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The Canny Cayuse
The white man made certain his imported thoroughbred could outrun the red man’s pony, but the Indian chief was wise in the gambler’s ways
April 1958 | Volume 9, Issue 3
Presto! The stupid-looking Indian horse is instantly transformed into a beautiful, animated racer. His eyes seem almost human. His ears do not droop now, but by their quick alternate motions give signs of readiness; he stamps his feet, slowly at first, but faster and more impatiently the moment it is intimated that he may go; the other horse is making efforts to escape, his masters maneuvering him for the advantage.
The little Indian boy manages his horse alone as the chief gives quiet signs. Three times they come up to the scratch without a start. Crabb now seems very solicitous about the race. I think, probably, he has by this time found the hornet in his hat; at all events, he is pale, and his rider exhibits signs of uneasiness.
At length, thinking to take what western sportsmen call a “bulge,” he says, “Ready!” “Go!” says the little Indian boy, and away go twenty thousand dollars on the heels of the Indian horse, twenty feet in the lead before the other crosses the mark and making the gap wider at every bound.
Away go the flying horses, and several thousand eyes follow the yellow rider, still ahead, as the horses grow smaller and smaller in the distance, until the Indian horse turns the stake at the farther end. Now they come, seeming to increase in si/e as they approach, the yellow rider still in advance. Crabb gasps for breath and declares that his horse “will yet win.”
The eagle eye of the old chief lights up as they come nearer, his rider still leading. The excitement is now beyond description. Look again!—the Indian boy nears the starting point alone, rattling his dry willows over a horse that, considering the nature of the turf, is making the fastest time on record.
The Indians along the line fall in and run beside the victorious racer, encouraging him with wild, unearthly shouts while he crosses the finish line, having run the five and one-fourth miles and eighty-three yards in the unprecedented time of nine minutes and fifty-one seconds, and having won the race and the money, much to the joy of the Indians and their few friends, but to the grief of Crabb and his many friends. He, without waiting to hear from the judges, runs down the track nearly a mile and rushes up to the gayly dressed jockey in his silver spurs, white pants, blue cap, and crimson jacket. He has dismounted and is leading the now-docile, fine-blooded English racer by his silver mountings. Crabb inquires, “What’s the matter, Jimmy?”
“Matter? Why, this hoss can’t run a bit. That’s what’s the matter.”
Before leaving this subject, it is proper to state that How-lish-wam-po gave back to Crabb the saddle horse he had won from him, and also money to travel on; he added a word of caution about stealing out one’s competitor’s horse and having a race all alone, remarking dryly, “ Me-si-ka wake cum-tux ic-ta mamook ni-ka tru-i-tan klat-a-wa [You did not know how to make my horse run]. Cla-hoy-um [Good-by], Crabb.”