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OTIS ADELBERT KLINE

AN EYE FOR AN EYE

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As published in The Australian Worker, Sydney, NSW, 29 Sep 1937

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2020
Version Date: 2020-04-02
Produced by Terry Walker and Roy Glashan

All original content added by RGL is proprietary and protected by copyright.

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CHARLEY WHITESHIRT, the outcast Seminole Indian, was bent on murder. But with characteristic Indian cunning, he had bided his time so that no suspicion of the crime should fall upon himself.

For days, while he pretended to be fishing, he had watched the bungalow of Rance Gordon, the young Chicago artist who, in Charley's estimation, was to blame for the death of his daughter, as well as his own disgrace.

Two weeks before Rance had persuaded the shy Indian maiden to pose for him. She was reluctant at first, but could not resist the money he offered her. It would buy her many trinkets and fine cloth with which to decorate herself, that she might captivate a certain young man of her tribe.

Her love rival spied upon her and immediately told the chief. As a result, the girl was expelled from the tribe in the dead of night. Her father, because of his apparent negligence in not looking after her, was condemned to the disgrace of wearing white man's clothes and taking a white man's name. His tribesmen scornfully called him 'Charley Whiteshirt.'

Next day, Charley found his daughter doubled up in a puddle beneath, a cypress tree, her face contorted with agony. A water snake had bitten her. It did not occur to Charley that the artist was perfectly innocent in the matter. Rance Gordon, in his estimation, was the cause of his daughter's death—and his own disgrace. So Gordon must die.

It was for this reason that Charley had been fishing in the vicinity of the artist's bungalow for several days. And now his opportunity was at hand.

Charley put down his fishing-rod and took up his ancient .32-calibre rifle. Bareheaded, and clad in white polo shirt, and shorts, Gordon was walking straight towards the spot where Charley's boat was hidden, presenting an easy target. Charley's rifle cracked, and the artist slumped to the ground; drilled between the eyes.

Then Charley waded ashore. Carefully he tiptoed to the body, unlaced the dead man's white-and-tan golf shoes, and put them on his own feet.

Then, flinging the body over his shoulder, he obliterated all traces of the murder with handfuls of earth. He then proceeded with his burden towards the water, carefully covering the tracks which his bare feet had first made with the impress of his victim's shoes that he was wearing, so it would appear that Gordon had stopped at this point by the waterside.

Then Charley heaved the body into the boat, paddled out to where the water was up to his shoulders and removed the clothing. He had come prepared with wires and heavy stones, and some twenty minutes later, when he rowed away, the corpse was buried under two feet of silt and four feet of water.

Then, after cleaning his rifle, Charley resumed his fishing.


SOME time later, an outboard motorboat, with three men in it, drew up near Gordon's bungalow.

'Here you are, young feller,' said Sheriff Abner Peters to the youth beside him, as his deputy sprang out and fastened the bow rope. 'Reckon Rance'll be mighty glad to see ye.'

'I know I'll be glad to see him,' replied Jack Williams, Gordon's closest friend. 'And I sure appreciate your running me up here, sheriff.'

The young man heaved his bag on to the bank and sprang after it.

'Hey, Rance! Here's company come to see ye,' shouted the sheriff. He waited in vain for an answer, then shouted again. Still there was no reply.

'Funny he don't answer,' said the sheriff, clambering but of the boat. 'Reckon he must have gone for a walk. I'll see if I can help you find him.'

The deputy lumbered after them. The bungalow door was unlocked, but they found the place untenanted.

The sheriff went out and scanned the water. Some distance away he saw Charley Whiteshirt fishing.

'Hey, Charley,' he shouted. 'Come here.'

The Indian paddled over to them.

'Seen anything of Rance Gordon today?' asked the sheriff.

'Me no seeum at all,' replied Charley. 'Me fish.'

'Pretty good at follerin' a trail, ain't ye?'

'Plenty good.'

'All right. Let's scout around and see where Gordon went this morning.'

'Me find,' grunted the Indian, tying his boat up.

The sheriff's eyes rested for a moment on Charley's .32-calibre rifle which lay across the seat of the boat, but he said nothing.

The Indian circled the bungalow, followed by the sheriff and Williams, the deputy remaining with the boats. Presently Charley came to the trail which Gordon had made only a few hours before.

'Fresh track,' said the cunning Indian. 'Now we find.'

They followed the trail over a small hummock, and down towards the water. The sheriff paused for a moment at the point where Rance Gordon had fallen after being shot, then they proceeded to the water's edge.

'He wade into water—see tracks?' said Charley, pointing.

'Hanged if he didn't—but where did he go from there? And why did he wade into the water with his shoes on?'

The sheriff ruminated for a moment. 'Do you reckon he committed suicide?'

'Rance wouldn't commit suicide,' said Williams. 'Why, he had no reason to take his own life! He was forging ahead in his profession, winning a name for himself. Had plenty of money and plenty of leisure.'

'If he drown this morning, 'gator got body by now,' said the Indian.

'Mebby, and mebby not. We'll have a look, anyway,' said the sheriff.

They went back to where the deputy was guarding the boats.

'Mind if I use your boat, Charley?' asked the sheriff. 'I want to make a search. You go up to the bungalow and keep company with Mr. Williams and my deputy until I get back. I'm going to cut me a ten-foot pole and poke around in the muck.'

The Indian went up to the bungalow with the others, feeling somewhat perturbed. Outwardly, he maintained the stoical demeanor characteristic of his race.

Presently, the sheriff came into the bungalow carrying the Indian's rifle in one hand and his own .45 in the other.

'Stick 'em up, Charley,' he said. 'You're under arrest for the murder of Rance Gordon. Put on the bracelets, Lem.'

The deputy clamped a pair of handcuffs on the Indian's wrists.

'Good God! Did this Indian murder Rance?' exclaimed Williams incredulously.

'Ain't no question of it,' replied the sheriff. 'Rance painted a picture of Charley's daughter a couple of weeks ago. She was seen here and told on by another girl, so the chief expelled her from the tribe and condemned Charley to the disgrace of wearing white man's clothes and taking a white man's name. Charley found her dead in the swamp from a snake bite next day. So he was out to get Rance.

'Might have got away with it, but he was a leetle too clever. Shot Rance from the boat, walked up to him barefoot, put on his shoes and carried him back into the water, tramping out his own tracks. But them tracks didn't fool me none.'

'Did you find the body?' Williams asked.

'Got it in the boat. Rance was shot through the head with Charley's rifle.'

'But what was wrong with them tracks—what made you suspicious?' asked the deputy.

'White man toes out—Indian toes in,' was the significant reply.


THE END


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.