TELL you that fellow is an Indian! You can’t fool
me! Look at the way he walks! He doesn’t step;
he pads like a panther!”
Billy ceased speaking, but still
pointed an excited forefinger along the half-obliterated
buffalo trail that swung up the prairie, out of the
southern horizon. The two boys craned their necks, watching
the coming figure, that advanced at a half-trot, half-stride.
Billy was right. The man seemed to be moving on cushioned
feet. Nothing could give that slow, springing swing
except a moccasin.
“Any man is welcome,”
almost groaned little Jerry, “but, oh, how much
more welcome an Indian man, eh, Billy?”
“You bet!” said
Billy. “He’ll show us a way out of this.
Yes, he’s Indian. I can see his long hair now.
Look! I can see the fringe up the sleeves of his shirt;
it is buckskin!”
“Do you think he sees
us?” questioned Jerry.
Billy laughed contemptuously.
“Sees us! Why, he saw us long before we saw him,
you can bet on that!”
Then Billy raised his arm, and
whirled about his head the big bandanna handkerchief
which he had snatched from his neck. The man responded
to the signal by lifting aloft for a single instant
his open palm with fingers outstretched.
“Yes, he’s Indian!
A white man would have wiggled his wrist at us!”
sighed Jerry contentedly. “He’ll help us
out, Billy. There’s nothing he won’t know
how to [Page 113] do!” And the
little boy’s eyes grew moist with the relief of
knowing help was at last at hand.
Ten minutes more and the man
slowed up beside them. He was a tall, splendidly made
Cree, with eyes like jewels and hands as slender and
small as a woman’s.
“You savvy English?”
the Indian, never looking at Billy, but keeping his
wonderful eyes on the outstretched figure, the pallid
face, of young Jerry, whose forehead was wrinkled with
“We have met with an accident,”
explained Billy. “My little brother’s horse
loped into a badger hole and broke its leg. I had to
shoot it.” Here Billy’s voice choked, and
his fingers touched the big revolver at his belt. “My
brother was thrown. He landed badly; something’s
wrong with his ankle, his leg; he can’t walk;
can’t go on, even on my horse. It happened over
there, about two miles.” Here Billy pointed across
the prairie to where a slight hump showed where the
dead horse lay. “I got him over here,” he
continued, looking about at the scrub poplar and cottonwood
trees, “where there was shelter and slough water,
but he can’t go on. Our father is Mr. MacIntyre,
the Hudson’s Bay Factor at Fort o’ Farewell.”
As Billy ceased speaking the
Indian kneeled beside Jerry, feeling with tender fingers
his hurts. As the dark hand touched his ankle, the boy
screamed and cried out, “Oh, don’t! Oh,
don’t!” The Indian arose, shaking his head
solemnly, then said softly, “Hudson’s Bay
boys, eh? Good boys! You good boy to bring him here
to trees. We make camp! Your brother’s ankle is
“But we must get him home,”
urged Billy. “We ought to have a doctor. He’ll
be lame all his life if we don’t!” And poor
big Billy’s voice shook.
“No. No lame. I doctor
him,” said the Indian. “I good doctor. My
name Five Feathers—me.”
exclaimed Billy. “Oh, I’ve often heard father
speak of you. Father loves you. He says [Page
114] you are the best Indian in the whole Hudson
Five Feathers smiled. “Your
father and me good friends,” he said simply. Then
added, “How you come here?”
“Why, you see,”
said Billy, “we were returning from school at
Winnipeg; it’s holiday now, you know. Father sent
the two ponies to ‘the front’ for us to
ride home. Some Indians brought them over for us. It’s
a hundred and sixty miles. We started yesterday morning,
and slept last night at Black Jack Pete’s place.
We must be a full hundred miles from home now.”
Billy stopped speaking. His voice simply would
not go on.
“More miles than hundred,”
said the Indian. “You got something eat?”
Billy went over to where his
horse was staked to a cottonwood, hauled off his saddlebags,
and, returning, emptied them on the brown grass. They
made a good showing. Six boxes of matches, a half side
of bacon, two pounds of hardtack, a package of tea,
four tins of sardines, a big roll of cooked smoked antelope,
sugar, three loaves of bread, one can of tongue, one
of salmon, a small tin teapot, two tin cups, one big
knife, and one tin pie plate, to be used in lieu of
a frying-pan. “I wish we had more,” said
the boy, surveying the outfit ruefully.
“Plenty,” said the
Indian; “we get prairie chicken and rabbit plenty.”
But his keen eyes scarcely glanced at the food. He was
busy slitting one of the sleeves from his buckskin shirt,
cutting it into bandages. His knife was already shaping
splints from the scrub poplar. Little Jerry, his eyes
full of pain, watched him, knowing of the agony to come,
when even those gentle Indian fingers could not save
his poor ankle from torture while they set the broken
bone. Suddenly the misery of anticipation was arrested
by a great and glad cry from the Indian, who had discovered
and pounced upon a small scarlet blossom that was growing
down near the slough. He [Page 115]
caught up the flower, root and all, carrying it triumphantly
to where the injured boy lay. Within ten minutes he
had made a little fire, placed the scarlet flower, stem
and root, in the teapot, half filled it up with water,
and set it boiling. Then he turned to Billy.
he said, pointing to the teapot. “He not have
pain. You stay until he awake, then you ride on to Fort
o’ Farewell. You take some food. You leave some
for us. You send wagon, take him home. I stay with him.
Maybe four, five days before you get there and send
wagon back. You trust me? I give him sleeping medicine.
I watch him. You trust me—Five Feathers?”
But Jerry’s hand was already
clasping the Indian’s, and Billy was interrupting.
“Trust you? Trust Five
Feathers, the best Indian in the Hudson Bay country?
I should think I will trust you!”
The Indian nodded quietly; and,
taking the teapot from the fire, poured the liquid into
one of the cups, cooling it by dripping from one cup
to the other over and over again. Presently it began
to thicken, almost like a jelly, and turned a dull red
color, then brighter, clearer, redder. Suddenly the
Indian snatched up the prostrate boy to a sitting posture.
One hand was around the boy’s shoulder, the other
held the tin cup, brimming with reddening, glue-like
“Quick!” he said,
looking at Billy. “You trust me?”
“Yes,” said the
boy, very quietly. “Give it to him.”
“Yes,” said Jerry;
“give it to me.”
The Indian held the cup to the
little chap’s lips. One, two, three minutes passed.
The boy had swallowed every drop. Then the Indian laid
him flat on the grass. For a moment his suffering eyes
looked into those of his brother, then he glanced at
the sky, the trees, the far horizon, the half-obliterated
buffalo trail. Then his lids drooped, his hands twitched,
he lay utterly unconscious. [Page 116]
With a rapidity hardly believable
in an Indian, Five Feathers skinned off the boy’s
sock, ran his lithe fingers about the ankle, clicked
the bone into place, splinted and bandaged it like an
expert surgeon; but, with all his haste, it was completed
none too soon. Jerry’s eyes slowly opened, to
see Billy smiling down at him, and Five Feathers standing
calmly by his side.
“Bully, Jerry! Your ankle
is all set and bandaged. How do you feel?” asked
his brother, a little shakily.
“Just tired,” said
the boy. “Tired, but no pain. Oh, I wish I could
“With the scarlet flowers!”
whispered Jerry. “I’ve been dreaming, I
think,” he continued. “I thought I was walking
among fields and fields of scarlet flowers. They were
Five Feathers sprang to his
feet. “Good! Good!” he exclaimed. “I
scared he would not see them. If he see red flowers,
he all right. Sometimes, when they don’t see it,
they not get well soon.” Then, under his breath,
“The Scarlet Eye!”
“I saw them all right!”
almost laughed the boy. “Miles of them. I could
see and smell them. They smelled like smoke—like
“Get well right away!”
chuckled the Indian. “Very good to smell
them.” Then to Billy: “You eat. You get
ready. You ride now to Fort o’ Farewell.”
So they built up the dying fire,
made tea, cooked a little bacon, and all three ate heartily.
“I’ll leave you
the teapot, of course,” said Billy, taking a dozen
hardtack and one tin of sardines. “Slough water’s
good enough for me.”
But Five Feathers gripped him
by the arm—an iron grip—not at all with
the gentle fingers that had so recently dressed the
other boy’s wounded ankle. “You not go that
way!” he glared, his fine eyes dark and scowling.
“Yes, we keep teapot, but you take bread, and
[Page 117] antelope, and more fat fish,”
pointing to the sardines. “Fat fish very good
for long ride. You take, or I not let you go!”
There was such a strange severity
in his dark face that Billy did not argue the matter,
but quietly obeyed, taking one loaf of bread, half the
antelope, and three tins of the “fat fish.”
“Plenty prairie chicken
here,” explained the Indian. “I make good
soup for Little Brave.”
“What a nice name to call
me, Five Feathers!” smiled Jerry.
“Yes, you Little Brave,”
replied the Indian. “Little boy, but very big
At the last moment Jerry and
his brother clasped hands. “I hate to leave you,
old man,” said Billy, a little unsteadily.
“Why, I’m not afraid,”
answered the boy. “You and father and I all know
that I am with the best Indian in the Hudson Bay country—we
do know it, don’t we, Billy?”
“I’ll stake my life
on that,” replied Billy, swinging into his saddle.
“Remember, Jerry, it’s only a hundred miles.
I’ll be there in two days, and the wagon will
be here in another two.”
“Yes, I’ll remember,”
replied the sick boy.
Then Billy struck rather abruptly
up the half-obliterated buffalo trail. Several times
he turned in his saddle, looking back and waving his
bandanna, and each time the Indian stood erect and lifted
his open palm. The receding horse and rider grew smaller,
less, fainter, then they blurred into the horizon. The
sick boy closed his eyes, that ached from watching the
fading figure. He was utterly alone, with leagues of
untracked prairie about him, alone with Five Feathers,
a strange Indian, who sat silently nearby.
When Jerry awoke, the sun was
almost setting, and Five Feathers was in precisely the
same place and in [Page 118] precisely
the same attitude. Once, in his dreams, wherein he still
wandered through fields of scarlet flowers, he watched
a bud unfolding. It opened with a sound like a revolver
shot, or was it really a revolver? The boy turned over
on his side, for a savory odor greeted his nostrils,
and he looked wonderingly around. Five Feathers had
evidently not been sitting there throughout that long
June afternoon, for, within an arm’s length was
the jolliest little tepee made of many branches of poplar
and cottonwood, sides and roof all one thick mass of
green leaves and branches woven together like basketwork,
a bed of short, dry prairie grass, fragrant and brown,
his own saddlebags and single blanket for pillow and
mattress. And on the fire the teapot, steaming with
that delicious savory odor.
“What is it?” asked
the boy, indicating the cooking.
smiled the Indian. “I shoot while you sleep.”
So that was the bursting
of the scarlet bud!
“Very good chicken,”
continued the Indian. “Very fat—good for
eat, good soup, both.”
So they made their supper off
the tender stew, and soaked some hardtack in the soup.
It seemed to Jerry a royal meal, and he made up his
mind that, when he arrived home, he would get his mother
to stew a prairie hen in the teapot some day; it tasted
so much better than anything he had ever eaten before.
The sun had set, and the long,
long twilight of the north was gathering. Five Feathers
built up the fire, for the prairie night brings a chill,
even in June.
“Did you see them again,
the red flowers, while you slept?” he asked the
“Yes; fields of them,”
replied Jerry. Then added, “Why?”
“It is good,” said
the Indian. “Very good. You will now have what
we call the ‘The Scarlet Eye.’” [Page
asked Jerry, half frightened.
“It’s very good.
You will yourself be a great medicine man—what
you white men call ‘doctor.’ You like to
“I never thought of studying
medicine until to-day,” said the boy, excitedly;
“but, just as Billy rode away, something seemed
to grip me. I made up my mind then and there to be a
“That is because you have
seen ‘The Scarlet Eye,’” said the
“Tell me of it, will you,
Five Feathers?” asked the boy, gently.
“Yes, but first I lift
you on to bed.” And, gathering Jerry in his strong,
lean arms, he laid him on the grass couch in the green
tepee, looked at his foot, loosened all his clothing,
spread the one blanket over him, stirred up the fire,
and, sitting at the tepee door, began the story.
the great, the good, the kindly people ever see it.
One must live well, must be manly and brave, and talk
straight without lies, without meanness, or ‘The
Scarlet Eye’ will never come to them. They tell
me that, over the great salt water, in your white man’s
big camping-ground named London, in far-off England,
the medicine man hangs before his tepee door a scarlet
lamp, so that all who are sick may see it, even in the
darkness.* It is the
sign that a good man lives within that tepee, a man
whose life is given to help and heal sick bodies. We
redskins of the North-West have heard this story, so
we, too, want a sign of a scarlet lamp, to show where
lives a great, good man. The blood of the red flower
shows us this. If you drink it and see no red [Page
120] flowers, you are selfish, unkind; your
talk is not true; your life is not clear; but, if you
see the flowers, as you did to-day, you are good, kind,
noble. You will be a great and humane medicine man.
You have seen the Scarlet Eye. It is the sign of kindness
to your fellowmen.”
The voice of Five Feathers ceased,
but his fingers were clasping the small hand of the
white boy, clasping it very gently.
“Thank you, Five Feathers,”
Jerry said softly. “Yes, I shall study medicine.
Father always said it was the noblest of all the professions,
and I know to-night that it is.”
A moment later, Jerry lay sleeping
like a very little child. For a while the Indian watched
him silently. Then, arising, he took off his buckskin
shirt, folded it neatly, and, lifting the sleeping boy’s
head, arranged it as a pillow. Then, naked to the waist,
he laid himself down outside near the fire—and
he, too, slept.
The third day a tiny speck loomed
across the rim of sky and prairie. It grew larger with
the hours—nearer, clearer. The Indian, shading
his keen eyes with his palm, peered over the miles.
he said, after some silent moments, “they are
coming, one day sooner than we hoped. Your brother,
he must have a ride like the prairie wind. Yes, one,
no, two buckboards—Hudson Bay horses. I know them,
The boy sat up, staring into
the distance. “I don’t know whether I’m
glad or sorry,” he said. “Father will be
driving one buckboard, I know, and I’d like to
see him, but, oh, I don’t want to leave you, Five
“You not leave me, not
for long,” said the Indian. “You come back
some day, when you great doctor. Maybe you doctor my
own people. I wait for that time.”
But the buckboards were spinning
rapidly nearer, and nearer. Yes, there was his father,
Factor MacIntyre, of the Hudson Bay, driving the first
rig, but who was that [Page 121] beside
him?—Billy? No, not Billy. “Oh, it’s
mother!” fairly yelled Jerry. And the
next moment he was in her arms.
“Couldn’t keep her
away, simply couldn’t!” stormed Mr. MacIntyre.
“No, sir, she had to come—one hundred and
seventeen miles by the clock! Couldn’t trust me!
Couldn’t trust Billy! Just had to come
herself!” And the genial Factor stamped around
the little camp, wringing Five Feathers’ hand,
and watching with anxious look the pale face and thin
fingers of his smallest son.
“Oh, father, mother, he’s
been so good!” said Jerry, excitedly, nodding
towards the Indian.
“Good? I should think
so!” asserted Mr. MacIntyre. “Why, boy,
do you know you would have been lame all your life if
it hadn’t been for Five Feathers here? Best Indian
in all the Hudson Bay country!”
“Yes, dearie; the best
Indian in all the Hudson Bay country,” echoed
Mrs. MacIntyre, with something like a tear in her voice.
“Bet your boots! Best
Indian in all the Hudson Bay country!” re-echoed
Billy, who had arrived, driving the other buckboard.
But Five Feathers only sat silent. Then, looking directly
at Billy, he said, “You ride day and night, too.
You nearly kill that horse?”
“Yes, I nearly did,”
“Good brother you. You
my brother, too,” said the Indian, holding out
his hand; and Billy fairly wrung that slender, brown
hand—that hand, small and kind as a woman’s.
all happened long ago, and last year Jerry MacIntyre
graduated from McGill University in Montreal with full
honors in medicine. He had three or four splendid offers
to begin his medical career, but he refused them all,
smilingly, genially, and to-day he is back there, devoting
his life and skill to the tribe of Five Feathers, “best
Indian in all the Hudson Bay country.” [Page
Some of the Indian tribes of the Canadian North-West
are familiar with the fact that in London, England,
the sign of a physician’s office is a scarlet
lamp suspended outside the street door. [back]