Chapter Two—A Mouse and a Fox

Late March…
           A little geography here might help.  As noted, Arkmore was about 60 miles west of Fort Pearson, which was some 50 miles north of the Big Horn Reservation.  The reservation was situated in the southern part of the territory, right on the Wyoming border.  But the three locations composed a modified triangle, which put the reservation about 55 miles from Arkmore.  It was almost totally a ranching and farming region—mostly the former—though a little mining was done in the hills north of Arkmore.  There were a few other towns scattered around to service the rural population.
           Sheriff Dan Harmon of Arkmore had been considering his options on how to deal with the massacre of Ted and Melissa Britz.  Since the army wasn’t going to get involved, that left the matter, at present, in the sheriff’s lap.  He figured his first move was to go out to the Indian reservation, discuss the matter with the Bureau of Indian Affairs agent, and perhaps the head Indian chief.  Harmon had never been on the reservation so he didn’t know any of the people he intended to talk to.
           There was a very small town called Sugarloaf, a little over halfway between Arkmore and the reservation.  It was so small that it didn’t even have a hotel or boarding house, but it did have a restaurant, so Harmon decided he would eat there.  It was getting close to suppertime anyway.  He figured he’d have to sleep under the stars.
           Sugarloaf was actually within his jurisdiction, as sheriff, but the town did have a part-time marshal, Pick Handsome, who looked more like a stick than a pick and was anything but handsome.  But Harmon knew him and knew that Pick always had a smile on his face and was a good-natured fellow.  The sheriff stopped at the marshal’s office to see if Pick wanted to have supper with him.
           “He ain’t there,” a passerby said.  “You’ll find him over to Jolie’s.”  That was the restaurant Harmon was going to eat at, so he made a wry face, mumbled a “thanks,” and footed it over to Jolie’s.  It was about half a block away.
           The eatery had a small counter to the right with five stools and they were all occupied, and most of the seven tables were, too.  There were the usual restaurant sounds of silverware clinking against plates and the banter of dinner talk.  Harmon saw Pick eating by himself so he headed in that direction.  He got a few “howdy, Sheriff” greetings as he weaved his way through the tables.
           Pick was busy stuffing a humongous meal in his gullet so he didn’t even see Harmon until the sheriff spoke.  “Hello, Pick.  Mind if I join you?”
           Pick had just taken a huge bite out of a steaming, buttered roll.  He looked up, grinned a big grin which showed off his crooked yellow teeth and about half the bread he had just shoved into his mouth.  The buttered rolls on the table had caused Harmon’s stomach to rumble in hunger.  The buttered roll in Pick’s mouth almost caused his stomach to heave in disgust.
           But the Sugarloaf marshal stood up and said, “Howdy-do, sheriff.  Glad to see you.  Shore, sit yerself right down.  Be tickled pink to have yer comp’ny.”  At least that’s what Harmon thought he said.  It sounded more like a cougar growling.
           Anyway, Harmon took a seat and the waitress brought him a menu, but he waved her off with a “Steak, mashed potatoes, whatever beans you’ve got, some of those rolls the marshal is devouring, and coffee that would kick a mule.”  The waitress gave him a half-smile and left.
           In the meantime, Pick had swallowed his roll and was sawing on his steak.  “This is my second one,” he said to Harmon, with another grin.  “Marshalin’ shore do give a man a appetite.”
           Harmon shook his head.  Handsome was as thin as a beanpole.  I wonder where he puts all that food….and I wonder what “marshalin’” he’s been doing that’s making him so hungry.  He thought he’d ask.  “Town been keeping you busy, huh.”
           “Naw, quiet as a church mouse in these parts, Sheriff.  Aw, I have to throw Otis Penrose in the tank ever’ so often for disturbin’ the peace an’ indecent stuff.  Caught him urinatin’ on Fred and Norma Burns’s cat t’ other day, but he was drunker’n a dead skunk.  Otis, I mean.  I let him cool off in Ol’ Clinker—that’s what I call the jail here, you know.  I put him in there a couple of days and let him snore it off.  I thought the whole thing was kinda funny, but Fred and Norma didn’t take too kindly to havin’ their cat peed on.”
           Harmon grunted.  “I don’t imagine the cat liked it very much, either.”
           “I don’t know, I didn’t ask him.  That cat stinks anyway, so it mighta made him smell better.”
           Harmon just shook his head.  “Nothing else going on?”
           “Nope.”  The two lawmen bantered about nothing important for a couple of minutes, and then the marshal said, “What brings you to these parts?  You don’t come down here too often.”
           The waitress brought Harmon’s food and his stomach started growling again.  It looked and smelled good.  He grabbed a roll and applied a healthy—or unhealthy—measure of butter to it.  As he was doing that, he replied, “You haven’t heard of any Indians getting off the reservation lately, have you?”
           Pick chewed thoughtfully for a moment, but then Harmon realized he wasn’t thinking so much as staring at a pretty young woman a couple of tables over.  “That’s Daisy Mae Dubose,” he told Harmon.  “Pretty as a flower and I think she’s sweet on me.  She thinks I’m handsome.”  And then he guffawed at his own pun.  When he finished laughing, he asked, “What was yore question agin?  Daisy Mae opens my eyes and shuts my ears.”
           “Indians,” Harmon said, a little put out.  “Any news of any leaving the reservation recently?”
           Pick shook his head as he forked in a hunk of potatoes.  “No.  Been quiet over there, ‘s’far as I know.  Why?”
           Harmon told him about the attack on the Britz place.  Pick could get serious when he needed to, and his eyes showed both consternation and concern.
           “And you’re sure it was Injuns?” he asked.
           “Well, that’s what I need to find out, but it all points that way.  The arrow, the moccasins, the unshod ponies, the scalping…”  The sheriff was grim.  “It wasn’t pretty, Pick.”
           The Sugarloaf marshal had finished his meal and was now staring at basically nothing, his face thoughtful.  He shook his head in wonder.  “That’s not good.  I wonder what got into ‘em.  I mean, them Indians is still savages, but they been quiet since before Dull Knife died back in ’79.”  Dull Knife was a Cheyenne chief who had been moved down south, with much of the rest of the Northern Cheyenne people, to the Southern Cheyenne reservation in Indian Territory, but because of the hideous conditions there, had escaped with a band and returned north.  They had been captured and stuck in Fort Robinson in northern Nebraska, where they were kept without heat, food, or water.  They managed to escape, but were subsequently hunted down and most of them were killed.  Pick didn’t have the story quite correct.  Dull Knife (that was his Lakota name and the name he was known as to whites, he was “Morning Star” to the Cheyenne, actually survived until 1883).  The current reservation had only been established very recently, but some Cheyenne had still been living in the area and, as Colonel Einarsen had put it, had been “tame and docile” for several years.  Even the Dull Knife episode hadn’t triggered any violence from the Cheyenne, and that was largely because the members of the tribe who had been living in the region for many years weren’t the ones who had banded with the Lakota and Arapaho and caused the army all the headaches—including the Little Big Horn battle, or Greasy Grass, as the natives called it.  Allie Summer’s father’s family was part of the peaceful group; more on that subsequently.
           “I don’t know what happened, Pick, or why,” Sheriff Dan Harmon said, “but I’m going to go over there and find out.  Do you know the agent on the reservation?  And who’s the big chief now?”
           “Yeah, I met the agent,” Pick responded.  “He’s only been there about six months, but he’s come into town a couple of times.  Name is Wiley Wilcox.  Mousy-lookin’ feller, a fancy-pants Yankee bureaucrat that never saw an Indian, ‘cept in a comic book, till he hit the reservation.  He ain’t got no more business out here than a pregnant hippo.  But, I tell you what, he’s got all the answers on what to do.”  The sarcasm was evident in the marshal’s voice.  He continued on in that vein.  “He’ll tell you he does and if you don’t believe him, just ask him.  The Injuns need ‘civilizin’,’ he says.  Teach ‘em how to farm like a white man, wear white men’s clothes, talk our language, go to our schools, Christianize ‘em…”  Pick looked doubtful.  “I’m all for civilizin’ them savages, but a feller can’t break a pup from chewin’ on leather in one day.  I ain’t figurin’ this Wilcox guy to be as smart as he cottons himself to be.” 
           That was interesting news.  “Do you think he’s bucking for a revolt?” Harmon asked.  “This recent attack on the Britz’ might be the Indians way of expressing their dissatisfaction with the conditions on the reservation.”
             Pick shrugged.  “I don’t know, mebbe so.  But it’s Wilcox’s job now, so I reckon you got the right idea in goin’ and talkin’ to him.  He can’t hold his liquor, that’s fer sure.  I bought him one drink over at Barney’s not long ago and he was tipsy before he got it half way down his gullet.  Anyway, the chief of the tribe now is Fleet Fox.  Don’t know if that’s because he’s fast or cagey.  Ain’t never met him.  Like I said, the Cheyenne have been quiet.”  Pick then made a puzzled face.  “This thing you’re chasin’…that’s an army matter, ain’t it?”
          “You know Einarsen, don’t you.”

           Pick grunted at that.  “Yeah.  ‘Nuff said.”  He looked at the sheriff.  “You want me to go with you?”
           Harmon shook his head.  “No, that’s not necessary.”  Then he gave a half-grin.  “Sounds like you better stay here and keep Otis Penrose’s pants zipped.”
           “Aw, Otis is harmless, but he don’t like cats.  I don’t neither, come to think of it, especially that Burns cat.  He’s so mean, I’m surprised he didn’t pee back on Otis.”
           Harmon had finished eating.  “That was a good steak,” he said, wiping his mouth with his napkin.  “Is there still no place to stay in town?”
           “Well, the Widder Ames has a room or two she lets out on occasion, but I think she’s been sick lately.  Consumption, or rheumatism, or the bubonic plague or something.  Changes ever’ day with her.  My suggestion is you bunk at the jail.  I put one in recently ‘cause sometimes I’m too lazy to walk home and it’s close to the shop.”  As noted, Pick was only marshal part-time.  He had a job as a clerk at the local general store for about half a day.
           “Ok, I’ll do that, thanks.  I’ll be heading out early in the morning.  I want to get to the Big Horn as soon as I can and talk to Wilcox and maybe Fleet Fox.”   The sheriff looked doubtful.  “I’ll be surprised if I learn anything, though.”
           But Dan Harmon was a pretty sharp cookie and was selling himself a little short.

           About noon the next day, Harmon rode onto the reservation.  It was huge, and he didn’t see anybody at first.  The landscape was pretty boring.  Low, undulating hills, like a gentle ocean on a sunny day.  There was a trail that led deeper onto the reservation, and a couple of miles in, he saw some Indians doing some early planting.  They were having a rather rough go of it, because the ground was still not completely thawed from the winter, but this was probably part of the “civilizin’” that the U.S. government wanted from the tribes.  The two Indians—upon closer inspection, one was a woman—were wearing white man’s clothing.  It was hard to deduce how old they were, but Harmon judged them to be close to middle age.
           Harmon rode up to them, just to gauge their reaction.  They didn’t look terribly friendly, but the man did nod his head.
           “Howdy,” Harmon said, stopping his horse and pushing his hat back on his head.  “Kinda early to be doing plowing and planting, isn’t it?”  Being late March, spring had arrived—at least on the calendar—but the fear of late freezes usually caused farmers to wait a little longer before they started planting their crops.
           The man grunted.  “Tell chief that.”
           “Fleet Fox?”
           The Indian spat.  Harmon wasn’t sure whether he was just clearing his mouth or if there was an ulterior motive behind it.  “Fleet Fox no chief no more.  Wilcox now chief.  At least he think so.”
           Harmon got the impression this fellow wasn’t terribly enamored of his new “chief.”  “Where’s his office?” he asked.
           The man pointed.  “Village that way.  Two, t’ree mile.”
           Harmon nodded.  “Thanks.”  He looked at the woman.  Her face was stoic, but her eyes were hard.  She was wearing a faded camp dress with a soiled red apron around her waist.  The apron had a couple of pockets in front that the sheriff figured contained whatever seed they were planting.  There was also a canvas sack on the ground half full of something.
           “What are you planting?” he asked.
           For an answer, the woman reached into one of the apron pockets, pulled out a small, shriveled, and nearly black head of corn and tossed it to the sheriff.   Harmon caught it, grimaced as he examined it, and then asked, “May I keep this?”
           The Cheyenne woman shrugged.  “Might as so.  It won’t grow nothin’.”
           Harmon studied the two Indians thoughtfully for a few more seconds, touched the brim of his hat in good-bye, and rode towards the agent’s office.  Like most white men in the west, he had never been particularly fond of the native race of people, but he didn’t especially like seeing them treated like whipped animals, either.
           He put his horse into a canter and, in a few minutes, saw a cluster of shacks in the distance, perhaps 30 or 40.  There didn’t appear to be much organization to the way they were spread out, and there didn’t appear to be much organization in the way they were built, either.  Some of them actually were tilted at a slight angle.  Harmon saw boards nailed crookedly with some mud slapped into gaps to try to keep out drafts.  The doors on most of them were only canvas flaps.  As he rode into this hovel, he saw what appeared to be a combination church/schoolhouse to his right; he thought he heard some children repeating the English alphabet.  He saw an old Indian sitting in a rustic chair next to an open door—“General Store” was all the sign said on the false front.  Harmon stretched his neck a little to see what was inside the store and saw mostly empty shelves.  A few very small children, not old enough yet for school, were standing around, close to mothers who were washing or cleaning or doing some other backbreaking work.  The children, scantily clad and mostly barefoot, stared at him as he rode by.  He passed an old Indian sitting on a box whittling on a piece of wood.  The man grunted at him as he rode by.  There were a few people, mostly men, who seemed to simply be wandering around, trying to look busy, but really doing nothing of any value.
           Then Harmon heard a voice.  “Jason!  Why aren’t you out planting?”  The sheriff traced the voice to the mouth of a white man, who stood about 50 feet away.  A mousy-looking fellow.  Wilcox….
           A young Indian, standing not too far from Harmon, glanced at the sheriff first, then looked at the Indian Bureau agent.  Jason?  Harmon thought.  Is that part of the “civilizing?”  Give them English names?  “Too cold,” the Indian replied.  “Plant when it get warm.”
           Wilcox just shook his head.  “Well, if you starve to death, don’t blame me.”  The agent then looked at the sheriff.  “Hello.  What can I do for you?”
           Harmon rode up to him, but didn’t dismount.  The Arkmore sheriff looked around quickly.  The agent’s office was the nicest structure in the village—except for a white-framed house about 100 yards away that looked like it had just been built.  And was set off a significant distance from the rest of the dwelllings. Wilcox’s house, no doubt.  The agent himself was a small man, mid-30s perhaps, balding at the top, wearing a nice grey suit, with white shirt, black string tie, and black boots.  His skin was pale.  He looked wholly out of place in a Montana territory Indian reservation.
           But there was intelligence in his narrow eyes.  Intelligence that came from a book, Harmon figured.  Those are the most dangerous people on earth.  They haven’t the foggiest idea what the world is really like….
           He introduced himself.  “I’m Sheriff Dan Harmon, from Arkmore, which is about 75 miles northwest of here.  I assume you’re Mr. Wilcox, the Bureau agent here.  I’d like to talk to you.”
           Wilcox didn’t appear too thrilled with the idea.  He looked at Harmon as though he feared the sheriff might be rabid and bite him.  “Arkmore?  I’ve never heard of it.”
           “Might be a good idea if you learn where it is.  I’m the sheriff of the county that this reservation is on and most of the territory bordering it.”
           “You’ve got no jurisdiction on this reservation, Sheriff,” Wilcox said, with a little acid on the last word. 
           “No, and I’m glad I don’t and I’m not asking for any.  But anything that happens in this county off this reservation is within my jurisdiction and that’s why I’m here.”
           The agent grunted.  “I’m never going to set foot off this reservation again.  I went to that town not far from here…what’s it called?  Sugarbear, of something—“       
           “Sugarloaf,” Harmon offered.
           “Yes, that’s the place.  The filthiest, smelliest place I’ve ever been to in my life.  Why, these savages are cleaner than the so-called humanity I saw in that town.  Do you know the marshal over there, Sheriff Harmon?  He is as ignorant and uncouth a human being as I’ve ever met.”
           “Funny thing,” Harmon replied.  “He said the same thing about you.”  It wasn’t exactly what Pick Handsome had said, of course, but it was close enough.
             Wilcox’s eyes blazed.  “Well, that just confirms what I already suspected about his intelligence level.  If you are the sheriff of this county, why don’t you appoint a marshal in that town that doesn’t have his brains in his left little toe?”
           Harmon was getting a bit irritated—no, he was getting a lot irritated—but he needed to talk to this man, as civilly as possible, so he only replied, “He was selected by the town council.  I don’t have anything to do with it.”  Then, changing the subject, he asked, “Can we go into your office?  I do have a matter that I need to discuss with you or I wouldn’t have ridden all the way down here.  And disturbed you,” he added, and the sheriff tossed a little acid himself on that last comment.
           If Wilcox noticed the acid, he didn’t say anything about it.  “Well, yes, come on inside.  I have some coffee, if you’d like it.”
           “That would be nice,” the sheriff responded, and he dismounted and tied his horse to the hitch railing outside of the agent’s office.  Before he went inside the building, he cast one more look around the village and discovered that just about everybody within sight was staring at him.  And then he realized, They aren’t looking at me, they are looking at my horse.  And it struck him that he hadn’t seen—and didn’t see—one horse in the village.  The two farming Indians he had met earlier had been using plow horses, though, so there had to be some around somewhere.  Work horses, but not riding ponies.
            He frowned in thought.  So if those Indians who killed the Britz’ came from this reservation, where do they keep their riding horses?  It was a question worth asking Wilcox. 
           The agency office was actually just one big room, perhaps 30 feet by 40, but the walls were paneled and decorated with pictures, there was a nice, thick rug covering much of the floor, and Wilcox’s desk looked to be made of cherry wood with a plush, soft, leather upholstered swivel chair behind it.  That’s the chair that Wilcox took, of course.  Bookshelves lined one wall, and there was some nice plants adding to the décor.  A stove sat in one corner of the room that could serve for heat and making coffee.  There was a pot perched on top of it.  Since the weather was still chilly, there was a fire going in the stove and all the windows in the room were closed.  Harmon, being largely an outdoorsman, thought it was kinda stuffy, actually.  A bureaucrat’s office…
           “The coffee is over there,” Wilcox said, waving his hand in the direction of the stove. 
           “Yeah, thanks,” Harmon said, walked over and took a cup—porcelain—from a small cabinet near the stove, and poured some coffee.  “You want some?” he asked Wilcox.
           The sheriff walked over and sat in the straight-backed, rickety, wooden chair in front of the agent’s desk.  Before he could speak, Wilcox did.
           “Now.  What can I do for you, sheriff?  I’m sure you have more important things to do than visit our nice, peaceful reservation.”     
           “I wouldn’t be here if I did, Mr. Wilcox,” Harmon replied.  “And I’ll get right to the point.  To your knowledge, have any of the Indians here recently left the reservation for a few days?”
           “No they have not,” Wilcox replied, spacing his words almost as if he had been offended.  And he might have been.  “I would certainly know it if they had.”
           “So you know what every Indian on the reservation is doing and where they are at all times.”
           Wilcox smiled, a mousy smile.  “I have my…informants, Sheriff.  May I inquire as to why you ask?”
           Harmon told him about Ted and Melissa Britz, watching very closely for any reaction by the Bureau agent.
           “Well, that’s certainly a tragedy,” Wilcox said, though he didn’t appear to be too disturbed by it.  And he gave no indication to Harmon that he had had any knowledge of it.  “But if, as you say, it were Indians who did the killing, they didn’t come from this reservation, I can assure you.”
           “The next nearest Indians to Arkmore are over 400 miles away,” Harmon said.
           “And you know where every Indian is the territory is at all times, I’m sure,” Wilcox said, with a bit of sarcasm in his voice.
           Harmon ignored that.  “How many Indians live on this reservation at the moment, Mr. Wilcox?”
           “Presently, there are 233.  I am expecting more to arrive in the summer.”  He paused.  “They’ll be coming from the south.”
           Harmon was somewhat taken aback.  “There are only 30 or 40 shacks out there in the village.  Is there another one somewhere on the reservation where the rest of the Cheyenne live?”
           “No, at the moment, they all live here.”
           “How do you cram 233 Indians into those…hovels?”
           “That is there problem, Sheriff Harmon.  They can build more houses if they wish, but they are too lazy to do so.  We are trying to teach them to provide for themselves in efficient, effective, non-violent, non-nomadic ways, but they are stubborn.  But they’ll learn once they start to freeze and starve.”
           “Where are their horses?  I passed two Cheyenne when I rode in and they had a couple of plow horses.”
           “There is a stable and barn behind my house.”  Harmon hadn’t noticed that.
           “What do they eat?” the sheriff asked.
           “The United States government provides them with food—at least, at the moment.  We are instructing them in farming techniques.  That is one of the ways they can become a self-sufficient, self-sustaining people.”
           “How are they doing with it?  Especially since this is apparently what they are planting.”  He took the shriveled head of corn given to him by the Indians he had met and tossed it to the Bureau agent.
           Wilcox jumped a bit, as if Harmon was tossing a bomb at him.  But he caught the corn and looked at it.  “There are bad apples in every barrel, Sheriff Harmon.  I assure you this is not representative of what we give them to plant.  But they are slow, sheriff.  As I said, they are a lazy people.”
           Harmon leaned back, narrowed his eyes, and studied the agent.  “No, they aren’t, Mr. Wilcox.  I’ve lived out here all my life, and the Indian people are a very hard-working people.  They existed in very difficult circumstances, they had to work hard just to survive.  And they weren’t farmers.  This is completely new to them.  You are asking them to change overnight what they have been doing for thousands of years—their language, culture, religion, way of life.  Patience might be a good virtue here.”  He paused a moment, then asked, “Ok, you’re trying to teach them agriculture.  I’ve certainly no objection to that.  But is that all they’re going to get?  What about cattle?  Chickens?  Goats, pigs, some fruit and vegetable seeds so they can have individual gardens?  Where are these things?”
           In spite of Harmon’s suggestion about patience, the agent had a very impatient expression on his face.  “We’ve only been here a year, Sheriff.  Everything cannot be provided at once.  These items you mentioned have been suggested, and if the money for them is budgeted in Washington, we’ll have them soon enough.”
           Fat chance of that happening…The sheriff figured he had wasted enough of his breath, and sure enough, Wilcox’s next words confirmed that.  “Their ways are over and gone, Sheriff Harmon.  The sooner they accept it, and the sooner they realize that, in order to succeed in this country, they must adapt to white man’s ways, the better it will be for them.  It’s just the way it is.  I can’t change it, and you can’t, either.  The buffalo is gone and it’s not coming back.”
           Harmon was as devout a believer in the American dream as anybody else, but the way Wilcox explained it left a rather sour taste in his mouth.  “Yes, I know that’s true, Mr. Wilcox.  But I can understand why it might take a while for them to do what you suggest.  Getting a leopard to change his spots is not the easiest thing in the world.  And, to return to my reason for coming, is it possible that some of the young bucks on this reservation might think about rebelling against these new ideas and take out their frustration by returning to some of the old ways?  It was their land before we took it from them.  Some of them might think it still is.”
           Wilcox wasn’t happy.  Harmon figured that the agent thought that he would be held responsible for any wrong-doing by the Indians under his charge.  He asked Harmon.  “How far did you say Arkmore is from here, Sheriff?”
           “About 60 miles from where we sit.”
           “So you think it possible that, one night, four Indians from this reservation walked 60 miles, killed two whites with weapons they do not have, and made it back to the reservation before morning?”
           “They didn’t walk, Mr. Wilcox.  I told you we found the tracks of four horses.  Unshod.”
           “And these four horses travelled 120 miles that evening?”
           Harmon said nothing.
           “That, as you know, Sheriff, is impossible.  But it’s impossible for a further reason.”
           “What’s that?”
           “We do not have such horses on this reservation.  All of our animals are beasts of burden, not beasts of pleasure.  Have you seen any horses here that could be considered riding, or war, horses?”
           “I haven’t been over all the reservation, Mr. Wilcox.”
           “Well, I have, Sheriff, and I assure you that no such animals exist.  What you are suggesting implies that four of the residents of this reservation would have been gone for…almost a week.  That idea is preposterous.”
           “Do you take a roll call every day?”
           Wilcox smiled, but it wasn’t a friendly smile.  “I told you.  I have my…informants.”
           “Indians on the reservation?”
           Wilcox didn’t answer, but his face told Harmon the answer was “yes.”
           “And, of course, none of them would lie to you.”
           Wilcox smiled again.  “An Indian will do anything for…certain rewards.”
           Harmon knew exactly what Wilcox meant by that.  Fire water.  The agent was giving out whiskey, something wholly illegal on a reservation.  “Do your superiors know about these…rewards?”
           “It is…done, Sheriff Harmon, on all the reservations.”
           “But they would never lie to get these…rewards.”
           “No.  Because they know that if I found out they were lying, they would never get the reward again.”
           Harmon silently looked at the agent for a few seconds, and figured he had gotten just about all the information he was going to get—or need—at least from Wilcox.  So he stood up.  “I would very much like to meet and talk with Fleet Fox.  He is regarded, by the Indians here, as their chief, isn’t he?”
           Wilcox rose, too. “They have no chief any more, Sheriff Harmon, and they know it.  But, yes, he probably has the highest amount of respect among his people.  You may talk to him, if you wish.  I will accompany you and listen in on the discussion.”
           “That’s not necessary, Mr. Wilcox.  In fact, I would advise against it.  He might be willing to say things without you there that he would not say if you were there.”  Then, Harmon gave Wilcox the same sort of mousy smile the agent had given him.  “Besides, if everything is as proper and orderly on this reservation as you say it is, then you should have no worries about anything he might say.  Correct?”
           Harmon had the agent in a box there.  The sheriff was appealing to the vanity of a very vain man, and it worked.  Wilcox didn’t want to do anything that might suggest he was not in full control of matters on the reservations.  Before he could speak, the lawman added, “I won’t be long.  If anybody is lying, they’d lie to me just like they’d lie to you.”
           “Then why do you insist on talking to him?” Wilcox asked.
           Harmon stared at him a moment.  “Because it’s what I’m paid for and committed to doing, Mr. Wilcox.  I have a job to do just like you do, and finding the murderers of those two innocent young people is something I intend to do, and I’ll leave no stone unturned until I do it.  It’s just possible that I’ll see or hear something from Fleet Fox that will help.  But only I could know that, and he won’t tell me anything with you there.”
           Wilcox appeared to be a bit unsettled by the force of Harmon’s words and tone of voice.  He paused for a moment, then said, “Very well.  He lives in the last house on the right, that way.”  He pointed.  “He’ll probably be sitting in a chair by his front door.  He’s so slothful and useless that I can get him to do nothing.  Good day, sir.”
           That was that, and it suited the sheriff just fine, thank you.  “And good day to you,” he answered, then walked out of the building.  He stood on the boardwalk for just a moment and took a deep breath.  As much as Harmon didn’t like the man, a lot of what Wilcox had said made sense.  Where did they get the horses?  And weapons?  And yeah, how could they be gone a week without Wilcox knowing it?  Maybe Fleet Fox had some answers…

           The old Indian chief was, indeed, sitting beside the front door of a small, unpainted, log structure.  It appeared to be a little better built than the other Indian houses; Harmon figured that was in deference to Fleet Fox’s position as a chief of the tribe.  It was pretty obvious, upon first seeing Fleet Fox, why Wilcox couldn’t get him to do any work.  The man was old, wrinkled, and grey.  Discerning an Indian’s age wasn’t easy, but Harmon would have bet a month’s wages that this man was beyond 80 years old.  Yet the old man watched the sheriff carefully as he approached the house, and Harmon could see that his eyes were still sharp.   His body might have been worn out, but his mind wasn’t.
           The Indian did not stand when Harmon stopped about 10 feet in front of him.  Harmon took off his hat, and Fleet Fox nodded, seemingly appreciating the gesture.
           “I’m Sheriff Dan Harmon, from the town of Arkmore.”
           Fleet Fox again nodded.  There was no smile on his rugged face, in fact, he looked mad, but Harmon figured that was simply the stoic countenance he always wore.  The Indian leaned forward, his left forearm resting on his left leg and his right hand leaning on his right leg.
           “I am Fleet Fox, a chief of the Tsistsistas band of Northern Cheyenne.  Mighty Mouse over there”—and he pointed in Wilcox’s direction—“has named me Benny.”  Fleet Fox’s eyes never left Harmon’s.
           The sheriff smiled at the “Mighty Mouse” nickname the Cheyenne had given the Bureau agent.  Pick isn’t the only one who thinks he looks like a mouse…  “I am honored to meet a great chief of the Northern Cheyenne, Fleet Fox.”
           The Indian just grunted at that and looked away for a moment.
           Harmon continued, “I have a matter that I wish to discuss with Fleet Fox, if you find me worthy and would do me the honor.”
           Fleet Fox looked back at the sheriff.  Finally, he spoke.  “You are a chief among your people.”
           Harmon shook his head.  “I am a law officer.  I try to protect my people.”
           “That is what I attempted to do as well, law officer.”  Fleet Fox then made an all-encompassing gesture.  “You can see how successful I was.”
           The Arkmore sheriff saw an opening and took it.  “I, too, am not always successful, and that is what I wish to discuss with you.”
           The old Indian shrugged.  “I will listen and answer what I can.”
           “A couple of weeks ago,” Harmon said, “two young white settlers were killed on their homestead.  We do not know who did it, but the young man was killed with an arrow with turkey feathers attached.  His wife was molested and killed.  We found moccasin prints of four men and they rode unshod ponies.  Oh, and both the man and his wife were scalped.”
           Fleet Fox remained impassive.  “And you think four of my people did it.”  It was a statement, not a question.
           “I don’t know who did it, Fleet Fox,” Harmon replied.  “I can only tell you what was found.  And, as a law officer, I must attempt to apprehend the criminals.”
           Fleet Fox shook his head.  “No one from this tribe committed that crime.”
           Harmon expected the Indian chief to say that.  “Do your people have any horses on the reservation?”
           Fleet Fox grunted again.  He was good at it.  “We have the big muscled horses our white chief gives to us.”
           “Do you have any riding ponies hidden someplace where the white chief cannot find them?”
           Turning his head, the chief responded, “No.  That is not allowed.”
           “Fleet Fox, do any of your people ever leave the reservation?”
           “That is not allowed, either.  You know this.”
           Harmon didn’t back off.  “That is not what I asked, Fleet Fox.”
           Much to Harmon’s surprise, the Cheyenne chief stood.  “Come into my cabin, white eyes law officer.  I wish to show you something.”
           The sheriff followed the Indian into the little house.  It had only one room, and there wasn’t much to that—a bed in one corner, a few sticks of furniture, a couple of closed trunks.  The floor was dirt.  There was a table in the middle of the room, and an old squaw sitting in a chair, mending some clothes.  She looked up briefly when the two men entered, but then went back to work and said nothing.
           Fleet Fox walked over to one of the trunks and opened it.  He pulled out a sack and tossed it to Harmon.  The sheriff was surprised, but caught the bag.  “That is the flour for baking that the Great White Father, in his wisdom, gives to his Little Red Children.”
           Harmon opened the bag and grimaced.  There were more bugs inside than there was flour.
           “Here is our meat,” the Indian chief said, and tossed a hunk to the sheriff.  It was full of maggots.
           “Here are our eggs,” Fleet Fox continued, and threw one at the feet of the lawman.  It cracked and was obviously rotten.
           Fleet Fox turned away and went over to the bed.  “I will answer no more of your questions,” he said.  He lay down and turned his body away from the Arkmore sheriff.
           Harmon looked at him thoughtfully for a few seconds, then down at the woman sitting at the table.  She glanced up at him quickly, then lowered her eyes to her work.  The sheriff, without a word, set the flour and meat down onto the table and walked out of the cabin.  He felt like going over to Wilcox’s office and beating the little mouse to a pulp.
           But he didn’t.  He simply mounted his horse and rode out of the Indian village.  As angry as he was, he tried to think of any conclusions that could be drawn from his conversation with Fleet Fox.  One thing was striking to him.
           He looked me straight in the eyes when he said that none of his people killed the Britz’.  But he turned his head when I asked him about the ponies and men leaving the reservation…
           Harmon was convinced that some of the Cheyenne did, indeed, leave the reservation on occasion, and rode on ponies doing it.  He drew that implication not just from Fleet Fox’s demeanor, but also from that little pageantry with the food.  They leave to get food…That seemed fairly obvious to the sheriff.
           Then he frowned.  But where do they get that food?  I should have checked the Britz’ pantry. 
             But two questions really haunted the Arkmore sheriff.  Does the old Indian chief know everything his people do when they’re off the reservation?  Would the young braves tell him?
           Those are questions Harmon considered problematic at best.