Call him savage, p.1
Call Him Savage, p.1Howard Browne
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This etext was produced from Amazing Stories March 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.
CALL HIM SAVAGE
BY JOHN POLLARD
Illustrator: Sanford Kossin
_Around the 15th of March each year, folks start saying, "Give the country back to the Indians!" Well, that's what we want to talk to you about._
* * * * *
I didn't even hear her come in. What with the Sioux rising against thewhite settlement at the fork of the Platte, the attack being set fordawn, and Chief Spotted Horse's impassioned speech to his braves, Iwouldn't have heard anything under a ninety-seven-decibel war whoop.
Soft lips brushed the back of my neck and she said something.
"That's fine," I said.
I heard _that_, all right. I looked up from the typewriter. "Hey,that's a _nice_ nightgown!"
"I said I think I'm getting a cold."
"Well--with a nightgown like that...."
"Silly!" Her smile would have corrupted a bishop. "You coming to bed?It's almost midnight."
"Soon's I finish writing this chapter. Best thing I've ever done."
I reached for a cigarette. "Sure, more Indians. What else would one ofthe country's leading authorities on the original Americans be writingabout? I hate to keep harping on the same subject, my sweet, but thedough from my last book bought you that mink stole you keep danglingin front of your girl friends."
"If you make so much money at it, why are you still a reporter?"
"I _like_ being a reporter."
"What about _me_? Between reporting and Indians my love life isbeginning to wither on the vine. You should have married a squaw."
"Who says I didn't?" I gave her my best leer and reached out anexploring hand. She blushed and backed away, laughing. "Nothing doing,Sam Quinlan! You want me I'll be in bed."
She gave me a quick kiss, evaded my grasp and disappeared into thebedroom. I finished lighting the cigarette, typed a few more lines.But my working mood was gone, a casualty of a black lace nightgown.Finally I got up from the desk and snapped on the radio and, while itwarmed up, strolled over to the living room window.
* * * * *
At this hour Washington was largely in bed. Away over to the east Icould see the dim glow of lights marking the Mall, with the Capitoldome beyond that. Now that communism was dead, buried and unmourned inRussia and her satellites, with peace and prosperity booming from Iowato Iran, even the President would be sleeping like a baby. Any day nowI would be down to covering PTA meetings for the _Herald-Telegram_.That was okay with me; my big interest was "Saga of the Sioux"--thethird in the series of books I was writing on the history of theAmerican Indian.
An early autumn breeze crawled in at the open window and moved theline of smoke from my cigarette. A quiet serene night, with the faintsmell of burned leaves in the air and the promise of a cool, sunny,peaceful tomorrow. A lovely night, made far lovelier by the thoughtof the beautiful blonde waiting for me in the next room. After twelveyears of marriage I still found her to be the most exciting andrewarding woman I had ever known.
"... most of eastern Colorado," the radio said suddenly, "as well asthe western fringes of Nebraska and Kansas."
I turned the volume down. Weather report, probably, except that theannouncer was making it sound like a declaration of war or a "sincere"commercial.
"We repeat," the voice continued, "since 8:10 this evening, EasternStandard Time, literally nothing has come out of that section of thecountry. All communication has ceased, outbound trains and planes arelong overdue, highway traffic out of the area has stalled."
"You coming to bed?"
"... tuned to this station for further bulletins con--"
I clicked the set off. "Could I have three minutes for a fast shower?"
"Umm ... I guess so."
"I," I told her, "am coming to bed."
* * * * *
Lois rattled the handle of the stall-shower door, and I shut off thewater. "Yeah?"
"At _this_ hour? Who is it?"
"Sounds like Purcell."
"For Crisake!" I came out and grabbed a towel. "This is worse than oneof those Hollywood farces about honeymooners. What's he want?"
"I didn't dare ask him, he sounded so grumpy."
I kissed her. "About that nightgown ..."
"You're getting me all wet!"
* * * * *
Purcell was night Editor at the _Herald-Telegram_, a small, intense,middle-aged, highly literate man. Years before, his wife had run offwith a reporter, leaving Purcell with an undying hatred for allmembers of the profession.
His voice, over the wire, cracked like a whip. "Sam?"
"Listen, I'm off duty. You got any idea what time--"
"You're wanted at the White House. Now."
"The _White_ House? You mean--?"
"The White House. The President wants to see you."
"The _President_! Cut out the gags, will you? I'm in no--"
"I don't kid with reporters, Sam. On your way."
The phone went dead. I stood there staring stupidly at the receiver.Lois had to shake my arm to get my attention. "What did he want?"
"The President wants to see me."
"Hunh-uh. Anybody but Pete Purcell, I'd agree." I put back thereceiver and went over to the dresser for clean underwear. "Get backto bed, honey. I'll be home as soon as I get through running theGovernment. Can you imagine! The President wants to see _me_!"
She yawned and stretched, looking like the June page on an _Esquire_calendar. "Well, so much for my sheerest nightgown."
"Believe me, darling, if it wasn't the President--"
"I know. It would be an Indian."
I finished dressing while she sat on the bed with her knees drawn upto her chin, watching me. I kissed her thoroughly and patted her hereand there and went downstairs. The night man in the garage under thebuilding put down his _Racing Form_ and dug my Plymouth out of awelter of chrome and glass.
I drove much too fast all the way.
* * * * *
A guard at the gate looked at my press pass and used a hiddentelephone. Within not much more than seconds I was ushered into thePress Secretary's office. The Secretary, a badly shaken man if everI'd seen one, had evidently been pacing the floor. He looked at mesharply out of pale, bloodshot eyes. "Your name Quinlan?"
"May I see your identification?"
I handed him my wallet. He flipped through the panels holding my presspass, social security card, driver's license and a picture of Lois ina bathing suit. When he failed to do more than give the latter acasual glance I knew this was a man with a troubled mind.
I said, "Maybe you could give me kind of a hint on what's going on."
"Going on?" he repeated absently.
"You know--going on." I got off a nonchalant-type laugh that wouldhave fooled anybody who was deaf. "I even heard that the Presidentwanted to see me!"
He gave me back the wallet. "Ah--yes. Come with me, please."
We left the office and went down a hall, around some corners and downmore halls, past a lot of doors,
I never saw him again.
There was a long table down the center of a long narrow room. Thewoodwork was white and the walls papered a dark green, withwalnut-framed pictures here and there of the kind of men you see inalbums of Civil War vintage.
But the men around the table were as modern as a jet bomber. Therewere five of them, three of whom I recognized on sight: Army Chief ofStaff General Lucius Ohlmsted, Secretary of
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