« PreviousContinue »
But sentiment is all thrown away upon go with me. He joined me in a few this Mexican slut. My cheeks fairly minutes without his gun. My gun was burned, though, to think that the miser. in the house, and I called to the Colonel able wretch, her husband, was an Ameri- to bring both his and mine with our holcan, who had drawn the milk of an sters, when the fellow snappingly swore honest woman, and was yet alive, though that “ he would not be troubled with a so immeasurably sunk-so base a dastard gun—there was no danger-he warn't as to play meek-second to a scene like afraid-warn't a-going to be troubled with this. Yet this fellow could fight Mexi- lugging a gun between here and Bexar!" cans and Indians, and was called a man I was annoyed by this insinuation-my on this frontier. Her domination over boyish pride took fire at once; and althe brute was so complete, that she com- though I knew this proposition to be the pelled him quietly to submit to seeing result of the present splenetic mood, her lavish upon Davis those caresses he yet feeling a little spleened myself, I dehad sacrificed his position among his termined to see him through on his own countrymen to buy. I hoped this singu. terms, and merely said, “ Very well, sirlar passiveness might be traced to some as you choose. The Colonel, to my cause more honorable to his manhood, at astonishment, simply because he was too least; for this person had once held a lazy to go and bring the weapons for us, station of dignity in one of the govern- encouraged this silly resolution by say. mental institutions at home, and had ing, “ Yes, go along—there is no danger received the diploma of one of our oldest now—the Comanches have been driven colleges. I was fain to hope that, per- from the country, and you’r less likely to haps, accident, growing out of some wild see them now than at any other time.” frontier scene, had placed him thus in. We turned to go, when Bill Johnson shoutexplicably in the power of the “ Euphu- ed after us, “ Boys, I never parts from old ist--anything, rather than believe such Sue myself, nohow-ner goin' nowhar; infamy on the part of a countryman no tellin' what'll turn up-best ter keep voluntary. Crime and license can strange- yer eye skinned, and be always ready!" ly distort humanity!
I saw the good sense of this warning-it This agreeable trio passed on to the was too late, though. The stupid whim Rancho of the lieutenant, which was a of Texas had carried the day, and we half-mile below on the river. The Texan must abide the issue; and a sufficiently was in a very surly and stupid mood—the ridiculous issue it was! We had scarcely consequence of the over-night's excesses gone half the distance, when we met one —and we could get but little out of him of those itinerant Jesuit priests who are concerning what occurred at the old to be stumbled upon in the most out-ofdame’s Rancho after our hasty departure. the-way places in Mexico—the Far West A muttered fragment now and then was and North—who gave us the comfortable all we could get-such as— There was information, that the whole country bethe devil to pay when you left!-why tween us and Bexar was filled with didn't you kill Agatone --had as much Comanches, who were scalping and trouble as if you had—Old hag-like a slaying the Mexicans right and left. she wild-cat! Pretty friends you !-left This was something of a poser. The me among five hundred Yellow Bellies.- benevolent priest, in a very impressive Had to bleed some-break a few heads manner, urged us to return to the -let me alone then,” &c. I concluded Colonel's Rancho, and offered us the prohe must have had a rough time of it tection of the valiant cohort of dirty, among them all, exasperated as they must ragged, half-armed Mexicans who achave been ; but his surly coolness seemed companied him as a body-guard. I saw to regard the idea of keeping any num and felt at once the entire absurdity of ber of Mexicans at bay with so much attempting to proceed under such circumstolid indifference, that I forbore to ques- stances, and was about to accept the tion his incommunicative humor any offer so courteously conveyed, when Texfarther. When he heard it had been de- as, in the insane and silly spirit of braggatermined we should start to Bexar at docia, characteristic of himself and his once for Hays, he was furious, and country, and for the purpose of throwing swore at first that he would not go. A the odium of what might be construed into mule had been provided for me, and I “a back-out” upon me, insinuated pretty had mounted to start alone, when he roundly that he did not care for the called to me gruffly to wait and he would Comanches-wanted to get on to Bexar
-would go back if I was afraid,” &c. started at a killing pace, and, as we neared This was low spite the result of a the Ranchos, had the gratification of lingering reminiscence of the “ breakfast nearly losing our scalps at the very gate. scene”—for which I instantly determined The Indians were driving in a party of to punish him severely ; for I knew that Mexicans before their lances, and but for these wild, ruffianly fellows who have a rush-such as only desperate men could been accustomed to depend upon their have made-by which we were enabled guns for everything, seldom stirring ont to rush in peli-mell with the Mexicans, without them, are always dreadfully we should have been shut out, and paid panic-stricken when they find themselves for our rashness with our blood on the in imminent danger and disarmed--so very lintels of the door of safety. In adturning my mule abruptly, I merely said, dition, we had to run the risk of being “ Come on, sir-I intend to be in Bexar shot by the frightened people inside, who, in the shortest possible time!" He grew astounded by our sudden appearance, white as a sheet at this unexpected turn, took us for Indians, and were banging at and dashed past me at desperate speed. us through windows and port-holes with The old priest, who perceived there was their rusty fusees on every side-fortusome boyish pique at the bottom of this nately for us—with their usual bad aim. madness, waved his band as I looked We could get no arms from them, and back, in sad adieu. Never did two were fain to wait till night set in, dark, youngsters repent more heartily of a silly cold and stormy, and then creep out and whim than we did of this before reaching make our way with fluttering hearts, Bexar. So soon as we had leisure enough chattering teeth, and otherwise in a most to realize the predicament we had placed pitiable plight, to Bexar, where we arourselves in, our imaginations at once rived about midnight. assumed the reins; and we had forthwith Late as it was, we found the Rangers populated every clump of trees and thick- up and collected in Johnston's bar-room, et of underbrush with legions of Indians. for a carouse. They received us merrily, I conjured more in one half-hour out of and greeted the account of our lugubrious the trunks of innocent trees than I had adventurings with shouts of laughter. seen in all my life; and when we sud- They had been in pursuit of the Comanches denly came upon the body of a Mexican at the summons of the half-frantic Black ; they had scalped a short time before, I and in the effort to intercept had missed verily believe my hair would have stood the party, concerning, which we gave on end had not the feeling of terror which them first the information in possession was possessing me been somewhat di- of the reader. When they heard the fate verted and alleviated by a glance at the of the poor boy, they sobered down inwild work it was making with the Tex- stantly, and deep curses and stern mutan's face. It was absolutely convulsed. terings were heard through the room in Had
place of boisterous laughter. “ Poor “ Harpies and hydras—all the sooty fiends he has been like a madman ever since he
Black !” said Hays; “his is a hard case; "Twixt Africa and Ind”
I am afraid this will make him been flapping their scaly pinions about one sure enough. Castro will pay them his ears, he could not have looked more fellows off in full--he'll receipt 'em.” desperately frightened. I was greatly We then told him about the atiair at the comforted and relieved at this sight, and Fandango, and of the arrival of Bill Johnforgot in a great measure my own bur
· Hah! Bill is there? He's worth den in reveling over the agonies with a dozen common men! Agatone will which he bore bis. The case was bad have to look sharp. There's Bill, Black enough, certainly, We, on an open plain, and the Colonel--all splendid trailers entirely unarmed, when such work as either of them would give his right hand this was going on around us! The pre- for a fair shot at that fellow! Boys, we'll dicament was too much for Texas at go at day break! Some of you let Black last; and in a whining voice he pro- know. He's at Navarro.” The thing posed that we should turn aside, and was settled as coolly as if it had been a stop at some Mexican Ranchos several fox.chase we were going upon; and we miles off until night set in. I was suf- separated to get a few hours’ sleep. We ficiently relieved at having this propo were up before daybreak; and in about sition come from him, not to render it half an hour the yawning, drowsy memnecessary for him to repeat it. Off we bers of the party, who came straggling in
through the lanes, and meeting us at the varmint, that Agatone! He's tuck to corners of the streets, were all collected water, and the Tonque lost him!” on the bank of the river, and ready to “Oh, we'll bring him out of that, Bill ! start. Looking over the party, which Come, boys—all ready!” consisted of eight Americans, Hays re “ All ready!" marked, “ Black is not here !” It was I saw Black sitting on a log by his a raw, misty morning, and at the moment horse, his head bowed on his knees, his we turned at the sound of a horse's feet, rifle across his lap. When he heard and saw a dim figure emerging from one of this, he sprang to his feet, and at one the lanes of the suburb, which was ap- bound was in the saddle and off. proaching us at full speed. “ There he is?” We were off at a canter—the Tonquoand in another instant a rider, muffled in a way and Bill leading after Black, who kept coarse green blanket, with a wolf-skin cap on far ahead—the Indian on horseback, drawn down over his eyes, dashed through and Bill, who scorned a horse, swinging our party, and without speaking a word those massive limbs of his along with plunged into the water at the ford. “ Poor marvelous ease in huge, rapid strides. fellow, he's wild this morning!" said It was a most picturesque scene, that Hays, in a low voice, as we all followed party, mounted on horses of all sizes and him into the water. In perfect silence colors—the Colonel had by this time obthe man lashed and urged his horse up tained a very good one for me ; our costhe bank, and when we reached the top tume a singular blending of civilized we could see him going at full speed over backwoods and Mexican taste; our arms the plain, sitting stiffly in the saddle, with gleaming in the sunshine, and our steeds his chin fallen upon his breast and his curveting and plunging over the waverifle lying balanced across the pummel like undulations of the ocean meadows. before him. In a short time he was out We had progressed in this way over a of view, though we were in a brisk gal- lovely region for about two hours, when, lop. In about an hour, at a sharp turn just as we were getting among the hills, of the trail, among the thickets, we came and the scenery becoming wilder, we close upon him, sitting in the same rigid unexpectedly found ourselves drawn up position, while his horse crept along at a on the bluff bank of the San Antonio snail's pace. As we clattered by him, he river. Here the trail was lost. When roused himself an instant, urged his we descended to the water's edge, there horse into the same headlong speed, and were evidences on this side of a camp, before he again passed out of sight his and the tracks led from it to the water ; figure seemed once more frozen in the but there were no traces on the other side seat. No word had passed. There was of their coming out. This puzzled all something inexpressibly mournful and, parties the more, as the banks of the river to me, exciting in this strange ride. That were bluff and very high on both sides for stricken, fitful man seemed madly flying a number of miles above and below, and before us, as if we personated to him the the gorge just at this point was the only shades of his murdered family, chasing place where it could be crossed. Bill him with wails for vengeance-shades said the “ varmint" must have been that he felt could not be laid ever again, turned to an otter, and that there was but with blood! The whole party were some sly hole in the bluffs he had swum chilled and saddened by it, and as no time to and hid. We crossed and scattered up was lost in conversation, we were at the and down on both sides of the river, to Rancho before I realized that half the look for the trail; but after an hour's search distance had been gone over.
we all met again, and concluded we were They were all ready and met us ; the nonplussed in that quarter, at least. This Colonel, with the grin of“ a belly-pinched gorge opened into a deep winding valley, wolf,” who had caught the scent of flanked on either hand by knolls, forming slaughter on the air, and Bill with a an irregular ridge covered with live oak. smothered, chuckling “ He! he! Glad Bill thought that, “ unless Old Harry had yer came, boys! Kern's blooded him !" few'd away with him, he must leave a “ Who-Agatone ?"
sign across this here ditch !"-which, by “ Yes! Tonque's found whar be laid the by, was from a half-mile to a mile in down jest er little er the dye-stuff about!” width-so the orders were to stretch our
“ We'll get him, Bill, won't we?" line from foot to foot of the ridges and “Can't tell, Captain Jack-cussed sly breast it up the valley.
The spies went on ahead, while we just rounding the hill on that side. My breasted up the valley-Black, in his was told and the action instanmoody, headlong, silent way, accompany; taneous. We were out of sight of him ing them. The only incident for several now, and he would wait our coming out hours was the pulling down of a fine buck, on the other side of the hill. in full view of us, by two large wolves. Hays-who now waked up and showed They had been running the gallant animal, what he was—with the Bravo and myI suppose, for many hours, and when he self, plunged under cover of the bush at broke suddenly into the valley they were the foot of the ridge, where the dry bed but a few paces behind, and so intent as of a stream ran, and rode back with the not to notice us. Their tongues were all intention of crossing the valley when we out, and they ran very slow. We stopped. were high enough up to be out of his One of the wolves seized his haunch—he view—and then mounting the ridge he wheeled and plunged heavily at them was on, to come up on the other side, with his fore-feet and antlers. They while the rest of the party rode slowly avoided his charge, and one of them rushed and carelessly on as they had been doing at his throat; in an instant he was down before. We thought that if we got the and killed. The men were very anxious spy hemmed in and frightened, he would to shoot, and the Colonel and Hays tried dash right for his camp and lead us in. to prevent them; but bang! bang! went The manæuvre was admirably carried two guns, and the wolves tumbled over.
out. The fellow suspected nothing, but We were getting tired, and had de cautiously crept after the advancing party, spaired of finding the Mexicans, and who laughed, and talked, and sung with discipline-never at any time much re- the best possible affectation of uncongarded—was at an end. We were riding sciousness. His chuckling consciousness very slowly, waiting for the spies, who of successful cunning was most unpleawere still on ahead, when I, utterly santly broken in upon when we shoutedworried out by the fatiguing slowness of which was to be the signal to the other our progress, galloped off in advance; and party—and he saw himself inclosed on seeing, some distance farther, a very both sides and no chance to run for it, remarkable-looking knoll, covered with but the top of the ridge, which kept him cedars, which rose abruptly from the in full view of each. He broke off, centre of the valley, I made for it alone, though, at his best speed—the two parties with the intention of enjoying the view keeping parallel with him. The object from the top and joining the party as they was not to catch him at once; but after passed. My horse climbed the steep testing our speed sufficiently to see that sides with difficulty, and when I reached we could close with him when we pleased, the top, a more paradisaical view never we held up, and let him think he had burst
of mortal than this some chance of escape-believing he which rewarded my trouble and risk. would make for camp if we gave him As I stood gazing enraptured over it, my play. eye was attracted by some object moving Hays was right, as usual; and in a little on the comb of the opposite ridge, just while atter we had fallen back, he left where it was defined clearly against the the ridge suddenly and made across the sky. I felt my heart jump, and on look- plain, on the side we were, towards a blue ing steadily I could clearly distinguish and hazy line of timber. the outline of a horseman wearing the “ There's the camp, in them woods !" Mexican sombrero, who seemed to be said Hays, joyfully. “Go to the top of endeavoring to screen himself behind the the ridge and beckon to the boys, Kentree from objects below that he was trying tuck !" to get a good look at.
I complied. They were just hesitating There was something even in the dis- what to do, when, seeing my gestures, tant outline that reminded me of the with a shout they took the hill. Now we cloaked figures at the Fandango. I un- had it. The fellow had got a half-mile derstood the whole thing in an instant. the start, and it wouldn't do to let him The Mexicans had out-witted us, and our get in before us and give the alarm. whole course had been watched by their “ We must close up and go in on his spies, of whom this was one. The heels!” cedars concealed me, and my resolve was A single figure was perceived galloptaken in an instant. I descended on the ing down from the ridge after us, with side opposite, and happily met our party tremendous speed. He soon joined us
got'em at last !”
it was Black. The raven had scented Black came tumbling out, covered with the slaughter from afar! He was coming gore and sweat-his eyes glaring wildlyto meet us, and had turned the spy from his dripping knife in one hand his riflethe ridge.
barrel, bent and smeared with brains and Our horses were strained to the top of hair, in the other-his pistols still in his their mettle. There was no more shout helt, untouched. He threw himself sul. ing; every faculty was wrought into the lenly upon the grass, his head resting on intensity of the exciting chase. We were the body of a dead Mexican-jerked the all in a body now, and our pace began to wolf-skin cap down over his swarthy tell in lessening the half-mile; the woods brow, and in an instant was as still and we were making for began to grow more silent as the corpse. Nobody spoke to distinct, and by the time the trunks stood him, and the reckless, unseasonable mirth out separately, we were within a hundred was for an instant checked, as we all yards of him. Now the lash flew, and turned silently and looked at him. every nerve was strained.
The Colonel was the last to come back, Look there,” said the Colonel, point- and came with bloody hands, foaming ing to a flock of buzzards, perched upon and stamping with rage, for Agatone had a tree; " that shows their camp! We've not been found, and had probably es
caped ! And with a savage oath he jerked his We lost sight, in the headlong action hat from his head, put it under his seat, of the incidents last described, of our and looked at his gun; and, with a long-sided friend, Bill Johnson. So soon stunning whoop-for we now saw their as all were assembled, we missed bim, horses, which had heen turned loose to and some one shouted graze-Black, who was ahead, fired at
“ Where's Bill, the old coon, gone to ? the poor spy, for we had got all out of He wa’n’t born to be killed by a Mexihim we wanted; and trampling over his 'can, sure!" writhing body, we swept like a thunder “ Ah !” said the Colonel, “ don't fash gust through a line of bushes into an your brains about Bill. He's up to a open space surrounded by thickets. And thing or two. Warrant you he's nosing there were about fifty men springing from the right trail. He came out after Agathe ground where they had been lying, tone !" and in every attitude and expression of At the name of Agatone, Black sprang fright, surprise and consternation-some half erect, and shouted hoarselystopping to fire at us-others running on Leave me! leave me! I tore out all their hands and feet, rolling and plunging their hearts, but could not find his!" into the bushes.
then, muttering inaudibly to himself, fell I remember seeing Black throw himself aik. All paused a moment. over his horse's head among them first, “ Didn't he go out with the spies?" and like a frantic wild beast strike right asked the Bravo, in a low voice. and left with his long rifle-barrel, crush
“ No!” said Hays. He never left ing in a skull at every, blow, and then the river, but struck off through the disappear raging through the bushes in woods, up the bank. He went for anpursuit of ihree or four huddled and other look. Bill didn't feel easy 'bout scrambling wretches.
our losing that trail yesterday. It was It was, throughout, a terrible and rapid strange, boys, wa’n’t' it? These were scene—the ring of rifles and roar of the his fellows, but Agatone wa’n't here. Mexican musket—the dismounting—the Bill will tell the tale about him.” clubbed guns—the fight hand-to-hand Yes,” muttered the Colonel ; - if he'd the scream for mercy, smothered in the have been under a leaf here, I'd have death-groan—the crashing through the found him. I killed two of the rascals brush-the pursuit-every man for him- that looked like him, anyhow!" self with his enemy in view—the scat “Colonel, you mean to make a coffeetering on every side—the sounds of bat- cup of his skull, don't you ?” said the tle dying away into a pistol-shot here Bravo, laughing. and there through the wood, and a shriek “ Hell! no; I'll save it to put a ball -the collecting again, and the shouts of through once a week, to keep my hand laughter as one man after another would in.” come panting into the clear place with It will beat the skull Hamlet talked the trophies of his slain, or without them, to, in eyelet-ho es,' all hollow, then!" as it bappened.
laugh a Fitzgerald.