Yinnuwok – The Ghost Stallion

The Ghost Stallion

They set out in a northeasterly direction toward the Sierra Madre. All that afternoon and most of the following night they pushed rapidly on until they emerged upon the eastern slopes of the Sierra Madre and looked down upon the town of Canutillo. Not until then did they stop to rest and make camp.
“Tomorrow we will ride into Canutillo to find Dick Lloyd and Charley Snow, two more cattle rustlers who ride with John Kinney and what he calls his chain gang,” Esben said, as he unfolded the two wanted posters to show to Shoots Plenty. “This is what they look like” He threw two more logs on the fire. Sparks and flames shot into the air.
Shoots Plenty removed his pipe and looked at the posters.
“Hmm, all you white eyes look the same to the Lakota.”
“Just make sure you shoot the right ones when we find them or I might be finding your face on one of these wanted posters.”
“What is this thing the chain gang that they run?”
“A group of horse and cattle thieves that are operating between the Texas Panhandle and southern Arizona Territory. They alter the brands and sell the cattle to butchers and ranchers who ask no questions. Tomorrow we are gonna put an end to that.”
“And how do you know that this Lloyd and Snow are in Canutillo?”
“Captain Smith said that is where they visit their favorite whores. If they aren’t there, we wait. I’m tired and I’m going to turn in.”
“You should think about getting rid of that one-eyed mule, Wasichus. Have I told you the story of Yinnuwok?”
“No, you have not. Who is Yinnuwok?”
“Yinnuwok is the Ghost Stallion”
“I don’t want to listen to you tonight, speak to yourself. I’m turning in.”
“Do not close your ears to our talk. It is important that you should listen, Wasichus. The sun, the darkness, the winds are all listening to what the Lakota have to say and so should you, li meta cola.”
“Well, make it quick. I’m tired.”
“ This story has been passed down from generation to generation by my people. My grandfather spoke to me of when the wind blows the stars clean, and the coyotes jump, and, if you remain still, you can sometimes hear the sound of running horses. When you do you should move closer to one another and pile more wood on the fire, he said, and listen to the old ones tell this story from long ago. It is about a great warrior and chief of the Lakota but a foolish one as well. What the man’s name was, no one knows now, and so they call him the Traveler.
Long ago, the Traveler was a wealthy chief and he had taken many scalps and many horses. He increased his wealth by hard dealings with the less fortunate and younger men who were no match for his cunning.
The Lakota did not love him but they did admire his bravery for he drove hard bargains and prospered from the ills of others. His wives were taken away by their parents; his children hated him and he had no love for them.
There was only one thing he cared for, his horses. They were fine horses, beautiful horses, for he kept only the best. When young warriors returned from a raid with a particularly good horse, the Traveler never rested until he had it in his possession. At night, when the dance drum was brought out, and the other Lakota gathered around, Traveler went alone to the place where his horses were picketed, to gloat over his treasures. He loved them. But only the ones that were young, and handsome, and healthy. A horse that was old, or sick, or injured, received only minimal care and consideration.
One morning, when he went to the little valley in which his horses were kept, he found in the herd an ugly white old stallion, with crooked legs, and a matted coat, thin, and tired looking.
The Traveler flew into a rage. He took his rawhide rope, and caught the poor old horse. Then, with a club, he beat it unmercifully. When the animal fell to the ground, stunned, The Traveler broke his legs with the club, and left him and returned to his lodge, feeling not the slightest remorse for his cruelty.
Later, deciding he might as well have the hide of the old horse, he returned to the place where he had left him and to his surprise, the white stallion was gone. That night, as the Traveler slept, he had a dream. The white stallion appeared and slowly turned into a beautiful horse, shining white, with long mane and tail – a horse more lovely than any the Traveler had seen.
Then the Stallion spoke: “If you had treated me kindly, I would have brought more horses to you, but because of your cruelty to me I shall take away the horses you have!”
When the Traveler awoke, he found his horses were gone. All that day, he walked and searched, but he had found no trace of them. At night when he was asleep and exhausted, he dreamed and in his dreams, the White Stallion came again, and said, “Do you wish to find your horses? They are north, by a lake. You will sleep twice before you come to it.”
As soon as he awakened in the morning, the Traveler took a young warrior’s horse and hastened northward a two days’ journey, and when he arrived there were no horses.
That night, the Ghost Stallion came again. “Do you wish to find your horses?” he asked. “They are grazing in some hills. There will be two sleeps before you come to this place.”
When the sun had gone down on the third day, the Traveler had searched the hills but had found no horses. That night the Stallion came again to the Traveler, directing him to some distant spot, but he never found his horses but he continued to look.
His horse became thin, and footsore. Sometimes he got a horse from some friendly camp; sometimes he stole one.
In the night. before morning, there would come a loud drumming of hoofs, the Ghost Stallion and his band would gallop by, and the Traveler’s horse would break its picket, and go with them.
And never again did he have a horse; never again did he see his own lodge. And he wanders, even to this day, still searching for his lost horses.
Sometimes, the elders say, on a windy autumn night when the stars shine very clearly, over on the quiet plains, above the wind you may hear a rush of running horses and the stumbling footsteps of an old man. And, if you are patient, you may see the Stallion and his band, and the Traveler, still pursuing them, still trying to get back his beautiful horses.
Perhaps tomorrow I will catch a horse for you, Wasichus, and then we can eat that one-eyed mule you have been riding before he decides to kill you.”
“He won’t kill me, Shoots Plenty, and he is better and surer-footed then any horse.”
“You need a good Indian pony, Wasichus.”