THE LAST OF THE LOST INDIANS

From the day he entered southwestern Colorado, Roy had heard the tales
of the ancient Indian Cliff Dwellers. Mr. Cook had often explained to
him the history of this disappeared race. Whence they came, he told
Roy, ethnologists could not say.

“Some,” he had explained, “believe the Cliff Dwellers drifted from
Mexico–that they are the last of the Aztecs, the most highly cultured
of all red men. Others have urged that they may as well have come from
the north–even from Asia and its ancient civilization.”

“Mr. Cook,” exclaimed Roy suddenly that evening, after Weston had
finally withdrawn to prepare for the trip he had anticipated for years,
“you have told me that the old Cliff Dwellers may have come down the
coast from Asia by way of Bering Sea.”

“That’s one theory. Students have found shell remains and ivory knives
up in Yakima Valley, Washington. They look like Eskimo articles.”

“Weston says his Lost Indians looked like Chinamen. He means Eskimos,
of course. If we found such people over there, would that prove
anything?”

“It might mean this,” he said at last. “Weston’s Asiatics may have
met the Aztecs coming north. The two streams may have clashed and the
Asiatics may have been licked. Naturally they’d retreat. They may have
hidden themselves in the mountains.”

“Then there really may have been Lost Indians?” exclaimed Roy.

The prospector laughed outright and shrugged his shoulders. Then he
leaned forward, and checking the points on his fingers, said:

“Somewhere in the heart of the lower California or Nevada mountains
these Asiatics may have concealed themselves for centuries. There they
may have lived, built their towns, manufactured their own strange
implements and wares in their own way, and, lost to the world,
worshiped their own gods. At last, discovered by other incoming and
increasing red men, they fly to a new home. Hemmed in by other savages,
worn with flight and war, lessened by disease, the remnant of the band
takes refuge beneath the desert.”

“Is that right?” almost shouted Roy.

“Go and find out,” answered Mr. Cook, with another laugh.

Mt. Ellsworth was, by the map, sixty-seven miles northwest of Bluff, a
few points west of northwest. From that peak Kaiparowits lay seventy
miles south of west. In passing from Ellsworth to Kaiparowits, Pine
Alcove Creek would be crossed not far west at Hi. Clark’s camp. Here
there was food and a small supply of gasoline. Roy and Weston took
breakfast with Clark’s men the next morning, having left the corral in
the _Parowan_ a little before five o’clock.

At eight o’clock with the Escalante River not more than twenty miles
away, the _Parowan_ was started on the real search for the Sink Hole.
All of Weston’s conviviality of the night before was gone. Roy was
nervous. The prospect of meeting belligerent Indians did not frighten
him, but he was surprised that neither Weston nor Mr. Cook seemed to
reckon this as an item of danger.

“If we find the place,” Roy had asked in their flight in the early
dawn, “do you look for trouble?”

“Them old grandpa baldies?” answered Weston, as if surprised. “They
ain’t got a gun among ’em.”

It was the first day of September. The depressing monotony of the
lifeless plains was accentuated by a choking dust. The rose tints of
early days had disappeared in a dead blue, cloudless sky. The heat
seemed to penetrate to the lungs and brain.

“There’s the Escalante,” said Roy a half hour after Clark’s camp was
left.

“Now fur the south,” added Weston in a dry, harsh voice. “Hold her true
an’ don’t ye stop till ye see somepin, ef it takes us acrost Arizony.”

The great wonder was, how Weston had missed finding the hole in his
several searches. Within five miles of where the aeroplane turned south
from the river, the mysterious hole suddenly appeared directly beneath
the swiftly sailing _Parowan_. No dark depths greeted the approaching
eye. What had at first seemed but a slight depression in the desert
suddenly became a large circular shaft. The fumes of sulphur had
colored its sides a yellowish white.

The _Parowan_ came to a stop several hundred yards beyond the hole. Too
excited to return in the airship, Weston and the boy sprang to the sand
and started on a run back to the chasm. Then they discovered that their
path lay along the dry bed of a watercourse.

“That’s it,” exclaimed Weston. “This is my river bed. But it comes from
the south. It comes off the Straight Cliffs. I allers reckoned it come
out o’ the west. An’ I sarched mainly along the Sevier Range.”

In a few moments they reached the point where the river bed ended in a
worn gully leading down to the top rock shelf of the Sink Hole. Weston
sprang into the depression, and, Roy at his heels, was soon on the
rough, rocky shoulder that dropped, screw-like, lower and lower toward
the north face of the circular opening.

About sixty feet beneath the surface of the ground, the hard
ledge–which Roy now saw was not wholly the work of nature–disappeared
beneath an overhanging arch of rock. No living thing was in sight, but
Roy saw Weston draw his revolver and he did the same. Then, peering
over his companion’s shoulder, he saw first, a half-lit gallery. The
trail on the ledge seemed to disappear within the tunnel. Into this,
every few yards, fell rays of light entering through openings in the
front of the overhanging rock.

“Seems to be nobody to home,” suggested Weston.

He pushed forward. As he and Roy got well within the gallery, they
paused to accustom themselves to the half light. Still no sound.

“Might as well have it over,” went on Weston. “E yawp!” he shouted
suddenly, springing close to the wall and raising his revolver to his
hip.

“I wonder if they’re all dead?” asked Roy. He had already wondered that
many times to himself.

“I’ve kind o’ calkerlated that way. Anyhow, they shore air so old an’
dried up ’at they ain’t no more worth shootin’ an’ a rattler,” Weston
answered.

As if reassured by this, Weston moved forward again. Two irregular
tunnel-like openings he passed, and then pointed to the next opening.

“Thar she be, Kid. Now I’m a liar er I ain’t. Thar’s the selfsame room
er temple o’ them dishes. Hyar’s whar we win er lose.”

One of the light openings was nearly opposite this chamber, and the
light from it fell full on the entrance to Weston’s treasure temple.
Unable to control his curiosity, Roy hastened to the old guide’s side.
Together the two faced the chamber entrance. Before they had even a
chance to look within, an object whirred through the air, grazed Roy’s
left shoulder, and then struck the rock floor with a dull crack. It was
an oval rock attached to a thong.

Both Weston and Roy rushed into the cave. A few yards from the door, on
his hands and knees, was the shriveled figure of an aged man. As the
intruders paused, the decrepit figure collapsed. Before either Weston
or the boy could reach his side, the man was in a heap on the floor.
Weston caught the prostrate Indian by the shoulders, but the figure
slid from his grasp and fell upon its back. The man opened his eyes
once and then seemed to pass into unconsciousness. In his left hand was
a white, polished knife of ivory.

The lone guardian of the cave was emaciated. Clay-brown parchment-like
skin seemed barely to encase his bones.

“He’s one of ’em,” exclaimed Weston, who was visibly affected by the
sight. “He’s one o’ them Lost Injuns. An’, ef I ain’t mistook, he’s the
last uv ’em.”

[Illustration: THE LAST OF THE LOST INDIANS]

“The last of the Lost Indians,” exclaimed Roy half aloud.

The man was bald and toothless. About his loins he wore an almost black
breech-clout of some sort of skin. A brown blanket, woven of some
vegetable fiber, lay beneath his extended form. And the eyes–they
resembled those of no Indian Roy had ever seen–had the slant of the
Asiatic.

But there was the spell of the apartment. Did it contain the treasures
described by the veteran westerner? Although the sympathetic boy was
held by the sight of the ancient Indian, he heard Weston springing
forward. Roy turned. The plainsman was already hastening toward a group
of strange objects at the side of the apartment opposite the entrance.
Roy followed–his mind full of the tale of silver and gold vessels.

To the right and left of the objects toward which Weston was making his
way, were two decorated columns of wood wedged between the floor and
the ceiling. Designs on them caught the boy’s eye. As he sprang toward
the nearest one, a shadow shot across the ray of light falling through
the door. The boy had just time to turn and make out the tottering
form of the old Indian.

As Roy sprang forward, the Indian made a feeble leap toward the
unperceiving Weston. In his withered, talon-like fingers, glinted the
polished blade of the ivory knife. As it would have entered Weston’s
back, Roy’s desperate lunge intercepted the blow. As the lad’s arm
struck the palsied fingers of the would-be assassin, the ivory weapon
flew into the air, and the Indian reeled to the far side of the room.

Weston’s revolver flashed. But again Roy saved a life. As the point of
the plainsman’s weapon fell upon the Indian, the boy threw it upward.
The explosion filled the hollow room. When the smoke rose to the
ceiling, the wavering Indian, untouched by the bullet, faced them once
more.

His fleshless arms extended high above his head; the palsied, spectral
form swayed for a moment, and then, with a wail of anguish–perhaps the
last expression of an extinct race–the figure stumbled across the cave
and hurled itself upon the floor.

Awe-stricken, the man and the boy gazed upon the shadowy human being.
When they attempted to move the mummy-like shape, they knew that the
Indian was dead. On the sole surviving treasures of his people, the old
man had died.

“Faithful to the end,” whispered Roy.

“The last of the Lost Indians,” added Weston solemnly.

It was ten days later when Roy finally left Bluff for Dolores. The
discoveries made in the Underground City of the Lost Indians were so
astounding that, before noon, the _Parowan_, with Roy as the sole
passenger, was on a bee-line flight to Bluff. By night Roy was carrying
Mr. Cook to the wonderful Sink Hole. With the manager’s assistance, the
wonders of the caves were gradually brought to light. Camping at night
on the dry bed of the river for two days, the men and Roy studied the
puzzles of each separate chamber.

Beyond question, the dead Indian was the last of his race. What that
race represented, they could only conjecture. That it came originally
from the far north was certain. Strangely wrought vessels of wood
inlaid with ivory could not have been made in or near this last refuge
of the dead race. Representations of the walrus, of the whale, and of
the polar bear ran through decorations as certain proof of a one-time
tribal knowledge of the far northern seas.

But, with these carefully preserved articles, were others of a later
date. In their wanderings, the tribe had evidently come south by way of
the sea. For, in addition to ivory utensils and ornaments, there had
been a later utilization of the beautiful Abalone shell found only near
Catalina Island off the California Coast. Mosaics of this in various
local woods were discovered.

“Lastly,” suggested Mr. Cook, “in these mountains of the southwest,
long before this people began to degenerate, there came to it a
knowledge of metals. Before the wanderers began to decline and long
before the last of them were driven to this refuge, they were skilful
workers in gold, silver and copper.”

In these remains, both shell and the jewel of the
southwest–turquoise–had been freely used. Battered and worn samples
of each of these periods of craftsmanship were found in the tomb of the
unknown race. Most of them, and the best preserved, were found in the
cave where the last survivor came to his death.

Apparently the tribe neither cremated nor mummified its dead. In one of
the deepest recesses of a far gallery a burial chamber was discovered.
At the foot of a carved post, over a foot in diameter and resembling
an Alaska totem pole, there were found in this catacomb some of the
most curious and valuable relics. At the urgent request of Mr. Cook,
Roy counted the human skulls in this sepulchre and found there were
four hundred and twenty-three. In this work the acetylene headlight was
useful.

After the complete survey of the caves had been made, and detailed maps
made, showing their ramifications and apartments, Mr. Cook was carried
back to Bluff. For five days the _Parowan_ was in truth an Aeroplane
Express. Three hundred and eighty-five objects, large and small; gold,
silver, copper, wood, ivory and shell; worn textile fabrics, feather
decorations, and the few pieces of pottery found were all carried to
Mr. Cook’s bungalow in Bluff. The four immense wooden posts or “totem
poles,” as Mr. Cook called them, were hauled to Bluff two months later
by wagon.

Then came the question of dividing the treasure. There was nothing
avaricious in Roy.

“It belongs to Weston,” he repeatedly insisted. “Weston suffered for
it, and he found it. He ought to have it all.”

“A contrack is a contrack,” Weston would declare. “Ef I found it, I
lost it, too. An’ you and Mr. Cook is the gents as really diskivered
it. Hep yourselves. They’s a plenty fur all!”

A few of the simpler and best preserved pieces were what interested Mr.
Cook most. These he consented to accept. And, at Mr. Weston’s and Roy’s
joint request, he finally took for himself one of the prize specimens.
This was a heavy copper bowl–eighteen inches across the top–with a
beautifully carved silver lid. In the top of the lid, as a handle,
was set an oblong piece of ivory in each side of which was traced the
outlines of a seal. Around the edge of the lid, set deep in the silver,
was a continuous band of turquoise almost imperceptibly joined.

Roy’s first selection was a bowl of dark odorous wood, almost a
duplicate of the silver-copper vessel in size and shape. The inside
of this, when it had been cleaned, was found to be almost as smooth
as glass. The outside was a mosaic of tiny bits of iridescent Abalone
shell set in a hard, pitch-like substance.

When Weston and Roy returned to Bluff an agreement was reached that
their joint treasure was to be sent east in one shipment in care of
President Atkinson, of the aeroplane company in Newark. Before this
was done, an inventory was made of each item. Copies of this were kept
by Weston and Roy, and when the treasure had been carefully packed and
boxed, a third copy was forwarded to Mr. Atkinson. It had been finally
arranged that Roy was to receive a third of the value of the remarkable
find.

Weston remained in Bluff awaiting the arrival of Dan Doolin to freight
the precious cargo to Dolores. But, on the eleventh of September Roy at
last took farewell of his western friends. Vic. Christian was to carry
him to Dolores in the _Parowan_.

“I can’t feel as if it is good bye forever,” said Roy, grasping Mr.
Cook’s hand.

“I know it isn’t,” answered the set-faced manager. “You’ll come again.
They all do. The salt marshes o’ New Jersey’ll never satisfy you now.”

“As fur me,” added Sink Weston, “I’ll see you soon. When you write me
’at that truck’s been sold, I’m comin’ out to New York and collect. I
ain’t never been east o’ Kansas City, but ole Sink Weston an’ his lady
is agoin’ to see Broadway ef it costs us all them thar Injun dishes.
An’ ef they’s any o’ the long green left, I’m agoin’ to hire some
reporter to write up what we discivered an’ send it to ever’ one o’
them wise boys ’at said I was cracked.”

When that long-looked-for letter reached Dolores in December, addressed
to Mr. A. B. Weston, the last lines of it read:

“—-or a total of $22,000, which makes your share about
$14,666. Mr. Atkinson is anticipating the closing of the deal
by sending you a draft for $1,000. Come and see us.

“Your true friend,

“ROY OSBORNE.”

The last survivor of the Lost Indians of the Sink Hole was interred,
nameless and without rites, in the hidden tomb of his race.

* * * * *

While Roy Osborne was solving the mystery of the Lost Indians
of Utah, a club of Pensacola, Florida, lads was engaged on an
equally interesting task–the discovery of the “Secret City of
the Seminoles” in the Everglades of Florida. This story may
be read in “THE BOY AERONAUTS’ CLUB, OR, FLYING FOR FUN.”