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Full text of "Wah-to-yah, and the Taos trail : or, Prairie travel and scalp dances, with a look at Los Rancheros from muleback and the Rocky mountain camp-fire"

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WAH-TO-YAH, 



THE TAOS TRAIL; 



iroiru Cranel anb Italp Manm, 



WITH A LOOK AT 



LOS RANCHEROS FROM MULEBACK 



AND THE 



KOCKY MOUNTAIN CAMPPIRE, 



BY LEWIS H. GARRAED. 



CINCINNATI: 

PUBLISHED BY H. W. DERBY & CO. 

NEW YORK — A. S. BARNES & CO. 

1850. 






Entered according to act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight 
hundred and fifty, by H. W. Derby & Co., in the Clerk's Office of the 
District Court of the United States for the District of Ohio. 



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CINCINNATI: 


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H. 


W. 


Derby 8; Co., Printers 


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TO MK. ST. VRAIN — 

The leader of our party — the traverser 

OF THE PLAINS THE REVERED OF THE ChEYENNE NA- 
TION THIS BOOK IS RESPECTFULLY INSCRIBED, BY ONE 

WHO HOLDS IN GRATEFUL REMEMBRANCE HIS MANY KIND 
SERVICES. 



INTRODUCTORY. 

In offering this little volume to the public, I must, in 
self-justice, be briefly introduced, so that the obliging pe- 
ruser, with all the facts before him, may extend a benevo- 
lent forbearance, and restrain too severe a criticism on 
this, my fii'st essay. 

In February, 1 846, being then in my seventeenth year, 
I tossed away schoolbooks, and glided down the Missis- 
sippi River, and along the Mexican Gulf, to Texas ; and, 
shortly after, back to the Louisiana coast, where I stayed 
until the middle of May, visiting friends, riding horses, 
and shooting alligators, duck, and rail, from the bow of a 
long canoe in the cypress swamps. 

Returning home, the glowing pages of Fremont's tour 
to the Rocky Mountains in 1842-'43, were so alluring 
to my fancy, that my parents were persuaded to let me 
go westward ; and they, furnishing letters of credit, cash,, 
a pocket bible, and rifle, with a few calico shirts, started 
me to St. Louis, on a low- water steamer, in the hot montb 
of July. The miseries of running " hard aground " on 
sandbars in the sweltering sun ; a surfeit of sleep, and 
"James's last," with an occasional peep at the leaves of 
my testament, were the most striking incidents, until 
reaching the narrow St. Louis Avharf — where, amid the 
din of importunate hotel attaches, I passed my baggage- 
into safe hands, and, threading the busy throng, entered 
my name on the Planters' House books. 

Through the kindness of Colonel A. B. Chambers, of the- 
Missouri Republican, I was made acquainted with the firmi 
of Pierre Choteau, Jr., & Co., to whose numerous forts ia 



INTRODUCTION. 



the Indian Territory, I was given a letter of recommenda- 
tion. Mr. Kenneth McKenzie, one of the first traders 
with the Black Feet Indians, treated me and my many 
queries, with even more lenity than I could reasonably 
erpect. Mr. St. Vrain, of the firm of Bent, St. Vrain & Co., 
Indian and Mexican traders, was at the Planters', and soon 
to staiii for the Rocky Mountains and Santa Fe ; on his 
kindly consenting to accept me in his mess, Colonel 
Chambers furnished additional letters. 

My elder brothers wished me to note the occurring 
events, for their gratification. It was done, though in a 
desultory style. Abominable chills and fevers greeted 
my return to civilization , and it was through the intervals 
of study, that the scanty pencilings have thus been aug- 
mented — and not until the greater portion was written, 
had I the hardihood to think of publishing. Then, the 
request of friends, coupled Avith the bidding of a pardona- 
ble vanity, produced them in the present form. 

I have thought proper to so entitle the work, as my 
wanderings were in sight of the Spanish Peaks, and along 
the Taos Trail. The accent, in pronouncing Wah-to-yah, 
is on the second syllable. Taos is pronounced Touse, as 
in house — the Spanish Mexican accent, however, being 
prolonged on the word, as Ta-ouse. 

Should any account be deemed either meager or ful- 
some, I cheerfully apologise with the single remonstrance 
— it has at least the merit of truthfulness. Imagination 
plays but a very minor part ; and in no instance as to 
give an improper conception of scene, time or manner. 
An accusation of grossness may be raised, and that the 
characters use seemingly uncalled-for expressions. I have 
naught set down in malice, and it is no more my preroga- 
tive to exclude than to add. 



CONTENTS 



PAGE. 

Chapter I. The Start, 1 

II. The Trail 27 

III. The Village, 44 

IV. Peculiarities, 60 

V. The Fort, 75 

VI. The Dance, 91 

VII. Strangers and Drawbacks, 99 

VIII. The Snow Tramp, Ill 

IX. Prospective Trouble, 127 

X. El Kio de las Animas, 138 

XL El Kid Vermejo, 157 

XII. El Rancho, 171 

XIII. El Valle de Taos, 185 

XIV. El Conse'jo, 195 

XV. San Fernandez, 199 

XVI. Los Pueblos, 210 

XVII. El Muerte, 219 

XVIII. Adios ! 232 

XIX. Wah-to-yah, 232 

XX. The Farm, 266 

XXI. The Arkansas, 283 

XXII. Service, 297 

XXIII. The Welcome Arrival, 307 

XXIV. The Brush, 336 

XXV. Farewell! 344 



WAH-TO-YAH. 



CHAPTER I 



THE START. 



Having made all necessary preparations, such as 
laying in a good store of caps, fine, glazed powder, 
etc.; and having seen the shot towers, French Town, 
public and private buildings ; at the instance of Mr. 
St. Vrain, our worthy chef dit voi/as^e, I crammed 
my purchases, clothes, etc., in my trunk, put it in 
charge of the porter, and walked to the steamer 
Saluda, bound for Kansas, on the Missouri River, 
\vith many kind wishes uttered in my behalf; and, 
after the third tolling of the bell, and in obedience 
to the signals of the pilot, we were stemming the 
uninviting, yellow Mississippi, 

I knew no one, and was left to range of thought 
and a poor "Havana" without interruption; but, 
amid the "talk" of fellow passengers, who, in arm- 
chairs and feet on the boat railing, were twisting 
their necks to gaze at a very common-looking man in 
a check-linen coat and trowsers ; I learned that their 
" center of attraction " was Mr. Edwards, the Gov- 
ernor irgnant of Missouri. On scrutiny, the coun- 
tenance of Mr. Edwards indicated considerable 
1 



WAH-TO-YAH AND 



Bhrewdness ; but, altogether, he fell below my ideas 
of a governor. 

At the mouth of the Missouri River, the mingling 
of the waters was no less novel than curious. A 
volume of water, from the muddy and rapid Mis- 
souri, sent by the force of the under current far 
out in the transparent Mississippi, would boil up to 
the surface, contrasting oddly enough. 

We had a pleasant trip to Kansas, but the turbid 
stream and mud bluff banks, destroy the pleasing 
effects generally attendant on northern rivers. 
Colonel Chick, the principal man at Kansas, treated 
me kindly during my stay, and with his clever 
sons, the horse ferry, skiffs, and duck shooting, 
aflbrded entertainment. 

To my surprise, Mr. T. B. Drinker, formerly an 
editor of a paper in Cincinnati, advanced toward 
me, after looking at the name on my trunk, and 
introduced himself. We were together much of the 
time while waiting for Mr. St. Vrain and company 
to arrive from St. Louis, with whom we expected to 
traverse tlie prairie as far as Bent's Fort. 

The Wyandotte is the nearest Indian tribe to 
Kansas ; and, one afternoon, Mr. Drinker and my- 
self visited the agent, Doctor Hewitt. A walk of a 
mile, through woods on the river bank, brought us 
to the mouth of the Kansas, or Kaw River, a stream 
ferried by a tall, good specimen of a full-blood Wy- 
andotte, who received the toll with a look, as if to 
say, " Your money 's no account, and I 've a mind 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 3 



to toss you in the river for offering it ;" our attempts 
at conversation failed. 

Mr. Walker, with whom we had previously bo- 
come acquainted, is one of the first men of the tribe, 
once editor of the " Wyandotte Advocate." Mr. 
Armstrong is also an intelligent gentleman ; he has 
a iL-hite wife, a good farm, and (the year I saw him) 
was to receive ten thousand dollars improvement 
money for his farm in Ohio, which state he, with 
the rest of the nation, were forced to vacate three 
years previous. 

Returning from our visit, Mr. Drinker walked on 
out of sight, while I shot repeatedly and ineffectually 
at a woodpecker. On the third discharge of my 
rifie, a heavy hand was laid on my shoulder, accom- 
panied by a firm grip. I jumped around, to con- 
front a drunken Indian, whose face was red with 
paint and blood ; and, holding in his free hand .a 
broken bottle, he said, 

" You bad, you shoot, you scare me," and he 
tightened his grasp on my collar. 

" No, T did n't, s/r, — I didn't mean to scare 1/01/ , 
sir," replied I in a tremulous voice ; but, seeing that 
would not do, I changed tack, and edged in, " Do n't 
you want a -bit' to buy liquor;" and, as he held 
out his hand, I left in a hurry. 

Drinker and I, hiring horses, rode through the 
town of Westport, and galloped over the undulating 
prairie, studded with plum bushes and small oak. 
Emerging into the bare plain, we saw a group of 
men busied in loading a wagon, of which there 



WAII-TO-YAH AND 



were some twenty or more, drawn up in the form 
of a pen. Mr. Bransford, the gentleman in charge, 
received my " letters " with the prairie welcome of, 
" won't you make camp ? " 

Wc wei'e invited to stay until Mr. St. Yrain would 
arrive; and in two days our trunks ^vere there. 
Every morning we rode to Westport, and saw the 
difierent Indians, in fanciful dresses, riding in to 
trade and look around (on their handsome ponies). 
Some of the squaws were possessed of good fea- 
tures, though gross forms ; and both men and wo- 
men were debased by liquor. The laws are not 
stringent enough on this point. The unsophisticated 
Indian, too much exposed to the seductive language 
of the unprincipled trader in liquor, soon barters 
away all his valual)les and annuity money. 

Heretofore we had been sleeping under a tent 
made of Avagon sheets, but the freight had arrived 
at Kansas, the sheets taken from us, and thcAvagons 
sent to be loaded ; from that time we reposed in the 
open air, which, at first, was refreshing, invig- 
S . orating, life-inspiring. 1 used to lay admiring the 
bright stars until overpowered by sleep. 

There were eighteen or twenty Canadian French- 
men (principally from St. Louis), composing part 
of our company, as drivers of the teams. As I 
have ever been a lover of sweet, simple music, their 
beautiful and piquant songs, in tlie original language, 
fell most harmoniously on the ear, as we lay wrapped 
in our blankets. 

( )n the first of September, Mr, St. Train's arrival 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 



infused some life into our proceedings, but nothing 
more worthy of note occurred, except riding and 
looking at horses, of which Drinker and I were in 
need ; one of which, Frank De Lisle, " le maitre de 
wagon'''' sold me for fifty dollars, whom, from his fan- 
ciful color, brown and white spots, and white eyes, 
was designated, by the descriptive though not 
euphonious name of, " PaintP He was a noted 
buffalo chaser, and I anticipated much excitement 
through his services. 

The way the mules were broken to wagon harness, 
would have astonished the " full-blooded " animals 
of Kentucky and other horse-raising states exceed- 
ingly. It is a treatment none but hardy Mexican 
or scrub mules could survive. They first had to be 
lassoed by our expert Mexican, Bias, their heads 
drawn up to a wagon wheel, with scarce two inches 
of spare rope to relax the tight noose on their 
necks, and starved for twenty-four hours to subdue 
their fiery tempers ; then harnessed to a heavy 
^\'agon, lashed unmercifully when they did not pull, 
whipped still harder when they ran into still faster 
speed, until, after an hour's bewilderment, anu 
plunging, and kicking, they became tractable and 
broken down — a labor-saving operation, with the 
unflinching motto of " kill or cure." 

In the afternoon, of the 12th of September, the 
train rolled out — the heavily laden, high before and 
behind, Pennsylvania wains careering from side to 
side in the ruts, the shouts of the drivers to the 
newly-yoked teams, and the vaya, hu-a, caraJw, of 
1* 



M'AH-TO-VAH AND 



Bias and his two feliovv-Moxican herders, and the 
cahfdlada* imparted a freshness and added vigor to 
our movements ; liorsemen going to and fro for 
things forgotten and missing, Mr. St. Vrain and 
Do Lisle, passing and re-passing from one end of 
the train to examine the strength and capabilities 
of the weaker wagons ; and ourselves, with new com- 
panions, talking and chirruping to our horses, slowly 
bringing up the rear, gave an appearance of effi- 
ciency and progress. Amid the bustle the foremost 
teams and ourselves reached the " Delaware Spring " 
after dark, and the w^hips and shouts applied to the 
sluggish oxen, of the lagging teams, did not cease 
until far in the night. Our horses were turned out 
to graze, the blankets unstrapped from the saddles, 
and we laid down supperless. 

This was a most desirable spot for camping, as 
wood, grass, and a running, limpid stream were 
close at hand. It is generally the first day's drive. 
On the 16th we encamped at the " Lone Elm," in 
the midst of a hard rain, which poured on us the 
entire day; and, the wagons being full of goods, 
"and we without tents, a cheerless, chilling, soaking, 
wet night was the consequence. As the water pen- 
etrated, successively, my blankets, coat, and shirt, 
and made its way down my back, a cold shudder 
came over me ; in the gray, foggy morning a more 
pitiable set of hungry, shaking wretches ^vere never 
peen. Oh ! but it was hard on the poor greenhorns ! 

*IIer(l of liorscs and mules. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 



On the 18th (we still at the "Lone Elm"), a 
Shawnee Indian rode into camp from out of the high 
bottom grass to the south, informing us that another 
Indian had three oxen marked with the company's 
brand, ")-B," upon which intelligence, Messrs. St. 
Vrain and Bransford started in pursuit, returning 
with fifteen yoke. On the 19th, the train was started 
along the heavy road ; dense fogs dampened our 
clothing and spirits, and but for brandy, and other 
liquors, fever and ague would have predominated ; 
as it was. Bias and Pierre shook, for wliich, " chola- 
gogue," " quinine," and pills were administered by 
the "-doctor," as I was styled. Bcauvais and I made 
quite a detour through the prairie, during which we 
saw two deer, several prairie chickens, and obtained 
fine views of the adjacent country. That night we 
encamped on " Bull Creek ;" and, on the 29th, at a 
most delightfully gushing fountain. Big John Spring, 
flowing from the hill side, all stopped and drank. 

As we are all collected, it would be well to state 
the size and intention of the company. It was com- 
manded by St. Yrain, an old mountaineer of the 
firm of Bent, St. Vrain & Co., Indian and Mexi- 
can traders. The firm is rich, and owner of several 
forts, of which Bent's, or Fort William, on the Ar- 
kansas river, is the principal. Mr. St. Vrain was a 
gentleman in the true sense of the term, his French 
descent imparting an exquisite, indefinable degree 
of politeness, and, combined with the frankness of 
an ingenuous mountain man, made him an amiable 
fellow traveler. Ilis kindness and respect toward 



8 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



me, I shall always gratefully remember. Mr. Folger, 
another of om- company, was a gentleman, so wed- 
ded to a roving prairie life, that he has accompanied 
Mr. St. Vrain, for several years, in pm-e love of ad- 
venture. His mule, " David," was a comical, anti- 
quated animal ; the study of the expression of his 
grizzled phiz, was truly laughable ; and much mer- 
riment was caused by the master's sensible and af- 
fectionate advice and consolation to David. 

Mr. Beauvais was a Frenchman, employed to 
trade with the Sioux Indians ; Frank De Lisle, a 
clever fellow, the wagon master, or director — an 
officer of trust ; Bransford was clerk to the company ; 
and General Lee, of St. Louis, Beaubien, of New 
Mexico, and Drinker and myself, of Cincinnati, con- 
stituted our mess. There were, besides, twenty- 
three teamsters, and the same number of wagons ; 
every man armed, equipped, and ready (if forced 
upon us) for a fight with the " yellow skins." 

On the 30th September, we arrived at Council 
" Grove" — considered the best camping spot on the 
road. On the west skirt of the belt of timber, un- 
der the wade-spreading protection of a huge oak, 
was a diminutive blacksmith's shop, sustained by 
government, for the purpose of repau'ing wagons 
en 7-oute to the army at Santa Fe. 

We remained, for two days, at the " Grove," to 
recruit the oxen, after the heavy pulling from West- 
port, and as this is the last place (traveling west- 
ward) where hard timber can be procured, the men 
were busy felling hickories and oaks for spare axle- 



THE TAOS TRAfl.. 



trees, and swinging the rough hewn pieces un- 
der their wagons. I took my rifle in search of a 
flock of turkeys, whose tantahzing piping was easily 
heard from camp, and in the evening, Beauvais and 
I washed our shirts — my first essay — in the clear 
brook ; succeeding tolerably, only. 

What a pleasing appearance have the dark-gi'cen 
fringes of timber, standing far out in the prairie, lit 
up and variegated by the early tints of fall. 1 have 
been extremely delighted, since setting out, with the 
lovely scenery — a too ^ ivid picture of \vhich can 
not be portrayed. 

On leaving Council Grove, the verdure and scenery 
change ; the grass is much shorter, partaking of 
none of the luxuriant growth of the herbage a ^e\\ 
days back ; Avooded creeks become scarce, and tim- 
bered principally with sweet cottonwood. 

The maneuvers of the Mexicans of our company, 
are really astonishing in lassoing unruly mules and 
horses ; dodge as they may, or run about, the lariat 
noose is sure to fall on their unwilling necks ; a loop 
thrown over the nose, the gagging Spanish bit forced 
into the mouth, the saddle clapped on, and the rider 
firmly in that, with galling spurs, tickles the side 
ribs, and flies and cm'vetts on the plain in less time 
than it can be Avritten. But it does confound an 
animal to have a Mexican horse furniture, and rider 
strapped on to him ! 

Mr. St. Vrain started in advance of the train, with 
three or foiu- persons, for Bent's Fort, but meeting a 
return government train, who reported the Indians 



10 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



troublesome, he waited for us to come up, preferring 
slow travel, and a large company, to a small part}' 
and uncertain possession of his scalp. Toward 
eleven o'clock, in the morning, we arrived at Cotton- 
wood Fork — a small stream, so called fi'om the 
number of cottonwoods growing on its banks. One 
of the wagons overturned while crossing, breaking 
two boxes of claret. Those around had a treat 
most unexpectedly. A government train crossed 
soon after ; and, at sundown, Captain Thompson, 
U. S. Dragoons, and Lieutenant Colonel of the Mor- 
mon Battallion, arrived with thi'ee light wagons, and 
an escort of ten dragoons. He gave us the latest 
news. 

In the morning, he was off early, in a gallop ; his 
wagons, with clean, tightly drawn sheets, and four 
fast mules attached, showed well, coursing up the 
hill at a rapid rate. 

We could not leave camp that day. De Lisle 
was under a wagon containing forty-five hundred 
weight of freight, making some repairs, one wheel 
being off and propped up by a board, when the sup- 
port gave way, and the wagon fell, confining him 
to the earth. His cries drew the men together, and 
while the wagon was lifted off him, he was drawn 
from under, almost dead. He was so far recovered 
that the next day we traveled. 

So soon as a faint streak of light appears in 
the east, the cry " turn out,'"' is given by De Lisle ; 
all rise, and, in half an hour, the oxen are yoked, 
hitched, and started. For the purpose of bringing 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 11 



everything within a small compass, the wagons are 
coralled ; that is, arranged in the form of a pen, when 
camp is made ; and as no animals in that country 
are caught without a lasso, they are much easier 
noosed if driven in the coral. There, no depend- 
ence must be placed in any one but one's self; and 
the sooner he rises, when the cry is given, the easier 
can he get his horse. 

Like all persons on the first trip, I was green in 
the use of the lasso, and Paint was given to all sorts 
of malicious dodging ; perhaps I have not worked 
myself into a profuse perspiration with vexation a 
hundred and one times, in vain attempts to trap him. 

Not being able to catch my horse this morning, I 
hung my saddle on a wagon and walked, talking to 
the loquacious Canadians, whose songs and stories 
were most acceptable. They are a queer mixture 
anyhow, these Canadians ; rain or shine, hungry or 
satisfied, they are the same garrulous, careless fel- 
lows ; generally carolling in honor of some bru- 
nette Vide Poche, or St. Louis Creole beauty, or 
lauding, in the words of their ancestry, the soft 
skies and grateful wine of La Belle France ; occa- 
sionally uttering a sacrc, or enfant de garce, but suf- 
fering no cloud of ill humor to overshadow them but 
for a moment. While walking with a languid step, 
cheering up their slow oxen, a song would burst out 
from one end of the train to the other, producing a 
most charming effect. 

On the 6th of October, we met a government 
train, from Santa Fe, which reported buffalo in 



12 WAII-TO-YAII AND 



plenty ten miles ahead ; and, about four o'clock in 
the afternoon, Edmond Paul, near whom I was 
walldng, shouted " bison! " pointing with his whip to 
the westward, where were several running ; and soon 
disappearing in the mirage, which transformed them 
into huge, shapeless masses. 

The first time I ever witnessed the mirage was in 
Texas. The friend, with whom I was riding, pointed 
toward the illusion, with the remark : " What a 
beautiful lake ;" and it was not until we found it to 
be receding at om" approach, that we were unde- 
ceived. 

We encamped on a slope, using " bois de vache " 
(dried buffalo excrement), for want of better fuel. 
We, on horses, selected the camp before the wagons 
came up ; Mr. St. Vrain and I ; Folger and Chad- 
wick ; and Drinker and Bransford, each pair taking 
an apishiamore (saddle blanket), would collect our 
blankets full of the fuel (for the " wood " lies in all 
directions), bring up to the intended fire, and off 
again, until a pile several feet high would be col- 
lected. It burns well and freely, catching the steel- 
sparks like tinder ; but, being fight, is soon fanned 
into a hot coal, and turns immediately to ashes. 
W ind prevails to such an extent on the prairie, that 
no ashes are ever seen about a camp a day or two 
after the fire is made ; nothing but black spots on 
the ground mark the site. 

Mr. St. Vrain and companions brought in the 
choice parts of a buffalo, and every person was 
busied in cooking on their " own hook," and swal- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 13 



lowing the tender meat. For the first night or two 
after entering the buffalo region, we were serenaded 
by the Coyote wolf, a species of7nusic much like a com- 
mingled bark, whine, yelp, and occasionally a spas- 
modic laugh, now tenor, now basso ; then one would 
take a treble solo, and, after an ear-piercing prelude, 
all would join in chorus, making an indescribable 
discord. 

• In the morning the train started as usual ; Mr. 
St. Vrain, Drinker, Bransford, Folger, and I, left 
the trail for a buffalo hunt, intending to make a 
large circuit before meeting the wagons. I had a 
shot at a large wliite wolf — the first we had seen. 
He was loping around camp, when my slu'ill whistle 
brought him to a stand still ; at the sharp crack of 
my rifle, the keen-faced stranger took to the plain. 
Their presence indicates the vicinity of buffalo. 

All were on the qui vivc for the new game, and 
Mr. St. Vrain, who was in the lead, " motioned," 
with his hand, for us to lean forward on our horses, 
so as to keep the buffalo from seeing us. In a 
little while we dismounted in a hollow, and all but 
Bransford and I, who were left in charge of the 
horses, "approached" a band of bulls. At the 
report of the guns we led the anunals toward them. 
" No meat," was the answer to om* queries. The 
whole country was cut up with innmnerable buffalo 
paths, intersecting one another at all possible 
angles. 

Mr. St. Vrain on my horse, and Drinker on his 
own, started in pursuit of a band, and their move- 



14 WAII-TO-YAII AND 

mcnts were most exciting. Being Avithout a horse, 
I waited on the prairie, looking at the flying buflalo, 
ten or twelve of whom came tearing toward me as 
T lay in the grass, but they looked so frightful when 
witliin thirty yards, I jumped up and fired, without 
any perceptible effect, as they slightly tm-ned and 
lumbered on. 

We never eat but twice a day, very often but 
once in twenty-four hours, at which scarcity of food^ 
of course, there was grumbling. Bransford, who 
disliked it very much, said, after having concealed 
his feelings some length of time, " Darn this way of 
living, anyhow ; a feller starves a whole day like a 
mean ' coyote,' and when he does eat, he stuffs 
himself like a snake that 's swallowed a frog, and is 
no account for an hour after." It Avas about the 
truth, for our ravenous appetites scarcely knew 
bounds. 

More buffalo in sight the third day than hereto- 
fore — the plain literally covered. We crossed " Big 
Covv' Creek," but no cows were seen, and thinking 
])est to secure meat, such as it was,Avhile an opportu- 
nity presented, our worthy leader approached a band 
of bulls and fired, bringing doAvn one. It is with 
difficulty that buffalo can be approached, it requir- 
ing a skillfid person who Avill not permit the keen- 
scented animal to get to his leeward, or in sight ; 
for they run Avhen a person is in view as far as a 
mile, and from the scent still further ; so we Avaited, 
with suppressed breathing, for the report of the 
rifle. There lay a fine, fat, young male — ere long 



THE TAOS TRAIT.. 1 ') 



he was on his knees (for the hump jirevcnts his 
being placed on liis back), and the hide off". The 
men ate the hver raw, with a slight dash of gall by 
Avay of zest, which served a la Indian, was not very 
tempting to cloyed appetites ; but to hungry men, 
not at all squeamish, raw, warm liver, with raw mar- 
row, was quite palatable. Before the buffalo range 
was half traversed, I liked the novel dish pretty 
well. 

It would not do for small hunting parties to build 
fires to cook with ; for, in this hostile Indian country, 
a smoke would bring inquiring friends. Speaking 
of hostile Indians, reminds me of a question related 
by one of our men : At a party, in a Missouri fron- 
tier settlement, a lady asked a mountaineer, fresh 
from the Platte, " if the hostile Indians are as savage 
as those who serve on foot ! " 

Returning to camp, the prairie was black with the 
herds ; and, a good chance presenting itself, I struck 
si)urs into Paint, du'ccting him toward fom-teen or 
fifteen of the nearest, distant eight or nine hundred 
yards. We (Paint and I) soon neared them, giving 
me a flying view of their unwieldy proportions, and, 
when within fifteen feet of the nearest, I raised my 
rifle half way to the face, and fired. Reloading, still 
in hot pm'suit (tough Avork to load on a full run), I 
followed, though without catching up. One feels a 
delightfully wild sensation when in pursuit of a band 
of buffalo, on a ffeet horse, with a good rifle, and 
without a hat, the winds playing around the flushed 
brow, when ^vith hair streaming, the rider nears the 



16 WAII-TO-YAH AND 



frightened herd, and, with a shout of exultation, dis- 
charges his rifle. I returned to the part}- liighly 
gratitied with my first, though unsuccessful, chase ; 
but i\li\ St. Vrain put a sUght damper to my ardor, 
by simply remarldng — 

" The next time you ' run meat,' don't let the horse 
go in a trot, and youi'self in a gallop" (I had, in my 
eagerness, leaned forward in the saddle, and a stum- 
ble of the horse would have pitched me over his 
head) ; by which well-timed and laconic advice, I af- 
terward profited. 

We encamped on" Cow Creek ;" the buffalo around 
us in every du-ection ; now lost in the mirage, now 
appearing, some herds wending slowly to an over- 
flowing slue near camp, and others (the males) who, 
strutting in all the pomp of conscious dignity and 
supremacy, until a whiff of wind from camp is 
wafted to them, Avould lift their tails on high, scud 
before the wind, up and down, like a ship in short 
seas. Two staid old fellows came to the pond; af- 
ter a half hour's crawling on our knees (Chadwick, 
Tibeau and I), drawing our guns after us; then, 
when the buffaloes' backs were turned, running a 
few steps, then stopping and crawling again, all the 
time closely watcliing the sagacious animals, who 
would stop short every little wliile to give a side 
glance around them, we fired, bringing one to his 
knees. 

In the afternoon, I borrowed General Lee's double- 
barreled shot gun, and sallied out again for the 
slues, retm*ning with five ducks, lulled on the wing, 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 17 



ill seven shots. We picked them, in anticipation of 
a feast — something new. He (the General) had a 
saying, " rather tight on the American people ;" and, 
when we were eating but once in twenty-foiu' hours, 
his " rather tight" always elicited laughter, which, 
however, was "rather tight" on an empty stomach. 

The morning following our stay at Cow Creek, 
we were on the hunt for the all engrossing game, 
and the General accompanied us, for the first time, 
mounted on a large gray, fit for a charger, who, 
scenting the bufialo, was so unmanageable, he was 
sent back to the train. Mr. Chadwick (of St. Louis, 
on liis first trip, like several of us, for pleasure), see- 
ing a partially blind bull, concluded to 'make meat' 
of him ; crawling up close, the bufialo scented him, 
and pitched about every way, too blind to travel 
straight or fast. Chad fired ; the mad animal, di- 
rected by the rifle report, charged. How they did 
'' lick it" over the ground ! He pm*sued, yelling, half 
in excitement, half in fear, till they were close to the 
Avagons where the pursuer changed tack, only to be 
shot by one of the teamsters with a nor'-west fusil. 

We led a horse with us the next hunt ; a band of 
cows were seen ; St. A^rain approached, and fired ; 
Lupton gave chase on the led horse : following him 
for three miles as fast as our horse and mule flesh 
^vould permit, we gave it up. Lupton retm-ned un- 
successful. 

We reached the grand Arkansas for noon camp ; 
here quite broad, with two feet of water, sandv bot- 
2* 



18 AVAH-TO-YAH AND 



torn, and high sand buttcs on either bank, as bare and 
cheerless as any misanthrope could wish. 

Toward fom- o'clock in the afternoon's travel, I 
took a pair of holster pistols for a chase. I rode be- 
hind a sand butte, and on emerging from it, a " band" 
was tearing over the ground three hundi'ed yards 
distant ; and giving Paint the rein, we soon neared 
them, but, as none were cows, I merely kept along 
side, taking sight with my pistol, for practice, until 
the thoughts of Camanches flashed across my mind, 
and turning Painfs head, I regained the part}\ To 
look at a buflalo, one would think that they could 
not run with such rapidity ; but, let him try to 
follow with an ordinary horse, and he is soon unde- 
ceived. 

The next day, while riding among the hollows, far 
off the road, we found a mule. In order to secure 
it, we road around several times, on each cu'cuit, 
gradually nearing, so as not to frighten by too sud- 
den an approach ; and, when within thirty feet, a 
lasso was thrown over its neck. Mr. St. Vrain and 
a Mexican ran their horses after a band of cows ; 
they were soon out of sight, scaring the buffalo for 
miles around, from us, who returned to the wagons, 
then crossing Walnut Creek. 

We rode through two prairie dog villages in the 
coui'se of the day. Generally, as I have ascertained, 
through inquiry and observation, the ground selected 
for the village, is a level, gravelly, sandy soil. The 
spot constituting the village, is dug full of holes a 
few steps apart, two feet or more in depth, and six 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 10 



or eight inches in diameter at the top, lessening to- 
ward the bottom. Underneath the ground, the bur- 
rows communicate, forming subterranean chambers, 
the whole of which, in some instances, covering 
many acres of ground. The excavated earth is 
thrown out at these holes, forming cones a foot or 
more in hight, which can be seen some distance 
before reaching the village, and also serve to keep 
the rain from di'aining in and disowning the inmates. 

The prahie dog (a species of marmot) is some- 
what larger than the Norway rat ; a scanty covering 
of rusty brown, or sandy hair, renders the similarity 
the more strildng. Their heads are short, bearing 
some resemblance to that of a young bull dog. 

It was quite amusing to watch their movements 
on top of the cones ; on our approach, they barked, 
their short tails nervously fluttering, and receiving a 
new impetus from the short, quick, and sharp tiny 
yelp, which they constantly uttered; when they 
thought themselves in danger, with an incredibl}' 
quick motion, they threw themselves back in the 
holes, and immediately reappeared with an imper- 
tinent, daring bark, as if to say, " you can't get mc." 
Others slowly " crawfished," hiding, by their singu- 
lar way of crouching, the back, until nothing but 
their heads and tails could be seen — these latter 
shaking tremulously. Succeeding a silence of a few 
minutes, after scaring in the " dogs," we could see, 
by lying flat on the ground, so as to get the tops 
of the cones between the sky and our eyes, with the 
closest scrutinv, the head, here and there, of a dog 



20 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



almost imperceptibly moving, and with a cautious 
reconnoitcr, to see if the coast be clear, he would 
show himself, and then, with a knowing yelp, ap- 
prise his neighbors of the result of his investigations. 

The snake and prairie owl hold companionship 
with these dogs ; and not unfrequently their '' pups " 
become victims to the vipers nestled in their bosoms. 
These villages are frequent ; often we came across 
them several miles from water ; but, whether they 
abstain from it totally, is a question not solvable by 
any mountain men with us. A^ery little or no dew 
falls in this region, so these strange animals do not 
depend upon this source to quench their thirst. 
They live on grass ; as the season advances, for 
some distance around the villages, the ground is bare. 

The grass in this region is short, early, and highl}' 
nutritious. It has a withered, brown appearance, 
even early in the spring, and is designated as 
" buffalo grass," from the fact that it grows in the 
present buffalo range, and forms their principal food. 
Mr. St. Vrain came in without meat, and we fared 
poorly on bread and coffee. 

The day was unusually warm and clear ; so that 
the vertical sunbeams beat down on us with almost 
scorching intensity ; no water was near, and long 
before night, we suffered with thirst. We endeavored, 
until nine, or later at night, to reach water ; but the 
rapidly failing oxen compelled us to stop without it. 
Having no water to prepare our food, we made a small 
'' bois de vachej" fire, by which we lit and smoked 
our pipes in sullen silence. The oxen were turned 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 21 



out to shift for themselves ; and several of the thirsty 
men struck a " bee line " for the river, fom- or five 
miles distant. I was too tired to go, and concluded 
to bear the torment until morning, when I heard Pe- 
tout's voice (one of the Canadians), calling me. He 
came and wliispered a few words in my ear, and, 
thereupon, we went to a wagon, where my friend 
produced a gallon keg of water from the front part. 
We drank without speaking, and never did water 
taste sweeter than that long draught. Petout stole 
the keg from a brother Creole ; and, after slaking 
our thirst, we acted honorably, returning the keg 
and contents to its place, saying nothing about it. 

It was two o'clock in the afternoon of the 13th 
of October, that we arrived at " Pawnee Rock : " a 
point of friable sandstone, jutting out from the 
rising ground to our right. It is thirty-five or forty 
feet in liight, and its accessible front is cut with the 
names of ambitious travelers, who wish future gen- 
erations to know that they in such a year jom-n eyed 
along the Santa Fe trail. 

On the top of the rock, near the edge, was a 
deposit of earth, where the remains of some poor 
fellow had been placed. To die anywhere seems 
hard, but to heave the last breath among strangers, 
on the burning, desolate prairie, with no kind mother 
or sister to pay those soothing attentions, which 
divest the bed of sickness of many of its pangs, is 
hard indeed. How must we pity the invalid, who, 
after being jolted in a wagon, under the scorching 
rays of a summer's sun, for days, until natm'e 



22 WAIl-TO-YAII AND 



yields, is put into a mere hole, with hisi blanket for 
coffin and shrond, without a prayer or tear ! Yet 
such is a frequent fate on the Santa Fe trail. 

We encamped on AA\ Creek; and, up to that 
time, we had been two days without meat, and, as 
Lupton said, we wove getting " grease hungry." 

In consultation, next morning, we became despe- 
rate for something more substantial than short ra- 
tions of bread and cofice. Bransford had a gun of 
which we entertained a poor opinion ; he determined 
before starting from camp to bring in " cow meat," 
at which we all laughed. He started by himself in 
the direction of Pawnee F'orks^ — at great risk, how- 
ever, as the neighborhood was infested with hostile 
Indians. I joined a party of two, who deviated to 
the right of the trace. Toward twelve o'clock we 
saw a large band of buflalo, among them a number 
of cows, making their wa}', leism'ely, to a small, 
intervening stream of water. Mr. St. Yrain, dis- 
mounting, took his rifle, and soon was on the " ap- 
proach," leaving us cached* behind a rise of the 
ground to await the gun report. We laid down 
with our blankets, which we always carried strapped 
to the saddle, and, with backs to the wind, talked 
in a low tone, until hearing Mr. St. Vrain's gun, 
when we remounted. Again and again the rifle 
was heard, in hasty succession, and hastening to him, 
we found a fat cow stretched, and a wounded male 
limping slowly oft'. The animals were tied to the 



* Cached — from the French ' cachcr" — 'to hide, 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 23 



horns of our cow ; and, with butcher knives, we 
divested the body of its fine coat ; but, finding my- 
self a " green hand," at least not an adept, in the 
mysteries of prairie butchering, I mounted Paint for 
the wounded fellow, who had settled himself, with 
his fore legs doubled under him, three hundred 
yards from us. Mine was a high pommeled, Mex- 
ican saddle, with wooden stirrups ; and, when once 
seated, it was no easy matter to be dislodged. 
Paint went up within twenty yards of the growling, 
wounded, gore-covered bull, and there stood tremb- 
ling, and iiTiparting some of his fear to myself. 

With long, shaggy, dirt-matted, and tangled locks 
falling over his glaring, diabolical eyes, blood 
streaming from nose and mouth, he made the most 
ferocious looking object it is possible to conceive ; 
and, if nurses could portray, to obstinate children, 
in true colors, the description of a mad bufTalo bull, 
the oft-repeated " bugaboo " would soon be an obso- 
lete idea. 

While looking with considerable trepidation on 
the vanquished monarch of the Pawnee plains, he 
started to his feet; and, with a jump, materially 
lessened the distance between us, which so scared 
Paint, that he reared backward, nearly sliding my- 
self and gun over his tail ; and, before the bridle- 
rein could be tightened, ran some rods ; but, turning 
his head, and setting the rowels of my spurs in his 
flanks, I dashed up within thirty feet of the bull ; 
and, at the crack of the gun, the "poor buifler" 
dropped his head, his skin convulsively shook, his 



24 WAII-TO-YAH AND 



dark eyes, no longer fired with malignancy, rolled 
back in the sockets, and his spirit departed for the 
region of perpetual verdure and running waters, 
beyond the reach of white man's rifle, or the keen 
lance of the prairie warrior. 

Loading our animals with choice pieces of the 
tender coav, we left for the trail, much to the appa- 
rent satisfaction of some dozens of congregated 
wolves, loping and howling, or sitting on their 
haunches, seemingly resolved to bide their time. 
Looking back, after we left a short distance, we saw 
them fighting, with their tails whisking about quite 
lively, in the struggle for " spoils." 

Ravens took the place of the crows after leaving 
Walnut Creek, who seem to be limited to a few 
days' journey of the frontier cornfields. From 
the somber hue of the ravens, we are continually 
reminded of evil spirits, as they slowly flap their 
black wings overhead ; and we felt almost the same 
reverence for them as do the superstitious mariners 
for the wild, screaming, darting, Mother Carey's 
chicken. 

We were going slowly, by reason of our heaAy 
loads of meat — the wagons were far away, sti-etched 
along the level trace, with their dazzling wliite 
sheets, wliile the oxen seemed mere pigmies, wend- 
ing a snail-like pace. To the south, were several 
hundred buffalo, confused by the sight of the wagons 
and us ; as we drew near, their bewilderment in- 
creased, and they scattered, a few within a hundred 
yards. We hurriedly dismounted, not holding our 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 25 



animals, and fired, while off with the clattering 
herd, galloped Chadwick's horse and Paint, the 
meat flapping their sides, accelerating their speed 
at every jump. I did not shout "my kingdom for a 
horse," to pursue the runaway Paint, but felt like 
sending a rifle ball as a check, though, fortunately, 
my gun was unloaded. Bias, our Mexican, seeing 
the mishap, came from the wagons, with lasso in 
hand, and soon returned with the fugitive, after 
a chase of two miles, for wliich service I gave him 
dos pesos (two dollars) and muy gracias (many thanks). 

Bransford was waiting for us at Pawnee Fork — 
a bold, limpid stream, with waters of a refreshingly 
cool sparkle — by his saddle, the fattest "cow" that 
had "gone under" that trip. Nothing more was 
said in disparagement of his gun, skill, or bravery. 
The immense herds feeding and running near camp, 
enticed the men to many a " crawl " that evening, 
and more than one greenhorn took his first trem- 
bling and unsuccessful shot. Close, was the grave of 
one of Bent and St. Vrain's men, who, imprudently 
going too far in advance of the train, last spring, 
was charged upon and scalped by the Pawnees, in 
sight of his companions. Two others of the com- 
pany had to run for it — just escaping. 

Good humor reigned triumphant throughout 
camp. Canadian songs of mirth filled the air ; and, 
at every mess fire, pieces of meat were cooking 
en appolas ; that is, on a stick sharpened, with alter- 
nate fat and lean meat, making a delicious roast. 



26 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



Among others, bond ins* were roasting without any- 
previous cuUnary operation, but the t;ying of both 
ends, to prevent the fat, as it was Hquified, from 
wasting; and when pronounced "good," by the 
hungry, impatient judges, it was taken off the hot 
coals, puffed up with the heat and fat, the steam es- 
caping from httle punctures, and coiled on the 
ground, or a not particularly clean saddle blanket, 
looking for all the world lilce a dead snake. 

The fortunate owner shouts " hyar's the doins, and 
hyar's the coon as savys ' poor bull ' from ' fat cow ;' 
freeze into it, boys ! " and all fall to, with ready knives, 
cutting off savory pieces of this exquisitely appe- 
tizing prau'ie production. 

At our mess fire there was a whole side of ribs 
roasted. When browned thoroughly we handled the 
long bones, and as the generous fat dripped on our 
clothes, we heeded it not, our minds wrapped up 
with the one absorbing thought of satisfying our 
relentless appetites ; progressing in the work of 
demolition, our eyes closed with ineffable bliss. 
Talk of an emperor's table — why, they could im- 
agine nothing half so good ! The meal ended, the 
pipe lent its aid to complete our happiness ; and, at 
night, we retired to the comfortable blankets, want- 
ing nothing, caring for nothing. One remarkable 
peculiarity is there about buffalo meat — one can 
eat even beyond plenitude, without experiencing any 
ill effects. 

*Boudins, the intestine in whicli is contained the chyme. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 27 



CHAPTER II. 

THE TRAIL. 

We awoke on the morning of the 16th, with a 
Norther penetrating our blankets. The river Arkan- 
sas, almost dry, and on whose north bank we were 
encamped, was covered with floating particles of 
thin ice. Drinker had but two blankets, and, on 
awakening, we found him lying near the remains of 
the " bois de vaehe" fire, the light ashes of which, 
on his clothing, gave the appearance of snow. We 
wore extra clothing during the morning's ride, and 
Drinker looked badly, from the effect of last night's 
wakefulness. We rode in silence for a time, some- 
what in advance of the party, in vain attempts to 
encourage conversation. At length, after a long 
pause, he said : " St. Vrain and Folger sleep together, 
Chad and Bransford do too, had n't we better?" I 
acquiesced mth pleasure. With saddles and over- 
coats, we had good pillows — the other clothing re- 
mained on us. Wherever camp w^as made, a place 
was selected by each couple for sleeping before dis- 
mounting (mountaineer custom) ; and, ere dark, the 
pallet of robes, etc., was always spread. We hud- 
dled around the miserable " cow wood" fires, chilled 
by the cold winds. 

We nooned the next day near a United States 
mule train — the one from which the man w as killed 



28 WAII-TO-YAH AND 



at Pawnee Fork, by the Indians, who slipped up as 
they were at supper. The captain of the train also 
received an arrow tlu'ough his coat collar. 

On the 19th, we made a late start — encamping 
several hours after dark. The weather grew much 
cooler, and the river valleys became much narrower 
than toward the States, and the prairie was at an 
elevation of twenty-five or tliirty feet above the bot- 
tom. Bleak hills of di-ifted sand met the eye on the 
opposite side of the river, giving shelter from the icy 
blasts, to the different game, and too often to the 
unfriendly savage, who watches from his secure 
position, and waits for fit opportunity to pounce 
upon, rob, and scalp weak parties of pale-faced en- 
emies from the east. About fom^ o'clock, Bransford 
killed, with his popgun, four buffalo, out of a band 
of five ; the nearest at fifty yards, and, as they re- 
treated, the other thi*ee, the last at two hundred and 
fifty yards. Another evidence of his gun's Uttle 
worthlessness ! 

If, when buffalo are shot at, one is brought to the 
ground, and bleeds freely, and, if the hunter is not 
discovered, by sight or scent, the surviving buffalo 
will smell the blood and stop — often permitting 
themselves to be killed without running. 

Two deer were brought, in the course of the eve- 
ning hunt; and, buffalo and venison being before 
the camp fires at the same time, the superiority of 
*' fat cow" was fairly tested and acknowledged. 
While riding leisurely along, shortly after Brans- 
ford's inimitable shots, our attention was drawn to 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 29 



a band of buffalo running across our path, a half 
mile to the rear, and two hundred or more large 
wolves, who, with outstretched necks, and uplifted 
sharp heads, were in sure, noiseless, though swift 
pursuit. It was a magnificent sight to watch them 
dasliing along — the poor buffalo straining their ut- 
most to elude the sharp fangs of their persecutors — 
the wolves gaining at every stride. On they went, 
now out of sight, now in the river, where the buffalo 
had the advantage ; a cool swim invigorated the 
pursuers, who, loping with dripping hair, howled, as 
they pressed on to victory. 

On the 23d, we came to the " Cimarone" crossing 
of the Arkansas River — the shortest of the two 
routes to Santa Fe, which here diverge — one over 
the sand desert, void of water ; and, in the severe 
joniadas, the oxen often drop with thirst — the other 
following the river bank to Bent's Fort, crosses a 
spur of the Rocky Mountains — a longer, but safer 
and easier road. 

The river, at the " crossing," was wide, and but a 
few inches in depth — a good ford. Seeing some men 
on the opposite side, I crossed on Paint, to learn the 
news — something seldom found, and eagerly sought 
for on the plains. Capt. Murphy (volunteer service), 
Roubideau, and two others, composed the party. 
They were the government express to the States. 
Roubideau wished to buy Paint, offering me a fine 
bay horse, and, finally, ten dollars " to boot ;" but, I 
felt, or fancied I felt, like the Arabian, and I thought 
of the long, weary miles I had been carried — the 
3* 



30 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



exciting buffalo chases, with the accompanying feel- 
ing of ti'ue liberty, wliile coui'sing over the bare 
plains on his back ; so, grasping my rifle, I turned 
his head without a reply, and, with a shout, urged 
him away in a gallop, loving him more than ever. 

In the afternoon, I went out with the hunters. 
The day was warm ; the transition from the bottom 
to the upland, was rendered agreeable by a gentle 
breeze, which kept us in a proper state of coolness. 

The mirage threw its optical illusion^around every 
thing; a buffalo seemed a shapeless mass, and, 
browsing, or running, its side or fi'ont turned to us, 
it would, at times, dwindle to a transparent shadow, 
or stalk forth in magnified proportions. The heat 
glimmering up from the parched ground, dazzled the 
eye, and we rode as if on the ocean — so shut up 
were we by the plain, stretching away on all sides, 
no object to break the monotonous view, except a 
stray bison or antelope. 

Here, for the first time, we noticed the cactus — 
the same as the most common of the species in the 
States, only this had a ruddier, healthier color, proba- 
bly owing to the continued, exposed action of the 
sun. We regained the trace before dark, and waited 
for the train. 

On the 24th, we passed " Pawnee Forts ;" a grove 
of timber in which a war party of Pawnees, some 
years before, fortified themselves when besieged by 
a hostile tribe. Nothing now remains but a few- 
crumbling logs to mark the site of this Indian bul- 
wark. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 31 



At noon camp two Indians came in — runners 
for the grand war party of the Cheyennes — the first 
wild Indians I had seen. They were innocent of 
clothing, with the exception of a cloth around the 
loins, a pair of moccasins, and a robe which was 
drawn around while walldng ; but, on sitting down, 
it was permitted to fall off, leaving nude the body 
from the waist upward. Frank De Lisle tallced by 
signs with them ; and, after they ate and smoked, 
we learned that a party, numbering one hundred 
and twenty-two warriors, were encamped up the 
river, on a scalp and horse-stealing expedition in 
the Pawnee nation, with whom they are at war. 
The runners left us when their cmiosity and appe- 
tites were satisfied. 

In the morning, at ten o'clock, we were at the 
camp of the Indian braves. Many of the younger 
and more ardent met us ; as they dashed by, on 
their handsome horses, I thought, with envy, of the 
free and happy life they were leading on the un- 
tamed plains, with fat buffalo for food, fine horses 
to ride, living and dying in a state of blissful igno- 
rance. To them, who know no other joys than those 
of the untaught savage, such a life must be the 
acme of happiness ; for what more invigorating, 
enlivening pleasure is there than traversing the 
grand prairies, admiring the beauties of unkempt, 
wild, and lovely nature, and chasing the fleet-footed 
buffalo — to send the death-abiding arrows, with 
the musical twang of the bowstring — then par- 
taliing of the choice parts, cooked by themselves, 



32 WAH-TO-YAEI AND 



by their own fires ; and, afterward, lying down to 
enjoy such sweet sleep as is within the comprehen- 
sion of those only who have traveled and hunted 
on the lordly parks of the Far West. 

Shaking hands, we (Messrs. St. Vrain, Folger, 
Chadwick, Drinker, and myself) dismounted, and 
sat in a row with several of the principal warriors. 
The pipe of red marble, four inches in length, the 
bowl three in hight, with a stem two feet in length, 
was passed around, containing a mixture of tobacco 
and the bark of the red willow or swamp dogwood. 
First, one chief took the pipe, and after presenting 
its mouth to the sky, and to the ground, he drew four 
whiffs — blowing one toward the heavens, one to the 
earth, one to the east, and the other to the west. 
Each Indian did the same. Some must have the 
pipe presented to them stem downward ; others with 
the bowl resting on the ground ; and others, again, 
with the stem upward. All have their peculiar 
medicine or religion, and they are as punctillious, in 
this matter, as ever was a Hidalgo in politeness. 

The smoke was inhaled by the Indians ; who, 
after filling their lungs with repeated whifis, blew it 
out in a continuous stream, from nostrils and mouth, 
in three distinct lines. I tried the same process ; 
but coughing slightly in the attempt, the chiefs look- 
ed so solemn and stern, I felt almost afi'aid to try 
further, and contented myself with the usual way. 
The pipe was passed from right to left, then back 
from hand to hand, without smoking, to the first one, 



THE TAOS TRAIL, 33 



and the same round was repeated, until exhausted 
of its contents. 

Being in want of a rope, I went with a piece of 
tobacco to an Indian, and by pointing to a neatlj^- 
platted rawhide rope, and holding out the tobacco, 
we made an exchange. Mr. St. Vrain made the 
party, through the chiefs, a present of tobacco and 
ammunition — not through love of the guttural- 
toned warriors, but to influence them in his favor; 
for they belong to the Cheyenne nation, with whom 
the firm of Bent, St. Vrain & Co. trade largely for 
robes. 

A number of Indians went with us to " noon 
camp," in expectation of a feast, where they sat in a 
circle outside of the coral. A kettle of coffee, of 
which they are extravagantly fond, Avith a pile of 
bread, was placed in their midst — two officious In- 
dians helped each one to a portion of bread, and 
one cup served several. They appeared to enjoy 
the luxmy. 

Before I could distinguish the men from the wo- 
men in attendance, I asked Beauvais : 

" Is that the way all the squaws dress ? " 

" Which squaws ? " said he. 

" Why, those yonder," replied I, pointing to some 
Indians, whom I mistook for women. Often after- 
ward, my compagnons de voyage had many a hearty 
laugh at my " squaws. ^^ 

Hitherto I had been wearing shoes, but for some 
powder and ball, an Indian gave me a pair of moc- 
casins, which I wore, discarding the shoes. The grass 



34 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



here is dry, by reason of absence of dews ; conse- 
quently the sUppery sole of the shoe makes walking 
unpleasant and laborious — lilie taking two steps for- 
ward and slipping back one — but, with a pliant, 
neatly-fitting moccasin, one can catch hold with his 
toes on the ground, thereby aiding himself con- 
siderably. 

On my neck was a black silk handkerchief; for 
this several Indians oflered moccasins, but I refused 
to part with it. At last, one huge fellow caught me 
in his arms, and hugged me very tight, at the same 
time grunting desperately, as if in pain ; but one of 
the traders who understood savage customs, said 
that he was professing great love for me . Who could 
withstand such pressing appeals ? so pulling off the 
object of his love I gave it to him ; though, be it said, 
the grunt of a porker, in the last stages of obesity, 
would have been quite as intelligible and ac- 
ceptable. 

On the morning of the 26th, we came to " Chou- 
teau's Island," taking its name from a trader, who 
was here long and hotly besieged by a war part yof 
Pawnees. Our wagon wheels needed repairing, 
and we stopped for the day to set tire, which had 
become loose by reason of the long drought. 

The wagons started the morning of the 27th, and 
I went with the hunters ; but, after breasting the wind 
for six or eight miles, we struck the trace, so as to 
meet the wagons ; and, by looking at the road, we 
saw they had not passed. We went back a mile, 
and found the men cooking, and Frank De Lisle, 



THE TAOS TRAIL, 35 



assisted by two Canadians, shoeing the barefooted 
oxen. The legs of the ox are entangled in a rope 
to throw him down, and drawn up to prevent his 
kicking, while a partly circular piece of iron, made 
to fit but the outside division of the hoof, is nailed 
on in the same manner, and with like nails, as a 
horse is shod. 

In beating through a bottom for game, overgrown 
with high weeds, grass, and covered with falleji 
trees. Drinker, who was a short distance from the 
rest of us, shouted, " here is a porcupine." The por- 
cupine gave unmistakable evidence to our nasal 
organs, of its being a " polecat,"* and " David " (Mr. 
Folger's mule) carried from the field of sanguinary 
conflict, that which rendered his proximity anything 
but agreeable — even the rider did not escape scath- 
less, much to the amusement and feigned abhorrence 
of the jovially-inchned camp. 

We passed by a medicine lodge of the Cheyenne 
Indians, about twelve o'clock, on the morning of the 
28th — now abandoned, as a new one is erected 
whenever it is deemed necessary, by their priests. 
It was made of cottonwood poles, from four to five 
inches in diameter, and eight to fifteen in length. 
In form, the tout ensemble approximated more to a 
hexagonal, than a circular form, though strictly 
neither. Its altitude was twenty by twenty-five feet 
in diameter ; and the poles composing the sides, 
were planted perpendicularly, from the top of which, 

* Skunk. 



t|^ 36 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



other smaller poles, composing the roof, were fas- 
ened, converging to the center perpendicular post. 
Among the roof poles, or rafters, boughs of trees 
were rudely interwoven, to exclude the sun's rays. 
Near the apex, on the inside, was pendant an un- 
tanned, long-haired buffalo bull's hide, with the lower 
lip attached, by strips of skin, painted on the one 
side red, the other black. The poles were daubed 
in the same manner. In a well-trodden, clean spot 
of ground, within the lodge, were two oblong holes, 
a few inches wide, and about two feet in length ; 
around, and in them, were a number of small sticks, 
painted the two colors. 

A few steps from the outside was a sweat lodge, 
so called by the mountaineers, in which the medicine 
men enter, before performing their sacred duties. It 
is nearly, or quite four feet in hight, and five in 
breadth, at its base ; the general contour is not un- 
like an inverted round basket. In the center is dug 
a hole, similar in shape, to a cogwheel, where are 
placed heated stones, on which, water is poured to 
generate steam, and cause perspiration. After this, 
they plunge, reeking with sweat, in the river. In 
the Indian village, I have seen them jump from their 
hot lodges, in the water, when the margin of the 
stream was ice-bound. I thought the shock too se- 
vere, but, on inquiry, ascertained that no ill effects 
ever ensue. 

To those fond of speculating on the origin and 
probabihty of the North American Indians belong- 
ing to the lost tribes of Israel, I would here say, that 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 37 



these Indians purify themselves before entering upon 
the performance of theii' reUgioxis duties. 

The evening following the visit to the lodge, we 
encamped near the banks of the Arkansas, where a 
creek, fringed with timber, made a graceful curve, 
emptying its modicum of water into the main stream. 
The pleasing position and grouping of the trees, 
render this spot picturesque, and, it is well known 
to travelers, as the " Pretty Encampment." 

Before the break of gray dawn, Messrs. St. Vrain, 
Folger, and Chadwick, left us for the Fort, some 
eighty miles distant. 

Early the morning of the 30th, we awoke, with 
our bedding, selves, the firewood and ground, wet 
with rain. All rode sulkily along, having had an 
unsatisfactory breakfast. The oxen slipped on the 
muddy trail, the drivers uttering " sacres''^ and 
'' avanccs,''^ with more than the usual emphasis. 
Now and then, a Canadian ditty would break forth, 
but it was no use attempting songs ; the charm for 
the nonce was broken, and it died away, as if choked 
by the damp atmosphere. Riding in a wet saddle, 
in rain-saturated clothes, and inhaling the steam 
from our clammy, unpleasant animals, caused feel- 
ings most undesirable. 

We reached the " Salt Bottom" in the morning, so 
called from the salt marshes, and saline efflorescence 
appearing in spots, as if flour had been sprinkled 
on the ground. 

We traveled long after dark by the bright moon, 
which cast a shade, or lit up the crawling train, as 
4 



38 AVAH-TO-YAH AND 



it alternately appeared and disappeared behind the 
fleeting clouds. We crowded together, listening 
with much interest to tales of western life ; amid 
the silent intervals, songs and shouts of the drivers 
were heard far in the rear. Our mules outwallced 
the oxen, and we often were too far in advance for 
safety ; then, stopping for the slow train, we would 
dismount, light our pipes, and chat away with much 
satisfaction, for the rain had early ceased, and the sun 
had dryed our clothes. We were, however, living 
meanly, on the flesh of worked-down oxen, too poor 
to travel, with about as much masticable flesh on 
them as in the cottonwoods lining the river bank. 

On October 31st, we crossed "Big Sand Creek," 
a large bed of sand, one hundred yards in width, 
covered with water dm-ing very rainy seasons, but 
then dry. The Indians camp upon it a half day's 
journey from its mouth, where there is much water. 
Below that point the sand absorbs it. Our teams 
had to be coupled to get the wagons through the 
sinking mouth. 

Three of us, riding up the creek for antelope, 
saw, on the horizontal limbs of a cottonwood, t^vo 
Indian graves, thirty feet or more from the ground. 
Short poles were tied transverse^, from one limb to 
another, and the deceased, wrapped in many folds 
of robes with a few ornaments, was tied on this 
scaffolding with thongs of rawhide. This mode of 
burial is preferred to interment in the ground, as 
the wolves would scratch the bodies up again ; and, 
beside, the Indians have no implements for dig- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 39 



ging the compact gravel. There may be some 
superstition connected with the present form of 
bm'ial — be that as it may, it has always been the 
custom to put the bodies in trees. The wind had 
blown to the ground some of the robes and blankets 
from the corpses, and they were torn in tatters by 
the wolves. 

We nooned at the roots of a fallen cottonwood, 
called " Dead Indian." The lower jawbone of a 
w^oman was picked up by Bransford. The teeth 
were sound and regular ; I put it in my bullet pouch 
for safe keeping. 

There is much that is singular about the antelope, 
it being a most inquisitive creature ; their curiosity, 
like Eve's, often results in their downfall. While 
hunting, before reaching camp, a band came run- 
ning past. Bewildered and fascinated, they described 
two complete circles around us, during which we 
gave them several shots, though their motions were 
too swift for sure aim. A handkerchief on a gun 
rod will cause them, now advancing, now retreating, 
to approach until within rifle range. 

The mountaineers spin long yarns of their ex- 
ploits in hunting and toling game ; and, they say, 
that standing on the head and shaking the legs in 
air, is a successful and favorite mode. Marcellus 
St. Vrain, brother to our leader, is noted in coming 
this dodge over them. 

At night, the rain fell and the wind blew, driving 
the smoke in our faces : all went to bed early, leav- 
ing me sitting by the fire. It was my favorite pas- 



40 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



time to take a blanket, and lie on the ground with 
it wrapped around me, with back to the wind, apart 
from the noisy camp, to read or scrawl a few words, 
in a blank book, of the events of the day, or think 
of friends far away ; or, perchance, nodding, and, 
in a dreamy state, with the warm sun beaming on 
me, build castles in the air. Many object to this 
idle run of thought, as it exerts, say they, a per- 
nicious influence on the mind ; that it drives away 
rational, sober thought, and distracts the mind from 
business ; but what satisfaction it is, especially on 
the prairie, where there is no mental occupation, to 
think of things not in our poAver to possess ; for, 
diu"ing the brief moments we indulge in this train, 
we are as much gratified and happy as if in actual 
possession ; and why deprive one of this poor lux- 
ury ? With myself it was like the two-mile heats 
in races — " once around and repeat ; " for, on every 
opportunity, I endeavored to resume the thread of 
the last reverie, and dream away, sometimes in a 
conflict with the Indians, or rescuing a fair maiden 
from the hands of ruthless savages ; or, again, chasing 
buffalo, and feasting on the fat of the land. Any 
one, in the Far West, is romantically inclined. 

We awoke in the morning, again drenched, cold, 
and uncomfortable, with saturated clothes hanging 
on us. A kettle of beans was on the fire cook- 
ing, when the men went to bed ; and, while I was 
punching the savages in imagination, I had punched 
the fire too much. The conseqnence was a mess of 
burnt beans ; some tough, stringy, old steer meat, 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 41 



emitting such an unpleasant smell, which to eat 
seemed almost a sin. Maybe the fellows did n't 
swear at me ! Tell it not in Gath ! but I laughed 
until their woe-begone faces relaxed into good-hu- 
mored smiles. 

The pelting rain enlivened the scene ; and Drinker, 
General Lee, and I started for the Fort, nearly forty 
miles distant. The sorry breakfast sat uneasily on 
our craving stomachs, and we spurred our animals 
over the gi-ound, for miles, without speaking, with 
rain falling just enough to penetrate our clothing, 
and cause suicidal feeling. Our ideas of the beau- 
tiful had fled ; and, after a weary day's trot, we 
arrived in sight of the Fort, where our animals were 
soon unsaddled, and turned out at the gate, to wan- 
der in quest of grass. Going in, we found Mr. St. 
Vrain, who introduced us to William Bent, a partner, 
Doctor Hempstead, and several traders. We sat 
down to a table, for the first time, in fifty daj^s, and 
ate with knives, forks, and plates. 

A room was given us, in company with several 
government teamsters, in which to sleep : had our 
inclination been consulted, the open air would have 
been preferred to the unpleasant sensation of op- 
pression felt in being shut up within fom' walls ; but, 
li'importc, we didn't have to guard against Indians. 

I arose early in the morning, and going on top of 
the fort, had a good view of the " Spanish Peaks " 
to the north-west, apparently fifteen miles distant — • 
in reality one hundred and twenty. They were of a 

dull gray color ; while a lower range were dazzling 

4* 



42 WAII-TO-YAH AND 



white, all perpetually covered with snow. To the 
north-east, a faint outline of a mountain was 
descried — James's or Pike's Peak! 

William Bent and Marcellus St. Vrain (the former 
a partner and the latter a trader in the company's 
employ), have Indian wives. In the fort was a 
vxdange of traders and employers, government offi- 
cers and subordinates, Indians, Frenchmen, and 
hunters. 

The fort is a quadrangular structure, formed of 
adobes, or sun-diyed brick. It is thii-ty feet in hight, 
and one hundred feet square ; at the north-east 
corner, and its corresponding diagonal, are bastions 
of a hexagonal form, in which are a few cannon. 
The fort walls serve as the back walls to the rooms, 
which front inward on a courtj'ard. In the center 
of the court is the " robe press ; " and lying on the 
ground was a small brass cannon, burst in saluting 
General Kearnej'. 

The roofs of the houses are made of poles, and a 
layer of mud, a foot or more thick, with a slight 
inclination, to run off the water. There was a 
billiard table, in a small house on top of the fort, 
where the boiLvgcoise and visitors amused themselves ; 
and, in the clerk's office, contiguous, a first-rate spy- 
glass, with which I viewed the cabaUada, coming fi-om 
the grazing ground, seven miles up the river. In 
the belfry, two eagles, of the American bald species, 
looked from their prison. They were two years 
old, but their heads do not become bald until attain- 
ing the age of three. Antelope and other fresh 



*fllE TAOS TRAIL. 43 



meats were scarce, and the eagles had to starve two 
days. One evening they were let loose ; one 
escaped unharmed, the other flew a short distance, 
and a Cheyenne shot him for the feathers, to adorn 
his own ugly head. Enfant de garce! muttered I. 
How I wanted to retaliate on the savage. 

On the evening of the 3d November, three men 
arrived from the direction of the "States," on ex- 
press, from a government train, of twenty-eight 
wagons and one hundred and sixty mules, which 
had been robbed by the Pawnees ; one man killed, 
several wounded, a wagon bm-nt, all the mules but 
seven taken; and, to use their euphonic language, 
"the devil to pay" — Uncle Sam, we suppose. 

One of the express came forward and shook 
hands with me ; he was a lieutenant of Captain 
Holt's company of Missouri volunteers. The regi- 
ment had been ordered out, but disbanded. Buchanan 
(the lieutenant) was not to be deprived of a visit 
to "Nueva Mejico;" so, dofling his clothes of the 
military cut, he left Fort Leavenworth as wagon- 
master of the train just robbed. Buck (as he was 
familiarly called by way of abbreviation) was full 
of fun, and he related the circumstance with as 
much sangfroid, as if he had done nothing else all 
his life but fight Indians. 



44 AVAH-TO-YAH AND 



CHAPTER III. 

THE VILLAGE. 

On the evening of the 8th of November, I started 
for the Indian village, with John Smith. Yes ! 
John Smith ! the veritable John Smith ! After leav- 
ing cities, towns, steamboats, and the civilized world, 
and traversing the almost boundless plains ; here, 
at the base of the Rocky INlomitains, among buffalo, 
wild Indians, traders, and Spanish mules, have I 
found a John Smith. And, probably, for fear the 
name might become extinct, he has named his little 
half-breed boy, John, whom we called Jack, for brev- 
ity's sake. 

Pierre, a good Canadian, drove the four-mule 
wagon, in which was om' bedding, a little provision, 
and an outfit for mule trading. Smith's squaw, a 
woman of thirty years or about, with prominent 
cheek bones, and other Indian peculiarities, rode 
astride of a high-pommeled, Indian saddle. The 
horse was decked out with a saddle cover of blue 
cloth, worked according to fancy, with many-colored 
beads, and tin pellets pendant from the fringed 
edges, covering him from wethers to rump. Little 
Jack, three or four years of age, clung behind his 
mother, plainly showing, in his complexion and fea- 
tures, the mingling of American and Indian blood. 



THE TAOS TRAIL, 45 



His gray eyes were continually centered on me ; 
but I could say nothing intelligible to him, as he 
spoke only the Cheyenne tongue. A boy, ten years 
old, son of Smith's squaw (a full-blood), cantered 
along on a pony. 

We went down the river bank to the mouth of 
Rio los Animas* or Purgatoire, and stopped in 
a grove of young cottonwood. Hard b}', in a 
marshy spot, grew many rushes, on which our 
small caballada fared well. Ours was a nice little 
camp. The sun, in setting, cast long shadows through 
the trees on the gray grass so calm and solemn ; 
the smoke curled upward in a continuous blue line, 
losing itself high in the open space ; and the air 
was cool enough to be bracing, and to render the 
fire agreeable. On an outspread robe, at one side 
of the fire, sat Jack and liis mother ; Smith sharing 
the seat with them ; myself, cross-legged, looked 
around with silent satisfaction and adixdration ; and 
Pierre, a short distance ofl!", was gathering wood for 
the night. 

The squaw lifted the cofl^eepot from the coals, and 
we unstrapped our tincups from the saddles ; with 
dryed, pounded buffalo meat, and the sine quanon of 
the mountaineer — the pipe — we did well, talldng 
and smoking until the fire grew dim, when we 
separated. Wrapping up in my blankets, and 
covering my nose from the frost, I watched the 
stars in the clear, blue vault above, and listened to 

*A Spanish-Mexican term, signifying Taver of Soids, 



46 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



the distant howl of the coyote^ until I unconsciously 
fell asleep. 



"The wolves have preyed; and, look, the gentle day, 
Before the wheels of Phccbus, round about, 
Dapples the east with spots of drowsy gray." 

Shortly after sunrise we were once more in the 
saddle. Our animals, with rush-distended stom- 
achs, gave prospect of doing good service. The 
route was the same over which Lee, Drinker, and 
myself passed the day we started in advance of the 
train. We were then too wet to enjoy anything. 

The soap plant (Amole or Yucca augustifolia) 
dotted the prairie, here and there, in the strange- 
looking garb of green. Its root is much used by 
the New Mexicans in washing clothes — more espe- 
cially the finer goods — it not possessing alkaline 
properties in so great a degree as the common soap 
of wood ashes. The plant is an evergreen, not dis- 
similar in general appearance to the palmetto of 
Louisiana and Texas. 

We had much to speak of: Smith of the States ; 
and, to my many inquiries of the Indians, he expa- 
tiated, at length, on their customs, food, and easy 
life. Of the viands, he lauded dog's flesh to the 
very skies ; on my expressions of abhorrence at the 
bare thought, he said : 

'' I bet I '11 make you eat dogmeat in the village, 



THE TAOS TRx\IL. 47 



and you'll say it's good, and the best you ever 
hid in your ' meatbag,' " (stomach). 

" No you will not," rejoined I ; " the mere idea is 
enough to sicken one — slimy pupmeat ! ugh! not 
enough of the carniverous in me for that ; besides 
buffalo meat, in my opinion, cannot be sui'passed, for 
delicacy of flavor, in this or any other country." 

"Well, hos! I'll dock off huffier, and then if 
thar's any meat that 'runs' can take the sliine outen 
' dog,' you can slide." 

I still persisted that there was no convincing me ; 
and, though firmly believing that " dog " could not 
pass, yet, in this country, circmnstances bring us 
down to many things which before seem impossi- 
ble ; and no one can tell but that a piece of old 
mule would be quite acceptable, ere passing through 
the fiery ordeal of a year in the Far West. Indeed, 
we had ah-eady eaten the next thing to mule and 
nothing — broken down steermeat. Oh grief! my 
jaws ache to think of the sobby dejeuners, in the soak- 
ing rain, of old steer ; or, as the Canadians termed 
it, " saci'e baeuf.'''' 

In a narrow bottom, well sheltered by abrupt 
hills in the background, we made om* stay for the 
night. Turning out om* animals, and fixing things 
rightly, Smith- and I waded the river, where, among 
the underbrush and tall marshgrass, we had a few 
shots at a band of white-tailed deer. 

At twelve o'clock the next day, we came to three 
Indian lodges, where we found Wilham Benfs 
squaw and her mother, on their way to the Fort. 



48 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



We were invited to the back part of the lodge, 
where dryed, pounded cherries, mixed with buffalo 
marrow, and a root, eaten raw, resembling, in taste 
and appearance, the Jerusalem artichoke, were set 
before us. Whiffing the long pipe, with the clever 
inmates, we remounted. 

Toward evening, Smith pointed to some objects, 
inquiring of me what they were, but I could not 
guess aright. "That's the village," said he. Moun- 
tain men can distinguish objects, wliich to a novice 
in prairie ken, have no tangible form or size. By 
sundown we were at the lodges, whose conical 
shape and dusky yellow hue, looked oddly but wel- 
come to our tired eyes and limbs. 

It is Indian rule, that the first lodge a stranger 
enters, on visiting a village, is his home during his 
stay — whether invited or not, it is all the same^— 
and, as we wished to be at the " Lean Chief's," we 
inquired for him. Without saying a word, or going 
in the lodge first, we unsaddled in front of it, putting 
our " possibles " in the back part, the most honored 
and pleasant place, for there is no passing by, or 
other annoyance. 

The owner occupies the back of the lodge, wliich 
is given up for a guest ; and the Lean Chief's squaw 
and daughters removed his robes, etc., to one side. 
The women and children crowded around us while 
unsaddling; the strange dress and appearance of 
the boys attracted my attention ; A\liich latter, from 
their infancy to the age of six and seven, go with- 
out a particle of clothing, dans costume a VAdam — a 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 49 



string of beads around the neck. The girls are 
clothed from the earliest hour. 

The white man is always welcome with the Chey- 
enne, as he generally has mok-ta-bo mah-pe — coffee. 
We went in the lodge ; the grave-looldng head, Vip- 
po-nah, or the Lean Chief, and liis two solemn coad- 
jutors, shook hands with us, with the salutation of, 
Hook-ah-hay ! mim-ichit! — equivalent to Welcome, 
how do you do; and then they relapsed into silence. 
Water was handed us to drink, as they suppose a 
traveler must be thirsty after riding ; then meat was 
set before us, as they think a tired man needs 
refreshment. When we had finished, the pipe was 
passed around, during which soothing pastime the 
news were asked. 

There is much to admire in this praiseworthy for- 
bearance ; and, although the Indians are as curious 
as any people, yet, through their consideration, the 
cravings of hunger and thirst are first satisfied ; then, 
under the communicative influence of the long pipe, ' 
the topics of the season are discussed. 

A lodge, generally, is composed of seventeen or 
more slender poles of pine, three inches in diameter 
at the butts, finely tapering to the small ends, and 
eighteen to twenty-three or four feet in length. 
These poles are tied together a few inches from the 
small ends, with the butts resting on the ground, so! 
that the frame resembles a cone, over which a cov- 
ering of buffalo skin is neatly fitted, divested of 
hair and rendered pliant by means of the dubber — 
an adze-shaped piece of iron, fitted to an angular 



50 WAH-TO-YAn AND 



section of elk's horn — which chips off pieces of the 
hard skin, until it is reduced to the requisite thin- 
ness. Brains are then rubbed on it, making it still 
softer. The skins are then cut and sewed together 
with awl and sinew, so that they fit neatly the pole 
frame. By rolling up the lower edge of this cover- 
ing, it makes a commodious, airy habitation in 
summer; and, by closing all the apertures, a warm 
shelter in wdnter. At the apex, an opening is left, 
through which the ends of the poles protrude, and 
by which the smoke finds its way out. The fire is 
;oo. built in the center ; and, to prevent the smoke being 
*, , , driven back by the wind, there are two flaps or 
continuations of the upper skins, with poles attach- 
..,i). ed on the outside. These flaps they shut, shift, or 
" ■' extend, as occasion requires. 

We made known our business, and immediately 

a " crier " was sent out. Throwing back the skiu- 

door of the lodge, he protruded his head and then 

,/„'•>",, his whole body, and uttered in a stentorian voice, 

something similar to the following, " Hibholo, hihholo ! 

Po-ome, ho-o-u, nah ivah-he, sc-nc-mone, nali tah-ti- 

V\"\ve wok-pshe-o-nun, nah mok-ta-ho icoh-pshe-o-nun , nah 
. ivoh-pi iDoh-pshe-o-nun, nah mn-tah-ke^ nah o-ne-ah- 
wokst ;^^ meaning, in regular succession, that 
'••.,'" Blackfoot (Smith), had come for mules; and all 
;; ; "who washed, to come and trade; -that we had 
" .,. tobacco, blue blankets, black (deep blue) blankets, 
"'" white blankets, knives, and beads." 

It is contrary to Indian medicine or religion, to 
pass between the landlord (owner of the lodge) and 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 51 



the fire, for, they say, it dissolves friendship, and any 
infringement of this custom is looked upon with 
displeasure. 

We were very comfortably situated ; the lodge 
was large enough to admit of our lying with feet to 
the fire — made true Indian fashion — in a small 
space, and heaped continually in a rounding, com- 
pact form. As the night waned apace, we were 
visited by the prominent men ; who, in a digni- 
fied manner, shook hands with us, and sat with 
crossed legs, propounding questions : ad interim, 
passing the pipe. As each Indian appeared at the 
lodge-entrance, Hook-ah-liay or num-whit (the mode 
of congratulation), escaped his lips ; to which a like 
response was given by the landlord, or us. 

We sat in our places at the back part, and 
the Indians, according to rank, took scats to our 
left, on mother earth, or their own robes. To 
the right was our host ; and, if a man entitled to 
notice by right of seniority or daring deeds of valor, 
entered, those inferior in honors gave place next the 
white man (us). Sometimes Indians of equal rank 
were in the lodge at the same time, and then a sotto 
voce dispute, as to the " upper seat," would be car- 
ried on with much gesticulatory motion. 

Their dusky faces, viewed by the yellow blaze, 
together with the unintelligible jargon, filled me 
with new and strange thoughts ; and, when the old 
crones swung the seething, black pot of meat from 
the fire of dryed sticks, I could not but think of the 
gipsy tribes, who possess many traits resembling 



52 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



theirs ; and who, in common with them, have an 
unconquerable love for roaming. 

One by one the grave councilors took their 
leave. When the fire grew low, all had retired 
to bed but myself, puffing, slowly, a pipe, unin- 
terruptedly thinking of all the analogies wTitten 
(that I had read) between the Indians, Hebrews, 
and Gipsies ; but, presently, through the wreaths of 
white smoke, the sleeping face of our host's daugh- 
ter, just visible in the expiring light, intercepted the 
delivery of a grave dissertation, in imagination, to 
an intelligent audience. Then, I mused of her 
awhile, until the neglected pipe, dropping out of 
my hand, roused me from a doze ; so, reaching 
around for the blankets, and cutting a piece of 
dryed "buffler," to " chew," I folded my hands over 
my breast, and traced, with my eye, the lodge- 
poles, running way up to a center, which, in the 
vacillating, dying flame, were alternately revealed 
and hidden, until I thought I was dead and sentenced, 
forever, to run backward up and down seventeen 
lodgepoles, for the amusement of a merry set of 
laughing devils, and in that state I fell asleep, un- 
disturbed but by the occasional baying of a village 
dog, or the dismal howl of a coyote. 

Early in the morning we sat round the fire, wait- 
ing for the host's meat to cook, to which we contri- 
buted the coffee — the most important and rare 
addition. 

The Indians talked of moving to the " Big Tim- 
ber," a few miles above, and soon the village was in 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 53 



oommotion ; the young men driving up their differ- 
ent bands of horses ; the squaws catching them. 
Some took down the lodges, and tying the poles in 
two bundles, fastened them on either side of a mule 
or horse, like the shafts of a dray — the lower ends 
dragging the ground ; and, behind the horse, a 
tray-shaped basket or hoop, latticed with hide- 
thongs, was tied on these poles, in which were 
put the children too young to ride alone, and other 
tilings not easily carried on a horse. Some of the 
mules were saddled, and on each side were slung 
square bags, of thick buffalo hide, divested of hair, 
■ in which stone hammers, dubbers, wooden bowls, 
horn spoons, etc., were thrown. 

The skin, of which these convenient hampers are 
made, is called ^jaryZecAc — a French term Angli- 
cised, as are many other foreign words, in the moun- 
tains, by general usage. Its literal meaning is, 
" arrow feiidcr,^'' or " warder;'''' for, from it, the prairie 
Indians construct their almost impenetrable shields. 
Moccasin soles is the principal use, for which pur- 
pose it is admirably suited, it being pliant to the 
foot, wliile it serves as a protection from the cactus, 
growing so prolifically in this country. Without 
care, one in walking will stumble over these, and 
the long, slender thorns, penetrating with ease, 
cause an acute, stinging pain, worse even than 
nettles. Being without socks most of the time (and 
none to be had), often, while hunting, a hole would 
wear in the toe of my moccasin, and. unavoidably, 
the thorns would stick most painfully. My "big 
5* 



54 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



toe" looked like a lady's* finger punctured in 
sewing. 

The village was, ere long, in motion. Looking 
back, to the old site, we saw nothing but eighteen 
thin pillars of smoke, finding their way to the upper 
air, marking where had been the lodges ; pieces of 
old, cast-oft" robes, and the usual dch-is of a de- 
serted Indian camp ; which, with a few snarling 
coyotes, and large gray wolves, were all the signs of 
life remaining of the noisy, bustling town. 

We crossed a large bottom, v»'here we had a fine 
opportunity of seeing the moving village to great 
advantage. First went four or five lodges ; and, 
following after, om' wagon, with fifteen or twenty 
Indians talking to Po-otne, or "signing" with me. 
Young men were scattered in every direction, gal- 
loping to and fro, chasing stray animals, or coursing 
over the prairie for amusement. 

Each lodge had its own band of horses, which 
presented a strange appearance ; eighteen or more 
bands close to each other, walking along but 
not mixing; each band following a favorite mare, 
or, perchance, a woe-begone, scrawny mule, not 
worth the powder and ball to kill it. It is a strange 
and general fact, that cahalladas are mostly led 
by a no-account mare or mule — the greatest devil 
in the drove. They follow their erratic leader 
everywhere, Uke sheep, whether jumping, running, 
or grazing. 

*I liopc the ladies will pardou the simile. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 55 



The animals, with the lodge pole t7avees, fogged 
along, no care being taken of them, while the fat, 
little inmates laughed, or, with " vvond'ring eyes," 
stared at us silently. 

The young squaws take much care of their dress 
and horse equipments ; they dashed furiously past 
on wild steeds, astride of the high-pommeled sad- 
dles. A fancifully colored cover, worked with beads 
or porcupine quills, making a flashy, striking ap- 
pearance, extended from wethers to rump of the 
horse, while the riders evinced an admirable daring, 
worthy of Amazons. Their di'csses were made of 
bucksldn, high at the neck, short sleeves, or rather 
none at all, fitting loosely, and reaching obliquely 
to the knee, giving a reheved, Diana look to the 
costume ; the edges scalloped, worked with beads, 
and fringed. F]"om the knee, downward, the limb 
was encased in a tightly fitting leggin, terminating 
in a neat moccasin — both handsomely worked with 
beads. On the arms were bracelets of brass, which 
glittered and reflected in the radiant, morning 
sun, adding much to their attractions. In their 
pierced ears, shells from the Pacific shore, were 
pendant; and, to complete the picture of savage 
taste and profusion, their fine complexions were 
eclipsed by a coat of flaming vermillion. 

Altogether it was a pleasing and desirable change, 
from the sight of the pinched waists and constrained 
motions of the women of the States, to see these 
daughters of the prairie dressed loosely — free to 
act, unconfined by the ligatures of fashion ; but I 



56 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



do not wish to be understood that I prefer see- 
ing our women dressed a la Cheyenne^ as it is a 
costume forbidden by modesty ; the ornaments gaudy 
and common, and altogether unfit for a civiUzed 
woman to wear ; but here, where novelty constitutes 
the charm, 't was indeed a relief to the eye. 

Many of the largest dogs were packed with a 
small quantity of meat, or something not easily in- 
jured. They looked queerly, trotting industriously 
under their bm'dens ; and, judging from a small 
stock of canine physiological information, not a 
little of the wolf was in their composition. These 
dogs are extremely muscular, and are compactly 
built. 

We crossed the river on our way to the new camp ; 
the alarm manifested by the ki-kun — children — in 
the lodge-pole drays, as they dipped in the water, was 
amusing ; the little fellows, holding their breaths, 
not daring to ciy, looked imploringly at their inexo- 
rable mothers, and were encouraged by words of ap- 
probation from their stern fathers. Regaining the 
grassy bottom, we once more w^ent in a fast walk. 

The different colored horses, the young Indian 
beaux, the bold, bewildering belles, and the newness 
of the scene, w^as gratifying in the extreme, to my 
unaccustomed senses. After a ride of two hom-s, 
we stopped, and the chiefs, fastening their horses, 
collected in circles, to smoke the pipe and talk, let- 
ting their squaws unpack the animals, pitch the 
lodges, build fires, arrange the robes, and, when all 
was ready, these " lords of creation " dispersed to their 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 57 



several homes, to wait until their patient and endu- 
ring spouses prepared some food. I was provoked, 
nay, angry, to see the lazy, overgrown men, do noth- 
ing to help their wives ; and, when the young wo- 
men pulled off their bracelets and finery, to chop 
wood, the cup of my wrath was full to overflow- 
ing, and, in a fit of honest indignation, I pronounced 
them ungallant, and savage in the true sense of the 
word. A wife, here, is, indeed, a helpmeet. 

Once more ensconced in the back part of Vip-po- 
nah's lodge, we felt at home. A large wooden bowl 
of meat was set before us, to which, with coffee, we 
did ample justice. 

The horses belonging to an Indian community, 
are numerous ; with us, there were nearly or quite 
two hundred, of different colors and sizes, scattered 
over the gentle hillsides, in picturesque groups. 

After two days' entertaining sojourn at the vil- 
lage, we left, with four fine mules, for the Fort, which 
place we reached at the close of the second evening, 
where we found the employees reloading the wagons 
for a start to Santa Fe. I learned that Colonel 
Donaphan's regiment, with which I wished to 
travel, had left Santa Fe ; and, being pleased with 
Indian life, I returned with Smith and William 
Bent, with full complements of goods for robe 
trading. We encamped the first night, on an 
island in the river, with plenty of wood and grass 
near, and sheltered by a patch of high weeds, from 
the winds. 



58 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



Crossing' the clear stream, on the firm sandy bot- 
tom, we regained the trace early in the morning, and, 
at night, after a continuous day's jog, we were at 
the village. William Bent stayed in his own lodge ; 
Smith and I, in Yip-po-nah's, by whom we were wel- 
comed. 

The air was much cooler than before ; quantities 
of thin ice floated down the gliding river current. 
It was right pleasant to get back, and be surrounded 
by Indians. 

In Yip-po-nah's lodge, was his grandson, a bo}^ 
six or seven months old. Every morning, liis mother 
washed him in cold water, and sent him out to the 
air to make him hardy ; he would come in, perfectly 
nude, from his airing, about half frozen. How he 
would laugh and brighten up, as he felt the warmth 
of the fire ! Being a boy, the parents have great 
hopes of him as a brave and chief (the acme of In- 
dian greatness) ; his father dotes upon him, holding 
him in his arms, singing in a low tone, and in va- 
rious ways, showing his extreme affection. 

The girls do not receive much attention fi'om the 
father; they are reared to impUcit obedience, and 
with a feeling of inferiority to the males. What a 
happy contrast does the state of society show in en- 
lightened countries, where woman is in her proper 
sphere, loved and looked up to, as an adviser and 
friend — here, a mere "hewer of wood and drawer of 
water " — a nonentity, a mere cypher — treated as a 
slave, and unnoticed. It is, indeed, an almost inap- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 59 



preciable blessing, that we live in an age of progres- 
sive civilization — an age in which true worth is re- 
warded, irrespective of sex ; though, there yet is 
room for improvement. 



60 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



CHAPTER IV. 

PECULIARITIES. 

The morning came, and we were somewhat oc- 
cupied in trading, but robes were scarce, the buffalo 
hair not being in prime order. 

We were invited to Gray Eye's lodge, to a feast, 
early in the day. Sitting down, after shaldng 
hands, a wooden bowl of choice pieces of fat meat 
was set before us. We used our own knives and 
fingers. Gray Eyes has two wives, and twelve chil- 
dren, two of whom — fine looking boys of fifteen 
and thirteen summers, respectively — were in the 
lodge ; their father's eye beamed on them fondly, 
when he spoke of their killing buffalo from horse- 
back, with bow and arrow. The eldest had an 
open, frank countenance — the reverse of his father, 
whose features plainly showed duplicity, and his 
small, gray eye — hence his cognomen — twinkled 
replete with rascality, for which he is noted. 

It is Indian custom, that whatever is set before 
the guest, belongs to liim ; and, he is expected to 
take that he does not eat, home with him ; so we 
stuck our knives in some of Gray Eye's fat shces, 
when the pipe was finished. 

Smith's son Jack took a crying fit one cold night. 



THE TAOS TRAIL, 61 



much to the annoyance of four or five chiefs, who 
had come to our lodge to talk and smoke. In vain 
did the mother shake and scold him with the severest 
Cheyenne words, until Smith, provoked beyond en- 
durance, took the squalling youngster in hands ; he 
" shu-ed," and shouted, and swore, but Jack had 
gone too far to be easily pacified. He then sent for 
a bucket of water from the river, and poured cupfull 
after cupfull, on Jack, who stamped, and screamed, 
and bit, in his puny rage. Notwithstanding the icy 
stream slowly descended until the bucket was 
emptied, another was sent for, and again and again 
the cup was replenished and emptied on the blub- 
bering youth. At last, exhausted with exertion, and 
completely cooled down, he received the remaining 
water in silence, and, with a few words of admoni- 
tion, was delivered over to his mother, in whose 
arms he stifled his sobs, until his heart-breaking 
grief and cares were drowned in sleep. What a 
devilish mixture Indian and American blood is ! 

The Indians never chastise a boy, as they think 
his spirit would be broken, and cowed down, and, 
instead of a warrior, he would be a sqiicnv — a harsh 
epithet, indicative of cowardice — and they resort to 
any method but infliction of blows, to subdue a re- 
fractory scion. 

Jack has three names : that of Jack, so called by 
the whites, and two Indian ones — Wo-pc-kon-nc and 
0-toa-vout-si — the former meaning " White Eyes" — 
a nickname — the latter, his proper title — " Buck 
Deer." 
6 



62 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



For pastime, I began a glossary' of the Cheyenne 
tongue, to facihtate its acquirement; the visitors, 
thinking me a queer customer {mah-son-ne — "a 
fool " — as they were pleased to denominate me and 
my vocabularic efforts), replied willingly to my inqui- 
ries of Tcn-o-wast ? — what is it ? — at the same time 
pointing to any object whose name I wished to 
know. I wrote their answers according to the pro- 
nunciation. The squaws of om' lodge, gave me 
words, purposely, not easily articulated or written ; 
my attempts at correct enunciation were greeted 
with lively sallies of laughter. Our conversation was 
carried on in broken, very broken, sentences ; and, 
I must say, the part that they too ably sustained, 
was not of the most refined character. No per- 
son so young as myself had ever visited the Che- 
yennes, and the gentle fair seemed glad to meet 
one divested of the trader's assumed consequence. 

The visits of the Indians were divided between 
Mr. Bent's lodge, and our own ; but we saw as many 
as we wished, for our coffee and sugar cost us a dol- 
lar a pound. To secure the good will and robes of 
the sensitive men, we had to offer our dear-bought 
Java at meal time ■ — the period of the greatest con- 
gregation. Still, their company was acceptable, as 
their manners, conversation, and pipes, were agree- 
able. 

So complete and comprehensive is their mode of 
communication by signs, that they can understand 
each other without a word being said, and with more 
facility than with the lips. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 63 



I had a small box, in which were shirts, tobacco, 
a backgammon board, and a few books ; one of them 
from Harper's series of the Family Library, on the 
heavenly bodies. The plates were incomprehensi- 
ble to the natives ; and, with all my efforts, I could 
but imperfectly make myself understood, even on 
most common-place matters. Some of the chiefs, 
having seen this book, would not be put olf without 
an answer to their queries ; and, it brought all my 
ingenuity into play, to make suitable similes between 
the plates and things within their knowledge ; conse- 
quently, great perversion of Dick's celestial geog- 
raphy took place. 

A chief, named Mah-kc-o-7iih, or the " Big Wolf," 
professedly took a great liking to me. We went, 
by his invitation, one day, to a feast, guided by his 
youngest son, where we found Mah-ke-o-nih, in a 
small lodge. After the customary salutations, we 
sat down to a bowl of drj^ed stewed pumpkin, 
with a horn spoon sticking in it, from which we par- 
took by turns. The spoon was a curiosity in its 
way — manufactured from the horn of a Rocky 
Mountain sheep, and holding, at least, a pint. The 
childish hint, " take a spoon pig," would not help the 
matter much, if these kind were in use. 

The meaning of feast (a term much in vogue with 
the traders), is anything set before one, by invita- 
tion, be it much or little, rare or common. 

Mah-ke-o-nih was in mourning, for the loss of a 
near relative ; and, to show the outward customary 
signs of grief, he lived in a small lodge. He is now 



64 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



old ; but, in younger days, the name of Mah-ke-o-nih 
was well-known as thatof abrave; and,in later years, 
as a fearless warrior of unspotted fame. Now he is 
honored and respected for his Indian virtues. 

I gave him a bent piece of hickory, from an oxyoke, 
with which to make a bow. As hard wood is 
scarce, and, as the chief knew that I had been 
offered, several times, a robe for it, he was much 
pleased by my preference ; and, in return, gave me 
his title. After this circumstance 1 was known 
among the Chej-^ennes, as Mah-ke-o-nih — sometimes 
as Vchco-kiss, or the " young wliiteman." 

In this village were more than a hundred dogs — 
from the large half-wolf, down to the smallest spe- 
cimen. Often, during the night, they broke foith 
in a prolonged howl, with the accompanying music 
of hundreds of prowling wolves, making a most 
dissonant, unearthly noise. And such a fuss ! Ev- 
ery one ceased talking until the Voices of the Night 
were hushed. In our lodge were three huge curs 
and fom- cross fiists ; and, whenever the signal for 
a general bewailing was given, by some super- 
annuated mother of many canine generations, out, 
pellmell, tore our loud-mouthed curs, and the snarl- 
ing squawpets, to join the doggish revelry. 

The love of gaming seems inherent in our very 
natures ; as a proof of this, it was ever a favorite 
amusement with the Cheyenne and other Indians, 
long ere they became acquainted with the whites. 
Their game, however, is simple, though not the lesp 
injurious in its effects. It is played by the young 



THE TAOS TRAU.. 65 



men and women ; who, sitting in a circle, and with a 
rocking to-and-fro motion of the body, accompanied 
by a low, quick chant, increased in vigor as the game 
progresses, hold a bit of wood, cherrystone, or any 
thing small in the hand ; and, after a series of 
dexterous shiftings, so as to deceive, hold them 
out, while the singing stops, for the players to 
bet in which hand is the stone. So soon as 
they say, the object is shown; the fortunate ones 
sweep the stakes ; the stone is given to the next, in 
order of rotation, the chant again strikes up — 
other trinkets are put up, and the betting recom- 
mences. They laugh and get much excited over 
their primitive game ; and, often, an unlucky maiden 
rises from her amusement without the numerous 
bracelets, rings, and beads, with which she came 
gayly decked to the meeting lodge. 

This morning was one of November's most genial 
days. About ten o'clock, I wallced out and sat 
on a dry cottonwood log, to admire the rural and 
domestic scene. The grass was green in many 
places — the majestic cottonwoods, not yet entirely 
robbed of their foliage, upreared their imposing 
trunks, while the branches gracefully overhung the 
clean, wind-swept grass. 

The yellovv^, cone-shaped lodges looked like so 
many pyramids. Near them were industrious 
squaws ; bringing, by dint of constant exertion, 
buffalo skins down to the required thinness, by 
means of the clabber; which, as it struck the hard 
and dry robe, sounded like the escapement of steam 
6* 



66 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



from a small pipe. The valley was partly locked 
in by a low range of hills, on whose sides numerous 
bands of gay-colored horses were luxuriating on the 
fine, nutritious verdm'e. Around the lodges troops 
of boys were shooting at marks, with bow and 
arrow, or tumbling on the grass in childish sport. 
Dignified chiefs, walked with stately step and erect 
heads, to grave council or tacitm'n smoke. 

I sat long — collecting and embodying the thoughts 
and actions of the past four months, summing up 
the whole, with a glance at my then present situa- 
tion. My companions were rough men — used to 
the hardships of a mountaineer's life — whose man- 
ners are blunt, and whose speech is rude — men 
driven to the western wilds, with embittered feelings 
— with better natures shattered — with hopes blast- 
ed — to seek, in the dangers of the warpath, fierce 
excitement and banishment of care. The winter 
snow wreaths drift over them unheeded, and the 
nightwind, howling around their lonely camp, is 
heard with calm indifl^erence. Yet these aliens 
from society, these strangers to the refinements of 
civilized fife, who will tear off a bloody scalp with 
even grim smiles of satisfaction, are fine fellows, 
full of fun, and often kind and obliging. 

John Smith was a modified* specimen of this 
character. Ten years before, he left his em- 
ployer, a tailor, and ran off" from St. Louis, with 

*The meaning attached to modified is, tliat he is not one of the worst 
eharacters — rather peaceable than otherwise. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 67 



a party of traders for the mountains ; and so 
enamored was he with the desultory and exci- 
ting hfe, that he chose rather to sit cross-legged, 
smoking the long Indian pipe, than to cross his 
legs on his master's board. He first remained 
a winter with the Blackfect ; but, running too 
great a risk of "losing his hair" (scalp), at the 
hands of the impetuous, co?/^>anxious braves, he 
sojourned awhile with the more friendly Sioux ; 
and, subsequently, wended his way, while pursuing 
the trail of a horse-stealing band of Arapahoes, to 
the headwaters of the Arkansas ; and, in the quiet 
nooks and warm savannas of the Bayou Salade, 
took up his abode and a squaw, with the Cheyennes, 
with whom he has ever since remained. At times 
he lived as they did, with lodge, and horses, running 
buffalo, and depending on it, as did his new-found 
friends, entirely for subsistence ; dressing robes for 
the trade ; taking part in the council ; looked up to 
as a chief, and exercising much authority. He 
became such an adept in the knowledge of the 
Cheyenne tongue, and such a favorite with the 
tribe, that his services as trader were now quite in- 
valuable to his employers. Possessed of a retentive 
memory, he still spoke the dialects of the three 
nations just named; and, in addition, French like a 
native, Spanish very well, and his mother tongue. 
Though subject to privations of a severe nature, 
he thought it 

"Better to reisu in tell than sei-ve in heaven." 



68 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



and nothing could persuade him to lead a different 
life. 

The New Mexicans often came in small parties 
to his Indian village ; their mules packed with dryed 
pumpkin, corn, etc., to trade for robes and meat ; 
and Smith, who knew his power, exacted tribute, 
which was always paid. One time, however, refus- 
ing. Smith harangued the village, and calling the 
young men together, they resolutely proceeded to 
i; the part}'^ of cowering Mexicans ; and, emptjdng 
every sack on the ground, called the women and 
children to help themselves, which summons was 
obeyed with alacrity. The poor pelados left for El 
valle de Taos, poorer, by far, than when they came : 
uttering thanks to Heaven for the retention of their 
scalps. This, and other aggravated cases, so intimi- 
dated the New Mexicans, and impressed them so 
deeply with a sense of Smith's supreme potency, 
that ever after, his permission to trade was humbly 
craved, by a special deputation of the parties, ac- 
companied by peace offerings of corn, pumpkin, 
and pinole. Once, as he was journeying by himself, 
a day's ride from the village, he was met by forty or 
more corn traders ; who, instead of putting speedily 
out of the way such a bane to their prospects, gravely 
asked him if they could proceed ; and offered him 
every third robe (a large per centage), to accompany 
and protect them, which he did. For the proceeds 
of his three days protection, he received more than 
two hundred dollars. Indeed, he became so indepen- 
dent, and so regardless of justice, in his condescen- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 69 



sion toward the Carahos* that the Governor of New- 
Mexico offered five hundi-ed dollars for him, dead or 
alive ; but, so afraid were they of the Cheyennes, 
his capture was never attempted. 

Smith was strange in some respects ; his peculiar 
adaptation to surrounding circumstances, and per- 
ceptive faculties, enabled him to pick up a little know- 
ledge of everything, and to show it off much to 
his own credit — an unaccountable composition of 
goodness and evil, cleverness and meanness, cau- 
tion and recklessness ! I used to look at liim with 
astonishment, and wonder if he was not the devil 
incog. He and I often sang hymns, and a more 
sanctimonious, meek, at-peace-with-mankind look, 
could nowhere be found, than in his countenance ; 
at other times, he sojcre-cd in French, caraho-cd in 
Spanish-Mexican, interpolated with thunder strike 
you in Cheyenne, or, at others, he genuinely and 
emphatically damned in American. 

Iliad a backgammon board, brought from St. Louis. 
Smith kept the squaws of the lodge " chunking " up 
the fire, to give light for us ; and '' deuce ace," 
" double sixes," were, probably, for the first time, 
heard in a Cheyenne village. We played for hours, 
interrupted, occasionally, by a squaw, with a robe to 
to trade ; and, attending to her wants, we would re- 
sume the board. The Indians laughed at us, saying 
" ten-o-wast ?" — what is it — wliichwe explained to 
the best of our ability. My books, and backgammon 



*Caralio-^a Spanish oath, 



70 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



board, paper and pencil, were great novelties to the 
savages, who would attentively examine them, look 
at me, shake their heads, and, after a sober pause, 
and sometimes with a puzzled expression of features, 
exclaim, Mah-ke-o-nih ma-son-ne, " Big Wolf 's fool ; 
ish." So it was ! everything beyond their compre- 
hension, was ma-son-ne. 

Smith's voice was capable of some little harmo- 
nious modulation, and we used to sing, " The days 
when we went gipsying," " The mellow horn," " The 
minstrel 's returned from the war," and other anti- 
quated melodies, interspersed with hymns, and our 
own crude airs and compositions, making the lodge 
resound, to the infinite amusement of the squaws and 
children, and sometimes calling forth contemptuous 
Ve-hco mah-son-nes (white men are fools) from the 
ridiculously solemn, old men. Frequently, when 
executing a song in our very best manner, the 
village dogs chimed in with their original and 
touching music, forcing us to acknowledge our- 
selves beaten, in fair fight, and to withdraw, leaving 
them undisputed masters of the field ; our only con- 
solation was in the idea that they, being Indian dogs, 
were incapable of appreciating our efforts. 

The Cheyennes have quite a variety of dishes, 
some hard to stomach — others quite palatable. 
Among them, a favorite is of wild cherries, gathered 
in the mountains, in the summer, and pounded (stone 
and all) to a jelly, which, when dried, is put away 
for the winter, when the buffalo marrow is good — 
the time for a reunion of the small bands, to trade, 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 71 



feast, smoke, and deliberate. These cherries, incor- 
porated by much manipulation, at the hands of the 
not particularly clean matrons, with marrow and 
pounded meat, and patted in balls, form a principal 
portion of the feasts. 

A buffalo skin is quite thick, which, to make plia- 
ble, is sti-etched to its utmost, on the ground (the 
hair side down) as soon as it is brought in 
from the hunt, by means of wooden pegs. When 
it dries, the squaws take the adze-shaped instrument, 
fitted to the angle of an elk's horn, which has before 
been described, and, wdth repeated blows, chip off 
small shavings of the raw hide, until it is the requi- 
site thinness. The shavings are carefully preserved, 
and, when a very nice feast is wished, these "chips" 
are put in a wooden bowl, and boiling water poured 
over them, which cooks and reduces the whole to a 
pulpy mass immediately. This dish tastes similar 
to boiled, Irish potatoes — to which, with the addition 
of cherries, a fancy flavor is added. 

The fungus growing on the sides of decaying 
logs is gathered by the squaws, and boiled wdth 
meat, for several hours ; on tasting the poisonous 
stuff, as I previously supposed it to be, my thoughts 
instantaneously traveled to Galveston bay and its 
fine oysters. It was first rate, but the appetite 
soon cloys. 

A root growing in the bottoms, is much eaten, raw 
or cooked, partaldng both of the flavor of the potato 
and Jerusalem artichoke. 

Before most of the lodges, are tlu'ee sticks, about 



72 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



seven feet in length, and an inch in diameter, fastened 
at the top, and the lower ends brought out, so that 
it stands alone. On this is hung the shield, and a 
small square bag of " par fleche," containing pipes, 
with an accompanying pendant roll of stems, care- 
fully wrapped in blue or red cloth, and decorated 
with beads and porcupine quills. This collection is 
held in great veneration, for the pipe is their only 
religion. Through its agency, they invoke the Great 
Spirit ; through it they render homage to the winds, 
to the earth, and to the sky. 

Everyone has his peculiar notion on this subject; 
and, in passing the pipe, one must have it presented 
stem downward, others, the reverse ; some with the 
bowl resting on the gi'ound ; and, as this is a matter 
of great solemnity, their several fancies are respected. 
Sometimes I required them to hand it to me, when 
smoking, in imitation of their custom ; on this, a faint 
smile, half mingled with respect and pity for my 
folly, in tampering with their sacred ceremony, would 
appear on their faces, and, with a slow negative 
shake of the head, they would ejaculate, I-sto-mct 
mah-son-ne,wah-hcin — "Pshaw! that's foolish : don't 
do so." 

It seems strange that these people remain the 
same untutored, blood-thirsty savages as ever ; and 
so untamable are their natures, that contact with 
missionaries and white men, make them only the 
greater demons — to remain here, as wild, almost, 
as their favorite buffalo, with no settled purpose ; for 
no apparent good ; with no cares but those of provi- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 



viding for themselves and families in the savage 
way — their fine forms, their intelligent (in spite 
of their mental darkness) countenances, and no- 
ble eyes, used for no intellectual purpose, or, in 
any way for the advancement of religion or science. 
And, it appears that all christian efforts, with ex- 
tremely few exceptions, instead of humanizing, and 
rendering their homes peaceful, and themselves in- 
dustrious, are so much waste of valuable lives and 
time. 

Religion they (the Cheyenne s) have none, if, in- 
deed, we except the respect paid to the pipe ; nor 
do we see any signs or vestiges of spiritual worship ; 
but, one remarkable thing — in offering the pipe, 
before every fresh filling, to the sky, the earth, and 
the winds, the motion made in so doing, describes 
the form of a cross ; and, in blowing the first four 
whiffs, the smoke is invariably sent the same four 
directions. It is, undoubtedly, void of meaning, and 
unintentional in reference to christian worship, 
yet, it is a superstition, founded on ancient tradi- 
tion. This tribe once lived near the headAvaters of 
the Mississippi ; and, as the early Jesuit missiona- 
ries were such energetic zealots, in the diffusion of 
their religious sentiments, probably to make their 
faith more acceptable to the Indians, the Roman 
Catholic rites were blended with the homage shown 
to the pipe, which custom of offering, in the form of 
a cross, is still retained by them ; but, as every cus- 
tom is handed down by tradition merely, the true 
source has been forgotten. My inquiries were un- 



74 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



satisfactorily answered, owing to want of power to 
express myself fully : had a reason been assigned, 
no reliance could have been put in it. The inquiring 
mind is natm-ally restless to think that no light can 
be tlirown on their origin and early customs, nor the 
question settled whether they are the descendants of 
that race or races, by whom the immense tumuli 
and fortifications were erected throughout the con- 
tinent ; or, if they are the progeny of the Aztecs and 
Peruvians, whose advancement in civilization was so 
astonishing to the Spanish navigators. But the 
present Indians are totally ignorant of the most com- 
mon inventions — a wofully degenerate set, in truth, 
if they are so descended. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 75 



CHAPTER V. 

THE FORT. 

On the 29th of November, a party of Mexicans 
came near camp, with their mulada* freighted with 
corn, beans, etc., to trade for meat and robes. To 
Smith, the messenger was quite pohte. Scrioi-; si 
Scnor — " Sir, yes Sir" — was prefixed or affixed to 
their answers, to om' most trivial question. They 
were too polite. As they knew Smith by reputa- 
tion, if not by sight, he was offered whatever he 
wished — a suy disposicion — "the whole is at your 
service " — but he took only that for which he paid 
in trade a good price. I pitied the poor fellow^s, 
though they had no cause for fear; and, after a 
speedy exchange of commodities for meat and robes, 
their swarthy faces were turned toward Las Cumbrcs 
Espanolas, whose snow crests could dimly be seen 
struggling through the fleeting clouds, afar ofi' to the 
north-west. 

This side (the west) of the river, and a hundred 
miles down from Bent's Fort, is considered, by men 
who have lived in the country for years (the late 
maps to the contrary), as New Mexican territory. 
Undoubtedly our camp was in Nueva Mejico. Occa- 

*Traiii of mules. 



76 WAII-TO-YAH AND 



sionall}'' we saw government trains, on the opposite 
side of the river, trailing slowly along, but we did 
not wish to hail them. 

We were a long time without bread, but while 
buffler's fat, we cared or thought httle of anything 
more — better living there could not be. The 
weather was pleasant toward the middle of the day; 
and, at night, the lodgefire and pipe contributed, 
by its genial influence, to make us more than con- 
tented, to sit cross-legged, on warm robes, listening 
to the traders' yarns (there were several now with 
us). 

William Bent, one evening, wished some one to 
go to the Fort. I proposed to oblige him ; and, in 
the morning, saddling Paint, I was off. A stiff 
wind, fresh from Pike's Peak, caused me to pull up 
the collar of my blue blanket overcoat, and wrap 
the pliant buffalo robe around my chilled legs. The 
Fort was thirty to forty miles distant ; and, when I 
clutched more firmly my rifle, as it lay between the 
saddle pommel and my body, I wanted sincerely to 
turn back. Chagrined, and biting my blue lips with 
vexation, at the last night's rash proposition, I 
urged Paint in a lope. 

In going down a declivity I espied a horseman 
in advance ; so, putting on a fresh water-proof cap, 
I spurred up unwilling Paint, until within five or six 
yards of the man, who knew not my approach. 
Seeing, before nearing him, that he was a Mexican, 
1 took the precaution to turn the muzzle of my rifle 
toward him, so that, in a case of a hostile demon- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 77 



sti-ation on his part, my gun could be fired in the 
smallest possible time. 

"Hello!" senor," shouted I at the top of my 
voice, " where are you going?" 

" Valgame Dios ! " exclaimed he, as he quickly 
tm'ned his head, much startled at the unexpected 
sound. Perceiving that I was " white," he bowed 
his uncovered head, with a respectful Buenos le 
dai, Senor — " Good day, Sir." 

A response, from me, of gracias, muy bueno — 
" thank you, very well," was the sum total of our 
intelligible conversation. He then talked and 
pointed awhile, and away he galloped through the 
bottom, while I kept the direct course. My heart 
felt lighter when he left ; he glad to get away ; I 
more than happy; though I had apprehensions he 
would lie in wait with his compadres, whom I knew 
were in the neighborhood ; and, as my horse and 
rifle were of the best, they would likely not have 
many intervening scruples as to the propriety of 
sending an arrow through my coat. 

The ground was sparsely covered with grass, 
and the high wind blew the sand and gravel furi- 
ously, blinding both Paint and his rider ; but we 
persevered, sideways and backward, for three or 
more hours — I trying to see the expected Mexicans 
through the struggle, until, overtaking a United 
States oxtrain, with which I traveled and stayed all 
night. 

The teams were unyoked, wood gathered, and 
soon smoke was rising from the different messfires. 



78 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



The laugh and oath were mingled with the hungry 
voices of the men — so different from the quiet, 
dreamy village. The captain gave me a cup of 
coffee, and bread, and bacon, at his mess — the 
two last-named articles great rarities of late. I 
cut Cottonwood limbs from a tree, and threw them 
down before Paint, tied up to a wagonwheel, for 
him to peel for food. I accepted a sleepingplace 
in the captain's wagon. 

The first snow clothed the ground with its chill- 
ing drapery. When we arose, shivering with cold, 
we kindled fires, and boiled the coffee. Paint had 
gnawed off the cottonwood bark quite clean. It 
affords considerable nourishment, and is often given 
to animals in the spring, when the old grass is rotten 
and the new not yet fit for use, or in deep snows, 
when grass cannot be reached. Too much of it 
causes the hair to come out, sometimes leaving the 
animals quite bare, though it renders them "seal 
fat." 

Thanking Captain Fowler for his kindness, I soon 
was facing the same winds as yesterday — my 
course pointing to Pike's Peak; and in an hoar's 
ride. Las CumbresEspanolas: Near the mouth of 
the Purgatoire, a deer stopped, with his head turned 
to look at me, until I was within sixty yards ; but 
my horse, disposed to act foolishly, snorted as I 
raised my rifle, and away the buck bounded out 
of sight. Paint traveled pretty fast for an hour 
or so. 

The country in the Fort vicinity, assumed a bleak 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 79 



appearance ; the short grass scantily concealed the 
cold ground, and the wliite chalk bluffs, the leaf- 
less trees, and the chill air made me feel lonely. 
The fort mud walls were abominably cheerless. 
Near were some men digging a grave. 

My own unenviable thoughts occupied me through 
the solitary day ; and, only when Paint was turned 
in the coral, behind the Fort, to chew dry hay, and 
myself with numbed fingers, gradually thawing in 
the long, low diningroom, drinking hot coffee, eat- 
ing bread, buffler, and "State doins," and Hsten- 
ing to Charlotte, the glib-tongued, sable Fort cook, 
retailing her stock of news and surmises, did I feel 
entirely free to throw off care. Shortly following, 
did I sit by the bright woodfire, in the clerk's office, 
in a dolce far nicnte state, puffing a Mexican shuck 
cigarillo, wondering when originated the soothing 
luxury, until the combined effects of dinner, tobacco, 
and great change from cold to warmth, threw me 
in a doze, from which I was awaked at dusk. 

Mr. Holt, the storekeeper, and I, selected the 
goods and other articles — the object of my mission 
— in time for supper. 

Captain Enos, Assistant Quartermaster, and his 
clerk, Dyer, Doctor Hempstead, Mr. Holt, the car- 
penter, blacksmith, and a few Fort and Government 
employees, constituted the quality and quantity of 
the male inmates. Rosalie, a half-breed French 
and Indian squaw (the wife of Ed. the carpenter), 
and Charlotte, the culinary divinity, were, as a 
Missouri teamster remarked, " the only female 



80 WAII-TO-YAH AND 



women here." They nightly were led to the floor 
" to trip the light fantastic toe," swung rudely and 
gently in the mazes of the contra dance — but such 
a medley of steps is seldom seen out of the moun- 
tains — the halting, irregular march of the war 
dance ; the slipping gallopade, the boisterous pitch- 
ing of the Missouri backwoodsman, and the more 
nice gyrations of the Frenchman — for all, irre- 
spective of rank, age, and coloi\ went pellmell into 
the excitement, in a manner that would have ren- 
dered a leveler of aristocracies and select companies 
frantic with delight. It was a most complete dem- 
ocratic demonstration. And then the airs assumed 
by the fair ones — more particularly Charlotte, who 
took pattern from real life in the " States ;" she acted 
her part to perfection. The grand center of attrac- 
tion, the belle of the evening, she treated the 
suitors for the " pleasure of the next set," with be- 
coming ease and suavity of manner. She knew 
her worth, and managed accordingly; and, when 
the favored gallant stood by her side, waiting for 
the rudely-scraped tune, from a screaking violin, 
satisfaction, joy, and triumph, over his rivals, were 
pictured on his radiant face. 

Doctor Hempstead, however, did not join the 
festive throng ; and, his well-stocked library afforded 
recreation and pastime during the dull intervals of 
the day. 

I met Mcllvaine, from the capital of my own 
State, and, with him, many agreeable reminiscences 
were gone over. He was in charge of a pro- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 81 



vision train, and I noticed his command were under 
better discipline than is usual on the prairie, with 
United States employees. 

In the following afternoon, Greenwood, Jean 
Batiste — a Canadian — and myself, left for the 
village, with a laden cart of goods. I never had be- 
fore seen these men, but, as the heavy, slow-spoken 
Francaise remarked — " il est tout le meme chose 
ici," and, together with shooting at whining coyotes, 
talking, and the reproving sacre to the stubborn 
tandem cart mules, we fixed om-selves in good time 
near to a heap of logs, which an improvident party 
of teamsters had collected, set on fire, and left to 
burn. 

The animals were well hobbled^ for we knew 
their failing — that of straying afar, in a spirit of 
restlessness, and trouble giving. Paint — the old 
coon — waited impatiently for the rawhide strap to 
be securely fastened, and, at the first forward lunge, 
he knowingly turned his white eye at me. 

The foibles and virtues of mutual acquaintances 
in St. Louis, were freely descanted upon, during the 
discussion of some cigars, found, unexpectedly, 
among my " possibles " at the Fort, as we crossed 
our legs on the ground that night before the cotton- 
wood logs. Our taciturn companero looked at the 
hot coals for hours, without joining in the " talk " — 
with not a muscle of his face relaxed from the same 
meaningless rigidity into which they had stiffened 
at first — it would be hard to tell of what he thought — 
and, but for the vacillating puff, puff, from his thick 



82 WAH-TO-VAH A>T) 



lips, and short pipestem, one would have supposed 
him asleep. On the offer of a cigar, he repUed, with 
a feeling stress on the first word, without turning 
his head, as he gave a trial puff for fire — "Sa-cre! 
. mon pipe est bon, certainment ! " 

Early, Jean Batiste was out for the " cavyard," 
while Greenwood and I prepared something to eat. 
Waiting two hours in dread of the proximity of the 
horse-loving Camanche, or straggling Pawnee, we 
descried the animals with heads to camp, and Jean 
at their heels. 

A hobble is a strip of soft bucksldn, or thin par 
fleche, twenty or twenty-five inches in length, 
fastened to the mule's forelegs, so that both forefiget 
have to be raised at once in walking ; the labor at- 
tendant on the exertion generally prevents their 
straying far. 

By five o'clock, we were at the lower end of 
Tharpe's bottom, where was coralhng a United 
States train. Buchanan, who, in the pride of wagon- 
mastership, directed and superintended, invited us 
to supper, while our animals grazed unsaddled. A 
pipe and short talk ensued, and we resumed the 
trace. By ten o'clock, the baying of the village 
dogs was distinctly heard across the river. After 
an hour's wandering in the tangled bottom, Yip-po- 
nah welcomed us. 

The village was in an uproar. The " opposition 
traders," a mile above, had conferred a present of 
liquor on several chiefs, who, in turn, disposed to 
their friends, and all were maldng " the night 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 83 



hideous," in honor of the " rosy god ;" for they have 
songs adapted to their orgies, more noisy and fierce 
than which, none exist. No serious injury resulted 
from the revel. We saw nothing of the devotees 
except two squaws, in the morning, who tumbled, 
like wounded " bufflers," in our lodge, pitching on 
Greenwood, Jean, and I, waking us from our re- 
cuperating slumbers. They fell weeping, in drunken 
seriousness, and the next moment, peals of laughter 
issued from the mouths, whence, but an instant be- 
fore, the blubbering accents of grief had proceeded. 

" Sacre garces ! tonnere ! sa-a-cre garces ! " rattled 
out Jean, casting them off rudely wdth his muscu- 
lar arm. 

Greenwood swore and charged about until he 
was perfectly awake, but the importunate squaws 
clung to us. 

Ten-o-rvast ? 0-ne-a-vokst ? " What do you want ? 
beads or blankets? What is it?" asked I. 

JVah-hein ! ve-heo-kiss pow-wow nashit, ve-lieo mali- 
pe — " Nothing. Young white man is very good — 
want whisky ? " 

" Oh, get out, you old hags," said Greenwood ; 
" darn a fool squaw, anyhow ; this coon hates 'em 
naterally, when they act so fool like." 

We finally succeeded in making them vacate the 
premises, by dint of threats and persuasion, though 
sleep was chased effectually, for the time, from our 
eyelids. There are two objects most repugnant to 
my feelings — a dninken or an angry woman. She 
seems to descend from the position of a ministering 



84 WAH-TO-YAH AJfD 

angel, down, down below any scale of degradation 
conceivable ; and imprints such a hideous image of 
contorted passion, which, notwithstanding the subse- 
quent blandislunents of grace and smiles, can never 
be effaced from the memory. 

We began to trade briskly in robes — owing to 
the cold weather, plenty of buffalo, and liquor, which 
last seemed to open the Indians' hearts — causing 
us to drop the backganunon board often to serve 
the precise savages, who would look at and handle 
a blanket, or other commodity, an hour, before con- 
cluding a bargain. We would have to praise, and 
feel, and talk of the article in question, and seal the 
trade, by passing the long pipe, as a balm to their 
fastidious tastes. 

One evening we were in our places — I was lying 
on a pile of outspread robes, watching the blaze, as 
it illumined the lodge, which gave the yellow hue of 
the skins of which it was made, a still brighter tinge ; 
and, following with my eye, the thin blue smoke, 
coursing, in fantastic shapes, through the opening 
at the top of the cone ; my thoughts carrying me 
momentarily every where ; now home; nowenjojdng 
some choice edible, or, seated by a pleasant friend, 
conversing ; in short, my mind, like the harp in 
*' Alexander's feast," the chords of which, touched 
by the magic hand of memory, or flight of fancy, 
alternately depressed, or elevated me in feeling. 
Greenwood and Smith, sitting up, held in " durance 
vile" the ever present pipe. Their unusual laugh- 
ter attracted my attention, but, not divining the 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 85 



cause, I joined in the conversation. It was now 
quite late, and feeling hungry, I asked what was on 
the fire. 

" Tarrapins ! " promptly replied Smith. 

"Terrapins?" echoed I, in surprise, at the name. 
" Terrapins ! how do they cook them ? " 

" You know them hard-shell land tarrapin ? " 

" Yes." 

" Well! the squaws go out to the sand buttes, 
and bring the critters in, and cook 'em in the shell 
alive — those stewin' thar ar cleaned first. How- 
somever, they 're darned good ! " 

" Yes, hos, an' that's a fact, wagh ! " chimed in 
Greenwood. 

I listened, of course, with much interest to their 
account of the savage dish, and waited, with im- 
patience, for a taste of that, the recital of whose 
merits sharpened my already keen appetite. When 
the squaw transferred the contents of the kettle to 
a wooden bowl, and passed it to us, our butcher 
knives were in immediate requisition. Taking a 
piece, with hungry avidity, which Smith handed me, 
without thought, as to what part of the terrapin it 
was, I eat it with much gusto, calling " for more." 
It was extremely good, and I spoke of the delicacy 
of the meat, and answered all their questions as to 
its excellency in the affirmative, even to the extent 
of a panegyric on the whole turtle species. Afl;er 
fully committing myself. Smith looked at me awhile 
in silence, the corners of his mouth gradually making 
preparations for a laugh, and asked : 
8 



WAH-TO-YAH AND 



" Well, hos ! how do you like dogmeat ? " and 
then such hearty guifaws were never heard. The 
stupefaction into which I was thrown by the revolt- 
ing announcement, only increased their merriment, 
which soon was resolved into yells of delight at my 
discomfiture. 

A revulsion of opinion, and dogmeat too, ensued, for 
I could feel the " pup " crawling up my throat ; but 
saying to myself — " that it was good under the 
name of terrapin," " that a rose under any other name 
would smell as sweet," and that it would be preju- 
dice to stop, I broke the shackles of aeep-rooted 
antipathy to the canine breed, and, putting a 
choice morceau on top of that already swallowed, 
ever after remained a stanch defender and admirer 
of dogmeat. The conversation held with Smith, 
the second day of our acquaintance, was brought 
to mind, and I acknowledged that "dog" was next 
in order to buffalo. 

On the 7th of December, I left, with Smith, for 
the lower Indian village. His squaw, Wo-pc-kon-ne 
(Jack), an Indian boy of twelve years, and Pierre, 
accompanied us. A single packmule carried our 
small stock of goods and provision. Smith had his 
band of five horses, and with two discarded lodge- 
poles, tied one on each side of a mule, and a basket 
fastened on a short distance behind the animal, 
he made an Indian dray, in which Jack was put 
when tired. 

Indian squaws carry very young children on their 
backs, whether riding or walking. With a twist of 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 87 



the arms, like putting on a coat, the squaw places, 
or rather flings, the child around, and pulls its httle 
arms about her neck ; then, stooping forward, until 
her back is horizontal, she drops her hold of the 
child, who digs his fingers in her neck, or tugs away 
at the long braids of pendant hair; and, with a 
peculiar hunch or upward motion of the arms — the 
same a lady makes in putting a shawl on her 
shoulders, when it has fallen off the neck — the robe 
is drawn over him, the head only visible. It is 
a comfortable and desirable position — hence the 
total absence of one-sidedness, cross eyes, and many 
of the " ills that baby flesh is heir to," through 
neglect or carelessness of nurses. 

We crossed " Big Sand Creek," and camped, for 
the night, on what would be an island in high water, 
and made a cheerful fire of driftwood, leaving the 
animals well hobbled in good grass. The cold air, 
after coffee and tobacco were duly disposed, sent us 
to bed early. 

Jack took a crying fit while under way. His 
mother tried to quiet him gently ; Smith endured, 
impatiently, the fuss for a half hour ; but Jack, keep- 
ing it up, was taken from his mother, who looked 
daggers askance at her unfeeling lord, and jammed 
into the " dray," where he blubbered, unheeded, for 
two hours. 

Toward sundown we looked for the village ; and, 
when in the " Salt Bottom," a number of lodges, far 
away to the right, was espied, the river intervening, 
whose edges were so hard frozen that the animals 



88 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



could scarcely be urged in. Experiencing the same 
trouble on the opposite side, we forced our way 
between the high weeds and trees, emerging into 
open space not ten yards from a lodge. Smith, 
fearing that we had stumbled on an Arapaho instead 
of a Cheyenne village, spoke in a low tone — 

" Pull the wipingsticks from your guns, we may 
have to fight ! " 

" Sacre, dis is von very dam bad affaire — mais 
here is mon conteau pour les diables," rephed 
Pierre, loosening his knife in its scabbard, and 
twitching around the belt. 

We kept on much elated. The first man who 
showed himself, caused Smith to turn aside his head 
and whisper, " Coho ! the most infernal and mean 
of the tribe — the leader of the worst band in the 
mountains." 

Notwithstanding the gloomy aspect, we rode up 
and offered our hands to Coho, and asked for War- 
ratoria — a chief more friendly than otherwise. 
We " broke " for the largest lodge ; and, giving our 
horses into the hands of Pierre and the squaw, 
entered that which proved to be Beardy's, a promi- 
nent chief, who, though not on cordial terms with 
the whites, was not so bad as Coho. 

Beardy, and others, smoked with us, and after a 
present of tobacco, we left, contrary to their request 
and desire, under the plea of wishing to reach the 
Cheyenne village that night; still holding ourselves 
in readiness for a " brush," determined to save at 
least one scalp apiece before om- own "hair" should 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 89 



go. I kept my horse in motion, looking back for 
charging Arapahoes ; and, before I was aware, he 
plmiged in a rushswamp, so deep I was obhged to 
dismount and wade through water over my knees, 
while Paint floundered to the other side, severely 
straining himself. 

We met Indians galloping; who, contrary to 
custom, did not stop to shake hands, wliich une- 
quivocal symptom of hostility, increased the proba- 
bility of danger ; but we were not molested, and 
we took care to put a long distance between them 
and us before night. 

On dismounting, my feet were too much frozen to 
walk, but Smith, by shouting to me to make myself 
useful, restored the circulation. 

Just as the fire was kindled. Long Lade, one of 
the Company's traders, with a wagon and one man, 
drove up. His fine face, strongly marked with the 
characteristic high cheek bones, and broad under 
jaw, proclaimed liim to be of a northern tribe. He 
has been a trader for many years, and like many of 
the Far Westerns, he is still poor. Now, in his old 
age, he has nothing on which to depend for a liveli- 
hood but his salary. He speaks French well (he is 
a half-breed Canadian-French and Indian), and 
American but imperfectly. From the first time I 
met the old man, the more tender chords of my heart 
were touched with sympathy and respect for him. 
He seemed so lonely, fast growing old, with a few 
gray hairs struggling through the straight, jetty 
locks — alone and poor. I have often wondered 
8* 



90 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



what has befallen him — he was so sad a picture 
of taciturn solitude. 

Early we separated — Long Lade, with two pack 
mules and Pierre for the upper village — we for the 
lower — with his wagon and Mexican — which was 
reached by ten o'clock, where we pulled off our 
saddles in front of Se-ne-mone's or " Tobacco's " 
lodge. Our host Avas afflicted with sore eyes ; but 
we were welcomed to the " back part," in true feeling 
of hospitality. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 91 



CHAPTER VI 



THE DANCE. 



Four inches of snow greeted our sight, on awa- 
king. The wind was cold and furious ; but, by the 
next noon, tranquilhty and sunlight were restored. 

Toward the middle of the day, the village was in 
a great bustle. Every squaw, child, and man, had 
their faces blacked,* which is a manifestation of 
joy. 

Pellmell they went, men, squaws, and dogs, in the 
icy river. Some hastily jerked off their leggins, and 
held moccasins and dresses high out of the water. 
Others, too impatient, dashed the stream from be- 
neath their impetuous feet, scarce taking time to 
draw more closely the always worn robe. Won- 
dering what " caused all this commotion," and look- 
ing over the river, whither the yelling, half-frantic 
savages w^ere so speedily hurrying, we saw a band 
of Indians advancing toward us. As the foremost 
braves reined their champing barbs on the river 
bank, mingled whoops of triumph and delight, and 
the repeated discharges of fusils, filled the air. In 
the hands of three, were slender willow wands, from 

*Thc blackening mixture is made from a. species of plumbago^ fouuil 
en the bare points of hills in this region. 



92 WAII-TO-YAH AND 



the smaller points of which, dangled as many scalps 
— the single tuft of hair on each, pronouncing them 
Pawnee. They were raised aloft, amid the unre- 
strained bursts of joy from the thrice happy, blood- 
thirsty throng. Children ran to meet their fathers, 
sisters their brothers, girls their lovers, retm-ned from 
the scene of victorious strife ; decrepit matrons wel- 
comed manly sons ; and aged chiefs their boys and 
braves. It was a scene of affection, and a proud 
day in the Cheyenne annals of prowess. The small, 
but gallant band were relieved of their shields and 
lances, by tender-hearted squaws, and accompanied 
to their respective homes, to repose by the lodge- 
fire, consume choice meat, and to be the heroes of 
the family circle. 

Se-ne-mone's son was fortunate enough to take a 
scalp, which was hung above us ; the half-blind fa- 
ther, in parental pride, centered his fond gaze on the 
featm"es of his son, who, in battle hard-won, embla- 
zoned the Se-ne-mone escutcheon with honorable 
and fresh devices, as in the days of his own prime. 

The drum, at night, sent forth its monotony of 
hollow sound, and our Mexican, Pedro, and I, di- 
rected by the booming, entered a lodge, vacated for 
the purpose, full of young men and squaws, following 
one another in a continuous circle, keeping the left 
knee stiff, and bending the right with a half-forward, 
half-negative step, as if they wanted to go on and 
could not, accompanying it, every time the right 
foot was raised, with an energetic, broken song, 
which, dying away, was again and again sounded — 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 



hay-a-hay, hay- a-hay, they went — laying the em- 
phasis on the first syllable. A drum, similar to, 
though larger than, a tamborine, covered with par 
fleche, was beat upon with a stick, producing, with 
the voices, a sound, not altogether disagreeable. 

Throughout the entire night, and succeeding day, 
the voices of the singers, and heavy notes of the 
drum, reached us, and, at night, again the same 
dull sound lulled me to sleep. At first. Smith, to 
whom the ceremonies were no new occurrence, mut- 
tered, as he turned in his robes, curses at the " infer- 
nal noise." Before daylight, our lodge, filled with 
ceaseless dancers, and the drum, and voices, so un- 
pleasing to our wearied ears, were giving us the full 
benefit of their compass. Smith, whose policy it 
was not to be offended, bore the infiiction as he 
best could, and I looked on, much amused. The 
lodge was so full, that they stood, without dancing, 
in a circle round the fire, and, with a swaying mo- 
tion of the body, kept time to their music. 

During the day, the young men, except the dan- 
cers, piled up dry logs in a level, open space near, 
for a grand demonstration. At night, when it was 
fired, I folded my blanket over my shoulders, comme 
les sauvages, and went out. The faces of many girls 
were brilliant with vermillion ; others were blacked, 
their robes, leggins, and skin-dresses, glittering 
with beads and porcupine quillwork. Rings and 
bracelets of shining brass encircled their taper arms 
and fingers, and shells dangled from their ears. In- 
deed, all the finery collectable, was piled on in bar- 



94 WAH-TO-YAH AND 

barous profusion, though a few, in good taste, or 
through poverty-, wore a single band, and but few 
rings ; and with jetty hair, parted in the mid- 
dle, from the forehead to the neck, terminating in 
two handsome braids. 

Th'S young men, who can afford the expense, 
trade for dollars, and silver coin of less denomina- 
tion — coin as currency is not known among them — 
which they flatten thin, and fasten to a braid of buf- 
falo hau', attached to the crownlock, and which, 
hanging behind, outside of the robe, adds much to 
the handsome appearance of the wearer. 

The girls, numbering two hundred, fell into line 
together, and the men, of whom there were two 
hundred and lifty, joining, a circle was formed, 
wliich " traveled " around with the same shuffling 
step already described. The drmnmers, and other 
musicians (twenty, or twenty-five of them) marched 
in a contrary direction, to, and from, and around the 
fire, inside the large ring ; for, at the distance kept 
by the outsiders, the area was one hundred and fifty 
feet in diameter. These Appolonian emulators 
chanted the great deeds performed by the Cheyenne 
warriors ; as they ended, the dying strain was 
caught up by the hundreds of the outside circle, who, 
in fast-swelling, loud tones, poured out the bui'then 
of their song. At this juncture, the march was 
quickened, the scalps of the slain were borne aloft 
and shaken in wild delight, and shrill warnotes, 
rising above the furious din, accelerated the pulsa- 
tion, and strung high the nerves. Time-worn 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 95 



* shields, careering in mad holders' hands, clashed, 
and keen lances, once reeking in Pawnee blood, 
clanged. Braves seized one another with an iron 
grip, in the heat of excitement, or chimed more ten- 
derly in the chant, enveloped in the same robe with 
some gentle maiden, as they approvingly stepped 
through one of their own original polkas. 

Thirty of the chiefs, and principal men, were 
ranged by the pile of blazing logs. By their invita- 
tion, I sat down near " Old Bark," and smoked death 
and its concomitant train of evils to those audacious 
tribes, who doubt the courage or supremacy of the 
brave, the great, and powerful Cheyenne nation. 

The pipe was lavishly decorated with beaver 
strips, beads, and porcupine ; the mixtm-e of tobacco 
and bark, was prepared with unusual care, for this, 
their grand gala night. 

By this time, I had made the acquaintance of 
many young men and gu"ls, and often I chassaed up 
to the scalps, and joined in the chorus, much to their 
gratification and amusement, and no less to my 
own. 

Se-ne-mone's daughter, a clever girl of sixteen or 
seventeen winters, reveled in a flaming red cloth 
dress. She was quite a favorite of the beaux, and, 
consequently, her presence was sought for at all 
the festivities. But, sleepless nights, with continual 
dancing, fatiguing her, she, on one of these evenings, 
slipped from her friends to bed. Though it was not 
more than two hours after dark, we were in our pla- 
ces, to all appearance, asleep. 



96 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



The red dress was hardly composed beneath her- 
warm robe, before she heard the other girls, who 
had just missed her, coming; so up she sprang to- 
ward me, and, ere I was aware, she jerked up one 
side of my blanket, and accommodated her own 
form to my recumbent position. Then, pulhng it 
over her shoulders, she quietly nestled her head on 
my arm, as if indisputably entitled to my sole pro- 
tection. Her right, as to the supporting arm, must 
have been that of occupancy — surely not that of 
preemption ! 

Why did she not crawl to the robe of her mother, 
or her little sisters, lying around, or even that of her 
brother ? It was one of those unaccountable mys- 
teries not " di'eampt of" in my "philosophy," but I 
bore the affliction quite heroically, and tucked the 
clothing more snugly than before around us. All 
this was hardly accomplished, when in broke the 
girls, with merry laughs, bounding toward the lately 
vacated robe. But, " Genevra" was n't there ; and 
they stood puzzled for a moment, with looks of 
doubt. They then glanced at the different sleepers ; 
I alone was awake, and the firelight showed my 
watchful countenance. The fugitive held her breath 
in suspense, and, as the girls came flying over to me 
— I, meanwhile, involdng all the saints in the calen- 
dar, to avert the impending disclosure — out burst 
the little witch with a shrill laugh, discovering her- 
self. They all chimed in, and insisted on my ac- 
companying them to the dance. I refused, under 
the plea of fatigue. They pulled me to my feet, per 



THE TAOS TRAFL. 97 



force. I still persisted in excusing mj'self; but, 
peering among the larger girls in front, who stood 
around the bed, the sweet, oval face of 0-nc-o, Se- 
hak's daughter, shaded with an anxious cast of so- 
licitude, decided the point at once. Ta-bin-ah ! 
(come on) said she, beckoning with her head, to 
the drumming outside. What expressive eyes! — 
liquid and hazel, with a dash of playful humor, mild, 
beaming, and loving. Who could help being fas- 
cinated, magnetized, spirited away, but those impe- 
rious souls void of true feeling, or soured by adver- 
sity ! — and, as for me, ever susceptible to genuine 
loveliness, 't was nothing less than absolute enchant- 
ment; so slipping on my moccasins, and throwing a 
blanket around me, I followed her and companions, 
to charge through and over the jolting steps and 
uncertain halts of the grand scalp dance. 

The Indian beaux are ridiculous personifications 
of vanity. With small lookingglasses, vermillion- 
streaked faces, and decorated robes, or blankets, 
they perambulate the village, with looks of supreme 
selfcomplacency. I often laughed heartily at their 
unique costumes, and self-satisfied looks. One of 
the dandies painted my face in the most approved 
Cheyenne style, but, the squaws laughed so im- 
moderately at the grotesque contrast of a wliite skin 
and red paint, I soon washed it off". 

The trader is treated with much respect by the In- 
dians, and is considered a chief — a great man. 
To retain this respect, he acts with as much dig- 
nity as the circumstances permit. Caring for none 



9 



98 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



of the trader's assumed reservedness, I danced 
with the squaws, mixed in the gayeties, and, in 
everyway, improved my time. It was more than 
probable, I never would wish to trade with them ; and 
why deprive myself of amusement? The squaws 
were astonished to find a white person so careless of 
dignity, though they liked me the better for it. With 
emotions of pleasure, are recalled the happy hours 
passed with this nation — the bright faces of the 
girls — the pleasant, broad, good-humored counte- 
nance of the " Smiling Moon " (0-ne-o Missit'a 
daughter), the dancing eye of" Morning Mist" (Vip- 
po-nah's daughter), and the low chuckle of the 
young men, as they gained a triumph in the favorite 
game of " guess." 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 99 



CHAPTER VII. 

STRANGEES AND DRAWBACKS, 

A TRAIN of wagons passed on the 14th of Decem- 
ber. Going out to it, I saw Buchanan, who was 
sent, with others, to meet Captain Murphy, United 
States express, with a load of corn for liis mules. 
They expected to find him about one hundred 
miles below. Buck was so pleased with my repre- 
sentations of savage attractions, he concluded to 
remain with us. 

Our rifles, the backgammon board, and basking 
on the sunny-sheltered banks, amused us for two 
days. The Indians quite pleased Buck, who walked 
about, laughing at everything. His inquisitiveness, 
together with a red flannel shirt, attracted the squaws ; 
who, naturally hilarious, were much diverted. 

On the 18th, om- eyes were regaled with a new 
phase in the dances. The squaws and men were 
dressed in different and more fantastic styles than 
ever. Some with the horns and skin of a buffalo 
attached to their own heads — others, with jackets 
of red and blue cloth, carried swords and lances. 
The horse, captured in the same fight, for which we 
had been so festive for the preceding week or two, 
was brought in, and led around the ring, amid the 



100 AVAII-TO-YAH AND 



noise of drums, waving of scalps, and dissonant 
yelling. 

One great drawback to the pleasures of an Indian 
village is, that the inhabitants are troubled with a 
persecuting little animal — a roamer through the 
unbroken forests of hair on children's heads — 
now ascending the mountain of self-esteem, or 
reposing in the secluded vales around about com- 
bativeness. These creatures (the bugs), here, are 
white, and nearly the size of wheat grains. They 
do not confine their penetrating researches to the 
caput alone, but traverse the immense surface of 
the whole body. By being in the same lodge Avith 
les sauvagcs continually, it was impossible to keep 
clear of the insects. Of course we came in for our 
share ; but Buchanan, who wore a flannel shirt, was 
doubly visited. 

We were sitting, one day, by the fire, Avith un- 
combed hair and unwashed faces (in the mood, 
physical and mental, to feel unpleasant), when 
Buck, who " suspicioned " not the true cause of his 
torment, said — 

"I feel something biting, and darned bad, too, 
let's go and examine. I don't know what's the 
matter ! " 

" Biting you ! " ej aculated Smith, " there 's nothing 
so mity queer in that when you're in the village, 
and," added he laughingly, " when that shirt and 
' forfarraw ' of your 'n comes oft' — Wagh ! " 

The sun shone out warm, and we went to the 
river, and undressed on a clean sand deposit, hid 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 101 



from the view of the village by intervening weeds ; 
uninterrupted, save by an occasional squaw on an 
errand for water, with her bright brass kettle. 
Many families, who do not wish to buy a bucket or 
who cannot afford it, use a large buffalo intestine 
one end of which is tied, filled with water, and 
hung to a lodgepole, as it cannot stand on its " own 
bottom." When a drink is wanted, the thirst}^ one 
puts his (or her) mouth to the opening at the top, 
and with hands on either side of the flabby bucket, 
compresses it, while the water flows into the mouth. 
But it always looked so dirty, I preferred waiting 
until reaching the river, or our own lodge. 

When Buck pulled ofi" his flannel, he uttered an 
exclamation, coupled with an oath ; which, to 
express on paper, with the proper force, would 
require more italization and more exclamation 
points than could be given. From the collarseams 
of liis shirt, to those parallel to the body, the inter- 
sectices were lined with ovse, the germs of future 
termentors, appearing as so many miniature pearls, 
reposing in the rich setting of red flannel. My 
clothing was alike infested. As we passed the 
sentence of death, "Sampson and his jawbone" 
were brought to mind ; but, according to my face- 
tious companero, the aforesaid "jawbone" was 
totally eclipsed by his thumbnails. What he said 
on this occasion need not be written. A swim in 
the icy element ensued, and dressing, we felt much 
better than before. 

It would be superfluous in me to dilate on the 
9* 



102 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



changes effected in the way of empires, republics, 
arts, sciences, and religion, dui'ingthe past eighteen 
hundi*ed and forty-six years. All know these liis- 
torical facts ; and, as John Smith and myself are 
but heroes in our own small way, and as historians 
are so obtuse to a sense of justice, as to omit men- 
tioning the hardy souls — the forerunners of civili- 
zation — who waste dear life among the savages, 
teaching them the pure English language (to say 
nothing of the robes we had to take from them), 
I shall have to be, to rescue om* names from the 
depths of oblivion, narrator for both, to apprise all 
of our occupation and whereabouts on New Year's 
day. 

While we, in this village, had neither mincepies, 
cakes, or any of the good things consumed on like 
occasions, neither did we hear guns, shooting- 
crackers, or cannon, or see shops gayly decorated ; 
yet we had good buffalo meat, and aromatic coffee 
(without sugar or bread), which I enjoyed far more 
than anyone could a most tempting " State " din- 
ner. For music, the village maidens chanted war- 
songs — the harmonious strains of which fell on the 
ear far more pleasingly to me than Russel's best. 

The village, in accordance with an almost invari- 
able custom of the Indians, who undoubtedly have 
an eye for picturesque, rural beauty, was in a 
secluded, narrow bottom, overrun with long tangled 
and matted grass, quite close to the river, and 
sheltered by the hill in the background ; dotted 
here and there with large cottonwoods, whose out- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 103 



spread limbs, gigantic and gnarled, impressed a 
sensation of protection. A range — a snow-covered 
miniature Sierra Nevada — rising above a still lower 
range of coarse gi-ass-covered hills, combined with 
the silver sheet of water, way beyond, gleaming 
through the trees and the lodges, formed a camp 
at once remarkable for romantic loveliness, and its 
excellent shelter for man and beast. 

Buck joined the return party, which he had so un- 
ceremoniously left, to stay with us. He was a 
jovial, open-hearted fellow, and had such an in- 
sinuating manner, we feared not that the quarter- 
master would discharge him, or make deduction of 
pay for dereliction of duty.* 

Se-ne-mone's squaw gave a dogfeast one day. 
As the Indians are great epicures, the modus ope- 
randi of preparation may not be uninteresting to 
our more civilized gourmands, whose tables are bare 
of a viand, which, undoubtedly, ranks preeminent 
in the list of delicacies and luxuries. 

First, a pup of four months' sojourn in this world of 
sorrows, so fat he could scarcely waddle, was caught 
by the affectionate squaw, and turned, and felt, and 
pinched, to see whether it would do. Then its neck 
was invested with one end of a buckskin strap, and 

*Iii this we quite mistook the quartermaster's character ; for, in the 
following spring, on arriving at Fort Leavenworth, Buchanan found all 
Ms ahsenccs, etc., summed up, and deduction from his pay made in con- 
sequence. In the impulse of the moment, he made them a present of 
the lohole of his dues, and. in a few hours, left in charge of a lot of 
mules for the armv in the south of Mexico. 



104 VVAIl-TO-YAH AND 



the other tied short up to the projecting couphng- 
pole of our wagon, while the poor victim to savage 
appetite, dangling between earth and skj", ki-ed 
until his little canine spirit departed for the elysium 
where neither squaws molest, or dogmeat is eaten, to 
the very apparent satisfaction of the toughing wo- 
men, and delighted children, and the no small an- 
noyance of many large dogs, among whom was the 
disconsolate mother of the unfortunate. She sent 
forth, with head and neck elongated, most piteous 
bevvailings, until receiving a kick from one of the 
amazons, which sent her off limping, filling the air 
with discordant yells, fully as painful to us as was 
the kick to the recipient of the squawk's marked at- 
tentions. She sat on her haunches, at a little dis- 
tance from us, now and then raising her paw — not 
to brush away the falling tear, but to rub her nose, 
on which had fallen the cruel blow. 

After hanging half an hour, the pup was taken 
down and laid on the fire. What! thought I, they 
are not so heathenish as to offer sacrifices ? He 
was kept on the blaze, with constant turning, until 
the hau' was well singed off, and then cleaned, be- 
headed, and divided into all imaginable shapes and 
sizes, and cooked in water for six hours. It was 
then fished out, and a portion set before us — a 
sHmy, glutinous mass, uninviting to the eye, but, 
nevertheless, most delicate and sweet. Smith laid by 
one of the hind legs until the next morning ; the mar- 
bled thin streaks of lean and fat, were most tempt- 
ing. It reminded me of cold roast pig — a faint 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 105 



simile, probably derogatory to the fair fame of 
" dog," and for which degenerate, civilized com- 
parison, I humbly crave the pardon of Se-ne-mone's 
spouse, and her worthy curs. 

Civilized and semi-barbarous nations are repre- 
sented by flag^, on which are their distinctive stars, 
stripes, or colors. The different Indian ti'ibes have 
no such distinctions, but, in articles of dress, or 
marks of the body — using no flag except the white, 
indicative of peace — a sign, as it would seem, un- 
derstood by intuition to all the world. 

The signification* of this tribe, in their own lan- 
guage, is, " cut arm," from the fact, that, at a cer- 
tain period of their lives, the men make three trans- 
verse cuts on the upper side of the arm (or that not 
next to the body) generally equidistant fi'om the el- 
bow joint and the socket, which leave three scars, by 
their uniformity, not a little perplexing on first sight. 
With this " mark," they connect grand flourishes, 
solemn looks, and much invoking of the unseen 
Spirit, through the medium of the pipe. 

The Arapahoes (an adjoining tribe, with whom 
the Cheyennes intermarry) have three equi-distant 
punctui'es on the breast. 

The mode of keeping the hair, is another charac- 
teristic. The Camanche, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and 
Utahf tribes, wear their hair in long unconfined 



*The term Cheyenne, is a Frencli deiivatiou, I suppose, from the 
feminine • — ■ chienne — of dog. 

fl speak in this paragraph of Indians I have seen — not from hearsay. 



106 WAH-TO-YAH AND 

locks, cutting it off in front close above the eyebrows, 
so as not to obstruct the vision. The Osage, Pawnee, 
and Kansas, shave the os frontis (and, as Buck re- 
marked, the OS backis), leaving only a topknot at the 
crown, which is so taut and greasy, that it stands 
erect and trembling with every motion of the body. 

The peculiar form of the moccasin, especially in 
the absence of the wearer, is the most certain and 
usual way of determining the tribe in which it is 
made. 

The Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Camanche, similar 
in dress and manner, and at peace with each other, 
use cowskin* moccasins, the inside edge straight, 
and the extreme point so turned in as to give the 
wearer the appearance of being what is termed 
" pigeon-toed," as they really are, in a slight degree. 
The outside edge is brought around in a continuous 
curve, until it meets the straight edge at the large 
toe. They are pleasant, though a whiteman's foot 
will not lit snugly, unless it turns in more than usual. 

The Pawnee moccasin is the same as if one 
would place liis foot in the center of a piece of 
buckskin, and make all the edges meet on top 
of the foot, in front of the ankle. The hinder part 
is brought up on the leg, and laced to its place by 
strings. This is the best and easiest shoe, for it 
fits in every part. Some Mexican-Indian (Pimo) 
moccasins, that I have worn, are long-toed, with a 
sole of parJleche,-\ lapping over on top of the foot, 

*Tlic cowskiu is the same as the robe, divested of hair. 
•j-All the Prairie Indians use par fleche. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 107 



as protection while tramping the cactus-grown 
plains. 

One morning, before sunrise, while soundly sleep- 
ing near the fire, Smith's squaw shook me by the 
shoulder, saying, Vc-hco kiss, vc-hco kiss! hua, hua 
''sst vc-hco mok-ta-ho : " Young vvhiteman, young 
whiteman ! get up ! there 's a black whiteman at the 
door." 

I rose to see a genuine specimen of the thick- 
lipped negro. The squaw was at a loss for words 
to call him properly ; certainly it was not intended 
as a compliment to us, to call him a "black wliite- 
man." 

At first I could understand nothing the negro 
said, so mixed were his words with Indian terms ; 
but, inviting him in, and paying attention, I learned 
that he was a slave to a Cherokee Ross, and 
that he accompanied a surveying party (from his 
description of the instruments), and were charged 
upon by a Camanche force, who, killing the most 
of his party, took him prisoner to their village. 
Here he stayed for many months, until his captors, 
having confidence in him, made him a brave. 
They went to Chihuahua,* where, in several battles, 
they captured hundreds of mules, and many pris- 
oners ; among them some women, who were taken 
as the wives of chiefs. For his own prowess, he 
was given a squaw. But he longed for other lands, 

*From the direction tke negro gave, and the country described, the 
color, etc., of the inhabitants, they must have gone to Chiahuahua. 



lOS WAH-TO-YAH AND 



and watched for every opportunity to escape ; but none 
offered, until, in a fatal conflict with the Mexicans, liis 
party were routed. He saved himself, from the 
triumphant lances, by plunging into a stream, where 
he remained for two days, his persecutors on the 
watch. He showed me a lance Mound in his wrist, 
and an arrow mark through his arm. When the 
Mexicans were gone, he quietly slipped out, and 
groping around, found a bow and arrows. He took 
a course, knowing not whither it led ; and, after 
nearly thi-ee months constant walking, subsisting 
on wild rosebuds, and whatever could be picked up, 
he made his w^ay in sight of our village. Lying 
around for a day, until satisfied that \xe were not 
Camanches, he appeared the morning I first saw 
him. The straightforwardness and simplicity of 
his story, dispelled all doubts as to its veracitJ^ 

I traded Paint to an Indian for a mule — the poor 
grass and my hard riding being too severe. His 
new owner ran him for buffalo two successive days, 
in the snow, which covered the ground from twenty- 
five to twenty-eight inches in depth, and not coming 
up to the game the last day (no wonder ! for the 
horse was tm-ned out after the first hunt, heated, 
tired, and hungry, to find his food in the snow, so 
deep that only the tops of weeds were visible), he 
brought him back to me. I made a "virtue of 
necessity " and returned the Indian his mule, taking 
possession again of poor, old, broken-down Pinto. 
Had I refused to reswap, he would probably have 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 109 



stolen the mule from me at night, and retained my 
horse too ; and, being at the tender mercy of the 
whole tribe (as there were but two of us and a 
Mexican), I could not retaliate. What would have 
been worse, the unfair horsetrader might have 
taken my scalp for presuming to dictate to him, 
a loyal, pure-blooded Cheyenne. I smothered my 
feelings of resentment, though my wishes were 
" pistols for two — coffee for one." 

Snow was deep ; " fat cow " a luxmy not to be 
thought of; horses too poor to " run" meat; and a 
scant supply of " poor bull," was all the provision 
with which to satisfy hunger. In this emergency, 
the inroads upon the dog population were most 
alarming and destructive. 

On the 6th of January, two Indians arrived from 
the upper village, for us to join William Bent, with 
our goods, etc., without delay. A storm arising, 
gave a chilling prospect, and added to the already 
accumulated snowdrifts. 

On the 7th, I traded Paint to Smith, by giving 
thirty dollars in addition. Smith having several 
animals, could afford to keep the horse until he fat- 
tened, but I needed one for present service. My 
new exchange was a raw-boned, impetuous piece of 
mule flesh — her temper, eye, and sharp feet, as full 
of the spirit with which Old Nick is supposed to be 
possessed, as could well be. 

We heard from O-cum-who-wurst's village, at the 
"Buttes" a day's ride hence, that a Pawnee war 
10 



110 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



party had succeeded in running off forty of their 
best animals. The close proximity of the "horse 
stealers," caused some trepidation in our village, and 
even we felt like caching. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. Ill 



CHAPTER VTII. 

THE SNOW TRAMP. 

On the 8th, we packed our robes, and possibles,* 
and, by eleven o'clock, the wagon, with its two yoke 
of half-famished oxen attached, ready for a start, 
was on the top of the hill. The sun shone clear, 
reflecting, in the intense cold, from the incrusted 
snow points, millions of miniature diamonds. We 
parted cheerfully with our kind-hearted Indian host, 
Se-ne-mone ; and, I did not omit to take the hand 
of his daughter, "red-dress," to tell her "goodbye." 
At the same instant, the recollections of the gay dan- 
ces around scalps in her company, with other grace- 
ful Houris, enveloped in the same blanket, and our 
commingled hay-he-a-hay (scalp chorus) rising 
above the other voices, sent a momentary pang vi- 
brating through me. I half wanted to stay. The 
poor, shivering Indians, standing in the deep snow, 
saw us off. 

The surface of the country, on this (the south) 
side of the river, was greatly broken. Large sand- 
hills sloped to the river's very edge : others, with a 
strip of land intervening, were frequent; the loose, 
slippy nature of which made the footing uncertain, 

* Personal property. 



112 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



the travel laborious. The poor oxen, toiling through 
snow up to the briskets, were to be pitied. The 
Bent's Fort trail was on the opposite side. 

We went on for some hours ; now on the steep 
side of a glazed sand butte, now on top, with the 
freezing wind shooting pains through our heads ; 
now again stretching across a low bottom, at a te- 
diously slow rate. On the exclamation by the blue- 
lipped squaw, of " Po-ome ! na-wa 'sst," we looked 
the direction she pointed, to perceive an Indian 
urging his animal through the snow with all speed. 

Ten-o-wast (" What is it?") asked Smith, making 
" sign," as the savage drew rein along side, most 
opportunely for his panting animal. 

The amount of the conversation was, that he had 
a "big heart "for Pinto; he loved liim very much, 
and, in a few moments, his saddle was changed to 
Pinto, and, shaking hands with us, he m-ged him 
back toward the village, while Ave kept om* way. 

We talked of the battle of New Orleans (this was 
the anniversary) — of the bravery evinced — the 
probability' of another war : but, plowing through 
the snow, and the tingling cold, were no aids to pro- 
longed dissertations on the merits and demerits of 
Jackson and his arm}'. A little more severe 
weather would have dismounted us. 

With all our steady travel, we made no more 
than five or six miles, and encamped, as the sun was 
waning beyond the snowbanks ahead, sheltered 
in rear by a sparse growth of stunted willows. 

We felt with our feet, on the river's edge, for pieces 



THE TAOS TRAIL, 113 



of wood, and, with numbed fingers, knocked the snow^ 
from them. These, with the aid of a few handsful of 
dead willow twigs, served as fuel. Watering the ani- 
mals through a hole in the ice-bound river, they 
were hobbled in a hollow, and left exposed to the 
" storm's pitiless peltings," to eke a scanty meal 
from the weeds and stray blades of grass laid bare 
by the frame-pervading blasts. We cut brush, and 
clearing a small space of the snow, laid our robes 
and blankets on the boughs, and, sitting, with crossed 
legs, stared at the flickering blaze, rising through 
the still and piercing air, our pipes charged 
with fi-agrant "honeydew," or "single twist ;" the 
holders every moment blowing out blue clouds of 
smoke, calculated, at most any other time, to sicken, 
but now, not a bit too strong. By turning our eyes 
to the darkness, we could see the dusky forms of om- 
congregated caballada, with backs bowed, and tails 
to the blast, too cold to paw for grass, now snorting 
as a hungry wolf crossed the wind, or feebly an- 
swering an inquiring whinney from a timid mule, 
scared at its own tramping in the dr}', frosty snow. 
It is strange how self-satisfied one is, when safely 
in camp. There we, almost at an unapproachable 
distance from anywhere, amid snowstorms, with 
scarce a hearty meal, in a barren country, and too 
freezing cold to hunt, sat on our soft robes, acknow- 
ledging the grateful warmth of the coals (shud- 
dering, perhaps, as a cold puff" of wind, coursing on 
the crusted snow, struck our backs, and caused us 
to pull the blankets more closely to our necks) — ■ 
10* 



114 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



chatting as unconcernedly, as if surrounded by luxu- 
ries, such as large fires, and plenty to eat. It is by 
some experience in a prairie voyageur s life, that I 
can say, never was I more contented, silently happy 
than when, with snow wreaths drifted interminably 
for miles and miles around, with a choice com- 
panion or two, cosily seated by a small comforta- 
ble fire, with plenty of tobacco, and a modicum of 
meat to sustain life, I have listened to the baying of 
wolves, and have imagined the Hamadryades' tune- 
ful sighs, mingling with the crackling of the frosted 
tree branches, while the mournful cadences of the 
wind, sweeping up the vale with wild fury, would 
burst over our heads, with shrieks of crazy delight 

— now dying away in harmonious deflections, anon 
increasing in vigor, yet never ending. 

And, on composing oneself to sleep, with what 
care does he place his feet, well-covered by thick 
moccasins, to the broadest blaze. Then, sitting on 
his robe, he tucks it around his legs and body, high 
as the waist, and falls back with his face from rude 
Boreas, retaining Ms soft wool hat, to serve as a 
breakwind to his head, resting on the saddle for 
pillow. There he is, warm, comfortable, and selfish 

— nothing short of Indians, or fire on the dear robe, 
would stir him an inch. Then, in the morning, how 
hard he is to rouse. His cold blue nose, exposed to 
the weather, is sensitive enough, in its gradations 
from warm to cold, to serve as thermometer — 
" b 'low zero, wagh ! too cold," and he draws within 
himself, shuddering at the bare idea of facing the 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 115 



breeze. " Darn breakfast, when a feller's fixed; I 
would 'nt git up for the fattest meat as runs on the per- 
aira ; faint often this buffler is comfortable, an' when 
he is, he knows it," and oft' he drops in dreamland, 

" Chasing the stag 
From ci'ag to crag," 

indicating, by convulsive twitchings of the hands, 
or contortions of the face, the contending passions 
by which he is actuated when in quest of game, or 
" raising " the " hair " of a skulking Pawnee, who 
has been audacious and unfortunate enough to steal 
his animals. 

Our Mexican was up first, and kindled a fire. 
All soon rising, we drove the caballada to camp, 
from the leeward of a bank, whither they had 
retreated, standing with low, drooping heads, and 
indicating, by a glance at their hollow flanks, the 
scanty meal they had eaten ; choosing rather to 
starve, than push away with a,ching noses, or paw 
with balled feet, the cold snow from the withered 
herbage of this region, at no time remarkable in 
excellency. 

The morning was bitter, bitter cold. The exhaled 
breath rapidly condensed; which, with the blowing 
of the animals as they were forced over the deep 
snow, enveloped us in a cloud of vapor. We 
strung out, one or the other in front ; the Mexican 
with his oxteam following. In the wake was our 
squaw, astride of a large sorrel horse, muffled in 
robes. Clinging to her back was the boy, Wo-pe- 



116 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



kon-ne,* wi' his lint white locks, grayish-white 
eyes, and sallow face, visible through an opening — 
an airhole — in the hairy covering. 

About eleven o'clock, in the morning, we saw a 
party of men trailing toward the States. Urging 
our mules through the snow, nearly breast high, to 
the river, we were met by one of them, who crossed 
the ice on foot. He was almost hid in the folds of a 
robe overcoat, extra moccasins, heavy hat, and his 
right hand grasped a thick, large-bored rifle. On 
nearing, he shouted — " How are ye. Smith, old coon. 
Whar now — are ye makin' tracks to Fort Wil- 
liam ? " 

" Why, Boggs, old hos," rejoined Smith, " what 's 
up ? you 've got so much ' fofaraw ' stuck 'bout you, 
this child did'nt savy at fust ! Which way?" 

" Well, old Kurnel Price wanted some one to take 
the trail fur the States on express ; and, as none 
but mountain men can ' come in ' now, he gave me 
six hundred dollars to ' travel ' with letters and 
dispatches. But, I tell 'ee it '11 be a chargin' time, 
fur the snow is bad so?7ic, now." 

"Who's with you; right sort of stuff for this 
season?" 

" Oh ! a lot of darned gover'ment men ; but as 
I'm ' bugheway'f they do pretty well. Well, I 
must break — how are ye off for cowmeat ?" 

" H — ! cowmeat, this freezin' time ? You've bin 



*" White Eyes " —Jack. 

f Bugheway — bourgeoisc — master. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 117 



down to Santy Fee too long. Why, ' poor bull ' is 
hard to git, boudin out of the question, and ' gras '* 
so scarce we do n't think of it. Howsomever, if 
you want to chaw on lean buffler dryed, you can 
have it 'on the prairie. 'f Hombre, Pedro, mira! 
venica cary por came, poquita! " Pedro, look here, 
want a little meat," shouted Smith to our Mexican. 

Na-ioa ! o-ne-a-voke veheo. " Quick, some meat 
for the whiteman" — to his squaw. 

He took about half — not much to be sure, but 
seemingly a great deal — and crossed the river, 
while we started the team, the wagonwheels creak- 
ing and singing as they pressed the stalagmitic 
snow. We were thoroughly benumbed, and rode 
in a state nearly amounting to torpidity. How 
I silently wished for the warm and pleasant home 
left but a few months previous. How we longed 
for fire — no wood to be had — even coffee would 
have given comfort. Our pipes were the only 
solace in this trying time, but one tires of that, or 
sickens by too frequent use. As far as the eye 
could reach, on all sides, was a boundless expanse 
of snow, snow, snow ! above, the dreary, dull-gray 
winter sky ; no sun to cheer us, or to impart warmth. 
Every step, every motion, every glance, bore down 
instead of relieving us. I shut my eyes, wearied and 
sick of the white monotonous drapery ; which, in 
my bewildered fancy, seemed to look on unmoved 

*Gras — fat. 
•(-"Oil tlie praii'ie " — free gift. 



118 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



at US stiffening by degrees ; and, by mocking, freezing 
placidity, to check all buoyant hope or retrospect. 
To add to the wretchedness of mind, large, gaunt 
white wolves, attracted through keen hunger, stealth- 
ily followed, or dashed across our way like specters 
— spirits of the stormwind — and bm'st, hellhound 
like, into prolonged, fearful howls, rousing us from 
our apathy, to cause shudders to pervade our chilled 
and weakened frames. 

Camp at night and its few duties soon were com- 
pleted, for our provision (if a little dryed meat, 
without bread, coffee, or salt could be called pro- 
vision) was scanty, requiring no cooldng or prepa- 
ration but thorough mastication. 

Sunrise saw us on the tramp. It was so cold, 
Smith left his gun (a most foolish thing, not to be 
expected of a mountaineer) in the wagon. Though 
I hardly had the sense of feeling , I retained my rifle 
in front of the saddle. In the afternoon we were 
finding a practicable route in the drifts, for the 
team; and, in so doing, strayed several hundred 
yards ahead, and out of sight of the wagon. Seeing 
a party approaching. Smith called my attention to 
it with — 

" Look ahead ! there 's whitemen." 

I gave a shout, at the same moment digging my 
spurs into the mule's side — " Hooray, we'll have 
meat and coffee to night ; but look ! they wear 
Mexican hats." 

" So they do," replied he, after a scrutiny ; " but 
they wont bother us, they know me too well to cut 



The TAOS TRAIL. 110 



* shines' — John Smith's a name not to be grinned at 
by a darned carahoing 'palou' — Wagh! Indians, 
'by beaver ! ' " hurriedly said he, changing his tone, 
" keep your eye skinned ; I have left my gun in 
the wagon, and have nothing but a knife." 

I put on a fresh cap without changing its position, 
so as not to excite the attention of the coming- 
party, though one gun was as nothing against thirty 
Arapahoes. We met them with as little show of 
trepidation as could be helped, and advancing to 
the foremost grim savage, offered our hands. The 
fellow took the proffered advance of amity with 
coldness, and stopped still. We dared not pass by, 
and asked him — 

Ten-o-icast ? " What is it you wish ? " 

He looked silently at us, and again we chidingly 
asked, in the Cheyenne tongue, " Ten-o-wast? " 

Ni-hi-ni, veheo, rnatseho, esevone Anapaho, answered 
he. The amount of his answer was, that the 
" whiteman was bad, that he ran the buffalo out of 
the country, and starved the Arapaho." 

Smith explained, that he had been trading a long 
time with the Cheyenne, whom he loved, and who 
was brother to the Arapaho ; that he only took 
what meat he wanted, and, pointing to his squaw, 
that his wife was a Cheyenne. The Arapaho must 
not blame him. It was the whiteman from the 
States (Government men) with wagons, who scared 
the buffalo from him and his children. It was al- 
ways his intention to live and die with the Che- 
yenne, for he had thrown away his brothers in the 



120 WAH-TO-YAH AND 

States. The Cheyenne lodge was his home — they 
smoked the same pipe — the broad prairie supported 
them both. 

" The vvhiteman has a forked tongue," replied the 
chief, impatiently, raising his hand to his mouth, 
and sending it in a direct line with two of the fin- 
gers open, and stretched far apart, to signify a fork 
or divergence from a point. 

I-sio-mct, icah-hein (" p'shaw, no,") said Smith. 

Ni-hi-ni, ni-hi-ni, Hook-ah-hay (" Yes, yes," " good- 
bye,") and, oft' they rode, trying, yet, without much 
open manifestation, to drive om* little band of horses 
with theirs, but, by a dexterous interposition of 
Smith, he tm'ned their heads, preventing the quiet 
trick of our brothers, the Arapahoes. 

Smith told me, after they left, that they were just 
returning from a successful marauding expedition 
into New Mexico, with several scalps, two prisoners, 
and thirty, or more, horses and mules, which they 
then had with them. Happily was it for us, that 
their vengeance was wreaked on other unfortunates 
than ourselves. We, however, feared for our 
swarthy son of Mexico, the oxdriver — as he was of 
the same stripe, as those to whom the scalps, dan- 
gling from the Arapaho lance points, originally be- 
longed. We waited, with some doubts, as to his 
safety, until he made his appearance. 

The poor wretch ! there he came, plying the whip 
vigorously to his tired yoke. When, within hearing 
distance, we distinguished the fierce spoken words, 
" Geet up — caralio ! Wo-o ha-ha — los Rapaho.''^ 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 121 



" Did you see the Indians, Pedro ?" 

Si Scnor, a-a-h Caralio ! los Rapaho ; inucltos dia- 
hlos — grandotc, muchos, muchos, muchos ("d — n the 
Arapahoes — big devils." 

" Did they touch you, the darned niggurs ? " 

" Si ! " rephed he, in a tone of vexation, " Si, mu- 
cho, dis a way," jerking himself to and fro by the 
hair, " dis a way, pull me bout, de dam Rapaho ; 
dey want carne (meat), want carabine, dey want 
mucho ; and," added he, ready to burst into tears, 
" dey want my hair. Me feel for my cuchiUo (knife), 
but de one lancero grandote, he lidc mad — he raise 
his lance. By by dey mount de cavallos (horses), 
dey go way — " 

" Yes ! " said Smith, " but, it 's too cold here to 
talk — start up your team, w^e must be to a good 
camp before night, for it '11 freeze the nose oft" a fel- 
ler's face in the morning." 

The queerest part of this meeting with the In- 
dians, was, that after their departure, Smith up- 
braided me for turning pale, and showing fear, while 
his face was blanched, and wore a peculiar 
rigidity of features, and nervous twinkling of the 
eyelids. The fact is, we were both scared badly. 

An hour before the sun set, saw us stopping on 
an island, for the sake of a little dry grass for the 
animals, and the twisted, partly decayed stump of a 
fallen cotton wood for ourselves — both things quite 
essential this inclement season. 

My mule was an obstinate, foolish animal, and, to 

keep her from retm-ning to the village, a hobble was 
11 



122 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



necessary every night. The rest of the caballada 
was as usual, snorting and pawing for grass, or 
wandering around, before mine w^as let loose ; and 
while I in the snow, was adjusting the hobble, she 
was impatiently stamping, and frettingly held by 
the bridle. So soon as I rose to my feet, and pulled 
the headstall from her brow, off she started, with a 
squeal, the rein still on her neck. To prevent her 
trampling on the bit, I caught it in my hand and 
kept up alongside. She rushed in the water, 
splashing my moccasins and buckskins to the knee ; 
by the time she hauled me in the ripple, to her sat- 
isfaction, and jerked me down several times, my 
scalpknife was out of its sheath. 

To keep my limbs from freezing, from the effects 
of the already congealed water, with which my moc- 
casins and pants were saturated, while Smith and 
Pedro were making a fire, I took a sheet-iron camp- 
kettle — an Indian article of trade — to the river for 
water, which labor might restore 'the circulation. 
Under a bank, several springs kept the water from 
freezing hard ; I broke it with but little difficulty, 
and, reaching down the bucket to dip and fill it, in I 
followed. Scrambling out, I hm'ried to camp with 
the water in frozen pellets on my clothes and 
hair. 

Smith, standing with back to the fire, shouted as 
I approached, " Ho, boy ! wet ? you 're^ more like a 
ducked beaver ' an anything this hos has seen yet. 
Cold, eh?" 

Caraho! cried Pedro, looking up from the 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 123 



ground, where he was seated, drying his torn moc- 
casins, Senor, tu muy frco ? " Are you very cold ? " 

We cleared the snow for several feet around the 
fire, so as not to melt and make a muddy camp. 
Spreading down my robe, I wrung and dryed my 
clothes. 

For supper each took a little piece of dryed buf- 
falo meat, and chewed on it until the strength was 
gone ; then, smoking, we went to bed, to dream of 
the many good things some persons have and know 
not how to appreciate. Being now not at all 
fastidious, Pedro and I shared the same robes. 

In the morning, seeing that the caballada had 
had but little to eat, and the cold being so intense, 
a day in camp was thought best. A snowstorm, 
with all its blustering fury, burst upon us during the 
morning, and lasted half the day, driving the rotten- 
wood smoke in our eyes, so that small comfort was 
gained by the fire. We would sit in one position 
until nearly stifled ; a change to the opposite side, 
was only for the wind to veer and drive us again 
away. We had no tent of course, and the shifting 
wind monopolized every good position. 

What a prospect was in advance ! Snow twenty- 
two to twenty-eight inches deep ; our mules starving ; 
the oxen broken down with fatigue ; and not more 
than one day's scanty portion of dryed meat, and 
nothing else ; an attempt at hunting almost certain 
death ; and, at least, two days' travel to William 
Bent's village ; although there were but forty miles 
between the two (one day's trip in pleasant weather ; 



124 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



now five for us). Verily, this is the dark side of 
prairie hfe ! 

We ventured to start the following morning, but 
dared not ride for fear of freezing to the saddles, 
though tramping in the snow was severely fatiguing. 

The few pairs of socks brought with me from the 
States were long before worn out, and my moccasins 
coming only to the anklebone, left bare part of the 
foot and leg. The snow soon filled the hollow 
under the instep, which I, at first, raked out with 
my forefinger ; but, becoming so benumbed, I forgot 
it, and it congealed, unheeded, in a solid mass. 

We kept on foot all that day, without stopping, 
dragging one weary foot after the other, until near 
night, and encamped on an island, with plenty of 
wood and high grass. Our mules procm-ed their 
food only by pawing, in which mode they became 
adepts. With tobacco, and a stinted ration of 
" poor bull," we managed to pass the evening. 

We left camp, the next sunrise, with keen appe- 
tites and nothing to eat, and traveled the entire day 
without stopping. An hour or two- before dark, 
Smith approached some antelope,leaving his bridle- 
rein in the squaw's hand. The band, afar oif, 
scented us, though they scarcely moved; while we 
anxiously watched Smith, stealthily drawing nigh. 
Hunger rendered him cautious ; and, when within 
two hundred yards, he fired, bringing down a doe. 
The others ran across the river, stopping once to 
gaze back at their fallen companions. I imagined 
the teardrops glistening in their big dark eyes. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 125 

Our hearts were now made glad, for we had a 
prospect of plenty ; and, as Fortune never comes 
single-handed, the snow decreased in depth, enabling 
us to travel in a fast walk. At camp, we used part 
of the rather unmasticable and poor goat ; which, 
however, was better than nothing ; and, to make 
up for the deficiency of our larder of the past few 
days, vv'e lingered by the red coals late. 

Did anyone ever hear of the Gros Ventres Indians ? 
Well, we were the same, so far as the name goes, 
about the hour for retiring. 

The travel improved ; snow not more than twelve 
or fourteen inches in depth. The oxen labored less 
heavily. Smith's gravity relaxed in a degree ; and 
I, being crammed with goatmeat, felt finely. 

Near noon the squaw cried out — Po-ome,na-wa 
Chcycnnes! "Blackfoot (Smith), look ahead, Chey- 
enne ! " pointing to an approaching body of men," 
women, children, horses, and lodges. It was part 
of the upper village, on the march. 

The first few we merely saluted cti passant. Then 
came the -" JMorning Mist " and her father, Vip- 
po-nah; and, after them, "Smiling Moon," riding 
on a lodgedray. Her kind eyes beamed with tem- 
pered rays of affection ; but Smith marred the 
pleasurableness of our meeting by informing me 
that she had, during my absence, married — run off 
with one of the village exquisites. I was quite 
unhappy for an hour, and rode, in silence, apart 
from the joking Smith; but, finally, consoled myself 
11* 



126 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



with the idea that there was more than one pretty 
Indian girl left in the world. 

We found William Bent in his lodge, with hia 
aquaws, children, and goods for trading. A few 
steps distant was another cone, in which were 
Fisher and Long Lade, traders, and Pierre, and one 
other, employees. We abode in the back part. 
The village was a quarter of a mile oif — a de 
sirable distance — for we could trade without the 
usual bother and throng. No snow, but on the 
shady declivities, chilled us with the sight ; the sun 
shone joyously ; the horses capered on the green- 
sward, and the dull, but comfort-recalling drum- 
notes, in honor of fresh scalps, were heard once 
more. We reclined that night in the warm lodge, 
with feet to the fire, new faces to look at, and 
stomachs filled with "fat cow" and coffee. A 
casual observer could have seen, 

" By the smoke, whicli so gracefully curled " 

from our pipes, that contentment reigned within. 



•% 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 127 



CHAPTER IX. 

PROSPECTIVE TROUBLE. 

The crack of the oxvvhip, and the " wo ha-a " of 
the drivers, broke the stillness of our quiet retreat. 
The blow of the ax, and the small dw^elling for 
trading goods, raised by our puny efforts, were but 
the precursors of a settlement, for, already do these 
Indians talk of tilling the ground. 

This particular vicinity is called the " Big Tim- 
ber " — a strip of woods extending for several miles 
along the river. As a general thing, there is Httle 
or no timber on the Arkansas, from the Cimarone 
crossing, to the headwaters, with the exception of 
this belt, which the Indians consider their future 
home. 

My single pair of pantaloons was completely 
worn out, before I procured others. Being in want 
of the buckskins, I took my rifle, and, skirting the 
village, crossed to William Tharpe's trading lodges. 
In the largest, was the owner, reclining on robes 
and smoking, and judge of my surprise, when be- 
fore me sat a fair-skinned woman, and two children. 
She was the proprietor's Mexican wife. 

When Mr. Tharpe was getting the buckskins, I 
could do no less than stare at his wife, and the other 



128 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



appendages of civilization, hanging around, in the 
shape of dresses, etc., but the woman did not com- 
pare, in point of symmetry of features, with my 
faithless " SmiUng Moon." With the skins under 
my arm, I bowed myself out, and " made beaver " 
for Mr. Bent's lodge, on the way passing through 
a bottom, in hopes of finding deer, several of which 
were seen disappearing, before my gun could be 
brought to bear on them. 

While the pantaloons were being cut out by the 
enterprising John Smith, and sewed by his squaw, 
with awl and sinew, I wore a breechcloth, a la mode 
Cheyenne, manufactured of a leg of my old pants. 
They were rather the Avorse for wear, than when I 
sat with them in a daguerreotype room before leav- 
ing home, trying to look my sweetest for a fond 
relative. With breechcloth, blanket, painted face, 
and moccasins, I made a very respectable looking 
savage. 

0-cum-iLilio-icust, principal chief of the Chey- 
ennes, visited us a few days following our arrival. 
He was talking with Smith, when the kettle boiled 
over. Instantl}', yet deliberately, he laid down the 
pipe, which he was about to smoke, and, covering 
his head with the robe, bowed himself to the ground, 
silently remaining in that position several minutes. 
On rising, his countenance wore a resigned, though 
sad, aspect, as one engaged in spiritual devotion. 

The notion prevails here, that the ashes, raised by 
ebulliting liquid, engenders a disease of the eye ; and, 
it is with much trepidation they sit until the cloud 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 129 



settles. Often, indeed, their negligent spouses are 
lodge-poled* for such accidents ; the fear of punish- 
ment keeps them on the alert, when anything is 
cooking. Smith's poor woman had consternation 
strongly depicted on her face, and he helped her 
through with looks most grim and menacing. 

The Cheyenne marriage ceremony is not a little 
curious. As in all cases, whether civilized or sav- 
age, the matter is talked of and arranged by the 
anxious pair, long before the friendly or inimical in- 
terposition of those deeming themselves the guar- 
dians of inexperienced youth. Then follows the 
formality of asking for the fair one, which, though 
it may seem mercenary, must not be entirely so con- 
sidered, as it is the invariable custom. 

At night, when all are supposed to be asleep, the 
lover, selecting his best horse, ties it up to the lodge 
of his fatherinlaw to be, where it stays until 
morning. If it is put with their band, he is ac- 
cepted ; if not, it stays tied, exposed to the jeers of 
the village boys, and the stinging laugh of the girls 
(who are ever ready to make fun) until night again. 
Then the jilted youth sneaks up and takes it away, 
or makes an additional propitiatory offering. 

If the father is an inexorable tyrant, the loving 
couple sometimes take hasty leave for parts un- 
known. 

The queerest oddities with the Cheyennes, are 
gray-haired children. From the age of three, up, 



*'\Yliippod. 



130 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



they can be seen going about, like so many little old 
men and women. The hair is not white, or "tow," 
but real streaked, black and gray, such as we would 
see on a man of forty-five. I could neither see nor 
hear of the cause. The owners of the premature 
growth, had juvenile, healthy faces, as others of their 
years, though there may be an affection of the roots 
of the hair. Possibly, as there is an edict, saying that 
the iniquities of the fathers upon the childi*en unto 
the third and fourth generations, shall be visited, 
these innocents have to don the venerable locks, 
before the proper time, because their great, great 
grandfathers happened to stick their tantalizing 
lancepoints the eighth of an inch too far in some 
poor devil of a Pawnee prisoner. QiCcn sabe? 

On the morning of the 28th, Smith and I were in 
the log house, trading o-ne-a-wokst (beads) to an old 
squaw for o-ne-a-vokc (a piece of meat). While ask- 
ing for an addition to our already large contribution, 
she pointed with her mouth, to an approaching ob- 
ject, saying, Po-omc ! ninn-ichit vc-hco (" Blackfoot ! 
look yonder, there's a whiteman"). 

Coming close, he hailed us, "How are ye John?" 

"What! Louy, old coon, down hyar? How's 
times to Fort Wilham ! — but let's see, you's the 
one as run 'meat' for them gover'ment fellers 
to Bent's ranch — eh ? " 

" Yes ! an' this child was mighty nigh losin' his 
har, he was." 

*' How ? " 

" Them darned Spaniards ! " 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 131 



" H — ! anybody ' gone under ' to Touse ?" 

"Yes! Guvner Charles." 

" Wa-agh ! but them palous 'II pay for their 
scalpin' yet, I 'm thinkin'." 

We went in the lodge, where the men, after 
recovering from the surprise of seeing an old com- 
panero, were told the sad news of Governor Bent's 
death, and while Louy was stowing away huge 
pieces of buffalo, he was interrogated by the anxious 
traders — 

" Louy, tell all 'bout the whole consarn ; it 's all 
over now, an' can 't be worse. I 'spect the niggurs 
got my w^oman too," said Fisher, who was a resi- 
dent of Taos, the scene of the massacre, "who else 
is under, 'sides Charles ? " 

" Well, you see the Purblos (Pueblas de Taos) 
was mity mad fur the 'Mericans to come in thar 
diggins an' take everything so easy like ; an', as 
Injin blood is bad an' sneakin', they swore to count 
coups when they could. So when Charles was 
down to Touse to see his woman, the palous* 
charged afore sunrise. The portal was too strong 
fur 'em, an' they broke in with axes, an' a Purblo, 
cached behint a pile of dobies, shot him with a 
Nor' west fusee twice, an' skulped him." 

" Scalped him — scalped Charles ? " cried the men, 
partly springing to their feet, and clutching their 
knives, " thar be heap of wolfmeat afore long — ■ 
sartain ! " 

* Pelade — loafer — corrupted into Palou. 



132 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



" Yes ! an ' they took the trail for Santy Fee ; but 
afore they left, Stephe Lee dropped in his tracks 
too. 'Hell!' says I, the palou as threw that arrer 
is marked, an' so he is — Wa-agh ! " 

"Was Narcisse Beaubien killed, Louy?" asked I. 

" Who ? that young feller as kem with the wagons, 
last fall, with St. Vrain ? " 

" Yes, the same." 

" Oh ! he 's gone beaver 'long with the rest. He 
was Mexican blood, an' so much the better fur 
them. They had a big dance when his topknot 
was off. W^ell, you see," commencing once more, 
" a band of the devils got to the Poinel ranch, over 
Touse Mountain, and back agin with the biggest 
kind of cavyard. Maybe coups was n't counted that 
trip. The sojers — a lot of greenhorns and Dutch- 
men — came to Purgatoire, this side of Raton. 
Frank De Lisle had the company's wagons, an' 
the boys thar. We cached along the trail fur the 
Arkansa — ivell we did ! Mulemeat went a wolfin' 
that spree — Wagh ! " 

" Where is Drinker (the Cincinnati Editor) ? 
He w'as at the ranch, I believe." 

" Out in the pinyon, that morning, with his big 
Saint Loui' gun — a Jake Hawkins gun, she was, 
eh ? He had bullets an inch long, with a sharp 
piint — be doggoned ef they was 'nt some, eh? — 
We had to leave him, but I guess he '11 come in 
safe. 

" Will they take Santy Fee, think ye, Louy ? " 
inquired Fisher. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 133 



" Now that 's more than this hos kin tell. He 
hasn't made 'medicine' yet; but I'm afraid the 
'Mericans will ' go under.' " 

Louy was called from the lodge by William Bent. 
We pitied William. His murdered brother, being 
much older than himself and George, was loved and 
respected as a father. 

The news had quite a depressing effect upon 
us. We were even apprehensive of our own safety 
in case the Santa Fean forces were overpowered ; 
for it was probable the country, from El Passo to 
El Valle de Taos, had revolted ; and, as Bent's 
Fort contained much of value, and was an important 
post, a Mexican expedition might well be ex- 
pected. 

When the Indians learned the death of their old 
friend, Woh-pi ve-heo — " the gray-haired white- 
man " — criers were sent out, and the people 
harangued. After consultation, the chiefs proposed 
that the young men should march to Taos and scalp 
every Mexican within reach. But Mr. Bent, thank- 
ing them, declined, saying that the soldiers at the 
fort would go if necessary. 

At the following dawn, Mr. Bent and I left for the 
fort, some forty miles distant, taking no baggage 
but the robes strapped to the saddles. 

The morning was cold and cloudy, in consonance 
with our moody taciturnity. Keeping the south 
bank of the river, for some miles, we attempted a 
ford. Our fractious mules gave much trouble, 
detaining us a vexatious half hour ; we then broke 
12 



134 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



the ice, and dragged and pushed in their unwilhng 
feet by main strength. 

While breasting the strong wind, which keeps the 
trail nicely swept as with a broom, we saw. emerging 
from a patch of high marshgrass, skirting a belt of 
cottonwoods on the river's margin, a Mexican, 
mounted on a strong, iron-gray horse. He wore, 
in lieu of a hat, a handkerchief bound over his 
head, under the edges of which long jetty locks 
flitted to the breeze. His right hand grasped a 
short bow and a few arrows. He was passing at a 
gallop, when Bent, with his cocked rifle, shouted in 
Spanish to stop. The man stated that he belonged 
to William Tharpe's company; but the skulk's 
restless eye, and his every motion, seemed to indi- 
cate more than he told. After a searching cross 
examination. Bent told him to vamos, prcnto ! (go 
quick), or he would send a ball through him, any- 
how. I expected to see the Mexican pitch from 
his horse, through the aid of a bullet. Bent turned 
to follow him, expressing a regret at not having 
taken a shot. 

By sundown we reached the fort, having traveled 
the entire day without ten minutes halt, or scarcely 
a word of conversation. Fifty dirty, uncouth, green- 
looking Missourians, in command of Captain Jack- 
son, hung about us as we left the saddles. 

There was much excitement in regard to the 
massacre, some expecting a Mexican army to 
appear on the hill across the river ; others, strutting 
inside the high and secure fort walls, gasconaded 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 135 



and looked fierce enough to stare a mad " huffier " 
out of countenance, declaring themselves ready to 
wade up to their necks in Mexican blood. Every 
one, however, had cause for fear, as the American 
force was known to be small and much weakened 
by being scattered in small herding parties, through- 
out the province. The traders, etc., proposed to push 
right on to Taos : steal all the animals, "raise " all 
the attainable Mexican " hair," burn every ranch, 
and " charge " generally. 

A while before dusk, an express from the Arlcan- 
sas Pueblo,* seventy miles above, arrived with the 
news that the United States detachment of volun- 
teers, stationed there, were awaiting orders from 
Jackson, the superior in command. But the Cap- 
tain (Jackson) would not act without orders from 
Colonel Price, at Santa Fe, at that time likely a 
prisoner. So the idea of aid in that quarter was 
reluctantly abandoned. 

Louy Simonds, on leaving the ranch, cut across 
the country, by that means preceding the wagons 
several days. The morning after our arrival, Frank 
De Lisle's wagons coralled in front of the fort. My 
old friends, the Canadian teamsters, shook my hand 
heartily — finer fellows were never soaked by the 
prairie storms. 

About ten o'clock, as I was standing at the far- 
end of the court, a tall man stalked in the gate. 



* A settlement of Mountaineers, witli their Indian and Mexican 
wives, and the station of a detachment of the Mormon battallion. 



136 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



looking wildly around. A long browned rifle rested 
on his shoulder, with that exquisite neglige air — 
firm yet careless-appearing — his long, black, un- 
combed hair, hung in strings from beneath his 
greasy wool hat ; and a frowning moustache, gave 
a Satanic cast to his features. On his feet were 
thick moccasins, and to judge from the cut, of his 
own fashioning. His pantaloons, of gray cassinet, 
were thread-bare, and rudely patched with buckskin. 
Instead of a coat, a blanket was thrown over the 
shoulder and fastened, at the waist, by a black 
leather belt, in which was thrust a brass-studded 
leather sheath, sustaining a " Green River " of no 
small pretensions as to length ; and which, had it 
the power of speech, might dwell with ecstatic 
pleasure on the praise of choice morceaus of 
"fleece," severed by its keen edge — perchance 
astonish with the recital of the number of" Yutes," 
whose " humpribs " have been savagely tickled with 
its searching point. His quick eye, wandering, 
alighted on me, followed by — 
" How are you ? " 

" Why, Drinker ! ' exclaimed I, in the utmost sur- 
prise, and taking his outstretched hand, " I'm glad 
to see you — Louy Simonds told us that the Span- 
iards had taken your ' hair.' " 

" Oh p'shaw ! not yet, I can assure you." 
" Did you travel by yourself all the way ? " 
" No, not quite. I went out hunting that morn- 
ing, and became so interested in a beaverdam, that 
it was night before the ranch was reached again. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 137 



Our men were gone, but I cooked some of the 
" goat " I had that day killed, and on Louy's 
old deerskins, lying about camp, I slept until 
morning. I then followed their trail, on foot, 
toward the Vermaho. The second day I caught up 
to a train, but they being too slow, I pushed ahead 
by myself. I overtook the company's wagons yester- 
day, and have been alone the rest of the time." 

" That 's a quick trip for a pedestrian. How long 
were you in coming ? It 's about one hundred and 
seventy miles." 

" Oh ! a little over six days. My moccasins 
nearly gone the way of all flesh" — replied he look- 
ing at his feet. 

Mr. Bent determining that something should be 
done, called his men together ; and, stating the 
facts of the case, ended by saying they could go or 
stay — as they choosed. Every one offered his 
services. 



12* 



138 ^VAH-TO-YAH AND 



CHAPTER X. 

EL RIO DE LAS ANIMAS. 

It was in the afternoon of the next day, that the 
party was started, consisting of twenty-three men. 
Bransford was in charge of the seventeen em- 
ployees, and the wagon; the other five were free. 
One was Lucien Maxwell, a hunter to Fremont's ex- 
pedition in 1842, a resident of the valley of Taos, 
and a soninlaw to Judge Beaubien (Narcisse's fa- 
ther). Manuel Le Fevre — Lajeunesse and Tom — 
claimed a local habitation in Taos. They, very for- 
tunately for themselves, happened to be on the op- 
posite side of the mountain, at the time of the mas- 
sacre. 

We crossed the river into Nueva Mejico at 
the fort ford, and followed the Santa Fe trail, 
which kept the river bank. Five of us were 
mounted; the rest were to get animals at the 
Purgatoire, ninety miles distant. The object of 
the expedition, in which we were about to en- 
gage, was to travel as far as we could toward 
Taos ; kill and scalp every Mexican to be found, and 
collect all the animals belonging to the Company 
and the United States. 

Where the route diverged from the river at right 
angles, for Santa Fe, we camped. On the west, 



The TAOS TRAIL. 139 



white chalk cHfts, cropped out from the brow of the 
hills ; the soapplant spread its green fan here 
and there, and dead-seeming sage bushes, harsh 
and stiff, were dispersed in irregular patches. 
No sun appeared ; the chilling winds blew fitfully 
over the bleak plain, indicating an approaching 
snowstorm. 

Most of the Canadians were those with whom I 
journeyed from the States. As they trudged along, 
chattering in French, overflowing with boisterous 
mirth, they thought not of the fatigue of walking. 
All were equipped with nor'-west fusils ; with them, 
every prominent object in the road was un sacre Mex- 
ican. When any one of them raised his fusil to fire, 
all stopped ; some leaned forward on tiptoe ; others 
drew back and sighted with one eye, and others 
again, with half-open mouths, in anxious expecta- 
tion, would wait until the report of the gun rang out. 
Then all would start forward at a run to the target. 
If a good shot, a sacre bon of approbation might be 
heard ; if not, they would look carefully around, then 
examine the bushes twenty and thirty feet from the 
target, in tones of solicitous irony, condoling and 
praising the marksman with such exclamations as 
un beau garqon ; votrc fusil trcsbon, ivagh ! one Mexi- 
can he go ondarc too, parccque you put de ball tJi rough 
son tetc. Pauvrc Mexican ! 

The wagon contained one barrel of flour for pro- 
vision, but no meat. Wood was scarce ; with 
chunks from old camps around, we cooked. We sat 
by the coals, I talking to my Canadian friends of 



140 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



their trip to Santa Fe ; they to me of Indians. Our 
short clay pipes were again and again filled before 
retiring. Bransford and I slept together. With 
blankets and robes, in a depression of the ground, 
to keep off the wind, we made a snug bed. 

An hour before dayhght, I awoke, and raised my 
head from under the clothes (we always covered 
them, to keep off the winds), when a mass of snow 
filled the vacated pillow. Bransford, hearing me 
moving and talking to myself, told me with a grunt, 
to " be still." 

" But, the snow is all under my head, and I'm as 
uncomfortable as possible." 

" Ah boy ! you'd better mind what I say ; you get 
to fooling, and let the snow in on you, and you'll 
freeze. Take care old fellow," and off he dropped 
asleep. 

I interposed my right hand between my head and 
the snow, until it was benumbed ; then my cheek 
would be pillowed on the snow, until it was quite 
chilled. Lying on my right side, I dared not turn ; 
my left hand could not be raised, and in that 
awkward position, Bransford's tantalizing snores 
constantly recalled me to a sense of m}^ misfortune. 

Some little effort was required to throw off the 
clothing, when getting up, by reason of the accumu- 
lated snow. A warmer covering could not have 
been made, as it effectually excluded the chill winds 
sweeping the hill behind us. The men, with their 
feet, found the wood, and rekindled the fire. 

What a sight greeted our eyes, on rising ! The 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 141 



hills, ourselves, and saddles, were covered with the 
white drapery ; bitter cold winds penetrated our 
clothes, while far off to the northwest, the twin 
mountains — Las Cuvibrcs Espanolas — glittered with 
snow. The mules were starving ; for the scanty 
grass was hidden early in the night with the same 
frigid envelop which contributed not an atom to 
our personal comfort ; and they stood trembling 
over their picketpins, pricking their ears at any 
noise, without moving their heads. 

From the impossibility of journeying with any 
degree of warmth, and the fact of the total absence 
of wood at the next two camps, and the probability 
of more snow, it was decided by the leaders, that 
we should stay in camp — choosing the least of two 
evils. Succeeding an unpleasant day of freezing 
on one side of our bodies, and scorching on the 
other, with our eyes red, blinking and weeping, by 
reason of pungent wood smoke, we rolled in om' 
robes to get warm all over — a desideratum not at- 
tainable outside of them. We slept in the open air, 
the sky our canopy, as usual. Trouble and many 
inconveniences, both great and small, are invariably 
attendant on the exposed life we were leading; 
and though there were too man 5^ harsh ejacula- 
tions and expressive curses at the "ill luck," for 
true philosophers, yet, from the frequent occurrence 
of mishaps, we learned to endure them as pains 
inevitable. 

Here we have nothing but bread and coffee, 



/ 



142 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



which, in truth, is less nourishing and acceptable to 
us than meat alone. 

We were again on the road, the mules no better 
for. their stay. The pedestrians, comprising four- 
fifths of the company, had a laborious time walking 
through the snow, which, toward the middle of the 
day, melted, and rendered the ground slippery; but 
they, being Canadians, was a sufficient guaranty for 
their acting with the proper spirit. Unpleasant 
matters will sometimes end; and, following a te- 
dious day's tramp, we made camp on La Rio 
Timpa — a stream three or four feet in width, 
which, in pools and ripples, coursed along a tribu- 
tary to the great Mississippi. The Timpa rises in 
New Mexico, and is the beginning of a series of 
streams, whose names are much more euphonious 
than those in the American territor)'. 

Leaving the wagon on the bank, we descended to 
the margin of the rivulet, to be free from the wind. 
The greasewood, so called from the crackling, 
eager flame in burning, afforded the only fuel : 
for the creek has ever been sparsely wooded, and 
General Kearney's division, en route to Santa Fe, 
used the little that was left. The above mentioned 
bush, here, grows to the hight of four and five feet, 
starting from the ground in uniform wiry stems, 
which, by a quick, bending motion, can be broken. 
It makes a hot, sparkling, though short durating 
fire, and, to judge from the odor exhaled, contains a 
large proportion of resinous matter. The green 
bush burns as well as the dry, and is well de- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 143 



signed to supply the traveler with fuel. The team- 
sters and soldiers on the Fort Leavenworth and 
Santa Fe trail, are so improvident, that not many- 
years will pass, ere the tunber now standing will 
disappear. 

Unfortunately for our coffee, the waters of the 
Timpa were so impregnated with salt, as to be 
scarcely di'inkable, though not so brackish now as 
in dry weather. 

The fellows were strung close along with their 
blankets and robes, for sleeping ; our mules hob- 
bled, jumped among the grease-bushes, on the bluff 
above, for the sparse herbage, and by the expiring 
embers of the campfire sat Lajeunesse, without 
hat, which he never wore, or possessed, puffing the 
dear pipe thoughtfully. A queer genius was this 
same Lajeunesse. For years a voyageur, under- 
going between the Platte and Arkansas even more 
than the usual hardships, he now was settled in the 
quiet vale of Taos, with a wife ; but, like his brother 
Canadians, no better off in property than when a 
young man, he first came to the Far West. 

True to the mountaineer's characteristic, he was 
kind-hearted ; for, of seemingly unsociable disposi- 
tions, they are generous, even to a fault. The few- 
ness of their numbers, seems to create an inter- 
change of kindly feeling, and the more one learns 
the nature of the hardy frequenters of the Rocky 
Mountain hunting grounds, and beaver streams, 
the more will he be pleased. To judge by his 
frankness and reckless life, his sole aim appears 



144 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



to be freedom of person and speech in its fullest 
import. Considering his neighbor's "possibles" 
" on the prairie " with him — his own at their 
entire disposal; and, though coffee, sugar, tobacco, 
and other luxuries are high-priced, and often pur- 
chased with a whole seasoii's trapping, the " black 
water" is offered with genuine free-heartedness, 
and the last plug of tobacco subjected to the 
rapacious knife of the guest, as though it were 
plenty as the rocks around. 

In consonance, with the divine provision, the 
mountaineer deems it not good that he should be 
alone, and, a visit to the Mexican settlements, or a 
trading tour to the Indian lodges, often results in 
his returning a quiet, contented Benedict, with, 
perhaps, the village belle, to grace his solitary 
campfire, to mend his moccasins, or, to spread the 
warm robes in the least smoky spot — the lonely 
pair as devoted in theh- love and as tranquil in their' 
affection, in the midst of blood-thirsty enemies, 
howling wolves, and chilling snows, as in the saloons 
of a metropolis. 

The easy manners of the harum-scarum, reckless 
trappers in rendezvous, and the simple, unsuspecting 
hearts of these mountain nymphs, cause him to be 
ever jealous of the attentions bestowed on his wife; 
and, often serious difficulties arise, in the course of 
which, she receives a severe drubbing with the knot 
end of a lariat, or no very light lodgepoling, at the 
hands of her imperious sovereign. Sometimes, the 
affair ends in a more tragical way than a mere 



THE TAOS TRAtL. 145 



beating ; not unfrequently, the gay gallant pays the 
penalty of interference with his life. 

One instance, partaking of the spirit of chivalry^ 
was related to me by a witness. It was about two 
years before my visit, that, at the Puehlo (the moun- 
taineer settlement), a man suspected his squaw of 
cherishing greater affection for a handsome young 
fellow, than for himself, and jealousy once fairly 
possessing him, no difficulty was found in sending a 
challenge. It was accepted ; and, on the succeeding 
morning, the two mounted their horses, rifle in hand, 
and faced each other on the plain, two hundred 
yards apart. During the momentary pause before 
the signal to advance was given, the younger one 
(and the transgressor) watched, with unmoved fea- 
tures, the bright sun looming up through the prairie 
to the east, then directed his eyes to the cold, gray 
spur of the Wet Mountain above. He gave one 
thought to his friends, a calm smile to liis antago- 
nist, gathered the bridle rein more tightly, and 
moved forward at an easy gallop, sitting as lightly 
as though he was out for a buffalo hunt. The 
simultaneous discharges rang out in the clear 
morning air ; the wronged man turned in his sad- 
dle, to behold a riderless steed clattering wildly over 
the dry plain, and a puff" of wind uplifting the 
smoke, discovered, outstretched, the form of his 
opposer. 

We were off again on our way. The small hills 
were thickset with a heavy growth of" gi'easewood " 
and sage, whose leafless, dead-appearing stems, 
13 



146 WAH-TO-YAH ANf) 



protruding through the snow, gave a desolate, 
barren cast to the scenery. On our left were high 
bluffs, their tops crowned with stunted pine and 
cedar. The black-tailed deer, said to browse there, 
incited me to a trial for " meat ; " and, after much 
toiling, up and down indentations and around 
chasms, the summit was reached. Reining in the 
mule, with forefeet on the highest rock, I looked 
around. 

Far off to the north-east, was the well-known 
Pike's Peak, connected toward the south, by a low 
range, to the Wet Mountain, so famed for the game 
within its very shadow; and, still further to the 
south, the White Mountain, out-topping all ; and 
yet below it, the twin Wah-to-yah, one beyond the 
other, rising until the furthest floated as clouds, 
their white crests apparently touching the sky — the 
whole view including a stretch of one hundred and 
fifty miles. Fi*om my position to the nearest was 
ninety miles or more ; yet, such was the extreme pu- 
rity of the atmosphere, any one peak seemed attain- 
able by a few hours' ride. How simple, how im- 
posingly great are these distant works of Nature ! 

As the men (shortly after) pointed out the differ- 
ent spurs, they expatiated, more particularly, on the 
Wet Mountain, with its lovely savannas ; its cool 
springs and murmuring rills ; its shady bowers of 
fragrant cedar and sheltered spots of grass; its 
rocky retreats and tumbling brooks ; its grizzly 
bear and mountain sheep ; its silky beaver and 
black-tailed deer, with wide-spreading antlers ; its 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 147 



monster elk and fleet-footed antelope ; its luscious 
plums and refreshing grapes ; its juicy cherries, 
delightful currants, and other attractions, making it 
the hunter's paradise. Warming in their descrip- 
tions, Bransford and I, enamored with the joys of 
a hunter's life, made our plans for the coming 
summer. 

We obtained a view of the eflrilgent snow-piled 
Raton, at whose base our road runs. At noon, in 
came the hunters, with two antelopes, scaring, as 
they descended the precipitous hills back of camp, 
a band of "blacktail ;" who, clattering adown, with 
graceful motions, sped across the plain, ears and 
head erect. They are much larger than the com- 
mon deer, and the skin is preferred for dressing. 

The sight of the meat, slung across the hunters' 
saddles, gave avidity to our decidedly carnivorous 
appetites, as we had been two days without meat. 
The repast finished, and washed down with strong 
coffee, the officiating butcherknives were Aviped 
across our buckskins, with that deliberate languid 
air, which plainly proclaimed yam satis, 

Tom wanted some bullets — in lieu of a ladle he 
cut a shallow place in a stick of wood — a hunter's 
expedient — where, laying in the lead and piling on 
coals, it soon melted. 

Bransford's dog, whose fierce growls this night 
made me long recollect him, was of the Mexican- 
shepherd breed, somewhat larger than the Newfound- 
land, with white, coarse, and long hair. This dog 
bad often been seen around Bent's Fort, in com- 



148 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



pany with wolves, on the watch for ofFal and other 
refuse. The men wishing his skin, shot at him 
many times without effect. One morning early, the 
fort gates were opened, and the dog, cautiously 
passing the first portal,* entered the yard, and 
pulled at the bait of meat, starting with it for the 
prairie, but not before the gate was secured. The 
infuriated dog, far more strong and savage than 
the largest wolf, turned on his assailants ; who 
safely stood on the roof (which shelved toward the 
com'tyard on all sides), with lassos to noose him as 
he ran fi-om one side to the other. He gnawed and 
bit several riatas in two ; but, at last, entangling 
him, he was fastened with a heavy u"on chain, and 
secured in a bastion for two daj^s ; he continually 
making desperate, though ineffectual, efforts to 
break loose, which severe straining drove the blood 
to his not yet clear eyes. He resisted all attempts 
at friendship, with growls of decided anger, until 
the tliird morning, when Bransford, walking up, 
without show of fear, patted him on the head. He 
followed him every step, but allowed no one else to 
make fi'iendly advances. Bransford and I occupied 
the same bedding ; and, if I wanted to sleep first, 
he had to accompany me until safe between the 
blankets, for the faithful guardian always asserted 
his right to coil himself on Bransford's property, and 
growl at those who approached. His warm body 
was quite an acquisition to the comfort of our feet. 

♦Portal. In the raomitaius, tlie accent is on the last syllable, por^rt;/. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 149 



The wind rose at dark, driving the most of us 
down by the water's edge ; where, sheltered by the 
high banks, we talked and smoked. The Canadians 
were above us, chattering in their usual glib style, 
when a sound like distant thunder filled the air. 
Down they rushed, all talking at once. We knew 
that it could not be thunder at this time of year, 
and the conclusion at which we soon arrived was, 
that a battle was taking place in Taos.* Although 
it is a long distance there by the road, and a lofty 
mountain intervenes, it is not more than thirty-five 
or forty miles in a direct line. It was a hazardous 
trip for us to venture so far in the Mexican terri- 
tory, Avith no knowledge of affairs at Santa Fe and 
elsewhere, except those of an alarming nature ; and 
we knew too well the carelessness and paucity of 
the American soldiery. We felt the Mexicans to 
be an injured people, possessed of vindictive tem- 
pers, who would, with a prospect of success, and 
under the guidance of brave leaders, revolt and 
fight well. 

We were apprehensive that a Mexican force had 
overpowered the Americans, at the Purgatoire (a 
day's ride in advance), and was on its way to Bent's 
Fort. Our position was anything but enviable. 
Maxwell, Le Fevre, Lajeunesse, and Tom, were 
cast down, with thought of their families, who might, 
at that moment, be subject to the lawlessness of the 



♦That evening Colonel Price commenced the attack ou the Pueblo 
de Taos, 

13* 



150 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



infuriated populace. It was a gloomy night to those 
who, in anxious wakefulness, passed the long, dark 
houi-s till morning. 

On awaking, oui' spirits revived \\ith the ap- 
pearance of the happy sun ; and, being thawed 
enough to raise a laugh and smoke a pipe good- 
humoredly, we hitched up and rolled over the prai- 
rie in earnest haste. 

Now, although at night all the extra clothing was 
required, as protection from the piercing winds, yet, 
toward noon, the heat was quite uncomfortable, and 
we encamped, after a long and warm drive, through 
a barren waste, save an occasional stalk of cactus, 
and scattering plants of the pamilla, from under 
whose sickly-green leaves, loped, awkwardly, large 
gray hares. We stayed in camp, without water, 
for the oxen to rest ; and, while waiting, with thirsty 
impatience, in the shade of the wagon, we saw ad- 
vancing from the direction of the Raton, an object, 
which was immediately pronounced a grisly bear. 
At the startling announcement, every man arose 
quickly to his feet, gun in hand, to encounter the 
unwelcome visitor. But the bear proved to be a 
worn down ox with U. S. stamped, in seared letters, 
on the left foreshoulder. The beast, though not 
grisly by nature, was grizzly with age and hard 
work; his sharp bones nearly protruding through 
the lifeless-looking skin. He was, no doubt, journey- 
ing the prairie trail, on home intent, to the land of 
fodder and tall grass — the Platte purchase, in Mis- 
souri ; and how the poor thing came this far without 



THE TAOS TRAIL.. 151 



being hamstrung by rapacious wolves, is a wonder. 
We, with selfinterest at heart, detained the home- 
sick youth, and that afternoon, drove him, with 
many a harsh " sacre," and " wo ha-a," along the 
same road he had just languidly traversed ; this 
time, with his head bowed in submission to the 
galling yoke of servitude, no more to see his land 
of promise but in dreams, while chewing the cud of 
hunger and disappointment. 

Toward evening, we came to a caiion,* or in- 
closed creek, with bluffs, forty, fifty, and even 
eighty or more feet in hight. A diminutive stream- 
let trickled along the uneven bottom ; in places 
disappearing, to reappear after a dark passage 
under the flat stones, and to find its way, with nu- 
merous tiny accessions, to the brackish Timpa, 
thereby constituting the headwaters of that insig- 
nificant sti-eam. 

A camp, known as the "Hole in the Rock" — so 
called from the pools of water in the dry channel — 
was our restingplace for the night; the huge, de- 
tached masses lying around, the thick groves of 
cedar, and the shelving ground, formed a good stop- 
pingplace, but in our present state of insecurity, 
somewhat undesirable. We fixed ourselves accord- 
ing to fancy, built cheerful fires, drank plenty of the 
mean water, eat considerable of the slim stock of 
poor provision, and smoked frequently, conjuring 



♦Pronounced Kanyon — ■ a Mexican word, signifying a tube, or hollow, 
ravine, etc. 



152 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



up, in the wreaths of strong smoke, as they as- 
cended, shapes both blessed and au contraire. 

The fires grew low ; all were in bed but poor 
Maxwell and Lajeunesse, both too uneasy to sleep 
for thought of their homes, when we were startled 
by the bark of dogs and the almost simultaneous 
rush of Bransford's hound from my feet. What a 
thrill dashed through me ! The men sprang to their 
feet, and ran from the fire in every direction, and I, 
following suit, cached myself behind a large stone, 
with ready rifle. Every one was in the bushes, 
ready for the attack, in a moment from the time 
the dog barked, though not a shout of warning was 
heard from any of us. We reconnoitered, now with 
faces flat to the ground, to listen for footsteps, now 
dashing through the bushes. After a quarter of an 
hour, we ventured to return. Guards were set and 
continued through the night. What a train of new 
thought does an affair like this bring ! The anxious 
state of suspense, the strain of the eyes in the en- 
deavor to penetrate the Cimmerian darkness, the 
dodging behind rocks and trees, and the stealthy 
crawl of the older Indian fighters, combined to work 
up to a greater tensity, our already high-strung 
feelings. 

The following morn, ere the mists were fairly dis- 
persed, we were again in our hard saddles, trotting 
down the little hills, and walking up the elevations, 
in the same old way. A new variety of cactus ap- 
peared; round stems covered with innumerable 
sharp spines, being the peculiarity. When dead, 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 153 



the spines can be broken, and the main stem used 
barely to boil a cup of coffee, or cook a piece of an- 
telope meat, for the heat is but of short duration. 
The pamilla here dots the plain, its bayonet-like 
leaves diverging from the center, as rays ; and 
looming up in the ever-distant and receding mi- 
rage, in increased proportions, was often supposed 
to be a deer, or horse, until a change of position 
dispelled the idea. We came in sight of the groves 
of dead cottonwoods, on the Purgatoire, by noon ; 
and, diverging to the right of the trail, took a short 
cut for the camp of United States teamsters, whom 
we expected to find in a bend of the stream. The 
animals sank up to the fetlocks in the loamy bottom 
soil, and stumbled more than once in the numerous 
gopher burrows, or shyed around the prairie-dog 
hillocks, and continually pricked their ears at the 
lively chirpings of the well-fed inhabitants. 

Las Cumbres Espanolas were now to our right, 
but a few short hours' ride distant ; to our left, was 
the long descried Raton Peak, which, though smaller, 
from its proximity, seemed more towering than its 
superior on the opposite side of the valley — the 
Spanish Peaks. We traced with the eye, the sin- 
uosities of the Purgatoire, by the cottonwoods on 
the margins, with abrupt cliffs, and alternate prairie, 
far up to the mountain gap, whence it emerged. 
Manuel Le Fevre pointed to us the route, which he, 
with a party of Ciboleros — buffalo hunters — years 
ago, came from El valle de Taos, on the search for 
buffalo. He spoke of the deep snows in which they 



154 WAH-TO-YAH AND 

ran the noble animal, with lance and bow, and of 
going up in the neighborhood of the " Peaks," where 
they found great numbers, killing enough in two 
days, to load their large train of packmules. 
In one race, he lanced three, and two of the cibole- 
ros, five apiece. 

The fine hunting grounds, and the pleasures of 
the chase, he dwelt upon with commendable fervor. 
"Mais sacre," said he complainingly, with a sup- 
pressed heave of the breast, "les American, dey go 
to de Missouri frontier, de buff'alo he ron to de mon- 
taigne ; de trappare wid his dam fusil, he follow to 
de Bay on Salade, he ron again. Dans les Mon- 
taignes Espagnol, bang, bang ! toute la journee ! 
toute la journee ! gode sacre voleurs. De bison he 
leave, parceque des fusils scare im vara moche — ici, 
la, all de sem — sacre!" — and while telling it, he 
worked himself in a great heat, as if the prairie and 
mountain peaks were made exclusively for French- 
men and Ciboleros, through which to chase bufialo 
in yelling barbarity forever. 

We found the United States teamsters encamped 
on an elevation above the creek, strongly fortified 
with wagons, placed in the form of a hollow square, 
and a ditch and breastwork dug on the inside, be- 
hind which to fight. A few volunteer soldiers, who 
fled from the ranch at the same time Bent's em- 
ployees left, were here encamped; they and the 
teamsters faring well on government rations, of 
which there were fifty or more wagonloads, and 
doing nothing but herding their oxen, in momentary 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 155 



expectation of a Mexican army to come sweeping 
down the mountain, and, amid the blasts of trum- 
pets, and the roar of escopets, take them unwilling- 
prisoners to the mountains beyond El Rio Grande 
del Norte. 

We made camp in a small grove of dead cotton- 
woods, sheltered in the rear by a gentle hill, and 
surrounded by long bottom grass. We were as far 
from the teamsters as safety dictated, for the never- 
satisfied inquisitiveness of the government men 
was unbearable. Some soldiers of Captain Fis- 
cher's artillery company were here. They, too, left 
the ranch, driving with them large droves of horses 
and cattle, belonging to the United States and 
Bent, St. Vrain & Co. When we claimed the 
company's (B. & St. V.'s) animals, they murmured 
and disputed much, in which the teamsters sided 
with them. They endeavored to secrete the most 
valuable in a distant valley; but, through our 
vigilance, they were found and brought back to 
camp. Hard words were uttered, and anger engen- 
dered on both sides. Not a few of our men were 
" for open war." Numerous were the curses show- 
ered on the " Neds,"* by the mountain men of our 
party ; and, still more frequent, the " sacres," " co- 
chons," "enfans des garces," etc., hissed between 
the voluble lips of the Canadians, for their hatred 



* Among many farmers, pork is familiarly called " Ned," and as 
pork forms a principal portion of the government rations, tte United 
States employees were so termed, by the mountain men, in derision, 



156 WAH-tO-VAH ANb 



was of the deepest dye toward these unfortunate 
wights, so far from the " land o' corndodgers " — 
Missouri. 

On the 11th, a fall of snow covered the ground a 
few inches in depth. Toward night our party was 
increased by the arrival of Sublette, an old co7n- 
panero, accompanied by Bill Garmon and Fred 
Smith, both clever fellows. They had ventured 
from the States, with the United States express, this 
inclement season of the year, bringing with them 
the news that General Wool had been ordered to 
join General Taylor, and that forty thousand men 
were enrolled for Mexico. 

We now felt badly indeed — Donaphan's regi- 
ment was in Chiahuahua, with no force to support 
it, and its certain defeat would give the Santa 
Feans additional courage. A month had passed 
since Governor Bent was murdered, several ex- 
presses had been sent from this side into New 
Mexico, but none had returned. Our position, more 
than a hundred miles in the Mexican territory, was 
unsafe. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 157 



CHAPTER XL 



EL RIO VERMEJO 



All were busied through the day in catching 
mules from the caballada, for a start toward the 
Valley of Taos ; though the snow, on the mountain 
above, was forbidding. On the 13th of February, 
the younger portion of our company, mounted on 
mules, with a few pack animals, left La Barge 
and two more in camp with the wagon, to fol- 
low on the receipt of orders from Bransford. We 
bade a gay farewell to the Purgatoire encamp- 
ment, and, leaping the narrow stream and spurring 
the rejuvenated mules, gained the old trail ; when, 
after a series of hill and dale, we turned to the left 
and commenced the ascent of the Raton Pass ! 

The route was up a steep valley, inclosed, on 
either side, by abrupt hills covered with pine and 
masses of gray rock ; our com'se now along the 
points of hills, now in the rough, stony bed of 
the creek itself. The sparkhng, flitting waters, 
leaping and foaming against the mules' feet, 
now gliding under large flat stones, and now 
reappearing, bounding impetuously down the une- 
ven flinty bed, mingled itself with the pure stream 
La Purgatoire, hundreds of feet below. As we 
ascended, the scenery partook of a bolder, rougher 
14 



158 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



cast. Sudden turns, in the intricate windings, 
gave views of the great valley below. 

Toward foui' o'clock we, fatigued with the inces- 
sant chmbing, spurring, and walking, came to a 
valley gently sloping to the summit of the pass on 
the west, and rising on the east immediately by a 
continued succession of acclivities and terraces to 
the bare cliff, wliich, overlooking the country for 
leagues around, is known and designated as the 
Raton Peak — a familiar landmark to the trappers 
and traders. 

The packs were deposited on the ground, and the 
mules, with trailing lariats, quietly continued, single 
file, further up the nook ; where, gradually diverging 
on the wayside to crop a stray bunch of grass, they 
busied themselves in feeding. 

Dry sticks were gathered, water was brought, and 
so far on the " community system," with provision 
and work in common, we progressed to our utmost 
satisfaction. A lookout was placed a hundred feet 
above, to notice the approach of friend or foe. 

After eating, Bransford, Maxwell, and I took our 
guns to relieve the guard. The side of the moun- 
tain from which we kept watch, dechned toward the 
western horizon ; as we lazily laid on the crispy, 
brown grass, sheltered from the cold winds, the 
waning sun shed its warm rays upon us, and per- 
vaded the air with a subdued mellow luster. White 
fleecy clouds, tinged with rosy hues, flew across the 
view, and between the etherial mottling was seen the 
placid blue. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 159 



Below, beyond the low range of mountain, was 
the valley — Rio las Animas or River of Souls — and 
to the further extremity of the great depression, up- 
rose the peerless snow-wreathed twin peaks Las 
Cumbres Espanolas, the first of the Sierra Blanca, 
guardian spirit-like, keeping constant vigils over 
the western plains; watchers of the fierce Indian 
skirmishes 'neath their shades ; quiet lookers-on 
of the army which a short time before passed this 
point ; and, by mere force of simple grandeur, 
inspiring a sentiment of friendship and protection 
in the breast of the lonely trapper, who, in mo- 
mentary danger of losing his scalp, builds his little 
fire, cooks his meat, and smokes his pleasant 
tobacco, not without first offering, to the towering 
crests, the mouth of his pipe, and the freely given 
homage of the first and most honorable whiff'. 

This is the acme of life. With fat, sleek mules, 
plenty* of provision and tobacco, the undtsturbed 
possession of our scalps in doubt, we traveled and 
camped, always on the alert and ready for any 
emergency, caring little for foe, nor keeping guard ; 
for a mountain man is supposed to always have his 
ear open to impending danger. In the present 
case, however, we had a guard, for the purpose of 
intercepting the express from Santa Fe, which we 
might reasonably expect. 

After coffee, the mules received their packs, the 
riding animals ready saddled, stood while the 

*How full of import is the word " plenty ! " 



160 WAH-TO-YAH AND 

owners, with lariat ends in their hands and the rifle 
held between the legs, raked out coals from the 
smoldering- fire to light a pipe preparatory to 
starting. 

The summit of the ridge was reached after an 
hour's toil ; and, stopping a moment for the fatigued 
animals to blow, we rapidly descended. The im- 
mense precipices of bare rock and earth ; the confu- 
sion in which nature seemed involved, caused all to 
remark the forbidding aspect on the Canadiano side 
of the summit. At some steep hills, near the pass 
terminus, we picked our way over a road, which, 
in verity, might be termed rough. Pine trees 
interfered with the free use of the whip ; large rocks 
obtruded their rude fronts in the tortuous road ; one 
" wo ha-a" too many, or a " gee" too few, here, en- 
dangers the safety of the unwieldy teams and bur- 
dens. The debris of wagons, such as felloes, loose 
tire, and tongues snapped short off, shewed unmis- 
takable signs of mismanagement, and told plainly 
that " government " was a loser in the Raton Pass. 

Once more on the plain, rapid travel gave place 
to the late tiresome mule wriggling; and, at noon, 
the saddles were pulled off the warm and thirsty 
animals under a cottonwood, on the banks of El Rio 
Canadiano, at this point a glassy, snow-fed stream- 
let, fifteen feet in width. 

On crossing the stream, MaxAvell, who had here- 
tofore stayed with the crowd, kept some distance in 
advance, as scout. We were strung carelessly 
along, when he, jerking his mule around quickly, 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 161 



spurred her in a gallop, and diverged from the route, 
at the same time motioning to us to ride a la Ca- 
manche — with our bodies so that nothing is seen on 
the opposite side, but part of the leg with which, 
and the heel of the same, we held on to the saddle 
can tie. There was no hill, but the gradual rise of 
the ground served to conceal any object approach- 
ing from the other side. We were quite excited, 
thundering along at full speed, able to sweep the 
ground with the free hand, our rifles ready to jerk 
up to the face, not knowing whether the run was 
from Mexicans, or a band of Utahs, or Apaches, 
or whether we were trying to surprise a party our- 
selves. But, too well versed were we in Indian 
warfare, through practice or hearsay, to question at 
such a time, or to utter any noise, except, indeed, 
a Canadian's impatient sacre diable to his shying 
mule, or a smothered curse from a less conscien- 
tious American. 

On making the rise, we espied a man unconscious 
of our proximity, going at half speed on one horse, 
and leading another ; but so soon as he caught a 
glimpse of the foremost hat, away he lashed his 
animals in a full run. With wild yells, we 
straightened in the saddles, and, with the report of 
two or three fusils, in the hands of as many half- 
frantic Frenchmen, we charged after him, endeav- 
oring to escape ; but seeing that it would be of no 
use, he fired his gun in air, in token of submission, 
and rode slowly toward us. It was Haw-he, an 
Indian, belonging to George Bent, now on his way 
14* 



162 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



to the fort, with the joyful news, that Col. Price had 
marched into Taos, at the head of two hundred and 
fifty men, and, in battle, had killed two hundred 
Mexicans and Indians, and had bombarded and 
knocked down the Indian walled town of the Pue- 
blos de Taos. On mentioning that Mr. St. Vrain 
commanded a company which did considerable ser- 
vice, cheers of exultation burst from us again and 
again. The " Moro," another town, was razed to 
the ground, and several thousand dollars worth of 
grain burnt. The Mexicans fled to the mountains, 
but being pui'sued, several prisoners were taken. 

As Haw-he spoke American, in broken sentences 
only, our information was gained through the ser- 
vices of om' Taos companions. 

Said he, " I see you come on de cavallos, and de 
mulas poco tempo* — me tink you los ' Utes,' cara- 
ho ! — me hair gone — me rubbed out,f but quien 
sabe el cavallo Colorado esta bueno,J me be off 
prento ; you fire de carabine, den / fire — me no 
want nada." Maxwell knew from experience, that 
no prairie traverser will permit a body of men to 
approach him, for fear of undergoing the painful 
scalping operation. By surprising this man, we 
would be sure of him. Bransford hastily writing a 
few words to our men at the Purgatoire, to come 
on, sent Haw-he on liis way. 

*" Cavallos poco tempo " — horses and mules coming fast, 
t" Rubbed out " — killed ; " rubbed out " of existence. 
%"■ Quien sabe el cavaUo Colorado esta bueno — who knows but that 
my red horse is good and fast. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 163 



The animals were watered at dark, and, pushing 
on, we stopped at a hill, amid groves of pinon. In 
honor of the late victories, we made a blazing pine 
fire, which cast a strong light for miles around. 
Heretofore, we had been careful, having but small 
fires, sufficient only for cooking; though now there 
was as much danger as ever from the marauding 
bands of Mexicans and Pueblos in the mountains 
near. The most gratifying result of the intelligence 
was, the satisfaction to our Taos friends, to learn the 
safety of their familes. 

Without breakfast, or other solace, we saddled 
our mules for the Vermaho (Vermejo) ranch, one 
of Bent, St. Vrain &■ Go's herding establishments. 
In an hour's ride, a hill, rocky and sterile, save a 
few stunted pines, presented itself, which overlooked 
a valley a mile in width, devoid of trees or bushes, 
and carpeted with brown "bunch" or "grama" 
grass. On either side of the dale, rose mountains 
precipitous and rugged, presenting a wilderness of 
verdure ; to the north, a high spur jutting out in the 
vale, and tapering to a well-defined point, clad and 
shaded by the everlasting pine, stood in softened 
relief; the narrow nooks on either side, were dark 
and cool with the somber shades of the forest above, 
and around, and toward the further extremities of 
which, herds of sleek, fat, bright-spotted cattle, ran 
bellowing on our near approach. 

In a recess of the mountain, completely sheltered 
from the chill winds, and at a sufficient elevation to 
command a view of the animated plain below, was 



164 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



the site of the randw. As few persons, probably, out 
of Mexico, understand but vaguely its definition, a 
description will be essayed. First, an eligible site 
for wood, water, shelter from the winds, and a full 
view of the herds, is chosen ; then the adjacent as- 
pen, or pinyon* groves, furnish two forked poles, 
which are generally driven upright into the ground, 
as far apart as occasion requires, with four feet 
or about, visible. A pole is then laid from one 
fork to the other, and other small ones, seven or 
eight feet in length laid, the smaller ends on the 
cross pole, the butts resting on the ground. On top 
of these, are spread raw hides of beef, and the skins 
of game, and under the frame, the soft ends of the 
pinyon and cedar branches, are spread to the 
depth of a foot or more. On top of that, deerskins 
are laid, and then the bedding surmounts that, 
which, altogether, makes a springy mattrass, equal 
to the best " hair," or " moss." In front, is the bla- 
zing pine fire, and at one side, a small stick driven 
in the ground, an inch or two of the branches re- 
maining, on which the tin cups are hung when not 
in use. A short distance beyond, is a pen of logs 
and brush, in which the caballada is driven, when 
an animal is wanted. 

This constitutes a New Mexican rancho, where 
the herdsmen of the poorer class stay, far remote 
from their homes, living for months on atole (thin 



*" Pinyon." I have preferred writing these words as they are pro- 
uonnced. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 165 



mush of unbolted floui"), or, perchance, a deer, or 
antelope, which they have been fortunate enough 
to kill, and performing severe and dangerous duty : 
exposed to the rains, the winds, the sleets and 
snows ; liable at all times, whether in the gray of 
morning, or the shades of evening ; the bright glare 
of noonday, or the dark hours of the howling night- 
tempest, to the incursions of the numerous, fierce, 
savage tribes, whose visits from the Mexican moun- 
tain glens, are the immediate precursors of blood- 
shed and death. These perils do they endure, al- 
ways in thought, and too often in deed, for a small 
compensation, ranging from four to eight dollars 
per month, frequently payable in dry goods, and 
other imported articles, at exhorbitant prices. 

The rancheros generally have no firearms ; but, 
in lieu, a bow and quiver of arrows. With saddle, 
lasso, hojas and ■ponche — shucks and tobacco — they 
seem content to lead this desultory fife. They afe 
always in the saddle, and a ranchero has the rare 
faculty of making the unhappy quadruped he 
besti'ides, if there is the least life in it, answer his 
purpose, by means of mm*derous spurs, the rowels 
of some of which measure five inches in diameter. 

Manuel Le Fevre, Maxwell, and Tom, left for 
Taos. The rest made camp by the ashes of the 
old ranchfire ; and, shortly after, the band of cattle 
which had been driven up, startled with the report 
of one of our rifles, ran to the mountain again, 
leaving one of their number sti"etched on the ground. 
With the aid of a half a dozen scalpknives, its skin 



166 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



was stretched on a poleframe, the meat hung on a 
pinyontree near, and ere the warmth of vitaUtyhad 
passed away, sundry pieces of tenderloin and fat 
links of boudin, hastily browned by the quick pine 
blaze, had ghded down the " grease-hungry " throats 
of the independent party at the Vermaho ranch. 

The following morning, Bransford started, with 
two men, for the Poinel ranch (also one of Bent, 
St. Vrain & Go's.), three or four hours' ride distant. I 
accompanied them. Each one tied a piece of beef 
to the saddlestrings, for our only provision. Our 
coui'se lay along the foot of the mountain ; every step, 
in crossing from one point to another, disclosed quiet, 
lovely vales, on whose grassy undulations reclined 
herds of clean, well-fed cattle, and droves of dusky- 
colored, gamboling deer and antelope ; who, on our 
approach, started forward, and with graceful bounds 
retreated into the fastnesses of the almost impassa- 
ble barriers of rock in the background. 

A large bird, soaring from its eyry in the crag far 
above, denoted the name of the great depression — 
the Eagle Park. The low, level prairie, with its 
salt marshes, and solitary stalking game, stretched 
far away to the south-east, its monotony somewhat 
relieved by the mirage into which it merged. In 
the direction we were traveling, the Senegee Moun- 
tain rose before us, snow-clad, and overshadowed 
with a drapery of mist ; and, from its side, a long 
line of smoke, from a signal fire, trailed up- 
ward reminding us of the Apache — no reliable 
friend to the American. Turning in our saddles. 



THE tAos trail. 167 



we beheld the Raton Peak, and many minor ones 
to the southward, heaped with gathering snow. 

We crossed the Cimarone, a rushing, limpid 
stream, issuing from the yawning mountain gorge, 
foaming and tumbling over the rocky channel, and 
imparting additional cheerfulness to our already 
lively spirits ; for the Indian boy (Haw-he) had told 
us much to quiet om* fears. Another half hour 
brought us to the Poinel Creek, where we found a 
caballada of mules and horses, bearing the brand of 
B., St. V. & Co., and that of " U. S." A mounted 
ranchero, on guard, at first afraid, but finding who 
we were, directed us down the creek a half mile, 
to a party of five more, all sent from Taos by Senor 
San Bran (St. Vrain) to herd the flocks, etc. The 
Majordomo* was an intelligent looking Mexican, 
in a blue roundabout, leather pantaloons, and 
peaked oil-cloth hat. Between the thumb and 
forefinger of his right hand, was held the univer- 
sal accompaniment of this olive-complected race 
— the shuck cigarillo. All were extremely polite 
through habit and through fear, as Colonel Price 
had given them quite a fright. To our inquiries, 
theu' answers were invariably ended with senor, si 
senor — " su', yes sir." 

With a portion of their unbolted flour, for " atole," 
and our beef, we made an excellent dinner. After 
a shuck, and some horridly pronounced Spanish 

♦Majordomo, pronounced Myordomo, 



i.68 WAH-TO-YAH AND 

with the rancheros, we remounted for a grand cattle 
hunt. By night the small drove was augmented to 
hundreds. 

Shortly following the sunrise next morning, we, 
with many a "heh-hep-ya" urged the scattered 
drove, in a walk, down the Poinel, where it debouched 
into the Cimarone . A band of deer, roused from their 
lair in the long grass at the junction, gave oppor- 
tunity for a flying, though unsuccessful shot. A 
mile below the mouth, we camped in a sandy, weed- 
grown bottom, near the wagons, which had been 
left in the flight, by Frank De Lisle. They were 
much injured by the rapacious Guerillas in obtain- 
ing the iron rods. 

" Friendly relations " and a perfect understand- 
ing having been established between the Rancher- 
hosses (as one of the men facetiously called them) 
and us, Bransford sent our two men back to the Ver- 
maho, for the main party and all the cattle ; he and 
I stayed with the Mexicans, to pass the. three most 
miserable days yet recorded. Our meat gave out 
during the first twenty-four hours, leaving us depen- 
dent on atole for sustenance. The camp was in a 
sandy spot ; fitful gusts --of wind spent their petty 
fury against our shrinking bodies, filling our eyes, 
noses, and hair with the gritty particles, and a light 
fall of snow made the ground and air uncomforta- 
ble and chill. 

My worthy fellow sufferer had a wiry, whitish- 
red beard. As we sat by the few sticks, once on 



THiE TAOS TRAIL. 169 



fire, but now smoking and blown out by the strong 
wind, hungry and disgusted with the flourmush, 
eyes red, and weeping with the smoke and sand, 
he would despondingly raise his rueful face from 
his knees, on which it rested, twice as long as 
usual. Once, after a protracted, dreary silence, 
he lifted his drooping head, tantalized by the ele- 
ments, and, in a tone of vexation, exclaimed — 

" Oh, darn the country anyhow ! do rCt you wish 
you were in the Planter's House ? " and then we 
talked of the table, the pleasant streets, and the 
ladies ; on contrasting those momentary hallu- 
cinations with our wretched condition, we were 
indeed unhappy. 

One of the Mexicans — a dreamy looking fellow 
of twenty-two or three years of age — sang in a 
low, dulcet tone, in his own harmonious, flexible 
language, melodies of a plaintive, yet pleasing 
character; indicating by the expression of his 
countenance, the sentiment of the song. Sitting 
by the dim blaze of our campfire, enveloped in 
the sarape, and uttering the strange words, his 
costume and complexion, together with our situ- 
ation in the wild mountain, impressed me with a 
vagrant fancy, that he was a Spanish exile, be- 
wailing the decay of his country's glory, and his 
own bereavement of friends and home. 

Sometimes, when the weather was mild, and 
the trees and grass enlivened by joyous sunlight, 
we could see, up in the mountains, snowstorms 
15 



170 WAH-T0-1fAH ANfJ 



raging furiously ; and often, while the snow was 
beating mercilessly on our unprotected selves, 
the bright sun gilded the snow-clad peaks, as if 
in mockery of we poor mortals on the Cimarone. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 171 



CHAPTER XII. 

EL RAKCHO- 

The men from the Vermaho, joined us on the 
fourth day, and Loiiy Simonds, the indefatigable, 
to our supreme deUght, suppUed us with antelope 
meat. The baggage party arrived from the Purga- 
toire (the 9th), and all changed their habiliments for 
something cleaner, with the exception of myself and 
two others, who left Bent's Fort, with no clothing 
but that on us — not even a spare shirt. Though 
my garments were, in all likelihood, soiled, after 
such a length of time, il est tout le meme chose, here. 
In this country of hardships, dress is of small impor- 
tance ; and although the mind is not concentrated 
on the lore of the past and present generations, it 
is not the less employed ; as the voyageur has to 
know locations ; ascertain, by almost imperceptible 
^' signs," the presence of friend and foe ; exercise skill 
in approaching game, and, when so unfortunate as 
to lose his animals, to resort to some expedient 
suitable to his emergency. Here, where the mind 
is stretched to its utmost tension, by reason of the 
continually impending dangers of starvation, thirst, 
or the wary Camanche, Arapaho, Digger or Apache, 
his perceptive faculties are quickened, his judgment 



172 WAH-TO-YAH AND 

brought into constant use, and his courage daily 
tested. 

On the 4th of March, all were busied in making 
a large coral, in which to drive the stock, so as to 
count and send a report to Colonel Price, com- 
manding the army at Santa Fe. Before the insur- 
rection, one thousand head of beeves for the gov- 
ernment forces, several hundred yoke of oxen, and 
four hundi-ed and more horses and mules, bearing 
the United States brand, which, with a considera- 
ble number of each kind belonging to Bent, St. 
Vrain & Co., were here herded, by their employees, 
with the aid of a few soldiers. When the Mexicans 
rose in arms, and killed the Governor, a party of 
guerrillas was sent to this ranch, over the moun- 
tain, from the valley of Taos, the greater portion of 
the animals driven away, and the remaining scat- 
tered in all directions. The wagons were aban- 
doned ; the soldiers and employees fled toward the 
Arkansas, and everything within the influence, was 
involved in seemingly inextricable confusion. The 
Mexicans, however, were defeated ; our hardy little 
spy party reached the Poinel and Cimarone, charged 
among the hills and valleys for cattle and horses, 
and soon order reigned on the east side of the Taos 
mountain. 

. We drove the congregated herds in the coral," and 
Bransford and myself, on blank pages of my journal 
book, and with bullets hammered out and sharp- 
ened for pencils (for I had lost the pencil procm*ed 
at the fort), noted the different brands, and the 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 173 



number, as the cattle were permitted slowly to walk 
out. We now stopped our depredations on Uncle 
Sam's flocks, with the prospect of lean deer and 
antelope, which meats, though palatable with the 
usual accompaniments of a well-conducted cuisine, 
were not so good, when cooked by an open fire, in a 
sandy country, with nothing but its own scanty 
gravy, and no salt. 

We had true March weather; spitting, fuming, 
flirting, blowing, snowing, raining continually. We 
were so encompassed by mountains, that the wind 
came from no particular quarter any length of time. 
Several of the energetic made a half-face tent of a 
wagon sheet. To protect us from the wind, we 
shifted it three times during the day — no small af- 
fair — and, after dark, changed again. On arran- 
ging our robes comfortably within, a snowstorm in 
ungovernable rage burst directly in the mouth. 
This was too much for the men to bear patiently, 
and, with curses ranging from the lowest to the 
highest in the scale of force and acrimony, with the 
commingled, never-ending, ever-present* " sacre," 
we hung blankets in front, which, in some measure, 
warded the unwelcome tempest from our beds. It 
was really amusing to listen to the Frenchmen 
swearing in their vernacular. For a while, diables, 
virgins, sacres, etc., would roll out with the facility 
of voluble tongues, until, becoming quite excited, 
the more expressive and inelegant American oath 
would follow with all imaginable vehemence, and 
accompanying gesticulation. 
15* 



174 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



A short distance from us, was the shanty of the 
Canadians (for ours could not contain the whole 
party), pitched rightly, and its inmates snugly en- 
sconsed within ; some reclining ; a few cross-legged, 
with the pipe; others singing and talking away, full 
of life, merriment, and fat beef! What happy tem- 
peraments these fellows possess — rather too vola- 
tile, and easily depressed, but like confined watch- 
springs, they regain the former elasticity of spirits 
with the least freedom. My friend, Petout (the one 
who procured the water for me the thirsty night, on 
the route out), was here among the rest, as kind 
and polite as ever, which, I trust, was, in some 
measm'e, reciprocated. 

From Pablo, one of the Mexicans, whom we re- 
tained (the others were sent home), I pm-chased por 
un rial — for twelve and a half cents — the skin of 
a wildcat, which he, the day before, saw an eagle 
pounce upon. By dint of running, and shouts, he 
made him drop it. 

In an excursion one day, for ducks, on the Cima- 
rone, a few miles below camp, while lying in ex- 
pectation for a flock to come floating with the 
current, my attention was drawn to the musical 
sound of gently falling water, which proved to be 
the stream running over a beaverdam. After a 
shot at the handsomely plumaged mallards, I 
examined this specimen of animal ingenuity and 
skill, which extended from one bank to the other. 
The sticks composing it, from one to two inches in 
diameter, were laid parallel to the stream, and the 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 175 



interstices filled with mud and leaves. With teeth 
for saw and ax, and tails for hod and trowel, these 
enterprising creatures accomplish much for their 
own safety and convenience. 

We were one evening lounging in camp, when 
an eagle, soaring with graceful gyratory motions, 
which " grew small by degrees and beautifully 
less," settled with a proud flap of his wings on 
the topmost branch of a dead cottonwood, and in 
self-conscious majesty, viewed the setting sun, whose 
rays clad the trees, and hills around, with golden 
hues. Ad interim, I was cautiously approaching 
under cover of large trees and bushes, and, when 
ready, with steady aim, I pulled trigger. " What a 
vandal am I," rose in my mind, as the report rang 
out sharply ; but the ball, speeding its aerial flight 
without harm, the magnificent " baldhead," unfolded 
his wings slowly, as if to retire, at least, with dig- 
nity, darted upward, and with a wild scream disap- 
peared. 

Charley McCarty and brother, " Ike," Santa Fe 
traders, arrived in advance of their main train, with 
an assorted load of commodities, such as alcohol, 
tobacco, etc., in hopes of "striking" advantageous 
trades with our comfort-bereft party ; and, a few 
mornings following, camp was enlivened by the 
sight of Hatcher's comical phiz. He had been ab- 
sent during the winter, with George Bent and com- 
pany, in the interior of Mexico, on a mule-trading 
expedition with the Utah and Porno tribes, who 
levy heavy contributions on the Mexican cabal- 



176 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



ladas. These they trade to the whites. Hatcher 
had an inexhaustable fund of anecdote and humor, 
which kept his campcircle in a continual roar, and 
which rendered him always a valuable acquisition 
to any party. He was about the cleverest fellow I 
met; always cheerful, ready to hunt and do his 
duty ; a good temper, with an occasional dash of 
impatience, quickly relieved, however, by a well de- 
livered, hearty, though harsh exclamation ; and an 
unerring shot. With a short " dudeen " in his mouth, 
he would sit cross-legged by the warm coals, scintil- 
lations of wit flowing from his lips, his mirth-provo- 
king countenance contorted in mockery of the poor 
butt of his jests, his keen, gray eye half closed with 
inward enjoyment. He was the beau ideal of a 
Rocky JMountain man. 

The company's mules were not in good flesh ; so 
I lent Hatcher mine, to make the trip to Bent's Fort, 
one hundred and eighty miles distant. I commis- 
sioned liim to get me three shirts, for my single one 
had been on my back nearly long enough. I have 
read that the Tm-kish ladies never apply water to 
their faces, for it tarnishes, in their estimation, the 
brilliancy of the complexion : somehow, it so hap- 
pened, that myself and several others, had not 
washed our faces, combed our Medusa-looldng hair, 
or changed hickory shirts, since leaving Bent's 
Fort — forty-one or two days. Whether our com- 
plexions were improved or not, by the banishment 
of water, is not to be said; the beef grease and 
sand certainly excluded the browning effects of the 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 177 



wind. We concluded to take " von grand swim " in 
the creek ; the beneficial effect of the hydropathic 
treatment, was quite visible. PulUng off our sliirts, 
and dipping them in the running stream, the objec- 
tions were, in some degree, removed ; with a double 
twist, they were wrung, and hung on bushes to di-y, 
while we poor " sans culottes," kept in the warm 
sun. 

Louy Simonds returned after an absence of 
several days, with the choice parts of a wild Mexi- 
can steer. It is the opinion of those who have 
eaten beef fattened on the bunch (festuca) and 
grama grasses, that the meat is nearly as good as 
buffalo. In my own experience, both surpass the 
beef of the States ; yet between the two (mountain 
beef and buffalo), the latter has the preference. 

Our camp became old and dirty, and we moved 
further up the stream ; where, in a grove of blighted 
cottonwoods, we once more settled down. McCarty's 
camp was a few steps distant. Greenwood, who 
has been mentioned before, stayed with him. 

Two days after the removal, the caballada was 
driven up; six mules roped, and the same num- 
ber of men mounted on them, went to the 
" Springs," a few miles distant, to tend a large drove 
of cattle. Herding is not arduous duty ; the keep- 
ers merely have to ride two or three times a day to 
collect the stragglers ; except, that in storms, which 
are of frequent occurrence, there is much trouble 
and vexation of spirit. Nevertheless, one is natu- 
rally impressed with a feeling of loneliness, greatly 



178 WAH-TO-VAH AND 



increased by the knowledge of the proximity of 
marauding bands of refugee Mexicans. 

The Canadians reported several cows, with their 
calves, among the beeves. The thoughts of " milk " 
roused our drowsy camp to alacrity, and after con- 
siderable spu'ited chasing, on the part of our Mex- 
ican, Pablo, seven calves were lassoed. We 
hastily consti'ucted a pen to hold them, and the 
dams then gave little trouble. All the pans, kettles, 
and tincups were put in requisition. The cows were 
milked from behind, instead of at the side, with 
heads drawn up to a wagonwheel ; with hindlegs 
tied, and fearfully rolling eyes, they looked quite 
differently from the patient, chewing " Suke " of the 
American farmer. 

How we feasted ! A pot of rich milk was put on 
the fire, and when it boiled, the ground coffee was 
poured in, staying for a moment on top, to con- 
trast the more strongly with the foamy fluid, until 
it sank ; while we stood around, watching with 
eager eyes the grains as they were thrown to the 
surface by the ebullition. It was splendid ! 

Grizzly bear are plenty in this vicinity. Two 
years before this time. Hatcher and Boggs built 
cabins near this, with the intention of farming. To 
protect their corn from these bold depredators, they 
erected scaffolds in the fields, from which secure 
position they could fight off the marauders from the 
crops. A combination of unfavorable circumstan- 
ces induced them to abandon their agricultural 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 179 



project, and the bears now roam unmolested through 
the deserted ranch. 

One day a party of horsemen were seen coming 
toward camp at full speed ; who, on a near approach, 
were found to be a band of thirty well-formed, good- 
looking Utahs. General Kearney effected a treaty 
with the nation ; but they are, in common with all 
savage tribes within my knowledge, friends when 
weakest, enemies when strongest. Such is their 
frequent intercourse with the New Mexicans, they 
being [at war with them, that many of the Utahs 
speak the Spanish-Mexican language. 

McCa,rty's wagon still remained with us ; and as 
the men's drafts on Bent, St. Vrain & Co., were 
good, cards and Uquor passed freely ; which latter 
is alcohol, but, mixed with water, constituted a 
passable beverage, its principal use being, in moun- 
tain parlance, to " make drunk come." 

Fitzgerald and Bill Garmon came from Taos, 
with a report of the excitement occasioned by the 
nurmerous arrests. Fitz was a private of Captain 
Burgwin's company of dragoons, at the battle of 
Pueblo de Taos. When the breach was made in 
the church, whither the enemy had retreated as a 
last resort, the dragoons attacked with bombs, 
holding the shells in their hands until the fuses were 
nearly burned, and then tossing them in to do their 
work of devastation. The first two Americans who 
entered the breach fell dead, the third was unhurt, 
the fourth killed, and Fitz was the fifth. He was a 
man of good feeling, but his brother having been 



180 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



murdered by Salazar, while a prisoner in the Texan 
expedition against Santa Fe, he swore vengeance, 
and entered the service with the hope of accom- 
pHshing it. In the fight, at the Pueblo, three 
Mexicans fell by his hand ; and, the day following, 
he walked up to the alcalde, and deliberately shot 
him down. For this cool-blooded act^ he was 
confined to await a trial for murder. 

One raw night, complaining of cold to his guard, 
wood was brought, which he piled up in the middle 
of the room. Then breaking through the roof, he 
noiselessly crept to the eave. Below, a sentinel, 
wrapped in a heavy cloak, paced to and fro, to pre- 
vent his escape ; but, when the guard's back was 
turned, he swung himself from the wall, and, 
with as much ease as possible, walked to a mess- 
fire, where his friends in waiting, supplied him 
with a pistol and clothing. When day broke, the 
town of Fernandez lay far beneath him in the 
valley, and two days after, he was safe in our 
ranch. 

Our " hosguard " came hastily into camp, one 
morning, saying that thii'ty of the " cavyard " were 
stolen. Mounting the few mules grazing around, 
we started in hot pursuit; but, the trail led 
up a steep part of the mountain, rendering an 
attempt at rescue both unsafe and uncertain ; so 
giving the Apaches or Mexicans the credit of a 
successful coup hunt, and binding on our hearts the 
proverb of " Prudence the better part of valor," we 
returned. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 181 



As the spring advanced, the sun's rays grew more 
genial, and green grass peeped from under the 
heavy tussocks of the past j^ear's vegetation. The 
air, bracing and fresh, was tempered by the increas- 
ing warmth ; no dew fell to dampen or make disa- 
greeable the walking ; and, in the heat of the day, 
we perfectly inactive, laid about camp fanned by 
the gentle zephyrs. 

Hatcher, with Captain Jackson, company D, 
Price's regiment, his first lieutenant, and one private, 
arrived from Bent's Fort, on the 2d of April. On 
the 3d they, with the addition of Louy Simonds and 
myself, jogged along at a quiet mule pace, for the 
pass, en route to Taos. Two hours ride brought us 
to the foot of the mountain, where, dismounting to 
rest, we permitted the mules to wander and nip the 
dryed yellow blades of grass in the many crevices 
of the rock. The country adjacent was exceedingly 
rough and forbidding. Isolated buttes and abrupt 
cliffs caused us often to turn aside ; the ground was 
thickly strewed with fragments of coarse sandstone, 
and huge masses of scoriaceous rock, thrown up as 
by internal convulsion, reared their flint}' fronts. 
So remote is this region, and so incapable of pro- 
duction is the soil, but in the narrow valleys, that 
many years must elapse ere it can become attractive 
to the farmer. 

The path, up which we rode, wound around rocks 
and under the shadows of beetling cliffs, now facing 
and now with backs to the sun, its tortuous sin- 
uosities and uneven steep sm-face causing the sure- 
16 



182 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



footed mules to pant and frequently rest. At one 
side, stuck in the heavy stones, were several rude 
wooden crosses planted by the Mexicans dui-ing 
the descent on the ranch. When fear overcame 
their audacity, a prayer en passant was offered to the 
Virgin Mary, which commendable act of piety 
finished, they proceeded, much reheved, on their 
way, leaving the honored emblem of Christianity 
for some other consistent worshiper. 

In the States, the smooth bark and slender 
branches of the aspen, with its glossy leaves, looked 
beautiful ; but here the scene was one of barren- 
ness, and the white-leaved aspen, springing from 
the ground, bereft of verdure, and the cold gray 
rocks, with the mournful pine interlaced, induced 
other and sadder sensations. I even wondered how 
so spectral a foliage could ever have been admired. 

At the side of the trail, at intervals of fifty and a 
hundred yards, were piles of stone, which, from 
their uniformity, excited our attention. Hatcher 
told us, that years since, the Camanches, at that 
time warring with the Pueblos de Taos, sent a party 
over this mountain, on a foray. To enable them 
to find their way back, in case the snow should 
cover the trail, these piles were made. Admii-able 
forethought ! but their tawney hides not being ar- 
row-proof, the scalps of the greater portion were 
swung aloft in the furious dance, to the booming 
sound of the Pueblo drum. 

We rode over snow banks five feet in depth — oc- 
casionally breaking through. The air grew cliilly 



THE TAOS TRAFL. 183 



as the sun declined ; our exertions in walking up 
the steeps, warmed us but little. On the summit, a 
level, bare spot, and a brackish body of water — El 
Laguna — presented itself — its margin grown with 
slime-covered sedge. Riding to the edge of a preci- 
pice, we saw the valley we that morning left. Thou- 
sands of feet below, tall pines appeared mere 
bushes, and the Rio Rayada, a silver thread. Pur- 
sued with the eye, it was lost among the numerous 
hills, whence, after many windings, it coursed over 
the plain, a considerable stream, the channel 
marked out by trees on either bank. 

Sheltered by an elevation of ground, and a pine 
thicket in the rear, we encamped by a snowbank, 
from which was scooped the water for our coffee. 
The horses had been, before sunset, watered, while 
the melted snow run in the path ; they were left for 
the night in a sheltered grass spot, to luxuriate 
on festuca. 

On leaving the rancho. Hatcher," Louy, and my- 
self, tied beef to the saddle strings ; the captain 
and companions, had their rations. The blending 
of their salt, with our fresh meat, was agreeable to 
both. From some pines, we clipped, with knives, 
the soft ends of the boughs, and, before the fire, in 
a depression of the ground, spread them down 
with blankets and robes on top, making a couch, 
whose ease repaid our trouble. 

An old Mexican trudged up to camp after dark, 
who, when we hailed him to know his business so far 
from any place, replied, that he was going to Senor 



184 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



San Bran's rancho. He eat some proffered meat and 
coffee, and, after rolling up and smoking a shuck 
cigarillo, coiled himself before the fire in his one 
blanket, to sleep. A common person would have 
frozen with so slim an amount of covering, but 
Valgame Dios ! these rancheros can undergo that 
which would kill a dozen respectable whitemen. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 185 



CHAPTER XIII. 

EL YALLE DE TAOS. 

Though the wind was piercingly cold, Hatcher 
was up early, making a fire, " for," said he, " this 
hos is no b'ar to stick his nose under cover all the 
robe season,* an' lay round camp, like a darned 
Ned; but," he added, in an undertone, as he looked 
to see if the government men were awake, " thar's 
two or three in this crowd — wagh ! — howsomever, 
the green is 'rubbed out" a little. This child hates 
an American what hasn't seen Injuns skulped, or 
does n't know a Yute from a Shian mok'sin. Some- 
times he thinks of makin' tracks for white settle- 
ment, but when he gits to Bent's big lodge, on the Ar- 
kansa, and sees the bugheways, an' the fellers from 
the States, how they roll thar eyes at an Injun yell, 
worse nor if a village of Camanches was on 'em, 
an' pick up a beavertrap, to ask what it is — just 
shows whar the niggurs had thar brungin' up — this 
child says — 'a little bacca, ef its a plew| a plug, 
an' Dupont an' G'lenaJ, a Green River § or so, and 

* Robe Season, means cold weather — winter — as the robes are fit for 
dressing only at that time. 

f Plew — a pelt, a beaverskin — a plug is one pound of tobacco. 
J Dupont powder and Galena lead. 
§ Green River Knife — the name of the manufactorj. 
16* 



186 WAII-TO-YAH AXD 

he leaves for the Bayou Salade. Darn the white 
diggins, while thars huffier in the mountains. 
Whoopee ! " shouted he to us, " are you for Touse ? 
This hos is thar in one sun, Avagh ! Louy, the 
cavyard's out picking grass — half froze to travel." 
We dispatched a cup of coffee, and, driving our 
shivering mules to camp, saddled and packed them 
— the captain and companions fixing their Ameri- 
can saddles with a frail buckle and girth; while 
Hatcher and Louy first laid on their mules the half 
of a robe, and on that a bare Mexican tree, without 
pad, cover, or other appendage, save a few long 
buckskin thongs, tied to the back part of the cantle, 
and a pair of huge, wooden stirrups, dangling di- 
rectly under — not forward— 5: the seat. With an 
adios to the jNIexican, who, returning the salute, 
started for the rancho, we mounted. 

The transition from the valley, was sudden for 
us, in substantiation of wliich fact, our blue limbs 
gave irrefutable testimony. Gaining the summit of 
the hill, at whose base we had been sheltered from 
the fiercer blasts during the night, the animals 
would scarcely be persuaded, though severe digs 
of long rowelled spurs, to face the wind. Words 
intended for each other, were borne unheard along 
the breeze, which rushed down our throats, nearly 
stifling us. To walk was impossible. To ride was 
exceedingly unpleasant, but we were forced to re- 
tain the saddles. 

While riding up a narrow path,* toward the 
warmer part of the day, a small, reddish-gray squir- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 187 



rel, jumping nimbly from limb to limb, in the bright 
sun, it had left its winter quarters to enjoy, attracted 
our attention. 

" Thar's a gone beaver," shouted Louy, as he 
discharged his rifle, though without effect, at the 
diminutive animal, disappearing among the sway- 
ing pine branches, " its many a time this paw's hild 
a forked stick, with an old nor'-west fusil — one of 
dads, that's ' under' — when his arm was n't no big- 
ger an' a beaver tail, to shoot at sich varmin as 
them (the squirrel). An' when the old shootin' iron 
'ud flash in the pan, I 'ud say — Doggone the old thing ; 
you aint wuth a cuss (I was afraid to swear then,) 
but then, I would git as chargin' fache nor an old 
buffler an' out 'ud rip dam ! Then this old hos 
would feel kinder like a sick beaver in a trap, or a 
'cow' with a G'lena pill in her hghts — the dark 
wasn't the place for me then, I tellee ; but this coon 
has 'raised har' so often sence, he keers fur nothing 
now. Mind the time we 'took' Pawnee 'topknots' 
away to the Platte, Hatch?" 

" Wagh ! ef we did n't," chimed in the interroga- 
ted, " an' give an owgh-owgh, longside of thar 
darned screecliin', I'm a niggur. This child does n't 
let an Injun count a 'coup'* on his cavyard al- 
ways. They come mighty nigh ' rubbing' me ' out,' 
'tother side of Spanish Peaks — woke up in the 
mornin' jist afore day, the devils yellin' like mad. I 
grabs my knife, 'keels' one, an' made for timber, 

* Make a successful stroke. 



188 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



with four of thar cussed arrows in my 'meatbag.' 
The Paches (Apaches) took my beaver — five pack 
of the prettiest in the mountain — an' two mules, 
but my traps was hid in the creek. Sez I, hyar 's a 
gone coon ef they keep my gun, so I follers thar 
trail, an' at night, crawls into camp, an' socks my 
big knife up to the Green River, * first dig. I takes 
t' other Injun by the har, an' 'makes meat' of him 
too. Maybe thar was n't coups counted, an' a big 
dance on hand, ef I was alone. I got old bull- 
thrower, made ' medicine ' over him, an' no darned 
niggur kin draw bead with him since." 

Crossing a valley, a mile in width, with a stream 
calmly meandering through, we commenced the 
final ascent, here more steep and rugged than hith- 
erto. Stopping at the summit for the animals to 
regain breath, a rapid descent for some miles lay 
before us. A spot of grass, presented itself by a 
clump of willows, and on Hatcher's exclamation of, 
" Hyar 's for camp," we turned our mules to wet 
their mouths in the cool running water ; and, with 
long trailing lariats, wander in quest of grass. 
With a few dead willow twigs, fire Avas kindled, and 
while the coflee boiled, we reclined on out-spread 
saddle blankets in the warm sun, thoughtfully 
puffing " Old Virginia," from time-worn clay pipes. 
Partaking of the nectar-like Java — every drop worth 
its weight in "beaver" — we smoked, until Louy 
Simonds proposed, that " if wc wanted to dance 



* Factory name, near the liilt. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 189 



with the Mexican squaws that night, we 'd better be 
making ' tracks' fur thar lodges." 

" Wagh ! " responded Hatcher, looking up from 
the wreaths of smoke he had been watching cm-ling 
and melting around his lips, " this hos has been 
making medicine — good medicine — an' he's fur 
Touse to-night — ' comme la va, senorita !'" added 
he, in a gentle tone, rising to his feet, and bowing 
to an imaginary Mexican lady — comme la va, no 
cary por fandango — " how do you do Miss — wish to 
dance ? " and, with a genuine warcry, he started for 
his mule. 

With comparatively easy travel, and a m^ore 
genial atmosphere, we were again joarneying down 
the canon de Taos ; which, like the route passed over, 
has never been traversed by wagons — a mere 
mule path — difficult and dangerous. We saw 
where Colonel Price had entered the further end of 
the pass, on the march, to fight the insm-gents — the 
marks of the cannon and baggage wheels were 
still visible. 

My sentiments were akin to the romantic, that 
afternoon, with my merry friends ; who, with quick 
rifles, fired at trees for targets, or caused their voices 
to reverberate from the high walls of rock. The 
sighing of the wind — zephyr-like, bland and re- 
freshing — mournful yet pleasing — the pine-clad 
hills above, around and below — the mystery in 
which the customs of the present and the past 
inhabitants of this region have been kept, through 
paucity of knowledge or descriptive powers of 



r 

190 WAII-TO-YAH AND 

visitors — the thoughts engendered by the perusal 
of Prescott's "Conquest," and Stephens's Central 
American researches, and the fact of traversing the 
same road along which the munitions of grim- 
visaged war were, but a few days before, transported, 
rendered strange my fancy, and gave my wandering 
imagination many a theme for instant, yet lengthy, 
discussion. 

Ere long, the sun's rays were excluded by reason 
of our continual descent ; turning a sharp corner of 
the tortuous path, we surprised two goatherds 
tending a large flock of the sure-footed creatures, 
browsing among the gray lichen-covered rocks, or 
perched on the crests of detached fragments, gently 
giving utterance to the peculiar bleat, as, with heads 
thrust forward, they snuffed our approach. With 
a passing Buenas le dai — " Good day " — to the 
flock keepers ; who, abashed and timorous, quietly 
and reluctantly returned the salute, from under the 
shade of their weighty, broad-brimmed, leather- 
somh-eros, we kept on, oft riding in the pebbly bed 
of the rivulet, which by constant accessions grew to 
a noisy brook. The mules, though not thirsty, 
stopped often to dip their noses in the laughing 
stream, as if to say — " loc know good water." 

Some hundreds of feet above, in the niche of a 
cliff". Hatcher pointed out the site of a large reser- 
voir ; Ave were too much wearied to attempt a 
closer inspection. The prevailing impression is, 
that it was built by a people cotemporary with the 
Aztecs. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 191 



The mountain, at the pass termination, was quite 
bared of trees by the Mexicans ; who, with axes 
and patient diminutive 6i^rro5 — jackasses — clamber 
the steeps for fagots of the dry resinous pine. A 
train of these animals loaded, look like walking 
brush heaps, so completely is the burro hid by the 
bulky wood from view. 

On emerging from the canyon, the view expanded 
to a valley nearly circular, to the casual glance, 
hemmed in by a snowy range, while El Rio Grande 
del Norte, a few miles distant, rolled between sand- 
banks to the south-west. The level plain below 
wore a cultivated, civilized aspect. Reposing qui- 
etly, at our very feet, was the hamlet, El Ranch ; 
to the west the village Ranchita, and toward the 
north-west, San Fernandez de Taos, it walls, as well 
as those of the minor towns, mica lime-washed to a 
dazzling whiteness. To the north-east, at the base 
of a contiguous mountain, was the dismal Pueblo 
DE Taos, but a few weeks since the scene of fiercest 
strife. 

The brook, down whose channel we had kept the 
preceding few hours, was, at its egress, directed 
into a large " acequia," or ditch, and from that, in 
numberless smaller ones, through the valley, to 
serve in lieu of the grateful showers in which the 
American farmer puts so much dependence. 

The first house we passed, was a distillery, where 
the "mountain dew" of New Mexico — aguardiente 
de Taos, is made ; and, such is the demand, it is im- 



192 WAH-*TO-YAH AND 



bibed before attaining a very drinkable age, by both 
foreigners and residents, with great avidity. 

A fiercely moustaclied native, with broad-brimmed 
glazed sombrero, and gay-colored sarape, disposed in 
graceful folds on his lithe figure, and a woman in 
gray 7xboza, enveloping her head and shoulders, 
leaving unhid and peering through, her piercing 
black eyes, replied gayly to one bucnas le dai Scno- 
rita — good day Miss — Hatcher and she entered 
upon a colloquy, while the tired mules trailed slowly 
on, with drooping heads and vacillating ears, seem- 
ingly too weighty for the thin necks to which they 
were attached. 

The sun fast sank behind the western peaks, and 
groups of swarthy-skinned laborers lined the road, 
on their way home, greeting us respectfully as we 
passed, with the accustomed salutation. To the 
left, a number of men, with implements of labor, 
were still at work on an acequia, under the supervi- 
sion of the alcalde. Reaching the suburbs of Fer- 
nandez, I recognized a ranchero, driving before him, 
a mule laden with shucks. 

He exclaimed, as he doffed his hat — Comme la va 
Senors, esta bucii — ah Bonita! "How are you. Sirs 
— ah Bonita" — (to my mule). " Scno7^s una fan- 
dango grandotc, csta nocke^'' his eye brightening as he 
spoke, muy Senoritas bonita. "There's a big fan- 
dango to-night ; a great many pretty ladies there 
too — wish to go ? " 

"Certainly we do," replied Louy, " 'specially if 
thar's liquor on hand." 



THE TAOS TR.UL. 193 



Passing some low, flat-roofed mud structures?, 
several American soldiers or guard near, we met 
at every step, gracefully moving women, and sarape- 
enveloped men, the shuck cigarillo between the lips 
of many ; and turning to one side of the plaza, drew 
rein in front of a house, where were numbers of 
Americans talking and smoking. Fisher came for- 
ward, with his hand outstretched before reaching 
us, with a hearty " How are ye ? I swar' you look 
tired ; come in and take a ' horn ' — a little of the 
arwerdcnty — come — good for your stomach ! " 

Mr. St. Vrain, at this juncture, approaching, took 
me Idndly by the hand, coupled with an invitation 
to his own house. Leading my mule by the bridle, 
we crossed the south side of the plaza, and enter- 
ed a courtyard, inclosed by high walls. A Mexi- 
can took Bonita, and, pulling ofl^the saddle, led him 
to a pile of shucks and corn. 

I was ushered into an oblong, handsomely fur- 
nished room, with a fireplace in one corner, and the 
walls hung with portraits of holy characters, 
crosses, etc., showing tlie prevailing religion ; and 
to furnish additional evidence, a 'padre (priest) was 
taking his conge, as we opened the door. An intro- 
duction to Senora St. Vrain — a darkeyed, languidly 
handsome woman — followed my appearance. The 
Mexican mode of salutation is to meet, and one arm 
of the gentleman or lady is thrown around the 
other's shoulder ; then stepping back one pace, thejr 
shake hands, accompanied with the usual Comme la 
va. But I did not understand tliis most cordial mode 
17 



194 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



of greeting, and when the Senora sidled alongside, 
in expectation of the usual embrace, I thought how 
strangely she acted, and only extended my hand, 
saying in American, "How do you do?" Most as- 
suredly, such a fashion with our ladies, would meet 
with enthusiastic followers. 

At supper, I sat at table and ate potatoes, for the 
first time in several months. A fandango * was to 
be held that night, but declining an invitation to at- 
tend, a mattrass was unrolled from the wall, where, 
in daytime, it served as a seat, and I turned in be- 
tween sheets. Yes! sheets! For months I had en- 
veloped myself with blankets, in the open air, 
pulling ofi' no clothing but the blue blanket top- 
coat, which, with my saddle, served as pillow — but 
now a change came over the spirit of my dream. 
A house, table, vegetables, and sheets — to say 
nothing of the charming smiles of woman and the 
Taos aguardiente. 

Shortly after lying down, the room filled with gay 
ladies, revelling in the excess of paint and flaunting 
dress, and partaking of the favorite aguardiente, by 
way of support, against the fatigues of the fan- 
dango. I looked at them through my partially 
closed eyes, to notice more closely, without an im- 
putation of rudely staring. The musical tone of 
their voices, uttering their sweet language, fell 
gently on my ear, and, as perception gradually 
failed, amid a delicious reverie, I sank to sleep. 

* Fandango — dance, fight — any occupation giving excitement. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 195 



CHAPTER XIV. 

EL CONSiJO. 

At a late hour for a moiintainman, I dressed by 
a blazing fire, although Senora St. Vrain and sis- 
ter — a handsome brunette of some sixteen years — 
were in the room ; they probably being accustomed 
by the "free and easy" manners of the valley to 
this liberty, which they themselves took an hour 
before. After breakfast, the ladies rolled up sev- 
eral shuck cigarillos, which they presented with 
smiles and a persuasive Scnor? I did not refuse. 

The shuck is scraped to free it from roughness, 
and cut in slips, one and a half inches broad by 
three in length ; then moistened, to prevent split- 
ting, by putting it in the mouth, and drawing out 
with compressed lips. The tobacco of the coun- 
try — bland and fragrant — is sprinkled on one edge, 
and, with a slight-o'-hand motion of the fingers, 
rolled up. The ends are pinched, to retain the con- 
tents. In the pocket is carried a roll of raw cotton 
the size of a common goosequill, bound with calico, 
which, with the flint and steel in every one's pos- 
session, is produced, and, with a dexterous blow, 
fire imparted, from which the cigarillo is lit. A tin 
tube, three inches long, is fitted to the cotton, and 
when the shuck lights, the burning roll is drawn in 



196 WAII-TO-YAH AND 



the tube; and, by placing a finger on the end to 
preclude the air, the fire is extinguished, leaving a 
cinder to which the steel spark imparts its fire. 
Some use a silver, or even a gold tube ; while the 
poor pcIaJos have to content themselves with a tin 
one, or nothing. 

Though smoking is repugnant to man}" ladies, it 
certainly does enhance the charms of the Mexican 
senoritas, who, with neatly rolled up shucks between 
coral lips, perpetrate winning smiles, their magically 
brilliant eyes the meanwhile searching one's very 
soul. How dulcet-toned are their voices, which, 
siren-lilie, in-esistibly draw the willing victim within 
the giddy vortex of dissipation ! And these cigar- 
illos they present with such a grace, and so expres- 
sive an eye, so musical a tongae, and so handsome 
a face, that it was impossible to refuse. To use a 
Scotch phrase. It '5 na sae bad. 

I must say that there is much romance to a super- 
ficial observer in having a Mexican wife ; but, were 
we to come down to sober reality, the affair would 
show forth in a different light. Fi'om the depraved 
moral education of the New Mexicans, there can be 
no intellectual enjoyment. The only attractions are 
of the baser sort. From youth accustomed to a life 
of servitude and vitiated habits, we look in vain for 
true woman's attraction — modesty — that attribute 
which encircles as a halo the intelligent, virtuous, 
and educated woman. Surely 'twas pardonable 
pride in me to notice, by contrast, the superiority of 
those of my own country. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 197 



Court assembled at nine o'clock. On entering 
the room, Judges Beaubien and Houghton were 
occupying their official stations. After many dry 
preliminaries, six prisoners were brought in — ill- 
favored, half-scared, sullen fellows ; and the jmy of 
Mexicans and Americans — Chadwick, foreman — 
being empanneled, the trial commenced : F. P. Blair, 

jr., prosecuting attorney, assisted by Wharton, 

a great blowhard. The counsel for the defense, 
whose name I have forgotten, was, as well as Whar- 
ton, a volunteer private, on furlough for the occa- 
sion. They had, no doubt, joined the ranks in hopes 
of political preferment on their return home, and the 
forests of Missouri may yet reecho with Wharton's 
stentorian voice, proclaiming to his hero-worshiping 
constituents how he " fought, bled, and died " for his 
country's liberties — a recapitulation of all the bra- 
vado with which many of the military leaders of the 
discreditable Mexican war have been gulling the 
"sovereign people," since their return from their 
easily-won fields of glory. 

Mr. St. Vrain was interpreter. W^hen the wit- 
nesses (Mexican) touched their lips to the Bible, on 
taking the oath, it was with such a combination of 
reverential awe for the book, and fear of los Amer- 
icanos, that I could not repress a smile. The poor 
things were as much frightened as the prisoners at 
the bar. 

It certainly did appear to be a great assumption 
on the part of the Americans to conquer a country, 
and then arraign the revolting inhabitants for trea- 



17* 



198 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



son. American judges sat on the bench, JXevv 
Mexicans and Americans filled the jm'ybox, and 
an American soldiery guarded the halls. Verily, a 
strange mixture of violence and justice — a strange 
middle ground between the martial and common 
law. 

After an absence of a few minutes, the jury re- 
turned with a verdict of " guilty in the first degree " — 
five for murder, one for treason. Treason, indeed ! 
What did the poor devil know about his ncAv alle- 
giance? But so it was; and, as the jail was over- 
stocked with others awaiting trial, it was deemed 
expedient to hasten the execution, and the culprits 
were sentenced to be hung on the following Fri- 
day — hangman's day. When the concluding words 
" muei^to,muerto, mucrlo''' — " dead, dead, dead" — were 
pronounced by Judge Beaubien, in his solemn and 
impressive manner, the painful stillness that reigned 
in the courtroom, and the subdued grief manifested 
by a few bystanders, were noticed not without an 
inward sympathy. The poor wretches sat with un- 
movable features; but I fancied that, under the 
assumed looks of apathetic indifference, could be 
read the deepest anguish. When remanded to jail 
till the day of execution, they drew their sarapes 
more closely around them, and accompanied the 
armed guard. I left the room, sick at heart. Jus- 
tice ! out upon the word, when its distorted meaning 
is the warrant for murdering those who defend to 
the last their country and their homes. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 199 



CHAPTER XV. 

SAN FERNANDEZ. 

Every nation has soine peculiarity of dress ; and, 
although the New Mexicans and the States people 
are geographically so near each other, the marked 
difference in dress renders a notice of it but proper. 

The women (giving them the preference) do not 
wear bonnets, using instead the rcbo%a or mantilla 
— a scarf of cotton and silk, five to six feet in 
length, by two or more in width — which serves as 
covering for the head and body. So dexterous are 
they in its management, that in cooking or walking 
it is retained, forming a graceful and pleasing con- 
trast to the bonneted and hooded civilized lady. 
A skirt is worn a trifle shorter than the present 
States fashion, so that it can hardly be called a 
dress ; the figure, above the waist, is invested with 
a chemise, with short arms ; but, so sparing were 
they of material, or so bound to follow unrelenting 
fashion, or through a desire to show their fair 
shoulders, etc., the chemises were too low-necked. 
The Cheyenne maidens, on the contrary, wore their 
bucksldn sacques, fitting closely around the throat; 
but the graceful senoritas de Taos were pleased to 
make a more prodigal display, which, to my unac- 



200 WAII-TO-YAII AND 



customed eyes and taste, was uncomely, and, in 
fact, satiating. 

Tiie men, generally speaking, wear pantaloons 
open on the outside seam of the leg, and lined with 
buttons, to fasten at pleasure; while underneath, a 
pair of white drawers is disclosed to view — a fancy 
colored shirt and vest, and an oblong blanket (of 
Mexican or Navajo Indian manufacture, the wool 
of which being hard-twisted, turns the rain effectu- 
ally), with a hole in the center for the head. A tall, 
peaked, oilcloth-covered hat of straw or brown wool 
and yellow zapotcs — shoes — complete the costume. 
In one vest pocket are carried shucks, cut to the 
requisite length ; in the other is read)'^ crumbled 
ponche — tobacco. The flint and steel have their 
place in the pantaloons pocket. 

In front of many dwellings is a mud oven, in 
shape like a cupping glass, in which is baked the 
whitest bread it has ever been my fortune to taste. 
No bolting cloths are here used ; and those wanting 
white bread sift for themselves. The hard bread, 
biscochc, is light, porous, and sweet — a perfect lux- 
ury with a cup of coffee by a mountain-pine fire. 
Probably, long continued abstinence from all kinds 
of farinaceous food influenced my judgment — but, 
without doubt, it would meet with favor at the 
Planter's House. On Mr. St. Vrain's table was the 
national dish — chile coloi'ado — a compound of red- 
pepper pods and other spicy ingredients ; a hot mess 
at first; but, with the aid of tortillas (a, thin, soft 
cake of flour and water, baked on a griddle), of 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 201 



which we consumed a great number — a new taste 
was soon acquired. 

Many houses have windows or mere holes in the 
wall ; and, in lieu of glass, large plates of mica 
are used, which serve the purpose well. The court, 
in front of each house, brings everything witliin a 
small compass, besides excluding thieves, except in 
case of a regularly burglarious attempt. From the 
outside nothing but bare, high walls are visible, thus 
allowing no scope for architectural display, and 
giving an antiquated, foreign air to the town, in the 
eyes of all from the States. 

It was amusing to see the diminutive, long-eared 
burros — jackasses — slowly drawing themselves — 
one tired foot after the other — up and down the 
streets, munching bones and other refuse of the 
kitchen. With noses trailing the ground, long lob- 
ears falling back and forth, with every motion of 
the animal, as if without life ; rough, gray hair, and 
misshapen legs, they formed a most ludicrous pic- 
ture. What is done with them in summer, where, 
as here, there are no fences, I did not ascertain ; 
perhaps los burros are endowed with sagacity enough, 
coupled with the fear of the cudgel, to refrain froin 
touching the forbidden grain. 

With Hatcher, I visited the house in which Gov- 
ernor Bent was murdered ; who, with the district 
attorney, J. W. Liel, came from Santa Fe to issue a 
proclamation. While here, in Fernandez, with his 
family, he was, one morning early, roused from 
sleep by the populace ; who, with the aid of tlie 



202 ■VVAH-TO-YAH AND 



Pueblos de Taos, were collected in front of his 
dwelling, striving to gain admittance. While they 
were effecting an entrance, he, with an ax, cut 
through an adobe wall into another house. The 
wife of the occupant, a clever though thriftless 
Canadian, heard him; and, with all her strength, 
rendered him assistance, though she was a Mexican. 
He retreated to a room, but seeing no way of 
escaping from the infuriated assailants, who fired 
upon him through a window, he spoke to his weep- 
ing wife and trembling children, clinging to him 
with all the tenacity of love and despair ; and, taking 
paper from his pocket, endeavored to write ; but 
fast losing strength, he commended them to God and 
his brothers, and fell pierced by a" Pueblo's ball. 
Rushing in and tearing off the gray-haired scalp, 
the Indians bore it away in triumph. 

The district attorn e3^,Liel, was scalped alive, and 
dragged through the streets, his relentless perse- 
cutors pricking him with lances. After hom*s of 
acute suffering, he was thrown to one side in the 
inclement weather. He entreated, implored them 
earnestly to kill him — to end his miser5^ A com- 
passionate Mexican at last closed the tragic scene, 
by shooting him. Stephen Lee, brother to the gen- 
eral, was killed on his own housetop. 

Narcisse Beaubien, son of the presiding judge of 
this district — the same young man in our company 
last fall — with his Indian slave, hid in an outhouse, 
at the commencement of the massacre, under a 
etraw-covered trough. The insurgents, on the 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 203 



search, thinking they had escaped, were leaving, 
but a woman — servant to the family — going to 
the housetop, called them, with the words — " kill 
the young ones, and they will never be men to 
trouble us." They swarmed back, and cruelly put- 
ting to death and scalping him and his slave, thus 
added two more to the unfortunate victims of un- 
bounded passion and long-cherished revenge. 

Narcisse had been to Cape Girardeau college, 
below St. Louis, for five years ; and, when he left, 
was a proficient in the French, Spanish, and English 
languages, as well as versed in the usual college 
studies. During the route he often dwelt, with de- 
light, on his return home, and of the different duties 
and pleasures to be performed and enjoyed. When 
we parted at Bent's Fort — he for the Valley of 
Taos, I for the village — his last words were warm 
and pressing invitations to pay him a lengthy visit ; 
but two short months had scarcely passed, ere he 
was numbered among the slain. His being a 
native — his mother a Mexican — and the advan- 
tages he possessed over his fellow citizens, by a 
liberal education, would have given scope for his 
undoubted talents, to be exerted in liis own land, 
and for its material benefit. 

The church in this place (Fernandez) was an 
adobe structure, with towers and bells, and not 
attractive in architecture or ornament. The valley, 
in every direction, was cultivated, and in the total 
absence of fences, presented the unusual sight of 
one large field, stretching away for miles, intersected 



204 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



by numberless ditches, similar to the Louisiana 
plantations ; only that, in the latter State, the 
ditches are to drain, here to water, the land. 

The melting snow from the mountain flows to the 
valley, where it is turned into large acequias ; from 
these into branches, and again through each man's 
possession. When a plat needs watering, the ditch 
below it is stopped with a few shovelsfull of earth, 
water suffered to flow in, and, there being no egress, 
it inundates the plat, thereby giving the vegetation 
a more effectual and well-timed flooding than the 
uncertain showers. This seems a preferable mode ; 
for the ditch once dug, with an occasional cleaning, 
serves forever. When it does need scraping out, 
the alcalde, or mayor, issues an order, and the work 
is done by the people conjointly ; so the labor is 
but slight to any one man. 

The New-Mexican plows, for the most part, are 
of the primitive kind — the same as those used by 
the Egyptians thousands of years ago — being but 
the fork of a small tree, with only one handle. 
The point entering the ground is sometimes shod 
with ii"on. Last fall. Bent, St. Vrain 6c Co. brought 
out several American plows. It is to be hoped the 
natives will learn something from these models. 

The soil, by long-continued cultivation, and ab- 
sence of stumps, trees, and other impediments to 
easy culture, is highly arable; consequently, there 
is no great need of better implements of tillage. 
The return for tlie grain sown, is good. Wheat and 
corn form the principal products. The former is 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 205 

used extensively in the manufacture of " Taos vvliis- 
ky," with which every one beconies well acquainted, 
more particularly if he forms one of a mountaineer 
party. Were we to drink the wheat Uquor as an 
American distillation, it would be called poor stufl"; 
as Mexican agua ardientc, it was excellent. 

I understood that Le Fevre had a saddle for sale ; 
and one day, entering his courtyard, I perceived 
him at the further end, assisted by a nearly-grown 
son, making one of the old-fashioned plows. He 
invited me to the house, where we were w^elcomed 
by his daughter into a nicely-furnished, comfortable 
room. 

Senorita Le Fevre was one of those beauties, fair 
to gaze upon — impressive in her simple, quiet man- 
ner of conducting herself. Though we could not 
converse, eloquence was in her silence, persuasion 
in her eye. A look at her frank, intelligent coun- 
tenance, made me wish for her a better home and 
more refined company than that of San Fernandez. 
Her mother is a Mexican woman, of matronly, pleas- 
ing proportions; her father a Canadian Frenchman, 
clever enough. 

The saddle came from Chiahuahua originally — 
high cantle and pommel, with ponderous, fancifully- 
carved, wooden stirrups. It suited me well, and 1 
paid a high price for it, though I thought it cheap. 
It was certainly worth nine dollars, and the sight of 
Le Fevre's daughter made me consider the remain- 
ing nine as nothing. The stirrups of wood have 
the preference over those of iron here, in cold 
18 



206 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



weather, beside presenting a broader surface to the 
moccasined foot. 

At the house of George Bent (brother to the late 
governor, and partner of the firm of Bent, St. Vrain 
& Co.), I met Judge Houghton (of the Santa Fe 
district, and associate of Judge Beaubien), P. P. 
Blair, jr., and Mr. Bent himself, who is married to a 
* New Mexican lady. Mr. Blair was slight formed, 
young, and agreeable in his manners, and, to judge 
from his labors in the courtroom, possessed of some 
legal talent and adroitness. His age was not much, 
if any, past twenty-two. 

At the foot of a slope were several springs, and 
toward sunset I used to walk out that way, and, 
seated on a bank, or adobe ruin, watch the women 
procuring water. Their peculiar style of dress dis- 
plays the form to advantage ; and with well-filled, 
antique-fashioned earthen jars — manufactured by 
Indians inhabiting the country between tliis and 
California — poised on the head ; with arms folded, 
the reboza in graceful plaits on the shoulders, and 
erect, dignified carriage, they, indeed, formed a pic- 
turesque and pleasing sight. My thoughts were 
directed to tlie Bible descriptions of the drawers of 
water, and of the fair daughters of Jerusalem com- 
ing to the wells — how they lingered about the 
fountain to exchange salutations. 

Court was in daily session ; five more Indians and 
four Mexicans were sentenced to be hung on the 
30th April; but, exciting, as were the court proceed- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 207 



ings, very few of us spent much time in the room ; 
we wanted to be moving about. 

A remarkable circumstance w&s, that whenever 
Chadwick was on the jury as foreman, the prisoners 
were returned " guilty in the first degree." 

One little Frenchman, Baptiste , by name, 

with not two ideas above eating and drinking, was 
duly empanneled as a juror, to try the first six sub- 
sequently sentenced. 

On going into the consulting room, Baptiste 
w^ent to Chad, and asked — "Monsieur Chadivick ! 
vot sail /say?" "Keep still man, until we talk 
awhile to the rest about it," rejoined Chad, " don't 
be in such a hmTy." 

" Oui ! oui ! eh bien ! c'est bon ; tres bien ! mais 
Monsieur, vot sail ve do avec sacre prisonniers — 
sacre enfants — 

" Baptiste ! man, keep still ; why, hang them, of 
course ; what did you come in here for ? " angrily 
replied he, much annoyed, " wait till I am done with 
these Mexicans (part of the jmy), and I will tell 
you what you must do." 

The last cases — the nine just mentioned — Chad- 
wick and Baptiste were again in theii* relative posi- 
tions. As soon as the jury -room door was closed, 
he sung out — "hang 'em, hang 'em, sacre en- 
fans des garces, dey dam grand rascale," now 
getting excited, and pacing the room, " parceque dey 
kill Monsieur Charles (Governor Bent), dey take son 
topknot, vot you call im — sculp; dis enfant, he go 
ondare too, mais, he make^beevare — run, you Meri- 



208 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



can say — pour Ic montaigiie — wagh ! A-ali ! oui, 
Monsieur Chadwick, you no tink so! — hang 'em, 
hang 'em — sa-a-cre-e ! 

In the courtroom, on the occasion of the trial of 
the above nine prisoners, were Senora Bent, the 
late Governor's wife, and Senora Boggs, giving in 
their evidence in regard to the massacre, of which 
they were eyewitnesses. Senora Bent was quite 
handsome ; a few years since, she must have been 
a beautiful woman — good figure for her age ; luxu- 
riant raven hair; unexceptionable teeth, and bril- 
liant, dark eyes, the effect of which was hightened 
by a clear, brunette complexion. The other lady, 
though not so agreeable in appearance, was much 
younger. The wife of the renowned mountaineer, 
Kit Carson, also was in attendance. Her style of 
beauty, was of the haughty, heart-breaking kind — 
such as would lead a man with the glance of the 
eye, to risk his life for one smile. I could not but 
desire her acquaintance. The dress and manners 
of the tlu'ee ladies, bespoke a greater degree of re- 
finement, than usual. 

The courtroom was a small, oblong apartment, 
dimly lightly by two narrow ^vindows ; a thin rail- 
ing kept the bystanders from contact with the func- 
tionaries. The prisoners faced the Judges, and the 
three witnesses (Senoras Bent, Boggs, and Carson) 
were close to them on a bench, by the wall. When 
Mrs. Bent gave in her testimony, the eyes of the 
culprits were fixed sternly upon her ; on pointing 
out the Indian who killed the Governor, net a muscle 



THE TAOS TRAn.. 209 



of the chief's face twitched, or beti'ayed agitation, 
though he was aware her evidence unmistakably 
sealed his death warrant — he sat with lips gently 
closed, eyes earnestly centered on her, without a 
show of malice or hatred — an almost sublime spec- 
tacle of Indian fortitude, and of the severe mastery 
to which the emotions can be subjected. Truly, it 
was a noble example of Indian stoicism. 



18'' 



210 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



CHAPTER XVI. 

LOS PUEBLOS. 

Hatcher, Louy Simonds and m5"sclf, walked up to 
the Pueblo, by way of variety, as court was dull ; 
and though without guns, we retained our scalp- 
knives, more through force of habit than necessity. 
After a walk over the fields, and crossing acequias 
fringed with bushes, and sparkling with cool water, 
we came in sight. Two irregular, immense piles of 
adobes — towers and loopholes, everywhere visible 
— and a broken, blackened ruin, composed the cele- 
brated Pueblo de Taos — the stronghold of bravery, 
and the terror of the vale of Taos. A clear stream 
of water flowed between the two structures, over a 
green, white and gray pebbly bottom. Crossing on 
large flat stepping-stones, at irregular- intervals, 
the crystal fluid breaking and foaming, murmuring 
softly over — here a cascade — there an eddy — in 
which the foambubbles glided round and round, 
we passed by a Pueblo woman washing ; her kettles 
hanging over some pine sticks, the vapory blue 
smoke from which, waved upward in the bright sun. 
Around, were the accumulated ashes of years, im- 
bedded and hardened by frequent rains and con- 
stant tramping. The palisade, composed, in part, of 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 211 



wooden puncheons, and part thick adobes, formerly 
connecting the two great houses and the church 
(making a large inclosure), was broken down in 
many places, by the Americans in battle and by ne- 
glect ; the puncheons, sticking up at every angle, 
gave an old, tumble-down aspect to the whole. 

The church was the most important, as well as 
first, feature in the town, from the fact of its having 
been the principal scene of action in the fierce and 
sanguinary conflict between El Norte Americanos 
on the one side, and the combined forces of the 
Pueblo Indians and Mexicans on the other. 

It (the church) was an adobe building, parallelo- 
gram shaped ; high, thick walls, with no openings on 
the outer one, or those facing the yard, save em- 
brasures and loopholes, rudely cut for the occasion — 
the late battle. The front entrance faced the south ; 
the west and north sides (as I have mentioned 
devoid of windows), the open fields toward the Rio 
Grande, the town of San Fernandez and the 
Ranchita. 

As this was the culminating point of all the dif- 
ferences between the Americans and the New Mex- 
icans, an account may be essential to a portion of 
the readers of this narrative, of the origin, progress, 
and termination of the then pending difliculties ; 
and, while seated on a broken baggage wagon, to 
the south, and in full view of the town, looking and 
musing on the devastating effects of war, the 
reqiii.-?ite information will be succinctly given. — 

General Kearney, in command of the " Army of 



212 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



the West," marched to the capital of this province 
(Santa Fe) and quietly took possession, claiming it 
as United States territory. By him, the oath of 
allegiance was administered to many of the inhab- 
itants in propria persona; in many cases, the 
alcaldes or mayors of the small towns, received it 
for themselves and people. In this way the prov- 
ince was Americanized ; a governor and a com- 
plement of judges, attorneys, sheriffs, and other 
appurtenances and impertinences of even-handed 
justice appointed ; and, as the people appeared to 
be well contented, it w^as thought a bloodless con- 
quest had been made, reflecting credit, alike, on the 
character of the provincials and the Army of the 
West ! Leaving Colonel Price in command of the 
military force, and Governor Bent as the civil head 
of the territory, Kearney left New INIexico for Cali- 
fornia, to add fresh laurels to his wreatluof victory, 
taking with him a small armed force. Of the 
results of this latter expedition all are cognizant. 

In New Mexico everything was in a peaceful, 
prosperous condition, to all outward show ; the 
people traded freely ; small foraging and herding 
parties of American soldiery were cvciywhere scat- 
tered, placing confidence in the inhabitants. It was 
afterward seen that designing men — artfnl and 
learned natives — were busily, insidiously sow- 
ing the seeds of discontent among the more igno- 
rant class of the community, more especially the 
Pueblo Indians. The result was, they soon consid- 
ered themselves outraged — their lives at stake — 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 213 



their possessions in danger. With inflamed pas- 
sions, perverted minds, the brutal attack upon 
Governor Bent was commenced; and, witli cries of 
extermination, they advanced on Santa Fe, receiv- 
ing constant accessions in their triumphant march. 
Meanwhile, in other towns, massacres were frequent ; 
and the perpetrators of these, joining the main body 
of insurgents, met Colonel Price in the caflon El 
Embuda, where they were defeated with a small 
loss. They rallied in a few miles, and again they 
were forced to retreat. Colonel Price, marching 
with his cannon and baggage train over a new-cut 
road, through deep snows, followed them to the 
Pueblo de Taos, the place best calculated, in all the 
valley, for an obstinate resistance. Here, the enemy, 
barricading themselves in the houses, bid defiance 
to their pm-suers ; who, coming on them late in the 
evening, commenced a bombardment with twelve- 
pound mountain howitzers. But night forced them 
to withdraw to San Fernandez, two miles distant, 
amid the cries and jeers of the securely posted foe. 
In the morning. Price, with his command, moved 
forward in fine order over the intervening plain, 
first sending Captain St. Vrain, Avith whom the 
reader has become fully acquainted, and his troop 
of volunteers for the occasion, of mountaineers, 
traders, etc., skilled in Indian warfare, to the fields 
between the Pueblo and the mountain, a half mile 
distant, to intercept the retreat. A fire was opened 
by the howitzers, at four hundred yards, and, after 
some skirmishing by the infantry and Burgwin's 



214 AVAII-TO-YAII AXD 



command of dragoons, the enemy retreated to the 
church, from the numerous loopholes of which, they 
poured out a galling fire. The battery was now 
ordered up within a hundred yards, Avhich had some 
effect ; but, the balls strildng the tough mudwalls, 
did not always penetrate. Burgwin's dismounted 
men then stormed the front door of the church. 
After a spirited attack of several minutes, they 
were repulsed with the loss of their brave leader. 
The command devolving on Lieutenant Mcllvaine, 
they were ordered to the west side; where, with 
axes, a breach was cut, through which they en- 
tered, several losing their lives. The cannon 
were run up to the breach — the bursting of the 
bombs in the small space, in which so many were 
crowded, caused great destruction of life. "The 
mingled noise of bursting shells, firearms, the yells 
of the Americans, and the shrieks of the wounded," 
says my narrator, an eyewitness, " was most ap- 
palling." 

A Delaware Indian, " Big Nigger," by name, a 
keen shot, was the most desperate of the enemy. 
When the roof was fired, and the Americans 
poured in, he was pursued to the room behind 
the altar, where he fell, riddled by thirty balls. 
Many of the foe fled toward the mountain. Cap- 
tain St. Vrain, with his company, gave many their 
final quietus. The American loss was seven killed 
— that of the enemy one hundred and fifty, with a 
number of prisoners, among them the leader, 
Montojo, hung the next day, by drumhead coui't- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 215 



martial, in the plaza of San Fernandez. Others 
were committed to jail to await a trial by civil law. 
Colonel Price returned to Santa Fe, leaving a strong 
force to support the civil authorities in pursuance of 
their respective duties. To resume the thread of 
our narrative — 

We stood on the spot where fell the gallant Burg- 
win, the first captain of the First Dragoons, and 
then passed to the west side, entering the church at 
the stormers' breach, through which the missiles of 
death were hurled. We silently paused in the 
center of the house of Pueblo worship. Above, 
between the charred and blackened rafters, which 
leaned from their places as if ready to fall on us, 
could be seen the spotless blue sky of this pure 
clime — on either side, the lofty walls, perforated by 
cannon ball and loophole, let in the long lines of 
uncertain gray light ; and, strewed and piled about 
the floor, as on the day of battle, were broken, 
burnt beams, and heaps of adobes. Climbing and 
jumping over them, we made our way to the altar, 
now a broken platform, with scarce a sign or vestige 
of its former use ; and, in the room behind, we saw 
where " Big Nigger" and others, after a determined 
struggle, bravely met their certain fate. Hatcher 
was acquainted with the Delaware in former 
years. On emerging into the inclosure, we looked 
around, 

A few half-scared Pueblos walked listlessly about, 
vacantly staring in a state of dejected, gloomy 
abstraction. And they might well be so. Their 



216 WAII-TO-YAII AND 

alcalde dead, their grain and cattle gone, their 
church in ruins, the flower of the nation slain, or 
under sentence of death, and the rest — with the 
exception of those in prison — refugees, starving in 
the mountains. It was truly a scene of desolation. 
In the strong hope of victory they made no pro- 
vision for defeat ; in the superstitious belief of the 
protection afforded by the holy Church, they were 
astounded beyond measure that, in the hour of need, 
they should be forsaken by their tutelar saint — that 
los diablos Americanos should, within the limits of 
consecrated ground, trample triumphant, was too 
much to bear; and, pitiable objects, they fled as if 
diahlos from los rcgioncs inficrnos were after them, in 
sooth. 

The two casas grandc, or large houses, in ^vhich 
the Pueblos live, are worthy of examination, being 
constructed of adobes — the universal building ma- 
terial — seven stories in hight, each story somewhat 
smaller than the one below it, sloping gentl}^ in- 
ward — but not terrace-shaped. The mode of 
egress is at the topmost story. Ladders are used 
on the outside, from which they descend to the 
rooms inside. So subject are the Pueblos to attacks 
from hostile neighbors, that the}' have, from time to 
time, thus strengthened their habitations ; and, as 
the ladders are pulled to the roof, in case of dan- 
ger, they are safe from their enemies' lances and 
scalpknivcs ; for should an attempt be made at 
scaling, they would be exposed to the fire of the 
besieged from loopholes. An engineer might sug- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 217 



gest the plan of undermining the soft building ; 
the Indian besiegers, devoid of invention, have yet 
to try the plan. 

As a mode of defense, from their common enemy, 
the Indian, it certainly is admirable ; but what fort 
or foe can withstand the assaults of the energetic 
Anglo-Saxon, aided by consummate skill and the 
most destructive engines of war ? 

The adobe, or sun-dryed brick, is, I think, even 
better than burnt brick, or stone, to resist a bom- 
bardment; as the ball either passes through, mak- 
ing but a small hole, or the force is spent against 
the wall, without shattering the building. In sev- 
eral places where the cannon ball had penetrated 
three, four, or five inches, it rolled out again with- 
out cracking or shattering the wall in the least. 
Being tenacious and yielding, the mud brick serves 
as a good bulwark, not capable of being fired, and, 
in this dry climate, resists the trials of time and 
rain exceedingly well. Much credit is due the Pue- 
blos de Taos for their determined and manly resist- 
ance to what they considered tyranny, and for the 
capital manner in wdiich their fortifications were 
planned ; but, as a matter of course, they were de- 
feated by the Americans. Who could, for a mo- 
ment, expect anything else ? 

For years the Pueblo, by reason of fierceness of 
disposition, has held the balance of power in this 
district. It was the Pueblo who first revolted, and 
committed the late outrages — the Pueblo who, 
several years since, rose in arms, to put every 
19 



218 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



American to death — the Pueblo who has kept 
this district in a continual ferment ; but, at last ! at 
last, he has met his conqueror. 

They approach nearer to civihzation than any of 
the nomadic tribes of the west — profess the Roman 
Catholic religion ; which, by reason of ignorance, is 
mixed with a large share of superstition ; submit to 
civil law under the guidance of an alcalde, oisangre 
regular; cultivate the ground; and, in many pointr^, 
assimilate to the manners and customs of civilized 
man. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 219 



CHAPTER XVII. 

EL MUERTE. 

On Friday the ninth, the sky was unspotted, save 
by hastily-fleeting clouds; and, as the rising sun 
loomed over the Taos Mountain, the bright rays, shi- 
ning on the yellow and white mud houses, reflected 
cheerful hues, while the shades of the toppling 
peaks receding from the plain beneath, drew within 
themselves. The humble valley wore an air of 
calm repose. The plaza was deserted; wo-begone 
donkeys drawled forth sacreligious brays, as the 
warm sunbeams roused them from hard, grassless 
ground, to scent among straw or bones, their break- 
fast : a senora in her nightdress, and disheveled 
hair — which, at the fandango, was the admiration 
of the moustached senors, and half- wild vohintarios^ 
— could here and there be seen at this early hour, 
opening her house, previous to the preparation of 
the fiery chile Colorado. 

As onward sped the day, so did the crowd of 
morning drinkers at Estis's tavern, renew their liba- 
tions to Bacchus. Poor Mexicans hmTied to and 
fro, casting suspicious glances around ; los Yankees 
at El casa Americano, drank their juleps, and puifed 
their cigarillos in silence. 



220 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



The sheriff' (Metcalfe, formerly a mountaineer, 
aoninlaw to Estis) was in want of the wherewith to 
hang the criminals, so he borrowed our rawhide 
lariats, and two or three hempen picket cords of 
a teamster. In a room adjoining the bar, we put 
the hangman's noose on one end, tugging away 
quite heartily. 

A while after we had been talking of the pro- 
priety, etc., of taking the Mexicans' lives, said 
Hatcher — "This hos has feelin's hyar," slapping 
his breast, " for poor human natur in most any fix, 
but for these palous (pelados) he does n't care a 
cuss." 

"Yes," replied I, "they scalped Liel alive, and 
butchered innocent persons." 

"This coon," remarked Hatcher, "has made In- 
juns 'go under,' some — wagh ! — but he's never 
sculped 'em live ; this child's no niggur, an' he says 
its onhuman — agin natur — an' they ought to 
choke. Hello, Met, these riatas mity stiff" — won't 
fit; eh, old feller?" 

"I've got something to make 'em fit — good 
'intment — don't ermit very sweet parfume; but 
good 'nough for greasers ; freeze into it, boys," said 
Metcalfe, producing a rial's worth of Mexican soft 
soap, "this 'ill make 'em slip easy — a long ways too 
easy for them, I 'spect." 

We rubbed in the "intment," until the nooses 
could have been " warranted" to serve the intended 
purpose, without hitching; on the teamster's hard 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 221 



ropes, we used an unusal quantity. One item in 
Met's bill of expenses, was : 

'• To soft soap for greasing nooses, . . - . 121^.,'." 

Our fee for loan of lariats, consisted in the prof- 
fered aguardiente produced after washing our hands 
— not of the pleasant transaction of tying hang- 
man's nooses— ^ but of the soap sticking on our 
fingers. 

With newly-lighted cigarillos between our teeth, 
we walked with the sherift' to the jail, taking along 
the halters — the significant loops, conspicuous, 
drawing the attention of both soldier and native, 
eliciting from the former, familiar exclamations, 
such as — "Go it, my boys," " them's the dokyxnewts, " 
— " sarve 'em up brown" — from the latter won- 
dering looks. 

Entering a portal, with a nod to the sentinel on 
duty, we found ourselves in a court. In a room 
fronting this, was a ragged, ill-looking pelado, con- 
versing with a miserably-dressed old woman — his 
mother — and discussing greenish-blue tortillas, and 
chile Colorado, under the espionage of a slouchingly- 
attired, long-haired, dirty and awkward volunteer, 
who, to judge by his outward show, was no credit 
to his corps, or silver-gilt eagle buttons. He leaned 
in a most unsoldierlike position against the door- 
frame ; and, on our near approach, drew his feet 
somewhat closer to perpendicular, accosting us 
with — " Well, strangers ! how are ye ?" 

" Quite well, thank you," replied one of us, 

" Them's great briches of yom-n," broke in he ab- 
19* 



3'22 AVAII-TO-YAIl AND 



ruptly, after eyeing my fiinged buckskins for some 
moments," whar d' they riginate — Santy Fee ? Beats 
linsey-woolsey all holler, down to Callaway county." 

" Santa Fc ! " replied Hatcher, digusted with the 
fellow's simplicity, " why hos, them's Californy !" 

" Cal-y-for-ny ! my oh ! let's look at them, stran- 
ger. Calyforny! way over yonder!"' half way so- 
liloquising, and staring me doubtingly, with a side 
twist to his head, and a knowing squint from his 
porcine eye, "now, you don't mean to say j^ou 
was in them briches when they was in Calyforny?" 

" Him?" interrupted Hatcher, wishing to astonish 
the man, " that boy's been everywhar. He's stole 
more mule flesh from the Spaniards,* an' 'raised' 
more Injun bar, than you could tuck in your belt 
in a week ! " 

" How raise Injine hair? Lilce we raise corn and 
hemp to Callaway county, ur jest like raising hogs 
and y'oxens." 

" Oh ! you darned fool," retorted Louy Simonds, 
" a long ways the greenest Ned, we see yet." 
"No !" rejoined he imperatively, " when an Injun's 
a 'gone beaver,' we take a knife like this," pulling 
out his long scalpblade, which motion caused the 
man to open his eyes, " an' ketch hold of the top- 
knot, an' rip skin an all rite off, quicker an' a goat 
could jump!" 

"What's a 'gone beaver,' stranger?" again 
spoke up our verdant querist. 

* Common term for l^Icxicans — as they speak the SpiiiiJi l;iii£iia£e. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 223 



" Why, whar was you brung up, not to know the 
meanin' of sich terms — we'ud show you round fur 
a curiosity up in the mountains — let's go, fellers." 

We started to another part of the jail, but were 
stopped by a final question from our brave volun- 
teer to Hatcher — "Stranger! what mout your 
name be, ef I mout be so free-like ?" 

" Well, hos ! " returned the questioned, " my 
name mout be Bill Williams,* or it mout be Rube 
Herring,* or it mout be John Smith,* or it mout be 
Jim Beckvvith, * but this buffler's called John L. 
Hatcher, to rendevoo — Wagh! " 

We strolled to the room in which were the con- 
demned and other prisoners, to the number of 
eighty and more. A brass howitzer, the muzzle 
within four feet of the door, stood always ready to 
quell a tumult. 

It (the prison apartment) was a long, chilh' room, 
badly ventilated by one small window and the open 
door, through which the sun lit up the earth floor, 
and through which the poor pclados wistfully gazed. 
Two muscular Mexicans, basked in its genial 
warmth, a tattered and dirty sarape interposed be- 
tween them and the ground. The ends, once frin- 
ged, but now nearly clear of pristine ornament, 
were partly drawn over their breasts, disclosing in 
the openings of their fancifully-colored shirts — now 
glazed with filth, and faded with perspiration — the 
bare skin, covered with a wilderness of straight, 

* Wdl knowu Eocky IMountaia cliaractcrs. 



224 WAH-TO-YAH AND 

black hair. With hands under their heads, in the 
mass of string}" locks ^rusty-brown with neglect, 
and their attenuated smutty fingers coming through, 
revealing uncut nails, filled with dirt, they returned 
our looks with an unmeaning stare, and unheed- 
ingly received our salutation of — " Comme la va !" 

These men were the condemned. In two short 
hours, they hung lifeless on the gallows. 

Along the sides of the room, leaning against the 
walls, were crowded the poor wretches, miserable 
in dress, miserable in features, miserable in feelings 
— a more disgvisting collection of ragged, lousy, 
greasy, unwashed pelados, were, probably, never 
before congregated within so small a space as the 
jail of Taos. 

About nine o'clock, active preparations were 
made for the execution, and the soldiery mustered. 
Reverend padres, on the solemn mission of adminis- 
tering the " blessed sacrament " and spiritual con- 
solation, in long, black gowns, and meek counte- 
nances, passed the sentinels. 

Lieutenant Colonel Willock, commanding the 
military, ordered every American under arms. In 
accordance with the requisition, and with a desire 
to participate in the fight, should there be any (at 
least not to be helpless), I went for my gun, which 
had been delivered to one of the household, for 
safekeeping. 

Seeing Senora St. Vrain, in my best Spanish, I 
said to her — 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 225 



Senora ! onde esta riflero ? cary mucho — 
" Madam, where is my rifle ? I want it very much." 

Ah ! quien sabe se'nor ? — " Who knows, sir ? Care 
you a great deal for it ?" with a smile and shrug of 
the shoulders, esta — " here " — said she, handing it 
to me; Vamos — prento, por el rancheros — "go 
quick for the rancheros." 

Si, gracias Senora — adios — "Yes, Madame, 
thanks — farewell," replied I, touching my battered 
wool hat. 

Adios, Senor Americano — " Farewell, Sir Amer- 
ican," returned she, tenderly. 

On the houses, as I walked to the jail, were 
women trying to catch a glimpse of the prisoners 
and soldiers. As I passed by an aoztea, on which 
were two acquaintances, one cried out — "Senor!" 

Quien ?— " What is it ? " 

Eh Senor ! los rancheros muy diablos, muy tiefas, 
caraho ! — "The rancheros are very great thieves 
— great devils !" 

" Yes, ladies ; " and I passed on with a low bow 
in acknowledgment of their salutation. 

The prison was at the edge of town ; no houses 
intervened between it and the fields to the north. 
One hundred and fifty yards distant, a scaflJbld of 
two upright posts and a crossbeam, was erected. 

At the portal, were several companeros, discussing, 
in a very light way, the " fun," as they termed it, 
on hand — they almost wishing a rescue would be 
attempted, so as to gratify their propensity for ex- 
citement. 



226 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



The word was passed, at last, that the criminals 
were coming. Eighteen soldiers received them at 
the gate, with their muskets at port arms — the six 
abreast, with the sheriff on the right — nine soldiers 
on each side. Hatcher, Louy Simonds, Chad wick, 
myself, and others, eight in all, formed in line a pace 
behind, as the rearguard, with our trusty mountain 
rifles at rest, in the bended elbow of the left arm, 
the right hand resting on the stock, to be drawn up 
to the face, and all ready to fight on our ovA^n re- 
sponsibiUty, at the least intimation of danger. 

The poor pelados marched slowly, with down-cast 
eyes, arms tied behind, and bare heads, with the 
exception of white cotton caps, stuck on the back 
part, to be pulled over the face as the last cer- 
emonj^ 

The azaleas — roofs — in our vicinity, were cov- 
ered with women and children, to witness the first 
execution, by hanging, in the valle}^ of Taos, save 
that of Montojo, the insurgent leader. No men 
were near ; a few afar off, stood moodily looking 
on. 

On the flat jailroof w^as placed a mountain 
howitzer (the same piece had done the " state 
some service" at the battle of the Pueblo), loaded and 
ranging the gallows. Near, was the complement of 
men to serve it, one holding in his hand a lighted 
match. 

The two hundred and thirty soldiers (deducting 
the eighteen forming the guard) were paraded in 
front of the jail, and in sight of the gibbet, so as to 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 227 



secure the prisoners awaiting trial. Lieutenant 
Colonel Willock, on a handsome charger, from his 
position, commanded a view of the whole. 

When within fifteen paces of the gallows, the side- 
guard, filing off to the right and left, formed, at 
regular distances fi-om each other, three sides of a 
hollow square ; the mountaineers and myself com- 
posed the fourth and front side, in full view of the 
trembling prisoners, who marched up to the tree, 
under which was a government wagon, with two 
mules attached. The driver and sheriff assisted 
them in, ranging them on a board, placed across the 
hinder end, which maintained its balance, as they 
were six — an even number — two on each extrem- 
ity, and two in the middle. The gallows was so 
narrow they touched. The ropes, by reason of 
size and stiffness, despite the soaping given them, 
were adjusted with difficulty ; but, through the inde- 
fatigable efforts of the sheriff and the lieutenant 
(who accompanied us from the ranch), all prelim- 
inaries were arranged. The former, officiating as 
deputy sheriff for the occasion, seemed to enjoy 
the position — but the blue uniform looked sadly 
out of place on a hangman. 

With rifles grounded, we awaited the consumma- 
tion of the fearful tragedy. No crowd was around 
to disturb ; a death-like stillness reigned. The spec- 
tators on the azoteas seemed scarcely to move — their 
eyes dh-ected to the painful sight of the doomed 
wretches, with harsh halters now circling their 
necks. 



228 WAII-TO-YAII AND 

The sheriff and assistant sat down ; and, suc- 
ceeding a few moments of intense expectation, 
the he art -wrung victims said a few words to their 
people. 

But one, said that they had committed murder, 
and deserved death. In their brief, but earnest 
appeals, which I could but imperfectly comprehend, 
the Avords mi padre, mi madre — "my father, my 
mother" — could be distinguished. The one sen- 
tenced for treason showed a spirit of martyrdom 
worthy of the cause for which he died — the hberty 
of his country ; and, instead of the cringing, con- 
temptible recantation of the others, his speech was 
firm asseverations of his own innocence, the unjust- 
ness of his trial, and the arbitrary conduct of his 
murderers. With a scowl, as the cap was pulled 
over his face, the last words he uttered between his 
gritting teeth were, " Caraho, los Americanos!" 
The atrocity of the act of hanging that man for 
treason is most damnable ; with the execution of 
those for murder no fault should be found. 

Bidding each other " adibs," with a hope of meet- 
ing in heaven, at a word from the sheriff the mules 
were started, and the wagon dra^vn from under the 
tree. No fall was given, and their feet remained 
on the board till the ropes drew taut. The bodies 
swayed back and forth, and, coming in contact with 
each other, convulsive shudders shook their frames ; 
the muscles, contracting, would relax, and again 
contract, and the bodies writhed most horribly. 

While thus swinging, the hands of two came 



THE TAOS TRAIL, 229 

together, which they held with a firm grasp till the 
muscles loosened in death. 

After forty minutes suspension, Col. Willock or- 
dered his command to quarters, and the howitzer 
was taken from its place on the prison roof. The 
soldiers were called off; the women, children, and 
population in general collected around us — the 
rearguard — whom the sheriff detained for protec- 
tion, while delivering the dead bodies to the weeping 
relatives. 

We made a collection among ourselves of five 
dollars, and dispatched a messenger to clcasa 
Americano, to prepare for us, when relieved from 
duty, an eggnog in honor of the occasion; for the 
Mexican has long been the dislike of the moun- 
taineer, for overbearing conduct. Now that they 
have, for once, triumphed, a raerrymaldng must be 
given. We helped the sheriff to take down the 
bodies, and untie the ropes — a most unpleasant 
business, too ; for the cold, clammy skins and dead 
weight were revolting to the touch. 

We were cutting a rope from one man's neck — 
it was in such a hard knot — when the owner (a 
government teamster), standing by waiting, shouted 
angrily, at the same time starting forward — 

" Hello there ! do n't cut that rope ; I wont have 
any thing to tie my mules with." 

" Oh ! you darned fool," interposed a mountaineer, 
" the palous' ghosts '11 be after you, if you use them 
'riatas — wagh ! They '11 make meat of you, sartain." 

"Well, I don't care if they do. I'm in govern- 
20 



230 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



ment service ; an' if them picket halters was gone, 
slap down would go a dollar apiece. Money's 
scace in these diggins, an' I'm gwine to save all I 
kin, to take home to the old 'oman and the boys." 

In accordance with the fellow's earnest request, 
we spared the ropes, on which was soap enough for 
a dozen good washings, which he much needed. 

Shouldering our rifles, we walked to the tavern — 
discussing the length of time a man will live after 
he is swung off — where the fellows, washing, 
primed with the "raw" (real American brandy, 
from Estis' personal store, less adulterated than 
that at the bar), and, seating themselves in 
the family room, near the handsome senoras, were 
regaled with the best eggnog it is possible to manu- 
factm'e from the materials. Who would blame a 
man for making a temporary sacrifice of himself to 
Bacchus, .on such an occasion, and in the presence 
of such dark-eyed beauties ? We had, beside, brandy 
a discretion. 

"Sa-cre!" ejaculated a Canadian, after imbibing 
a glass of the foamy beverage, with a strained, half 
grunt of approbation '• Tonnere de Dieu! cc liqueur 
est treshon — ah,oui! trop bon,''^ added he, in a higher 
key of delight. 

" Wagh!" chimed in a hardy, self-pleased moun- 
tainman, " this knocks the hind sights off old Touse 
[Taos whisky]. I 'sc drunk," continued he, in a mus- 
ing tone of voice, " a heap liquor in ;;/?/ chargin' 
lifetime. Thar's alkyhol as makes drunk come 
mity quick; but 'taint good — burns up the innards; 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 231 



an' a feller feels like a gutTshot coyote. Then thar's 
Touse arwardenty; it's d — d poor stuff — kin taste 
the corn in it — makes me think I'm a hos, a feedin' 
away fur plowin' time; an' I allers squeals, an' 
raises my hind foot to kick, when any paloii comes 
about my heels. Then thar's — thar's" (his strong 
potations of the " raw " affecting him) " State brandy; 
that's good, too — kin drink on it all night; but this 
coon wants to dance Injun when he hides that in 
his meatbag." (Rising to his feet, and commencing 
an Indian dance): "Here's luck, boys! who-oop ! 
ow-ow-gh ! hay a hay — hay-he-ah-hay — ow-ow-gh- 
he-a, whoop! I'm drimk, bo^'s — muy borachio" — 
very drunk — " as the darned Spaniards say." Here 
he fell on the floor, and went to sleep. The rest 
looked on in drunken merriment. 

It is the opinion of eyewitnesses that the chivalric, 
noble, and patriotic "rearguard" knows little or 
nothing of the transactions of that eventful day, 
subsequent to one o'clock, or the time of entering 
Estis's private room. 

A nervous, fidgetty Canadian — living, I believe, 
in Taos — came to us, shortly after the bodies were 
taken away for burial, declaring that 'von prison- 
nier to de Ranchita vas come to de life encore." 

We replied, not if there vv'as any virtue in seventy 
minutes' suspension with rawhide riatas. 

To the Ranchita is sometliing less than a mile. 
The little fellow kept himself in a fume for two 
hom-s, running back and forth to see whether "de 
prisonnier" had yet opened his eyes. 



232 WAH-TO-YAII ANU 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

ADIOS! 

Hatcher, concluding that wc had better retui-n to 
the ranch, proposed to do so, and one afternoon we 
left, first loading our packmule, at George Bent's 
with a bulky bag of biscoche — hard bread. While 
they tarried behind to exchange farewells with their 
senoritas, and take a parting drink, I drove on the 
packmule, so as to gain time. He was an ungainly, 
vicious animal; and, on a severe application of my 
gunstick to his dusty hide, he laid flat his ears to 
his neck, raised his hindlegs, and with a petulant 
squeal, shot them out, rattling against my hard sad- 
dletree, barely missing my body ; and, before I 
could turn out of reach, the heel battery was again 
brought to bear, this time taking effect on my right 
leg. I felt like chewing up all the donkeyflesh in 
Taos. 

My friends soon caught up. Keeping our pack- 
mule in front, and riding abreast on the level road, 
we jogged along finely, half-screaming, half-scold- 
ing, whenever the mule attempted to dodge one- 
side. Sometime he would stop stock still in the full 
career of a fast trot ; we would shoot by, and then 
would ensue a race, sundry curses, and much bela- 
boring with gunrods. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 233 



We saw, to our surprise, at the large distillery, 
near the mouth of the cauon, Sadler, an old ac- 
quaintance, with as big a heart as any man in the 
mountains, attired in a costume claiming originality 
with the Indians, Mexicans, and Itimsclf! He wel- 
comed us — 

" Walk in, boys, hyar 's old Touse — not so old, 
but good — and I'm distiller." 

Within, the interesting process of whisky making 
was in progress. Sadler drew a quart cup of the 
new liquor, and handed it to us, which we merely 
tasted ; had we partaken every time the free- 
hearted fellow passed the cup, the valley of Taos 
might have been our resting place for one more 
night. The beer, manufactured from wheat, was 
tolerable good. 

Bidding Sadler " good-bye," we made our way 
up the pass. Attaining to some elevation, I turned 
in my saddle to take a last view of the beautiful 
valley, where were passed a few days, so replete with 
interest, and diversified with scenes tragic, comic, 
and domestic. 

Nature has done much to render acceptable the 
country — 

" 'Tis only man that 's vile." 

The New Mexicans, when weakest, are the most 
contemptibly servile objects to be seen ; and with 
their whining voices, shrugs of the shoulder, and das- 
tardly expression of their villainous countenances, 
they commend themselves unreservedly to one's 
20* 



"234 WAFI-TO-VAII AND 



contempt. But, when they have the mastery, the 
worst qualities of a craven's character are displayed 
in revenge, hatred, and unbridled rage. Depraved 
in morals, they stop at nothing to accomplish their 
purpose. The extreme degradation into which they 
are fallen seems a fearful retribution upon the 
destroyers of Aztec Empire. 

Woman is woman the world over, no matter 
where she is found. Though we were strangers 
and enemies, the Mexican women stood ready to 
greet us with a smile; and food, lodging, and 
the fragrant cigarillo were ever at our disposal. 
Take the valley and its people all in all, there was 
much to admire, and more to condemn — my mule's 
head, however, was turned to the mountain with 
some reluctance. 

The sun and water cheered us, and we felt pleas- 
ure in the anticipated prospect of sleeping in the 
open air — a perfect luxury, after having been 
" cabined, cribbed, and confined" in a tight adobe 
Mexican casa. 

The green cedar and pine, the mellow light of 
the sun gleaming through the branches, and the 
twittering of dusky-colored birds, induced a dreamy 
state ; for long intervals naught but the pattering 
of our mules' feet, or the quick, metallic clink of 
the flint and steel of Louy ligliting a pipe, broke 
the silence. We were under the influence of the 
harmony of nature, tobacco, and Taos whisky. 

Our course was in deep deflles, wliere moss cov- 
ered the rocks dank and green, and the spreading 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 235 



pine overlapped its twining boughs ; now winding 
along the tortuous pathway, around huge rocks and 
stunted, bushy trees, or up steeps, compelling us to 
cling to the manes of om- animals for support. 

As the shade of the mountain to the west crept 
over us, we came to the place where, on our jour- 
ney in, we last drank coffee. Near the willow 
bushes we pulled the saddles from our jaded mules, 
placing them on the brown sward ; and, watering 
and hobbling the animals in a sheltered spot, sat 
down to the beef and biscoche soaked in aromatic 
Java from the time-honored little tin kettle. We 
were all gratified with the idea of being "free" 
once more, and so few of us made camp desirable. 
That night, I with a bunch of cigarillos from a Cas- 
tillian-descended senorita, and they with pipes, sat 
by the blaze, in a decidedly musing mood. In my 
dreams, rebozas, black eyes, and shuck cigars were 
mixed in admirable confusion. 



X3G WAU-TO-YAH AND 



CHAPTER XIX. 

WAII-TO-VAII. 

No mules to be scon in the morning ; Louy had 
been out an hour for them ; so, partaking of a 
cup of coffee, Hatclier and I started in search. 

" Them Purblos hsive cached our cavyard, I 'spect; 
howsomever, mules is mules, an' they wi/l stray 
about — 'specially when tired. You know the pass 
was rough yesterday, an' we 'd better look good — 
many's the time my animals have strayed in the 
timber, and me a lookin' for 'em, a cussin' for 
darned niggurs, all the Injuns atwecn the Hcely 
(Gila) an' Bayou Salade." 

By this time, we were at a point of the mountain, 
on either side of which diverged a valley of gradual 
slope, bare of rocks and cedar, and carpeted with 
russet-brown grass, with small thickets of the 
smooth-barked aspen, studding the easy declina- 
tions — presenting an inviting walk in comparison 
to the rugged, scoria-strewn mountainside up 
which we had just been laboring. On Hatcher's 
saying — " You take that pass, an' I '11 take this" 
(he started up the left one from our position) " the 
cavyard's may be gone up one or t'other — guess 
you '11 find the trail of a rope, or some kind of ' sign.' 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 237 



If you do, shoot your rifle — this child's heerd it so 
often crack 'gainst buffler — an' Camanches, too, 
wagh ! — he knows the sound, an' he'll come an' 
help you." 

A fatiguing walk of half an hour, brought me to 
greater aspen groves, and almost impenetrable ce- 
dar thickets. My close scrutiny for "sign," was, at 
length, rewarded, while examining a leaf deposit. 
The foot of a mule, lately sunk in the soft ground, 
and a tiny print, not far distant, convinced me of 
being on the right trail. 

In front, an isolated peak towered t^vo hundred 
feet above, affording a good view of the contiguous 
small valleys ; a tiresome clamber over stones, and 
encounters with the bristling cactus, brought me to 
the apex, where I fell carelessly down with momen- 
tary exhaustion of strength. 

I espied the stray caballada below, in a sheltered 
oasis, quietly cropping the sweet grass — a grate- 
ful change from the scanty portion of corn at Taos ; 
for it was scarce, and worth nine dollai-s the fanega. 
Untying the hobbles, I drove them in a trot down 
to camp, with shouts, first discharging my rifle for 
Hatcher. Saddling up, we soon were wending our 
way. 

As we left Taos, Bill Garmon went in. He was 
to stay one night and overtake us, so we expected 
him all day to clatter at full speed down the moun- 
tain behind us. At sundown, crossing a wide val- 
ley, we camped amid huge, detached rocks, in a 



238 WAII-TO-YAII AND 



bower of pine branches, made by some vagrant 
ranchero. 

The spiral smoke, turning gray in the twilight, 
rose from the brushfire through Louy's exertions; 
the caballada, in single file, slowly returned from 
water, followed by Hatcher, ^vith gun on shoulder, 
whistling abstractedly, and through habit, search- 
ing the hills and the plain with his eye, for game or 
foe ; and I, by the fire, undid the leathern bag of 
biscoche, filled the little kettle from a bubbling rill, 
and, with butcherknife in hand, cut thin sUces of beef 
along (not across) the grain, in most approved 
style, and laid them on a wisp of grass; for 
we had no plates, or other superfluous kitchen fur- 
niture — the only articles requisite to a moun- 
taineer's cuisine, being a long knife and tin cup. 

During the convenient disposition of the meat 
and coffee, Louy detected a horseman approaching 
at a lope, from the direction of Taos. 

" Wagh ! Bill Garmon ! " ejaculated he. 

" How are ye ^ " shouted Bill at the top of his 
voice, as far as he could be heard, at the same mo- 
ment waving his old white-wool hat — "How are 
ye old fellers ? lookee hyar," he spoke in a less 
audible tone, as he threw his leg off the saddle, and 
held up a black flask of aguardiente, " hi, hi-i, hi, 
he-he, hc-he-a, hay a hay (rung out a Bacchanal 
song). Who-oopee ! horray for Taos an' arwerdenty, 
eh, old hos " said he to Hatcher. 

" Well now, you is some, I swan. Do 'ee hyar, this 
beaver went down to Taos without bringin' a pint 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 239 



of ' baldface,' as is only in his meatbag (patting 
his stomach) ; howsomever, you have more 'n enough 
for all ; besides its bad idee to bring much of the 
cussed stuff, whar a feller has to keep his eye 
skinned, an' his ears picked for the Rapahoes, an' 
other Injun varmint ; but, as you have it, old hos, 
this child does n't refuse, 'specially from a com- 
pany ero / " 

" Now, hobble your cavyard," said Louy, relax- 
ing in a smile at the liquor, and at calling Gannon's 
one mule a whole cavyard, " an' drink coffee with 
us — you is true grit, an' them's the sort as kin have 
everything ' on the prairie' as belongs to me." 

" Yes ! " pulling off the saddle and depositing it 
beside ours, in its proper place, for the night, to 
serve as pillow and protection for his head — " Yes ! 
I know that, without you telling it to me, Louy ; 
you 've been in the mountains too long, old feller, 
to have the meanness in you yet ; it's ' rubbed out ' 
beaver season outen mind," — time whereof the 
memory runneth not to the contrary. 

Notwithstanding Cassio's eloquent soliloquy on 
" putting that in a man's mouth which stealeth away 
his brains," the aguardiente gurgled out, amid the 
stifled grunts occasioned by throwing the head too 
far back, when the bottle was applied to the mouths 
of the jovial, yet quiet, group of mountaineers. Per- 
chance a sweetened dram was wanted, and the pat- 
tering of the liquor on the bottom of the tin cup 
could be heard — a sharp click for the first few 
drops, and in filling more confused and indistinct. 



240 WAII-TO-YAH AND 



With brown sugar, fished from the open bag, and 
stirred in with the broad butcherknife, it was tossed 
off with the hunter's toast of, " Luck, boys ! " There 
was not enough to leave unpleasant effects. It put 
Hatcher in a story telling, and the rest of the group 
in a good-natured listening humor. 

Hatcher was always full of stories of an amusing, 
serious, and often of a marvellous cast ; and we 
easily persuaded him to recount a few scenes in his 
wayward, everchanging life. Though he frequently 
indulged in rough slang, he did not partake of the 
Western's unsubdued nature altogether, I have 
chosen to select the more strange parts of his con- 
versations, as being the more strikingly illustrative 
of mountain character. He, at times, for his own, 
as well as our, amusement, would yarn in the most 
approved voya^cur's style, or tell the hardest story 
of sights in his range ; in short. Hatcher was au 
fait in everything appertaining to the Far West ; 
whether mimicking a Canadian Frenchman ; cow- 
ing down a score of Mexicans in fandango row ; 
" lifting " the " hair " of a Pawnee ; playing poker 
for beaver at rendezvous, or trading a robe, or sit- 
ting, with grave face, in Indian council, to smoke 
the long pipe, and discuss, with the aborigines, the 
many grievances to which they consider themselves 
subject by the innovations of the whites, or the rapa- 
ciousness and cruelties of their enemies of their 
own copper complexion. 

" Hatch, old hos ! hyar 's the coon as would like 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 241 



to hear of the thne you seed the old gentleman. 
You's the one as savys* all 'bout them diggm's." 

"Well, Louy, sence you ask it, and as Gannon's 
aguardiente is good, I do n't care ef I do tell that 
yarn; but it's mity long." 

" What one is that?" asked Garmon. 

" Why, the old beaver says as how he was in hell 
once — eh. Hatch?" 

"Sartain! this old hos wasn't any whar else-^ 
wagh !" replied Hatcher to Louy's doubting remark; 
an' I tellee, it's me km tell the yarn." 

He kept the pipe in his mouth, the stem hard 
held between the teeth, using his hands and knife 
to cut from a solid plug of " Missouri manufactured " 
a fresh pipe of strong tobacco. His eyes were fast 
fixed on an imaginary object in the yellow-pine 
blaze, and his face indicated a concentration of 
thought to call back important items for the forth- 
coming incongruous story, attractive by reason of 
its improbability — interesting in the manner of 
delivery. 

" Wellf'' taking a puff at his pipe to keep in fire, 
" it 's me as had been to Fort William (Bent's Fort) 
to get powder. Galena, an' a few contraptions, one 
beginning of robe season. I stuck around, waitin' 
for my possibles, which Holt was fixin' for me. 
Only a small train was from the States, an' goods 
were high — two plewsf a plug for bacca, three fur 



* Savy. — Ff. sacoir — Sp. sabe — "to 
t Plew. — A plem is one beaverskin. 

21 



242 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



powder, an' so on. Jim Finch, as went under on 
the ' Divide,' told me thar was lots of beaver on the 
Purgatoire. Nobody knowed it; they think the 
creek's cleared. At the kanyon, three suns from 
the fort, I sot my traps. I was by myself; fur you 
know beaver's not to be trapped by two — they're 
shy as a coyote as runs round camp to gnaw a 
rope, or steal an apishamore. I'll be darned if 
ten Injuns did n't come scrccchin' rite outer mc. I 
cached — I did — an' the niggurs made for the prairie 
with my animals. I tellee, this hos was fawclic 
(mad); but he kept dark far an hour. 1 heerd a 
trampin' in the bushes, an' in breaks my little gray 
mule. Thinks I, them Rapahoes aint smart; so I 
ties her to grass. But the Injuns had skecred the 
beaver, an' I stays in camp, eatin' parfleche and 
lariat. Now I 'gan to feel wolfish an' squeamish, 
an' somethin' was pullin' an' gnawin' at my innards, 
like a wolf in a trap. Jest then an idee struck me, 
that I'd been hyar afore, tradin' liquor to the Yutes. 

" I looked round fur sign, and hurra w fur 
the mountains, if I did'nt find the cache. An' 
now, if this hos has n't kissed the rock as was 
pecked with his butchorknifc to mark the place, he's 
ongrateful. Maybe the gravel wasn't scratched 
up from that cache some! an' inc, as would have 
given my traps fur 'o/r/ bull,' rolled in the aruar- 
denty — wagh! " 

"I was weaker an' a goat in the spring; but 
when the Tousc was opened, I fell back, an' let it 
run in. In four swallers I 'eluded to pull up stakes 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 243 



fur the head waters of Purgatoire for meat. I roped 
old Blue, tied on my traps, an' left. 

" It used to be the best place in the mountains 
fur meat — me an' Bill Williams has made it come — 
but nothin' was in sight. Things looked mity 
strange, an' I wanted to make back track; 'but,' 
sez I, ' h}' ar I ar, an' does n't turn, surely.' 

" The bushes was scorched an' curled, an' the 
cedar was like fire had been put to it. The big 
brown rocks was covered with black smoke, an' the 
little drink in the bottom of the kanyon was dried 
up. We was now most under the old twin peaks 
of Wah-to-yah ; the cold snow on top looked mity 
cool an' refreshin'. 

" Somethin' was wrong; I must be shovin' back- 
ards, an' that afore long, or I'll go under; an' I 
jerked the rein, but I'll be doggone — an' it's true 
as there's meat a runnin' — Blue kept goin' forrad. 
I laid back, an' cussed an' kicked till \saw blood, sar- 
tain ; an' I put out my hand fur my knife to kill the 
beast, but the Green River would n't come. I tellee 
some onvisible sperit had a paw thar, an' it 's me as 
says it — bad 'medicine' it was that trappin' time. 

" Loosin' my pistol — the one traded at 'Big 
Horn, from Suckeree Tomblow, time I lost my Yute 
squaw — an' primin' my rifle, I swore to keep rite 
on; fur, after stayin' ten year, that's past, in these 
mountains, to be fooled this way was n't the game 
fur me, no how. 

" Well, we — I say ' we,' fur Blue icas some — good 
as a man any day ; I could talk to her, an' she 'd 



244 ^VAIl-TO-YAFI AND 



turn her head as ef glie ondcrstood me. Mules 
arc knovvin' critters — next thing to human. At a 
sharp corner, Blue snorted, an' turned her head, but 
could n't go back. Thar, in front, was a level 
kanyon, with walls of black an' brown an' gray 
stone, an' stumps of burnt pinyon hung down ready 
to fall outer us; an', as we passed, the rocks and 
trees shook an' grated an' creaked. All at oncet 
Blue tucked tail, backed her ears, bowed her neck, 
an' hinnied rite out, a raring onto her hind legs, a 
pawin' an' snickerin'. This hos doesn't see the 
cute of them notions; he's fur examinin', so I 
goes to jump off, to lam the fool; but I was stuck 
tight as ef tar was to the saddle. I took my gun — 
that ar iron," (pointing to his rifle, leaning against 
a tree), "an' pops Blue over the head, but she 
squealed an' dodged, all the time pawin'; but 
'twas n't no use, an' I says, ' You did n't cost moren 
two blankets when you was traded from the Yutes, 
an' two blankets aint worth moren six plews at Fort 
William, which comes to dos pesos* a pair, y-ou 
consarncd ugly picter — darn you, anyhow!' Jest 
then I heerd a laflin', I looks up, an' two black 
critters — they wasn't human, sure, fur they had 
tails an' red coats (Injun cloth, like that traded to 
the Navyhoes), edged with shiny white stuff", an' 
brass buttons. 

*' They kem forrad an' made two low bows. I 
felt fur my scalpknive (fur I thouglit they was 

* Dos ppsos — "two dollars" — Spanish term. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 245 



'proacliin' to take me), but I could n't use it — they 
were so darned polite. 

" One of the devils said, with a grin an' bow, 
' Good mornin', Mr. Hatcher?' 

" ' H — ! ' sez I, ' how do 3'ou know me ? I swar 
this hos never saw you afore.' 

'■ ' Oh ! we've expected you a long time,' said the 
other, ' and we are quite happy to see you — we'\e 
known you ever since your arrival in the moun- 
tains.' 

" I was gittiu' sorter scared. I wanted a drop of 
arwerdenty mity bad, but the bottle was gone, an' I 
looked at them in astonishment, an' said — ' the 
devil ! ' 

" ' Hush ! ' screamed one, ' you must not say that 
here — keep still, you will see him presently.' 

" I felt streaked, an' cold sweat broke out all over 
me. I tried to say my praj'ers, as I used to at 
home when they made me tm-n in at night — 



" Xow I lay me down to sleep — 
" LaE'lord fill the flowiu' bowl. 

"P'shaw! I'm off agin, I can't say it; but if 
this child could have got oft' his animal, he 'd tuk 
' har,' and gone the trail fm* Purgatoire. 

" All this time the long-tailed devils was leadin' 
my animal (an' me on top of her, the biggest fool 
dug out) up the same kanyon. The rocks on the 
sides was pecked as smooth as a beaverplew, rubbed 
with the grain, an' the ground was covered with 
bits of cedar, like a cavyard of mules had been nip- 
21* 



246 WAU-TO-VAII AND 



pin' an' scattcrin' 'em about. Overhead it was 
roofed ; leastwise it was dark in thar, an only a 
little light come through holes in the rock. I thought 
I knew whar we was, an' eechod awfully to talk, 
but I sot still an' did n't ax questions. 

" Presently we were stop])cd by a dead wall — no 
opening anywhar. When the devils turned from 
me, I jerked my head around quick, but thar was no 
place to get out — the wall had growed up ahindus 
too. I was mad, an' I wasn't mad nuther; fur I 
expected the time had come fur this child to go 
under. So I let my head fall outer my breast, an' 
I pulled the old wool hat over my eyes, an' thought 
for the last, of the beaver I had trapped, an' the 
buffler as had took my G'lena pills in thar livers, 
an' the ' poker ' an' ' eulier' I'd played to rcndevoo 
an' Fort William. I felt cumfortable as eatin' ' fat 
cow ' to think I hadn't cheated any one. 

" All at once the kanyon got bright as day. I 
looked up, an' thar was a room with lights, an' 
people talkin' an laffin', an' fiddles a scrcechin'. 
Dad, an' the preacher to Wapakonnetta, told me 
the fiddle was the Devil's invention ; I believe it 
now. 

" The little fellex as had hold of my animal, 
squeaked out — ' Get off your mule, Mr. llatchrr !' 

"'Get off!' sez I, for I was mad as a bull 
pecked with Camanche lances, fur his disturbin' me, 
'get ofl'? I have been trying to, ever sence I came 
in this infernal hole.' 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 247 



" ' You can do so now. Be quick, for the com- 
pany is waitin,' sez he, piert-hke. 

" They all stopped talkin' an' were lookin' rite at 
me. I felt riled. ' Darn your company. I 've got 
to lose my scalp anyhow, an' no difference to me 
how soon — but to obleege ye — so I slid off as 
easy as ef I 'd never been stuck. 

" A hunchback boy, with little gray eyes way in 
his head, took old Blue awa3\ I might never see 
her agin, an' I shouted — 'poor Blue ! goodbye Blue !' 

" The young devil snickered ; I turned around 
mity starn — 'stop your laffin' you hellcat — ef T 
am alone, I can take you,' an' I grabs fur my knife 
to wade into his liver; but it was gone — gun, bul- 
letpoucli, an' pistol — like mules in a stampede. 

" I stepped forrad with a big feller, with har friz- 
zled out like an old buffler's just afore sheddin' 
time ; an' the people jawin' worse 'an a cavyard of 
parokeets, stopped, while Frizzly shouted — 

"' Mr. Hatcher, formerly of Wapakonnetta, lat- 
terly of the Rocky Mountains ! ' 

" Well, thar I stood. Things was mity strange, 
an' evevy darned niggur on 'em looked so pleased 
like. To show 'em manners, I said — 'How are 
ye ! ' an' I went to bow, but chaw my last 'bacca ef 
I could, my breeches was so tight — the heat way 
back in the kanyon had shrunk them. They were 
too polite to notice it, an' I felt fur my knife to rip 
the doggone things, but recollecting the scalptaker 
was stolen, I straightens up, an' bows my head. A 
kind-lookin' smallish old gentleman, with a black 



248 WAU-TO-YAIl AND 



eoat and .brichcs, an' a bright, cute face, an' gold 
spectacles, walks up an' pressed my hand softly — 

"How do you do, my dear friend? I have long 
expected you. You cannot imagine the pleasure 
it gives me to meet \"ou at home. I have watched 
your peregrinations in the busy, tiresome world, 
with much interest. Sit down, sit down ; take a 
chair, an' he handed me one." 

"I squared myself on it, but a ten-pronged buck* 
wasn't done sucking, when I last sot on a cheer, 
an' I squirmed awhile, oneasy as a gut-shot coyote. 
I jumps up, an' tells the old gentleman them sort 
of 'state fixins,' didn't suit this beaver, an' he pre- 
fers the floor. I sets cross-legged like in camp as 
easy as eatin' boudin. I reached for my pipe — a 
feller's so used to it — but the devil's in the kanyon 
had cached it too." 

"You wish to smoke, Mr. Hatcher? — we will 
have cigars. Here !" he called to an imp near him, 
"some cigars." 

" They was brought on a waiter, size of my bul- 
letbag. I empties 'em in my hat, lor good cigars 
ain't to be picked up on the peraira every day, but 
lookin' at the old man, I saw somethin' was wrong. 
To be polite, I ought to have taken but one. 

"'Ibeg pardon,' says I, scratchin' my old scalp, 
'this hos didn't think — he's been so long in the 



*A deer adds a p-onrf to each sueccoding year of Lis exibtence — hcuce 
a ten-pronged buck is ten years old. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 249 



mountains, he forgets civilized doins, an' I shoves 
the hat to him. 

" ' Never mind,' says he, wavin' his hand, an' 
smihn' faintl}^ ' get others,' speakin' to the boy aside 
him. 

" The old gentleman took one, and touched his 
finger to the end of my cigar — it smoked as ef fire 
had been sot to it. 

'"Wagh! the devil!' screams I, drawin' back. 

"'The same !' chimed in he, biting off the little 
eend of his'n, an' bovvin' an' and spittin' it out — 
'the same, sir.' 

"'The same! what?' 

"'Why — the Devil.' 

" ' H — ! this ain't the holler tree for this coon — 
I'll be makin' 'medicin'; sol offers my cigar to 
the sky, an' to the earth, like Injun.' 

"'You must not do that here — out upon such 
superstition,' says he, sharplike. 

"'Why?' 

'"Don't ask so many questions — come with 
me,' risin' to his feet, an' walkin' off slow, a blowin' 
his cigar smoke, over his shoulder in a long line, 
an' I gets along side of him, ' I want to show you 
my establishment — did not expect to find this 
down here, eh ? ' 

" My briches was stiff with the allfired heat in the 
kanon, an' my friend seein' it, said, ' Your breeches 
are tight ; allow me to place my hand on them.' 

" He rubbed his fingers up an' down once, an' 
by beaver, they got as soft as when I traded them 



250 ^VA^-To-YAlI and 



fi'om the Pi Yutes on the Heely (you mind, Louy, 
my Yute squaw; old Cutlips, her bos, came with us 
far as Sangry Christy goldmine. She's the squaw 
that dressed them skins). 

"Inow felt as brave as a bufRer in spring. The 
old man was so clever, an' I wallved 'longside like a 
'quaintance. We stopped afore a stone door, an' it 
opened without touchin'. 

"'Hyar's damp powder, an' no fire to dry it,' 
shouts I, stoppin'. 

'"What's the matter — do you not wish to peram- 
bulate through my possessions ? ' 

^" ' This hos does n't savy what the ' human ' for 
prerambulate is ; but I '11 walk plum to the hottest 
fire in your settlement, if that's all you mean.' 

" The place was hot, an' smelt bad of brimstone ; 
but the darned screechin' took me. I Avalks up to 
t'other eend of the 'lodge,' an' steal my mule, if 
thar was n't Jake Beloo, as trapped with me to 
Brown's Hole ! A lot of hellcats was a pullin' at 
his ears, an' a jumpin' on his shoulders, a 
swingin' themselves to the ground by his long har. 
Some was runnin' hot irons in him, but when we 
came up, they ^vent off in a corner a laflin' and 
talkin' like wildcats' gibberish on a cold night. 

" Poor Jake ! he came to the bar, lookin' like a 
sick bufller in the eye. The bones stuck through 
the skin, an' his har was matted an' long — all over 
jest like a blind bull, an' white blisters spotted him, 
with water runnin' out of 'em. 'Hatch, old feller ! 
7/ou here, too? — how are ye?' says he, in a faint- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 251 



like voice, staggerin' an' catchin' on to the bar fur 
support — 'I'm sorry to see you here, what did 
you' — he raised his eyes to the old man standin' 
ahind me, who gave him such a look : he went 
howlin' an' foamin' at the mouth to the fur eend of 
the den, an' fell down, rollin' over the damp 
stones. The devils, who was chucklin' by a furnis, 
whar was irons a heatin', approached easy, an run 
one into his back. I jumped at 'em and hollered, 
' You owdacious little hellpups, let him alone ; ef 
my sculptaker was hyar, I'd make buzzard feed of 
your meat, an' parjleche of your dogskins,' but they 
squeaked out to 'go to the devil.' " 

" ' Wagh ! ' says I, ' ef I ain't pretty close to his 
lodge, I'm a niggur ! ' 

" The old gentleman speaks up, ' take care of 
yourself, Mr. Hatcher,' in amity soft, kind voice; an' 
he smiled so calm an' devilish — it nigh on froze 
me. I thought ef the ground would open with a 
yairthquake, an' take me in, I 'd be much obleeged 
any how. Think's I — you saint- forsaken, infernal 
hell-chief, how I'd like to stick my knife in your 
withered old breadbasket. 

" ' Ah ! my dear fellow, no use in trpn' — that is 
a decided impossibility ' — I jumped ten feet. I swar, 
a ' medicine ' man could n't a heerd me, for my lips 
didn't move; an' how lie knew is moren this hos kin 
tell. 

'"Evil communications corrupt good manners. 
But I see your nervous equilibrium is destroyed — 
come with me.' 



252 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



"At t'other side, the old gentlemen told me to 
reach down for a brass knob. I thought a trick 
was goin' to be played on me, an' I dodged. 

" ' Do not be afraid ; tm-n it when you pull — 
steady there — that's it' — it came, an' a door, too. 
He walked in. I followed while the door shut of 
itself. 

'"Mit}^ good hinges! sez I, 'don't make a noise, 
an' go shut without slammin' an' cussen' 'em.' 

" ' Yes — yes ! some of my own importation ; no ! 
they were made here.' 

" It was dark at first, but when the otlier door 
opened, thar was too much liglit. In another 
room was a table in the middle, Avith two bot- 
tles, an' little glasses like them to the Saint Louy 
drink houses, only prettier. A soft, thick carpet 
was on the floor — an' a square glass lamp hung 
from the ceiling. I sat cross-legged on the floor, 
an' he on a sof}', his feet cocked on a cheer, an' liis 
tail quoiled under him, cumfortable as traders in a 
lodge. He hollered somethin' I could n't make 
out, an' in comes two, black, crooked-shank devils, 
with a round bench on one leg, an' a glass with ci- 
gars in it. They vamosed, an' the old coon inviting 
me to take a cigar, helps himself, an' rared his head 
back, while I sorter lays on the floor, an' we smoked 
an' talked. 

" We was speakin' of the size of the apple Eve 
ate, an' I said thar were none but crabapples until 
we grafted them, but he replied, thar uris good fruit 
until the flood. Then Noah was so hurried to git 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 253 



the yelaphants, pinchin bugs, an' sich varment 
aboard, he furgot good appleseed, until the water got 
knee-deep ; so he jumps out, gathers a lot of sour 
crabs, crams 'em in his pockets, an' Shem pulled 
him with a rope in the ark agin. 

" I got ahead of him several times, an' he sez — 
' Do you really believe the preachers, with their 
•smooth faces, upturned eyes, and whining cant ? ' 

" ' Sartainly I do ! cause they 're mity kind and 
good to the poor.' 

" 'Why I had no idea you were so ignorant — I 
assuredly expected more from so sensible a man as 
you ? ' 

" ' Now, look'ee hyar, this child is n't used to be 
abused to his own face — I — I tell 'ee it's mity hard 
to choke down — ef it ain't, sculp me ! ' 

" ' Keep quiet, my young friend, suffer not your 
temper to gain the mastery ; let patience have its 
perfect work. I beg your pardon sincerely — and 
so you believe the Bible, and permit the benighted 
preachers to gull you unsparingly. Come now ! 
what is the reason you imagine faith in the Bible is 
the work to take you to Heaven ? ' 

" ' Well, do n't a^oiod me an' I'll think a little — 
why, it's the oldest history anyhow: so they told 
me at home. I used to read it myself, old hos — this 
child did. It tells how the first man an' his squaw 
got hyar, an' the bufHer, an' antelope, an' beaver, 
an' bosses too. An' when I see it on the table, 
somethin' ahind my ribs thumps out : ' look, Job, n 

thar 's a book you must be mighty respectful to,' an' 

22 



254 WAII-TO-YAH AND 

so7)icho7o, I believe it 's moren human, an' I tell 'ee, 
its agin natur to believe otherwise, wagh ! ' 

" Another thing, the old gentleman mentioned, I 
thought was pretty much the fact. When he said 
he fooled Eve, an' iralkcd about, I said it was a snaJiC 
what deceived the olc 'oman. 

" ' Nonsense ! snake indeed ! I can satisfactorily 
account for that — but why think you so ?' 

" ' Because the big Bibles, with picters, has a 
snake quoiled in an appletree, pokin' out his tongue 
at Adam's squaw.' 

" ' P'shaw ! the early inhabitants were so angry 
to think that Satan could deceive their first mother, 
and entail so much misery on them, that, at a 
meeting to which the principal men attended, they 
agreed to call me a serpent, because a serpent 
can insinuate himself so easily. When Mo- 
ses compiled the different narratives of the earlier 
times, in his five books, he wrote it so too. It is 
typical, merely, of the wiles of the devil — my hum- 
ble self — an' the old coon bowed, ' and an error, it 
seems, into which the whole world, since Moses, 
have irretrievably fallen. But have we not been 
sitting long enough ? Take a fresh cigar, an' we 
will walk. That's Purgatory* wdiere your quon- 
dam friend, Jake Beloo, is. He will remain there a 
while longer, and, if you desire it, can go, though it 



* Ilatclicr was no Roman Catholic, but if lie saw Purgatory, surely I 
should mention it. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 255 



cost much exertion to entice him here, and then 
only, after he drank hard.' 

"'Iwish you wouki, sir. Jake's as good a com- 
panyero as ever trapped beaver, or gnawed poor 
bull in spring, an' he treated his squaw as ef she 
was a white woman.' 

" ' For your sake, I will ; we may see others of 
your acquaintance before leaving this,' sez he, 
sorter queer-like, as if to say — 'no doubt of it.' 

" The door of the room we had been talkin' in, 
shut of its own accord. We stopped, an' he 
touchin' a spring in the wall, a trapdoor flew open, 
showin' a flight of steps. He went first, cautioning 
me not to slip on the dark sta'ars; but I shouted 
' not to mind me, but thankee for tellin' it though.' 

" We went down, an' down, an' down, till I 'gan 
to think the old cuss was goin' to get mc safe, too, so 
I sung out — ' Hello ! which way ; we must be mity 
nigh under Wah-to-yah, we 've been goin' on so 
long ? ' 

" ' Yes !' sez he, much astonished, we 're just un- 
der the twins. Why, turn and twist you ever so 
much, you loose not your reckoning.' 

" ' Not by a long chalk ! this child had his bringin' 
up to Wapakonnetta, an' that's a fact.' 

" From the bottom we went on in a dampish, 
dark sort of a passage, gloomily lit up, with one 
candle. The grease was runnin' down the block 
as had an augerhole bored in it for a candlestick, 
an' the long snufl" to the eend was red, an' the 
blaze clung to it, as ef it hated to part company, 



256 AVAH-TO-YAH AND 

an' tinned black, an' smoked at the p'int in 
mournin'. The cold chills shook me, an' the 
old gentleman kept so still, the echo of my feet 
rolled back so hollow an' solemn. I wanted li- 
quor mity bad — mity bad. 

" Thar was noise smothered-like, an' some poor 
feller would cry out worse 'an Camanches chargin'. 
A door opened, and the old gentleman touchin' me 
on the back, I went in, an' he followed. It flew to, 
an' though I turned rite round, to look fur ' sign' to 
'scape, ef the place got too hot, I couldn't find it. 

" ' Wa-agh !' sez I. 

"'What now, are you dissatisfied ? ' 

"' Oh, no ! I was just lookin' to see what sort of a 
lodge you have.' 

"'I understand you perfectly, sir — be not afraid.' 

"My eyes were blinded in the light, but rubbin' 
'em, I saw two big snakes comin' at me, thar yaller 
an' blood-shot eyes shinin' awfully, an' thar big red 
tongues dartin' back an' forad, like a painter's 
paw, when he slaps it on a deer, an' thar wide jaws 
open, showin' long, slim, white fangs. On my right, 
four ugly animals jumped at me, an' rattled ther 
chains — I swai-, ther heads were bigger an' a buf- 
fler's in summer*. The snakes hissed an' showed 
thar teeth, an' lashed thar tails, an' the dogs 
howled, an' growled, an' charged, an' the light from 
the furnis flashed out brighter an' brighter ; an* 



* A buffalo, being divested of hair in llic Lot season, his head looks 
larger at that period. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 257 

above me, an' around me, a hundred devils yelled, 
an' laffed, an' swore, an' spit, an' snapped ther 
bony fingers in my face, an' leaped up to the ceiling 
into the black, long spiderwebs, an' rode on the 
spiders bigger an' a powderhorn, an' jumped off 
outer my head. Then they all formed in line, an' 
marched, an hooted, an' yelled : an' when the 
snakes jined the percession, the devils leaped on 
thar backs an' rode. Then some smaller ones 
rocked up an' down on springin' boards, an' when 
the snakes kem opposite, darted way up in the 
room an' dived down in their mouths, screechin' 
like so many Pawnees for sculps. When the snakes 
was in front of us, the little devils came to the ecnd 
of the snakes' tongues, laffin, an' dancin', an' singin' 
like eediuts. Then the big dogs jumped clean over 
us, growlin' louder 'an a cavyard of grisly b'ar, an' 
the devils holdin' on to thar tails, flopped over my 
head, screamin' — ' we've got you — we've got you 
at last !' 

" I could n't stand it no longer, an' shuttin' my 
eyes, I yelled rite out, an' groaned. 

" ' Be not alarmed,' and my friend drew his fingers 
along my head an' back, an' pulled a little narrow, 
black flask from his pocket with — ' take some of this.' 

" 1 swallered a few drops. It tasted sweetish an' 
bitterish — I don't exactly savy how, but soon as it 
was down, I jumped up five times an' yelled — 'out 
of the way, you little ones, an' let me ride;' an' 
after runnin' long side, and climbin' up his slimy 
scales, I got straddle of a big snake, who turned his 
22* 



258 WAII-TO-TAII AND 



head around, blouin' his hot, sickenin' breath in 
my face. I waved my old wool hat, an' kickin' him 
in a fast ran, sung out to the little devils to git up 
behind, an' off we all started, screechin' 'Hooi-aw 
fur Hell!' The old gentleman rolled over an' bent 
himself double with laffin, till he putty nigh choked. 
We kept goin' faster an' faster till I got on to my 
feet (though the scales were mity slippery) an' 
danced Injun, an' whooped louder than 'em all. 

" All at once, the old gentleman stopped lafRn', 
pulled his spectacles down on his nose an' said — 
' Mr. Hatcher, we had better go now,' an' then he 
spoke somethin' I could n't make out, an' the ani- 
mals all stood still ; I slid off, an' the little hellcats 
a pinchin' my ears, an' pullin' my beard, went off 
squeakin'. Then they all formed in a halfmoon 
afore us — the snakes on ther tails, with heads way 
up to the black cobwebby roof; the dogs rared on 
thar hindfeet, an' the little devils hangin' every 
whar. Then they all roared, an' hissed, an' 
screeched seven times, an' wheelin' off, disap- 
peared, just as the light went out, leaving us in the 
dark. 

'''Mr. Hatcher,' sez the old gentleman agin, 
movin' off, 'you will please amuse yourself until I 
return;' but seein' me look wild, 'you have seen 
too much of me to feel alarmed for your own safety. 
Take this imp fur a guide, an' if he is impertinent, 
put him through ; and, for fear the exhibitions may 
overcome your nerves, imbibe a portion of this cor- 



TPIE TAOS TRAIL. 259 



dial,' which I did, an' everything danced afore my 
eyes, an' I was n't a bit scairt. 

" I started fur a red hght as came through the 
crack of a door, a stumbUn' over a three-legged 
stool, an' pitchin' my last cigar stump to one of the 
dogs, chained to the wall, who ketched it in his 
mouth. When the door was opened by my guide, 
I saw a big blaze like a joeraira on fire — red and 
gloomy; an' big black smoke was curlin', an' 
twistin', an' shootin', an' spreadin', and the flames 
a licking the walls, goin' up to a pint, and breakin' 
in to a wide blaze, with white an' green ends. 
Thar was bells a tollin', an' chains a clinkin', an' mad 
howls an' screams ; but the old gentleman's ' medi- 
cine' made me feel as independant as a trapper 
with his animals feedin' round him, two pack 
of beaver in camp, with traps sot fur more. 

" Close to the hot place, was a lot of merry 
devils lafiin' an' shoutin' with an' old pack of greasy 
cards — it minded me of them we plajed with to 
rendezvoo — shuffiin' 'em to 'Devil's Dream,' an' 
' Money Musk ; ' then they 'ud deal in slow time, 
with ' Dead March in Saul,' whistlin' as solemn 
as medicine men. Then they broke out of a suddent 
with " Paddy O'Rafferty,' which made this hos move 
about in his moccasins so lively, one of them as was 
playin', looked up an' sed — 'Mr. Hatcher, won't 
you take a hand — make way, boys, fur the gentle- 
man.' 

" Down I sot amongst 'em, but stepped on the lit- 
tle feller's tail, who had been leadin' the Irish jig. 



260 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



He hollered till I got off it — ' Owch ! but it's on 
my tail ye are ! ' 

" ' Pardon,' sez I, ' but you 're an Irishman ! ' 
" ' No, indeed ! I 'm a hellimp, he ! he ! who-oop ! 
I 'm a hellimp,' an' he laffed, and pulled my beard, 
an' screeched till the rest threatened to choke 
him ef he didn't stop.' 

" ' What's trumps ? ' sez I, ' an' whose deal ? ' 
"'Here is my place,' sez one, ' I'm tired playin' ; 
take a horn,' handin' me a black bottle,' 'the 
game's poker, an' it's your deal next — there's a 
bigger game of poker on hand,' an' picldn' up an 
iron rod heatin' in the fire, he pinched a miserable 
burnin' feller ahind the bars, who cussed him, an' 
run way in the blaze outen reach.' 

" I thought I was great at poker by the way I 
took the plews an' traps from the boys to rendezvoo, 
but hyar the slick devils beat me without half tryin'. 
When they slapped down a bully pair, they 'ud 
screech an' lafi" worse 'an fellers on a spree. Sez 
one — 'Mr. Hatcher, I reckon you're a hos at 
poker away to your country, but you can't shine 
down here — you are nowhar'. That feller lookin' 
at us through the bars, was a preacher up to the 
world. When we first got him, he \vas all-jircd hot 
and thirsty. We would dip our fingers in water, 
an' let it run in his mouth, to got him to teach us 
tlie best tricks — he's a trump — he would stand 
an' stamp the hot coals, and dance up and down, 
while he told us his experience. Whoopee ! how 
we would laugh ! He has delivered Xwolong sermons. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 261 



of a Sunday, and played poker at night on fip 
antes, with the deacons, for the money bagged that 
day ; and, when he was in debt, he exhorted the 
congregation to give more fm- the poor heathen in a 
foreign land, a dying and losing their souls for the 
want of a little money to send 'em a gospel 
preacher — that the poor heathen 'ud be damned to 
to eternal fire etthejdidn't make up the dough. The 
gentleman as showed you around — Old Sate, we 
call him — had his eye on the preacher for a long 
time. When w^e got him, we had a barrel of liquor, 
and carried him around on our shoulders, until 
tired of the fun, and then threw him in the furnace 
yonder. We call him ' Poke,' for that was his fa- 
vorite game. Oh, Poke ! ' shouted my friend, ' come 
here; thar's a gentleman wishes you^ — ^ we '11 give 
you five drops of water, an' that's more than your 
old skin's worth.' 

" He came close, an' though his face was poor, 
an' all scratched, an' his har swinged mity nigh off, 
' make meat ' of this child if it was n't old Cormon 
as used to preach to the Wapakonnetta settlement ! 
Many a time this coon's bar's stood on eend, when 
he preached about t' other world. He came close, 
an' I could see the chains tied on his wrists, whar 
they had worn to the bone, showin' the raw meat, 
an' dryed and runnin' blood. He looked a darned 
sight worse an' ef Camanches had skulped him. 

"'Hello! old coon, sez I, 'we're both in that 
awful place you talked so much about, but I ain't 
so bad oft" as you, yet. This young gentleman,' 



262 AVAii-To-VAn and 



pointin' to the devil who told me of his doins — 
' this young gentleman has been tellin' me how you 
took the money you made us throw in on Sunday.' 

" ' Yes,' sez he, ' cf I had only acted as I told 
others to do, I would not have been here scorching 
for ever and ever — water! water! John, my son, 
fur my sake, a little water.' 

" Just then a little rascal stuck a hot iron in him, 
an' off he ran in the flames, caching on the cool 
side of a big chunk of fire, a looldn' at us fur w^ater ; 
but I cared no more fur him than the Pawnee, whose 
topknot was tucked in my belt, fur steaUn' my 
ca\yard to the Coon Creeks ; an' I sez — 

" ' This hos does n't give a cuss fur you ; you 're a 
sneakin' hypercrite ; you deserve all you 've got an' 
more too — an', lookee hjar, old boy, it's mc as 
says so.' 

" I strayed off a piece, pretendin' to get cool ; 
but this coon 'gan to git scairt, an' that's a fact, far 
the devils carried Cormon till they got tired oi liim ; 
' an',' sez I to myself, ' an' liaint they been doin' me 
the same way? I'll caclic — I will — fur I'm not 
overly good, specially since I came to the moun- 
tains. Wagh ! but this beaver must be movin' fur 
deep water, if that 's the way your stick floats ' (a 
floating stick attached to the chain marks the spot 
of the submerged beavertrap). 

" Well now, this child felt sorter queer, so he 
santers 'long slowly, till he saw an' open place in 
the rock ; not mindin' the imps who was drinkin' 
away like trappers on a bust. It was so dark thar, 



TIIE TAOS TRAIL. 2G3 



I felt my way mity still (fur I was afraid they 'ud 
be after me) ; I got almost to a streak of light, 
when thar was sich a rumpus back in the cave as 
give me the trimbles. Doors was slammin', dogs 
growlin' an' rattlin' thar chains, an' the devils a 
screamin'. They come a chargin'. The snakes 
was hissin' sharp an' wiry ; the beasts howled out 
long an' mournful ; an' thunder rolled up over- 
head, an' the imps was yellin' an' screechin' like 
mad. 

"' It's time to break fur timber, sure,' and I run 
as ef a wounded buffler was raisin' my shirt with 
his horns. The place was damp, an' in the narrow 
rock, lizards an' vipers an' copperheads jumped out 
at me, an' clum on my legs, but I stompt an' shook 
'em oft". Owls, too, flopped thar wings in my face, 
an' hooted at me, an' fire blazed out, an' lit the place 
up, an' brimstone smoke came nigh on chokin' me. 
Lookin' back, the whole cavyard of hell was comin', 
an' devils on devils, notliin' but devils, filled the 
hole. 

" I threw down my hat to run faster, an' then 
jerked off my old blanket, but still they was gainin'. 
I made one jump clean'out of my moccasins. The 
big snake in front was closer an' closer, with his 
head drawed back to strike ; then a helldog raked 
up nearly long side, pantin' an' blowin' with the 
slobber runnin' outen his mouth, an' a lot of devils 
hangin' on to him, was cussin' me an' screechin'. 
I strained every jint, but no use, they still gained — 
not fast — but gainin' they was. I jumped an' 



264 WAII-TO-YAII AND 



swore, an' leaned down, an' flung out my hands, but 
the dogs was nearer every time, an' the horrid 
yelUn' an' hi^sin' way back, grew louder an' louder. 
At last, a prayer mother used to make me say, I 
had n't thought of fur twenty year or more, came 
rite afore me clear as a powderhorn. I kept runnin' 
an' sayin' it, an' the niggujs held back a little. I 
gained some on them — Wagh ! I stopped re- 
peatin', to get breath, an' the foremost dog made 
such a lunge at me, 1 forgot it. Turnin' up my 
eyes, thar was the old gentleman lookin' at me, an' 
keepin' alongside, without walkin'. Ilis face war n't 
more than two feet off, an' his eyes was fixed steady, 
an' calm an' devilish. I screamed rite out. I shut my 
eyes but he was thar too. I howled an' spit an' 
hit at it, but could n't git the darned face away. 
A dog ketched hold of my shirt with his fangs, 
an' two devils, jumpin' on me, caught me by the 
throat, a tryin' to choke me. While I was pullin' 
'em off, I fell down, with about thirty-five of the 
infernal things, an' the dogs, an' the slimy snakes a 
top of me, a mashin' an' taren' me, I bit big 
pieces out of them, an' bit an' bit agin, an' 
scratched an' gouged. When I was most give out, I 
heerd the Pawnee skulp yell, an' use my rifle 
fur a pokin' stick, ef in did n't charge a party of the 
best boys in the mountains. Tlin/ slaved the devils 
right an' left, an' sot 'em runnin' like goats, but this 
hos was so weak fightin', he fainted away. When I 
come to, we was on the Purgatoire, just whar I 
found the liquor, an' my companyeros was slappin' 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 265 

thar wet hats in my face, to bring me to. Round 
whar I was layin', the grass was pulled up an' the 
ground dug with my knife, and the bottle, cached 
when I traded with the Yutes, was smashed to 
flinders 'gainst a tree. 

" ' Why, what on airth. Hatcher, have ye bin 
doin' hyar ? You was a kickin' an' taren' up the 
grass, an' yellin' as ef yer ' har ' was taken. Why, 
old hos, this coon do n't savy them hifelutin' notions, 
he does n't ! ' 

" ' The devils from hell was after me,' sez I mity 
gruff, ' this hos has seen moren ever he wants to 
agin.' 

" They tried to git me outen the notion, but I 
swar, an' I '11 stick to it, this child saw a heap more 
of the all-fired place than he wants to agin ; an' ef 
it aint fact, he does n't know ' fat cow ' from ' poor 
bull'— Wagh!" 

So ended Hatcher's tale of Wah-to-yah, or what 
the mountaineer saw when he had the mania potu. 



23 



26G AVAII-TO-YAH AND 



CHAPTER XX. 

THE FARM. 

Our route in the morning, was the same trail by 
which we entered Taos. Long hills gave hard 
work to om* mules, who, panting and in single 
file — a miniature caravan — patiently toiled; and 
we, slowly following, cheered them with snatches 
of merry song. In a mountainous country as this, 
the absence of mules would be a serious drawback 
to trade ; for the Indian horses, though of compact 
build, and inured to a scanty subsistence of grass, 
can not bear up under the severe fatigue attendant 
on such journeys. 

Once more on the prairie, we experienced a 
feeling of relief; for the jostling on the uneven 
pathway, and the cold and snow, gave place to 
rapid and easy travel. The weather was more 
genial, and hares, starting from the sage bushes, 
enlivened our progress. We made camp before 
nightfall, on El Rayada, a half mile above a party 
of men whom we did not go near ; they, supposing 
us Indians, cor ailed their animals in haste. - 

Succeeding a refreshing night's rest by the rip- 
pling Rayada, we saddled and packed ; a tin cup of 
coffee and biscoche served to break our fast; and, 
ere the distant Raton had gleamed withthe dawning 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 267 



light, we were far on our way. Two hours' ride 
brought us to the bluff, at whose base, a hundred 
feet below, trickled El Agua Vaca. The same 
chain on which we stood, converging above and 
below, so shut out the chill winds, that, this early, 
the tree-dotted streamlet margins upbore the joyous 
mantle of green, blending so harmoniously with the 
more tardy growth of the swelling hills beyond, A 
soft cloud of mist, gently overshadowing and grad- 
ually retreating, chidingly clung to the topmost 
treebranches in seeming unwillingness to depart. 
Through the rugged gorge, at the entrance of this 
spot, tumbled the foamy brook in rapid descent; 
then whirled impetuously, it soberly meandered in 
glassy pools away from the eye, in the intricate 
windings of the rock. By the still, pm-ling waters, 
sleek, contented cows pulled the sweet verdure, or 
quietly reposed; while, hid from them by a jutting 
point in front, many calves frisked about, or basked 
in the sheltered sunbeams. Embowered in a thicket 
of dogwood and cedar, at our feet, with huge de- 
tached masses of upreared rock, guardian spirit-like 
surrounding it, was the humble and romantic abode 
of Antonio, the vaquero. 

Descending the sliding point, with mules reined 
back on their haunches, we stopped in the crystal- 
brown waters, which, murmuring a laughing fare- 
well to the Dryads of the fountain, sped away 
merrily in the heedless race for the distant plain. 
Antonio's house was composed of a few logs, 
merely — altogether not seven feet in hight or 



268 WAII-TO-YAH AND 



length ; in front was a miniature court ; while nu- 
merous goats, browsing among the rocks, enhanced 
the domestic air of El Agua Vaca. 

In a corner of the hut we found a bucket of milk ; 
so, sans ceremonie, it was hung over the fire with 
crumbled biscoche. While discussing its merits, 
an object enveloped in a blanket, and topped with 
a tall-peaked, rusty-looking sombrero, rode up on 
a Sony bay horse. He was armed with huge spurs, 
lasso, and bow and sword — his tout ensemble cutting 
such a ridiculous figm-e, we laughed outright. Don 
Quixote de la Manclia, thought I, how came he here? 
But it was only Antonio. He was a good JNIexican, 
if any of the nation deserve that prefixing adjective. 
He asked us concerning his esposa, muger — his wife. 

An hour more brought us to the Cimarone rancho, 
where our old companeros welcomed us. They 
were much pleased with our recital of adventures 
in El Valle de Taos. 

Hatcher and William Bent had made prepara- 
tions for farming in the Purgatoire valley, below the 
crossing of the Santa Fe trail. Hatcher was to take 
the company's mules, horses, and cows to the farm. 
For two days we were busied in separating the 
United States stock from ours ; and in the after- 
noon of the third, with Tibeau for wagondriver, 
and Louy Simonds, Antonio, and myself. Hatcher 
turned his face to the Raton. Staying on the Cim- 
arone that night, we passed the following Jornada 
in monotonous cattledriving. The weather was 
warm, and calves, worn down with walking, were 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 26 



hauled in the wagon ; but considerable chasing 
and final lassoing were necessary to capture the 
young brutes, ere they submitted to the unceremo- 
nious hoisting. At night the Vermejo afforded 
water, and a grove of willows, hard by, shelter and 
fuel. With milk, biscoche, beef, and coffee, we 
enjoyed ourselves; for when mountaineers have 
plenty to eat, they are cheerful; but, in starving 
times, wagh ! — an old bear is better company. 

The succeeding morning, a calf preferring the 
shade of the wdllows to the hot sun, and evading 
all attempts at capture, Hatcher sent a ball through 
it. His was a short, heavy rifle, the stock unvar- 
nished; and, when he brought it to his face, the 
game most always came. He was the best shot 
within my knowledge. 

The rifle I brought from the States proving too 
light for this windy country, I exchanged it with 
Garmon for a long, heavy one, whole-stocked, and 
the barrel fastened to its place with two wooden, 
and one iron, pegs. At the guard the stock had 
been accidentally broken short off, and was secured 
again with a strip of skin, warm from a buffalo's 
flank, sewed on with sinew and awl. Seven 
years before it came into my possession, Louy 
Simonds, while trapping on the noi^ern lakes, in 
a hand-to-hand conflict with a black bear, shattered 
the old stock. An ingenious Dutchman made a 
new one, with a hatchet, drawing and pocketknife, 
of a piece of cm^led maple, which had been riven 
by lightning. The same stock still remained ; and 
23* 



270 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



the associations connected with it, together with 
its quaUties as a shootingiron and its antiquated 
appearance, made it a favorite with me. 

The sun was setting as we turned from the trail, 
and unsaddled in a horseshoe bend of El Rio Cana- 
diano, near a grove of cotton woods. The oxen 
were unyoked, the droves directed to water, and 
the cows milked. When night overshadowed the 
scene, we sat on outspread blankets close to the 
fire, with " a heap " inside, and pipe in mouth, 
enjoying our ease with dignity. 

This section of country I have often heard spoken 
of as uninteresting; but to me there were many 
attractions. Here. Avith mule and gun, and a few 
faithful friends, one experiences such a grand sen- 
sation of liberty and a total absence of fear; no 
one to say what he shall do ; costumed as fancy, or 
comfort, dictates; his blanket his house, the prairie 
his home. Money he needs not, except to buy 
coffee, ammunition, and "Touse." No conven- 
tional rules cf society restrict him to any particular 
form of dress, manner, or speech — he can swear 
a blue streak, or pray ; it is his own affair entirely. 
Here, too, one soon learns to say nothing, and do 
less, but for himself; and the greenhorn is often 
reminded, amid showers of maledictions, to confine 
his philanthropic deeds and conversations to his 
own dear self. I was quite amused by the kindly- 
intentioned remarks of an old mountaineer to me, 
shortly after my appearance in the country. "If 
you see a man's mule running off, don't stop it — 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 271 



let it go to the devil; it is n't yourn. If his possible 
sack falls off, do n't tell him of it; he'll find it out. 
At camp, help cook — get wood an' water — make 
yourself active — get your pipe, an' smoke it — 
don't ask too many questions, an' you'll pass!" 

The cattle were too fat to travel fast, and their 
heated tongues lolled out as they pantingly walked 
along. We were in motion the entire day; for 
water was not to be procured ; and, when the sun's 
intense rays were diverted by a range of isolated 
hills, we joyfully hailed the approach of evening. 
The mountain, which we were nearing, was rough; 
its pine-clad sides grew black with the shades of 
night. To the south the chain was continued, till 
lost in the uncertain twilight. Hatcher, who had 
been reconnoitering for water in a canyon two 
miles to the east, returned unsuccessful. Scarcely 
before dark we stopped on a grateful rivulet. The 
cattle — a hundred in number — scenting the water, 
ran bellowing and goring one another in the strug- 
gle; the caballada galloped up the bed of the 
stream, making the water unfit for our own throats. 
The cows lowed for their calves, who, in turn, 
bleated most lustily; the mules squealed and 
kicked, while we shouted and clubbed them off our 
camp and saddles. It was a grand concert, each 
one playing his own tune. But soon the uneasy 
juveniles were industriously nudging at swelling 
teats in silence, and the mules ranging the hillsides. 

Building a fire near the brook, we were quietly 
seated by the blazing logs — the meat cooking, and 



272 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



the mouth of the biscoche bag convenient. The 
biscoche occupied the center of the circle when we 
ate, and, in the total absence of plates, the leg 
doubled up, ser\'^ed, except when the meat was too 
hot; then a rock, chip, or anything handy, inter- 
posed. Indeed, we have used dry buffalo chips on 
the plain, instead of the more agreeable delft. 

That night parched coffee gave out. We had 
nothing in which to burn more; but, as necessity is, 
ever, the mother of invention, we selected two flat 
stones from the channel at hand, twenty-five to 
thirty inches in diameter, which we placed on the 
fire till heated ; then one was taken off, the coffee 
poured on, and stirred with a stick. The stones 
served alternately as they became cool. When the 
coffee was sufficiently burned, a piece of skin was 
laid on the ground, and a clean stone, a foot in 
diameter, rested on the knees of the grinder, with 
one edge on the skin. A smaller stone, held in the 
hand, reduced the grains between it and the larger 
one, to powder, by a rotary motion. 

The cattle were in better plight on resuming the 
journey. Further up the pass we found a camp of 
United States teamsters, their wagons and position 
in unison with their character — strung along the 
road for tw^o hundred yards. A half-dozen Apaches 
could have scalped the men and robbed the wagons 
with impunity. 

We passed without stopping, and at a steep hill 
near, we dismounted, to put our shoulders to the 
wagonwheel. Returning to the train, I galloped up 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 273 



to our party again, with a piece of mess pork, for 
which I gave one dollar. A little salt meat, with 
an abundance of fresh, was palatable. The con- 
tinued use of the " salt" too plainly showed in the 
teamsters' sallow countenances. Their Purgatoire 
encampment had quite a large graveyard attached 

— comrades of the survivors in the Raton. 

A mile beyond, we came upon a group of three 
men cooking, the leader of whom was a man known 
from the Yellowstone to El Rio Bravo, from Salt 
Lake to Sangre Christo, from Santa Fe to Missouri 

— the shrewd, independent Jim Beckwith. He 
claimed parentage on the maternal side from one 
w^ho, in childhood, played 'neath the palmtrees, in 
the golden sands displaced by " Afric's sunny foun- 
tains " — and, on the paternal, from a slip reared 
among the vine-clad hills of La Belle France, and 
transplanted in reluctant haste on the western shore 
of the great Mississippi. 

While yet a boy, Beckwith ran from St. Louis 
with a trapping party, who, with dollars and beaver 
galore, stalked the thoroughfares of the then fron- 
tier town, in pardonable pride and consequence. 
After much buffeting to the headwaters of Yellow- 
stone, he took a wife with the Crow Indians, and to 
that nation attached himself — joining their war- 
parties with alacrity, dancing around the scalp tro- 
phies, and making trades of his squaw's well-di-essed 
robes to the fur companies. 

But what whiteman was ever long constant to his 
Indian nymph, or Mexican muchacha, ? and Jim ; 



274 AVAII-TO-YAH AND 



Beckwith, ere many moons, found himself traver- 
sing the prairie-skirted Black, Sweetwater, Wet, 
and other noted mountains ; now trapping beaver 
on Bijou ; now " fetching" the " goats" from Pike's 
toppling crags ; and now again at Greenhorn settle- 
ment, " raking " the " plews " from the less fortunate 
"euker" and "poker" players, who after sohtary 
sojourns of months in their favorite haunts, emerge 
and " make " for rendezvous, to revel in the pleas- 
ures of intoxicating forgetfulness, and to dance, in 
a rude but genuine way, with the laughing squaws, 
and thoughtless senoritas. 

In Santa Fe last winter, Beckwith kept the best 
furnished salon in the place — the grand resort for 
liquor-imbibing, monte-playing, and fandango-dis- 
posed American officers and men. 

He was a large, good-humored fellow ; and, 
while listening to the characteristic colloquy, I al- 
most forgot that he was of a race, who, in the 
much-boasted land of liberty, are an inferior, de- 
graded people. With their caballada, we found 
a horse of jMr. St. Vrain, which we drove to our 
own band, without a previous by'r leave, or a 
single compliment to Jim's honesty. Hatcher 
thought that the party was upon a horse-stealing 
expedition, to which propensity, however, in the 
mountains, small blame- should be imputed. 

By noon we stood on the dividing ridge of the 
Raton. On reaching the Purgatoire valley, an ob- 
ject lilce a buffalo was descried beyond the stream. 
Louy went over; an ox, attenuated by hunger and 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 275 



hard work, looked mournfully up to him, as he rode 
in front. " Poor buffler !" said he, as he joined us 
again, leaving the solitary vagrant to pick, unmo- 
lestedly, the scanty herbage. 

It was a beautiful April afternoon, in which we 
journeyed down the Purgatoire, and halted by a 
snow-supplied rill, whose springing waters invited 
us to rest our wearied limbs by its side. The ca- 
ballada crowding forward, and slaldng their thirst, 
betook themselves to the crispy hill grass. A few 
sticks were gathered, flint and steel produced ; and, 
as the smoke curled languidly upward from the In- 
dian-fashioned fire, we partook of the same insou- 
ciant feeling, and reclined on the warm ground, 
with eyes half-closed, solacing ourselves with the 
blessed pipe. 

The sun was yet above the Raton, which, with 
its escarpment of gray, time-worn rock, frowned 
upon us. Hatcher, who had been talking of grizzly 
bear, proposed to take a hunt, " for," said he, " this 
child savy's a heap 'bout them. It's more nor ten 
year sence I 've drawed ' bead ' on antelope and 
'blacktail,' and ef some meat as is meat hasn't 
' come ' — wagh ! Away to the buttes, yonder, b'ar 
gangs plenty, an' this hos is fur some afore ' veheo 
esevone ' — ' whiteman's buffalo ' — goes in his meat- 
bag agin " — and so soliloquizing, he picked up his 
" bullthrower," as he fondly termed his rifle, with — 
"Hyar's for them buttes," pointing to some isolated 
hills, two miles to the south from camp, "b'ai''s out 
playin' like Shian ki kun (children). 



276 WAH-TO-YAH ANU 

Louy Simonds, jumping up with his ever-ready 
gun, knocked the ashes from his pipe ; and, deposit- 
ing it in a small leather pouch strung from his neck, 
black and greasy with time and perspiration, ex- 
claimed — " This child never stuck around camp 
when work's on hand — hosguard, meat hunting 
it's all the same to him; this ' mudhook,' holding 
out his foot, "hasn't a moccasin on for nothin', an' 
that 's a fact ! " 

" Say ! my young Shian trader, you 's the chap 
what stayed with John Smith last winter; eiyou''re 
for b'ar, grab your lightnin'-stock (my rifle) and make 
' Pimo ' tracks for yqn butte (I had a pair of Pimo 
Indian moccasins on, a present from Hatcher, who 
was then talking to me). Away do^vn to the Pimo 
country, nigh about the Heely (Gila) they make 
the best Injun shoe tliis coon ever put his foot in — 
well, hyar's for meat;" and off he started, Louy 
and myself in his wake. 

The plain was covered with a low, spreading 
growth of cactus, and we continually had to cast 
an eye to our feet to avoid trampling on the brist- 
ling spines. 

"Keep your eye skinned," said Hatcher, in a tone 
of warning, " them prickly pear is ^vorse by a long 
chalk, than nettles I used to see to Wapakon- 
netta settlement. When I was no higher 'an old 
' bullthrower ' here," touching his gun with his 
free hand, " I sometimes went out hunting with my 
old man — he was a keener at squirrels an' wood- 
peckers, an' so tall I had to rare back to look in 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 277 

his face, as tall as the cedars of Lebanon old 
Cormon talked about." 

Within some hundred feet of the buttes, toward 
which, with elastic step, we had been advancing, 
while listening to one of Hatcher's yarns, a band of 
nine deer sprung from a hollow, bounding along, 
with heads high in air. Simultaneously our rifle 
reports rang out in the still afternoon ; the graceful 
animals, frightened into greater speed, disappeared 
behind the rise. We now commenced the ascent 
of the hill, catching hold of bushes and rocks to 
assist us up its rugged front. Bending forward, 
and cautiously proceeding, we walked under the 
trees, searching for fresh "sign" among the huge 
beartracks. Caching ourselves behind some de- 
tached fragments of coarse sandstone, we, in a low 
tone, conversed, while scanning the outstretched 
plain for the anticipated game. 

Beneath us lay a gently undulating valley, des- 
titute of trees, and which, swelling and receding,, 
blended itself into handsome slopes beyond, cov- 
ered with scrubby pine. At one side, removed a 
short distance, rose an easy eminence carpeted 
with grass, and studded with groves of cedar and 
pinyon, seemingly tended by other hands than those 
of Nature. 

With eyes half-closed, I fancied myself in the 
shady orchards, far away to the East, among vener- 
able trees, never again to be reposed under with 
the same boyish pleasure. Interspersed, in groups 
among the low clumps, were bands of deer and 
24 



278 WAH-TO-YAH AND 

antelope ; some lying down, others cropping the 
tender blades of spring grass, and others skipping 
about, unconscious of danger. The waning sun 
shooting streams of mellow light through the dark- 
green foliage, formed a constant change of scenery 
and tinged the valley with a sea of golden light, 
subduing the rougher features, and harmonizing the 
whole. 

In silence we enjoyed the delectable picture of 
peace and innocence, unwilling to fright the grace- 
ful herds with deadly rifle, or even with rude, but 
harmless, shout. To the north rose Las Cumbrcs 
Espanolas, whose snow-wreathed crests glittering, 
the brightest gem of Nature's tiara in the Sierra 
Blanca, seemed to touch the sky. To the west, 
somber-hued Raton loo^ned up as the orb of day 
disappeared beyond. Rousing from the reverie, we 
retraced our steps, with yet another look. 

While at supper, a party of men rode up, the 
foremost of whom shook hands with Hatcher. It 
was the renowned Kit Carson, so celebrated as the 
companion and guide of Colonel Fremont. With- 
out a desire to detract from Carson's well-earned 
fame, I can say, in genuine good feeling and full 
behef, that there are numbers of mountainmen as 
fearless and as expert as he, though to the reading 
world little known, whose prowess in scalptaking 
and beavertrapping is the theme of many camp- 
fires, and the highest admu'ation of younger moun- 
taineers. 

Lieutenant Beale, United States Navy, Lieuten- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 279 



ant Talbot, California Battalion, and several men 
dressed in California costume, composed the rest 
of Carson's party. The high-pommelled saddles, 
large live-oak stirrups, and huge iron spurs, a few 
inlaid vv^ith silver, the rowels four and five inches in 
diameter, formed a unique appearance. 

In the morning we gathered the stock, and lassoed 
the riding animals. My large beast, Diabolique 
(for never mule gave more trouble), was refractory, 
owing, in some degree, to the unusual quantity of 
good grass the preceding night. After repeated 
vexatious trials, I succeeded in " roping" her. Hold- 
ing the lasso in one hand, and two other mules by 
their bridles, I led them toward camp, jumping over 
an intervening mudhole, expecting them to follow. 
But no such thing ! and, instead, astern flew their 
heads, and flat went I in the puddle. I then en» 
deavored to drive them over, but they backed their 
ears preparatory to kicking the hindsights off" the 
first man that struck them. With a running noose 
over DiaboUque's nose, and a " heave-yo," I pulled 
lustily, but she held stiff" her elongated neck and 
head, planted firmly her feet in front, and with 
strained eyeballs stood provokingly patient. How 
exquisitely malignant does one feel the " mounting 
devil in his heart," in such a position, and but for 
the want of her as a riding animal, a bullet would 
have been the reward of her stubbornness. Nor is 
this uncharitable feeling peculiar to myself; for 
there is yet the first amiable mule rider to be seen, 
as the best mule, at times, will become refractory, 



280 WAII-TO-YAH AND 



and from clubs and ciu-ses to refrain, is a moral im- 
possibility. 

We stopped not the next day until four o'clock ; 
when, tm-ning to the left, we encamped in a thick 
growth of underbrush. After helping unyoke, 
gather wood, etc., I went in quest of turkeys, piping 
hard by in the bushes, but a storm drove me to 
camp after an unsuccessful half hour's dripping 
bushskulldng. 

The rain falling fast, we sheltered ourselves, as 
we were able, until sunset ; when, the weather 
clearing, we shot at targets until darkness consigned 
us to the miseries of a soaking-wet night. By 
twelve o'clock the next day, William Bent's camp 
was discernible, in a bottom, on the east bank of 
the Purgatoire, wliich we reached with some diffi- 
culty, through the luxuriant growth of weeds, young 
timber, and across a deep ford. We pulled the 
saddles from the impatient mules, a few feet of the 
conical Indian lodge, in wliich, at the back part, sat 
the host himself, cross-legged, on an outspread 
buffalo robe. 

The spot selected for cultivation was in a hand- 
some, level bottom, a mile in length, and from tifty 
to two hundred yards in width. The gentle cm-ving 
•of the shallow River of Souls, its banks fringed 
with the gi-aceful willow and thorny plum, on which 
were affectionately entwined the cm-ling tendrils of 
the grape and hop ; the grouping of the slender 
locust and the outspreading umbrageous cotton- 
woods, with the clustering currants, dotting the 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 281 



greensward, gave a sweet, cultivated aspect to the 
place ; while the surrounding hills, within their 
sheltering embrace, seemed to protect the new 
enterprise. The caballada, half-hid in the luxu- 
riant thickets, and the cows, standing idly over the 
running waters, in the quiet shade, with whisldng 
tail, and others in the secluded vistas, reposing in 
sheer plenitude, served much to increase the domes- 
tic countenance of the first farm on the Purgatoire. 

William Bent's party consisted of himself, Long 
Lade, and two others. They had plows, and the 
acequia, by which the land would be irrigated, was 
nearly finished ; the dam, to elevate the water in 
this, was yet to be constructed ; so the following 
morning we went hard to work. For two days we 
labored as though the embryo crop depended upon 
our finishing within a specified time. "When the 
water flowed in the acequia, we watched the bits of 
wood and scum floating with the first tide, with 
intense interest and satisfaction. 

I the course of my wanderings I met with men 
whose strongest argument against farming in New 
Mexico was, that the soil required irrigation, which 
mode I upheld as a certain means of insuring a good 
crop. But the valleys are the only portions thus capa- 
ble of cultivation, and they bear a small proportion to 
the many thousand leagues of land too rough and 
too sterile for agricultural purposes. Years hence, 
sheep and cattle grazing, may be profitably en- 
gaged in on the upland ; now there is no market 
for the beef, and the depredatory character of the 
24* 



282 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



nomadic Indian tribes, deter men from certain 
tillage or herding.* 

Frank De Lisle, with his wagons, from the Cima- 
rone, joined us, he having left Bransford and 
the herders two days after our departure. His men 
were soon helping us with hearty goodwill ; their 
garruhty and fun gave new life to our exertions, 
and their oxteams did most worthy service in 
hauling logs and brushwood to the dam. 

♦Bent and Hatcher's farm, of wMcli I have just been speaking, was 
attacked by Indians, and the entei-prising projectors forced to abandon 
their scheme, two months after I left the Rio Purgatorio. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 283 



CHAPTER XXI. 

THE ARKANSAS. 

Frank started for Bent's Fort, three days after 
his arrival, and I accompanied him. The morning 
the teams stretched up the gently rising hill, in 
commendable order, from the valley of El Rio las 
Animas, was one of the loveliest of balmy April. Om* 
party was all animation and bustle ; the shouts and 
songs of the ever-joyous teamsters were in conso- 
nance with the universal gayety of Nature ; the 
" enfans," " diables," " sacres," had more than their 
usual music. Bands of bewildered antelope, dash- 
ing in all directions, afforded excitement, and rifles 
rung out sharply in no slow succession. 

Our intention, when starting, was to make a near 
cut across the prairie, to the " Hole in the Rock," 
instead of the circuitous route up the Purgatoire, to 
regain the Bent's Fort trace. This near cut was des- 
titute of water or shade, and by twelve o'clock the 
sun shone depressingly upon our heads, and the 
oxen worked slowly. Patches of verdure, in hol- 
lows, invited us from afar to search, though use- 
lessly, for water, and the oft-seen optical delusion 
— mirage — showed that the glassy lakes on that 
prairie were a " vain and fleeting show." Though 
the spring was far advanced, the new grass was not 



284 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



in sufficient quantities for pasturage. A root 
(JPsorlca esculenta, of the botanists) of good flavor, 
was found in hard, dry ground during the day's 
travel, and we dug with our butcherknives enough 
to but illy satisfy our own appetites. 

Journeying until sunset, we dismounted to light a 
pipe. When the sun disappeared behind the snow- 
hills, to the west of Las Cumbres Espanolas, we 
rode on. Night overtook us, still in the saddle ; for 
yet two mortal hoars, we stumbled over the side- 
long hills amid the fragments of sandstone. Right 
glad were we to reach the " Hole in the Rock," and 
we rushed to the puddle of lukewarm water, bury- 
ing our burning faces in it, and striking back the im- 
patient mules from intruding their dry, ugly mugs 
alongside of their masters'. Both man and beast 
drank nigh unto bursting, as they well might, after 
fourteen hours abstinence in a sweltering sun. Hob- 
bling the mules in a grass spot, and selecting a camp, 
we struck a blaze to direct the tired teamsters, 
whose urgings to the jaded yokes, rolled up to us 
from the valley in rear. Partaking of a hearty 
supper, I listened to their talking and singing — 
Edmond and Petout interpreting the burthen of their 
lays. 

We found our mules at dawn in statu quo, other- 
wise, as hungry as when we left them the preceding 
night. 

Sleeping, as we always did, without shelter over- 
head, the dayspring did not find us between the 
blankets ; so, by the time the slanting sunbeams 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 285 



had ceased to peer under our hatbrims, we "rolled" 
along the elastic turf, with " Bent's Fort, ho ! " as the 
watchword, for it was part of the way home. Ah ! 
what symphony is in the name of home — so 
gushing-full of melodious thought — so touching and 
so peaceful ! 

The route was long and dreary ; no water by the 
wayside ; and, at dusk, brackish, diminutive Timpa 
gave small comfort to our parched throats. This 
section of country, on the maps, is written as 
" desert ; " if the total want of wood, the scanty 
presence of brackish water, much burning, sand- 
reflected heat during the day, and chill winds at 
night, would justify the topographers in marking 
such as desert, the lands on either side the Taos 
Trail, from the Hole in the Rock to the Arkansas, 
most certainly deserve the title. 

While in motion, the next morning, a party of 
men was descried coming. It proved to be Captain 
Jackson, and his company of mounted men, en 
route for Santa Fe. Volunteer-like, they were in 
the rear, at the side, and in advance of their 
commander; they disregarding military deference, 
he military control. For a mile and a half, others 
were strung along the trace, in irregular squads, 
riding, sauntering carelessly, some without arms, 
and a few with muskets, beating the sage bushes 
for hares. 

On passing the three baggage wagons, the first 
lieutenant — the same who helped the sheriff at the 
Taos execution — poked his head under the wagon- 



286 WAH-TO-YAH AND 

sheet. He was in his shirtsleeves, his hau* un- 
combed, and altogether he was a rare specimen of 
that peculiar genus, known as a Missouri volun- 
teer officer. He shouted as I passed — 

" How are ye — would ye like to hang any more 
Mexicans? Now wasn't that a tall time down to 
Touse ! " 

Judging from appearances, discipline had been 
drummed out of the service sometime previous to 
om* meeting with the company ; for they seemed to 
have no knowledge of anything relative to their 
position, except that they were entitled every day to 
three-fourths of a pound of messpork or " Ned," a 
pound of superfine flom', and as much coffee as 
could conveniently be stowed away 'neath their 
dingy bluejackets. Despite their seeming want of 
the attributes of soldiers, they astonish the brag- 
gadocio New Mexicans in battle or fandango 
amazingly. 

It is an irresistible inference to draw from the 
premises our volunteer service affords, that Ameri- 
cans born were never intended to fight under the 
strict discipline of the regular service. Deference 
and subordination they learn neither as children 
nor as men — and an army of invasion is a poor 
school to remedy the defect in education. 

We stopped for nooncamp, on the trail, without 
water, as the gi'ass was good, and the oxen tired. 
A keg half-full from the salty Timpa, served to 
make a decoction of coffee, and, with unbolted 
Mexican flour and bacon grease, a thick mush was 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 287 



manufactured. We eat from the pan in which it 
was cooked ; each one replenishing the point of his 
well-hcked butcherknife from the one dish, until 
the greasy mass had vanished. We then stopped 
and looked at each other with that hungry, ill satis- 
fied stare, which had there been but human about, 
might, by the timid, have been mistaken for the 
glare of cannabalism. 

After dinner, De Lisle, Ed — , and myself, pushed 
on for the river, leaving the wagons to follow as 
they could. It was oppressively warm (hot), and 
we wilted in the heat as weeds. Coming in sight 
of the low bluffs beyond the Arkansas, we met one 
of Captain Jackson's company, trudging on foot. 
He had stopped at Bent's Fort, while the company 
preceded him, and when we met him, he was solus, 
afoot in the broiling sun, and his mouth so dry, his 
articulation was quite indistinct. A canteen, filled 
with molasses, costing two dollars, he was willing 
to give for one drink of water, but we, unfortu- 
nately, had none, and the poor fellow trudged on 
again, carrying with him our pity, at least. 

In the Arkansas we gulped again and again of 
the warm stream, returning to it a half-dozen times. 
By dusk, we entered the heavy-browed fort gate- 
way, glad, in truth, to rest in security. Captain 
Enos, Dr. Hempstead, Messrs. Drinker, Holt, and 
others, extended to me the hand of friendship; 
books were plenty, and my rifle once more quietly 
occupied its corner. Buchanan, of winter-bathing 
memory, was to start to the States in a few days, 



288 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



with a return train. He invited me to share his 
comforts. In the large coral outside the fort, were 
a hanth'ed wild and foolish mules starving into 
tractability. 

Putting my " possibles " in a wagon, I received my 
account of coffee, sugar, etc., from the affable Doc- 
tor Hempstead. There was much bustle the day 
we started; the mules brayed impatiently through 
hunger, tliirst, and confinement; the teamsters 
shouted, and whined, and cursed the foolish teams 
who appeared to have forgotten, during the winter's 
grazing on the wild hills, that there were such 
words in the ox, mule, and teamster vocabulary as 
wo-ha and gee. By the time the train was fairly 
in motion, my little Bonita, decked with a blue 
blanket, and firmly-strapped saddle, pranced before 
the gate in impatient glee. 

I bade my friends "goodbye," with feelings of re- 
gret, but the idea of tm-ning my face to the States, 
much alleviated the pain of parting ; and thus, a 
shade of melancholy, mingled with recollections of 
home, produced an equilibrium, sometimes upturned 
by the recurrence of a good stor}^ jovial campfire, or 
image of a clever campaficro to my memory, but 
again restored, by thoughts equally fascinating, far 
more pm'e, of a tranquil home, where could be re- 
laxation from the responsibility of self-preservation, 
and cares, vexations, and burdening. When the 
somber bastions faded at last from view, I felt as 
can none but those alike circumstanced. There 
were a few men for whom I acknowledged an at- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 289 

tachment. One of them was Hatcher. To mani- 
fest my regard for him, as was in my power, I left, 
in a box securely nailed, some hundreds of water- 
proof percussion caps, my backgammon board, and 
a few useful volumes to while away with profit, a 
spare hour on his Purgatoire farm. 

The rude American teamster in place of the po- 
lite Canadian, coarse jokes instead of voyageur 
yarns, and other changes for the worse, made me 
sadly experience the parting from mountain joys. 
The charm of my backwoods life was broken, 
though nearly seven hundred miles intervened be- 
tween me and civilization ; and notwithstanding the 
toil, hardship, and danger commingled with the loved 
scenes I was quitting, many a backward glance did 
I cast on the homeward trail. 

We made camp in a bottom opposite the mouth 
of the Purgatoire. Captain Enos, Mr. Drinker, and 
others, composed one mess, with Rosalie for cook. 
She was Ben Raymond's wife, a half-breed French 
and Indian — bye-the-bye, a most diabolical com- 
pound — the woman he enticed from Ed — the 
inconsolable carpenter at Bent's Fort. Our's was a 
jolly mess, and composed of the best men in camp, 
viz : Buck, or Buchanan, Tom Sloan, Rhodes, 
Knovvles and Sam Caldwell. We progressed ad- 
mirably — every man helping. We lived better 
than the other messes, except the captain's ; for, at 
the Fort, we pm-chased pepper, peppersauce, and 
other rarities. Tin plates — one degree of civihza- 
25 



290 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



tion above my past five months experience — were 
used at supper. 

In the morning, I made a detour of two horn's' fast 
riding, through a large bottom, while the wagons, 
going across, were hid by bluffs, I was alone, on 
the qui vive for game ; when the road was regained, 
I saw, by looldng at the track, that the party had 
not passed; selecting a good spot of grass, I undid 
the trailrope from the saddlepeak, and let Bonita 
feed until the train came up. 

Ours was a motley party, having for its composi- 
tion Captain Enos, A.Q,. M. U. S. A., commanding; 
the rest were wagonmasters, teamsters and ama- 
teurs. George F. Ruxton, the English traveler, 
with two men, here joined our party. Mr. R. was a 
quiet, good-looking man, with a handsome mous- 
tache. He conversed well, but sparingly, speaking 
little of himself. He has passed over the bm'ning 
sands of Africa, penetrated the jungles of India, 
jogged on patient inule through the Tierra Cali- 
ente of Mexico, and laid down amid the snowdrifts 
of the Rocky Mountains, The same day Mr, Rux- 
ton joined us, Davis, Brackenridge, Step, and a 
California Indian, members of Kit Carson's escort 
from California, added somewhat to om* numerical, 
and incalculably to om- fighting, strength ; for they 
have stood the shock of more than one Indian sldr- 
mish, and have led the van, at a sweeping gallop, 
through many a dangerous mountainpass, with ri- 
fles cocked, and unconfined hair streaming — the 
mountaineer's pennon. With Brackenridge and 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 291 



party, were left the broken-down mules, to recruit 
by rest and grass. 

While in advance of the train, with Mr. Ruxton 
and the Californians, a large, gaunt, white wolf, 
leaping from his lair in the long bottom weeds, 
scudded across the prairie for the distant hills. Da- 
vis and I raised the viewhalloo, and gave chase. 
Together with our yelling, and spurring, it made 
quite an exciting run. I was first in, but, as Davis 
ought to have had, b^^ right of seniority, the first 
shot, I yielded the honor ; he declined, and I, bring- 
ing up my rifle, crashed a ball through the wolfs 
head. 

The following afternoon, we passed the spot 
where had been the Che^^enne village — the scene 
of so much novelty and interest to me the preceding 
winter. 

Three of the muleteams, made handsome runa- 
ways, streaking it over the level ground at a great 
rate, with the light wagons rattling at their heels ; 
but the skillfulness of the drivers prevented any ac- 
cident. 

"Pretty Encampment," the loveliest on the river, 
with its glossy-leaved cotton woods, was that evening- 
early our home. Half a mile above was the Che- 
yenne village. Many of the savages who thronged 
the camp, uttered the well-known Hook-alL-hay, Nmn- 
whit, as they took my hand. A party coming in 
from a buffalo hunt — the veritable John Smith at 
their head — stopped; we had a cordial embrace. 
His lodge, pitched with the rest, his squaw, son, and 



292 WAII-TO-YAII AND 



other " sign," proclaimed him an Indian — almost. 
On returning to camp, from a visit to the village, I 
found that Buck had traded my best blanket to a 
squaw, for a robe, worked with porcupine quills 
and beads. 

When the train straightened out in the trail after 
sunrise, I was surprised to find Smith, his family, 
lodgedray, and caballada, bringing up the rear. He 
was engaged the evening previous, by Captain Enos, 
to take charge of the fort now in progress of erection, 
on the Santa Fe trail, twenty miles below the Cima- 
rone crossing, and for which the sixpounder, 
mounted on light wagonwheels, and drawn in front 
of the train, was intended to deal death to the pre- 
sumptous Camanche. A long frontier residence, 
and knowledge of Indian character, would seem to 
qualify Smith particularly for the station of com- 
mander of a fort in tliis country. 

Buffalo were in sight, and one was killed by Mr. 
Ruxton. A man, who had for some weeks been sick 
with the scurvy, died while the train was in mo- 
tion — the hot sun, and want of proper attention, 
hastened his death. Our mess was detailed to 
bury him, and, on a knoll overlooking camp, we 
dug a grave, not quite three feet in depth, the sun 
broiling us the meanwhile. Taking hold of the 
blanket in which he died, we laid him on the 
ground, searched his clothing for papers and money, 
and, rolling him up as we found him, and without 
ceremony, deposited him in his last home on earth. 
The burial was mere form ; for the wolves scratch 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 293 



up the bodies again, and often before we were out of 
sight, the prairie ghouls were at their horrid work. 

Another man died, and while the teams were be- 
ing yoked up before starting the next morning, a 
grave was dug. A man, after hitching up his team, 
pulled off his coat to put it in his wagon ; in there 
he found a man stiff in death. The poor fellow 
alone and without a groan, had passed away. The 
corpse was quickly taken out, another hole, scarce 
deep enough to hide him, scraped, the earth rudely 
shoveled back, the cry " drive on" given by the 
captain, and the two men were left on the desolate, 
wind-swept prairie, without even a simple board to 
mark the spot where lay their wasted, pain-released 
frames. Dolefully-howling wolves, loping around 
camp, waited impatiently for our departure, to scat- 
ter with ravenous jaws, the tattered blanketshrouds 
of the unfortunates. 

Step and I were out for buffalo. We "crawled," 
unsuccessfully, for a band of cows on our knees, 
and returned to the train which was coralling. 
Repairs being necessary, camp remained station- 
ary the rest of the excessively warm day; Mr. 
Ruxton, Brackenridge, and myself, wanting "fat 
cow," started on foot for the numerous bands 
to the eastward, literally blackening the hazy 
river bottom. As we drew nigh, old bulls, with 
tufted tails high in air, in token of defiance, pawed 
the ground in impotent rage ; discretion getting the 
better part of valor, they lumbered heavily before 
us, starting, to our vexation, other valorous knights 



294 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



of the "juicy hump," from quiet grazing, and driving 
in the picketguards of frequent bands of fleet- 
footed cou's. Three miles fast walking, brought us 
to a favorable position for crawling ; under cover of 
weeds, we sent, simultaneously, our bullets into the 
unconscious band. Fatigued by walking in the hot 
sun, our aim was not steady, though two of the 
running herd halted often in their flight. We fol- 
lowed fast; again we fired, not altogether without 
effect, and, but for our impolitic presence, one would 
have stopped. He limped on slowly ; we too tired 
to pm'sue. 

We retraced our steps, our eyes aching mth the 
intense heat, and pained by the sun's glimmering 
reflection from the saline efflorescence, whitening the 
cracked and parched ground. The mirage, reducing 
objects animate and inanimate to a state of uncer- 
taint}-, afforded no rehef. Mr. R. told us of his suf- 
ferings on the African deserts, and of the unhospi- 
table character of the natives. But contrast with 
worse sufferings, brought us no succor. We longed 
to stop in some sylvan grove, and, amid the mur- 
mur of tinkling waterfalls, to be lulled to refreshing 
slumbers ; but no such joys awaited us. All was 
reduced to hateful reality. We saAv no relief but 
by slow and patient toiling. I bore up under the 
combined influence of the sun and thirst, until sink- 
ing to the ground, scarcely able to move ; but 
through the persuasion of my friends, I slowly 
walked to the river, they very kindly stopping with 
me every Uttle while, where we buried our faces in 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 295 



the luke-warm water. That afternoon's tramp 
almost finished me. 

Davis and I crossed the river for the favorite 
game when the train left camp. We crawled in 
the hot sand, stuck our knees and lingers with burrs, 
but no buffalo could be induced to stay and be shot 
at. We kept the same side until the wagons 
" nooned." Opposite we were fortunate in finding 
the decaying fragments of an Indian bulwark. 
Loading ourselves with pieces of wood, we rode 
across ; the teamsters, unyoking hastily, hurried 
over for the remaining fuel. The river was not 
knee-deep ; in places the sand was washed out, 
leaving holes, into which the hunger-impelled team- 
sters stumbled in reckless haste, getting themselves 
and burdens soaked, much to the amusement of the 
lookers on. 

When anything relative to eating was concerned, 
the United States employees were active enough ; 
when performing work — 't would make one's head- 
ache to see their slow motions. 

Many employees were afflicted with the scurvy — 
a disease brought on by great change from their 
usual diet, to superfine flour and fat messpork. 
First the tendons under the knee contract, the leg 
mortifies ; the patient lays and limps around camp, 
at the same time possessing a morbid, ravenous 
appetite for strong food ; a dysentery reduces him 
to mere skin and bone, and he dies. His body, re- 
volting to the sight, is rolled in blankets, and the 
unclean mass thrust hastily in a mere hole, only to 



296 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



be disinterred and gnawed by wolves. Dependent 
on themselves for medicine, they suffer much. Sev- 
eral poor fellows were far gone in the disease ; an 
anodyne which I had, relieved them. 

We became more circumspect in our wanderings, 
and the w^agons loitered not behind ; for the dreaded 
Camanche and his savage competitor, the Pawnee, 
claim the region over which we were journeying as 
their own, to be preserved inviolate from the track- 
leaving, wood-wasting, and game-scaring whiteman. 
We passed the Cimarone crossing ; and, by noon 
of the 15th of May, we were at Mann's Fort, on 
the Arkansas. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. ' 297 



CHAPTER XXII. 

SERVICE. 

The fort was simply four log houses, connected 
by angles of timber framework, in which were cut 
loopholes for the cannon and small arms. In 
diameter the fort was about sixty feet. The walls 
were twenty in hight. 

Outside, forty men were making adobes for chim- 
neys. They supposed our advance party Indians, 
but discovering us to be " true men," they testified 
their delight, by repeated glad cheers, at the pros- 
pect of being relieved and returning home. 

First, I should say who these men were, and for 
what purpose they were here sent. A station, equi- 
distant from Fort Leavenworth and Santa Fe, was 
needed by the Government, at which to repair the 
wagons and recruit the animals, by rest, in safety. 
In accordance with this v\^ant, Captain Enos sent 
Mr. Mann, a wagonmaster, with forty teamsters and 
several yoke of oxen, to build, in an eligible site, 
below the crossing of the Cimarone, a log fort and 
blacksmithshop . 

Six days before our arrival, a small party of 
Camanches shot and lanced a man fishing in the 
river, not three hundred yards from the fort, in sight 
of the forty armed men ; then, waving the reeking 



298 WAH-TO-YAH AKD 



scalp aloft with yells of triumph and derision, they 
retreated to the plain unharmed. 

Two days subsequent to the above, fifteen yoke 
of oxen and forty mnles — these latter staked within 
seventy yards around the fort — were carried oft' by 
the Indians, who, driving a loose band of their own 
animals before them, with startling yells, created a 
stampede, in which those of the fort joined, jerking 
up then* picketpins in the furor. 

But the whites were not altogether idle. Flying 
shots w^ere exchanged ; one savage fell, but Avas 
borne off between two fellow warriors, at a fast 
gallop. 

In consequence of the above forays, timidity 
became a second nature to the teamsters, and they 
ventured not to show their uncomfortable counte- 
nances outside the gate. All were determined to 
go to the " States," and Captain Enos found much 
difficulty in persuading enough to remain to guard 
the fort. " We do n't care to stay here on fat pork 
and be scalped by the Injuns," was their usual 
reply to the captain. After two days persuasion, 
he induced nine men to stop, by offering ten dollars 
in addition to their present wages, making thirty 
dollars per month and rations. Smith was to re- 
ceive sixty dollars and rations. As I had never 
been in an Indian fight, nor had ever seen service, 
and as Smith, my old friend, was to be in command, 
I concluded, for excitement sake, to join them. 

On presenting myself to Captain Enos, he raised 
his eyes in surprise ; for my trip to the country was 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 299 



one of pleasure, and to voluntarily enter into such 
dangerous service, astonished him. Drinker, Davis, 
Brackenridge, and others, endeavored to dissuade 
me from my purpose ; but, thanking them for their 
solicitude, I refused to leave. 

The next day Captain Enos left. Drinker* shook 
hands with me at the fort entrance. He and I 
had traveled more than eight hundred miles in com- 
pany — chilled through by the same blasts — wet 
by the same rains ; and, part of the time, covered 
by the same blankets. Davis and Brackenridgef 
were fine, gentlemanly fellows. Their manners and 
conversation were most acceptable on the route 
down. Though Mr. RuxtonJ and I were not well 

* He is now dead. 

f They were with Fremont in his disastrous trip across a Rocky 
Mountain pass, in 1849, in which several men and all the animals per- 
ished with hunger and cold. 

I jMr. Euxton published, after his return, a liighly entertaining work, 
entitled " Adventures in Mexico and the Rocky Mountains" — a book 
well desenring popularity. When at Buffalo, in August, 1848, I saw 
in the throng, awaiting admission to the diuingroom, a moustache, 
which struck me as familiar. After dinner, advancing to the wearer, I 
said — "How do you do, M)-. Ruxton ? " He did not recognize me ; 
my greasy buckskins, old wool hat, hickory shirt, and moccasins having 
been exchanged for more civUlzed habUments ; and, to aid his memory, 
I said — " Do n't you r(?collect the woHchase near Tharpe's bottom ; the 
little sorrel mule, Bonita, and its owner stopping at Mann's Fort ? " He 
then immediately called me by name. Retiring to one side, we had a 
talk of the old scenes, his book, and other matters. Of the Black- 
wood series of " Life in the Par West," then in course of publication, 
he acknowledged the authorship. He was then on his way to the moun- 
tains — that afternoon he left, but the poor fellow died iu St. Louis. 
He was a true gentleman, and his loss is much to he deplored. 



300 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



acquainted, and although he partook somewhat of 
his national reserve, we parted as became fellow 
travelers, 

A guard was mounted on one of the houses as 
soon as the train was in motion. As they receded 
in the distance, a slight feeling of fear and loneli- 
ness ran through me, decreased not a whit by the 
sight of our own few numbers. The large gates — 
two ponderous wooden puncheon concerns, a foot 
in thickness, were to be swung on wooden hinges, 
which operation, together with relieving the guard, 
occupied us until night. 

We w^ere now alone ; that is, ten well men and 
three sick ones ; these last doomed to many a wea- 
ry hour of unheeded pain, not witliin our power to 
alleviate by healing medicine, or nourishing food. 
Our fighting force was as follows r 

CAPTAIN. 

John Simpson Smith. 

MEN. 

Thomas Sloan, Samuel Caldwell, 

Johnson, L. H. Garrard, 

Roy, Ben Raymond, 

James Striclder, Andrew , 

Wilham Taylor. , 

ALSO 

One sixpound cannon ; 

Forty rounds of grape and canister; 

" cannon cartridges ; 
Six rifles, and seven muskets. 
In addition, Smith had his squaw and two chil- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 301 



dren ; Raymond his half-breed RosaUe, wliich, with 
Smith's seven mules and horses, Raymond's one, 
my two, three old government scarecrows, and five 
brokendown United States steers, was the sum to- 
tal of all the objects — animate and inanimate, 
offensive and inoffensive, with the exception of 
Rosalie's diminutive fii'st, and an Indian cur, scarce 
half made up — left to vegetate in the "Prairie 
Prison," aptly so called ; for even a visit to the river 
for water, a hundred yards distant, required the 
bucket in one hand — the rifle in the other. 

We felt this to be a small band to guard a fort in 
the Pawnee and Camanche range — both tribes 
noted for their dexterity and willingness to take the 
whiteman's " hair," or his caballada. 

Being possessed of waiting materials, 1 was made 
clerk to keep account of rations issued, and chroni- 
cler of events, such as passing trains. In addition, 
the office of orderly sergeant devolved upon me, the 
duties of which consisted in arranging the night 
sentries. There were ten men, including Smith, 
and calling from twilight to dawn ten hours, we 
made five watches of two hours' duration each — 
two men on duty at once ; the first, standing until 
the evening star sank beneath the horizon, wliich, 
though more than the allotted period, made not 
much difference, as it was in the fore part of the 
night. When the first watch "guessed" his time 
had expired, they awoke the next on duty, who re- 
peated the process, and so on through. Smith and 
I were on first watch ; and to avoid contention or 
26 



302 \VAH-TO-YAH AND 



dissatisfaction, the first guard was second the next 
night, third the next, and so on through — those be- 
hind fining up the vacancy. 

Two were appointed as day sentries — a perma- 
nent office, they doing nothing else. At his own 
request, seconded by our wishes, Strickler was pro- 
moted to the office of cook ; and he so exerted his 
cuUnary skill as to make the monotonous rations 
quite palatable. Smith's squaw^ cooked for him ; 
Rosalie for Raymond and Taylor. 

On the 18th May, we built of adobes, on the north- 
west house, and its corresponding diagonal, a 
breastwork, for a defense against the wind, as well 
as arrows. The w^ater-proof roofs were flat, be- 
ing made of small poles, laid parallel, with six 
inches of mud piled on, and an inclination of one 
and a half inches to the yard. Standing guard was 
anything but pleasant, and, at night, exceedingly 
dreary. Smith would mount post on the roof for a 
while, and I down below, would creep from port to 
port, now^ listening for the foe — now seated on the 
cannon, holding my breath at the least sigh of the 
winds. In pacing my lonely walk, I was filled with 
gloomy forebodings. The wind whistled a mournful 
tune — the damp, fitful gusts, nearly overturned me 
in their suddenness. Scarce fifteen yards distant, 
brutal wolves fought over the grave of the mm-dered 
man. A large white one, whose faint outline I could 
see below me, gave a most unearthly howl, which go- 
ing out in the stillness, sent back its lonely echo from 
the distant hills, and which met a response from 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 303 



others afar, who, with fiend-hke screams, congre- 
gated under the walls, growling and bristling in 
fearful wrath, or continuously loped around the 
fort, in hungry expectation. When relieved from 
watch, I nestled in my warm blankets, and, after 
sending, mentally, the Pawnees and accursed wolves 
a los diablos, I dropped into an inappreciable state of 
blessed forgetfulness, to be waked at sunrise, with 
the cry of " turn out!" 

Rain and wind were our uninterrupted visitations 
for two days. The animals had to be picketed close 
— the sentry meanwhile keeping vigilant lookout. 
At night we brought them inside the fort. 

Callahan, a trader, passed on the 20th of May, to 
the States. He was from Chihuahua, and short of 
provision. Smith, empowered to hire men for the 
" fort service," induced one young man to stay who 
was journeying with the train without leave, license, 
or provender. Sloan, in his fondness for nicknames, 
called him Rasamiis Cowhorn, a cognomen which 
clung so tenaciously to the young gentleman, we 
never knew his right one. 

Sam Caldwell and I were now on the same guard. 
Smith reposed undisturbed through the night. One 
of the guard fell asleep on his post, for which he 
received a reprimand, interlarded with expressive 
terms from Smith, and no gentle hint from all, that a 
repetition of the same would subject him to a tying 
across the cannon with the accompanying jerking ! 

In the afternoon succeeding the above transac- 
tion, Roy, a heedless fellow, on one of Smith's 



304 WAH-TO-YAH AND 

animals and two in lead, and T on Bonita, with 
Diabollque in tow at the end of a rawhide lariat, 
crossed the river for grass. We were barebacked, 
our guns in hand, and the slippery mules rendered 
the possession of our seats uncertain. A gun fired 
from the fort was to be the signal of danger. We 
were a mile off, lying down talking, the mules 
quietly grazing, when the full hea\'y sound of the 
gun was heard. Snatching my blanket with one 
hand, and with Diabolique's leadrope and my gun 
in the other, I started after Roy. The animals, as 
if interpreting our wishes, went in a full run from 
the start. With rifles ready to fire, we came within 
a hundred yards of the river, where Diabolique 
broke from me, galloping up the river bank, head 
and tail high, neighing and frantic. "There goes 
eighty dollars," thought I, but no time for calcula- 
tion when probably the whole tribe of yellowskins 
were at our heels. Off flew my hat to the breeze; 
now we plunged into the water, jamming against 
each other ; when halfway across, Diabolique, with 
streaming tail, wide-spread nostrils, and wild eye, 
charged in among us. 

Our excited friends met us at the entrance ; the 
sentry shouted to hurry. We barred the gate, drew 
tightly our belts, and fixed on guncaps anew, when 
the party bearing down on us, proved to be a band 
of wild horses, scudding northward, some two miles 
to the east. After a talk and recovery from the 
fluttering effects of the false alarm, Johnson and I 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 305 



waded the river, where we picked up my hat, and 
baited a wolftrap. 

With the forewheels of the cannonwagon, we 
carried adobes and stiff mud for mortar, to build 
chimneys to the blacksmithshop and the messroom. 
Luckily, Captain Mann's party made enough adobes 
to last some time ; for small fun was it to mold 
brick. On the evening of the 23d, a train of 
wagons came in sight, and encamped above the 
Caches, much to our disappointment, as we wished 
to meet with them. The next morning they stopped 
in the road opposite the fort, and the men came to 
see us. 

It was Bent & St. Vrain's company, William 
Tharpe, an Indian trader, had joined them with his 
wagons for safety. Mr. Holt, the fort storekeeper, 
Ed, the Frenchman, whose squaw was enticed away 
by Raymond, and Frank de Lisle, the wagonmaster, 
were all in the train on the way home. Char- 
lotte, the cook (who, with her husband was set free, 
by the company, for the valor evinced by the latter, 
Dick, at the Pueblo de Taos), also grinningly showed 
her ivory, as I extended my hand. After greeting 
warmly Edmond Paul and Petout, my two Canadian 
friends, I gave them the thirty days' rations of flour 
and coffee I had purchased at Bent's Fort, for 
which, they kindly thanked me. Traders do not 
provision themselves well, and these clever fellows 
were " feasting" on " poor bull." 

Smith, who had been showing, in private conver- 
sation with me, a fear of losing his hah*, gave notice 
26* 



306 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



of leaving with this train, which stopped while he 
collected his possibles. While on guard together, 
he often told me the utter folly, the downright 
madness, of staying in the fort at the mercy of the 
Indians, and that his pay would be nothing in com- 
parison to the loss of his animals, and the risk of 
life. To the men his reasons were plausible enough ; 
his animals, picketed around the fort, were starving, 
and that he would go with this train, and let them 
feed on good grass every night, until he would meet 
a train to return to us. Knowing this to be his 
intention, I sent Bonita and Diabolique along with 
the band, for the risk in keeping them was greater, 
in fact, than letting them go. It was a trial to part 
with Bonita ; indeed I felt nearer to him than to any 
of my friends. When I tied the lariat about his 
neck, and gave him a goodbye pat with my hand, 
he broke away, kicking and shaking his long ears 
joyously, and with head to the ground, joined, neigh- 
ing in delight, the caballada. 

It was difficult to withstand the solicitations of my 
friends to leave, but my promise to stay had to 
be complied with, however earnestly I wished to 
be with them. Our brave commander, squaw, and 
Jack, were pleased with the change. Little Jack 
had contributed much to my happiness; for, al- 
though he could not talk American, the sight to me 
was as an oasis in the desert. Among rough men, 
and no kind words. Jack, at least, was not void of 
childish affection, and to amuse and talk to him, re- 
called home and cheerful retrospections. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 307 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

A WELCOME ARRIVAL. 

The loss of Smith we all felt, for he was of an 
agreeable temperament. Sloan was now in com- 
mand, though from Roy's turbulent disposition, we 
anticipated difficulty. I retained my position, and 
Sloan was pleased to be lenient in his requisitions 
on my time for labor, thus giving me opportunity 
for enlarging the small journal noted elsewhere. 
He wished me, however, not to incur the illwill of 
the rest by abusing the privilege. 

The morning following the departure of Smith, we 
carried charcoal from the pit to the intended 
"shop." With coffeesacks on our shoulders, we 
lifted until our appearance would have well vied with 
that of a city charbonnier. Dirty work it was to be 
sure, but necessity overcame any scruples on the 
subject, and we began to think our thirty dollars 
and rations rather a poor compensation for so small 
a sprinkling of adventm-e, and so much hard work. 

The morning of the 26th, there being a cessation 
of hostilities on the mudbrick and coalpit, I im- 
proved the time, by lying full length on a plank in 
a cool corner of the messroom, my rifle within reach 
(for our guns and selves were " one and insepara- 



308 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



ble"), when the cry of Indians ! Indians ! from Tay- 
lor, the sentry, set me miraculously quick on my 
feet. I rushed into the sleeping apartment, and 
back again, before finding my gun, so bewildered 
was I by the startling announcement. Seizing it, I 
helped the men run the cannon to the gate. Near 
were some eight or ten mounted Indians, striving to 
take our little band of animals. Andrew, with 
lumbering musket, blazed harmlessly away. A 
party dashed furiously up from the plain, and 
others rode back and forth, with glistening lance 
and spotless shield ; while in the narrow strip of 
wood fringing the river, some hundred yards dis- 
tant, the dusky forms of the foe could be seen gliding 
hastily toward us. Caldwell, understanding more 
of gunnery than the rest, pointed the piece at the 
nearest squad, Sloan adjusted the burning match, 
and I primed the touchhole. 

There was a scene. Sam Caldwell, a six foot, 
three inch man, encased in a flaming red-flannel 
shirt, and in a stooping position, moved the piece 
carefully, sighting with his fine eye, and waiting for 
the command from Sloan — a little to one side, 
Sloan himself, with fiery beard and moustache of 
no small pretensions, intently watching the maneu- 
vers of the savages — there Bill Taylor, with his 
mouth thoughtlessly open, leaning against the por- 
tal, a long government blunderbuss at rest in the 
bend of his arm, and nearer the gateway, in att^ 
tudes of indecision, stood Rasamus Cowhorn, Cdfin, 
and Andrew, not more interesting than usual," 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 309 



cept their perturbed countenances were robbed of 
the bloom of health at other times apparent. Close 
to Sam was myself, feeling first rate, as 1 thought at 
the time — but perhaps an egotistical description 
had better be omitted. Imagine this in a flatbot- 
tom, wearing away undulatingly to the low hills in 
the background, and along whose base, in the gUm- 
mering distance, irregular bands of horsemen fast 
clattered toward us ; on the other hand, the placid 
Arkansas, winding its tortuous course between 
lonely and barren banks, with straggling cotton- 
woods to mark the course; then a small log fort, 
discernible at no great distance through its insig- 
nificancy, and at the gate of which, scarce ten 
men grouped around a sixpounder, waited in stern 
silence, for greater demonstration of war from the 
foe ere the commencement of bloodshed. 

The Indians were close to our horses, three hun- 
dred yards from us, and attempting to drive them 
away. They then charged toward us, and we fell 
back from the cannon, while the match descended ; 
they seeing the piece, beat a hasty retreat. One 
presumptuous warrior, on a fine black horse, dashed 
at Sloan's picketed mule in desperation ; he left 
again with several balls whistling about his ears. 
We could have easily killed several of the foe, but 
warfare once commenced, we might have fared 
badly in the end ; so we were amicably disposed. 
One old fellow, seeing that we had decidedly the 
advantage, dismounted, and, coming within two 
hundred yards, took the robe from his shoulders, sat 



310 WAH-TO-YAH AND 

down, rose and shook the buffalo again, to show 
that he was unarmed, and with other signs, meant, 
as I judged, 'peace. 

Roy, placing confidence in my knowledge of In- 
dian signs, met the warrior under range of the 
cannon, telling us, " If the Indian jumped on him, 
to blaze away and kill both ! " They shook hands, 
but could effect nothing, so Roy called for me ; 
with the aid of signs and the Cheyenne tongue, they 
proved to be Arapahoes. Two others came up, 
and then two of our men. I told them their war- 
riors must go away ; the first man arose, and by 
some fancy manipulations, dispersed them. The 
spokesman then commenced an excuse for their pres- 
ence, by professing great friendship for the whites ; 
saying that his object in calling was to [inform us 
— " That the Camanches were in great numbers at 
a small stream, a day's ride to the east, and were 
to make a descent upon us (that we doubted not), 
and that had it not been for the Arapaho chiefs, 
our fort would have been taken." 

This, with a lot of other stuff, he told, which 
wound up with a request for tobacco. We sat 
before them coffee and bread, and my long pipe, 
Roy and I smoking with them, on the prairie* 
peace and goodwill — our men the while keeping 
vigilant watch, from the fort, to prevent surprise. 
As we wished them not to spy out the nakedness of 
the land, the guests were not allowed to approach 
nearer than fifty yards of the fort. In a shortwhile 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 311 



they left. Though the Indians came undoubtedly 
with hostile intention, so soon as they found our 
power superior to theirs, they, having confidence in 
us (or any other whitemen), sent a messenger to 
confer with us. Reverse the matter, wagh ! the 
whitescalp would be off in a hurry. 

The next day a buffalo, breasting the breeze, hove 
in sight, on the hill back — a good sign of the pres- 
ence of Indians, as they never travel adverse to the 
wind, or come to the river but for water, of which 
there w^as an abundance everywhere on the prairie, 
by reason of the recent rains — and Roy, with his 
usual heedlessness, started in pursuit, killing it. 
He came to the fort, saddled a horse to get the 
meat, but had scarcely reached it, when we, who 
had been watching, saw him urging his horse in a 
full run on the backtrack, with three yelling Caman- 
ches at his heels. We greeted him with a shout of 
glee as he cut around to the gate. 

Supper was at sundown ; and, after which, we 
generally congregated on the sentry's house, to 
smoke and talk, with guns, in repose on the arm, 
to make shots at the skulking coyotes, who not 
unfrequently took ugly balls Avith them in the 
ignominious flight. The sun in setting, cast flick- 
ering beams far up on the meandering, broad- 
sheeted Arkansas, and shone on the numerous 
verdure-teeming islands. The slow winging of a 
forsaken-looking crane, or the more merry flight of 
smaller birds, up the stream, darting into the glit- 
tering spot, to disappear as if by magic, often 



312 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



excited our attentive admiration. But it was our 
favorite pastime, after a day's work, with plenty 
within and a pipe without, to stretch out on the flat 
roof and Usten to the yarns spun by the different 
fellows. 

Sam Caldwell had been on shipboard much of his 
life, and amused us in his style and broadly-pro- 
nounced " a's." Sloan was a blacksmith, with 
stories of a prosy, every-day natm'e. He joined a 
company of horsesoldiers for the war and Santa 
Fe, but it was rejected by reason of the requisition 
being filled before the tender of its services, and so 
he started out as extra teamster " to see the country 
anyhow." He received, at Mann's Fort, sixty 
dollars per month and rations. 

Cain Strickler was a schoolmaster, nineteen 
years of age (he and I the youngest), and somewhat 
green ; his teaching was a good exemplification of 
" the blind leading the bUnd." He was from Vir- 
ginia (" of the first families," of com-se), and, being 
on a tour to Missomi at the commencement of the 
Mexican war excitement, was seized with a desire 
to see the oft-vaunted " elephant," so he started out 
as teamster. He was, however, apt, and though he 
never learned cards before this trip, the way he 
went ahead of the fellows playing poker, put him 
at once in that class called " hopeful." 

Roy was rather mysterious, and from circum- 
stantial evidence, we found that he had been in a 
penitentiary. He was heedless of danger, and 
hardened in feelings ; to his former State's impris- 



THE TAOS TRAFL. 313 



onment we attributed his recklessness. When his 
acquaintance of Captain Enos's company bade him 
goodbye, they said — 

" Roy, we never expect to see you again, you are 
so fool-hardy — the Indians will have your hair yet." 
This proved but too true. 

Andrew, whose last name I have forgotten, was 
from the Platte purchase, in Missouri. He was prin- 
cipal witness in a murder case ; and, being of a 
malleable temperament, was bribed with a horse 
and considerable money to peijure himself, and 
then to leave the country. We ascertained a few 
leading facts ; and, by Sloan's skillful queries, we 
learned the whole state of the case. He swore not 
to retm-n to Missouri. 

Rasamus Cowhorn ^vas another genius. He left 
the States a year before, as teamster to a trader's 
train — went to Chiahuahua — was at the battle of 
Sacramento, and told great tales of bombshells^ 
cannon balls, valorous Mexicans, and smoke ; and 
was now on his way home sans the needful. He 
remained at our fort some days on trial, helping us 
eat our rations. The wolf-like appetite manifested 
for a week was alarming ; when his gastronomic 
demands slackened in a degree. Smith liired him. 

On the 28th of May, we noticed an approacliing 
body of men, and finding them Indians, we stopped 
work, shut the gates, and lounged with guns freshly 
capped. 

Two riding up to the wall, I saluted them in the 
Cheyenne tongue. They were Arapahoes, and 
27 



314 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



wished to come in, but that was against orders. I 
asked for Warratoria (the most peaceable and 
renowned of their chiefs), and was told he soon 
would arrive. They then wanted vehco nuih-pe 
(wliisky). Being negatively answered, they, much 
dissatisfied, rode off. The sight of the lodgedrays, 
squaws, children, and dogs, recalled many thoughts 
most gratifying. The Indian encampment was 
three hundred yards above us on the river bank. 

When Warratoria came, he was admitted, though 
Sloan much distrusted him. I made his acquain- 
tance in the Cheyenne village, and knew his friendly 
disposition toward the whites, and the good effect 
it would have to treat him with confidence. Shaking 
hands as old friends, and inviting him into the mess- 
room, we sat before him coffee, bread, and the long- 
pipe. The chief wished " Beardy's " presence, 
which after a while was granted. He is so called 
from a tuft of hah* growing on the point of liis 
chin, which gave him an odd appearance. His 
featm*es were coarse, inclining to sensuality. War- 
ratoria's face, on the contrary, wore a benign 
expression, and the slight furrows of age were 
so tempered as to give his countenance a cast 
of deep thought; his expansive brow, sUghtly 
receding, was worthy of a statesman. I was filled 
with reverence for the old man, though he was but 
an ignorant savage. He spoke in short sentences 
only, so different from the volubility of most savages, 
though many persons give them the character for 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 315 



taciturnity, as if conscious of the lasting impression 
he was making on me. 

In an hour, the pyramidal lodges dotted the 
ground at irregular distances ; before the larger 
ones, the stainless shield and mcdicinehag, v>ith blue- 
enrolled pipestems, were supported on the three 
whitened wands. Where, a shortwhile before, lay 
a bare spot of turf, was now the site of eighty 
lodges, nearly three hundred human beings, and 
eleven hundred horses capering, rolling, and crop- 
ping the sweet bottom grass. The girls, from 
twelve years up to womanhood, waded the river for 
fuel; some crossing, a few returning laden with 
sticks, others carrying water, and all laughing, talk- 
ing, and splashing. Boys played their favorite 
game of arrows, or, astride of ponies, ran races 
over the smooth prairie. This commingled scene 
-of comfort, youth, and hilarity, brought back, with 
yearnings for a repetition, last winter's experience. 
Sam Caldwell and I visited them without other 
weapon than butcherknives, for we felt little danger 
while the cannon ranged the village, and the two 
principal chiefs were in the fort. A guard was at 
the gate to admit or show out the few savages 
having the "freedom" of the place, but we were 
impolitic in discovering our weak force to them. 
A queer-looking case begged of Sam and me, pow- 
der and ball, with a load or two of which we satis- 
fied him. He had an old English carbine, with 
^' George " and a crown on the barrel — the prop- 



316 WAH-TO-YAII AND 



erty, most likely, of a pelado, whose scalp was now 
the decoration of some coup-loving Arapaho. 

We noticed great commotion on reacliing the 
fort again. The villagers hurried in the direction 
whence they that morning came — soon returning, 
triumphantly, with a young man who had been 
taken prisoner by a trading party, in a skirmish, 
two days before. We now found out that the 
braves of this village were leagued with the Ca- 
manches in attacking trains. To the surprise and 
great joy of the Indians, the prisoner was set at 
liberty — a different fate from that a captive expe- 
riences at their hands. The traders had given the 
young man a new blanket and ornaments ; but, as 
the Indians had outraged the expected wagons, they 
struck their lodges, pitching them a half mile from 
the fort. 

A train from Santa Fe, in command of Captain 
Fowler, arrived during the day, coralling a few steps 
from the gate. A Mexican ranchero was in com- 
pany — like his brothers, with national peculiarity 
in features and expression.* 

Sloan employed a 3'oung man, John Nagle by 
name, for the " fort service." His mule he sold to 
a teamster for forty dollars. We shut the gate at 
the usual hour; mounted guard as if alone, being 
more apprehensive of the light-fingered teamsters, 

* This same Mexican, with one of Fowlei-'s men, was scalped by the 
Camanches, three days after leaving the fort. The poor pelado, had 
the skill stript from just above the scalp, leaving a rim of hair by the 
cars and on the neck ; yet, strange to say, he lived for a mouth after. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 317 



after a winter's sojourn in Santa Fe, than of the 
Indians. 

We hauled wood while there was a large numeri- 
cal force by the fort, not daring to venture while 
alone. We fastened the gates, and leaving two 
on guard, crossed the river astride the couplingpole 
of a wagon, holding on with one hand, and clench- 
ing our rifles in the other. Sloan sat on the fore 
standard, examining the edge of an ax ; Bill Taylor, 
with bawling voice, and an oxwhip, kept up 
" steam." Johnson, who was an adept in the wood 
line, during the rest intervals, told of his questiona- 
ble feats in cording steamboat wood on the Missouri 
river. Cain Stri elder- and I did our best at load-, 
ing. We threw the wood from the wagon into the 
fort yard, not caring to give the teamsters a chance 
to supply their fires at our expense. 

The Indians, striving to trade with the wagoners, 
became quite troublesome ; they would endeavor to 
drive the Arapahoes away by cries of bamouse, ba- 
mouse, calling over the Spanish-Mexican term, vamos, 
which they used for leave, get out, go, and a half dozen 
similar exclamations. These same fellows had en- 
joyed the privilege, in New Mexico, of keeping the 
" great unwashed " at a respectful distance from the 
provision trains; they thought the same ejecting 
aj)pellation would serve for the Arapaho. 

Among the Indian boys, splashing and riding 

across the river, on the empty woodwagon, w^as one 

of thirteen years, whose features wore such a mild 

and manly air, and whose eyes were turned on me 

27* 



318 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



SO intelligently, I took him to my baggage, put on 
him a clean, bright-blue shirt, and then tied a col- 
ored handkerchief around his neck. His hair was 
neatly combed, and the deerskin moccasins fitted 
nicely. When I sent him away with some brown 
sugar, he looked the happiest boy in the country. 

The traders, with whom these Indians had been 
fighting, arrived about three o'clock. Not a sav- 
age was visible. For three consecutive da3"s, they 
fought these Indians, who, charging, ham-strung the 
oxen and annoyed them much. This outrageous 
conduct was the principal theme of conversation, 
which the sight of the distant lodges increased to 
g^uch a degree, that one well-T;)roportioned sixfooter 
proposed, with the cannon, to " rake the village." 
Now, we were opposed to this decisive measm'e, for 
two good reasons. First, was the indiscriminate 
slaughter of women and children that would have 
ensued. The second was, that on our own heads 
and weak fort, would have fallen the speedy ven- 
geance of the tribe. Not chosing to remain the 
scapegoats of their iniquities, we at once refused the 
use of our gun — and told them, they should take it 
by force alone. 

Nagle, the recruit, and others, came in from the 
hunt, their animals loaded with buffalo. The men 
were out of available funds, and to accommodate 
them, as well as ourselves, Sloan and I, from the 
traders, bought a box of chewing tobacco. I was 
to open an acconnt with each man and supply 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 319 



them, and receive, in return, drafts on the quarter- 
master, 

Cowhorn borrowed fifty cents, bought tobacco, 
traded it for moccasins, which, selling to the team- 
sters, gave him three dollars gain. Sloan pur- 
chased six gallons of whisky ; and, out of the " mess 
fund," our untiring cook, Cain, laid in a store of sal- 
eratus and peppersauce, thereby contributing much 
to the relish for government rations. 

The next morning, the traders left for Santa Fe, 
and the United States train, homeward bound, 
"rolled on," with many an agonizing shriek, from 
the rickety, sun-cracked wagonwheels. I drew up a 
paper for Sloan to sign, showing what had become 
of the man received into service, so that the captain 
of the train, on arriving at Fort Leavenworth, could 
satisfactorily account for the nonappearant. With 
the train, our invalids left. Poor fellows ! they no 
doubt had a wretched time jolting over the road in 
springless wagons, and little probability was there 
of their ever reaching the States. We shut the 
gates, and cautioned anew the guard. How differ- 
ent the scene within two short hours ! Of a busy 
crowd of one hundred and twenty men, and sixty 
wagons, none save our little force remained. 

Toward noon the next day, the sentry shouted — 
" train in sight ! " Soon a wagon and horsemen ap- 
peared. Turning from the trail, they passed the 
fort in a long trot, and encamped three hundred 
yards distant. I was glad to see Messrs. St. Vrain, 
Folger, and Chadwick — old friends; also, F. P. 



320 WAH-TO-YAII ANB 



Blair, Jr., Estis (the Taos tavcriikccper), and Fitz- 
gerald, the dragoon. Tibeau, the Canadian driver, 
and Bias, the Mexican herder, were along, too. A 
goodly company, indeed ! They had twenty-five 
horses and mules, in prime order. That morning, 
thinldng the Arapaho village to be Camanche 
lodges, they moved to an island in the Arkansas, 
and threw up a temporary fortification. They stop- 
ped two hours, and then concluded to run the risk. 

]Mr. St. Vrain urged me to go with him, offering 
me a horse to ride. He said it was foolish to stay 
with so weak a force, and that I would assuredly 
lose my scalp. I became scared when such moun- 
tainmen feared danger, but feeling bound to Cap- 
tain Enos, w-e parted, and sorry enough was I. 

One night Sam and I were on guard. The rain 
poured in torrents, the air was damp and chilly ; 
and, as we knew bowstrings and flintlocks would 
not avail the foe much in an encounter, we merely 
leaned in the doorway, and listened by turns; and, 
at intervals, floundered in the mud from porthole to 
gate. Some spoiled buffalo meat, thrown over the 
wall, attracted many wolves. I watched, not five 
feet distant, through a port, where, in the dim light, 
the coarse gray hairs of the back could be seen 
bristling with rage. At daylight, one large fellow 
remained, slowly retreating and returning. I put 
the government musket (not caring to use my rifle 
in the rain) through a loophole ; and, aiming at the 
animal twenty-five steps distant, fired, killing liim 
immediately. When the gates were opened, Sloan 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 321 



and I dragging him in, took off the hide, and 
stretched it with pegs to dry. 

We again worked, this time making our own 
brick. Some dug earth, others, with the fore- 
wheels (tongue and hounds attached) of the can- 
nonwagon and a half barrel, brought water from 
the river, playing " hossey," as our fat commander 
facetiously observed. We had two yoke of oxen 
to tramp the mud ; and I, being the least strong of 
the company, with a long stick, punched up " Ball 
and Bright," when their movements grew tardy. 

The 7th of June, according to om- reckoning, 
was Sunday — no work in consequence. The " Three 
Guardsmen" and my pocket testament amused us 
(can 't vouchsafe a great amount of edification) for 
a while, and, in the evening, we shot at a target 
across the forty ard. 

The painful necessity of making brick was forced 
upon us at last, with all its muddy unpleasantness. 
The molds were sixteen inches long, by eight in 
width, and four in depth — the fac simile of brick 
molds on a larger scale. These were filled with 
stiff mud and turned out on the smooth ground — 
the molds brought back, dipped in a barrel of water 
to free them of earthy particles, filled again, and so 
on ad infinitum. Johnson and I, the carriers, had 
two molds each ; the wet adobes grew heavier as 
the work progressed. Three hundred and twenty- 
six were the result of the day's labor. 

Mr. Coolidge, with four wagons and five men 
from the Arkansas Pueblo and the Platte, arrived 



322 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



during the day. • He concluded to remain here for 
a further reinforcement, ere proceeding tlii-ough the 
suspicious " Coon Creeks." 

We made two hundred and ten adobes on the 
12th, and then employed ourselves in digging a 
ditch beyond the fort walls, to carry off the accu- 
mulated rainwater, ^vhicll might engender sickness 
the coming summer. 

Roy, Nagle, Rasamus, and one of Coolidge's 
men, went for buffalo. Being absent the entire day, 
we felt much anxiety for their safety. It was late 
at night. We gave up all hope of seeing them, 
and were moodily cogitating what to do in regard 
to fortifying ourselves more securely, when a rifle 
report and a shout not to fire, were heard. Rusliing 
up the ladder, the men whom we had scalped in 
our imaginations, answered to their names. 

" What 's the matter ? what kept you so long ?" 
asked we, impatient to know. 

" Oh ! had to go a longways for meat ; then a 
chase of five miles; hottest kind — were way out 
on Coon Creeks." 

" See any Indians ?" 

" Yes ! darn 'em, sixteen. They gave chase for 
a mile ; but, after a few shots, one was wounded by 
Roy, and they hauled off. Rasamus was pretty bad 
scared — thought his hair was gone; he began to 
talk about Franklin."* 

Sam and I were waked up at midnight to stand 



* Cowhorn's home, iu Missouri, 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 323 



post — the rain pouring. We did not leave the 
messroom. Thinking the foe woukl not attack in 
such weather, we sipped at the hot, ley-like coffee, 
and smoked until off of duty. 

No work on the 14th, by reason of the incessant 
rain. We had two packs of cards, and as the spe- 
cie circulation was limited, rations of beans served 
as legal tenders ; the way they changed hands, was 
a caution to hungry men. 

In the Indian attack on the trading party, a colt 
was captured by the latter, which was given to 
Sloan. In commemoration of the event, he named 
it Camanche. One night, hearing a strange moan- 
ing, we collected to inquire. Seizing our rifles, we 
found poor Camanche outstretched, with a half- 
dozen wolves at Avork on him. We drove the 
brutes away, and carrying the victim into the fort, 
saw that he was too badly eaten to live ; he was 
shot with a pistol. In the morning a few well- 
picked bones and strips of sinew were all that 
remained. 

No work on June the 15th, by reason of the sullen 
rains. This was my eighteenth birthday. Quite a 
different one from the last — then at home, and noth- 
ing particular to do, but to cast enervated glances 
at dull books — here, in government service, and 
surrounded by the most hostile Indians on the con- 
tinent ; my scalp in danger of sudden hoisting on 
some yelling Camanche's lancepoint — my body 
drenched by the frequent nightrains. Well ! there 



324 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



is something refreshing in variety, and the comforts 
of civiUzation will be better appreciated uhen 
regained. 

The afternoon was sunshiny and warm; the 
swollen Arkansas received our nude bodies in its 
swift cuiTcnt, after a half mile's run up the bank ; 
while the sentry on the fort, and another on the 
river's edge, looked sharp for the foe. 

In the middle of the day a train hove in sight, and 
camped near the " Caches." Roy started for it, 
though he might have been killed before going half 
w'ay. He soon returned, with several men. To 
my surprise Charley M'Cart}', with whom I parted in 
the spring, on the Poinel, in New Mexico, shouted — 
" Why old fellow, you here ! what have you been 
doing since I left you ? St. Vrain told me you was 
in Taos, on guard, when the old paloas were hung, 
and that you cut a ' big swath' generally," 

" In government service," rejoined I. " I wanted 
to see an Indian fight, though my curiosity is not 
yet gratified. We have come quite near it, how- 
ever." 

"If they'd see you in the settlements, with those 
buckskins and old wool hat, you'd pass for one of 
the mountain boys — be da-arned if you wouldn't ! 
Do they feed you on ' Old Ned,' as Hatcher called 
the pork?" 

" Where are you going, and what's your party — 
government or traders?" asked I. 

" I 'm bound for old Fayette county, where white 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 325 



people live — where you can get cornbread and 
sleep sound at night without having screeching 
yellow devils skulking around ye ; and, old feller, 
there 's a girl that wants to see me, and I 'd give my 
muletosee her — be da-arned if I wouldn't — you 
know I told you about her last winter ; she's the 
greatest — " 

" Never mind now, Charley — we'll talk of your 
girl after a while. Nobody here cares for her but 
yourself. I want to know who is in the train yon- 
der — maybe I have friends — a scarce genus in this 
region." 

" That's a great old way to bluff a feller off, when 
he 's half froze to see his girl, but if you want to 
know. Colonel Russell from California, Secretary of 
State, under Fremont, is in that crowd, with sixteen 
of the greatest ' boys ' you ever came across. They 
are of the California Battallion. The Colonel is 
bearer of dispatches to Washington, from Stock- 
ton—" 

" Who are the rest ? there are at least thirty 
wagons." 

" A train of ' Neds,' under command of Captain 
Bell, of the wagonmasters' department. Any dan- 
ger of Pawnees here ? " 

" Yes, there are a few about, but walk in." 

The fort soon filled with the hard-looking team- 
sters, and before long. Colonel Russell himself ap- 
peared, dressed in California buckskin pantaloons, 
open from the knee downward, a light summercoat. 
28 



326 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



white wool hat, and yellow California zapotes. 
Charley introduced me. On hearing my name, he 
asked that of my father. He then grasped my 
hand warmly, saying they were classmates in col- 
lege. We went to the provisionroom, and sitting on 
some floursacks, talked of friends far away. 

" What brought you out here, my boy ; your 
mother, of course, gave you leave, and how long 
have you been in the country ? " 

Seeing the drift of that and other questions of like 
import, I replied — "Do not think Colonel, I came 
here in an improper manner, for I have letters 
with me, to show to the contrary — this is a trip 
for fiin and health, though I must say it's rather 
rough fun." 

" I am indeed pleased to hear it, for, at first, I 
feared that you had committed some misdemeanor, 
as many youths do, and run away in consequence, 
but, my dear boy," said he, laying his hand affec- 
tionately on my shoulder, " you are in a most dan- 
gerous place ; I wonder you have not been killed 
before this. I never heard of such a thing before. 
Ten men in a fort in the Camanche range, and you 
are hardly a man yet, you know ! " 

" Oh ! ' our hearts are big,' and we are all center 
shots." 

" You must go along with me, only ten men in 
the fort! it is sheer madness to be here," solilo- 
quized he. 

I have promised Captain Enos to stay until re- 
lieved by troops from the States." 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 327 



" Ah ! but we must waive all such rash promises. 
Had I a son here, no greater kindness could be 
done me by a friend, than to take him away — you 
must go — you must go." 

" Smith has my mules." 

" You can take the best one in my caballada 
Were you to be killed here, I would never cease to 
blame myself." 

Through the Colonel's soUcitation, Sloan gave 
me a discharge, entitUng me to pay on reaching 
Fort Leavenworth, and showing that I left with his 
consent. I made a hasty settlement with him of 
the fort accounts, tobacco, &c., put my small kit in 
the colonel's wagon, my saddle on one of his best 
mules, shook hands with my tried friends, and with 
light heart, bade farewell to the "Prauie Prison." 
Cain Strickler, Sam Caldwell, and others, coming 
in with a load of wood, met me a short distance out. 
Sam shouted : " what's up now, that you are going to 
leave — not showing the white feather — if you are, 
may the cursed Camanches get your scalp" — 

" Hold on, old fellow, take breath and I '11 tell you ; 
Colonel Russell, here, is an old friend of the family ; 
and, when he found me out, he would not let me 
stay. Well, goodbye ; Sloan will tell you more ; the 
train 's gone on, and for the sake of my " hair " I 
must keep with them." 

" Give us your hand, my hearty," and a warm 
grasp was our parting salutation. 

The party, with which I was now associated, 



328 WAII-TO-YAII AND 



numbered eighty-four or eighty-five men, sixteen of 
whom composed Colonel Russel's guard, in com- 
mand of Lieutenant Brown. The colonel and his 
part}'^, for thirty-five days of their route in to Santa 
Fe, were compelled to live on the meat of their 
broken-down mules. I at once made Bro^vn's 
acquaintance. He was attired in Apache-Indian 
costume — a graceful dress. Two years before 
this, he went from the Missouri frontier, with a 
company of emigrants, to California — thence to 
the Sandwich Islands. He returned to find affairs 
in a turbulent state, and received an appointment 
as second lieutenant in the California Battallion. 
Soon after, he was detached in command of this 
escort. He was, at the time of our meeting, not 
twenty years of age. 

We went about three miles to camp. The 
colonel's tent was pitched. He and I became its 
inmates, where we talked until his sable cook 
announced supper. Camp presented a lively 
scene. Charley McCarty, holding in his hand the 
wolfskin I had given him, was telling a group of 
teamsters, full of supper, stretched at length on the 
grass, how the musket had skinned my nose when 
the wolf was killed. Some of the men were cook- 
ing, others coralling the mules and oxen, and all, 
with joke and laugh, making themselves merry. 

My own spirits, not less from the contagion of this 
gayety, than from the great change that had just 
taken place in my circumstances, felt a corres- 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 329 



ponding elevation. I cannot be too grateful to 
Colonel Russell for his genuine kindness to me. He 
is an honor to his native State, Kentucky, and a 
valuable acquisition to that of his adoption — 
California. 



28^ 



830 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



CHAPTER XXIV, 

THE BRUSH. 

We were started early. The wagons traveled in 
double file, so that in case of an attack from the 
leagued Camanches and Arapahoes, whose pro- 
pinquity was as well-known as dreaded, they would 
not be strung along too great a space. The cabal- 
lada was driven and kept between these two lines 
of the train. 

Late in the afternoon, when the sun was fast 
sinking to its golden-hued, silver-flecked bed, and 
the drooping ears of the flagging mules betokened 
weariness, objects were seen directly before us in 
the trace. Keen-eyed Barton, in calling our atten- 
tion to them, uttered his opinion in the single sig- 
nificant word, " Injuns ! " 

" Indians, say you. Barton ? " inquired the colonel, 
looking in the direction pointed, " Indians ? upon 
my word I believe so. Come on, we '11 reconnoiter, 
and say nothing to the train until the fact is ascer- 
tained — indeed, I hope not " — and, striking spurs 
into his large brown California mule, he loped 
forward, followed by some eight or ten of us. We 
soon ascertained, beyond a doubt, enough danger 
to lessen our party to five — the colonel. Barton, 
Brown, McCarty, and myself, who kept on until within 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 331 



less than a quarter of a mile of the large party of 
mounted warriors. That portion of our men who 
had put back with all possible speed, set the train 
in a ferment by their prodigious narrations. 

In front, on the opposite rise of ground, was a 
sight to make the stoutest heart among us quail ; 
for the Indian force, displayed within long rifleshot, 
numbered, according to our unanimous estimate, 
four hundred strong, glittering with gay pennons, 
bright lanceheads, and savage ornaments. Young 
braves rode their plunging barbs restlessly to and 
fro. The shrill and startling notes of preparation 
reached us but too plainly; and we hurried back to 
await for the expected charge. The train was in 
almost inextricable confusion, but the colonel soon 
restored order. The wagons, mules, and men ad- 
vanced to the brow of the hill and niade a coral : 
that is, the two front wagons came together, and 
the inside forewheels of those following, were made 
to touch the outside hindwheel of the one immedi- 
ately in front. In this manner, a secure but irreg- 
ular oval pen was formed, into which were driven 
the oxen, the caballada, and the riding animals, 
thus leaving the men fi-ee to devote their whole 
attention to the enemy. There was little noise, but 
much alacrity, and considerable trepidation among 
the poor teamsters, thirty of whom were without 
firearms. We had scarcely finished our prepara- 
tions for defense, when the Indians, with poised 
lances, furiously charged upon us. For sometime 
they circled around our coral with guns unslung. 



332 WAII-TO-YAH AND 



and white shields continually shifted to protect their 
bodies. At last they drew rein; and, on each side 
of our party, commenced a lively demonstration, 
sending their balls singing through the air ; some 
overhead, some perforating the wagons and wagon- 
sheets, and some knocking the fur from our hide- 
bound oxen. 

We were drawn up in line outside, fronting the 
main body, two hundred and fifty yards distant. 
We gave them several rounds, one-half of us 
reserving fire until the discharged arms were re- 
loaded. The Indians scattered after our rather 
Ineffectual volleys, and theii* position became more 
menacing, their warwhoops more dissonant and 
savage than before. We posted ourselves about 
the wagons, each man to his liking. Lieutenant 
Brown, with five men, took a position on a knoll 
fifty yards from us, and kept up an incessant firing, 
which was warmly reciprocated by the foe. It 
became exciting ; the warriors galloping furiously, 
bent down, now on this side, now on that, until 
nothing of their person could be seen but the heel 
and part of the leg thrown across the cantle of the 
saddle. From under the horse's neck would issue 
a smokecloud, as we heard the sighing of the ball 
as it cut its way overhead, or knocked the dust fi'om 
the dry plain. Sharply-sighted rifles gave ready 
answer ; cheers rang out from our exhilerated party, 
and unfortunate oxen, stung by furrowing bullets 
from lumbering escopetas, plunged and horned 
each other from side to side of the crowded coral. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 333 



A California Indian, belonging to Colonel Rus- 
sel, ran, with gun in hand, far out toward the 
foiled enemy, making the Indian sign of insult and 
derision ; and, in Spanish, abusing them most 
scandalously. He came back before long, in no 
small hurry, with three of the outraged foe at his 
heels, who were in turn repelled at fullest speed by 
us. A ball overhead, causes even the coolest man 
to dodge involuntarily, however surely he may 
know that the whistling bullet has already missed 
him. This is especially the case in a desultory 
scattered fire. Many a hearty laugh was had at 
the ludicrous positions into which we found ourselves 
thrown by these badly- aimed missiles. 

The Indians detained us an horn*, and then, re- 
linquishing their coup attempts, moved off toward 
the west, to our extreme gratification. Had the 
charge been made before the coral was formed, 
they would have scalped the whole party, for our 
force was small, and composed for the most part of 
green teamsters. Yoking up, we reached camp, by 
the river's side, hot, thirsty, and irritated at our 
meager " satisfaction." 

June 19th. The train proceeded with much cau- 
tion. Indian spies watched us in the distance, 
hanging like wolves on our rear ; the gleam of their 
lances was often seen among the sandbuttes beyond 
the river. They were evidently intending to make 
another descent, on the first fair opportunity. Our 
fiankguards were on the alert, and the day ended 
without a conflict. The country was sparsely 



334 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



wooded with cottonwood and boxelder, and bois de 
vdche supersedes substantial fuel for several days 
travel through the region of the "Coon Creeks." 

Our animals were saddled, hitched, and the train 
in motion, after an early cup of coffee. The air 
brisk and cool, and the sky clear, gave promise of a 
fair day's travel ; and even uneasy fears of Caman- 
che attack were not sufficient to check our joyous 
feelings. It was the duty of the horsemen to push 
forward at mealtime, select a camp, and wait for 
the arrival of the train. Near noon, we entered a 
large " bottom," horseshoe-shaped, around which 
the river made a circuit of three miles or more. 
The wagons kept the trace across the neck, and a 
part)% composed of Colonel Russell, INIr. CooUdge, 
and myself, on mules, and three others, on horses, 
followed the course of the stream to gather fuel. 
This I laid across the pommel of the colonel's sad- 
dle, as I collected it, and he was already loaded 
with sufficient to boil our cup of coffee and fry the 
slice of pork for which we were well prepared by 
several hours' fasting, when, all at once, the three 
horsemen strung out in a straight shoot for the 
wagons, without a word to us. " Hallo !" shouted 
we, " what 's your hurry ? " The fast-receding men 
said nothing, but pointed to the southwest, in which 
direction there approached, at full speed, a war- 
party of about forty, endeavoring to cut us off fi'om 
the wagons which were then coralling in great con- 
fusion. Dusky figures, and light puffs of smoke, 
showed faintly in the distance, the attack on th^ 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 335 



straggling train. No time was to be lost in rejoining 
om* company, and back we spurred, to the tune of 
Camanche take the hindmost. The lines of the 
Indian attack and our return were convergent, and 
it was a mere question of speed whether we lost 
our topknots or gained the coral. The pursuers 
already had the advantage. The colonel threw 
down his wood, and I replaced the old cap on my 
rifle with a fresh one, determined that one should 
" go under " before my " hair was lifted." I led the 
retreat, mounted on a small iron-gray mule — a 
native of the California savannas — who bounded 
most gallantly — for a mule — over the prairie. Colo- 
nel Russell followed in mj^ wake, but Coolidge was 
still behind. Our pace seemed snail-hke, and we 
jammed our riflebutts into the flanks of the poor 
beasts most unmercifully. 

" Come on, Coohdge," shouted the colonel to the 
frightened trader, "come on, we'll soon be safe." 

" Yes, yes ! but this fool animal is n't worth a cuss 
for running," and with that, he gave the poor mule 
another "c/iwg-" with his sharp riflestock. No exer- 
tion was spared, no incentive was neglected, to urge 
our dull beasts along; and though there was but 
small chance for escaping a lance thrust, we an- 
swered loudly their yells. When within three hun- 
dred yards of the wagons, I looked back and saw 
Coolidge far behind, with several Indians close upon 
him, the foremost brandishing his lance. I shouted 
to the colonel that Coolidge was gone, and imme- 
diately we jerked our animals around. The colo- 



336 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



nel aimed hastily, fired, and galloped back to the 
coral. I spuiTed on to cover Coolidge's retreat, who 
came lumbering with the owgh-owgh-hc-a of liis pur- 
suers close to his ear. When I drew rein, and 
placed it between my teeth, my mule, contrary to 
all precedent and custom, stood stock still, while I 
took steady aim, at the nearest savage, who, flying 
along with eager look and harsh yell, was striving 
to make a sure blow. His band followed on his 
track, at distances various as their horses' speed. 
Coolidge, with eyes staring with fright, bent close 
down to his mule's neck. When I first drew bead 
on the Camanche's painted hide, he was approach- 
ing in a quartering du'ection to my right ; as the 
gentleman was rather fleshy about the umbilical re- 
gion, and tender withal, to make a sure shot, I kept 
the silver bead at my riflepoint, at that particular 
spot, until he had passed to the left. With the re- 
port, the yellow devil's leg twitched in pain (I was 
so close to him, that I could see even his features 
with disagreeable distinctness), and throwing up his 
horse's head, he galloped off" to the river. Those 
who watched, say that he did not come back. 

Reloading at full speed, Coolidge and I hurried 
into the coral, which was just being closed. 
We dismounted, merely giving each other a look of 
congratulation ; for the rattling of the guns, and 
the warwhoops and yells of the men, drowned our 
voices, and left us nothing to do but fight. For that 
work, with a good will, and quite systematically, we 
prepared ourselves. The Colonel's party were 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 337 



firing with much earnestness. A short distance of 
the place we were gathering wood, a large force 
was descending the sand buttes, glittering with 
bright gunbarrels, swords, and lances — awell-armed 
band. They crossed the river in a trot, which was 
quickened into a charge as they reached the bank, 
and, at one hundred and fifty yards distance, the^'^ 
opened their fire. For a few minutes, rifles, war- 
whoops, escopetas, hurrahs, contended in discordant 
strife — a tumult of wild sounds. But they could 
not stand our well-directed fire, and fell back. They 
left no dead on the field. This is never done, and 
the only token of the effect of om* balls was, by the 
wounded precipitately leaving the immediate scene 
of action. To give straightout evidence of injury, 
by show of pain, or otherwise, is a breach of their 
code of honor — an infringement severely rebuked by 
the taunts of the tribe — a weakness not soon for- 
gotten or forgiven by the old chiefs, whose duty and 
care it is, to sustain, by precept and example, the 
national bravery and hardihood. They consider not 
the death, merely, of an enemy, a victory — a couji 
must be counted. On a horse-stealing expedition,, 
this is a horse; in battle, a scalp ; and the tropliies 
must be shown at home, before the warrior is al- 
lowed to decorate his robe with the black hand. * 
When an Indian falls too far gone to rescue him- 



* The warrior who counts a coup, is, allowed the distinctiou of wear- 
ing a black hand, painted on the flesh side of his robe. 

29 



338 WAII-TO-VAH AND 



self, his friends rush up and bear him off between 
their fleet steeds. 

They ralhed and again circled around us, with 
their white shields protecting their bodies, tossing 
their spears, and showing off their beautiful horses, 
and their own graceful persons, to the best advan- 
tage. Their intention was to make a charge on the 
first vulnerable point, but we, being too well guarded, 
they, after many feints, fell back. I sat flat on the 
ground, my rifle resting on the spoke of a wagon- 
wheel — firing as often as an Indian came within 
range — and, when the painted, war-whooping tar- 
get vamosed for safer quarters, at the crack of the 
gun, certainly no other than a smile of satisfaction 
lit up my face. If none fell outright, it was not that 
any qualms of conscience prevented my taking cool 
and sure aim, at those who, after chasing a irule, 
and nearly scaring the life out of us, were then 
keeping us penned in the hot sun without water.- 

One Indian, who, from his distinguished, though 
scanty, dress, was a " brave" of the first order, came 
close into our lines, thi"owing himself behind the 
body of his horse, so as to show nothing but a hand 
and foot ; but, as he raised himself, one of the colo- 
nel's men cut, with his rifleball, a neatly-dressed 
skin, that hung at his neck, which we picked up af- 
ter the fight, as our only trophy. The}' now tossed 
their balls into us from a long distance, by eleva- 
ting their pieces, being convinced that our coral 
could not be broken without great loss of life. Two 
teamsters, about this time getting scared at the 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 339 



whistling missiles, crept, for security, into an empty 
wagon. They had scarcely made themselves com- 
fortable, when a ball, crashing through both sides 
of their defense, buried itself in the side of a poor 
steer. The terrified Neds tumbled out, greeted by 
the roars of the men around. 

" That's what you get for your cussed cowardice," 
drawled out one of the fellows. 

"Well, 111 be darned, if that wasn't a grazer," 
ejaculated Charley McCarty. " Feel if you havn't 
got a hole in your dogskin — I'd hate to be as bad 
scared as you, by thunder !" 

We were detained upward of two hours. Our 
fatigued and heated oxen were nearly dropping 
with thirst. The savages filed slowly up the sand 
buttes on the other side of the river, and we pro- 
ceeded to camp, each man talking of Ms own shots. 

June 22. We expected to reach the Pawnee 
Fork during the morning's march, and as there were 
bluffs near the camp, and several streams inter- 
vening, thick-set with timber, favorable for ambus- 
cade, the advance guard preceded the train a quarter 
of a mile. We were on the alert, our eyes searching 
every object, om' gTins ready to fire, as with bridle- 
rein firmly grasped, we galloped along in the bright 
summer morning. Our exposed position, and the 
continual expectation of the Camanche yell, kept 
us excited \vildly enough, although no foe delayed 
our march. By noontide, the saddles were off' — 
the wagons coralled, and the tent pitched once 
more. Among the remains of the old camps, I found 



340 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



the skull and skeleton of an Indian. The sinews, 
well gnawed b}^ the wolves, were not yet dry, and 
the skin and hair still graced the head, which, 
passed from hand to hand by the curious, was, at 
last, tossed into the tui-bulent waters of the flooded 
Pawnee Fork. The Camanche, whose head this 
was, had been killed a few days previous, in an en- 
counter with traders. One or two others ** went 
under" at the same time, but their bodies had been 
rescued. 

On the opposite side of the creek, a train from 
the States, was stopped like ourselves by the risen 
waters. I accompanied some of our men over to 
it. We swam across, holding our shirts and buck- 
skins in one hand. At the camp we found a gov- 
ernment train, some traders' wagons, any quantity 
of gaping men, and a whitewoman — a real white- 
woman ! and we gazed upon her Avith great satis- 
faction and curiosity. After gleaning the " news," 
we returned in a full run to the creek, and, crossing 
as before, retailed our scanty information. 

The next day was beautiful, and we waited 
impatiently for the slowly-receding stream to become 
fordable. The men scattered on both banks, the 
grazing cattle and cabaladas, with the white wagon- 
tops of the three camps, made a serene and lovely 
scene. About ten o'clock, an immense drove of 
buffalo was seen running in the prairie to the 
southwest. Some of our party set off" in pursuit 
on their horses, while twenty or thirty of us ran 
down to intercept them as they crossed the creek. 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 341 



A faint cry of Indians ! Indians ! Indians ! from the 
camp reached those nearest the muleguard, and by 
them it was repeated and wafted on to us, who, 
hardly knowing whether to cache in the undergrowth, 
or to run for camp, stood for a moment undecided, 
and then " streaked it" for the wagons. Turning 
our ej^es to the furthest train on the hill, we per- 
ceived it in great commotion. Fifty Indians were 
charging among them with their lances, recoihng 
from the light volumes of smoke at times, and 
again swallowing up the little force with their num- 
bers and shutting them in from our sight. Others 
were stampeding the oxen. After a conflict of 
several minutes they retreated, bearing with them 
a dead warrior, behind the blufl:" hill which jutted 
boldly from the opposite shore. 

Our teamsters, during the fight, looked on with 
mouth and eyes open, in wonderment, regardless of 
their own cattle, still feeding in a deeply-fringed 
savanna. Tall cottonwood timber, overgrown with 
the luxuriant vine and thick-set underbrush, imper- 
vious to the eye, confined our stock to this secluded 
spot. The creek, half encircling it with a grand 
sweep, added its protection. A lightguard of three 
men wratched the grazing hej^d. We were still con- 
gratulating ourselves on our escape, when from the 
guard, we heard the cry that the Indians were 
swimming the creek and driving off the oxen. 
More than half the camp started in full run to 
protect them. As we rounded the angle of the 
stream, yells were heard, then the dusky forms of a 
29* 



342 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



kw Indians were seen ; and, by the time we were 
within long gunshot, some sixty were among the 
luckless herd, goading them into a lumbering gallop. 
The colonel's party led the van, and would have 
saved the cattle, had the teamsters supported them. 
But, they hanging back, we told them them their 

oxen might go to . Hurrying back to camp. 

Colonel Russell mounted his force and went in pur- 
suit ; but, in vain, we tried to repair the loss that 
negligence and cowadice had effected. Our ride 
only rescued thirty oxen, and gave us a view of the 
retreating savages, thrusting their lances into the 
remainder. In that unfortunate half hour, the train 
lost one hundred and sixty steers ; which, at the 
purchase price — one half less than they were worth 
on the prairie — was a damage of four thousand 
dollars, together with a total loss of from five to 
seven thousand more, in the necessary abandon- 
ment of the wagons — the natural result of sending 
on the plains a set of green men, commanded by 
.as raw a director, poorly and scantily armed with 
government blunderbusses, and meagerly furnished 
with from eight to fifteen rounds of cartridges each, 
which were often wasted on game or targets long 
before reacliing the Indian country. And this was 
•not the only instance of miserable economy, as the 
official reports show. 

Our train was in a sad condition ; half a yoke to 
each wagon. Mr. Coolidge was really to be pitied 
— nearly four hundred miles from the States, with 
but two oxen to haul four large wagons, heavily 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 343 



loaded with robes and peltries. The colonel car- 
ried a few packs (as many as he was able) ; he bar- 
gained with one of the outward-bound trains to take 
some back to Mann's Fort, and the rest he cached. 
The government people crowded their " kits " and 
provision in three wagons ; and, toward evening of 
the next day, we crossed the creek which had now 
subsided, leaving twenty-six wagons and any 
amount of extras, to the Indians and the wolves. 
Toward sundown, as we were hitching up to travel 
in the night, a party of dragoons, filing down the 
hill, made camp near. Lieutenant J. Love, com- 
manding, was informed of the outrage, and prom- 
ised satisfaction. We stopped a moment at the train, 
with which the first fight had occurred. One poor 
fellow, named Smith, from Van Buren county, Mis- 
souri, had been lanced seven times through the neck 
and breast. He killed the Indian that fell, while on 
his back and already wounded. 



344 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



CHAPTER XXVI 



FAREWELL! 



As we approached the States, running water and 
heavy timber became more frequent. The advance 
guard had a grand time, the first night after aban- 
doning the wagons, keeping far ahead of the now 
shm train, which the dim starlight, cut off by fleeting 
clouds, failed to keep in view. On approaching 
wooded streams, plainly marked by their blackness, 
our pace quickened into a gallop, and through it 
we spurred at a break-neck pace, uncertain whether 
a deadly blaze from north-west fusils or big-mouthed 
escopetas would welcome us. This we did that our 
speed might render an enemy's aim uncertain. It 
is a well-recognized rule of prairie warfare, when 
darkness or thick cover gives concealment to 
the foe. We awaited the arrival of the train on 
the further bank ; then, traveling on, we encamped 
about midnight near Pawnee Rock. The dew fell 
heavily, and by the time the mules were picketed, 
we, worn out with watching and riding, wet, cold, 
and hungry, retired to our blankets. In the morn- 
ing, early, preparation was made by the mounted 
men for leaving the slow train ; and, by seven 
o'clock, twenty-five of us, with one light wagon, 
and a train of four mules, took our departure. We 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 345 

went to Walnut Creek to dinner (twenty-six miles). 
Taking- the heavy Spanish bitts from the mule's 
mouths to let them drink, we pitched our tent on the 
north bank. Here were the graves of 'Tharpe and 
McGuire, both killed by the Camanches. 

Tharpe I have mentioned, as being in the train 
with which John Smith left Mann's Fort. They 
proceeded thus far without molestation, and en- 
camped as usual. Tharpe had left the wagons but 
two hundred yards, " approaching " a band of 
buffalo, grazing near, when four parties of Indians, 
from as many points, charged in, and threw all into 
confusion. Five of them fell ; and Tharpe, after 
keeping his pursuers for a long time at bay, was 
Idlled and scalped. Repulsed, they retreated, car- 
rying with them sixty head of mules and horses, 
and forty yoke of oxen. Smith, to whom I had 
intrusted my two mules, Bonita and Diabolique, 
lost both of them and his seven. 

Our exhausted party sank to sleep, until the 
colonel's cook aroused us to our meal. A short 
nap, after eating, refreshed us still more, and we 
proceeded. Toward sundown we saw our last 
buffalo, rolling his unwieldly bulk out of rifleshot. 
We stopped, in the twiUght, on the banks of the 
Arkansas, and, as a final farewell, I bathed my 
weary limbs in its tepid waters. After a laborious 
march through loose sandbuttes, we wrapped in om' 
blankets at ten o'clock, without keeping guard. 
During the next day we felt comparatively safe. 



346 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



though still maintaining caution. The country 
was flooded, and the water stood in pools over the 
soaked prairie ; and, on a heavy, rainy morning, 
we breakfasted on Cottonwood Fork, eating our 
sobby food from a reeking saddlecover for a table- 
cloth. 

On the first day of July, we met an encampment 
a few miles from Council Grove, and rode to it. 

" Only a green teamster train," said one of the 
Californians returning, " a green lot for sure, but 
they've got arwerdenty, and that's a fact. Hurra 
for whisky on a rainy day, any how !" 

With the aid of a few bottles of the liquor, our 
crowd soon became uproarious. With lassos 
whirling, they spurred their jaded mules, and in 
drunken merriment "roped" and hauled each other 
from the saddle. Wiping sticks, hats, and even ri- 
fles, fell unheeded to the ground, to be gathered by 
the two sober ones of the party, and the mad ride 
was ended by the whole party raising the war- 
whoop, and charging on a lot of greenhorns at 
Council Grove. The colonel made camp a quarter 
of a mile from the grove, and ordered his men to 
it, but they, ridiculously elated with their first spree, 
set all commands at defiance. The outward-bound 
train looked in astonishment at these leather-clad, 
weather-beaten Bacchanalians, and stood clear of 
their riflestocks and lariats. 

The next morning. Colonel Russell, Charley 
McCarty, Henry Murphy, the coloncrs Indian and 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 347 



I, left in advance of the train, with two packmules, 
for the " States," hoping to reach the nearest fron- 
tier town, about two hundi'ed miles distant, in three 
days. We jogged over the trail, moistened just 
enough, by the late rains, to be good traveling. 
We were grateful for the sweet prairieflowers, and 
the greensward, for we were again in the long-grass 
country. Lively brooks, with crystal waters danced 
past, over pebbly beds. The whirring grouse, and 
the antlered deer, attracted our attention, as we 
crossed the open plain, or entered the exalted 
forest. 

But it was in the economy of nature to provide a 
setoff to the joyous contentment of our party. 
Myriads of biting flies attacked our poor beasts with 
such fury that speedy progress was impeded. Gouts 
of blood spotted their hides, and their efforts, al- 
though assisted by us, with half-covered boughs, 
gave no relief. In a gnat-infested, fly-ridden, mis- 
erably-hot and uncomfortable hollow, we made 
nooncamp. That night we slept securely, without 
a guard. 

Late at the close of another hot day, a neat log 
house stood in our path. It belonged to the nephew 
of the renowned Indian chief, Logan. We again 
sat at a table, and enjoyed the kind hospitalities of 
this family, but preferred our blankets in the open 
air, to the proffered bed. Bidding farewell to our kind 
entertainers in the morning, who would accept no 
remuneration, we rode through fields of waving 



348 WAH-TO-YAH AND 



corn, and pastures, whose fences and carefnl culture 
denoted the whiteman's civilizing hand. This was 
the domain of the Shawnees and Delawares, who 
farm extensively, and are prosperous. 

The shady banks of Blue River made our ride a 
short one, and, at sunset, ^ve rode into the town of 
Westport, where, giving our mules to the hostler, 
and pledging each other in aguardiente, with the 
mountaintoast of "luck," we sat down to supper 
in the United States, after an absence of many 
months. Our hands unconsciously found their way 
to the scalpknife at the waistband, and we laughed 
more than once at ourselves, for. u^ing the left-hand 
fingers, in lieu of the awkward two-tined fork. A 
nephew of the Pioneer Boone, with the old man's 
love for a frontier life, has here a store, at which I 
put myself into civilized garments. The old blue 
blanket, which had been my house and my pillow 
for a twelvemonth, I gave to a grinning negro boy ; 
the sorrow in parting with it being lessened by the 
idea, that with him, it would still be near the much- 
loved prah'ie. 

Colonel Russell, and his party, went to Indepen- 
dence by land, and I rode four miles to Kansas, on 
the coupling pole of our oxwagon, where I em- 
barked on a steamer for Fort Leavenworth, to get 
my.pey for services rendered. I dined with Lieu- 
tenanl- PuiftCfe,: tor- whom I had a letter. Captain 
Enos was absent, but I met him the next morning, 
gave him the state of affairs in the Territory, and at 



THE TAOS TRAIL. 349 

Mann's Fort, and he handed me my hard-earned 
dollars. 

Our company was now broken up. Some went 
to St. Louis by land. I reached there by water, 
and from that point a speedy steamboat trip re- 
stored me to home and friends. 



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