There were no successful Indians. Formerly there had been—old Indians who owned farms and worked them and grew old and fat with many children and grandchildren. Indians like Simon Green who lived on Hortons Creek and had a big farm. Simon Green was dead, though, and his children had sold the farm to divide the money and gone off somewhere.
Nick remembered Simon Green sitting in a chair in front of the blacksmith shop at Hortons Bay, perspiring in the sun while his horses were being shod inside. Nick spading up the cool moist dirt under the eaves of the shed for worms dug with his fingers in the dirt and heard the quick clang of the iron being hammered. He sifted dirt into his can of worms and filled back the earth he had spaded, patting it smooth with the spade. Outside in the sun Simon Green sat in the chair.
“Hello, Nick,” he said as Nick came out.
“Hello, Mr. Green.”
“Pretty hot day,” Simon smiled. “Tell your dad we’re going to have lots of birds this fall.”
Nick went on across the field back of the shop to the house to get his cane pole and creel. On his way down to the creek Simon Green passed along the road in his buggy. Nick was just going into the brush and Simon did not see him. That was the last he had seen of Simon Green. He died that winter and the next summer his farm was sold. He left nothing besides his farm. Everything had been put back into the farm. One of the boys wanted to go on farming but the others overruled him and the farm was sold. It did not bring one half as much as everyone expected.
The Green boy, Eddy, who had wanted to go on farming, bought a piece of land over back of Spring Brook. The other two boys bought a poolroom in Pellston. They lost money and were sold out. That was the way the Indians went.
ON HIS OWN
The Light of the World
When he saw us come in the door the bartender looked up and then reached over and put the glass covers on the two free-lunch bowls.
“Give me a beer,” I said. He drew it, cut the top off with the spatula and then held the glass in his hand. I put the nickel on the wood and he slid the beer toward me.
“What’s yours?” he said to Tom.
He drew that beer and cut it off and when he saw the money he pushed the beer across to Tom.
“What’s the matter?” Tom asked.
The bartender didn’t answer him. He just looked over our heads and said, “What’s yours?” to a man who’d come in.
“Rye,” the man said. The bartender put out the bottle and glass and a glass of water.
Tom reached over and took the glass off the free-lunch bowl. It was a bowl of pickled pig’s feet and there was a wooden thing that worked like a scissors, with two wooden forks at the end to pick them up with.
“No,” said the bartender and put the glass cover back on the bowl. Tom held the wooden scissors fork in his hand. “Put it back,” said the bartender.
“You know where,” said Tom.
The bartender reached a hand forward under the bar, watching us both. I put fifty cents on the wood and he straightened up.
“What was yours?” he said.
“Beer,” I said, and before he drew the beer he uncovered both the bowls.
“Your goddam pig’s feet stink,” Tom said, and spit what he had in his mouth on the floor. The bartender didn’t say anything. The man who had drunk the rye paid and went out without looking back.
“You stink yourself,” the bartender said. “All you punks stink.”
“He says we’re punks,” Tommy said to me.
“Listen,” I said. “Let’s get out.”
“You punks clear the hell out of here,” the bartender said.
“I said we were going out,” I said. “It wasn’t your idea.”
“We’ll be back,” Tommy said.
“No you won’t,” the bartender told him.
“Tell him how wrong he is,” Tom turned to me.