he wanted to fight the white man, not his own people.

Stealing the brains of the warriors was the tizwin until their actions were guided only by stark brutish germ of savagery. Thus it came that Juh, seeing Go-yat-thlay, bethought himself of Shoz-Dijiji and his hate. Leaving the firelight and the revellers, Juh moved quietly through the outer shadows toward the hogan of Go-yat-thlay.

Black Bear lay wide awake, listening to the alluring, savage sounds that came to him through the open doorway that similarly revealed to his childish eyes occasional glimpses of the orgy. Suddenly, in the opening, the figure of a man was silhouetted against the glimmering firelight beyond. Shoz-Dijiji recognized Juh instantly and, too, the knife grasped in the war chief’s sinewy hand and knew why he had come.

Beside the child lay the toys of a primitive boy—toys today, the weapons of the coming warrior tomorrow. He reached forth and seized his bow and an arrow. Juh, coming from the lesser darkness without, was standing in the doorway accustoming his eyes to the gloom of the hogan’s interior.

Keen-eared savage that he was he heard no sound, for Shoz-Dijiji, too, was a savage and he made no sound—not until his bow-string twanged; but that was too late for Juh to profit by it as already a quartz-tipped shaft had torn into his right hand and his knjfe had slipped from nerveless fingers to the ground.

With a savage Apache oath he leaped forward, but still he could not see well in the darkness, and so it was that Black Bear slipped past him and was out of the hut before Juh could seize him. A dozen paces away the boy halted and wheeled about.

“Come out, Juh,” he cried, “and Shoz-Dijiji will kill you! Come out, gut of a coyote, and Shoz-Dijiji will feed your heart to the dogs.” Shoz-Dijiji said other things, that are printable, but Juh did not come out, for he knew that the boy was voicing no vain boast.

An hour passed and Juh was thinking hard, for the effects of the tizwin had lessened under the stress of his predicament. Suppose the squaws should return and find him held prisoner here by a boy—he would be laughed out of camp. The thought sobered him completely.

“Juh had it not in his heart to harm Shoz-Dijiji,” he said in a conciliatory tone. “He did but joke.”

“Ugh!” grunted Black Bear. “Juh speaks lies.”

“Let Juh come out and he will never harm Shoz-Dijiji again,” dickered the chief.

“Juh has not yet harmed Shoz-Dijiji,” mocked the lad in whose mind was slowly awakening a thought suggested by Juh’s offer. Why not make capital of his enemy’s predicament? “Shoz-Dijiji will let you go,” he said, “if you will promise never to harm him again—and give him three ponies.”

“Never!” cried the chief.

“The women and the children will laugh at you behind their hands when they hear of this,” the boy reminded him.

For a moment Juh was silent. “It shall be as Shoz-Dijiji says,” he growled presently, “so long as no one knows of this thing that has just happened, other than Juh and Shoz-Dijiji. Juh has spoken—that is all!”

“Come forth, then, Juh, and go your way,” said the boy; “but remember they must be good ponies.”

He stood aside as the warrior strode from the hogan, and he was careful to stand out of the man’s reach and to keep his weapon in readiness, for after all he had no great confidence in the honor of Juh.

The War Chief - Contents    |     Chapter III - Yah-Ik-Tee

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