Chapter XXII. A Magical Cure
 

Pandemonium reigned in the Havasu village for a few minutes. The Medicine Man had been bowled over in Stacy's projectile-like flight. The Medicine Man leaped to his feet, eyes flashing. Some one pointed toward the creek. The Medicine Man leaped for the river.

Dad spoke sharply to the chief, whereupon the latter fired a volley of gutturals at the fleeing Medicine Man, who stopped so suddenly that he nearly lost his balance.

"Is the water deep in there?" cried the Professor.

"About ten feet," answered the guide.

"He'll drown!"

"No he won't drown, Professor," called Tad. "Chunky can swim like a fish. There he is now."

A head popped up from the water, followed by a face almost as red as the sandstone rocks on the great cliffs glowing off there in the afternoon sun.

"Oh, wow!" bellowed Stacy chokingly, as the waters swallowed him up again. He came up once more and struck out for the bank, up which he struggled, then began racing up and down the edge of the stream yelling:

"I'm skinned alive! I'm flayed, disfigured! I'm parboiled! Pour a bottle of oil over me. I tell you I'm-----"

"You're all right. Stop it!" commanded Tad sharply.

"Sprinkle me with flour the way mother used to do."

Tad walked over and laid a firm hand on the arm of the fat boy.

"You go back there and wipe off, then put on your clothes, or I'll skin you in earnest. I wouldn't be surprised if they'd scalp you if you continue to carry on in this way."

"Sea---scalp me?" stammered Stacy.

"Yes. You surely have done enough to them to make them want to. Did you know you knocked over the Medicine Man?"

"Did I?"

"You did."

Stacy grinned.

"I'm glad of it. But that isn't a circumstance to what I'd like, to do to him if I could do it and get away with it.

"Well, how does it feel to be roasted?" questioned the grinning Ned Rector, approaching them at this juncture.

"Who put up this job on me?" demanded Stacy angrily.

"Job? Why, it wasn't a job. You were a very sick man. Your case demanded instant treatment---"

"Say, what was that meat we had for dinner, Tad?" asked Chunky suddenly.

"Deer meat."

"Oh, fiddle! Ned said it was cat meat and I---I got sick. I'll get even with him for that."

"How do you feel?" asked the smiling Professor, coming up and slapping the fat boy on the shoulder.

"I---I guess I'm well, but I don't believe I'll be able to sit down or lie down all the rest of the summer. No, don't ask me to put on my clothes. I can't wear them. My skin's all grown fast to my underwear. I'll have to wear these underclothes the rest of the season if I don't want to lose my skin. Oh, I'm in an awful fix."

"But you're well, so what's the odds?" laughed Tad.

"It does brace a fellow up to have that---that---what do you call it?"

"Hole In The Wall bath," nodded Ned.

"That's just the trouble. There wasn't any hole in the wall to let the heat out. Oh, it was awful. If you don't think it was, then some of you fellows get in there for a roast. Oh, I'm sore!"

Stacy limped off by himself, then stood leaning against a rock, still in his underwear, gazing moodily at the waters of Havasu River. Stacy was much chastened for the time being.

All at once the lad started. Ned Rector had laid a hand on his shoulder.

"Oh, it's you?"

"Yes. You aren't angry with me, are you, Chunky?"

"Angry with you?"

"Yes."

"Did you ever have a sore lip, Ned?"

"Of course I have," laughed Rector.

"When you couldn't have laughed at the funniest story you ever heard?"

"I guess that about describes it."

"Well, I've got a sore lip all over my body. If I were to be cross with you I'd crack the one big, sore lip and then you'd hear me yell," answered the fat boy solemnly. "No, I'm not angry with you, Ned."

Rector laughed softly.

"I don't want you to be. I'm always having a lot of fun with you and I expect to have a lot more, for you are the biggest little idiot I ever saw in my life."

"Yes, I am," agreed Stacy thoughtfully. "But how can you blame me, with the company I keep?"

"I've got nothing more to say, except that if you'll come back to what's his name's camp I'll help you put on your clothes. Come along. Don't miss all the fun."

Stacy decided that he would. By the time he had gotten on his clothes he felt better. He wandered off to another part of the village, where his attention was drawn to a game going on between a lot of native children who had squatted down on the ground.

Stacy asked what the game was. They told him it was "Hui-ta-qui-chi-ka," which he translated into "Have-a-chicken."

Most of these children were pupils at a school established by the United States government in the Canyon, and could speak a little English. Chunky entered into conversation with them at once, asking the names of each, but he never remembered the name of any of them afterwards. There was little Pu-ut, a demure faced savage with a string of glass beads around her neck; Somaja, round and plump, because of which she got her name, which, translated meant "watermelon." Then there was Vesna and many other names not so easy. Chunky decided that he would like to play "Have-a-chicken," too. The little savages were willing, so he took a seat in the semicircle with them.

Before the semicircle was a circle of small stones, with an opening at a certain point. This opening was called, Chunky learned, "Yam-si-kyalb-yi-ka," though the fat boy didn't attempt to pronounce it after his instructor. In the centre of the circle was another flat stone bearing the musical name of "Taa-bi-chi."

Sides were chosen and the game began. The first player begins by holding three pieces of short stick, black on one side, white on the other. These sticks are called "Toh-be-ya." The count depends upon the way the sticks fall. For instance, the following combinations will give an idea as to how the game is counted:

Three white sides up, 10; three blacks, 5; two blacks and a white up, 3; two whites and a black up, 2, and so on in many different combinations.

The reader may think this a tame sort of game, but Chunky didn't find it so. It grew so exciting that the fat boy found himself howling louder than any of the savages with whom he was playing. He was as much a savage as any of them, some of whom were of his own age. Every time he made a large point, Stacy would perform a war dance, howling, "Have-a-chicken! Have-a-chicken!"

The chief's son, who also had come into the game without being invited, was playing next to Stacy. Stacy in one of these outbursts trod on the bare feet of the young buck.

Afraid Of His Face, adopting the methods of his white brethren, rose in his might and smote the fat boy with his fist. Now, the spot where the fist of Afraid Of His Face landed had been parboiled in the "Hole In The Wall." Stacy Brown howled lustily, then he sailed in, both fists working like windmills. The Indian youngsters set up a weird chorus of yells and war whoops, while all hands from the chief's ha-wa started on a run for the scene.