Part 3 out of 4
In the morning, however, I almost had a pitched battle with Hal, to
prevent him from accompanying Juanita to her home; and it was only
through compromising, and permitting him to ride a few miles in the
carriage with her, that I avoided it.
We all bade her good-by, with hearts filled to overflowing with
thankfulness, for her release from the hands of her cruel captors; and,
wishing her all manner of good luck, and a happy reunion with her father,
the carriage drove off, but not until Hal had climbed in and taken the
vacant seat by her side.
When he returned, a few hours later, his face radiant with happiness, I
made up my mind that it would not be his fault, if he did not again see
the young lady, before many months had elapsed.
During the evening I was aroused from the revery into which I had fallen,
by an unusual disturbance in camp; and, on proceeding to ascertain the
cause, found that Hal, had been endeavoring to thrash Patsey. On calling
the delinquents before me, I was informed by Hal, that Patsey had spoken
insultingly of Juanita, an offence that he had at once resented by
attempting to chastise him.
Upon inquiring as to the words used, Patsey said,--
"Sure, sur, I only axed him did Juanita look as tickled as he did, and he
come at me wid his phists, so he did; but he'll be aisy about sthriking
me the nixt time. Dye'r moind that, noo, yer honor!"
"He'd no business to call her Juanita," angrily exclaimed Hal.
"Phat would I call her, thin?" asked Patsey.
"Call her by her proper name, the Senorita Ortiz," said Hal, with much
"And phat, would I be givin' her that jaw-crackin' name fur, when her
"But her name isn't Juanita to her inferiors, only to her intimate
friends," explained Hal.
"Infariors, sure! Ain't an Irishman as good as a Mexican, any day? An',
if yez think I'm your infarior, jest come out here and thry it, sure;
that's all, Master Hal."
I stopped the controversy at once, by telling Hal that Patsey had no
intention of offending, and there was no occasion for his attempt to
"Oh, he won't thry it again, sur, niver fear," interrupted Patsey. "If he
does," declared he in a tone intended only for Hal's ear, "I'll break
ivery bone in his body, so I will."
After Patsey had gone, I did not reprimand Hal, only sent him to his
tent; for, judging from his crestfallen air, he had suffered physically
as well as mentally in the encounter.
We remained in camp the next day, visiting the officers at the fort, and
taking our farewell of them, with many regrets. Nor did we forget a
generous reminder to Tom Pope, to whose keen observation, quick wit,
daring bravery, and perseverance we owed, in so large a degree, the
success of our expedition.
The following morning, we crossed the Rio Grande and found ourselves in
the celebrated Mesilla valley, one of the most fertile and productive, in
the Territory of New Mexico.
The town itself has a population of about one thousand souls, and was
first settled in 1850, by colonists from Chihuahua. All land in this
portion of the territory is cultivated by irrigation; and, as this was
the first time Hal had ever seen it practiced to any extent, he asked
permission to remain behind in town a little while, to witness the
operation. Ned also expressed a desire to see it, and, after consulting
Jerry, I assented to their request, believing with him, "that they'd find
mighty hard work to git inter any scrape in such a God-forsaken town as
that was, anyhow."
We crossed the valley, and then ascended the high lands west of the town,
through which our road lay, expecting to make our camp about sixteen
miles from the river, and get an early start in the morning, to enable us
to reach Cook's Springs, the following night.
As we rode along, I noticed that the distant range of blue mountains
before us, seemed to have risen from the earth, and to be reposing upon
the line of flickering heat that marked the horizon, and, in a short
time, that groups of trees and huge rocks appeared, standing high in air,
like islands in mid ocean.
Calling Jerry's attention to their singular appearance, he pronounced it
a _mirage_, which I watched with great curiosity; for it was the
first time I had ever seen the phenomenon.
In a little while, the long line of trees connected themselves at each
end, with the land below, and then we saw, a beautiful lake, with its
white-capped waves gently driven before the breeze, rippling and dancing
in the bright sunlight, like living things of life and beauty. The
picture grew larger and larger as we rode, changing into a mighty ocean,
with a grand old rocky shore, which appeared to be indented with scores
of little bays and bayous, upon the banks of which, grew great live-oaks,
their umbrageous tops casting a shade so refreshing, that it was with the
greatest difficulty I could be persuaded that the scene was not a
I could only console myself, however, with the wish that the boys were
along to enjoy it with me; but they were in Mesilla, and Jerry was so
accustomed to sights of the kind, that he merely gave the beautiful
picture a passing glance, regarding it as one of the matter-of-course
things, to be met with on a trip like ours.
We went into camp about four o'clock; and, just at twilight, the guard
that had been stationed back on the road about a quarter of a mile, came
riding furiously in, his swarthy face almost white from fright, shouting
at the top of his voice,--
"_Los Indios! los Indios! Los Apaches!_"
In an instant the quiet camp became a scene of the utmost confusion.
Jerry's first thought was for the animals; mine, for the absent boys. I
stationed the men at what I deemed the best points for defense; and
Jerry, as soon as he had secured the mules, hastened to my side. We then
called the Mexican who had given the alarm, and found that the fellow had
really not seen anything, but had heard strange noises, that he believed
came from Apaches.
Jerry volunteered to ride back and ascertain, if possible, the cause of
the disturbance. He had scarcely been gone five minutes, before one of
the Mexicans rushed towards me, saying,--
"Don Jerry is shouting to _El Senor_ from the rise of ground out
back upon the road."
Springing upon my horse I rode rapidly toward the spot where he stood,
when the sight that met my gaze, almost convulsed me with laughter.
Coming up the road were the boys. Ned was mounted upon his pony, and
trying to lead Hal's mule. Like most Spanish mules, the animal had a will
of its own, and would not be led; but on the contrary, pulled back so
strongly upon the lariat, which Ned had attached to the pommel of his
saddle, that the pony could scarcely move a step.
Hal's coat was off, his face black with dust and sweat, and he, tugging
at a lariat drawn tightly over his shoulder, at the end of which was a
small black bear, scarcely more than a cub. The animal insisted upon
squatting on his haunches, and in that position, Hal was dragging him
through the dust, the creature all the while expressing his disapprobation
by low, snarling growls of defiance, and a vigorous shaking of himself
between each growl.
[Illustration: Boys and Bear.]
The strange medley of noises caused by the boys, the snarling bear, and
the obstinate mule, had been heard in the still twilight for a long
distance, by the guard, and mistaken for the approach of a party of
"I wish you'd take this devilish bear," said Hal.
"And won't you take this plaguy mule?" exclaimed Ned.
Both looked so harassed and tired, that, although Jerry and I could not
help laughing at their ludicrous situation, we nevertheless pitied them.
"Where in the world did you get that bear, Hal?" said I.
"Get him? I bought him of a Mexican at Mesilla, and I'm going to take him
to California with me for a pet. He's tame."
"Well," exclaimed Ned, "if you don't get him along faster than you have
to-day, you'll die of old age before you get there. We've been ever since
eleven o'clock getting here, and I'm so hungry and tired I can hardly sit
on my horse."
"Pooh!" retorted Hal; "this is nothing. You ought to be taken prisoner by
the Apaches if you want to know what 'tis to be hungry and tired."
"How much did you pay for him?" inquired I.
"Only fifteen dollars," answered Hal.
"What's that?" ejaculated Jerry. "Fifteen dollars! Wall, I dunno which is
the biggest fool, you or the bar. The greaser that swindled yer, ought to
be thrashed; and I've a notion of goin' back and doin' it, for I've felt
like thrashin' somebody for a good while. The bar ain't wuth fifteen
cents, and won't be nothin' but a bother. Mebbe though he might be good
for 'fresh,' if we git hard up."
"He won't be any bother, and you shan't use him for meat. He's just as
tame as he can be. See here, now," said Hal, approaching the bear, and
attempting to put his hand upon its head. But Bruin snapped so viciously
that the boy jumped back in dismay, exclaiming, "Poor fellow! he's awful
tired, I suppose!"
"Yes," said Jerry; "he'll be wus tired, though, afore you git him to
Californy. You'll have to lead him, every step of the way. He shan't be
hitched to no wagon, for the mules has got all the load they want to
draw, now. But I reckon we'd better be gettin' back to camp, or the
men'll think, we've been took by the 'Paches."
Supper was soon dispatched, after we reached camp, the events of the day
talked over, we "turned in," and in a short time were fast asleep.
In the middle of the night we were awakened by the most agonizing yells
Springing to my feet, I recognized Patsey's voice, and, as I hurried in
the direction of the sounds, I met the boy, half dead with fright,
rushing towards my tent.
As soon as he recognized me, he fell upon his knees, and, crossing
himself, besought me, in heartrending tones; to "protict him, for the
Blissed Vargin's sake. The divil himself, your honor, has intered the
camp, and he got into bed wid me, to ate me up intirely!"
All the time the boy was howling, and holding one hand under his arm,
while he danced a hornpipe and protested, that, if I'd save him this
time, he'd "niver stale another cint's worth as long as he lived, sure!"
The whole camp was roused, but no one appeared to understand the cause of
Patsey's outbreak, and Hal finally suggested that he'd been dreaming.
"Dramin', is it! I wish it had been dramin' I wuz. Boo! hoo! Didn't I sae
him wid me own eyes, shure?"
After we had partially quieted him he was able to tell us, that, as he
was "slapin' paceably, he all ov a suddint felt somethin' in bed wid him,
that wuz swallowin' him intirely. A big black thing wuz lyin' right by
the side ov him, and wuz jest a-suckin' him in whole, for he had his arrm
in his throat clane up to his ilbow!"
"It's that cub of a bear!" exclaimed Ned, interrupting Patsey's story.
At the sound of the word "bear," all of Patsey's fears returned, with
renewed power, and he again commenced calling for "protiction," in
Going to the wagon under which Patsey had spread his blanket for the
night, we found that Hal had tied the bear near it. Getting rested from
the fatigue of his forced journey, the animal had crawled beneath the
wagon, and, attracted by the warmth of the blankets, placed himself by
the side of the sleeping boy, and, finding his hand uncovered, commenced
Patsey, thus awakened, had seen the creature's glaring eyes and shaggy
black coat, and, not knowing in his fright what it was, concluded his
Satanic Majesty had come for him, on account of his many sins and
[Illustration: Under the Wagon.]
Order was at last restored, and we retired once more, to be awakened some
hours later by Jerry's voice calling the men to prepare for the day's
journey. Our breakfast was soon cooked and eaten, and Hal having finally
induced Jerry, to permit him to tie his bear to the hind wagon, we were
on the road an hour before sunrise, encamping that night at Cook's
Springs, and the next afternoon reaching the Membris River about three
o'clock, where, with good water, and plenty of grass and wood, we made a
very pleasant camp.
Immediately upon our arrival, Hal and Ned went out hunting; and in less
than an hour returned with three fine, fat turkeys, which were soon
cooking after the most approved style, in one of the large camp-kettles
that adorned our fire.
Supper over, Jerry suggested that, as some repairs were necessary to one
of the wagons, we should remain in camp, and make them the following day.
This suggestion was received with so much pleasure by the boys, I at once
determined to adopt it.
Hal proposed a hunting expedition for the morning, leaving Jerry and
myself to attend to the wagon.
This we agreed to; and, about sunrise, the boys started, confident of
their ability to furnish us with a fine quantity of game before night.
As they mounted their ponies, Jerry gave them the following advice:--
"Be keerful ter keep yer eyes and ears open; foller the course of the
river, and don't git out'er sight of it, whatever yer do. There's three
kind 'er game in this country, yer want ter steer clear of, sartin:
them's Injins, bars, and painters. And be keerful to git back afore
sundown, whatever else you do."
"I shan't steer clear of 'painters' or bears, you bet," said Hal. "If I
see one, I shall go for it, and as for Indians, I've had quite enough
experience to know how to handle them, without any advice from you, Mr.
Jerry. I guess we can take care of ourselves;" and away they rode.
"That boy knows less, for a fellow that thinks he knows so much, than
anybody I ever see. Why, he don't know nothin', compared ter Ned, if he
does talk ten times as much. I used ter think, when I was a boy, thet the
feller thet hed the longest tongue, knowed the most; but them's the ones
that don't know nothin'; and he's one of 'em, sartin," said Jerry.
I ventured to remark that Hal was a boy yet, and that we ought not to
expect too much wisdom in one so young as he.
"But ain't t'other a boy, ez well?" inquired Jerry; "and hain't he got
ten times as much sense? However, less go and look at that wagon, and see
what's got ter be done to it."
The repairs kept Jerry and myself busy during the forenoon; and, after
they were finished, Jerry proposed that we should take our rifles, and
see if we couldn't get some game on our own account.
This suggestion met my cordial approval; and, after giving directions
concerning the camp, Jerry and myself started across the prairie,
intending to strike the river some miles above, and follow its course
down; hoping, in this way, to fall in with the boys, on their return.
We rode along for several miles without seeing any game, save a few
antelope, and they at such a distance, that Jerry though it not best to
follow them; and, after a time, decided to make our way to the river and
follow it down to camp.
It was a beautiful day: such a one as always brings peace and quiet to
the most restless mind. I felt its effects most sensibly, and remarked to
Jerry, that I rarely had seen so perfect a day in any country, and it
seemed almost too bad, that so lovely a section could be given over to
the possession of savages and wild beasts.
"'Tis, sartin," he replied; "both on 'em thrive here. I'm thinkin',
though, 'twon't be many years afore white men'll git in here, and then
the Injuns and painters, and sich like'll, hev to leave it. Why, there's
lots o' gold jest above here. I've known plenty of scouts that hev brung
it in. The white folks'll git hold of it one of these days, and then the
country'll fill up like Californy.
"Yer see thet little mountain right ahead of us, don't yer? Wall, I
r'member thet place. There's a narrer pass through thet hill, thet we've
got ter go through. I've been in it once afore, and it's a mighty
pokerish place, I tell yer: however, we'll git along all right, I
In a short time we reached the entrance to the _canon_, which was
indeed a narrow pass. Huge rocks, hundreds of feet high, towered above
and upon each side of us, their dark, moss-grown surface rendering the
narrow passage so gloomy, that, in spite of myself, I felt a cold shiver
run over me, that gave me an involuntary sensation of danger, which I
could not throw off.
Turning to Jerry, I said, "Isn't there any danger here?"
"Danger!" repeated Jerry, "of course there's danger, everywhere in this
country. We ain't out of danger a minute. Ha! ha! ha!" and he laughed so
loudly, that the rocks above us caught the sound and hurled it against
the opposite side of the _canon_, where it seemed to be detained for
a moment by some overhanging cliff, and then sent back, reverberating and
re-echoing, now faint and indistinct, then clear and well-defined, to
again die away in the distance, to once more approach nearer and nearer,
louder and louder, until finally catching upon the sharp edge of some
far-jutting crag, it shivered into a dozen, startlingly distinct peals of
laughter, that seemed to my terrified senses like the shouts of demons,
exulting at our temerity in venturing within their own well-chosen
So terrifying was the effect upon me, that, for a few moments, I could
not persuade myself that it was but an echo I heard. The blood surged to
my heart and receeded so suddenly, that I was hardly able to sit erect
upon my horse. As soon as I could speak, I said,--
"Come, let us go back, Jerry. I want to get out of this, as soon as I
"We've got ter git ter camp, an' this's the nearest way; but, ef you're
afraid, we'll turn back. That warn't nothin' ter hurt, though, it did
sound kind er skeery. Ther shortest way's always ther best in this
country, so let's go ahead," said Jerry.
"I don't know that we are any more likely to meet danger in this
_canon_ than we are out of it," said I; "but it's one of the most
dismal and sunless places I ever was in."
"Well, 'twon't be many minutes afore we're out on the plains agin, so
we'll ride along kind er midlin fast;" and, putting spurs to our horses,
we soon emerged from the gloomy defile, out into the bright sunshine
Once clear of the shadows, I seemed to overcome the forebodings of
danger, that had so oppressed me in the _canon_; and, in a few
moments, the unpleasant sensations produced by the echo, entirely
While thus riding along, the sound of a rifle-shot, a long distance away,
fell upon our ears.
"That's them boys, for sartin," said Jerry. "They're in better luck than
we be, for they've seen somethin' to shoot at,--an' so do I," continued
he in a lower tone, pointing towards a little knoll a short distance away
from the trail we were following.
I knew in an instant, from the tone of his voice, that he had made an
unpleasant discovery, and was satisfied it was Indians. Still I looked,
and saw, upon the top of the knoll, in bold relief against the sky, two
Indians sitting upon their ponies.
One of them held a hand in the air above his head, which Jerry at once
said, was the Apache way of asking for a parley.
"We'll hev ter give it to 'em, though we must be mighty keerful,"
continued he, "'cause it's next to sartin, thet therain't no two on 'em
out there alone. We'll find thet out for ourselves, though, afore we're
many hours older. Keep your eyes wide open, and your finger on the
trigger o' yer rifle, and we'll go and see what they want."
[Illustration: The Two Apaches.]
Upon coming up with them, they each extended, an exceedingly dirty hand,
with finger-nails that looked almost like bear's claws After shaking
hands with them, Jerry proceeded to have a talk in Spanish. This gave me
an excellent opportunity to examine their personal appearance; one, that
I did not neglect.
They were small in stature, with short, ugly faces, very dark
complexions, little, snapping black eyes, low foreheads, with coarse,
stringy, faded hair, that hung far down their backs, carrying in their
faces that nameless, but unmistakable impress of treachery and low
cunning, that constitutes so large a part of the Apache character.
Around their bodies was wrapped an old blanket, so filthy, it was almost
impossible to detect any trace of its original color, which had
undoubtedly been blue. Each carried a bow and arrows, but was destitute
of either leggins or moccasins, although mounted upon very
After a short interview, which terminated with our presenting them all
the tobacco we had, with a shake of the hands we parted.
As they rode away, Jerry said: "I wish them boys was well in camp."
"You don't anticipate any trouble with these fellows?" inquired I. "What
did they say?"
"Say? why, they said they was particular friends of the Americans,"
replied Jerry. "Just what they all say; but they're treacherous cusses,
and either one of 'em, would shake with one hand and scalp with t'other
one, ef they got a chance. That little black cuss called himself _El
Chico_,--that means The small,--and said he belonged to the copper-mines
band, and hailed us to see if he couldn't get a little terbacker;
but all he wanted, was to see how we was armed, and if we had any larger
party. I filled him chock full, you bet; and mebbe we shan't see 'em
again, though it's likely we shall. I see one of 'em eyin' that rifle
o'your'n pretty sharp, and he didn't like the look of it much: I could
We had ridden nearly a mile from the place of the interview, when Jerry
exclaimed, "There they be again, sure'n shootin';" and, pointing to the
mouth of a small _aroya_, that made back from the river, I
discovered six Apaches, coming towards us as fast as their horses would
We were within a quarter of a mile of a small mound, upon the top of
which was a peculiar sandstone formation, not unlike, in shape, a huge
bottle; and I suggested to Jerry, that we should ride to the top of this
mound, and, sheltering our horses behind the rock, await their approach
The suggestion seemed to be a good one, for it was no sooner made than
adopted, and we had barely time to reach the desired location, ere they
were upon us.
"Steady," said Jerry; "let me give 'em one;" and taking deliberate aim'
he fired, killing one of the ponies, thereby forcing its rider to mount
behind one of the others; but on they came towards us, as fast as their
horses could bring them.
"Now's your' time,--fire!" said Jerry.
I brought my rifle to my face and blazed away; seemingly, however,
"That won't do. If you can't shoot surer'n that, you'd better load and
let me do it," said Jerry.
The Indians were now so close that several of their arrows fell about us,
two or three striking the rock behind and shivering to pieces, and
enabling us to recognize among them, the two who had hailed us but a
short time before.
"The treacherous cusses," said Jerry. "I'll pay them fellows off, afore I
git through with 'em, or my name ain't Jerry Vance, sartin."
The Indians appeared to be in no hurry to come within range of our
rifles, but kept well out of the way, occasionally coming furiously to
wards us, and as we raised our rifles to our faces, they would hastily
throw themselves over upon the sides of their animals for protection, and
ride rapidly away.
"They ain't goin' to hurt us much in this way," said I to Jerry.
"No; but they're going to tire us out, for it'll soon be dark, and we've
got neither water nor food here; besides them fellers' eyes arc like
cats',--they kin see ez well in the dark, ez we kin in the daytime. We
kin hold 'em safe enuff now, but we must git a way from here before dark.
There goes for _El Chico_," said Jerry, suddenly bringing his rifle
to his face; and the next instant, an Indian fell heavily from his
horse, and was instantly caught up from the ground by one of his
companions, thrown across the horse before him and the party once more
galloped out of range.
"I reckon we'd better mount and ride slowly towards camp," said Jerry.
"Ef we do we shall get there some time ter-night, but ef we stay here we
shan't, that's sartin."
"Do you suppose they'll follow us?" inquired I.
"Sartin sure," responded Jerry; "but I reckon by good engineerin' we kin
keep 'em off, so that their arrers won't hurt us much: it's a mighty
lucky thing they ain't got no firearms."
We immediately mounted our horses and rode out upon the plain. The
instant the Indians saw us they began whooping and yelling, as though we
had done the very thing, they most desired; but Jerry was strong in the
opinion that it was our best course and we continued on.
Every few minutes they would make a rush towards us, and we would turn
and bring our rifles up; and then they would wheel and rapidly ride away
out of possible range, when we would continue our course towards camp.
We made but little progress; and, after riding a couple of miles in this
way, determined to make a stand, in hopes of inducing some of them to
advance within rifle-range; but they were too wary to be caught in this
manner, although they would approach much nearer than they had done
While we were debating as to the best course to pursue, we were startled
by the report of a rifle-shot, far in the rear of the Indians, who, upon
hearing the sound, rode rapidly away to the right, just as a party of
four persons came in sight.
They were soon near enough for us to distinguish Hal and Ned among the
number, and we at once rode towards them, glad enough to know they were
safe. Their companions proved to be a Mr. Mastin, with his Mexican
servant, on his way from the copper-mines to Mesilla.
He had fallen in with the boys, and, upon their invitation, was
accompanying them to our camp; but, having heard the sound of our rifles,
and anticipating an encounter, had hurried on to join us.
We were delighted to meet with the boys, safe and sound, and made good
time towards camp, which we reached just about sundown.
We found Mr. Mastin a very intelligent American; and, as he informed us,
the discoverer and part owner of the Pino Alto gold-mines, about fifty
miles above, near the _Santa Rita del Cobre_. He had resided many
years in the country, and was thoroughly acquainted with the Apaches, and
familiar with their habits and customs.
We succeeded in making a very comfortable meal, notwithstanding our ill
luck in procuring game; and, after supper was over, we seated ourselves
around the camp-fire to hear Mr. Mastin discourse upon Apaches.
He had once met Mangas Colorado, the head chief of the tribe, who was
called Red Sleeve, from the fact that he never failed to besmear his arms
to the elbow, in the blood of his victims.
He described him as over six feet in height, with an enormously large
head, a broad, bold forehead, large, aquiline nose, huge mouth, and
broad, heavy chin. His eyes were small, but very brilliant, and, when
under excitement, flashed like fire, although his demeanor was like that
of a cast-iron man.
He said that Mangas was undoubtedly one of the ablest statesmen, as well
as the most influential and sagacious of all the Chiefs of the Indian
tribes of the southwest; and related many anecdotes illustrative of his
character,--incidents that had come under his own observation,--which
entertained us until a late hour, and gave us an insight into Apache
life, that was both amusing and instructive.
Notwithstanding we had all been so much interested in Mr. Mastin's
conversation, the boys begged him to tell them one more story before they
retired; and, as he seemed perfectly willing to comply with their
request, we filled our pipes and again gathered about him, while he
related the following:--
"A couple of years ago, I had occasion to visit a _rancheria_ of
Pinal Apaches in the mountains just north of the copper mines.
"While there, my attention was called to one of the warriors, a tall,
well-proportioned and very dignified Indian, about forty years of age. He
weighed nearly two hundred pounds, and, with his broad shoulders, deep
chest, and splendid muscle, was one of the finest-formed men I ever saw,
as well as one of the ugliest; for his face was certainly the most
hideous I ever beheld, being terribly disfigured by a broad, livid scar,
that extended from the corner of his mouth to his ear. Notwithstanding
this, the fellow was a great dandy, spending many hours each day in
greasing and arranging his long coarse hair, which he ornamented with
plates of silver, bits of gaudy-colored cloth, bright feathers, and
tinsel. Every hair was scrupulously plucked from his brows and eyelashes,
and the lids of his eyes were painted a bright vermilion, giving to his
face the expression of a demon rather than anything human.
"That he was hideously ugly, and never known to smile, were two
indisputable facts; while it was equally sure that there was no greater
favorite with the Apache belles, no braver warrior, more sagacious
counselor, mighty hunter, or expert thief in the whole tribe.
"I learned that his name was Cadette, and that he obtained it in the
"Upon the headwaters of the Rio Gila, in Arizona, is a vast forest, that
has been the hunting-ground, as well as the home of the Apaches for
centuries. Here they have never been disturbed by the visits of the
'White Eyes,' as they term all Americans.
"Occasionally a party of hardy prospectors, lured by reports of fabulous
quantities of gold and silver in the possession of these Indians, would
venture within the gloomy recesses of this unexplored region; but few of
them ever returned.
"One day, while passing near the banks of the river, Cadette discovered
the footprints of a very large lion in the sand. Though armed with no
weapon but his spear, he at once determined to follow the trail. This he
decided, after a careful examination, to have been made some four hours
previous, in the early morning. It led towards a dense jungle, some two
or three miles down the river, which he concluded was the creature's
"As he drew near the thicket, he dismounted from his pony and approached
the jungle with great caution. At this place, the river was quite narrow
and very deep, and upon its bank stood a large cedar, whose wide,
spreading branches, extending far over the stream, afforded him an
excellent opportunity to examine the interior of the thicket.
"Into this tree the Indian climbed, and crawled out upon a large limb
directly over the river, which he fancied would enable him to obtain a
view of the supposed lair.
"While he was peering into the jungle, he became suddenly conscious of a
movement in the thick branches over his head. Looking up, he discovered,
lying upon a large limb about ten feet above him, a panther. The animal
was preparing to spring; and, in an instant, like a flash, it sprang
"Almost as quick as thought itself, Cadette dropped from the limb into
the water beneath, just as the panther landed upon the spot he had so
"Once in the water, the Indian swam silently and expeditiously beneath
the surface, until he was some distance down the stream and out of sight
of the tree, when he landed under the shelter of the bank.
"Just then a slight noise attracted his attention, and he discovered his
enemy, partially concealed in the tall bottom grass, and evidently
determined that his prey should not escape so easily.
"Cadette was brave, but he fully realized that an unarmed Apache,
courageous as he might be, was no match for a panther; and the wary
Indian began to look about him for some means of retreat from his
unpleasant situation. While he was doing this, the creature worked
himself into a position between the Indian and the river, thus
effectually cutting off his only hope of escape.
"What should he do? The panther was not twenty feet away from him: he
well knew that the animal could reach him at a single bound. Keeping his
eye fixed steadily upon the crouching form, the Indian began to slowly
"While he was retreating before the stealthy, cat-like approach of the
panther, the most piercing cries, as of some human being in terrible
agony, filled the air, startling the Indian, and causing the panther to
rise from its crouching position, and listen intently for a moment with
well-erected ears, and tail gently lashing the earth. The cries were
repeated. The next moment the great creature turned, and slowly moved
away in the direction from whence the noise came, while Cadette hastily
returned to the foot of the tree where he had left his spear.
"After securing his weapon, he started for the place where he had left
his pony; but, to his surprise, the animal was not there. Following its
trail, he soon came upon bear tracks, and concluded that his horse had
been attacked by the bear, and in his agony had uttered the cries that
had so startled him, and attracted the attention of the panther.
"Continuing his search, he found the dead body of his pony upon the
ground. Near it was the panther, crouched, as though about to make a
spring; while, at a short distance, standing erect upon his hind-legs,
with his back against a large rock, was a huge cinnamon bear, evidently
"The Indian crept cautiously forward, and concealed himself behind a
great stone, from whence he could watch the approaching combat.
"The panther lay close to the ground, with his eyes fixed intently upon
the bear, his huge fore-paws nervously contracted, while the long claws
grappled the rocks and gravel. Occasionally he uttered a low menacing
growl that showed his gleaming white teeth and blood-red tongue, from
which the saliva fell in great drops.
"Meanwhile, the bear remained on the defensive, apparantly fearing to
move from his position, lest his more nimble adversary should take
advantage of him.
"The savage creatures maintained their relative positions, eyeing one
another for several minutes. Then the panther gave a tremendous leap, and
grappled the bear. It was a frightful contest: each animal uttering the
most piercing cries, biting, hugging, and tearing one another as they
rolled over and over in the dust.
"It was evident to the Indian that this fearful struggle could last but a
short time; and soon the animals, as if by mutual agreement, separated,
and, moving a short distance from one another, lay down and began to lick
"While thus engaged, the panther became by some means, aware of Cadette's
presence. As though angry at such an interruption, he turned, and, with a
fierce growl, sprang towards him, instead of the bear.
"Unexpected as was the movement, it did not find the Indian unprepared.
Planting the handle of his spear firmly in the earth, he so adroitly held
it that the panther alighted upon its sharp iron head, which passed
directly through the creature's heart; not, however, before the maddened
animal had dealt Cadette the blow that crushed his face, and inflicted a
wound the scar of which, had so terribly disfigured him for life.
"As soon as the Indian recovered from the effect of the blow, he
succeeded in withdrawing his spear from the carcass of the panther, and
went in search of the bear, who had retreated to some distance, and was
engaged in licking the wounds he had received in his encounter with the
"Cadette at once attacked the creature so vigorously with his spear, that
he soon succeeded in killing him; and, although suffering great pain,
managed to remove the skin from both animals; and, taking them upon his
back, bore them in triumph to the _rancheria_, more than twenty
miles distant, as trophies of his prowess in the chase."
After thanking Mr. Mastin for a very pleasant evening, we all retired,
and were soon asleep, nor did we awake the next morning until the sun was
far up in the heavens.
Breakfast over, we bid our guest a hearty farewell; and, with good wishes
for our safe arrival upon the Pacific Coast, he left us to pursue our
journey still further into the Apache country.
It was after we were comfortably seated about our camp-fire, in the
evening, that I bethought myself that we had not as yet, heard Hal's
story of his capture and adventures with the Apaches. So I called him,
with the request he would narrate what had befallen him, from the time he
left our camp at Dead-Man's Hole until his release by us in the
Hal, who had evidently been expecting the invitation for some time, at
once seated himself, and, with Jerry, Ned and myself as listeners,
commenced as follows:--
"When Anastacio and I started for Fort Davis, we hadn't been on the road
fifteen minutes, before five Indians set upon us, from a thicket by the
"They followed up the attack so briskly, that before we had time to
think, they had our revolvers, and our hands tied behind us. They then
took our horses and mounted us upon two of their own. We travelled over
the roughest, hardest country I ever saw in my life, until daybreak, when
they stopped at a spring to water.
"Here they stripped us of most of our clothes, and made us ride bare-backed
until noon, when they stopped for a few minutes. I noticed that,
whenever they halted, one of them always rode to the top of the highest
hill near, and remained on the lookout there, until we were ready to
"Before we had been long at this last place, the lookout signaled, and,
in about an hour, eight more Indians joined us, with Juanita.
"She was very tired and terribly frightened, but when she saw me she just
cried for joy, and I tried to comfort her as much as I could; but, while
I was talking to her, a great, greasy-looking fellow came up to me, and,
taking me by the collar, pulled me away, and, putting the muzzle of my
own revolver to my head, made signs that, if I dared to speak "--
Here Patsey came running up, yelling at the top of his voice,--
"The bear's goned! The bear's goned!" Hal and Ned jumped to their feet,
exclaiming,--"Which way did he go?" and, without waiting for a reply,
darted off in search of him.
"I hope they won't git the critter: he ain't nothin' but a cussid
nuisance, no how," said Jerry, as Hal disappeared in the gloaming.
"It's so dark they won't be very likely to," was my reply.
"I 'spect the Irishman had a hand in startin' him," continued Jerry.
"He's owed the critter a grudge ever since he tarred his clo'es so, the
"How was that, Jerry?" inquired I.
"Why, yer see the boy had been a-proddin' the critter with a sharp stick;
and, arter he got through, he was a-standin' by the wagon, and the bar
made a jump and ketched him right by his trousers-leg. This kind er scart
the feller, and he made a leap, and left the biggest part of his breeches
in the critter's mouth. Ned laughed, and told him, that one bar(e) in
camp was enough, and he'd better go an' mend up--thar he is, now,"
pointing towards one of the wagons.
I called him, and he came towards me, looking decidedly guilty. I said to
him, "Patsey, how did the bear get away?"
"He runned away, sure, sur."
"Yes; but how did he get loose?"
"He aited the rope aff, I suppose, sure. I seed him goin', and thought
it'd be no harm to spake to the boys, sur."
"That was all right, Patsey; but you didn't turn him loose, did you?"
"I turn him loose, sur! Phat would I be doin' that fur?"
"Well, why didn't you go out and help find him?"
"I was afraid, sur;" examining the huge rent in his pantaloons.
"Afraid!" said I. "What under the sun was you afraid of? your bare legs?"
"Will, sur, I didn't know what the quinisquences might be if two bears
(bares) happened to mate in the woods."
Just here Jerry gave one of his peculiar chuckles; and, seeing that I got
but little information from the boy, I dismissed him with the remark,
that, when we got to Tucson, he should have a suit of clothes.
"That'll _suit_ me, your honor," was the reply, as he moved briskly
The boys soon returned, after an unsuccessful search for the bear.
Hal was disposed to blame everybody but himself for the escape, while
Ned, with whom the bear had never been a great favorite, was inclined to
laugh at the matter, to Hal's great disgust.
His ill nature reached its culminating point, however, when Jerry
suggested, that, "if he lied fifteen dollars more to git rid of, he'd
better bury it than give it for a cussid, good-for-nothin' bar, that
warn't nothin' but a infernal nuisance to everybody, anyway."
Hal accepted the gauntlet thus thrown down by Jerry, and was about to
reply in no very polite language, when I changed the conversation, by
requesting him to finish the narrative of his visit to the Apaches; and,
after a little hesitation, he resumed his story as follows:--
"The Indian told me, that, if I spoke to Juanita again, he'd send a
bullet through my head; so Anastacio said, for the Indian spoke in
"I didn't talk to her any more for several hours, but rode all the
afternoon by her side. When we got to the top of the bluff from which we
could see the Rio Grande, Juanita cried, and said that her home was
there, and Anastacio felt so bad for her that he led her horse all the
way after that.
"When we got to the river, instead of crossing, the Indians rode into it;
and they made us all wade through the water for three or four miles,
though the whole party came out on the same side. From here we struck
into the prairie again; and, after riding for two or three hours, we
"Juanita was so tired, she dropped to sleep as soon as we stopped; but
Anastacio and I kept awake, and saw the Indians cast a mule, and open his
veins and suck the warm blood from them. After this, they cut off
portions of the flesh and roasted it over the coals, and made motions to
us, that, if we wanted any, we must cook for ourselves.
"We were both hungry, but we couldn't eat mule meat, then, although we
had to come to it in a little time.
"We started by daybreak the next morning; and Juanita became so
exhausted, that, before night, she asked me two or three times to kill
her. Finally, she appealed to Anastacio; and I heard him promise her, on
a little cross she wore around her neck, that, if worse came to worse, he
would do it.
"That day one of the Indians killed an antelope, and we all ate heartily
of it, but Anastacio. He took the meat they gave to him, and saved it for
Juanita. He carried it in his hand all day, and walked beside her horse,
telling her stories in Spanish, and trying to cheer her. He was as kind
to her as he could be, during the whole seventeen days we were together.
"One night we slept in a great cave in a mountain,[Probably the Waco
Mountain, thirty miles east of El Paso.] where there were four or five
deep pools, of nice, clear water. Juanita was so delighted at the sight
of them that she sat on the brink of one and put her feet in it, to 'rest
them,' she said. When the Indians saw her do this, one of them struck her
with his quirt [A small, heavy whip.] over the shoulders.
"Anastacio sprang at him like a wild beast, and I believe would have
killed him, but the other Indians took him off. They seemed greatly
amused at the fight; but said they were only saving us for their squaws
to torture, after they got us home.
"After this they made us all walk; although Juanita's feet and ankles
were swelled so terribly that she could scarcely move: whenever Anastacio
got the chance though, he carried her in his arms.
"One day one of the Indians brought her some fresh mule's blood to drink,
and, because she wouldn't take it, he threw it in her face, and told her
in Spanish, that, when they got to their village, he should make her his
squaw. This made her cry terribly; and I heard Anastacio tell her he'd
certainly kill her, before the Indians should have her. After that I
thought she seemed happier, and repeatedly said, if she could only see
her dear old father once more, she should be glad to die.
"We all suffered terribly from fatigue and thirst; for, after they
thought Juanita was going to drown herself in the pool, they were very
cross to us, and used to make us do all their work about the camp. If we
refused, they stuck sharp-pointed knives into us, and struck us with
their quirts; though, after Anastacio made the fuss, they didn't strike
Juanita any more.
"The night you rescued us was the first time they hadn't put a guard out,
since we were captured.
"You see, they always sent one of their party back a mile or two, to
watch the trail, so as to avoid being surprised; but they had got so near
home, they didn't dream of being pursued, I suppose.
"That day Anastacio told me they were talking of having a big dance when
they got to the village, and he was going to kill Juanita before we
reached it. He cried about it, and wanted to know if I supposed the
Blessed Virgin would forgive him if he did it. We'd just been talking
about it, when we heard the crack of Tom's rifle, and saw the Indians run
towards the wood.
"I tell you what it was, when I heard that shot, I felt that it wasn't an
Indian's gun (it didn't sound a bit like one), and my heart jumped right
up into my mouth.
"The Indians appeared so anxious about Juanita, that they seemed to
forget Anastacio and I, when they heard the rifle. We both run for the
hut, and saw that she wasn't there, and supposed the Indians had taken
her. Then we heard the soldiers' guns, and run towards them; and, the
next I knew, I met Ned, and was hugging and kissing him just like a girl,
I was so glad to see him. I tell you 'twas jolly, though; and, when I
found that Juanita was all right, I felt like dancing and crying in the
"One thing is certain: you saved Anastacio from killing Juanita, for she
never would have gone into that village alive."
"Wall, youngster," said Jerry, "I've heered you through; and now I'd
like ter know what you think of the 'Paches; 'cause, you see, we've got
ter travel a good many hundred miles through their country, and I'd like
ter hev your opinion of 'em."
"Why, I think they are a cruel, cowardly, treacherous tribe, as Mr.
Mastin said; and the dirtiest things I ever saw."
"Tell me, Jerry, do you know much about them?" interrupted I. "If you do,
tell us something of their character and habits, as you've seen them."
"Wall, I've been through their country seven times, and I've met a heap
of 'em, one way and another; but I hain't got no better opinion of 'em
than Mr. Mastin hed. They're the smartest, wickedest and cunningest,
Injins I ever seed. A Comanche ain't a touch to 'em, and I've never yet
seed a white man smart enuff to beat 'em."
"You don't exactly mean that, do you, Jerry?" inquired I.
"That's exactly what I do mean: no more and no less," was the reply.
"You'll hev a chance ter see for yourself, afore we git through this
trip, I'm thinkin, or you'll be the only man thet ever travelled through
their country that hain't; that's my idee, sartin. Why, the cusses'll
telegraph to one another all over the country, and know just what's goin'
on a hundred miles away.
"Americans can't understand 'em, and never will. No one ever saw a white
man look at a country as a 'Pache does: he'll see everything. Ther ain't
a ravine, gully, rock, bush, or tree, a foot high, thet he don't hev his
eye on. Now, a white man don't look at a country in that way, does he?
[Illustration: Apache Trailing.]
"Jest ez likely ez not, there's a Injin within a dozen yards of us; but
we wouldn't think it."
"A dozen yards of us!" exclaimed Hal, looking around; "why, where could
he hide, I'd like to know?"
"That's jest it, youngster. We might go within ten feet of him, and never
see him. Why, I've knowed 'em to hide behind a brown-bush, clump er
cactus, or a rock, so mighty cunnin' thet ther ain't one scout in fifty
would see 'em, let alone a stranger.
"They'll kiver therselves with grass, and lay on the ground all day,
without movin', waitin' for a party to pass. I've been within ten foot of
one myself, and seed him, too, and thought 'twas a part of the rock he
was lying agin.
"I tell yer, them fellers's smarter'n a whip! They be, sartin, now."
"Well," said Ned, who had been listening attentively to Jerry's
description of the Apache character, "if I'd had any idea these Indians
were half as smart as you say they are, I'd rather have stayed in Texas
than started on the trip."
"I wouldn't," declared Hal. "I've had about as much experience with 'em
as anybody in the party, and I don't believe they're half as smart as you
make 'em out. At any rate, I wouldn't be afraid to put my brain against
"Put your what, youngster?" inquired Jerry, in such an incredulous tone,
that we all burst into a hearty laugh, in the midst of which Hal retired,
leaving Jerry, Ned, and myself to continue the Apache question alone.
"You may depend on't, we ain't a-goin' ter git through this blasted
country without more'n one brush with them fellers; and my way is ter
keep our ears and eyes open, our rifles and pistols well loaded, and meet
'em when they come;--for come they will, sartin," said Jerry.
"Well, you must adopt such precautions and make such rules as you think
proper," was my reply. "We'll all obey them."
"I'll set ther guard ter-night, and yer may ez well turn in now, 'cause
we must make a early start."
We had hardly been on the road an hour the next day, before we observed
one of the remarkable signal-smokes (used by the Apaches to give warning
of the approach of strangers into their country), suddenly shoot up into
the air from a spur of the mountains several miles distant.
Although the morning was windy, the smoke arose in a straight column to a
great height, then spread out like a huge umbrella at the top, and, in
the twinkling of an eye, was gone.
"That means 'look out,' plain enuff, don't it?" asked Jerry. "That's what
I call telegraphin'. Now, putty soon you'll see some more answerin' of
"Do you know what that means?" inquired Ned.
"That means, 'Strangers is comin'.' If they'd repeated it three or four
times, it would have said, 'The party's a big one, and wants watchin'.'
But they're so fur off, I reckon they'll send two or three spies in ter
see how many thar is of us, afore we shall hear from 'em. Hilloa! there
they go," continued he, pointing to three more of the signals that were
suddenly sent up in different directions. "We're in amongst 'em, sure,
boys; so let's keep our eyes open."
Notwithstanding we maintained the utmost vigilance during the entire
day's journey, we saw nothing of Indians, or any signs indicating their
presence; but, upon camping at night, we so disposed our wagons, that we
should be able to make a vigorous resistance in case of attack. The guard
was posted, to be relieved every two hours. Our camp was on an open
plain, with no shrubbery save an occasional brown-bush or _yucca_
near us; and we retired, feeling as safe as we had any time since
crossing the Rio Grande.
The night passed quietly; and, just as the grey dawn began to make
objects visible about camp, I awoke.
I saw the guard sitting over the smoldering fire, the mules hitched to
the wagon-wheels as usual, and the remainder of the party wrapped in
their blankets, apparantly sleeping soundly; so I determined to take
another nap before rising.
While thus lying, half awake and half asleep, I dreamily turned my eyes
towards a small bush that stood a few yards from the place where I was
lying, and, to my horror, discovered a pair of bright eyes peering at me
from between the branches.
My first thought, that it was some animal, was speedily dissipated by
discovering the fingers of a human hand holding aside the branches so as
to give its owner an uninterrupted view of our camp; and it required but
little stretch of the imagination to plainly see the features of a
swarthy, ugly face behind them.
In an instant I remembered the conversation with Jerry the day previous,
and decided that it must be the face of an Apache spy, and that I had
better remain quiet; knowing, that, if my surmise was correct, we need
not fear an attack from him or his companions, at that time.
I lay for some moments,--it seemed hours,--spell-bound, watching the
face, but not daring to move even an eyelid, lest the discovery of the
fact that I was awake, should be the signal for my own destruction. I
expected every moment to hear the twang of a bow-string, and feel the
head of an arrow penetrate my flesh; for I felt confident the spy was not
I remember watching the eyes, so steadily gleaming from between the
boughs, and comparing them to those of a tiger, about to spring upon its
prey, and then, I found myself speculating as to whether a flint
arrow-head would cause more pain than an iron one.
While these thoughts were passing through my mind, I noticed the branches
almost imperceptibly resume their natural position and the eyes disappear
My first impulse was to spring to my feet and alarm the camp. Then I
bethought myself of the well-known cunning of the Apaches, and determined
to remain quiet for a few moments, lest a ruse had been adopted to
ascertain if their presence had been discovered.
Just at this moment, the guard, who had been sitting over the dying
embers of the camp-fire, arose, drew his coat closer about him to shield
him from the chill morning air, and, after taking a look around, again
sat down. As he did so, I saw the branches once more cautiously pushed
aside, and two pairs of eyes, instead of one, survey the scene.
What should I do? A cold sweat started from every pore of my body, and my
heart almost ceased to beat, as I realized that the least movement of
either of my sleeping companions might precipitate upon us a foe, of
whose numbers I could form no estimate.
Conscious that I had acted wisely in doing nothing myself to hasten it, I
felt equally certain I could have done nothing to avert it.
There I lay waiting, I knew not for what. The suspense became terrible.
It seemed as though every moment had become a long hour,--as though I
dared not breathe, lest the breath should be my last.
Suddenly, I felt that the boughs had again resumed their natural
position, and the eyes were gone. Yes! they were there no longer. Once
more I breathed freely.
Why I did not instantly arouse the camp, I cannot tell. I waited several
minutes, then quietly cocked my rifle beneath my blankets, and touched
Jerry on the shoulder. The instant he felt it, he started; but my low "s-h"
apprised him of danger, and he again resumed his old position.
In a low tone, I told him what I had seen. He waited a few moments and
then aroused the camp.
No one was aware, that, during the night, Indians had been so near us,
nor did the camp show any evidence that they had entered it; but the
ground in the vicinity of the bush, which had concealed the foe revealed
very plainly the track of four moccasined feet. Although we found it
difficult to tell in what direction they had gone, yet it was quite
evident that we might, at any time, expect a visit from our Apache
friends, and our only course was to be ready when they appeared.
Hal and Ned were disposed, at first, to imagine that the visitors of the
night previous were the creation of a dream; but the sight of their
footprints in the sand, soon dissipated that theory, while they plainly
told them the necessity of greater caution.
Breakfast dispatched, we got under way once more; and, during the next
three or four days crossed several spurs of the Burro and Pelloncillo
ranges of mountains, and over that portion of the great Madre Plateau,
that lies along the thirty-second parallel,--but saw no Indians.
This fact gave Hal a good opportunity to laugh at what he termed my
vision; nor did he fail to improve the opportunity.
Jerry and I often consulted together, and wondered why it was that we
heard nothing more from the spies that had visited us; for, as Jerry
wisely said, "If they'd come along and have it out with us, one way or
t'other, he wouldn't keer; but ter keep us always expectin' 'em, is what
wears a feller out. By'm by, when we git keerless, they'll ketch us
nappin', and then, God help us, that's all."
Our route, the next day, passed through a fertile
_cienega_,[Valley.] thence over an alkali plain. It was while
crossing this latter, that I met with an adventure, the most desperate we
encountered on the trip. Our route carried us over this vast plain,
strongly impregnated with alkali, and sparsely covered with dwarfed
mesquite with an occasional cluster of _yuccas_, scarce two feet in
height; and was so level, we could see for miles over it in any
The road was thickly covered from five to six inches deep, with an
impalpable dust, so fine that the lightest footstep, or breath of air,
sent it in clouds above our heads. So dense was it, that it completely
enveloped our whole party, making it impossible for us to distinguish one
another, at a distance even of three or four feet.
Jerry and myself had been riding a few rods in advance of the wagons; but
he returned to them for the purpose of giving some order, while I
continued on. So open was the plain, that it seemed impossible for any
foe to be concealed upon its surface; and we naturally abated somewhat,
the vigilance we should have maintained, had we been passing through a
rocky _canon_, or wooded defile. We therefore rode carefully along,
shrouded in dust, but not dreaming of danger.
Suddenly, without the least warning, three or four muskets, and a shower
of arrows, were discharged upon us from a spot not twenty yards away.
A clap of thunder from a clear sky would not have astonished me more.
The thought, that Hal or Ned might have been killed, passed like a flash
of lightning through my mind; for the dust was so dense, I could not
distinguish friend from foe; but I heard Jerry shout, "_Adelante!
Adelante hombres_!" and forgetting for the moment that I was already
in the advance, in obedience to the order, I spurred my horse forward,
just as the Apache war-whoop sounded, apparantly upon all sides of me.
The spot selected for the ambush was at a point where the road passed
though a large body of prickly-pear, the terrible thorns of which, in
connection with the sharp-pointed leaves of the Spanish-bayonet, formed a
natural _chevaux-de-frise_ that no living creature could penetrate.
I soon discovered this; and, in the expectation of reaching the train,
turned my horse's head and rode blindly back through the thick dust,
although unable to see more than a few feet from me in any direction.
Suddenly I found myself surrounded by Indians. One stout, sinewy fellow,
naked, with the exception of a breechcloth, seized my horse by the bits,
and by main strength, forced him back upon his haunches, and in the
twinkling of an eye, I lay upon my back in the dust of the road, deprived
of my weapons, with an Apache, whose nude body had been well smeared with
grease, sitting squarely astride me, with a knee upon each arm.
It was impossible for me to move; and I gave myself up for lost, as I
noticed the wicked, fiendish expression upon the hideously painted face
of the savage, and heard him mutter a malediction in Spanish through his
closed teeth. The next instant, the welcome crack of three or four rifles
greeted my ears. The Indian gave a start, and I saw the blood spurt from
He gnashed his teeth, uttered a harsh, fierce exclamation of rage, and
seized my throat with one hand, while he made a desperate attempt, with
the other, to grasp my knife, which, in the struggle, had fortunately
fallen just beyond his reach.
As he stretched forward, I felt his hold upon my throat relax; and,
making a tremendous effort, I succeeded in pitching him over my head;
then, springing to my feet, ran like a race-horse in the direction of the
shots just fired; and, the next moment, was with Jerry and the boys.
I was so excited and bewildered, that, for a few seconds, I could hardly
realize what had passed. I soon learned, however, that, immediately upon
the attack being made, Jerry had halted the wagons, and, as he was unable
in the dense dust to form any estimate of the number of the foe, was
advancing with the men on foot, at the time they so opportunely fired the
volley which rid me of my foe.
The Apaches left two dead bodies upon the ground; and we, three horses,
while ever after I followed the advice I had so frequently given Hal and
Ned, and kept with the wagons.
My adventure furnished a fruitful theme for conversation around the
camp-fire for many nights. Jerry, Hal, Ned, Patsey, and even the Mexican
teamsters had a theory as to the course they should pursue under the same
circumstances; and I believe it is an unsettled question to this day,
whether I did right in turning back instead of riding forward, after I
heard the order given.
The evening of the succeeding day brought us to the entrance of the
Apache Pass, the only _canon_ through which we could cross the
Chirichui range of mountains, that for many years had been the home of
Cochise's band of Apaches, one of the worst that ever infested the
country. Here, it was necessary to exercise the greatest caution; for the
place was notoriously the most dangerous upon the entire route.
Extra guards were sent out, the animals securely corralled, each man
required to sleep upon his arms, and every precaution taken to enable us
to repel an attack at a moment's notice.
The night passed without any alarm, and Jerry chuckled at the thought
that we should probably get through without being molested. Just as we
were starting, however, it was found that one of our wagons required
repairs, that would cause a delay of several hours. As the water was good
and the grass luxuriant, we concluded to run the risk of an attack, and
to remain for the day where we were and give our animals, which were sent
to graze a limit a mile from camp, a much-needed rest.
Jerry undertook the repair of the wagon; and, as the day was bright, the
boys determined to do some washing.
I had thrown myself upon my blanket, and was lazily admiring the beauties
of an Arizona landscape, when Patsey approached me, and, pulling off his
brimless hat, said, "Ef yer plase, sur, the byze wants to git some
"What is it, Patsey?" said I.
"It's the sooap, sur. Where'll the byze git the sooap ter wash wid?"
"Tell them to take a spade, and go and dig some," was my reply.
Patsey looked at me a moment, as though half inclined to think I had
suddenly taken leave of my senses, and then exclaimed, in tones of
"Dig sooap! Where'll they go to dig it, shure?"
"Right there," said I, pointing to a small palmilla,[The palmilla is a
species of palm, known as the soap-plant, whose roots, when bruised in
water, make a very thick and remarkably soft and white lather. The plant
is much used by the natives for cleansing clothes, and is far superior to
any manufactured soap for scouring woolens. It also makes an admirable
shampoo mixture.] numbers of which were growing all about us.
Patsey looked in the direction indicated; and, seeing nothing that
resembled soap, regarded me attentively for a moment, and then wheeled
and darted away.
Presently I saw the three boys coming towards me, and Ned laughingly
remarked that he and Hal wanted some soap to wash their shirts with.
I answered, that I had just sent them word by Patsey, to go and dig some.
Evidently Ned was as much surprised at my answer as Patsey had been; but
he mustered courage enough to inquire where he should find it.
"There, there, and there!" replied I, pointing in rapid succession to the
plants that were growing around us. Ned stood spell-bound for a moment,
and then slowly turned towards Hal and Patsey, who were standing at a
As he approached them, Patsey caught him by the arm, and, with a most
knowing look on his broad, Irish face, exclaimed, "Didn't I tell yez the
boss wuz crazy, an' I wouldn't git my new clo'es, any how?"
Wishing them to learn the merits of this truly wonderful plant that
grows so common throughout this region, I rose from the ground. Patsey
beat a hurried retreat, taking refuge with Jerry, saying, the "Boss had
gone as crazy as a bidbug, wid his diggin' sooap and givin' clo'es away,
to be shure."
Sending Ned for a spade, I soon unearthed one of the large bulbous roots,
which I divided into pieces, and, accompanying the boys to the spring,
practically demonstrated its remarkable saponaceous qualities, leaving
them delighted with the experiment; but had hardly returned to my blanket
again when I was startled by the report of two rifles, that came from
below us, near the base of the mountains where our animals were grazing.
However commonplace this incident may appear to the reader, to us it was
the tocsin of danger. Before the lofty crags above us had ceased to
reverberate the echoes, every man was on the alert.
The boys came running to the spot where I stood, their bare arms dripping
with soap-suds, while the men rushed to the wagons to procure their
firearms and ammunition.
Before we had time to fully equip ourselves, the sight of one of the
herders, rapidly approaching, told the story. He rode near enough to make
himself heard, then, checking his horse so suddenly as to almost throw
him upon his haunches, he brandished his revolver and shouted,--
"_Los Indios! Los Apaches!_" and, turning, rode rapidly in the
direction whence he came.
Jerry sprang upon a horse; and shouting, "Take care er the camp!" rode
rapidly in the direction of the herd.
Telling Hal and Ned to climb the rocks and report what they saw, I
ordered the wagons to be drawn up in a line parallel with the foot of the
bluff, thus improvising a sort of corral.
The boys, by this time, had discovered eight or ten Indians following the
herders, who were driving the animals towards camp. I immediately rode
out to assist them. At the moment I reached the plain, a little puff of
white smoke rose on the air, far to the rear of the herders. A second
after, I saw a riderless horse galloping wildly towards the herd, where
he was lost to view. I urged my horse forward; and, by our combined
exertions, the animals were safely brought into camp and corralled.
These secured, we turned our attention to the Indians, who were coming
down upon us like a whirlwind.
"Don't a man fire till I give the word," said Jerry; "and remember not to
throw away a bullet."
The Indians had paused upon the plain, nearly half a mile from our camp;
and, sitting upon their horses, were evidently considering the best plan
of attack. Suddenly, two of their number turned, and rode back towards
the spot where we had first seen them.
"What can they be going back for?" asked Hal, who, rifle in hand, was
standing by Jerry's side, evidently anxious for an opportunity to wipe
out old scores.
"What are they going back for?" repeated Jerry; "why, to scalp that poor
cuss they shot, I reckon. Judge," continued he, turning toward me, "jest
you try a crack at them fellers with yer new-fashioned 'dust-raiser,'
will yer?" pointing to my Sharpe's carbine.
"I don't believe that I can reach them: it will only be throwing away a
cartridge, to make the attempt," replied I.
"Well, jest try it," continued he; "'cause, if yer could hit one of 'em,
they'd leave mighty sudden, and save us considerable trouble."
"Yes, you can reach 'em," said Ned. "I wish you would try."
Dismounting, and resting the carbine over the back of my horse, I took
careful, deliberate aim, and fired.
That the bullet did reach them, and they were badly frightened, was
evident from the suddenness with which they wheeled, and galloped over
the plain, in an opposite direction.
The next moment, Jerry grasped my shoulder, and shouted, "You hit one of
the devils, sartin."
Bringing my glass to bear, I saw one of the Indians reel in his saddle,
then recover himself a little, again waver, and finally fall to the
ground, while his horse continued on with the remainder of the party,
who, after riding some distance, stopped.
In a little time, they were joined by the two who had previously left
them. Then three of their number rode towards the spot where their fallen
comrade lay; and, securing his body, one of them took it before him on
the horse, and the whole party galloped off.
"That ere shot of yourn was a good one," said Jerry. "Tit for tat is my
rule for them varmints; an' we're even with 'em on this arternoon's work.
I reckon we'd better take a shovel along, an' bury that poor feller
that's a-lyin' there."
"Certainly, Jerry; but wouldn't it be better to bring the body in, and
bury it here?" asked I.
"We don't want the men to see it, ef we kin help it. It allus makes 'em
skeery; for there ain't nobody that wants to be cut and hacked to pieces,
ef they be dead, as them red devils have sarved that poor Mexican,
Directing Patsey to bring a shovel, Jerry and I started on our sad
errand. After riding about a mile, we came upon the body of the dead man,
stretched upon the green grass, naked, scalped, and terribly mutilated.
For a few moments we sat upon our horses, silently gazing upon the
horrible spectacle, too much shocked to speak. The silence was broken by
Jerry, who exclaimed,--
"Ef them 'Paches ain't devils, then thar ain't no use of havin' any,
that's all I've got to say. A pictur like that ain't a very appetizin'
thing for a Traveller that's like to git ketched the same way, any day;
so I reckon we'd better git it under kiver."
A grave was soon dug; and, wrapping the poor mutilated body in my
saddle-blanket, we laid it within the narrow walls, and hastily covered
it from sight; then, remounting oar horses, silently rode back to camp.
No question was asked upon our return, and neither Jerry nor myself felt
much like talking; for the scene we had just witnessed impressed upon us
more strongly than words could have done, the responsibility as well as
constant watchfulness and care necessary in travelling through a country
so full of peril.
The miserable fate of poor Gonzales seemed to throw a gloom over the
entire camp; for it forced all to realize how beset with danger was every
step we took, and how easily it might have been one of us, lying cold in
death, instead of the poor Mexican.
We retired early, after taking every precaution possible to guard against
surprise, and I soon fell asleep, but was aroused a few hours later, by
terrific screams and howls from Patsey, who was capering around the camp
in the most ridiculous manner, executing as many singular and grotesque
gyrations as an Apache in celebrating the scalp-dance. The entire camp
was roused: even the guards rushed in from their posts to ascertain the
cause of the disturbance.
[Illustration: Patsey and the Snake.]
Neither Jerry, Hal, nor Ned could discover the cause of Patsey's terror;
for, in response to our many inquiries, he would only scratch his leg
through the rent in his trousers, and constantly jump up and down, as
though standing upon a hot griddle, all the while howling at the top of
Becoming, at last, thoroughly angry, I seized the boy by the collar, and
gave him such a shaking that I finally succeeded in getting an answer to
the question, as to what was the matter.
"Mather!" roared Patsey. "Mather enuff, God knows! Shnakes is the
mather!" making a desperate dive down into the leg of his pants. "I'm
bited to death wid a shnake, so I am. Can't yez all sae I'm a did mon?"
Now, as far as appearances went, Patsey was a long way from being a dead
man, for he still indulged in more lively contortions than a corpse was
ever known to execute; each movement accompanied by a yell almost loud
enough to wake the dead.
An examination revealed the fact, that the boy had heedlessly spread his
blanket over the entrance to the home of a colony of large black ants,
and the little fellows, angry at his presumption, had attacked him, in
the most spiteful manner, through the rents in his trousers. Patsey,
awakened out of a sound sleep by their stings, and remembering Ned's
adventure in the Organos mountains, had fancied himself the unfortunate
victim of a like attack. We finally succeeded in convincing him that he
was not dead, nor likely to die; and then, the camp resumed its usual
Early in the morning, before we were ready to start, Jerry called my
attention to several "bighorns,"--or, more properly speaking,
Rocky-Mountain sheep,--that stood perched upon a high cliff which overhung
our camp several hundred feet in the air. As these were the first we had
seen upon the route, I at once called Hal and Ned to witness the sight,
who immediately proposed to make the attempt to capture one.
Jerry assured them it was impossible; for it would take hours to reach
the spot where they stood, or even to get within rifle-range of them.
This fact alone would prevent starting on a hunt, as we were exceedingly
anxious to get through the pass without being obliged to spend another
night in so dangerous a locality.
This animal is somewhat larger than the common sheep, is covered with
brownish hair instead of wool, and is chiefly remarkable for its huge
spiral horns, resembling those of a sheep, but frequently three feet in
length, and from four to six inches in diameter at the base.
It is very agile; and, secluding itself among the most inaccessible
mountain-crags, delights in capering upon the very verge of the most
frightful precipices, and skipping from rock to rock across yawning
chasms hundreds of feet in depth.
I have been assured by old hunters, that, if pursued, it will leap from a
cliff into the valley a hundred feet below, where, alighting upon its
huge horns, it springs to its feet, uninjured, its neck being so thick
and strong, that it endures the greatest shock without injury.
This animal more closely resembles the _chamois_ than any other
species found upon this continent, and is almost as difficult to capture.
After leaving the pass and coming out upon the open plain, west of the
mountains, we saw, in the distance, a wild ox.
Now the boys had, for some time, fancied that they were very expert in
the use of the lasso; and, upon seeing this ox, became seized with the
insane desire to capture him with that weapon, after the most-approved
style of the Mexican _lazador_. Remonstrance was in vain. They knew
they could do it; and away they went on their ponies, eager for the
sport, leaving the remainder of the party to watch them from a distance.
Upon their approaching near to the old fellow, he threw up his head,
elevated his tail, brandished his long horns, and, with a loud bellow of
defiance, started directly for them. The boys evidently had not
anticipated this, for they slackened their pace at the sight, riding very
slowly towards him.
As they approached, he commenced shaking his head, pawing the earth, and
bellowing furiously. Then he began to move slowly around in a circle,
throwing clouds of dust high in the air, and almost making the ground
shake with his angry bellowings; finally turning, however, he galloped
slowly away over the plain.
Away went the ox, and away went the boys after him: it was a run for life
on the one side; on the other, a chase for glory.
Hal, who was a short distance in advance of Ned, anxious to get his rope
first over the horns, finally made a cast with his lasso. At the same
moment, his pony stumbled, and away went Hal over his head, landing some
feet nearer the ox than he expected to do when he made the cast.
Ned, who was just behind, now thundered past with lasso in hand, ready
raised to take advantage of Hal's mishap. He threw it; but the noose fell
short of the object aimed at, and encircled a stout _yucca_, that
_would_ stand directly in the way.
And now the ox, as though understanding the misfortunes that had befallen
his pursuers, turned, and made a furious charge in the direction of the
already discomforted _lazadors_. Seeing him coming towards them,
with lolling tongue, protruding eyes, and angry bellowings, they began to
realize, that, in their case at least, discretion was the better part of
valor. Both turned and fled, leaving pony, lasso, and their courage,
The race now assumed another phrase: it was for safety on the one side,
and revenge on the other.
On came the boys, Ned in the lead, on his pony, and Hal bringing up the
rear on foot; behind them, the ox, whose bellowing each moment grew
louder and more furious. Suddenly, Hal disappeared behind a clump of
mesquite; but the ox kept on in his efforts to overtake Ned, whose pony
was straining every nerve to reach the wagons in advance of his pursuer.
When the animal came within rifle-range, Jerry quietly stepped out and
shot him through the head. Ned rode up breathless, upon his panting pony,
and said to one of the Mexicans,--
"Say, Juan, how do you throw a lasso? I thought I knew all about it; but
I reckon I don't."
Hal soon came in, his hands full of thorns, his eyes full of dust, and
his clothes much the worse for his encounter with the ground, protesting,
however, that, if his pony hadn't stumbled, he should have had the old
"But your pony did stumble, and you didn't get him; nor I, either,"
remarked Ned. "And I don't think you and I had better brag any more about
lassoing until you can catch your pony down there in the
_chaparral_;" and Hal went for his pony.
The evening of the third day from the pass brought us to the head of
Quercos _canon_, where we came upon a party of Mexicans and Papago
Indians, engaged in manufacturing _mescal_, the native whiskey of
This beverage is made from the roots of the _maguey_, a plant common
to this region. The roots are bulbous, and are gathered in large
quantities, and thrown into pits containing red-hot stones.
These being filled, they are covered with grass or brush, over which
blankets are spread. The roots are allowed to remain until thoroughly
steamed, when they are taken out, placed in sacks of rawhide and crushed,
the juice escaping into earthen vessels. It is afterwards fermented in
the sun, when it becomes an intoxicating liquor, very closely resembling
Irish whiskey in taste, smell, and effect upon the brain.
Patsey enjoyed its pungent, smoky _aroma_, with the keenest
pleasure, and, after several times tasting it, pronounced it quite "aquil
to the bist rale ould Irish whiskey," an opinion that we all endorsed
after witnessing his condition a few hours later.
While encamped here, Ned came to me and reminded me of my promise to
Patsey; saying, that one of the Mexicans had a splendid suit of buckskin,
that he would dispose of very cheap. I traded for it, and Ned arrayed
Patsey in it. Never did king, clothed in robes of royal purple, exhibit
greater pride than did Patsey in his buckskin suit. But, alas! pride must
have a fall; and, within a very few hours, I saw him sitting on the
ground, clothed in his new suit, and protesting with maudlin earnestness
that he was the "veritable Bryan O'Linn himsilf."
Three days later, we reached the old Mission of _San Xavier del
Bac_, one of the most interesting relics of the ancient Spanish rule,
to be found in this country.
It was built by the Jesuits nearly two hundred years ago, and is one of
the finest specimens of Saracenic architecture to be found on this
continent. It is located on the lands of the Papago Indians, in whose
charge it now is.
We encamped beneath the shadow of this massive pile, surrounded by the
thatched huts of the Papagos, who cluster about its cruciform walls as
though confident of its power to protect them, as it did their ancestors,
from the contaminating influences of the outside world.
These Indians are a simple, honest, industrious tribe, quite superior to
their present situation, and claim that their ancestors have occupied the
country for more than a thousand years, and were far more civilized than
Many of them are as black as negroes, and nearly all are fine specimens
of physical beauty. Still, as a race, they, like the old church, are but
a wreck of former greatness.
A ride of eight miles brought us to the town of Tucson, through which our
wagons passed to the Pico Chico Mountain, five miles beyond, where we
made our camp.
This was formerly an old Mexican fort, and was abandoned in 1853, after
the survey of the boundary line between Mexico and the United States.
We were here informed, that the Apaches had attacked and captured a small
train that was travelling over the route we were following, only the week
before; consequently, our chances of getting through unmolested were very
good; a piece of information that we received gladly.
The boys and myself spent several hours in Tucson, looking about the
town, and its many curiosities, being especially interested in several
half-naked, dirty Apaches, which were lounging about, with large nuggets
of gold tied up in their filthy rags.
Horse-racing, wrestling, gambling, drinking mescal, and shooting people,
seemed to be the principal occupation of its inhabitants, who, as a
whole, were about as villainous a looking set of cut-throats as could be
found west of the Rio Grande.
Tucson is located in the heart of the great silver and gold bearing
regions of Arizona, and it was exceedingly difficult to prevent the boys
from loading themselves with specimens of the many ores offered for sale,
by every loafer, greaser, and Indian, that we met on the street.
Hal managed to absent himself for a short time; and, when I found him,
had traded Ned's watch for about as small and lively a specimen of a
Mexican mule as I ever saw, which, he assured me in good faith, he had
bought for Patsey's exclusive use.
I afterwards learned from Ned, that, ever since the boy had become the
owner of a buckskin suit, he imagined that it little comported with the
dignity of a person who could sport "sich an illegant suit, to ride in
wagins, or walk afoot, whin he ought to ride on horseback, like a
gintilmon;" promising, that, if Hal would procure him a mule in Tucson,
he would pay him double price on reaching California.
The bargain had been made, and the mule delivered, and all I could do was
to make the best of it. I was extremely glad to get out of town so
cheaply, however; and, as it was, it became very dark before we reached
camp; for the new purchase would not be driven, and only consented to be
led, because Hal's pony was the stronger.
Jerry's opinion of the animal was given in words more forcible that
elegant; and Hal's purchase was laughed at by all. Many were the bets
offered, that Patsey couldn't ride him; but Patsey stoutly asserted he'd
"ridden mules in the ould country, and why couldn't he do it in Ameriky?"
Shortly after leaving camp, the road crossed a small stream, which we
knew could be easily forded. Jerry, with an eye to some sport, ordered
Patsey, who, mounted upon his mule, was feeling very grand, to lead the
way; and Patsey, nothing loth, started; but, alas! the animal refused to
take the water.
Four times did he attempt to force him, and four times he was unseated
and violently hurled to the ground: at each overthrow, however, he
returned to the charge with fond hopes, fresh courage, and a stronger
determination to make the animal enter the stream.
Upon the fifth trial, somewhat to our surprise and Patsey's delight, the
mule quietly approached and entered the stream, without the least
We all shouted our congratulations at the boy's well-deserved victory;
while Patsey himself was so elated at his success, that he could not
resist manifesting his exultation by digging his heels into the animal's
sides, with a vindictiveness, that could not fail to stir up all its
vicious propensities; while he kept up a running tirade of abuse, after
the Mexican style, as follows:--
"So yez thought yez wouldn't cross the wathers, did yez (a dig with his
heels). I'm the bye that'll show yez, that, whin Patsey McQuirk's aboard
(another dig), and say's crass, ye'll crass, so yez will (dig). Ye moight
jist ez well done it first ez last, so yez moight (dig, dig), but ye'll
understand it next time, so yez will (dig, dig)."
The mule waded on, apparantly in meek submission, until he had nearly
reached the middle of the stream, when, without the least warning, he
laid back his ears, lowered his head, and elevated his heels so quickly,
that Patsey went flying, heels over head into the stream, far towards the
opposite shore, amid the shouts and laughter of the whole party.
He floundered about in the water for some minutes, completely bewildered.
Occasionally he would disappear; then come to the surface, half
suffocated, to again stumble, fall, and disappear; all the time calling
for "Hilp! hilp! hilp!"
He finally reached the bank, the most woe begone, discouraged Irish boy
ever seen clothed in a buckskin suit; nor did our screams of laughter
tend to console him for his unwelcome bath: on the contrary, he began to
look about him for some one upon whom to vent his anger.
Seeing the mule meekly standing by, looking both sorrowful and innocent,
he approached him quickly, and seized the bridle, when the animal started
back so suddenly that Patsey measured his length upon the ground.
At this point the boy was evidently very willing to give up the contest;
but, knowing the laugh that would be raised at his expense, he determined
to make one final effort to conquer him.
"Ye cussid lithle hay then," cried Patsey to the mule; "I'll taych yez to
sarve an honist b'y sich a thrick ez thet, noo. Ye'll just sae how yez'll
loik the batin' ye'll get, noo;" and he proceeded to cut a stick with
which to administer the "batin';" but Jerry interrupted, and ordered
Patsey to once more mount the mule, then, riding his own horse into the
water, the mule followed without the least difficulty.
After we had all crossed, and were again on the road, I asked Patsey what
the trouble seemed to be with his mule.
"Faith," said he, "don't I know well enuff? The craythur's bin put up to
thim thricks by min as ought to know bother; but I'll be avin wid some
one, if it takes a wake's wages, whin I git to Californy."
From this point the face of the country was covered by a low, scrubby
growth of mesquite, interspersed with magnificent specimens of the
_Cerus Grandes,_ a remarkable species of cactus, called by the
Indians _Petahaya_, which grows to the height of forty or fifty
feet, and measure from eighteen to twenty inches in circumference. It is
fluted with the regularity of a Corinthian column, and bears a fruit that
resembles a fig in shape, size, and flavor, which is extensively used by
the natives as an article of food.
The road was fine, and we hurried on as fast as the oppressive heat would
permit; but, with our best exertions, evening found us still several
miles from our intended camping-ground.
Shortly after sunset a dark bank of clouds arose in the south, which, in
an incredibly short space of time, spread over the face of the heavens,
completely shutting in every ray of light. The darkness was so intense,
that it was with much difficulty we could make any progress, and finally,
Jerry reluctantly gave the order to encamp.
Before we had time to unharness the mules the storm burst, and the rain
descended in perfect torrents, accompanied by clouds of sand and vivid
lightning. The thunder was terrific. As peal after peal echoed and
reverberated over the vast plain, it sounded like the discharge of a park
of artillery. So nearly above our heads did the sounds come, that we
involuntarily cringed, while the animals became almost frantic with fear,
and plunged and struggled to escape from the men.
Before we could possibly shelter ourselves, we were drenched to the skin,
and forced to take refuge under the wagons. No attempt was made to light
a fire or prepare supper; and we passed a most uncomfortable night.
Morning came at last, and, with the sunshine and a good breakfast, our
wonted equanimity was restored; and we again set out, hoping to reach the
Pimo villages, on the Gila, before night-fall.
We had heard many accounts of this remarkable tribe of Indians, who, for
the past eight or ten centuries, have resided upon, and cultivated the
same land. High as our expectations had been raised, we were in no
measure disappointed upon meeting them. We found them friendly, and
disposed to treat us with great kindness, freely furnishing such articles
of food as we were in need of.
The Pimos raise fine crops of cotton, corn, wheat, melons, and
vegetables. The women weave, spin, make blankets, grind the corn, and
gather mesquite-beans. Besides doing such work, they attend to their
children, and bring all the water from the river on their heads, in large
earthen jars, frequently holding six or seven gallons, which they balance
so perfectly that they rarely spill a drop.
The boys were much pleased with the primitive but comfortable houses,
made of poles, bent at the top to a common centre, and wattled in with
straw and corn-shucks. Each house was situated in a separate enclosure,
and surrounded by a small garden.
The only weapon these Indians use is a bow and arrow, with which they are
While stopping here, we were much amused by watching a party of them
engaged in hunting ducks in one of the lagoons making up from the Gila.
Placing a number of gourds in the water upon the windward side of the
lagoon, they were gently propelled by the wind to the opposite shore,
where they were picked up, carried back, and again sent adrift.
At first the birds exhibited no little fear at these singular objects
floating about among them; but eventually became so used to the sight,
that they paid no attention to them.
Observing this, each Indian cut, in a large gourd, holes for his eyes,
nose, and mouth, and then fitted it upon his head. Taking with him a long
bag, he entered the water, until nothing was seen but the gourd on his
head. Then the peculiar bobbing motion of the gourd was imitated so
exactly, that the wily hunter easily approached near enough to the birds
to seize them by the feet and drag them suddenly under the water.
Scores of them were thus captured, and securely stowed in the bags that
So nicely and naturally was this done, and so great was the admiration
expressed by us all at the dexterity displayed by the hunters, that
Patsey, who had been remarkably quiet since his experience with the mule,
ventured to whisper to Ned, that "he'd aften hoonted dooks that way, in
the ould country."
This statement, coming to the ears of Hal, by way of a joke, he proposed
that Patsey should give him a lesson in the art of gourd-hunting. The boy
at once assented to the suggestion, provided he would keep the matter a
secret from all but Ned. To this Hal agreed, at the same time taking good
care that Ned should inform us of the intended sport.
After the Indians had obtained all the game they desired for themselves,
and we had all left the ground, Hal borrowed one of the gourds for
Patsey. This the boy fitted to his head, and, bag in hand, boldly started
into the water, just as Jerry and myself arrived upon the field of
He waded some distance down the lagoon without meeting with any mishap;
but, just as he came near to a large flock, unfortunately stepped into a
hole, and at once disappeared from sight.
The next moment he rose to the surface with arms extended, thrashing the
water like the paddles of a side-wheel steamboat, and making a noise not
unlike the first attempt of a young mule to bray.
This strange performance of course frightened the birds, who rose in a
body, with a tremendous flapping of wings. This, joined to our own shouts
of laughter, so terrified Patsey, that he started for the shore,
floundering about in the water like a porpoise.
He finally reached the bank; and then we discovered that the gourd had
slipped down under his chin, and turned completely around, with the holes
at the back of his head, in which position it was stuck fast.
Patsey groped blindly about for a few minutes, greatly incensed at our
roars of laughter; and then, convinced of his inability to get rid of the
mask unaided, seated himself upon the ground, and quietly submitted to
have it removed by breaking it with rocks.
The instant it was off, he flew at Hal, and would have soundly thrashed
him, "for the thrick he had put upon him," had not Jerry interfered to
prevent. This adventure, however, completely cured Patsey of boasting;
for not once again during the entire trip did he indulge in what had
heretofore been a favorite pastime. Nor was Patsey the only one who
learned a lesson while at the Pimo villages. Master Hal, who was
determined to try his hand at trading with the natives, found it anything
but a profitable business; for he disposed of nearly his entire share of
the stock of goods, for articles that were utterly useless to us, and
which we were obliged to abandon before getting through.
Five days from the Pimo villages, we reached Fort Yuma, at the junction
of the Gila and Colorado rivers; but, with the thermometer at 118 deg. in
the shade, we remained at this post only long enough to cross our wagons
over the Colorado, when we found ourselves upon the borders of the great
California desert, which extends in all directions as far as the eye can
reach, except towards the south-west, where, fifty miles away, a
mountain-range is to be seen, its blue peaks towering high in mid-air.
The entire country, for hundreds of miles, is covered with a loose,
shifting, blinding, white sand, and is entirely destitute of vegetation
We fancied we were well prepared for the journey over this vast plain;
but, notwithstanding the care taken, we suffered all the torments that
thirst can inflict, while our poor animals almost famished by the way.
Our route was plainly marked, the entire distance, by the bleached bones
and dried carcasses of mules, oxen, and sheep, interspersed with
abandoned wagons and whitened skeletons of emigrants, who had perished on
the way. At one place, we came upon a train of seven abandoned wagons,
loaded with household goods. The harnesses remained where they had been
thrown, after removing them; provisions were lying exposed upon a box, as
though the family had been obliged to leave before finishing the meal;
but not a living creature was in sight and, from the general appearance
of the scene, we judged it must have been deserted for weeks. It was a
sad sight: such a picture of desolation, as I care never again to
Who the owners were, from whence they came, whither they were bound, or
what was their fate,--must stand one of the secrets of the desert, until
revealed at the final day.
After three days of terrible suffering, we reached the banks of Carrizo
Creek. It would be impossible to describe the eagerness with which all,
men and animals, plunged down its steep banks, or how we laughed and
shouted as the murmur of its sparkling waters fell upon our ears, or with
what pleasure we laved our burning flesh in its coolness.
This oasis in the desert is deserving a more extended description than I
can give here; for it probably has not its equal in the world. The stream
rises in sand, flows through sand, and disappears in sand; having worn
for itself a channel about a mile in length, fifteen or twenty feet deep,
and nearly thirty in width. The water is clear, and deliciously cool and
Here, under the benign influence exerted by this spring, we all for a
time forgot our troubles: even Patsey so far forgave Hal for the "thricks
he had put upon him," that I saw them sitting together, waist-deep in the
water; the Irish boy utterly oblivious of the fact that he had neglected,
before taking his bath, to remove the "buckskin suit," which had already
become considerably shrunken and curtailed, of its fair proportions, by
reason of its previous wettings.
During the night we encamped here, I suddenly awoke from a very sound
sleep, and saw the form of old Jerry, standing in bold relief in the
moonlight upon the top of the bank, and Apparantly gazing far out into
He stood so long motionless, that I thought him asleep; but, upon
speaking, to my surprise he came and seated himself by my side, and said,
"Look here, judge, I want to tell yer a story. Will yer hear it?"
I told him I would, with pleasure; and he began as follows:--
"It was nine year ago this spring, and the first trip I ever made across
this desert. We hed been six days from Yuma to this place: the sun all
the time like a ball of fire, and the sand so hot it burnt one's naked
feet to a blister. Not a drop of water hed we hed for our animals for
three days, and only a teaspoonful for ourselves.
"On the mornin' of the sixth day, my thirst became so great, that I
determined to start out by myself, and find water. I give my mule the
rein, and he brought me to the edge of this gully; and, when I looked
down into it and see the clear, cold water sparklin' and shinin' like
diamonds, why, I burst right out into a loud laugh.
"After I stopped laughin', and was a-gittin' down towards the water, I
heerd a kind of noise from the other side of the creek, and looked up;
and, the first thing I see, settin' on the edge on t'other side, was a
boy about twelve years old, tryin' ter call to me.
"At first I couldn't believe my own eyes; but I shut 'em up for a minute,
and looked again, and there he was, as plain as day, and not another
livin' creeter but my old hoss in sight.
"Well, I was beat, an'no mistake. Bless me! I kin see the little feller
jest as I seen him that morning,--and a perfect little gentleman he was
too. Yes, and I've seen his pale, thin face and great starin' brown eyes
a-lookin' into mine, a thousand times since that day.
"I went right over to where he was, and spoke ter him. The little feller
smiled when I came up, and shook his head, as much as to say, that he
couldn't speak. I asked him where he came from, and where his folks was,
and how they come ter leave him alone on the plains, with nobody to look
out for and take care of him; but he only shook his head, and looked up
into my face so piteous and sorrowful like, that I felt my heart go right
out to him. I couldn't understand how the little feller got there; for
his clothes were all new,--the soles of his little boots warn't even
[Illustration: A Mystery.]
"Well, I talked to him a long time afore I remembered I hadn't had a
drink myself; so I asked him if he wanted water, and he nodded his head.
I went down to the creek there, and filled my hat, and warn't away more
than three minutes; but, when I got back, he was gone."--"Where did he go
to, Jerry?" asked Ned, who, unperceived, had been listening to the story.
"Go to," echoed Jerry, "ther ain't anybody kin tell that. Why, I hunted
every foot, for a mile around, and couldn't find a sign of his trail; and
I never have seen or heerd of him since. Now, judge, I seen him, felt
him, talked to him, and know he was there; and thar hain't never been a
doubt in my mind as to what become of him."