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ADVENTURES ON THE FRONTIER OF TEXAS AND MEXICO.
BY CHARLES WINTERFIELD.
AFTER a hurried walk, I reached the the face, and champed his teeth heavily, Rancho. The first object that met my like a wild boar, at hearing that his moreye there convinced me that a new arri tal enemy had been so near him and esval had occurred during the night. A caped. He seized me, with the grip of a horse was standing at the picket blocks, grizzly bear, by the arm, and hurried me rigged off in a style so peculiar as can into the cow-pen at a safer distance from only be conceived of on this frontier. the house ; and between the low, smothThere was something taken from all par- ered growl of curses to the name of ties to compose this characteristic equip- Agatone, he questioned me eagerly as to ment. The bridle, lariat, quirt, and buf- every point in regard to the appearance falo-robe had belonged to some Comanche of the men, the length of time since they warrior, who had bitten the dust before started, the direction they took, &c., until, the unerring rifle of perhaps their present being satisfied in this respect, he grew a
The silver-inounted saddle had little more self-possessed, and thanked me once been honored by the seat of some for coming so soon to let him know. tinsel-bearing braggadocio of Santa An “For,” said he, “ I havn't a doubt the na's regular officials. The blanket was wolfish sneak has a camp somewhere American, probably from the packs of close at hand, and all his pack with him. the Santa Fé traders. The half-gallon I must go over to the old madam's and water-gourd looked like a “ big-bellied start the Tonquowa on his trail ; for, al. bottle,” with a second one, a little larger, though she likes the Indian, he likes me hitched to its bottom by the neck, and better, and hates Agatone more. He will all made fast by a transparent raw-hide, find out where they are camped, and fitting like wax, drawn over them both. bring me back the news; and then ” he I thought it was double glass-bottle, in fairly trembled as he clutched his knife. reality, until examination showed me “ But I am glad you called me out as you that it was a complete gourd. The raw for that d-d mongrel creature in hide cover was marked with sundry cu the house, there—I wouldn't have him rious hieroglyphics, which showed that to hear this for a horse !" it came from some Indian village toward “ Who is he, Colonei ?” the Rocky Mountains. The steed him “Why, the devil only knows, for no. self was a regular vicious-looking, pied, body else claims him! He's a half-breed skew-ball of a mustang. “ And the Mexican and white. His name is Davis. owner of this eccentric paraphernalia! He's a thieving, cut-throat rascal, that he must be an out-and-outer ! a real lives between both parties, and on both. wild boy!' and this horse is foamy and He has been all through Mexico, Caliblown-he must have been running for fornia - everywhere, indeed! - knows it! Some more news from the Coman- everybody, and has plundered everybody ches, I expect! I'll call the Colonel out, -Americans, Mexicans, Indians, and and tell him about that fellow, Agatone, all; and every one hates him, and feels first, before I go in to see this man, for uneasy while he is about; for he is such he may not be the right sort of character a lying, treacherous villain, that there is to talk before."
no telling when you are safe where he I saw the Colonel, at this moment, is. He has been living, until the last step, yawning and stretching, lazily to month or two, down yonder, at the Ranthe door. He was just in the act of cho of that poor fool of a Texan lieutengreeting me with his usual loud jeering ant I told you about, that married a Mex. welcome, when I made a quick gesture ican woman, and has been making a of caution, and beckoned him out. He spike buck' of him; and he, poor sneak, caught his breath instantly, and stepped hasn't had the manhood to drive him off. quietly behind the house. I followed He went away of himself, a short time him, and having communicated my news since, on some treacherous espedition, in a whisper, he almost lurned black in and I hoped he was gone for good, when
he came staving up here this morning, all pearls before swine” among such men, in a sweat, with the news that there is a which I felt afterwards was a little verlarge camp of Comanches, about fifteen dant, and out of keeping with the tone I miles off, on the Medina. He says they should have preserved under circumstanchased him, but I doubt it. I am afraid ces I had voluntarily thrown myself into. there is some treachery in it. I don't The truth is, I was fagged and out of like him and Agatone being in the neigh- spirits, from the loss of the whole night's borhood at the same time. I expect, for rest, after the fatigues and suffering of one, that we shall have to tie him up and the day before, and had little of the reckshoot him! But I must go! You walk less buoyancy left, which was necessary in as if you had just come, and be cau to carry me without difficulty through such tious how you talk before him.”
I dwell upon this little incident, So we parted—he setting off speedily because it was characteristic, and the for the Rancho, while I stepped care reader will see that I afterwards had some lessly into the house. There were two trouble about it. When we were quieted men sitting at the table with the Texan, again, and got to work upon our breakwho introduced me in a characteristic fast, I took a good look at the new manner--merely saying, as he nodded comers. from me to a tall, stout, sunburnt young The lieutenant, as they called him, imAmerican, who had rather a soft look out pressed me as rather a greasy, easy, goodof his large, meaningless, flaring eyes, for-nothing sort of a somebody'; while “ Kentuck, this is the lieutenant! and Davis, who was a thin, athletic person, this man,” nodding at tne other one, is with a pale, olive complexion, wore upon Davis! Sit down, or you'll have nothing his sharp face that keen, restless, knavish left here to eat. The woman’ will look, to be in the presence of which, have to cook more for the colonel. Did makes one feel fidgety. There was a you see him as you came along?" quick, incessant play of light about his
Yes, I saw him going toward the eyes that reminded me of a snake's upper Ranchos."
tongue vibrating in strong sunshine. Did your pet Mexican die? haw, The fellow was dressed in the extreme haw! You were nicely set to work, to go of a mongrel dandyism, which seemed to to all that trouble to save a filthy hog of a be the result of an untiring effort to unite Mexican from dying. Why, I had much all the exaggerations of ail the costumes sooner have stamped his entrails out!” he had ever seen, and was more of a
“I have no doubt of it,” said 1, so hotch-potch than even the equipage of soon as the laugh in which the other two his horse. His coarse, black hair, plastered had joined would permit me to be heard ; with lard into genuine “ soap locks," a “it would be impossible for you to un- half-yard in length, was sticking about derstand the interest I took in this man." his shoulders, over which was thrown,
“ Yes, I have got no blarney in me to with a most jaunty air, a full-circle cloak waste on a brute of a Mexican !"
of coarse blue cloth, lined down the fronts “ Nobody doubts your having too with flaming scarlet velvet, which was much of the brute in you, to care for so disposed as to show its every inch ;, others, whether brutes or mea.” I said his neckcloth was a coarse silk of this in rather an excited tone, for I was the same gaudy color, and disposed in provoked at the taunting coarseness of folds, the amplitude of which would my reception
have laid the Broadway dandies altoThe Texan sprang to his feet, and gether in the shade ; and, in point of clutching at his belt, said, "Look here, jewelry, he could have snapped his finKentuck, I don't allow people to talk to gers at them too, so far as number was me in that sort of a way, sir!”
concerned, at least: his smutty bosom The lieutenant here interposed, in a was literally studded with pins and good-humored manner, and soon restored brooches of every quality and size, from a negative sort of peace, though the copper and tin foil, up to pure gold. Texan was surly about it for some time. When, as he caught my eye upon him,
This was a very foolish display of mistaking its expression for admiration, sensitiveness on my part, which a little he jumped to his feet, and jerked up his farther knowledge of the spirit of frontier “ sombrero,"-banded two-thirds of the life would have saved me from. He did way to the top of its sugar-loafed crown not mean anything more than a coarse with red and white beads and setting it joke; and my dignified flare-up was all pertly awry upon his stringy locks, with
arms a-kimbo, under-lip compressed, and for breath, looking at the fellow with the eyebrows puckered into an expression most ludicrous expression of contempt. of savage pomposity, he strutted stiflly Davis had paused at the interruption, out to and fro in front of me-I could his hand still holding the stiletto in the scarcely avoid bursting into a hearty fit air. He had listened, at first, with an of laughter, as he recalled Ford's quaint expression of blank astonishment, that description of an “Old-Time Euphuist,” anybody should dream of interrupting so or transcendental cocxomb:
musical a flow of eloquence; but when “Resplendent-glistening
he heard his finery talked about in such Like Juno's witless Bird, he ruffled, when disrespectful terms, his eyes fairly blazed Beneath the opening portcullis of Morn
again with malignant ferocity, and there He strutteth back and forth-the mimic was a very devil's venemous passion in Argus
his whole air, as he stood for an instant Of his wide tail outspread, that he might gazing at the Texan after he got through;
then, quick as the spring of a wild-cat, The tasseled glories of his shiney head threw himself, convulsively, at his unWithin its hundred eyes!”
armed breast - the stiletto must strike Oh, it was rich! I screwed my face him fuil in the throat! I sprang towards into an expression of intense admiration. them, but a stronger arm was upon him This went to his heart, and stepping in before me. Sooner than I could think, front of me, with a lordly wave of his he was lying prostrate and stunned hand, that fairly glistened with rings of against the opposite side of the house, every metal and size, he addressed me and the Colonel, with his knee upon his with a loud nasal twang to his insolent breast, was wrenching his weapon from voice: “Señor Kentuck! I have been a his hand, when the lieutenant and myself great traveler! Prodigious traveler! I together, succeeded in arresting his arm. have seen the world, Señor, like a brave “ Damn it, let go boys; we will have man! and have tasted all there is in it a to kill him yet, anyhow !" gallant man dare taste ! Yes, Señor, The Texan here interposed, and we from the · Pulque' and the · Noyau' of dragged the Colonel off backwards. the dirty Rancho' of Dobeys' and If there is any killing, I'll do it my. logs, to the flashing wines in the marble self !” said the Texan, as he sprang with mansion on the · Hacienda 'of a • Don- his heavy bool-heels upon the chest of from the dirty calabash of a naked In- the prostrate wretch. Leaving the Colodian, to a silver bowl in the palaces of nel to recover his feet we ran to him and Montezuma! I have drank till I could jerked him off, telling him the man was touch it with my finger! and this ain't dead already. We succeeded after great all either; the Señoras have loved me in difficulty in quieting them, as they saw all these places! I have sucked the nec- that the man yet lay perfectly still. I tar from the yellow flowers in my way threw some water in his face, and in a from ‘Tierra Calliente,' where they melted little while he began to stir, and was to a look, and died away to my touch, shortly on his feet again, for he was only up to · Tierra Fries,' where their frozen stunned: he staggered out of the door, bosoms could thaw to no other glance and vomited a quantity of blood that had than mine! and, in the great Mexico itself, been started by the Texan's heels, while they crowded around me with such eager- he stood laughing at him and enjoying ness that they almost tore my splendid the fun," as he called it. The man clothes to tatters, and I had to draw my came sullenly into the house after a while, stiletto so, to keep them off!" and suiting half-doubled up, and seeming effectually the action to the word, he whipped it out cowed—his head muffled in a bandageand flourished it with wonderful rapidity his tinery all bedraggled—his vain-glory before our eyes.
Yes, Seño” « Yes,” all gone-looking as I have seen a dunginterrupted Texas, jumping to his feet, hill cock, which had been caught stealing
you beat thunder and alligator swal dough in the kitchen, and been thoroughly lowing all hollow! You'il die off into a ducked in the slop-tub hy the angry old long jackass bray--pewter drops-cot- black cook, and which, shaking the bran ton velvet-glass beads and all, if you and filth from its eyes and stringy feadon't stop. Blast me, you are worse thers, would slink, with a doleful air, to than a Mexican !” This seemed the cli hide its diminished head in a corner from max of contempt, according to his ideas the gaze of its dames, till its glory was of the force of expletives, and he paused replenished. Could some of those “ Yel
low Flowers,” the nectar from whose lips are desperately taken, not for my sake, he had sucked, have seen him then - but for the sake of the dandies at home; the gay ideal of their voluptuous dreams, for how can they survive it, should I, skulking in a corner, the “ shine” rubbed in pursuance of my duty as the nearest off
, and gore and dirt smeared in its place representative of this gallant Mexican -his baubles trampled, and those sleek, Euphuist,” be compelled to assign you flowing locks, clotted and confused be “a local habitation” in the “ Tierra Fries,” neath the ties of that most flaming of that arctic realm of “ frozen bosoms ?” cravats—would he not have realized to You are difficult enough of assault now, them,
and home dandies have not the fiery “Cupid hood-winked with a scarf, glance of our “ Euphuist” to thaw iceBearing a Tartar's painted bow of lathe, bergs! and furthermore, upon this same Scaring the ladies like a crow-keeper ?” dreadful penalty, dare not institute unfair
Gentle “ Yellow Flowers !” your for. comparisons between him and our “ dotunate stars have spared you this rude mestic manufacture.” For though my client shock, and peacefully their mellow beams
“cannot sing, may rain on your warm brows the dew Nor heel the high lavolt, nor sweeten talk, of visions; and in them you may still Nor play at subtle games-fair virtues all undoubting see that glowing form, with To which the Grecians are most prompt all the gallant show unmarred, that left and pregnant," its impress on your hearts! Blissful ig. i.e.“Corinthians” of Broadway!—Though norance ! and perhaps all you will hear he may not be possessed of the still and of this will be the story of a triumph, dumb discursive devil” that lurks in these, when, on some sad-eyed Eve, you sit beneath the moss-hung oak, sighing with yet his is a matchless fling at a “ Fanthe breeze for lack of warmer sighs,
dango,” and he can swing the “ dark
eyed daughters of the Sun," to the merry “ To take the amorous echo up,” click of the castanet, with most volupyou shall hear an answer to your hearts tuous grace, through many a tangled, in his exulting shout as he comes career- quaint and winding measure, which they, ing across the plains upon his sweltering with all the aid of " dancing shoes with steed, to dash the gory trophies of his ven. nimble soles,” would have found it imgeance at your feet! Even now he seems possible to foot it through. We must to be forging the silent thunder of re. leave him in eclipse for a little while, to venge! I can perceive that the malig- go on with our story. nant fiend has not been exorcised by any And now came another scene of ludi. means, with all the truculent efforts of crous bluster and confusion. A Mexican these two rugged “ clerks of the Green- scout had returned and reported a large wood,” who have taken the matter in body of Indians camped on the Medina; hand; for as he sits crouched in the cor- thus confirming the report brought in by ner, I can see the red light of hate direly Davis. We must go and rout them, but gleaming from bis eyes, like two burning how to get there was the puzzle! The coals from a dark hearth, as he watches Texan had recovered his horse, but the the movements of his late assaulters about Colonel, myself and the Lieutenant, had the room. I shall look for terrible re none. We could not get them of the sults ere the ghost of his bonor be ap- Mexicans, and should we have to foot it peased! And now fair daughters of the the fifteen miles? While we were debaNorth, how do you fancy this “ Mercu- ting this perplexing question--every man tio” of the sunny South ? At the bare talking for himself and all together—the recital of this Protean versatility of attrac- remnant of yesterday's party galloped up. tion, will you not own the soft im- They had concluded by this time that it peachment!” Come, no coy airs ! con was best to have us along—not that they fess it frankly-at even the rough sketch could not exterminate the enemy to-day of a hero so exquisitely“ just the thing" as they had yesterday by their unassist. that the delicious fluttering lunult at your ed valor! No, forbid it shades of Monhearts has waked “the silent war of lilies tezumas, Incas and Castilians all! By and of roses” in a Parthian fight, career- their united glories they needed not our ing up from your warm bosoms, over arms! But they pitied us, seeing that your "silver cheeks,” and breaking in we would go if we had to walk; and felt red spray beneath the azure veiling of a generous sympathy kindle in their waryour temples ? Acknowledge that you rior breasts at witnessing our ardor; 50 VOL. II.--NO. V.
that they had brought led-horses for us. to let off their surplus valor in imagining And there was Antone again—the brazen them Indians flying before their arms; knave bragging with as obstreperous im while we went into the thicket, where a pudence as ever; though he kept a little most revolting sight met our view. A back and a sharp eye about him this time, spot, several yards in circumference, was for the Texan—but this only made it trampled into a black, bloody mire, necessary
for him to talk the louder. As strewed with white hair, torn clothes, his character of privilege as boaster and and the fragments of what we saw had spokesman-general seemed to be conce been the body of an American boy. There ded, even the bloody veterans of yester lay the head torn by the neck out from day sat quietly and listened while he the shoulders, one-half the face eaten made speeches for them ; expressing in away, and the marks of ravenous teeth super-grandiloquence, the sense they en scratched in white lines across the skull; tertained of their own magnanimous gen here, the bare ribs; there, the legs torn erosity, in thus furnishing us gratuitously from their sockets and stripped of flesh, with the means of sharing with them on except one on which a stocking still reequal terms the flowering laurels they mained; and when it was pulled off were about to gain.
there was the pale foot with its livid After this peroration, they opened their nails, entire-and the flaxen hair clotted ranks, and led out for our admiration the into locks, as the bloody brutes had shasteeds they had brought us. Oh Mars! ken its tangles from their fangs, clung hadst thou belonged to the mythology of about the bones and to the shrubs around, Mexico, they would have made thee all whose broken twigs and red stains bore legs! The horses they rode themselves witness to the wild struggle that bad so were nimble and active animals, while dismembered it. I was absolutely sickthose they offered us were the veriestened by the horrid sight, and even the starved, worn, ulcerated, miserable anato. rude men around me were subdued and mies, that can be conceived-looking as touched; even the Colonel's voice sunk though their legs could hardly totter un into low tones of something like sadness, der the raw and wretched sack of bones as he ordered a Mexican to bring a matwhich made up their shriveled bodies. tock, and we went reverently to work It appeared that they were three pack- according to his directions, to gather up horses the Comanches had left behind the scattered fragments and heap them them as useless in their passage through together for the grave. By turns we took our bottom.” I turned off in angry de- the mattock and silently dug away at the spair, while the Colonel and Lieutenant rude hole. That he was an American selected the two best, determined to make boy was all we knew, and this was the most of it. Just at this moment, a enough for our sympathies. That he had Mexican woman came running to us with been killed by the Comanches we were the information that she had noticed a convinced from parts of his clothing, in number of wolves prowling about a low which we could discover plainly the cut thicket a few hundred yards off
. The of a lance head, and this was enough to Comanches had passed through it as they occupy us with stern thoughts of venwere approaching to attack us the morn- geance. The hasty grave was finished. ing before, and she supposed they had and the bones laid decently in such order left a dead body there, for the wolves as we could into it, and the dirt, wet with looked so bold and eager-as they always his own blood, thrown in upon them, do where a human body is concerned - Dust to dust, poor boy! yours was a that she had been afraid to go herself to hideous fate indeed! We then collectəd see what it was; but, that they were logs from every direction, and heaped tearing and fighting over something on them in a great pile upon the grave, to the ground, she could distinguish very keep the wolves from digging the bones plainly. We determined to leave the dis. up with their paws, and turned to go pute about the horses, and see what this back-all parties more thoroughly someant The Mexicans charged with bered than I should have thought it posheadlong rashness and shouts, down upon sible for such men to be. the thicket, and five or six wolves actually A Mexican from the madam's Rancho, scurried out, with tails between their and on foot, here joined us; he told us legs, looking a good deal frightened. that the Comanches had done a great deal They were so much exhilarated by this of mischief before they reached us. In success, that they kept on after the wolves addition to a number of other murders,