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Title: When the West Was Young
Author: Bechdolt, Frederick R. (Frederick Ritchie), 1874-1950
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: John Slaughter was gathering a great herd]








Copyright, 1922, by

The Century Co.

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, must not be reproduced
in any form without permission of the publisher.

To My Father



The writer is indebted for the material in this book to a goodly
number of the old-timers, from whose lips came much of which is
written in the following pages, and to numerous printed works which he
consulted, sometimes to authenticate data and sometimes to get
additional facts.

Among the former to whom he wishes to make acknowledgment are: Former
Sheriff John Ralphs, San Bernardino, California; Captain Harry C.
Wheeler, Douglas, Arizona; A. M. Franklin, Tucson, Arizona; Colonel
William Breckenbridge, Tucson, Arizona; Dr. D. T. MacDougal, Carnegie
Institution; William Lutley, Tombstone, Arizona; Judge Duncan,
Tombstone, Arizona; A. H. Gardner, Tombstone, Arizona; C. M. Cummings,
Tombstone, Arizona; Andy Smith, Tucson, Arizona; Guy C. Welch,
Tombstone, Arizona; Mr. and Mrs. John Slaughter, Douglas, Arizona;
James East, Douglas, Arizona; Horace Stillman, Douglas, Arizona; D. F.
McCarthy, Lipscomb, Texas; and the Arizona Pioneers' Association.

Among the latter are old files of the "Tombstone Epitaph" and other
Arizona newspapers; Manley's "Death Valley in '49"; Upton's "Pioneers
of Eldorado"; Ridge's "Life of Joaquin Murieta"; Dukes' "Famous
Criminal Cases"; Farish's "History of Arizona"; McClintock's "History
of Arizona"; Hittel's "History of California"; Bancroft's Works;
Visscher's "Pony Express"; G. D. Bradley's "Story of the Pony
Express"; "Overland Stage to California," by F. A. Root and W. E.
Connely; Inman's "Santa Fé Trail"; Humphreyville's "Twenty Years Among
Our Hostile Indians"; Richardson's "Beyond the Mississippi"; Bourke's
"On the Border With Crook"; J. Ross Brown's "Adventures in the Apache
Country"; Charles Siringo's "History of Billy the Kid"; Bard's "Life
of Billy Dixon, Scout and Plainsman"; Brown's "History of Texas."


 HOW DEATH VALLEY WAS NAMED                                          3
 JOAQUIN MURIETA                                                    25
 TOMBSTONE                                                          54
 TOMBSTONE'S WILD OATS                                              80
 THE SHOW-DOWN                                                     105
 THE PASSING OF JOHN RINGO                                         132
 JOHN SLAUGHTER'S WAY                                              160
 COCHISE                                                           190
 ONE AGAINST MANY                                                  218
 THE OVERLAND MAIL                                                 248
 BOOT-HILL                                                         277



There were three of us sitting on a pile of lumber in a sun-baked
little mining town down near the Arizona border. One of my companions
was the sheriff of the county and the other was an old man with snowy
beard and sky-blue eyes whom every one called "Mac." To look at him
was to behold a vision of the past.

As we were whiling away the time with idle talk something was said
which aroused the spirit of reminiscence within this survivor of the
unfenced West. He closed his jack-knife with a snap, threw away a pine
stick from which he had been peeling shavings, and turning his
sky-blue eyes on the sheriff, "I remember--" he began.

After which he told of cheating Death in quicksand fords, of day-long
battles with naked Apaches in the malapi, of fighting off bandits from
the stage while the driver kept the horses on a run up Dragoon Pass,
of grim old ranchmen stalking cattle-thieves by night, of frontier
sheriffs and desperadoes and a wilderness that was more savage than
the wild riders who sought sanctuary within its arid solitudes. He did
not talk for more than forty-five minutes at the most and the words
came slowly from his lips, but when he had done my head was spinning
from more visions of bold men and large deeds than it had held since
the Christmas night when I reeled off to bed after bolting a full half
of the "Boy's Froissart."

And after that old man had sauntered away in the hot-white Arizona
sunshine I thought of other grizzled chroniclers to whom I had
listened in other parts of the West. Some of their tales came back to
me, straightforward simple stories of the days before the farmers,
barbed-wire fences, and branch railroad lines; and I marveled at the
richness of a lore whose plain unvarnished narratives of fact stand
out with values exceeding those of most adventure fiction, more vivid
and colorful than the anecdotes of the Middle Ages which the French
chronicler set down for all the world to read.

Every State between the Mississippi and the Pacific has its own
stories of deeds that took place during an era when even the
lawbreakers attained a certain harsh nobility, and when plain men must
prove themselves heroic if they would survive. The names of many
heroes in these tales have become like household words all over the
United States, and what they did in many places is printed on the maps
of school geographies; but there is a vanished legion of those
old-timers who are remembered only in the immediate neighborhoods
where they lived swiftly and died hard. Emigrant and prospector,
pioneer and Indian chief, cow-boy and cattle-thief, sheriff,
stage-robber, and pony express rider--only the old men can tell their
stories now.

All of those men, whether they be famous or forgotten, owned a common
virtue which still survives among the people who came after them.
That pioneer spirit which makes the average American eager to try what
no one else has done is the common motive in the tales of their
exploits. It stands out strongly in this story which tells how Death
Valley got its name.

One evening early in November, 1849, a party of emigrants was encamped
near Mountain Meadows down in southern Utah close to the Nevada line.
It was a glorious night of the intermountain autumn; the stars burned
large and yellow overhead. In their faint radiance the white tops of
more than one hundred prairie-schooners gleamed at the base of the
hillside which rose into the west. Here and there one of the canvas
covers glowed incandescent from a candlelight within, where some
mother was tucking her children into their beds. Out on the long slope
the feeding oxen moved like shadows through the sage-brush, and beyond
them coyotes shrieked incessantly.

Fairly in the middle of the camp a leaping flame shone on the faces of
a crowd of men. For the world-old question of a short cut had arisen
to divide opinions in this company and they had gathered around a
large fire to try to settle the matter.

They were on their way to California and the placer fields. In Salt
Lake City they had learned that the season was too far advanced to
permit their crossing the Sierras by the northern passes and they had
organized into what they called the Sand Walking Company, with John
Hunt, a bearded Mormon elder, as their captain and their guide. He was
to conduct them by a trail, unmarked as yet by any wagon track, over
which some of his people had traveled to the old Spanish grant
recently acquired by their church at San Bernardino. This route to the
gold-fields followed the Colorado watershed southward taking advantage
of such few streams as flowed into the basin, to turn northward again
at the pueblo of Los Angeles. Thus it described a great loop nearly
parallel with what is now Nevada's southern boundary.

But before the Sand Walking Company left Salt Lake City a man named
Williams drew a map for one of its number showing what he claimed was
a shorter pathway to the Land of Gold. This Williams Short Route, as
it came to be called during many a heated discussion, struck off
straight into the west bearing to the San Bernardino road the relation
of a cord to its arc; until it reached a snow-clad peak. This peak,
according to the map, was visible for many miles, a clear landmark
during-nearly half the journey. Reaching it the trail turned sharply
north to cross the range by an easy pass and traverse a long rich
valley to the gold-fields. There were many legends of good feed and
water-holes on the drawing. The promise of time saved was an important
consideration, for all of the company were getting impatient to reach
the placer diggings lest they be too late.

The trail forked near this place where they were encamped to-night.
John Hunt had halted the party here for two days while scouts crossed
the long divide to the west and looked over the country beyond the
summit to see if wagons could travel that way. And now his pathfinders
were giving their reports. They stood in the open space by the fire,
three lean and sunburned men dressed in semi-Indian costume with
their powder-horns slung from their shoulders and long sheath-knives
in their beaded belts. One after the other they addressed the crowd
and each gave it as his opinion that the short cut was impractical.
The country was too rough, they said.

The murmur of many voices arose among the audience. Most of the men
there were nearing middle age and doubt showed on the bearded faces of
the great majority; doubt and disappointment, for they were eager to
see their journey's end and that Williams map had aroused high hopes.
Here and there a woman stood beside her husband, listening anxiously
to what he said, watching his eyes as he harkened to the talk of those

But there was one portion of the circle which stood out in marked
contrast to the rest. The men here were for the most part in their
early twenties; their faces were serene, their eyes untroubled by any
doubt; and there were no women with them. While the others stood
weighed down by uncertainty, they lounged full length on the ground
basking in the heat of the flames, or sat in groups on near-by
wagon-tongues, laughing and whispering jests among themselves. Several
of them were wearing bits of Indian finery, after the manner of the
guides, and this sprinkling of buckskin shirts, fringed leggings, and
beaded moccasins, together with an occasional crop of thick hair that
reached to a pair of broad young shoulders, gave a dash of savage
picturesqueness to their section of the audience. They were a company
of bachelors from Illinois and called themselves the Jayhawkers. Their
end of the camp had been the scene of wrestling matches and frolic
every night since the train had left Salt Lake City; and, as one
might expect, it was one of their number who had gotten that map of
the Williams Short Route. They were unanimous in advocating it.

Now Ed Doty, their captain, stepped forward into the open space by the
fire. Fixing his bold young eyes on John Hunt, whom he addressed
rather than the audience, "We haven't found the country yet," he said,
"that could stop us and we're not afraid of that over there." He
pointed out into the darkness where the summit of the divide showed
black against the western sky. "We're going to try the Williams Short

Hunt nodded. "All right," he answered quietly, "and if the rest try
it, I'm going through with you if I have to pass through hell to reach
the other end of the trail. But if one wagon sticks to the San
Bernardino road I'll stay with that wagon, for I passed my word to
take you that way."

It was sometime near midnight when the crowd left the fire, but the
sun was barely up the next morning before the wagons were lined out
along the side hill. Far ahead of them where the trail forked, John
Hunt stood waiting alone.

The white-topped prairie-schooners came on slowly toward him from the
northward through the sage; the heads of the long-horned oxen swinging
low from side to side before their heavy wooden yokes. The first span
reached the solitary figure of the captain and went straight on south;
the wagon rumbled by and Hunt knew by its passing that he must keep to
the San Bernardino trail.

But the second driver halted his team and leaned out from his seat to
take the hand which Hunt extended him. "We'll try the short route," he

"Good-by," the captain bade him; "good luck." The man called to his
lead span; the great yokes creaked and the front wheels whined against
the wagon-box as the animals swung the prairie-schooner to the west.

And now wagon after wagon halted briefly while its occupants exchanged
a brief farewell with the bearded man beside the road; then the outfit
struck out straight westward up the long steep slope; until, when Hunt
turned to rejoin his remnant of a following, three quarters of its
members had forsaken the Sand Walking Company.

The prairie-schooners of the seceders made a slender white line in the
wilderness of sage which reached on before them, up and up. Beyond the
crest which rose gray-brown against the cloudless Indian summer sky,
the desert waited silent as Death itself.

They traveled for three days up that long steep slope and when they
reached the summit to look down upon the other side they discovered
that the Williams map was worthless as a guide. Here, where it
promised easy going, a steep-walled cañon led down from the north
blocking their road. Beyond, a wilderness of sandstone pinnacles and
naked cliffs dropped away and away to depths invisible.

Then most of the drivers turned back their oxen to follow Captain Hunt
and overtake him on the San Bernardino trail by which he led his
company in safety to Los Angeles. But twenty-seven wagons remained
parked among the twisted junipers, their occupants biding the return
of scouts whom they had sent ahead to seek a pass. Although the map
had proved of no value when it came to showing a road, they still
believed in the snow-clad peak which it had promised, somewhere before
them in the hidden west. They were determined to find that landmark
and strike out for it.

The scouts came back on the fourth day and reported a pass far to the
northward around the cañon head. But before the prairie-schooners
lined out on the ridge to make the long detour, the unmarried owners
of outfits banded together in a company, advising those with families
to return to Captain Hunt. They did not care, they said, to be
responsible for the lives of women and children in this unmapped
wilderness. The advice was not taken and the train set forth in two
sections, twenty wagons belonging to the Jayhawkers and their bachelor
companions and seven owned by men who traveled with their wives and
little ones.

The scouts had picked an easy route through rolling hills where
bunch-grass stood in thick clusters among the tall gray sage; the oxen
cropped the rich feed as they went along. Clear streams ran noisily in
most of the ravines. The train passed the cañon head, and one day,
after considerable aimless wandering, it turned westward to cross a
succession of wide tablelands where feed was good and water still

The Indian summer season was at its height now, clear balmy days
and cloudless nights. Their progress was steady for some time,
uninterrupted by ill luck of any kind. When they halted for the midday
meal it was like a great picnic in the soft warm sunshine, and
when evening came the Jayhawkers rollicked around their fires or
gathered where one of their number had tuned up his fiddle. William
Isham was his name, a great bearded fellow who hailed originally
from Rochester, New York; he would sit by the hour on the tongue
of his wagon playing "Oh Susannah" and other lively airs, or strike
up a jig tune while Negro Joe, who had fled from slavery in
Mississippi, did a double shuffle in the firelight. The children
slipped away from their mothers to set peeps at the fun from the
edges of the crowd or play hide and seek in the shadows of the
sage-brush; there were ten of these youngsters in all.

Many of these evenings would find a number of the older men clustered
around the wagon of Asahel Bennett, an Iowa pioneer whose outfit
included a young hunter by the name of William Manley. For Manley went
ahead nearly every day to spy out the country and these men were eager
for tidings of the snow-clad peak which lay before them hidden in the

Now gradually as they went onward the country began to change; the
sage-brush became more stunted, the grass tufts sparser; the streams
ran smaller and smaller. Until there came a day when they traveled
from dawn until long after sunset before they encountered any water;
and this lay lukewarm in hollows of the sandstone, accumulations from
rains of long ago. The earth was hard and dry and there were stretches
where there was no earth at all, only a rubble of sharp rock fragments
radiating heat-waves under the glaring sun.

There was no rollicking about the camp-fires any more. When evening
came the men were weary from hurrying their wagons over rugged ground
or climbing lofty buttes to look ahead for signs of water. Isham the
fiddler left his violin in its case; he never took it from that case
again. The oxen had grown gaunt from lack of feed and drink; they
wandered about the night camps nibbling disdainfully at what growth
there was, low bitter sapless weeds.

The change in the country had come so imperceptibly that they did not
realize the presence of the desert until they were confronted by
an-appalling revelation one afternoon.

All that day and all the day before the drivers had been goading the
failing oxen while they peered with reddened eyes out on the glaring
plain, from which arose a series of isolated cone-shaped buttes. For
the water in the barrels was running very low and they were always
seeking some sign of stream or pool.

Then one of them uttered a loud cry and at that shout the others saw,
two miles or so off to the right where the plain opened out between
the cone-shaped hills, a lake whose waters were bluer than any they
had ever looked upon. A little breeze was stirring its surface, and on
the further bank there were some trees whose branches were moving as
if perhaps the wind were stronger over there.

Now every driver lashed his oxen to a lumbering run, and the women
lifted the canvas tops of the prairie-schooners to show their children
the pretty lake. The whole train turned away from its course and went
rumbling across the plain, one mile, then a second; and another
followed before they found themselves in the midst of a glaring
expanse of snow-white alkali, baked by the sun to rock-like hardness.
The vision of blue waters had vanished with the suddenness of a dream
which ceases on the instant of awakening.

The mothers lowered the canvas wagon-covers and soothed their crying
children, and the drivers turned the oxen back toward the trail which
they had forsaken for the lure of the mirage. There was no word of
grief among the men, no outcry of despair; but the shoulders of some
were sagging when they made their dry camp that night, and there was a
new hardness in the eyes of all of them. For they had looked upon the
desert and they knew it for what it was.

As they were sitting about their little fires a man came staggering
among them out of the darkness. It was Manley, the young hunter of the
Bennett outfit, who had been away for two days on one of his
reconnoitering expeditions. They gathered around him in silence but he
read the question in their eyes and shook his head.

"No water," he answered, "nor sign, of it, but I have seen a snow
mountain straight west of us."

He told them how he had lain out on the summit of a high butte the
night before until dawn came revealing a dead world. Dark ragged
mountains of volcanic rock lay to the north, and to the south a tangle
of naked ridges whose sides were discolored as though by fire. Between
these scorched ranges a plain stretched for a good one hundred miles
into the west, as level as a floor and gleaming white. Beyond that
plain a low chain of mountains rose, as black as ink, and behind this
gloomy range he saw a snow-clad peak that glistened in the morning

They talked the situation over; all of them were convinced that Manley
had found the peak described by the Williams map, and now they argued
for different routes. Of the four points of the compass there was only
one which lacked an advocate. For, while some urged a northward
circuit and others believed there would be greater safety to the south
and many were determined to push straight on west across the gleaming
plain of alkali, there was not one word said of turning back into the

Survivors tell how some of the women wept under the covers of the
prairie-schooners that night, but none of those mothers raised her
voice in favor of retreat. They were pioneers, these people, and it
seemed as if they did not know how to turn back.

None can ever set the fulness of their story down in words; for the
Amargossa Desert has a wicked beauty which is beyond the telling, and
one must journey out beyond the black escarpments of the Funeral
Mountains and fight for his life in the silent reaches of that broken
wilderness if he would begin to realize what they went through.

They made their last camp together at a brackish water-hole near the
edge of the plain which Manley had described. Beyond it they could see
the snow-clad peak. They repeated to one another the legends on the
Williams map, its promise of a pass close by that summit and of a
fertile valley leading to the gold-fields in the north. If they could
only reach the mountain, they agreed their hardships would be over,
their journey as good as ended.

They separated here to set forth by two different routes. The
Jayhawkers struck straight out across the flat, while the little
company of families kept to a more roundabout course in the south,
hoping to find water in the mountains there. From this time on,
although their trails converged and crossed, the wagons never united
in one train again.

In that silent land where the skeletons of dead mountain ranges lie
strewn among the graves of seas that died in ages past, they held
their eyes on the one sign of life that rose into the clear sky
beyond, the peak whose promise kept them moving on into the west.

Days passed and the smaller party found no water in any of the cañons
which came down to them from the south. They used the last drops from
their casks; and now they could not eat for thirst, they could not
sleep. The children wailed for drink until their voices died away to
dry whisperings, and when the mothers strove to comfort them they
found their arid tongues had lost the power of shaping any words.

At last Mauley, the young hunter with the Bennett wagons, discovered a
warm spring near a cañon head, but the oxen lay down in their traces
on their way up the gorge and the men were obliged to bring water down
to them in buckets before they could get the unhappy brutes to rise.
They filled the barrels with the tepid fluid and goaded the teams on,
seeking some sign of a pass in the low black range which lay between
them and the snow peak. If there were only an opening, it seemed as if
they might win through.

Meantime the Jayhawkers were pressing hard across the gleaming plain.
The surface of that plain was white as snow, as level as a floor. It
was so hard that the wheels left no track on it; no shrub grew from
it, only a low bitter weed that crumbled to a gray powder at the
slightest touch. The oxen plodded along with their heads hung so low
that their muzzles almost swept the ground; they stood about the camp
at night, emaciated beyond belief, swaying from weakness, grating
their teeth as they moved their jaws with a pathetic instinct of
rumination. Five days passed and on the night of the fifth, when these
young fellows knew they could not live another twenty-four hours
without water, a light cloud came between them and the stars. They
felt the cool touch of snowflakes on their faces and they spread their
blankets to gather what they could while the oxen licked the moisture
from the earth. The next morning the sun shone hot again upon the
plain against whose vast expanse the wagons showed, a little line of
dots creeping slowly toward the white-topped mountain in the west.

At Ash Meadows where the bitter waters of the Amargossa River rise
from their hidden depths to flow for a few hundred yards between gray
hills of shifting sand, the trails of the two parties converged. By
the time they reached this dismal oasis they were killing their oxen
for such shreds of meat as they could strip from the bones; but as
every wagon left the place, climbing the divide beyond, the occupants
forgot their sufferings and talked of the desert as something which
they had left behind. For Furnace Creek Cañon lay ahead of them, a
rift in the black range which rose between them and the snow-clad

The Jayhawkers were now in the lead. They went down the gorge whose
black walls seemed to shut out the sky in places, and on Christmas
morning, 1849, they emerged from its mouth to see the great peak just
ahead of them.

But, as they looked up at the mountain toward which they had been
striving for so many weary days, they discovered that its sides were
verdureless, bare of any earth, so steep no man could climb them. And
there was no pass.

They had descended into the pitfall at its lowest depths. Here where
they first saw the place, more than two hundred feet below the level
of the sea, great beds of rock salt covered its floor worn by the wind
into a myriad of pinnacles, as high as a man's waist, sharp as knives
and coated with brown dust. In the center of this weird forest a level
sheet of white salt lay glistening in the sun. Northward the deposit
stretched away to dunes of shifting sand, and in the south long mud
flats lay, covered with traceries of sun cracks as far as the eye
could reach. The eastern mountains came straight down in cliffs as
black as ink. Eight miles away the western mountains rose in a sheer
wall surmounted by Telescope Peak, whose snow-clad crest towered
eleven thousand feet above the heads of the men whom it had lured
here. There was no sound of any life, no track of any animal. No
bird--not even a buzzard--flew overhead. The very air was a desert
like the burning earth.

Now, even as they came down out of Furnace Creek Cañon into this trap,
they began their efforts to escape from it.

The Bennett party crossed the sink through the forest of rock-salt
pinnacles and headed southward along a strip of loose sand which lay
between the mud flat and the mountains. They believed the range might
yet show a rift at this end which their wagons could traverse. But the
Jayhawkers turned to the north, seeking some outlet through the
Panamints at that end of the range. One family followed them. J. W
Brier, a minister from a little frontier community in the Middle West,
left the other section with his wife and three children in the hope
that the young men might find a route to safety.

Sometimes to this day the winds, moving the dunes of white sand in the
valley's northern arm--a task which they are always at from year's end
to year's end--uncover the fragments of wagons, and prospectors come
upon a tire or spoke or portion of a sun-dried axle. Then they know
that they are at the place where the Jayhawkers abandoned their

They killed some of their oxen at this point and divided the
meat--there was so little of it that although the men were now very
weak two of them were able to carry the beef from an animal. Then they
started out on foot across the sand dunes toward the Panamints. Most
of them still believed that feed and water lay just beyond those

And now, while they were straggling along through the loose sand in
single file, one of their number, a man named Fish, was seen to throw
his hands above his head and pitch forward on his face. Those who were
behind came upon him lying with arms outspread, dead.

The next afternoon as they were climbing toward the head of a steep
cañon in the range, several of the foremost ones found a little spring
among the rocks. While they were resting here they saw a man far below
them. He was crawling toward them on his hands and knees. One of the
party filled his canteen and hurried down to meet him; but when he
arrived, the other was gasping his last in the bottom of the sun-baked
gorge. It was Captain Culverwell, a skipper who had forsaken the deep
sea and its ships to make this journey with them in the hope of
finding gold.

That evening the strongest of their number reached the summit of the
Panamints and looked down the western side where they had thought to
find that fertile valley which the Williams map had promised leading
to the north. They saw dead mountain ranges and dried lake floors like
those through which they had been traveling for months. The Mohave
Desert lay in front of them.

When they were crossing those arid reaches William Isham, who had
fiddled so blithely for them every evening in the Utah hills, sank
down beside the trail; and the others passed him with empty canteens,
unable to give him any help. Some of the stragglers buried his body a
few days later on.

During the next day or two a Frenchman, whose name none of the
survivors remember, went insane from thirst and wandered off into the
sand-hills. No one ever saw him afterward.

So one after another of their number lay down and died or went mad and
ran off toward some of the mirages which were perpetually torturing
all of them with visions of cool lakes, until thirteen had perished.
The others struggled on and on into the southwest; for they knew that
Los Angeles lay somewhere in that direction and it offered them their
only hope.

Meantime the Bennett party went southward along the western edge of
the sink where the sands lie as loose and fine as ashes between the
mud flats and the mountains, until they found a little spring with a
few patches of coarse grass among the mesquite thickets which
surrounded it. From this point they tried escape by one route and then
another, only to reach a blind wall in each case and retrace their
steps to the water-hole.

In later years the mule-drivers of the borax company enlarged the well
which Asahel Bennett and J. B. Arcane dug here in the sand. Otherwise
the place remains unchanged, a patch of mesquite in a burning plain
where heat devils dance all day long from year's end to year's end.
The plain reaches on and on between black mountain walls, and even the
mirage which springs from its surface under that hot sun throws off
the guise of a cool lake almost on the moment of its assumption to
become a repellant specter that leaps and twists like a flame. The
Paiute Indians called the spot Tomesha, which means "Ground Afire."

The party held a council when they had retreated here after the last
unsuccessful attempt to escape. It was clear that they could not take
the women and children out of the sink unless some one got food for
the journey and found a route between water-holes. They appointed
Manley, the young hunter, and an ox-driver named John Rogers for the
venture, and the pair set out across the Panamints just north of
Telescope Peak with the beef from an ox in their knapsacks, while the
others sat down to await their return--or death.

There were two wagon outfits of unmarried men among them; they had
forsaken the Jayhawkers at about the time the Brier family joined that
section. When several days had passed these bachelors departed to seek
the trail of their former companions in the valley's north arm. They
said that the chances were ten to one that Manley and Rogers would
never get through alive, and if they did they would be fools to
attempt coming back. The others watched the two prairie-schooners
crawling off into the gray plain until a mirage engulfed them and
lifted them distorted into the blazing sky.

And now the families faced the question which these men had left with
them. Would Manley and Rogers get through? They did not know what
hazards lay beyond those mountains to the west, but none of them had
the Jayhawkers' faith in a fertile valley leading to the north. As it
turned out Mount Whitney was the snow-clad peak to which the faulty
Williams map referred and the valley was the Owens Lake country, many
a weary mile from this sink.

If the pair did survive the desert, would they be men enough to face
it for the second time? The marooned ones could only hope. That hope
had become an abiding faith in Bennett's wife. She had given the two
young fellows a double handful of rice--half her store of grain--on
the morning of their departure, and pointed mutely to her children as
she placed the little bag in Manley's hand. "They will come back," she
told the others many times.

The food was running low; the few remaining oxen could not last them
long. There was a dog with the Bennett wagons; he had followed them
all the way from Iowa; and in this time of dire extremity some talked
of killing him. But even in his starved condition he was able to wag
his tail when the children came near him; sometimes he comforted them
by his presence when their mothers could not. The men had not the
heart to do away with him.

Hope lingered within those people like the breath in an old man who is
dying hard. Rogers and Manley had gone northward on the burning plain
to reach a ridge which mounted toward the Panamints. Now as the days
dragged by to weary weeks, the men and women always gazed into the
north where nothing lived except the hatred for the sun. But no man
came, and when the weeks had grown beyond a month, they knew the time
was here when they must make one last attempt to save themselves. They
yoked up the oxen and set out into the south toward a spot where
Bennett had discovered what looked like a gap in the mountains. Three
days later they returned, half dead from thirst, and unhitched the
staggering animals by the well.

There remained one shadow of a chance, as ephemeral as the mirage
which came before them with the mounting of each morning's sun. They
stripped the tops from the prairie-schooners and began to make
pack-saddles from them with the idea of abandoning the vehicles and
following the trail of the Jayhawkers.

At midday they were sitting under the wagons for what shade they gave,
working at this task. They knew it was a futile proceeding; the time
had long since gone when they had enough provisions to last them
through that long northern route. But they were not the sort of people
who can sit down and die. If they must perish it would be while they
were still fighting. No one spoke. The silence of the dead land had
crept over them.

That silence was broken by a shot. Unbelieving, they crept forth and
saw three figures moving toward them from the north. Manley and Rogers
were hurring across the flat leading a laden mule.

While the others ate from the store in the pack-sacks, the two young
fellows told of their journey two hundred and fifty miles across the
Mohave Desert; of the dead of the Jayhawker party whom they had found
beside the trail; of the survivors whom they passed shortly before
reaching a ranch near the head of the San Fernando valley where the
little town of Newhall stands to-day; of great arid mountain ranges
and shimmering floors of dried lakes; and of the long torture between
water-holes. At the Newhall ranch a man named French had given them
the mule and the provisions. With this food supply they believed the
women and children stood a chance of getting through.

They slung the sacks of canvas on the gaunt oxen and placed the
children in them; then they set out on their long climb up the

Before they left the summit of the divide to go downhill into the
west, they halted for one last look back. And as they stood there
among the rocks gazing down into the sink which lay thousands of feet
below them walled in by the mountains on both sides, one of the
mothers lifted her arm in a gesture of farewell.

"Good-bye, Death Valley!" she cried.

That is the way the place was named.

They turned their backs on it and descended the long western slope.
The dog, which they had taken with them all this distance, limped
along behind the little train. The mule went on before. And in Los
Angeles, where they joined the other survivors of the company weeks
later and told the people of the pueblo of their sufferings, they
called the sink Death Valley when they spoke of it.

Later, when they had gone into the north--for all of them pressed on
as soon as they were able to travel again--they separated, seeking
their fortunes in the mines. Years passed and occasionally some of
them met again. At such times, or when they told others of the pitfall
into which they descended striving toward the snow peak, they always
used the name Death Valley. And so it has come down to us to-day.


In the days of '49 when Murphy's Diggings was as lively a little
placer camp as one could find in a long ride through the red
foot-hills of the Sierras, a young Mexican monte-dealer disappeared.
He was a handsome fellow, lighter of complexion than most of his
countrymen, owned a sunny smile and spoke English fluently, all of
which things made him a favorite among the American customers and
consequently an asset to the house. So when dusk came and the booted
miners began drifting into the long canvas-roofed hall, the proprietor
scanned the crowd for him with some anxiety.

But the proprietor might as well have saved himself the trouble of
that search; the monte-dealer had forsaken his table for a different
sort of job.

Just at this time he was on the hill beyond the upper end of the camp
kneeling beside an open grave; and in his clasped hands, uplifted high
above his head, he held a naked bowie-knife. Some light still lingered
here among the stiff-branched digger-pines, a faint reflection of the
sunset far beyond the flat lands of the San Joaquin valley. It shone
upon his face revealing a multitude of lines, so deeply scored, so
terrible in their proclamation of deadly hate, that the sight of them
would have startled the most case-hardened member of the crowds down
there where the candles were twinkling in the humming camp.

The waning light which sifted through the long plumed tassels of the
digger-pines showed a little group of Mexicans standing at some
distance listening in frightened silence to what he was saying. He
spoke to the dead man in the open grave; and when events that followed
brought the words back to their minds some of these auditors repeated
the vow he made: to color that knife-blade and his hands bright red
with the blood of twenty men of Murphy's Diggings; and after that to
devote his life to killing Americans.

This was the monte-dealer's new job, and in order to understand how he
came to undertake such a piece of work it is necessary to go back a

He was only nineteen, but life had been moving so swiftly with him
that the beginning of these events finds him in that year overseer of
his father's great rancho down in Sonora, a Mexican of the better
class, well educated as education went in those days, a good dancer as
every girl in the section could bear witness, pleasure-loving,
easy-going, and able to play the guitar very prettily. Sometimes--and
more often as the weeks went by--he played and sang at the home of
Reyes Feliz, a packer in his father's employ; and Rosita, the packer's
daughter, liked his music well enough to encourage his visits.

Class counted then, as it does to this day in Mexico, and parents
liked to have a hand in marriages. But Reyes Feliz was away from home
a great deal with his train of mules, the landholder was busy at his
own affairs; the girl was a beauty and the landholder's son had a
winsome way with him. So one night Rosita took the horse which he
brought for her and rode off with him to California.

They made their journey with their mounts and a single pack animal
across the hot plains and arid mountains of the south, then up the
long King's Highway which the padres had beaten down nearly one
hundred years before their time. It was winter and California winter
means Eastern spring; green grass rippling in the soft breezes,
poppy-fields and a rioting of meadow-larks to make their honeymoon
ideal. They rode on northward into the Santa Clara valley where a
gleaming mist of mustard blossoms hung under the great live oaks as
far as the eye could reach; then they struck off eastward across the
Coast Range and the flat lands of the San Joaquin, to climb into the
red foot-hills where the Stanislaus comes out from the Sierras. Here
they settled down and took a mining claim.

The feeling engendered by the Mexican War still rankled in many
neighborhoods; and every mining camp had its lawless element whose
members took full advantage of that prejudice against the conquered
race. The claim proved rich enough to tempt some ne'er-do-wells. They
gathered a crowd of their own breed and the mob came to the young
pair's cabin one evening with the purpose of jumping the property.
When the owner made a show of resistance they bound him hand and foot,
after which they subjected the girl to such abuses as will not bear
the telling. She pleaded with her lover when the crowd had gone and
managed to induce him to leave the place without attempting vengeance.
They went to Columbia and within the month were driven out by another
anti-Mexican mob. Their next move took them to Murphy's Diggings,
where the boy got his job at dealing monte and was doing very
well--until this evening came, and with it, tragedy.

He had been visiting his brother, who had come to California and
settled near Murphy's; and the latter had lent him a horse to ride
home. As he was nearing the upper end of the camp a group of miners
stepped out into the road before him and halted him. The horse had
been stolen from one of their number and they were searching for it at
the time.

They listened to his explanations and went with him to his brother who
told them how he had bought the animal in good faith from a stranger.
Whereat they seized the narrator, bound him, and hanged him to the
nearest live-oak tree; then stripped the monte-dealer to the waist,
tied him to the same tree, and flogged him until the blood ran down
his bare back. After which they departed, satisfied that they had done
their share to bring about law and order in a neighborhood where
thefts were becoming altogether too frequent. But some of them
mentioned in Murphy's Diggings--during the brief space of time while
they had the opportunity--the strange expression which came over their
victim's face while the lash was being applied. Each of these men
spoke of the look as having been directed at himself. Had they been
members of one of the dark-skinned races, to whom the vendetta is
peculiarly an institution, they would have understood the purport of
that look.

But none of them understood and the monte-dealer was left to keep his
promise to his dead brother. He turned his back upon the grave and
went about the fulfilment of that vow as ambitious men go about the
making of careers; and in the days that followed, while his swarthy
company was sweeping through California like fire on a chaparral
hillside when the wind is high, he gained a dark fame, so lasting that
there is hardly an old settled community from Mount Shasta to the
Mexican line which has not some tale of the bandit, Joaquin Murieta.

Sometimes during the weeks after the lynching a miner on his way to
the gambling-houses after supper got a glimpse of Joaquin Murieta in
the outskirts of Murphy's Diggings, as he glided among the tents
cloaked to his eyes in his serape. Occasionally a late reveler,
returning to his cabin in the darkness, was startled by the sight of
his figure beside the road, as black and silent as the night itself;
or was chilled to dead sobriety by the vision of that drawn face
confronting him on a narrow trail. And in the chilly mornings men
going to their work came on the bodies of his victims in the soft red
dust of path or wagon-track, or stumbled over them in the chaparral.

And now fear began to seize the survivors of that lynching party. By
the time its twenty members had dwindled to something like a dozen,
the succession of spectacles afforded by the companions whom they had
been summoned to identify was getting on the stoutest nerves; the
dullest imaginations were working feverishly. Some found friends to
act as body-guards; others moved away to try their fortunes in new
camps; but the body-guards could not be on duty all the time and the
departing ones in most instances made the mistake of confiding their
intentions to acquaintances. All authorities agree that Joaquin
Murieta managed to kill at least fifteen--and possibly two or three
more--of the score whose faces he had so carefully imprinted on his
memory while the lash was biting into his bare back.

When he had finished with the work which the first part of his vow
demanded, he rode away from Murphy's with Rosita and set about the
task of gathering a band that he might be able to carry out the second

There were plenty of cutthroats in California during that spring of
1850, and no lack of Mexicans among them. Several swarthy leaders of
banditti were then operating throughout the State. One of these was
Manuel Garcia, better known as Three-Fingered Jack, who had been
ranging over the Sonoma valley for several years, occasionally varying
the monotony of murder by tying a victim to a tree and flaying him
alive. Joaquin Valenzuela was another, a middle-aged outlaw who had
learned the finer arts of bushwhacking down in Mexico under Padre
Jurata, the famous guerrilla chief. There were also Claudio, a lean
and seasoned robber from the mountains of Sonora, adept in disguises,
skilful as a spy, able to mingle with the crowd in any plaza
unrecognized by men who had known him for years; and Pedro Gonzales, a
specialist at horse-stealing, who had driven off whole bands under the
very noses of armed herders.

Every one of these leaders had his own ugly gang of riders and his
own ill fame long before young Joaquin Murieta ceased dealing
monte; and every one was getting rich pickings from pack trains,
stage-coaches, valley ranches, and miners' cabins. Yet within six
months they all turned over their bands and became lieutenants of the
nineteen-year-old boy. That list of victims at Murphy's Diggings,
his superior breeding, and his finer intelligence gave him high
standing from the beginning, but his greatest asset was the purpose
which had driven him forth among them. They had robbed and killed and
fled with the aimlessness of common murderers, but here was one with
a definite plan, to leave the whole State a smoking shambles. They
submitted their lives and fortunes to the possessor of this appealing

During the first year, while organization was being perfected, Joaquin
Murieta traveled through northern California with Rosita gathering
recruits, establishing alliances among disaffected Mexicans, and
spying out new fields for plunder. Gradually, as he accomplished these
things, the bands under his different lieutenants began to rob and
plunder more systematically, and the scene of their operations shifted
with bewildering rapidity. To-day a number of travelers were dragged
from their horses by the reatas of swarthy ambuscaders in the Tuolomne
County foot-hills and to-morrow a rancher down in the valley found the
bodies of his murdered herders to mark the beginning of the trail left
by his stolen cattle. As the months went by suspicion that these
different bands were working under one leader grew to certainty among
the longer-headed officers. Then the name of Joaquin Murieta began to
be spoken as that of the mysterious chief. He was quick to confirm the
rumors of his leadership, and before the spring of 1851 was over he
managed by grimly spectacular methods to let more than one community
know that he was responsible for some outrage which had startled its

That was the case in San José. A number of the robbers had swooped
down into the Santa Clara valley and their chief was living with
Rosita in the outskirts of the town, directing their raids, giving
them such information regarding travelers and plunder as he was able
to pick up by mixing with the crowds in the gambling-houses. A deputy
sheriff by the name of Clark captured two of the marauders red-handed,
and Murieta determined to make such an example of him as would put
fear into the hearts of other officers.

In those days the fandango was a popular function in San José, which
still retained all the characteristics of a Mexican pueblo, and there
was not a night without the strumming of guitars and the lively
stepping of the dancers in some public hall. Murieta went to one of
these fandangos and, by arrangement with confederates, brought it
about that Clark came to the place searching for a criminal.

The dancing was in full swing when the deputy entered; scores of lithe
dark men and their black-eyed partners were whirling in the fervid
Spanish waltz; but as he crossed the threshold a discordant note
arose: disturbance broke out in a corner of the hall; a woman
screamed; a knife-blade flashed. Clark shoved his way through the
crowd and reached the fight in time to disarm a good-looking young
Mexican who was flourishing the weapon; placed him under arrest and
took him away to the nearest justice of the peace, who passed sentence
of twelve dollars' fine.

"I have not the money on me," the prisoner said, "but if this officer
will go with me to my house I can get it there." It was an easy-going
period and such small matters as pulling a knife were of frequent
occurrence. The deputy consented to the request and the pair went
forth together from the lighted streets to the fringes of the town.
They were talking pleasantly enough when they came to a dark place
where willow thickets lined the road on either side.

Here the prisoner halted abruptly. "I am Joaquin Murieta," he
announced, "and I brought you here to kill you." Upon which he stabbed
Clark to the heart.

All this was told the next day in the streets of San José, but where
the information came from no one knew. Murieta's custom of sending out
such tidings through confederates was not so well understood then as
it came to be later.

From San José Murieta went northward into the Sacramento valley and
took quarters with Rosita in Sonorian Camp, a Mexican settlement
near Marysville. About twenty cutthroats under Valenzuela and
Three-Fingered Jack began working in the neighborhood. The ambush was
their favorite method--three or four in a party and one of the number
ready with his reata. When this one had cast the noose of rawhide rope
over the neck of some passing traveler and dragged him from the
saddle into the brush the others killed the victim at their leisure.
The number of the murders grew so appalling that Sheriff R. B.
Buchanan devoted all his time to hunting down the criminals.
Finally he got word of the rendezvous in Sonorian Camp and took a
small posse to capture the leaders.

But the news of the sheriff's expedition had preceded him, and when
they had crept upon the tent houses in the dark, as silent as Indians,
the members of the posse found themselves encircled by unseen enemies
whose pistols streaked the gloom with thin bright orange flashes.
While the others were fighting their way out of the ambush Sheriff
Buchanan emptied his own weapon in a duel with one of the robbers, and
collapsed badly wounded in several places. Weeks later, during his
recovery, Joaquin Murieta sent the sheriff word that he was the man
who had shot him down.

Northward the band rode now from Marysville until they reached the
forest wilderness near Mount Shasta, where they spent the most of the
winter stealing horses. Before spring they went south again, traveling
for the most part by night, and drove their stolen stock into the
State of Sonora. Their loot disposed of and a permanent market
established down across the line, Murieta led them back into
California to begin operations on a more ambitious scale. He planned
to steal two thousand horses and plunder the mining camps of enough
gold-dust to equip at least two thousand riders who should sweep the
State in such a raid as the world had not known since the Middle

In April--almost two years to a day after the monte-dealer had left
his job at Murphy's Diggings--six Mexicans came riding into the town
of Mokelumne Hill, which lies on a bench-land above the river. A
somewhat dandified sextet in scrapes of the finest broadcloth and with
a wealth of silver on the trappings of their dancing horses, they
passed up the main street into the outskirts where their countrymen
had a neighborhood to themselves.

Here they took quarters in those tent-roofed cottages which were so
common in the old mining camps, and now three of them appeared in
their proper garb, well-gowned young housewives and discreet to a
degree which must have exasperated those of their neighbors inclined
to gossip. For these ladies had nothing to say concerning whence they
had come or the business of their husbands. Two of those husbands were
now spending much of their time in other camps and came home but
seldom to pay brief visits to their wives. The third stayed here in
Mokelumne Hill.

The days went by; the pack-trains jingled down out of the hills; the
processions of heavy wagons lumbered up from the San Joaquin valley
enwrapped in clouds of red dust; an endless stream of men flowed into
the town on its bench-land above the cañon where the river brawled.
Men from all the world, they came and went, and the milling crowds
absorbed those who lingered, nor heeded who they were. Gold was
plentiful, and while the yellow dust was passing from hand to hand
life moved so swiftly that no one had time to think of his neighbor's
business. The good-looking young Mexican was as a drop of water in a
rapid stream.

When dusk crept up out of the cañon and the candles filled the
gambling-houses with floods of mellow radiance he mingled with the
crowds. He drank with those who asked him and talked with those who
cared to pass a word with him; talked about the output of the near-by
gulches, the necessity of armed guards for the wagons and pack-trains,
or the chances of capturing Joaquin Murieta. In spite of his good
looks and expensive clothes he was about as unobtrusive as a Mexican
could be, which is saying a good deal at the period.

One April evening he was sitting at a monte-game. The gambling-hall
was filled with raw-boned packers from the hills, dust-stained
teamsters from the valley towns, miners from the diggings, and a
riffraff of adventurers from no one knew--or cared--where. It was a
booted crowd with a goodly sprinkling of red shirts to give it color,
and weapons in evidence on every side. Here walked one with a brace of
long-barreled muzzle-loading pistols in his belt, and there another
with the handle of a bowie-knife protruding from his boot-top; and
every one of those frock-coated dealers at the tables had a Derringer
or two stowed away on that portion of his person which he deemed most
accessible. The bartender kept a double-barreled shotgun under the
counter across which the drinks were being served.

In the midst of this animated arsenal the dark-eyed young Mexican
dandy sat placing his bets while the dealer turned the cards and luck
came, after luck's fashion, where it pleased. As he played, a group of
miners just behind him began arguing about the bandit whose name was
now famous all the way from Mount Shasta to the Mexican line. One of
them, a strapping fellow with a brace of pistols at his waist, became
impatient at something which another had said concerning the robber's
apparent invulnerability and raised his voice in the heat of his

"Joaquin Murieta!" he cried. "Say! I'd just like to see that fellow
once and I'd shoot him down as if he was a rattlesnake."

A noise behind him made him turn his head, and now, like all the
others in that room, he stared at the dandified young Mexican-who had
leaped to the top of the monte-table and was standing there among the
litter of cards and gold. His broadcloth serape was thrown back; his
two hands moved swiftly to his belt and came away gripping a pair of

"I am Joaquin Murieta," he shouted so loudly that his voice carried
the length of the hall. "Now shoot!"

A moment passed; he stood there with his head thrown back, his dark
eyes sweeping the crowd, but no man on the floor so much as moved a
hand. Then laughing he sprang down and walked slowly among them to the
front door. They fell away before him as he came and he vanished in
the shadows of the narrow street before one of them sought to follow

The others of the sextet were waiting for him when he reached the
Mexican quarter; their horses were saddled; and at a word from him
they mounted. For he and his two lieutenants had finished their work;
they knew all they cared to know about the gold trains and the caches
of the miners, and this was to have been their last evening in camp.
With their gathered information they rode southward to Arroyo
Cantoova, in the foot-hills of the Coast Range at the western edge of
the upper San Joaquin valley. This was the band's new headquarters.

They remained here for some days resting before the next raid. Gold
was plentiful among them; the leaders dressed with the splendor of
noblemen; not one of those leaders--save Three-Fingered Jack--but had
his mistress beside him decked out like a Spanish lady; nor one but
rode a clean-limbed thoroughbred. When the hills were turning brown
with summer's beginning young Murieta led them out across the range
and southward to the country around Los Angeles.

Success had made him so serene that during the journey he sometimes
forgot his grim vow of shedding blood and showed mercy to a victim who
had no great store of gold. More than once Rosita induced him to spare
the lives of prisoners; and if his career had ended at this time his
name would have come down surrounded by legends of magnanimity. But as
he went on now that large plan of bloodshed became more of a power in
his life. And as it grew to master him he saw Rosita less; he sought
more frequently the companionship of Three-Fingered Jack, who killed
for killing's sake alone. During the last two years he had often
slipped away from his followers and stolen into the church of some
near-by town, to recite the dark catalogue of his sins in the
curtained confessional; but no priest heard him tell his misdeeds from
this time on.

In the north end of Los Angeles, where the old plaza church fronts the
little square of green turf and cabbage-palms, you can still find a
few of the one-story adobe buildings which lined the streets on the
July afternoon when Joaquin Murieta whispered into Deputy Sheriff
Wilson's ear.

He was a young man, this deputy, and bold, and he had come all the way
from Santa Barbara to help hunt down the famous bandit whose followers
were burning ranch buildings and murdering travelers from the summits
of the southland's mountains to the yellow beaches by the summer sea.
Unlike many of the pueblo's citizens, who had formed the habit of
talking of such matters in undertones and looking over their
shoulders as they did so, for fear some lurking Mexican might be one
of Murieta's spies, he voiced his opinions loudly enough for all to
hear. "Get good men together," he said, "and smoke these robbers out.
I'm ready to go with a posse any time." He preached that gospel of
action in the drinking-places, in the gambling-halls, and on the
street, until the very vigor of his voice put new heart into the
listeners. It was beginning to look as if young Deputy Sheriff Wilson
had really started things moving.

On a hot July afternoon he was standing on the narrow sidewalk
surrounded by a group whose members his enthusiasm had drawn out of
doors. Few others were abroad; an occasional Mexican woman in her
black skirt and tight-drawn reboso, a peon or two slouching gracefully
by with the inevitable brown cigarette, and a solitary horseman who
was coming down the street.

The men in the group were so intent on what the deputy was saying that
none of them observed the approach of this horseman until he reined in
his animal close to the sidewalk's edge. Then they saw him lean from
the saddle and whisper into Wilson's ear.

What words passed from his lips these others never knew. There was not
time for him to utter more than one or two; perhaps to tell his name.
They saw his white teeth flashing in an unpleasant smile; and Wilson's
hand moved toward his gun. But in the middle of that movement the
young officer pitched forward on his face. The sharp report of a
pistol, the scrape of hoofs, the smell of black powder smoke, and the
vision of the rider through the tenuous wreaths as he whirled his
horse about--these things came to the dazed witnesses in a sort of

The sound of the shot awakened the drowsing street and many who ran to
their doorways saw the murderer riding away at a swinging gallop. Some
of these claimed to recognize him as Joaquin Murieta, and in the days
that followed their statements were confirmed by captured members of
the band.

Deputy Sheriff Wilson's death aroused more men than his words had, and
when General Joshua Bean began organizing two companies of militia
during the weeks after the murder he found plenty of recruits. The
officers were just getting the new companies into shape for an
expedition against the bandits who were now ravaging most of the
country south of the Tehachapi, when Murieta and Three-Fingered Jack
waylaid General Bean one night near San Gabriel Mission, dropped the
noose of a reata over his head, dragged him from his horse, and
stabbed him through the heart. And the two companies of militia did
nothing more.

Now, while posses were foundering their lathered horses on every
southland road and the flames of blazing ranch buildings were throwing
their red light on the faces of dead men almost every night, a lean
and wind-browned Texan by the name of Captain Harry Love took a hand
in the grim game of man-hunting.

He had gained his title during the Mexican War. As an express-rider
for different American generals he had dodged the reatas of guerrilla
parties who were lurking by water-holes and had outjockeyed swarthy
horsemen in wild races across the flaming deserts of Sonora until he
had come to know the science of their fighting as well as old Padre
Jurata himself. And when he started after Murieta's men he did his
hunting all alone.

One day he ran across the trail of Pedro Gonzales, the horse-thief,
and another lieutenant named Juan, and followed it until he overtook
the pair at the Buena Ventura rancho. Like most of his Southwestern
breed he was a better man at action than at words, and so the story of
the gun-fight which took place when he came upon them has never been
told; but when the smoke of the three pistols cleared away Gonzales
was in custody and Juan was riding hard toward the hills with the
blood running over his face from a bullet's furrow along his scalp.
The fugitive found five others of the band in a sun-baked arroyo that
night, told them the news of the catastrophe, and got a fresh horse to
ride back with them and rescue their companion.

Captain Love was well on his way to Los Angeles with his prisoner when
the sound of drumming hoofs came down the wind. He glanced over his
shoulder and, on a hilltop half a mile behind, saw six horsemen coming
after him at a dead run. If he had any doubt of the nature of that
party he lost it when he turned his head in time to catch Gonzales
waving a handkerchief to them.

The elements of the situation were simple enough,--the Texan's jaded
mount, the fresh horses of the pursuers, the desperation of the
prisoner for whom the gallows was waiting in Los Angeles,--but most
men would have wasted some time in determining on a solution. Love,
who had learned in a hard school the value of seconds in such races as
this, did not choose to part with any more of his handicap than he
had to. So he whipped out his pistol, shot Gonzales through the heart,
and spurred his horse down the dusty road with enough start to
distance the bandits into town.

That was the first noteworthy casualty the band had suffered. It was
followed by the capture of young Reyes Feliz, Rosita's brother, who
was hanged in Los Angeles; and shortly afterward Murieta led his whole
company northward into the oak-dotted hills back of San Luis Obispo
where they lost twenty men--among them Claudio the expert spy--in a
day-long battle with a posse of ranchers whom they had sought to

Then Joaquin Murieta rode back with the survivors to Arroyo Cantoova;
and if Rosita, who had been sent with the other women to the
rendezvous early in the summer, felt her heart leap when she saw her
lover coming, she soon felt it sink again, for he spent but few
moments in her company. Horses and gold and his large plan to sweep
like fire through California--these were the only thoughts he had.
Within a week he had divided the band into several parties, two of
which under himself and Three-Fingered Jack went north to plunder the
placer camps.

There is hardly an old town in the whole Bret Harte country that has
not its stories of the raiding during the winter of 1852-53. With the
knowledge which he and his lieutenants had gained at Mokelumne Hill
the chief directed operations, but as the weeks went by the influence
of Three-Fingered Jack grew until his methods were employed in every
robbery. By December the list of wanton murders had grown so great
that the State of California offered a reward of five thousand
dollars for Joaquin Murieta, alive or dead.

The notices announcing this reward were posted in Stockton one Sunday.
The town was then the point of departure for the southern placer
district, a lively place with craft of all kinds coming from San
Francisco to tie up at its levee and an endless procession of wagons
traveling out cross the flat lands of the San Joaquin valley to the
foot-hills. Everything was running wide open and the sidewalks were
crowded with men, most of whom were ready to take a rather long chance
for five thousand dollars.

One of the bills, tacked to the flag-pole in the public square,
attracted more readers than the others, and many a group gathered
about it to discuss what show a bold man might have of earning the
reward. The sidewalk loungers watched these debaters come and go until
the thing was beginning to be an old story; and they were almost ready
to turn their jaded attention elsewhere when a well-dressed Mexican
came riding down the street, turned his fine horse into the square,
and reined up before the flag-pole. The audience watched him leap from
the saddle and write something at the bottom of the bill.

When he had touched his horse with the spurs and ridden away at a slow
Spanish trot, one of the onlookers, more curious--or perhaps he was
less lazy--than his fellows, sauntered over to read what had been
written; and when he read it waved his hand in so wild a gesture that
every one who saw him came running to the flag-pole. At the bottom of
the placard with its offer of five thousand dollars' reward for
Joaquin Murieta, alive or dead, they found this subscription set down
in a good bold hand:

"And I will pay ten thousand dollars more. JOAQUIN MURIETA."

Faith in the State's promise rather than that of the robber sent many
riders out of Stockton that day to scour the willow thickets by the
river and the winding tulle sloughs. The posses were speeding back and
forth all night long and the excitement attending their comings and
goings lasted into Monday. So there were few on hand to watch the
departure of a schooner for San Francisco that morning.

She left the levee with her crew of three and with two passengers,
miners from San Andreas who were taking out about twenty thousand
dollars in gold-dust. The crew let out the sails, the canvas bellied
before the easy breeze, the schooner glided down the reed-lined slough
whose smooth waters held her reflection like a mirror. Flocks of wild
fowl rose before her as she came along.

A rowboat shot out of the tulles just ahead of her. The helmsman took
one look at the five men in the little craft and dropped his tiller to
pick up a double-barreled shotgun. He shouted to the sailors; they
sprang for weapons, and the two miners in the cabin leaped up the
companion stairs, their pistols in their hands. Before the foremost
was half-way up the flight the shooting had begun; he gained the deck
in time to see the body of the helmsman drooping over the swinging
tiller, overhung by a thin white cloud of powder-smoke. The small boat
lay alongside with a dead man huddled between the thwarts. The other
four bandits were swarming over the rail, firing at the sailors on
the forward deck as they came.

It was a short fight and sharp. When it ended every man in the ship's
company was lying dead or mortally wounded and two of the robbers were
killed. Murieta and Three-Fingered Jack lingered aboard long enough to
lower the gold-dust overside into the small boat and set fire to the
schooner; and the pillar of black smoke drew horsemen from Stockton in
time to hear the story which the dying men gasped out.

Up in Sacramento where the State legislature was considering the
extermination of Joaquin Murieta some weeks later the Stockton
incident was used by a lean and wind-browned lobbyist as an argument
for a company of rangers, and this argument by Captain Harry Love had
much to do with the passage of the bill authorizing such a body under
his leadership.

From Stockton the two companies of bandits fled southward up the San
Joaquin valley and brought more than fifty thousand dollars in
gold-dust to Arroyo Cantoova. Then Murieta took seventy men and rode
back to make his final raid on the placer camps. Three-Fingered Jack
went by his side: the only human being whose companionship he shared.
What talks those two men had together one can only guess from the
nature of the deeds that followed. No miner was too small game for the
chief now, he slit the throats of Chinamen for their garnerings from
worked-over tailings, he tortured teamsters to learn where they kept
their wages hidden, and where he passed during the night men found
corpses in the morning, until those of his own countrymen who had
befriended him in other days turned against him and betrayed his
hiding-places to the officers, and the whole foot-hill country from
the Tuolomme to the Feather River was patrolled by riders hunting

In Hornitas he sought out a Mexican who had notified a posse of his
presence in the neighborhood, shot him down at broad noonday on the
main street, and galloped away with the pistol-bullets of his pursuers
raising little spurts of dust about his horse's flying hoofs. A few
weeks later he revisited the town; killed a deputy sheriff who sought
to capture him; and then hanged another of his countrymen, who had
informed the officer of his hiding-place.

One spring day he was riding alone in the foot-hills of Calaveras
County when he came on a party of twenty-five miners at the head of a
box cañon. They were encamped in a sort of amphitheater among the
rocks with steep walls on three sides and only one outlet, a narrow
Digger trail along the cliff a hundred feet above the brawling

Murieta had ridden up the ravine by that dangerous pathway and now he
was sitting with one leg thrown over his saddle-horn, talking to the
members of the party. They were on their way out from some winter
diggings, they told him, and they had plenty of dust with them. He
spoke of Joaquin Murieta and they pointed to their belts; they were
heavily armed, every man of them. Why should they fear the bandit? He
let his eyes go around the place taking quick appraisal of their
numerous pack and saddle animals, their camp equipment, their plump
buckskin sacks--rich booty if only he had a party of cutthroats at his
heels. But he was alone; the best he could do was to put a good face
on the matter and, in his rôle of honest traveler, learn what he
could, to store it up for future reference.

He was doing this and getting on very nicely at it, when one of the
party, who had gone down to the stream for water before his arrival,
came climbing up among the rocks with two filled buckets. The man
looked up at hearing a stranger's voice and Murieta glanced down at
the same instant. The eyes of each proclaimed recognition. For the
water-carrier was James Boyce, who had played monte over the table of
the good-looking young dealer many a night in Murphy's Diggings.

Boyce dropped the buckets of water and, drawing his pistol, "Boys!" he
shouted, "That's Murieta. Shoot him!" Then he fired.

But Murieta had wheeled his horse and was already spurring it on a
dead run down the gulch. The miners were lining their sights on him;
and now the cañon walls echoed to the volley they sent after him.

He gained the trail along the cliff. A bullet knocked off his hat and
his long hair streamed behind him as the horse leaped out on the
narrow path. The rocks spurned by its flying hoofs dropped over the
brink into the roaring stream one hundred feet below. The leaden slugs
that sang about the rider's head chipped bits from the sheer wall
beside him. He drew his bowie-knife and brandished it as high as his
arm could reach.

"I am Murieta," he shouted, turning in the saddle to look back at
them. "Kill me if you can."

The cliff on one side was so close that he scraped it with his stirrup
and on the other side the horse's upflung hoofs hung in mid-air
beyond the brink. The weapons flamed behind him at the cañon-head.
Their bullets rained on the rocks about him as he flourished his knife
in a final gesture of defiance and passed round a turn of the trail
beyond sight of his enemies.

But Boyce and his companions were a hardy crowd, and instead of
letting the incident end here they broke camp the next morning to
follow Murieta's trail. They traced him without much trouble down the
cañon, over a ridge and into another steep-walled gulch, where they
came on tracks of fourteen others of the band. From this point the
robbers had struck off toward the high country.

All that day the miners climbed the tall ridges where the sugar-pines
stood like enormous pillars in the vast cathedral of the out of doors,
until night found them in the midst of the forest right under the bare
granite peaks. Here they made camp, and when the cold breath of the
snow-fields came down upon them they kindled a great fire. They
lounged about the flaming logs smoking their pipes and warming their
wearied limbs. Beyond the circle of firelight the enshadowed woods
gave forth no sound to tell them that fifteen men were crawling
through those black aisles among the trees like fifteen swarthy

The click of a pistol-hammer coming to full cock brought one of the
lounging miners to his feet. He fell forward in the instant of his
rising, and the woods gave back a hundred crashing echoes to the
volley which the bandits fired. Their aim was so true--for they had
stolen close in and taken good time to settle themselves before
cocking their weapons--that when the echoes died away fifteen men
were lying dead and dying in the red light of that fire.

The others were springing for their pistols, for nearly every one of
the miners had laid aside his belt to ease himself, but before one of
them had pulled a trigger there came the crackling of a second
fusillade and seven fell. Then Boyce and two of his companions leaped
outside that fatal circle of radiance in time to save themselves. As
they were creeping away in the darkness they saw Joaquin Murieta and
Three-Fingered Jack rush into the camp waving their bowie-knives
exultantly above their heads, and for a long time afterward they heard
the band whooping like Apaches while they killed the wounded.

Murieta and his company rode away from this massacre with thirty
thousand dollars in gold-dust and about forty horses as their loot.
But the story which Boyce and the other two survivors told turned the
mining towns into armed camps; and now Sheriff Charles Ellis of
Calaveras County started so fierce a warfare against the bandits that
they had to flee the country.

When Murieta rode back to Arroyo Cantoova that spring, a closely
hunted fugitive, he found that Rosita had deserted him for an American
settler by the name of Baker. Even at this critical period when he was
beginning actual preparations for his enormous raid he took the time
to track her to a cabin among the hills nearly a hundred miles from
the rendezvous. He shot her down and set fire to the place, but
perhaps the very frenzy of his anger blinded him or perhaps he rushed
away in horror of his own deed, for she survived her wounds, the only
one of his victims who lived when he had the time to kill, and showed
the scars to officers years afterward.

The boy who had taken her northward so short a time ago--for his years
were barely a man's years yet--rode back to Arroyo Cantoova and the
one thing he had in life--his plan.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Captain Harry Love and his company of twenty rangers rode down the
King's Highway into the little town of San Juan. In the plaza, where
the California poppies bloom to-day before the cloistered arches of
the mission as they bloomed on that July afternoon in 1853, the dusty
horsemen drew rein outside the old adobe inn. Their captain dismounted
and went inside and while he stayed the others lounged in their deep
stock saddles smoking cigarettes or eased the cinches to rest their
sweaty horses; a sunburned troop and silent as men who know they have
large work ahead of them.

An hour passed and Captain Love came out, to swing into his saddle and
ride off without a word with the twenty behind him. They followed the
King's Highway where it looped upward along the flanks of San Juan
Hill, came down the other side into the Salinas valley--the Salinas
plains, men called it then--and made camp near the river.

That night Captain Love told them what he had learned in the Plaza Inn
at San Juan where Joaquin Murieta had often come to confer with
friendly Spanish Californians in other days. One of these former
friends had betrayed to him the rendezvous at Arroyo Cantoova and
told him how to reach the place by a pass across the Coast Range near
Paso Robles.

The ranger company rode on southward day after day until the
wind-swept plain grew narrower between oak-dotted hills; then turned
eastward to climb among a tangle of grassy mountains scorched by the
sun to the color of a lion's coat. They crossed the divide and
descended into the upper valley of the San Joaquin. And one morning,
when they were following the trail of several horsemen, they saw the
thin smoke of a little camp-fire rising from the ravine-bed ahead of
them. Captain Love deployed his company to close in on the place from
three sides, and sent one man to the rear with orders to hang back
until the others had all ridden in. The man was William Byrnes who had
known Joaquin Murieta well in the days before that lynching at
Murphy's Diggings.

                  *       *       *       *       *

Murieta was washing his thoroughbred mare in the bed of the ravine.
She stood, without halter or tie-rope, as docile as a dog while he
laved her fine limbs with a dampened cloth. His saddle lay about ten
or fifteen yards away with his pistols in the holsters beside the
horn. Four or five bandits were cooking their breakfast over the fire;
and Three-Fingered Jack lay at a little distance, sprawled full-length
in the morning sunshine like a basking rattlesnake. The mare raised
her head; her ears went forward, and Murieta glanced up in time to see
the rangers riding in across the pale saffron ridges from three

They came at a dead run. Before he could reach his saddle one of the
company had pulled up between him and the weapons. Captain Love was
leaning from his horse questioning Three-Fingered Jack. Murieta took
another step toward his weapons; the ranger stopped him with a
gesture; he halted, glanced at Captain Love, and scowled.

"If you have any questions to ask," he cried, "I am leader of this
party. Talk to me."

"I'll talk to whom I please," Love answered, and just then William
Byrnes came riding into sight.

Murieta took one look at the man whom he had known in the days when he
walked unfeared among his fellows and let his eyes go around the
circle of riders; he saw Three-Fingered Jack watching him narrowly.
His hand stole up along the mare's glossy neck. Her ears moved back
and forth as she stood there biding some word from him.

Then, "Vamos, amigos!" he shouted, and sprang on the mare's back. He
leaned far forward as she leaped down the bed of the ravine.

Three-Fingered Jack took advantage of the moment of confusion that
followed to mount his own horse, and half the rangers followed him
across the grass ridge firing as they went. He fought a running battle
with them for five miles before they shot him down.

Murieta lay along the mare's back like an Indian. The hoofs of the
pursuing company thundered behind him in the ravine-bed; their bullets
spattered on the rocks about him. Before him the land broke in a
twenty-foot precipice. He called into the mare's ear and she headed
bravely for the cliff, leaped out into space, and turned a complete
somersault at the bottom. He rolled among the rocks beside her, lay
for a moment stunned, then rose and found her waiting for him where
she had gained her feet. He sprang to her back again and urged her

Several of the rangers were pressing their horses along the hillside
to gain the bed of the ravine by that roundabout route; one who had
ridden full-tilt over the cliff lay stunned beside his injured animal;
and three or four others had dismounted. These lined their sights on
the fleeing mare, and now her legs went from under her; she crashed
down with the blood gushing from her nostrils.

The rangers rested their rifles for more careful aim as the rider
started to flee on foot. The volley raised rattling echoes in the
hills. He took four or five strides and then, halting, faced about. He
raised one hand.

"No more," he called. "Your work is done."

And as they slowly came toward him, their rifles ready to fly to their
shoulders at the first suspicious movement, Joaquin Murieta swayed
slightly and sank slowly into a heap near the dead mare. The breath
was gone from his body when they reached it.


More than forty years ago a raw young mining camp down in southeastern
Arizona was preparing to assume the functions of a duly organized
municipality, and its population--at that period nearly every one in
the place was a male of voting age--was considering the important
question of a name.

The camp stood out against the sky-line at the crest of a ridge in the
foot-hills of the Mule Mountains, not far from the Mexican boundary.
For the most part it consisted of tents; but there were a few adobe
buildings and some marvelous creations from goods-boxes and tin cans.
Facing one end of its single brief street you looked out upon a dump
of high-grade silver ore, and if you turned the other way you surveyed
a sprouting little graveyard hard by a large corral. From almost any
point you had a good view of the Dragoon mountains across a wide
stretch of mesquite-covered lowlands, and at almost any hour of the
day you were likely to see the smoke of at least one Apache
signal-fire rising from those frowning granite ramparts.

The men in the camp were, nearly all of them, old-timers in the West:
miners from the Comstock lode whose boom was then on the wane,
teamsters who had been freighting all over the blazing deserts of the
Southwest, investors and merchants from Tucson, buffalo-hunters from
western Kansas, Texas, and Colorado, gamblers from Dodge City, El
Paso, and Santa Fé, Indian-fighters, cattle-rustlers, professional
claim-jumpers, and some gentle-voiced desperadoes of the real breed,
equally willing to slay from behind or take a long chance in front,
according to the way the play came up. Few of these men wore coats; a
great many of them carried single-action revolvers in holsters beside
the thigh; the old-fashioned cattleman's boot was the predominant
footgear; and, excepting among the faro-dealers, there was a rather
general carelessness in sartorial matters. Nicknames were even more
common than surnames, and it was bad form--sometimes dangerously
so--to ask a man about his antecedents until he had volunteered some
information on that point.

In such a crowd it is easy to see there would be many ideas on any
given subject, and the question of the new town's name had evoked a
multitude of suggestions. Amusements were still few; the purveyors of
hectic pleasure had thus far succeeded in bringing only one piano and
a half-dozen dance-hall girls--all decidedly the worse for wear--into
the camp; and either faro or whisky has its limitations as a steady
means of relaxation. So it came about that any advocate could usually
find an audience to harken to his arguments for his pet selection.

At intervals when they were not toiling at assessment work in the
shafts which pocked the hillside or dodging Apaches in the outlying
country, the citizens found diversion in discussing the ideas thus
submitted. And the merits of these propositions were debated by groups
in the brief street, by players seated before the tables in the
gambling-halls, by members of the never-absent lines before the bars,
and by dust-mantled travelers within the Concord stages which came
tossing over the weary road from Tucson.

Gradually public opinion began to crystallize. One name was spoken
more often as the days went by. Until it became evident that the great
majority favored it, and it was chosen.

They called the town Tombstone and placed one more tradition on the
Western map.

The old-timers always showed a very fine sense of the fitness of
things when they christened a river, mountain range, or town. If one
were to devote his time to studying the map of our country west of the
Mississippi River and resuscitating the tales whose titles are printed
thereupon, he could produce a large volume of marvelous stories. But
the entire compilation would contain nothing more characteristic of
the days when men carried rifles to protect their lives than the story
of that name--Tombstone.

It deals with a period when southeastern Arizona was Apache-land.
Geronimo, Victorio, and Nachez were constantly leading their
naked warriors into the mountain ranges which rise from those
mesquite-covered plains, to lurk among the rocks watching the lower
country for travelers and when these came to descend upon them for
the sake of loot and the love of murder. A few bold cattlemen,
like John Slaughter and Peter Kitchen, had established ranches in
this region; these held their homes by constant vigilance and force
of arms. Escorts of soldiers frequently guarded the stages on
their way to and from Tucson; and there was hardly a month in the
year when driver, guard, and passengers did not make a running
fight of it somewhere along this portion of the route.

Such were conditions during the summer of 1877 when the tale begins in
the dry wash which comes down from the Tombstone hills into the valley
of the San Pedro, near where the hamlet of Fairbank stands to-day.

Fragments of horn silver lay scattered among the cactus and
dagger-plants in the bed of the dry wash. There was a point where the
stony slope above the bank was strewn with them. A little farther up,
an outcropping of high-grade ore showed plainly in the hard white
sunshine. The flank of the hill was leaking precious metal like a
rotting treasure-chest.

A solitary Apache stood on a mesa ten miles away. He had cut a fresh
trail down in the valley at dawn, and had dogged it reading every
minute sign--a displaced rock, a broken twig, a smudge of disturbed
earth--until he had the fulness of its meaning: two prospectors
leading a pack-mule, both men armed and keeping sharp lookout against
attack. Then he had climbed to this remote vantage-point and caught
sight of them as they turned from the river-bottom up the wash. They
were traveling straight toward that outcropping.

The Apache stood at the edge of the mesa facing the newly risen sun, a
savage vision in a savage land. His narrow turban, shred of
loin-cloth, and knee-high moccasins merely accentuated his nakedness;
they held no more suggestion of clothing than his mass of rusty black
hair and the ugly smears of paint across his cheeks. A tiny fire
beside him sent a tenuous smoke column into the glaring sky.

He kept his malignant little eyes on a notch in the Dragoon Mountains
twenty miles away, scowling against the sun's bright flood. Across the
far-flung interval of glowing mesas and dark mesquite flats the stark
granite ramparts frowned back at him. And now a hair-line of pallid
smoke twined upward from the point he watched.

He sank down, crouching beside his fire. He swept his hand over it
sprinkling bits of powdered resin into the wisp of flame. The smoke
turned black.

He waited for some moments, scanning the rising fumes, then swerved
his lean brown torso toward a mesquite bush. He stripped the leaves
from a twig and scattered them upon the blaze. A white puff climbed
into the sky.

From time to time he moved, now dropping on his belly to blow the
coals, now feeding them with resin, now with leaves. The slender
column crawled on upward taking alternate complexion, white and

Where the bare summits of the Dragoon range broke into a multitude of
ragged pinnacles against the eastern horizon, another swarthy warrior
stood, remote as a roosting eagle on the heights. Beneath his
feet--the drop was so sheer that he could have kicked a pebble to the
bottom without its touching the face of the cliff in its fall--the
shadows of the mountain lay black on the mesquite flat. He gazed
across that wide plain and the mesas climbing heavenward beyond it in
a series of glowing steps. His face assumed a peculiar intentness as
he watched the distant smoke column; it was the intentness of a man
who is reading under difficulties. In dot and dash he spelled it as it
rose--the tidings of those two prospectors who traveled up the wash.

While the last puff was fading away he glided down from pinnacle to
narrow shelf, from shelf to cliff, and made his way toward the rocks
below to tell the news to the rest of his band.

Their camp lay at the head of a steep gorge. Several low wickiups had
been fashioned by binding the tops of bushes together and throwing
skins or tattered blankets over the arched stems. Offal and carrion
were strewn all about the place; it swarmed with flies. Nesting
vultures would have built more carefully and been fully as fastidious.
When the warrior reached the spot the rocks became alive with naked
forms; they appeared from all sides as suddenly and silently as

He told the tidings to the men. An unclean, vermin-ridden group, they
squatted around him while he repeated the smoke message, word for
word. There was no particular show of enthusiasm among them, no
sign of haste. They began to prepare for this business as other
men begin getting ready for a day's work, when they see good wages
ahead of them and the task is very much to their taste. Prospectors
were becoming an old story in that summer of 1877; two of them
meant good pickings--bacon, coffee, sugar, and firearms; and there was
the fun of killing with the chance for torture thrown in.

Some of the band departed leisurely to catch the ponies. The victims
would be busy for a long time in the wash. They would not travel far
to make their camp. And wherever they went they must leave tracks. The
day was far advanced when the party rode forth upon the flat, their
dirty turbans bobbing up and down above the mesquite bushes as they
came along.

Several of them carried lances; there was a sprinkling of bows and
arrows; a number bore rifles across their saddles, wearing the
cartridge-belts athwart their naked bodies. All of them moved their
thin brown legs ceaselessly; their moccasined shanks kept up a
constant drumming against the ponies' sides.

The afternoon was old when they reached the dry wash. They left two or
three of their number behind in charge of the ponies. The others came
on afoot. Two leaders went well in advance, one of them on each bank,
creeping from rock to tufted yucca and from yucca to mesquite clump,
watching the sun-flayed land before them for some sign of their game.
A squad of trackers slipped in and out among the dagger-plants and
boulders in the bottom of the gulch.

One of the trackers held up his hand and moved it swiftly. To the
signal the others gathered about him. He pointed to the outcropping of
high-grade ore. They saw the traces left by a prospector's pick. For
some minutes their voices mingled in low gutturals. Then they
scattered to pick up the trail, found it, and resumed their progress
down the arroyo.

Evening came on them when they reached the river-bottom; and with the
deepening shadows, fear. Night with the Apache was the time of the
dead. They made their camp. But when the sun was coloring the eastern
sky the next morning they were crawling through the bear-grass on the
first low mesa above the stream, silent as snakes about to strike.

The prospectors awoke with the growing light. They crept forth from
their blankets. Two or three rifles cracked. And then the stillness
came again.

The Apaches stripped the clothing from the dead men and left them to
the Arizona sun. They took away with them what loot they found. They
never noticed the little heap of specimens from the outcropping. Or if
they noticed it they thought it of no importance. A few handfuls of
rock fragments meant nothing to them. And so the ore remained there
near the bodies of the prospectors.

The old-timers go on to tell how Jim Shea came riding down the dry
wash one day late in the summer with his rifle across his saddle-horn
and a little troop of grim horsemen about him. Of that incident few
details remain in the verbal chronicle which has come down through
four decades. It is like a picture whose background has been blurred
by age.

Somewhere ahead of these dusty, sunburned riders a band of Apaches
were urging their wearied ponies onward under the hot sun. They herded
a bunch of stolen horses before them as they fled.

The chase had begun with the beginning of the day, at Dragoon Pass.
What bloodshed had preceded it is not known. But Shea and his
companions were following a hot trail, eager for reprisals, cautious
against ambush. As they came on down the wash the leader scanned the
stony bed reading the freshening signs left by the fugitives; while
two who rode on either side of him watched every rock and shrub and
gully which might give cover to lurking enemies.

Now, as they clattered along the arroyo's bed, Shea suddenly drew
rein. Leaning far to one side and low, after the lithe fashion of the
cow-boy, he swept his hand earthward, picked up a little fragment of
dark rock, straightened his body in the saddle once more, and,
glancing sharply at the bit of ore, dropped it into his pocket. He
repeated the movement two or three times in the next hundred yards.

Chasing Apaches--or being chased by them--was almost as much a part of
life's routine in those days as sleeping without sheets. And no one
remembers how this particular affair ended. But Jim Shea kept those
bits of silver ore.

Later he showed them to an assayer somewhere up on the Gila and
learned their richness. Then he determined to go back and locate the
ledge from which the elements had carried them away. But that project
demanded a substantial grubstake, and other matters of moment were
taking his attention at the time. He postponed the expedition until it
was too late.

In Tucson they tell of a prospector by the name of Lewis who wandered
into those foot-hills during that year, found some high-grade float,
and traced it to a larger outcropping than the one down by the dry
wash. But he had hardly made the marvelous discovery when he caught
sight of a turbaned head above a rocky ridge about fifty yards away.
He abandoned his search to seek the nearest cover. By the time he had
gained the shelter a dozen Apaches were firing at him.

He made a good fight of it with his rifle, and the luck which had
caused him to look up before the savages had their sights trained on
him had put a wide space of open ground about his natural fort. No
Apache ever relished taking chances, and Lewis was able to hold the
band off until darkness came. Then he crept forth and wormed his way
through the gullies to the San Pedro Valley. Dawn found him miles from
the spot.

He came back to Tucson with his specimens. Marcus Katz and A. M.
Franklin, who were working for the wholesale firm of L. M. Jacobs &
Co., heard his story, saw the ore, and grubstaked him for another

But when he reached the foot-hills of the Mule Mountains Lewis found
that the long afternoon of battle and the ensuing night of flight had
left him utterly at sea as to the location of that large ledge. He had
to begin his hunt all over again. He used up his grubstake, got a
second from his backers, and subsequently a third.

And now while Lewis was combing down the gullies between those broken
ridges for the ore body--he slew himself from disappointment later
on--and while Jim Shea was meditating an expedition after the riches
of which he had got trace down in the dry wash, Ed Schiefflin came to
the Bruncknow house to embark on the adventure which was to give the
town of Tombstone its name.

The Bronco house, men call it now, but Bruncknow was the man who built
it and the new term is a corruption. Its ruins still stand on the
side-hill a few miles from the dry wash, a rifle-shot or so from the
spot where the two prospectors met their deaths. In those days it was
a lonely outpost of the white man in the Apache's land. The summer of
1877 was drawing to a close, its showers were already a distant
memory, and all southeastern Arizona was glowing under the white-hot
sun-rays when Schiefflin rode his mule up from the San Pedro to seek
the protection of its thick adobe walls.

The flat lands of the valley stretched away and away behind him to the
foot of the Huachucas in the west. They unfolded their long reaches to
the southward until they melted into the hot sky between spectral
mountain ranges down in Mexico. He came up out of that wide landscape,
a tall wild figure, lonesome as the setting sun.

His long beard and the steady patience in his eyes--the patience which
comes to the prospector during his solitary wanderings in search of
rich ore--gave him the appearance of a man past middle age although he
had not seen his thirtieth year. His curling hair reached his broad
shoulders. Wind and sun had tanned his features so deeply that his
blue eyes stood out in strange contrast to the dark skin. His garments
were sadly torn, and he had patched them in many places with buckskin.
Such men still come and go in the remote places among the mountain
ranges and deserts of the West. They were almost the first to
penetrate the wilderness and they will roam over it so long as any
patch of it remains unfenced.

Schiefflin had left his father's house in Oregon ten years before. He
searched the Coeur d'Alênes for riches, and, finding none, struck out
from Idaho for Nevada. There he remained through two blazing summers
traveling afoot from the sage-brush hills in the north across the
silent deserts east of Death Valley. He wandered on to Colorado, where
he toiled in the new mining camps between prospecting trips into the
great plateaus along the western slope of the Rockies. From Colorado
he went southward into New Mexico; thence westward to Arizona. He
accompanied a troop of cavalry from Prescott down to the foot of the
Huachucas where they established a new post. During the last leg of
that journey he saw these foot-hills of the Mule Mountains in passing,
and in spite of warnings from the soldiers, he was now returning to
prospect the district.

He had spent some days at the Herrick ranch down in the valley, and
the men about the place had strongly advised him against traveling
into the hills. They cited various gruesome examples of the fate which
overtook solitary wanderers in this savage land. They might as well
have saved their breath; Schiefflin had seen some mineral stains on a
rock outcropping when he passed through the country with the cavalry
earlier in the season.

So now he came on toward the Bruncknow house, where he could make his
camp closer to the hills upon whose exploration his mind was set.

There were several men lounging about the adobe when he reached it.
Even in those days, when the most peaceful border-dweller carried his
rifle almost everywhere except to his meals and was as likely as not
to have slain one or two fellow-creatures,--days when the leading
citizens of that isolated region presented a sinister front with their
long-barreled revolvers slung beside their thighs,--the members of
the group showed up hard.

A lean and seasoned crew, dust-stained from many a wild ride,
burned by the border sun, they watched the new-comer with eyes
half-curtained, like the eyes of peering eagles, by straight lids.
They welcomed him with a few terse questions as to where he had
come from and what the troops were doing over at the new post. Of
themselves they said nothing nor offered any information of their
business in this lonely spot.

But when Schiefflin had made his camp close to the shelter of those
thick adobe walls he learned more of his hosts. There was a mine hard
by, at least it went by the name of a mine, and it was a sort of
common understanding that the owners were doing assessment work. The
fragments on the dump, however, were only country rock. In later years
gorgeous tales of rich ore at the bottom of the shallow shaft resulted
in a series of claim-jumpings which in their turn netted no less than
eleven murders, but the slayers only wasted their powder, for the
ground here never yielded anything more interesting than dead men's
bones. And at the time when Schiefflin was abiding at the Bruncknow
house the inmates were letting their mining tools rust, the while they
kept their firearms well oiled.

For the mine was nothing more nor less than a blind, and the adobe was
simply a rendezvous for Mexican smugglers.

In that era, when a man practised pistol-shooting from the hip,--as a
man practises his morning calisthenics in this peaceful age, for the
sake of his body's health,--the written statutes were one thing and
local conceptions of proper conduct another. Here, where the San
Pedro valley came straight northward across the boundary, affording a
good route for pack-trains, smuggling American wares into the southern
republic was nearly a recognized industry. As long as a man could
bring his contraband to market past marauding Apaches and the bands of
renegade whites who had drifted to the border, he was entitled to the
profit he made--and no questions asked.

So the men at the Bruncknow house accepted Schiefflin's presence
without any fear of ill consequences. Had their calling been more
stealthy they would not have worried about him; prospectors went
unquestioned among all sorts of law breakers then, owning something of
the same immunity which simple-minded persons always got from the
Indians. He came in at evening and rolled up in his blankets after
cooking his supper; and in the morning he went forth again into the
hills. No one minded him.

Now and again a cavalcade came out of the flaming desert to the south,
appearing first as a thin dust-cloud down on the flat, as it drew
nearer resolving itself into pack burros and men on mule-back; then
jingling and clattering up the stony slope and into the corral. And
when they had dismounted, the swarthy riders in their serapes and
steep-crowned sombreros trooped into the adobe, their enormous spurs
tinkling in a faint chorus upon the hard earthen floor.

Then the men of the house got out the calicoes and hardware which they
had brought over the hot hills and through the forests of giant cacti
from Tucson. The smugglers spread blankets, unbuckled broad
money-belts from their waists, and stripped out the dobie dollars,
letting them fall in clinking heaps upon the cloth. The bargaining

And when the last wares had been disposed of and the last huge silver
coin had been stowed away by the hard-eyed merchants, the Mexicans
opened little round kegs of mescal, the fiery liquor which is
distilled from the juice of the cactus plant.

They gambled at monte, quien con, and other games of chance. They
drank together. The night came on.

Sometimes pistols flamed under those adobe walls and knives gleamed in
the shadows.

Then, when the hot dawn came on, the burros were packed and the whole
troop filed down the hill; the seraped Mexicans riding along the
flanks of the train, their rifles athwart their saddles. The dust rose
about them, enwrapped them, and hid them from sight. Finally it
vanished where the flat lands reached away into the south.

But Schiefflin was indifferent to these wild goings on. To him the
Bruncknow house meant shelter from the Apaches; that was all. He could
roll up in his blankets here at night knowing that he would waken in
the morning without any likelihood of looking up into the grinning
faces of savages who had tracked him to his camp.

He minded his own business. As a matter of fact his own business was
the only thing he deemed worth minding. It was the one affair of
importance in the whole world. The more he saw of those hills the
surer he became that they contained minerals. Somewhere among them,
he fervently believed, an ore body of great richness lay hidden from
the world. And he had been devoting the years of his manhood to
seeking just such a secret. In those long years of constant search a
longing mightier than the lust for riches had grown within him.
Explorers know that longing and some great scientists; once it owns a
man he becomes oblivious to all else.

Every day Schiefflin set forth on his mule from the adobe house. He
rode out into the hills. All day he hunted through the winding gullies
for some bits of float which would betray the presence of an
outcropping on the higher levels. Once he cut the fresh trail of a
band of Apaches and once he caught sight of two mounted savages riding
along a slope a mile away. Several times he picked up specimens of
rock which bore traces of silver. But he found no ore worth assaying.

The men at the Bruncknow house saw him departing every morning and
shook their heads. They had seen other men ride out alone into the
hills and they had afterward found some of those travelers--what the
Apaches had left of them. It was no affair of theirs--but they fell
into the habit of watching the tawny slopes every afternoon when the
shadows began to lengthen and speculating among themselves whether the
bearded rider was going to return this time. Which was as close to
solicitude as they could come.

One of their number--he had lost two or three small bets by
Schiefflin's appearing safe and sound on various evenings--took it
upon himself to give their visitor a bit of advice.

"What for," he asked, "do yo'-all go a-takin' them pasears that-a-way?"

Schiefflin smiled good-naturedly at the questioner.

"Just looking for stones," he said.

"Well," the other told him, "all I got to say is this. Yo'-all keep on
and yo'll sure find yo'r tombstone out there some day."

He never dreamed that he had named a town.

Nor did Schiefflin think much of it at the moment: he had received
other warnings, just as strong, before. But none of them had been put
as neatly as this. So the words abode in his memory although they did
not affect his comings and goings in the least.

Only a few days later he left the Bruncknow house for a longer trip
than usual. He rode his mule down the San Pedro toward the mouth of
the dry wash in which the two prospectors had found that silver ore
the day before they died.

And the luck that guides a man's steps toward good or ill, as the whim
seizes it, saw to it that he came into the old camp where the Apaches
had enjoyed their morning murder months before.

Some one had buried both bodies but whoever had done this--possibly it
was one of the self-styled miners at the Bruncknow house--had not
enough interest in minerals to disturb the little heap of specimens.
It lay there near the graves, just as the Apaches had left it, just as
its original owners had piled it up before they sought their blankets;
to dream perhaps of their big strike while death waited for the coming
of the dawn, to cheat them out of their discovery.

The story was as plain as printed words on a page: the nameless
graves among the tall clumps of bear-grass proclaimed the penalty for
venturing into this neighborhood. The little handful of dark-colored
stones betrayed the secret of the riches in the hills. The dry wash
came down between the ridges half a mile ahead to show the way to
other float like this.

It was as though, after the years of long and constant search he found
himself faced by a grim challenge, to attain the consummation of his
hopes on pain of death.

When he had examined the bits of rock he mounted his mule and struck
out for the mouth of the dry wash.

After he had ridden for some distance up the stony bed of the arroyo
he dismounted and came on slowly leading the patient animal. He
searched the rocks for fragments of float. At times he left the mule
and crept to the summit of a near-by ridge where he remained for some
minutes looking out over the country for some sign of Indians.

The day wore on and as he went further the hills to the south became
loftier; the banks drew closer in on both sides of him; the boulders
in the arid bed were larger. Cactus and Spanish bayonet harassed him
like malignant creatures; skeleton ocatillas and bristling yuccas
imposed thorny barriers before him. The sun poured its full flood of
white-hot rays upon him. He wound his way in and out among the
obstacles, keeping his intent eyes upon the glaring rocks, save only
when he lifted them to look for lurking savages. The shadows of
noonday lengthened into the shades of afternoon; they crept up the
hillsides until only the higher peaks remained a-shine; evening came.

Schiefflin picked up a sharp fragment of blackish rock.

Horn silver. In those days when the great Comstock lode was lessening
its yield and the metal was at a premium, such ore as this which he
held meant millions--if one could but find the main ledge. He scanned
the specimen closely, looked round for others and then, as his eyes
roved up the hillside the exultation born of that discovery passed
from him.

Dusk was creeping up from the valley. The time had passed when he
could return by daylight to the Bruncknow house. He must make the most
of the scant interval which remained before darkness, if he would find
a hiding-place where he could camp.

He glanced about him to fix the landmarks in his memory, that he might
return to this spot on the morrow. Then he led the mule away into the
hills and picketed it out behind a ridge where it would be out of
sight from passing Apaches.

He found his own hiding-place a mile away from where he had tethered
the animal. Here three huge bare knolls of granite boulders rose
beside the wash. From the summit of any one of these a man could
survey the whole country; between its ragged rocks he would be
invisible to any one below. He chose the highest one and crept to its

The gray twilight was spreading over the land when he raised his head
above one of the boulders. In that instant he dropped to earth as if
he had been shot. An Indian was riding up to the bottom of the knoll.

The Apache's rifle lay across his lean bare thighs; his gaunt body
bent forward as he scanned the rocks above him. He had been heading
for the hill from this side while Schiefflin was climbing up the
opposite slope. Evidently he was coming to the summit to look over the
country for enemies. There must be others of the band close by.

Schiefflin found a narrow crack between two boulders and peeped out.

Another savage appeared at that moment on the summit of the next
knoll. He was afoot; and now he stood there motionless searching the
wide landscape for any moving form. He was so near that in the waning
light the smear of war-paint across his ugly face was visible.

Schiefflin crooked his thumb over the hammer of his rifle and raised
it slowly to the full cock, pressing the trigger with his finger to
prevent the click.

The first Apache had dismounted and was climbing the hill. As he drew
closer the clink of ponies' hoofs sounded down in the dry wash. A
number of dirty turbans came into sight above the bank. More followed
and still more, until thirty-odd were bobbing up and down to the
movement of the horses.

A moment passed, one of those mighty moments when a man's life appears
before him as a period which he has finished, when a man's thoughts
rove swiftly over what portions of that period they choose. And
Schiefflin's mind went to that talk with the man at the Bruncknow

"Yo'-all keep on and yo'll sure find yo'r tombstone out there some

He could hear the old-timer saying the words now. And, as he listened
to the grim warning again, he felt--as perhaps those two prospectors
felt in the moment of their awakening down by the river--that fate
had sadly swindled him. He was stiffening his trigger-finger for the
pull, peering across the sights at the Indian who had climbed to
within a few yards of the weapon's muzzle, when--the warrior on the
summit of the next knoll waved his hand. The Apache halted at the
gesture and Schiefflin followed his gaze in time to see the lean brown
arm of the sentinel sweep forward. Both of the savages turned and
descended the knolls.

They caught up their ponies and rode on, following the course of the
wash below them. The band down in the arroyo's bed were receding. The
rattle of hoofs grew fainter. Schiefflin lowered the hammer of his
rifle and took his first full breath.

A low outcry down the wash stopped his breathing again. The band had
stopped their ponies; some of them were dismounting. He could see
these gathering about the place where he had led his mule up the

Two of them were pointing along the course he had taken with the
animal. Several others were creeping up the slope on their bellies
following the fresh trail. The murmur of their voices reached the
white man where he lay watching them.

Then, as he was giving up hope for the second time, a mounted
warrior--evidently he was their chief--called to the trackers. They
rose, looked about and scurried back to their ponies like frightened
quail. The whole band were hammering their heels against the flanks of
their little mounts. The coming of the night had frightened them

The shadows deepened; stillness returned upon the land; the stars
grew larger in the velvet sky. Schiefflin crouched among the boulders
at the summit of the knoll and fought off sleep while the great
constellations wheeled in their long courses. The dawn would come in
its proper time, and it seemed as certain as that fact that they would
return to hunt him out.

He dared not leave the place, for he might stray into some locality
where they would find him without shelter when the day revealed his
trail. So he waited for the sunrise and the beginning of the attack.

At last the color deepened in the east. The rocks below his
hiding-place stood out more clearly. He could see no sign among them
of creeping savages. The sun rose and still nothing moved.

He came forth finally in the full blaze of the hot morning and found
the mule where he had picketed it behind the ridge. When he returned
to the dry wash he saw the tracks where the band had passed the
evening before. For some reason of their own they had found it best to
keep on that course instead of coming back to murder him.

He resumed his search for float where he had left it off. It showed
more frequently as he went on. He followed the bits of ore to a narrow
stringer of blackish rock. He dug into it with his prospector's pick,
chipped off specimens, and carefully covered up the hole. The danger
of Apaches had passed, but a new fear had come to him, the dread that
some rival prospector might happen upon his discovery before he could
establish possession.

For his provisions were running low. He had no money. He needed a
good grubstake--and companions to help him hold down the claim against
jumpers--before he could begin development work.

He hurried back to the Bruncknow house. An attack of chills and fever,
brought on by his night among the rocks, gave him a good excuse to
leave the place. The climate, he said, did not agree with him.

While he was trying to think of one with whom to share his secret, one
whom he could trust to take his full portion of the dangers which
would attend the claim's development, he remembered his brother Al,
who was working at the Signal mine way over in Mohave County, There
was the man. So he made his way across the State of Arizona. He
stopped at times to earn money for food to carry him through and it
was December before he reached his destination.

Al Schiefflin had a friend, Dick Gird, who was an assayer. Gird saw
the specimens, tested them, and was on fire at once. He joined forces
with the brothers, helped them to procure a grubstake, and in January,
1878, the three men set forth from Williams Fork of the Colorado River
in a light wagon drawn by two mules.

Spring was well on its way when they reached Tucson and made their
camp in Bob Leatherwood's corral. The Apaches were raiding throughout
the southeastern part of the territory and the little town of adobes
was getting new reports of murders from that section every day.

They drove their mules on eastward up the long mesas leading to the
San Pedro Divide. At the Pantano stage station they saw the fresh
scars of Apache bullets on the adobe walls. The men had held the
place against a large band of Geronimo's warriors only a few days

Now as they drove on they kept constant lookout and their rifles were
nearly always in their hands. Every morning they rose long before the
dawn, and two of them would climb the ridges near the camp to watch
the country as the light came over it, while the other caught up the
mules and harnessed them.

They turned southward up the San Pedro, avoiding the stage station at
the crossing of the river lest some other party of prospectors might
follow them. They made a circuit around the Mormon settlement at St.
Davids and came on to the Bruncknow house, to find two more fresh
graves of Apache victims under the adobe walls.

They made their permanent camp here, and Schiefflin took his two
companions up the dry wash. They found the outcropping undisturbed.
Gird and Al Schiefflin dug away at the dark rock with their
prospector's picks. Less than three feet below the surface the
stringer pinched out. The claim was not worth staking.

Beside the little strip of ore, whose false promises of riches had
lured them into this land of death, they held a conference. The hills
opened to a low swale which led up toward the loftier summits in the
south. They decided to follow that depression in search of another

They made their daily journeys along its course, returning with
evening to the Bruncknow house, whose inmates were away at the time on
some expedition of their own. Sometimes they saw the smoke of
signal-fires over in the Dragoons; sometimes the slender columns rose
from the summit of the Whetstone Mountains in the north. One
morning--they had spent the previous night out here in the hills--they
awoke to find a fresh trail in the bear-grass within a hundred yards
of where they had been sleeping, and in the middle of the track Dick
Gird picked up one of the rawhide wristlets which Apaches wore to
protect their arms from the bowstring.

That day Ed Schiefflin discovered a new outcropping. Gird assayed the
specimens in a rude furnace which he had fashioned from the fireplace
at the Bruncknow house. Some of them yielded as high as $2,200 to the
ton. Exploration work showed every evidence of a great ore body. Two
or three of the fragments which they had chipped from it below the
surface assayed $9,000 a ton. They had made their big strike. They
staked the claim, and when they came to fixing on a name Ed Schiefflin
remembered once more those words of the old-timer at the Bruncknow

"We'll call it the Tombstone," he said, and told the story.

It was recorded in Tucson as the Tombstone. And when the big rush
came, Ed Schiefflin, then a figure of importance in the new camp,
recited the tale to some of the men who had risked their lives in
traveling to these hills. And so they in turn retold the tale.

That is the way the town got its name.

In after years when men had learned the fulness of that secret which
the Apaches had guarded so well from the world--when Bisbee and
Nacosari and Cananea were yielding their enormous stores of metal and
Tombstone's mines had given forth many millions of dollars in silver,
Ed Schiefflin remained a wealthy man. But the habit of prospecting
abided with him and he used to spend long months alone in the
wilderness searching for the pure love of search.

Just before one of these expeditions he was driving out of Tombstone
with Gus Barron, another old-timer and a close friend, and as they
went down the Fairbank road they reached the spot where the three
great boulder knolls rise beside the dry wash. Schiefflin drew rein.

"This," he said to Barron, "is the place where I camped that night
when the Apaches almost got me, the night before I found the stringer
on the hill. And when I die I want to be buried here with my canteen
and my prospector's pick beside me."

So when he died up in Cañon City, Oregon, just about twenty years
after he had made that discovery, they brought his body back and
buried it on the summit of the knoll. And they erected a great pyramid
of granite boulders on the spot for his monument.

And within sight of that lonely tomb the town stands out on the
sky-line, commemorating by its name the steadfastness of Ed
Schiefflin, prospector.


In the good old days of Indians and bad men the roaring town of
Tombstone had a man for breakfast every morning. And there were
mornings when the number ran as high as half a dozen.

That is the way the old-timers speak of it, and there is a fond pride
in their voices when they allude to the subject; the same sort of
pride one betrays when he tells of the wild oats sowed by a
gray-haired friend during his lusty youth. For Tombstone has settled
down to middle-aged conventionality and is peaceable enough to-day for
any man.

But in the early eighties!

Apaches were raiding; claim-jumpers were battling; road-agents were
robbing stages; bad men were slaying one another in the streets; and,
taking it altogether, life was stepping to a lively tune.

Geronimo's naked warriors were industrious. Now they would steal upon
a pair of miners doing assessment work within sight of town. Now they
would bag a teamster on the road from Tucson, or raid a ranch, or
attack the laborers who were laying the water company's pipe-line to
the Huachucas. Hardly a week passed but a party of hard-eyed horsemen
rode out from Tombstone with their rifles across their saddle-bows,
escorting a wagon which had been sent to bring in the bodies of the
latest victims.

In the two years after the first rush from Tucson to the rich silver
district which Ed Schiefflin had discovered, there was much
claim-jumping. And claim-jumping in those days always meant shooting.
Some properties were taken and retaken several times, each occasion
being accompanied by bloodshed. Surveying parties marched into the
foot-hills of the Mule Mountains under escort of companies of
riflemen; in more than one instance they laid out boundary lines and
established corner monuments after pitched battles, each with its own
formidable casualty list.

What with the murders by the savages and these affrays--together with
such natural hazards of disease and accident as accompany any new
mining camp--the boot-hill graveyard out beyond the north end of the
wide main street was booming like the town. And now there came a more
potent factor in stimulating mortuary statistics.

The bad men took possession of Tombstone.

They came from all over the West. For railroads and telegraph lines
were bringing a new order of things from the Missouri to the Rio
Grande, and those who would live by the forty-five hastened to ride
away from sight of jails and churches, seeking this new haven down by
the border.

One by one they drifted across the flaring Southwestern deserts; from
California, Montana, Colorado, Kansas, Texas, and New Mexico, with
their grim mouths tight shut against all questions and their big
revolvers dangling beside their thighs. The hair of some of them was
gray from many winters and their faces deeply lined; and some were
boys with down on their smooth cheeks. But once his hand started
moving toward his pistol, every man of them was deadlier than a bull
rattlesnake in rutting time.

No man challenged them on their arrival. The town was too busy to heed
their presence. The one-story buildings which lined the wide streets
were packed to the doors with customers; saloons, dance-halls, and
gambling-houses roared on through day and night; the stores were open
at all hours. The wide sidewalks under the wooden awnings which ran
the length of every block, were crowded from wall to gutter with men
intent on getting wealth or spending it.

The bad men mingled with the sidewalk throngs; they dropped into the
Bird-Cage Opera House, where painted women sang in voices that clanged
like brazen gongs; they took their places before the gambling-tables
of the Crystal Palace, where girls were oftentimes to be found dealing
faro; they joined the long lines before the bars and drank the
stinging whisky which the wagon-trains had brought from Tucson. And
they met one another.

It was like the meeting of strange dogs, who bristle on sight, and
often fly at one another's throats to settle the question of
supremacy. Their big-caliber revolvers spat streams of fire in the
roadways and bellowed in the dance-halls. And gradually among the
ranks of the survivors there came a gradation in their badness.

Several loomed far above the others: John Ringo, Prank Stilwell, Zwing
Hunt, the Clanton brothers, and Billy Grounds. They were "He Wolves."
And there was Curly Bill, the worst of all. He might be said to rule

They settled down to business, which is to say they started to do the
best they could for themselves according to their separate capacities
for doing evil unto others.

They rustled stock. They drove whole herds over the boundary from
Mexico. They pillaged the ranches, which were now coming into the
adjacent country, stealing horses, altering brands, and slaying
whoever interfered with them, all with the boldness of medieval
raiders. They took a hand in the claim-jumping. They robbed the

Hardly a day passed without a hold-up on the Tucson road--and, when
the railway went through, on the road to Benson. Shotgun guards and
drivers were killed; occasionally a passenger or two got a bullet. And
the bad men spent the money openly over the bars in Tombstone.

Then the Earp brothers came upon the scene. From this time their
figures loom large in the foreground. Whatever else may be said of
them they were bold men and there was something Homeric in their
violence. Wyatt, Virgil, Morgan, and Jim, the first three were active
in the wild events which followed their incumbency to power.
California knew them in their boyhood, and during their manhood years
they wandered over the West, from mining camp to cow-town, until they
came to Tombstone from Dodge City, Kansas.

They brought a record with them. Back in the seventies, in the time of
the trail herds, Dodge was a howling cow-town. There was a period of
its existence when the punchers used to indulge in the pastime of
shooting up the place; but there were a great many of these frolicsome
riders, and too much wanton revolver shooting is sure to breed trouble
if it is combined with hard liquor, gambling, and a tough floating
population. The prominent business men of Dodge watched the hectic
consequences of this lawlessness over their faro layouts with
speculative eyes and came to the conclusion that killings were
becoming altogether too promiscuous. The town, they said, needed a
business administration; and forthwith they selected Bat Masterson as
marshal. He established, and enforced, a rule which amounted to this:

If a man pulled his gun he did it at his own peril. Whoever fired a
shot within the town limits, whether he did it for sport or murder,
faced arrest.

Resistance followed. There were nights when the main street echoed
with the roaring of firearms. But, by the force of his personality and
by his remarkable ability at the quick draw, Bat Masterson subdued the
rebels. It came about that of what killing was done he did his full
share, which greatly diminished the death list.

Wyatt and Virgil Earp succeeded Bat Masterson in this office and
carried on its administration with a boldness which left them famous.
With the coroner behind them they were lords of the high justice, the
middle, and the low; and they sustained their positions by good
straight shooting.

At such times as they were not performing their functions as peace
officers they were dealing faro; and when the imminence of a less
interesting era was made apparent in the dwindling of the trail herds
and the increase of dry farmers, they left the good old cow-town along
with many other professional gamblers.

They arrived in Tombstone in the days when the outlaws were rampant,
and they began dealing faro in Oriental. They found many a friend--and
some enemies--from those years in western Kansas among the more
adventurous element in the new town. Former buffalo-hunters,
teamsters, quiet-spoken gamblers, and two-gun men sat down before
their layouts and talked over bygones with them. There was an election
at about this time. Virgil was chosen town marshal, and Wyatt got the
appointment of deputy United States marshal soon afterward.

Old friends and new rallied around them. Of the former was Doc
Holliday, a tubercular gunman with the irascible disposition which
some invalids own, who had drifted hither from Colorado. Among the
latter were the Clanton brothers and Frank Stilwell, who robbed the
stage and rustled cattle for a living. John Ringo, who was really the
brains of the outlaws, and Curly Bill, who often led them, are listed
by many old-timers among the henchmen in the beginning.

It was a time when the old spoils system was recognized in its
pristine simplicity. If you trained with the victorious political
faction you either wore a star or had some one else who did wear a
star backing you. If you trained with the minority you were rather
sure, sooner or later, to have your name engrossed on a warrant. In
such an era it was as well to vote wisely; else, in the vernacular,
you were "short" in your home town, which meant you could not go back

How much the Earps knew of what their henchmen did is beyond the
telling in this story. An official history of Arizona published under
the auspices of the State legislature and written by Major McClintock,
an old Westerner, states that first and last they were accused of
about 50 per cent. of the robberies which took place in the town. It
is, however, altogether possible that their cognizance of such matters
was no greater than many a city official to-day holds of crimes
committed in his bailiwick. When one comes to analyze police politics
he finds they have not changed much since the time of the Crusades:
desire for power has always blinded reformers to the misdeeds of their
followers. One thing is certain; the Earps did protect their friends,
and some of those friends were using very much the same methods which
the Apaches employed in making a living.

To a certain extent this was necessary. What one might call the highly
respectable element of the town was busy at its own affairs.
Mine-owners and merchants were deeply engrossed in getting rich. And
unless he liked gun-fighting, a man would have to be a good deal of a
busybody to give the town marshal anything more tangible than his best
wishes in the way of support. It was up to that official to look out
for himself. At any time when complications followed his attempt to
arrest a lawbreaker he could depend upon the average citizen--to get
outside the line of fire.

And the gun-fighters were eager to get into the game. They were right
on hand, to make a stand in front of the enemy if need be--but
preferably to murder the foe from behind. Which was ever the way with
the Western bad man.

There were determined men of another breed in Tombstone and the
surrounding country, men who had outfought Apaches and desperadoes on
many an occasion; dead shots who owned high moral courage. Such a man
was John Slaughter, who had established his ranch down on the Mexican
line and had driven the savages away from his neighborhood. But these
old-timers were not enlisted under the Earp banner and the town's new
rulers had only the other element for retainers.

So now Frank Stilwell robbed stages on the Bisbee road until the
drivers got to know his voice quite well; and he swaggered through the
Tombstone dance-halls bestowing the rings which he had stripped from
the fingers of women passengers upon his latest favorite. Ike and
Billy Clanton enlarged their herds with cattle and horses from other
men's ranges, and sold beef with other men's brands to Tombstone
butchers. And taking it altogether, the whole crew, from Doe Holliday
down, did what they could to bring popular disfavor upon the heads of
the new peace officers.

But if their followers were lacking in the quality of moral courage,
that cannot be said of the Earp brothers. And not long after they took
the reins in their strong hands, an occasion arose wherein they proved
their caliber. Wyatt in particular showed that he was made of stern

It came about as a result of the reforms under the new régime. After
the manner of their Dodge City administration the brothers ruled in
Tombstone. They forbade the practice of shooting up the town. He who
sought to take possession of a dance-hall according to the old
custom, which consisted of driving out the inmates with drawn
revolvers and extinguishing the lights with forty-five caliber slugs,
was forthwith arrested. To ride a horse into a saloon and order drinks
for all hands meant jail and a heavy fine. To slay a gambler, or make
a gun-play in a gambling-house, when luck was running badly, resulted
in prosecution.

Virgil Earp attended to these matters, and after several incidents
wherein he disarmed ugly men whose friends stood by eager to let
daylight into the new marshal, he owned a certain amount of prestige.
It is only fair to remark in passing that he had a disposition--in
ticklish cases--to shoot first and ask questions afterward; but that
was recognized as an officer's inalienable right in those rude days.

Now this new order of things did not meet universal popular favor in
Tombstone. There were always three or four hundred miners off shift on
the streets, and while a large percentage of them were peaceable men,
there was a boisterous element. This element, and the cow-boys who had
been in the habit of celebrating their town comings after the good old
fashion, felt resentful. An occasional killing of one of their number
with the invariable verdict from a carefully picked coroner's jury,
"met his death while resisting an officer in performance of his duty,"
made the resentment more general. The recalcitrants said that
Tombstone was being run by a gang of murderers in the interest of the

Opposition to the administration began to crystallize. Things reached
the point where in a twentieth century community reformers would be
preparing to circulate recall petitions. But in the early eighties
they did things more directly, and instead of the recall they had the
"show-down." The malcontents eagerly awaited its coming.

It came. And its origin was in Charleston.

Charleston was eleven miles across the hills from Tombstone down by
the San Pedro River. There was a mill there, and the cow-boys from the
country around came in to spend their money. Jim Burnett was justice
of the peace. Early in the town's history he had seceded from the
county of Pima because the supervisors over in Tucson refused to allow
him certain fees. "Hereafter," so he wrote the board, "the justice
court in Charleston will look after itself." Which it did. Once the
court dragged Jack Harker from his horse, when that enthusiastic
stockman was celebrating his arrival by bombarding the town, and fined
the prisoner fifty head of three-year-old steers. And once--it is a
matter of record--a coroner's jury under his instruction rendered the
verdict: "Served the Mexican right for getting in front of the gun."

Things always moved swiftly in Charleston. There is a tale of a
saloon-keeper who buried his wife in the morning, killed a man at high
noon, and took unto himself a new bride before evening. If that story
is not true--and old-timers vouch for it--it is at least indicative of
the trend of life in the town.

And to Charleston came those followers of John Ringo and Curly Bill
who did not get on with the Earps. Several of them became men of
influence down here on the San Pedro. Hither flocked those boisterous
spirits who craved more freedom of action on pay-day than the mining
town afforded.

Guns blazed in Charleston whenever the spirit moved. The young fellow
who was ditch-tender for the company had to give up his lantern when
he made his nightly trip of inspection, because, as surely as that
light showed up on the side hill, there was certain to be some one
down in the street who could not resist taking a shot at it. So while
dissatisfaction was crystallizing among the miners of Tombstone a keen
rancor against the Earps was developing over by the San Pedro.

This was the state of affairs when Johnny Behind the Deuce brought
matters to a crisis by killing an engineer from the mill.

Johnny Behind the Deuce was an undersized, scrawny specimen of the
genus which is popularly known as "tinhorn," a sort of free-lance
gambler, usually to be found sitting in at a poker-game. The engineer
was a big man and abusive.

There was a game in which these two participated; and when he had lost
his wages to Johnny Behind the Deuce, the engineer sought solace first
in vituperation, then in physical maltreatment. Whereat Johnny Behind
the Deuce shot him. Charleston's constable took the slayer into
custody. The rustlers and other exiles from Tombstone knew the
prisoner for a friend of the Earps, and so they decided to lynch him.
They sent one of their number to get a reata for that purpose.

The constable learned what was going on. He commandeered a buckboard
and a team of mules, put Johnny Behind the Deuce aboard, and drove
the animals on the dead run for Tombstone.

When the man who had been sent for the reata returned, the rustlers
set out after the prisoner and found they were five minutes too late.
They saddled up and started in pursuit.

The road wound along the lower levels between the foot-hills of the
Mule Mountains; there were two or three dry washes to cross, some
sharp grades to negotiate, and several fine stretches which were
nearly level,--a rough road, admirably suited for making a wild race

And this was a wild race. The constable and the prisoner were just
getting their team nicely warmed up when they heard a fusillade of
revolver-shots behind them. They glanced over their shoulders and saw
more than fifty horsemen coming on at that gait which is so well
described in the vernacular as "burning the wind." From time to time
one of these riders would lean forward and "throw down" his
six-shooter; then the occupants of the buckboard would hear the whine
of a forty-five slug, and a moment later the report of the distant
weapon would reach their ears.

The mules heard these things too. What with the noise of the firearms
and the whoops of the pursuers they were in a frenzy; they threw their
long ears flat back and entered into the spirit of the occasion by
running away. The constable, who was a cool man and a good driver,
centered his energies on guiding them around the turns and let it go
at that.

Now as the miles of tawny landscape flashed behind them the two
fugitives saw that they were being overhauled. And the pursuers found
that they were gaining; their yells came louder down the wind; they
roweled their lathered cow-ponies. And they drew closer to the

The constable negotiated the dry wash near Robbers Rock on two wheels,
and as the light vehicle was reeling along the easy grade beyond, the
prisoner took another look behind. He told his captor that the wild
riders were not much more than four hundred yards away.

They came to a stretch of level road. The mules were doing a little
better now, and they clattered down into the next dry wash with an
abandon which all but ended matters; the outer wheels went over the
high cut bank, but by the grace of good luck and marvelous driving the
buckboard was kept right side up. And now the lynching party, who had
made a short cut, appeared between the rolling hills not more than two
hundred yards behind.

Johnny Behind the Deuce reported the state of affairs. The constable
answered without turning his head.

"Looks like we're up against it, kid," said he, "but we'll play it out
's long as we got chips left."

Three miles outside of Tombstone stood an adobe building wherein
a venturesome saloon-keeper had installed himself, a barrel of
that remarkable whisky known as "Kill Me Quick," and sufficient
arms to maintain possession against road-agents. The sign on this
establishment's front wall said:

                            _LAST CHANCE_

It was a lucky chance for Johnny Behind the Deuce. For Jack McCann,
who owned a fast mare, was exercising her out here this afternoon
preparatory for a race against some cow-ponies over on the San Pedro
next week. He had trotted her down the road and was about to head her
back toward the saloon for her burst of speed when he saw the
buckboard coming over a rise.

The mules were fagged. The constable was lashing them with might and
main. The lynching party were within a hundred yards.

As Jack McCann surveyed this spectacle which was so rapidly
approaching him the constable waved his hand. The situation was too
tight to permit wasting time. McCann ranged his mare alongside the
buckboard as soon as it drew up; and before the breathless driver had
begun to explain, he cried.

"Jump on, kid."

Johnny Behind the Deuce leaped on the mare's back. The constable
pulled off the road as the lynching party came thundering by with a
whoop and halloo. He peered through the dust which the ponies' hoofs
had stirred up and saw the mare fading away in the direction of
Tombstone with her two riders.

                  *       *       *       *       *

It was nearly four o'clock in the afternoon. That hour was the dullest
of the twenty-four in the gambling-houses, for the evening shift was
on its way to work and the day shift had not yet come off. The Earps
were dealing faro in the Oriental.

To the onlooker who does not know its hazards faro is a funereal game.
The dealer slides one card and then a second from the box. The
case-keeper moves a button or two on his rack. The dealer in the
meantime is paying winners and collecting chips from losers, all with
the utmost listlessness. In his high chair above them, all the lookout
leans back with every external sign of world-weary indifference. And
the players settle a little lower on their stools. There was about as
much animation in the Oriental that afternoon as there is in a country
church on a hot Sunday morning; less in fact, for there was no
preacher present.

Into this peaceful quiet came the sound of hoofbeats from the street.
It stopped abruptly. Two men burst through the front door on a run.
The players looked around and the faro-dealers dropped their right
hands toward the open drawers where they kept their loaded pistols.
Jack McCann and Johnny Behind the Deuce had arrived.

But before the prisoner finished his story, to which he did not devote
more than twenty words or so, a man ran into the Oriental with the
tidings that the miners who were coming off shift were arming
themselves as fast as they left the cages. The rustlers had ridden up
the hill and were gathering reinforcements.

Wyatt Earp at once took charge of the affair. He was a medium-sized
man with a drooping sandy mustache.

"We'll close up, boys," he said.

The show-down had come.

Wyatt, Virgil, Morgan, and Jim took counsel. Doc Holliday advised
with them. A handful of their supporters stood by awaiting their
decision. All others left; the neighborhood was no healthy place for

The Oriental gambling-house stood on Tombstone's main street at the
intersection of a cross street. Because of its size it would be a hard
place to defend against so formidable a mob as this which was now
moving down the hill. Several doors north on the main street and on
the opposite side, there was a bowling-alley. Its narrowness gave that
building a strategic value. They took Johnny Behind the Deuce there
and set guards at both ends.

Wyatt Earp remained alone out in the middle of the main street just
below the corner. He held a double-barreled shotgun over the crook of
his arm.

The ugly sound which rises from a mob came into the deserted
thoroughfare; the swift tramp of many feet, the growl of many voices.
More than three hundred miners, the majority of whom were armed with
rifles from the company's arsenal, and the fifty-odd members of the
Charleston lynching party swept into Toughnut Street, turned the
corner, and rushed down the cross street toward the Oriental.

They reached the intersection of the main street, and as they faced
the closed doors of the Oriental their left flank was toward Wyatt
Earp. They filled the roadway and the front ranks surged upon the
sidewalk toward the portals of the gambling-house.

Then some one who had seen the prisoner taken to the bowling-alley
shouted the tidings. The throng changed front in the instant and faced
the solitary man who stood there a few yards before them.

Wyatt Earp shifted his shotgun into his two hands and held it as a
trap-shooter who is waiting for the clay pigeons to rise.

In the moment of discovery the mob had checked itself, confronting him
as one man confronts another when the two are bitter enemies and the
meeting is entirely unexpected. There followed a brief, sharp surge
forward; it emanated from the rear ranks and moved in a wave toward
the front. There it stopped. And there passed a flash of time during
which the man and the mob eyed each other.

That was no ordinary lynching party such as some communities see in
these days. Its numbers included men who had outfought Apaches,
highwaymen, and posses; men who were accustomed to killing their
fellow beings and inured to facing death. And the hatred of the Earp
brothers, which had been brewing during all these months, was
white-hot now within them.

"Come on," called Wyatt Earp, and added an epithet.

Above the mass of tossing heads the muzzles of rifles were bobbing up
and down. The trampling of feet and the shuffling of packed bodies
made a dull under-note. Shouts arose from many quarters.

"Go on!" "Get him!" "Now, boys!"

Wyatt Earp threw back his head and repeated his challenge.

"Come on!" He flung an oath at them. "Sure you can get me. But"--he
gave them the supreme insult of that wild period's profanity--"the
first one makes a move, I'll get him. Who's the man?"

Those who saw him that afternoon say that his face was white; so white
that his drooping mustache seemed dark in contrast. His eyes gleamed
like ice when the sun is shining on it. He had the look of a man who
has put his life behind him; a man who is waiting for just one thing
before he dies--to select the ones whom he will take with him.

The cries behind redoubled, and the crowding increased in the rear.
Some leaped on the backs of those before them. But the men in the
front ranks--some of them were bold men and deadly--withstood the
pressure. They held their eyes on that grim, white face, or watched
the two muzzles of that shotgun which he swept back and forth across
their gaze with hypnotic effect.

It was a fine, large moment. Any one of them could have got him at the
first shot. There was no chance of missing. And scores yearned to get
him. Undoubtedly he had attained that pitch where he yearned for them
to do it. And being thus to all intents a dead man,--save only that he
retained the faculty of killing,--he was mightier than all of them.

Those in the front ranks were beginning to slip back; and as these
escaped his presence the others, who had become exposed to it,
struggled against the pressure of their fellows who would keep them in
that position. Some of the cooler spirits were stealing away. The
contagion of indifference spread. The mob was melting.

In the meantime one or two members of the Earp faction had procured a
team and wagon. As soon as the lynchers had dispersed they stowed the
prisoner in the vehicle, and set out for Tucson with a heavy guard.
But there was no pursuit. The reaction which follows perfervid
enthusiasm of this sort had settled down upon the miners and cow-boys.
Johnny Behind the Deuce was tried before the district court, and--as
was to be expected--he was acquitted.

Time went on and dissensions came among the followers of the Earp
brothers. Curly Bill and John Ringo were among the first to fall out
with the leaders, and they took the path of previous exiles to
Charleston. But the country by the San Pedro was being settled up, and
not long afterward they emigrated to Galeyville over in the San Simon
valley. Thenceforth this little smelter town became the metropolis of
the outlaws. Ringo spent most of his time here with occasional trips
to Tombstone, where, on more than one occasion, he dared the Earps to
try to take him. They did not accept his challenges. Finally he died
by his own hand and his friend Curly Bill left the country.

In the meantime new secessions were taking place in the Earp
following. The county of Cochise had been established. Tombstone
was made the county seat. Johnny Behan, an old-timer and an
Indian fighter, was the first sheriff. He was hostile to the city
administration from the beginning. Nor was that all. Lawyers came
into the town and henceforth--provided a dead man's friends had
money--killing an opponent no longer settled a dispute. There
remained such complications as indictment, sworn testimony, and the
jury. The good old days were passing.

Sheriff Johnny Behan charged the Earps with participation in robberies
and wilful cognizance of murders.

It was about as far as he did go as a public official. The brothers
issued profane and pointed defiance and went on dealing faro.

About this time Frank Stilwell quarreled with the Earps and hastily
departed from Tombstone And henceforth, until the wind-up of the ugly
affairs that followed, he remained at large, awaiting his opportunity
for revenge.

Sheriff Behan was trying to get some good charge to bring against the
brothers, and various lawyers--some of them widely known throughout
the Southwest--were anxiously awaiting opportunity to appear as
special prosecutors when the Benson stage was held up.

The Benson stage had been robbed often enough before, but this time
the crime brought far-reaching consequences. Bud Philpots was driver
and Bob Paul, afterward United States marshal, was shotgun messenger.
There was a large currency shipment--some eighty thousand dollars--in
the express-box. The stage was full inside and one passenger, a
Mexican, was riding on top. For some reason or other Bob Paul had
taken the reins and Philpots was sitting in his place. As the vehicle
came to the top of a hill the robbers showed themselves.

The old-timers speak of the conduct of the highwaymen with profane
contempt for instead of shooting a horse or two, they opened fire on
Bud Philpots, whom they believed from his position to be the
messenger. They killed him and the Mexican passenger who was seated
behind him. But the team took fright at the noise and ran away and the
eighty thousand dollars went on up the road in a cloud of dust.

Johnny Behan, the sheriff, said that the Earp brothers sent Doc
Holliday out with the Clanton brothers to commit the crime.

Ike Clanton said that he was rustling cattle at the time down in
Mexico, and accused the Earps of sole responsibility.

The Earps in turn stated that the Clanton boys were the bandits.

And that began the Earp-Clanton feud.

It did not last long, but there was much happening while it was going

The Clanton brothers, Ike and Billy, betook themselves to their ranch
and gathered their friends around them. Frank and Tom McLowrey were
prominent among these allies. And now the statement was made in
Tombstone that the members of this faction had promised to shoot the
Earps on sight.

One October evening Ike Clanton came to town with Tom McLowery, and
Virgil Earp arrested the two on the charge of disturbing the peace. He
did it on the main street and disarmed them easily enough. The justice
of the peace, whose name was Spicer, fined the prisoners fifty

The next morning these two defendants went to the 0. K. corral on
Fremont Street, where they had put up their horses the night before.
And there they met Bill Clanton and Frank McLowery. All four were
leading their ponies out of the gate when Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan
Earp, together with Doc Holliday, confronted them.

"Hands up!" Wyatt ordered.

The shooting began at once. Holliday killed Tom McLowery, who was
unarmed, at the first volley. Billy Clanton fell mortally wounded but
continued shooting up to his last gasp. Frank McLowery got a bullet
through his pistol hand but shifted his weapon to the other and kept
on firing until Morgan Earp, who had fallen with a ball through his
shoulder, killed him from where he lay. Ike Clanton jumped a high
fence and fled.

Justice of the Peace Spicer held an examination and exonerated the
slayers on the ground that they had done the thing in performance of
their duty as officers, but friends of the Clantons had money. Some
one retained lawyers to assist in prosecuting the Earps. The sheriff
saw his opportunity and became active getting testimony.

And then, while the town was seething with gossip concerning the
coming trial, Frank Stilwell stole into Tombstone with a half-breed
and slew Morgan Earp, who was playing billiards at the time. The
murder accomplished, Stilwell took a fast horse and rode to Tucson.
The half-breed fled to the Dragoon Mountains.

The next day the three surviving Earp brothers and Doc Holliday
started for California with Morgan's body. At dusk that evening the
train reached Tucson. Now Ike Clanton was in the town, out on bail
awaiting trial for a stage-robbery. And Frank Stilwell was there. It
was no more than natural that the Earps should keep a sharp lookout
when the locomotive stopped at the station.

Their vigilance was rewarded. Stilwell came slipping through the
shadows just as the train was pulling out. The passengers in the
Pullman were startled by a crackling of revolver shots from the rear
platform. Directly afterward the Earps came back inside and took their
seats. And Tucson was given something to talk about that evening by
the discovery of Frank Stilwell's body riddled with bullets beside the

The Earp party held council in the Pullman and determined to return to
Tombstone. Leaving Virgil to complete the journey with Morgan's body,
the other two brothers and Doc Holliday left the train at a way
station and flagged a freight which took them back to Benson. Here
they procured horses and rode to the county seat.

Sheriff Johnny Behan received telegraphic advices from Tucson to
arrest them. He found the trio sometime in the afternoon. They had got
their effects together and sent them ahead on a wagon. They were
themselves on horseback, about to set forth for Colorado.

Wyatt glanced down upon the sheriff as the latter came up.

"Listen," he said. "Don't you even look as if you wanted to arrest

And with that the three rode down the main street. They passed the
saloons and gambling-houses, and men came flocking to the doors to see
them go by.

At the running walk the horses came on, three abreast; the faces of
the riders were set; their eyes swept the crowds on the sidewalks.
They went on by. They turned the corner into the road that leads to
the Dragoons. That was the last that Tombstone ever saw of them.

They stopped at Pete Spence's ranch, where the half-breed was working
who had been with Frank Stilwell on the evening of Morgan's murder,
and a cow-boy found the man's body the next morning.

They rode across wide flats and through great dark mountain ranges,
eastward and to the north, until they came into Colorado.

After the departure of these bold men outlawry took on a new lease of
life in southeastern Arizona. Cattle-rustling, stage-robbery, and
murder went on throughout Cochise County. And at last the people found
a strong man, to whom the law stood for something more than a means of
personal power. They chose for sheriff John Slaughter, who had been
waging war for years on his own account against Apaches and bad men.
But the story of how he brought the enforcement of the statutes into
Tombstone is too long to tell here, although it is a stirring tale and

Tombstone to-day stands just as it was back in those wild days of the
early eighties; just as it was--the buildings are unchanged. You may
see them all, and see the streets as they looked when pistols flamed
and men died hard out in the roadway.

But other crowds walk those streets now. And sometimes on an evening
you will see automobiles going down the block with family parties on
their way for a spin along the Benson road where the Clanton boys,
Frank Stilwell, John Bingo, and the other bad men used to rob the
stages in daytime.

On such an evening, should you travel down that highway, you may see
the leaping light of a bonfire by which a group of young people are
toasting marshmallows on the summit of the knoll where Ed Schiefflin
hid from the passing Apaches.

Tombstone is peaceable enough to-day for any man; so peaceable that
one finds it hard to believe there was a time when the town had a
man--or more--for breakfast every morning.


In the early days of Tombstone when miners and merchants and cow-men
and faro-dealers and outlaws were drifting into Cochise County from
all over the West, a young fellow by the name of William C.
Breckenbridge came down from Colorado to the new camp. He was, so the
old-timers say, one of those smallish men who can wear a flannel shirt
and broad-brimmed hat so jauntily that, although their breeches be
tucked into their boot-tops, they still look marvelously neat; but
while he could come through a hard day's ride still suggesting a
bandbox, there was nothing of the dandy about him.

His people had staked him to go out West and at their suggestion he
had hunted up an older brother in Colorado. But two years in the wide
reaches of the Platte country, where the monotony of teaming was
varied by occasional brushes with the Indians, failed to satisfy his
spirit. And so he came riding down into the flaring valleys of the
Southwestern border along with the first influx of adventurers.

He was still in his early twenties and the world looked good to him;
one of those quiet youths who preface most remarks with a smile
because, all other things being equal, they like their fellow-men.

He knocked about the camp, trying this thing and that, and was
starting in at mining engineering with an old marine compass as his
only instrument when Johnny Behan, who was newly appointed sheriff by
the governor, gave him a job as a deputy. Then straightaway the eyes
of men were turned upon him, and the query arose:

"How's he going to stack up when it comes to a show-down?"

Those were the days, you understand, when--to indulge in a Scriptural
figure--he who took up the sword must be prepared to perish by the
sword. If you buckled on a gun you must be ready to draw it, and once
you started to draw it, heaven help you if you did not reckon on going
through with the play.

A man could get by, as the saying has it, if he played the part of a
neutral; but if, on the one hand, you started in at stealing cattle or
if, on the other hand, you pinned on a star--why then, sooner or
later, the big issue was going to come to a head; you were going to
find yourself faced by a foe or foes, armed like yourself, and like
yourself prepared to shoot it out. Then when the show-down came you
would comport yourself according to the stuff that you were made
of--the material which was hidden away deep down under your skin--and
according to your conduct the world would judge you.

So naturally enough in those days men asked this question and waited
for events to bring its answer. And those among them who were not
gifted with the faculty of reading character but needed to see a man
for themselves when the guns were blazing--those individuals had to
wait a long time.

As for the others, what they said to themselves as one adventure
followed another now in the career of Billy Breckenbridge you who read
these words can judge, if you be blessed with ordinary perspicacity.
For many things took place and many months went by before he reached
down along his lean right thigh toward the butt of his forty-five
single-action revolver.

It is quite likely that Johnny Behan was among those who wanted the
new deputy to give a demonstration of the stuff he was made of.
Perhaps that was the reason the sheriff sent young Breckenbridge over
into the eastern end of the county to collect the taxes before the
latter had worn his star long enough to get used to it.

In those days the sheriff's office levied assessments and did the
collecting on personal property at the same time. Payments were made
in cash; bank-checks were virtually unknown in Cochise County. And
thus far the country east of the Dragoon Mountains had yielded no
revenues for the simple reason that it looked as if nothing short of a
troop of cavalry could go forth into that region and return again with
the money.

Beyond those rocky peaks which frowned across the mesquite flat at
Tombstone lay other ragged mountain ranges; the Chiracahuas, the Dos
Cabezas, the Swiss-helms, and the Grahams. Between their towering
walls the valleys of the Sulphur Springs and the San Simon stretched
away and away southward across the Mexican border great tawny plains
pulsating under the hot sun.

Upon their level floors the heat-devils danced all the long days like
armies of phantom dervishes gone mad with their interminable leapings
and whirlings. And strange grotesque mirages climbed up into the
glaring heavens. A savage land wherein savage men rode, as packs of
gray wolves range in the wintertime when meat is scarce, searching the
distant sky-line for some sign of life on which to prey.

For this was no-man's-land. Bands of renegade Apaches lurked among its
empurpled peaks. Companies of Mexican smugglers came northward through
its steep-walled border cañons driving their laden burros to lonely
rendezvous where hard-eyed traders awaited them with pack-mules loaded
down with dobie dollars. A few lonely ranch-houses where there was
water in the lowlands; in the mountains a sawmill or two and some
far-flung mines; here the habitations were like arsenals. Honest men
must go armed to work and sleep with arms by their bedsides, and even
then it was advisable for them to ask no questions of those who rode
up to their cabins.

And it was best for them to make no protests at what such guests did
unto their own or the property of others. For since the days when the
first semblances of law had come to Tombstone this region had been the
sanctuary of the bad men.

When you crossed the summits of the Dragoon Mountains you were beyond
the pale. Hither the stage-robber came, riding hard when the list of
his crimes had grown too long. The murderer, the rustler, and the
outlaw spurred their ponies on eastward when the valley of the San
Pedro was too hot for them and took refuge here among their kind. On
occasion the bolder ones among them ventured back to show themselves
on Tombstone's streets or swagger into Charleston's dance-halls; but
never for long and never unless they were traveling in formidable

And then sooner or later they would slip away again to the wild passes
and the long and lonely valley flats where there was no law excepting
that which a man carried in his pistol-holster. One after another
those who were "short" in other places had drifted before the winds of
public opinion to gather in this eastern end of Cochise County where
two whose qualities of deadliness surpassed those of all the rest were
recognized, because of that superior ability at killing, as the big
"He Wolves." These two were Curly Bill and John Ringo.

When they were not leading their followers in some raid against the
herds of border cattlemen, or lying in wait to ambush one of the armed
bands of smugglers, or standing up the stage, these two were usually
to be found in Galeyville. You will not see Galeyville named nowadays
on the map of Arizona and if you look ever so long through the San
Simon country, combing down the banks of Turkey Creek ever so closely,
you will not discover so much as a fragment of crumbling adobe wall to
show that the town ever existed.

But it did exist during the early eighties and its life was noisy
enough for any man. There came a day when the neighboring mines shut
down and the little smelter which furnished a livelihood for the
honest members of the population went out of business; later the
Apaches erased everything that was combustible from the landscape and
the elements finished the business.

But when John Ringo and Curly Bill held forth in Galeyville there was
a cattle-buyer in the place who did a brisk business because he asked
no embarrassing questions concerning brands. Which brought many a
hard-eyed rustler thither and sent many a dollar spinning over the
battered bars.

Such were the eastern end of Cochise County and its metropolis when
Johnny Behan told young Billy Breckenbridge to cross the Dragoons and
collect taxes throughout that section. If he expected a protest he was
mistaken, for Breckenbridge took the bidding with his usual
good-natured smile. And if the sheriff looked for a request for a
posse he was disappointed. The new deputy saddled up his horse one
morning and rode forth alone, trim and neat as usual and, for all that
any one could see, without a care on his mind.

He rode up the wide main street which bisects Tombstone from end to
end, descended the hill and started his horse across the flatlands
toward the ragged pinnacles of Cochise's stronghold.

Eastward he rode through tall mesquite thickets, over rolling hills
where clumps of bear-grass grew among spiked yuccas and needle-pointed
tufts of Spanish bayonet, and climbed the pass beyond. From its summit
he looked down upon the wide reaches of the Sulphur Springs valley,
level as a floor, as tawny as a lion's skin.

Then he descended from the sky-lined pinnacles of granite to the
plain. Under the blazing heavens pony and rider showed upon that
glowing surface as a tiny dot; a dot that moved slowly on and on until
the yellow-brown carpet of the bunch-grass came to an end and was
replaced by a gleaming sheet of alkali. Before that crawling dot the
mirage wavered and undulated like a weirdly painted back-drop stirring
in the wind.

The dot crept on, took strange new shapes that changed phantasmally,
then vanished behind the curtain of which for a passing moment it had
been a part. Thus young Breckenbridge rode beyond the dominion of the
written law and was swallowed up by no-man's-land.

When he had started forth from Tombstone he merely knew his errand; he
owned no plan. Now as the splendid star-lit nights followed the long,
blazing days he began, to see a course of action and this led him on,
until one day he came down into the San Simon country and rode into
the town of Galeyville.

The enterprising citizen whose cattle-buying business helped to keep
dollars spinning across the bars of this outlaw metropolis was mildly
curious when young Breckenbridge introduced himself that afternoon.
The presence of a sheriff's deputy was enough to set any one to
thinking in those days.

His curiosity gave way to unspoken wonder as the caller unfolded his
mission and stated the name of the man whom he wanted to see. Anyhow,
this meeting promised to be worth while witnessing; the cattle-buyer
said as much.

"Reckon we'll find him up the street right now," he added, and led the
way to a near-by saloon.

There were a number of men in the place when the pair entered; a
quintet playing cards, and as many others scattered about a quiet
pool-game. And one burly fellow was lying on a poker-table, curled up
for all the world like a sleeping dog. Now and then one of the
gamblers would lift his head to take a look at the new-comers, and for
a brief instant young Breckenbridge would find himself gazing into a
pair of hard, steady eyes. Then the eyes would be lowered and the
player would go on with the game.

It was during this uncomfortable interval of general sizing-up that
the proprietor entered, a red-faced man and short of stature. He had
been out to get a bucket of water; he set the pail down by the end of
the bar and filled a tin cup from it.

"Here's how, boys," he said with loud facetiousness, and lifted the

The burly man, who had apparently been awakened by the words, uncoiled
himself, came to crouch with one arm supporting his body on the
table-top and--all in the same lithe movement--drew his big-caliber
revolver from the holster.

"Don't drink that stuff. It's pizen," he shouted, and with the last
word his weapon flamed.

The tin cup flew from the saloon man's hand. A shout of laughter rose
from the crowd at the two games; then the pool-balls clicked again

"Raise you ten," a poker-player said.

Breckenbridge's guide beckoned to the man who had done the shooting.
He came across the room, shoving his gun back into the holster, a
rather thickly built man but well-knit and there was a soft spring in
his slowest movements which suggested snake-like quickness. He was
dark-eyed, and his hair was a mat of close black curls. The
cattle-buyer nodded, to indicate the introduced one.

"This," he said, "is Mr. Breckenbridge, one of Johnny Behan's


"This is Curly Bill."

Young Breckenbridge smiled as usual and stretched forth his right
hand. But the eyes of Curly Bill were narrow and his hand came out
slowly. There was that in his whole manner which said he was on guard,
watching every movement of the deputy.

And for this there was good reason. It was not long since Curly Bill
had stood in very much the same attitude on Tombstone's street facing
Town Marshal White, the only difference being that his right hand on
that occasion had been proffering his pistol, butt foremost, to the
officer. And in the passing of the instant while Marshal White had
touched the weapon with his fingertips the forty-five had swiftly
reversed ends, to spit forth one leaden slug.

The officer had dropped in the dust of the roadway and Curly Bill had
ridden out of town with a thousand dollars on his head. A thousand
dollars was a thousand dollars and there was no telling what a man who
wore a nickel-plated star might have up his sleeve.

"Mr. Breckenbridge," the cattle-buyer said as the two palms met, "is
here on civil business."

The eyes of Curly Bill resumed their normal shape. His fingers
tightened over the deputy's.

"Howdy," he said. "What yo' going to have?"

While the sting of the cow-town whisky was still rankling in their
throats a man entered the front door.

"Oh, Bill," he called across the room, "your hoss is daid."

Deserting the bar to delve into this mystery, they found the outlaw's
pony stretched out beside the hitching-rack near the rear of the
building. The owner cast one glance at the dead animal; then his eyes
went to a shattered window.

"'Twas when I shot that cup from Shorty's hand."

He shrugged his big shoulders and, with a grin--

"Plenty more good ponies in the valley--and the nights are moonlight

When they were back facing the battered bar young Breckenbridge
explained, his business in no-man's-land.

"And this end of the county," he wound up, "is sort of rough. If I'd
ride around alone, packing that money, somebody's liable to get the
best of me when I'm not looking for it. I've got to have a good man
along to help take care of that roll. And I'd admire to have you make
the trip with me."

Curly Bill was a great deal slower at thinking than he was at drawing
his gun and there was much food for thought in that bold proposition.
He gazed at young Breckenbridge for some moments in silence. Gradually
his lips relaxed. Smiling, he turned and addressed the occupants of
the room.

"Boys," he cried, "line up."

And when the line was formed before the bar he waved his hand.

"This here's the deputy sheriff, come to collect the taxes in our end
of the county; and I aim to help him do the job up right."

By what means Curly Bill supplied himself with a new pony this
chronicler does not know. But it is a fact that the outlaw rode forth
from Galeyville the next day along with Johnny Behan's deputy, to
guide the latter through the Sulphur Springs valley and the San
Simon--and to guard the county's funds.

Travel was slow in those days; accommodations were few and far
between. Outlaw and deputy jogged down the long, glaring flats
enshrouded in the dust-fog which rose from their ponies' hoofs; mile
after mile of weary riding under a scorching sun. They climbed by
winding trails through narrow cañons where the heat-waves jigged
endlessly among the naked rocks. They camped by lonely water-holes and
shared each other's blankets under the big yellow stars.

By day they watched the sky-line seeking the slightest sign of moving
forms; by night they kept their weapons within easy reach and slept
lightly, awakening to the smallest sound. They scanned the earth for
tracks and, when they found them, read them with the suspicion born of
knowledge of the country's savagery.

And sometimes other riders came toward them out of the desert to pass
on and to vanish in the hazy distance; men who spoke but few words and
watched the right hands of the two riders as they talked. But none
attacked them or made a show toward hostility. Now and again the pair
stopped at a ranch-house or a mine where Breckenbridge added to the
county's money in his saddle-bags.

And as the days wore on, each with its own share of mutual hardship to
bring these two to closer companionship, they began, as men will under
such circumstances, to unfold their separate natures. Under the long
trail's stern necessity they bared to each other those traits which
would have remained hidden during years of acquaintance among a city's
tight-walled streets.

A carelessly spoken word dropped at hot noontide when the water in the
canteens had given out; a sincere oath, uttered by the fire at
supper-time; a long, drowsy conversation as they lay in their blankets
with the tang of the night breeze in their nostrils, gazing up at the
splendor of the flaming stars; until they knew each other man to
man--and Curly Bill began to feel something like devotion to his
purposeful young companion. Thenceforth he talked freely of his deeds
and misdeeds.

"Only one man that ever got the drop on me," the outlaw said one
evening when they were lying on their blankets, enjoying the long
inhalations from their after-supper cigarettes, "and that was ol' Jim
Burnett over in Charleston, two years ago."

He paused a moment to roll another smoke. A coyote clamored shrilly
beyond the next rise; a horse blew luxuriously feeding in the
bunch-grass. Curly Bill launched into his tale.

"He was justice of the peace and used to hold co't in those days
whenever he'd run on to a man he wanted. Always packed a double-barrel
shotgun and he'd usually managed to throw it down on a fellow while he
tried the case and named the fine.

"Well, me and some of the boys was in town this time and things was
slack. Come a Sunday evenin' and I heard how some married folks had
started up a church. I hadn't been inside of one since I could
remember and we all made up our minds to go and see what it was like.

"Things had opened up when we come into the door and we took our
seats as quiet as we could. But the jingle of our spurs made some
people in the congregation--the' wasn't more'n a dozen of 'em--look
around. And of co'se they knew us right away. So, pretty quick one or
two gets up and leaves, and soon afterward some more, until first
thing we knew our bunch was all the' was stickin' it out.

"Along about that time the preacher decided he'd quit too, and he was
edging off to head for the back door when I got up and told him to
stop. Folks said afterwards that I throwed down my fo'ty-five on him
but that wasn't so. Wasn't any need of a gun-play. I only said that
we'd come to see this deal out and we meant to have it to the turning
of the last card and if he'd go ahead everything would be all right.

"So he did, and give out a hymn and the boys stood up and sang; and he
preached a sermon, taking advantage of the chanc't to light into us
pretty rough. Then it come time for passin' round the hat and I'll bet
the reg'lar congregation never done half so well by the collection as
we did.

"Well, sir, next mo'nin' I was sittin' in front of the hotel in the
shade of those big cottonwoods, sort of dozing, having been up kind of
late after the church-going; and the first thing I knew somebody was


"I opened my eyes and here was ol' Jim Burnett with that double-barrel
shotgun throwed down on me, I knew there was no use tryin' to get the
play away from him, either; only a day or two before that he'd stuck
up Johnny Harker and fined him a bunch of three-year-old steers for
shootin' up the town. So I obeyed orders and--

"'Curly Bill,' says he, 'yo' 're tried herewith and found guilty of
disturbin' the peace at the Baptis' Church last evenin'; and the
sentence of this co't is twenty-five dollars' fine.'

"I shelled out then and there and glad to do it, too. Them two muzzles
was lookin' me right between the eyes all the while."

Up in the San Simon country they ran short of grub and after going two
days on scanty rations--

"The' 's a cañon fifteen miles south of here," the outlaw said. "I
reckon some of the boys might be camping there now."

They rode hard that afternoon and reached the place some time before
sundown. The boys of whom Curly Bill had spoken were there all right,
ten of them, and none of the number but was known at the time over in
Tombstone either as a rustler or a stage-robber. His guide introduced
Breckenbridge with the usual terseness of such ceremonies among his

Whatever of constraint there was at the beginning wore away during the
progress of the evening, and on the next morning before they left the
gorge the young deputy worked his way into the good graces of his
hosts by winning twenty dollars from them shooting at a mark.

By this time they were nearing the end of their tour and it was only a
few days later, when they were crossing the Sulphur Springs valley
toward the frowning Dragoons, that Curly Bill bestowed a final
confidence upon his companion. They were nooning at the time and
somehow or other the usual question of revolver-handling had come up.

"I'm goin' to tell yo'-all something," said Curly Bill, "that mebbe it
will come in handy to remember. Now here."

He drew his forty-five and held it forth butt foremost in his right

"Don't ever go to take a man's gun that-a-way," he went on, "for when
yo' are figuring that yo' have the drop on him and he is makin' the
play to give it up--Jest reach out now to get it."

Breckenbridge reached forth with his right hand. The outlaw smiled.
His trigger-finger glided inside the guard; there was a sudden wrist
movement and the revolver whirled end for end. Its muzzle was pressing
against the deputy's waist-band.

"Did it slow so's you could see," said Curly Bill. "Now yo'

And Breckenbridge nodded, knowing now the manner in which Marshal
White had met his death on the day when his companion had fled from
the law.

In no-man's-land they shook hands at parting.

"So-long," said Curly Bill. "See you later."

And the deputy answered with like brevity, then rode on to Tombstone.
Those who had banked on the big issue wherein Breckenbridge would
smell the other man's powder-smoke were disappointed. And there were
some among them who shook their heads when the young fellow's name was
mentioned, saying, as they had said in the beginning:

"Wait till the show-down comes; then we'll see how he stacks up."

But Sheriff Johnny Behan was open in his rejoicings. For the sheriff's
enemies were many and some of them were powerful, and his conduct in
office was being subjected to a great deal of harsh criticism,
oftentimes, it must be admitted, with entire justice. So when the
smiling young deputy returned from a region where Cochise County had
hitherto been unable to gather any taxes, and deposited a sum wherein
every property-owner in that region was properly represented, here was
good news with which to counteract accusations of laxity.

And that was not all. As far as law and order went, the country east
of the Dragoons was a foreign land; and when Breckenbridge had told
the story of his journeyings with Curly Bill, explaining how the
outlaw had been zealous in nosing out those citizens whose property
was assessable, how he had safeguarded the county's money, then the
sheriff saw how he had on his force one whom he could use to good

Other officials were unable to carry the law into no-man's-land; but
he had, thenceforth, at least an envoy. And he knew that there would
be times when diplomatic representation was going to come in very

From that day on, when anything came up in the Sulphur Springs valley
or in the San Simon, Billy Breckenbridge was despatched to attend to
the matter. Time and again he made the journey until the cow-men in
the lowlands came to know his face well; until the sight of a deputy
sheriff's star was no longer an unwonted spectacle in Galeyville. And
as the months went by he enlarged the list of his acquaintances among
the outlaws.

But his errands were for the most part concerned with civil matters.
Now and again there was a warrant for stock-rustling, but the rustlers
carried on their business in the open at that time and there were few
who dared to testify against them. Bail was always arranged by the
accommodating cattle-buyer at Galeyville, so that such arrests
invariably turned out to be amicable affairs.

Among those who were sitting back and waiting for the big show-down
there was a little stir of anticipation when young Breckenbridge rode
forth armed with a warrant for John Ringo. For Ringo was a bad man of
larger caliber than even Curly Bill. He was the brains of the outlaws,
and the warrant charged highway robbery.

But the thrill died away when the deputy came riding back with his
man; and there was something like disgust among the waiting ones when
it was learned that the prisoner had stayed behind in Galeyville to
arrange some of his affairs and had ridden hard to catch up with his
captor at the Sulphur Springs ranch.

Anticipation flamed again a little later and it looked as if there was
good reason for it. For this time it was a stolen horse and
Breckenbridge had set forth to recover the animal. A rustler might be
willing to go through the formalities of giving bail at the county
court-house, or even to stand trial, but when it came to turning over
stolen property--and doing it without a struggle--that was another
matter. Moreover, this horse, which had been taken from the Contention
Mine, was a thoroughbred, valued high and coveted by many a man.
There was good ground for believing that the fellow who had made off
with him would put up a fight before letting him go again.

Now when he left Tombstone on this mission Johnny Behan's young
diplomatic representative was riding a rented pony, his own mount
being fagged out from a previous journey; and this fact has its
bearing on the story later on. The wild country is always easier
ground in which to trace a fugitive or stolen property than the
crowded places for the simple reason that its few inhabitants are
likely to notice every one who passes; besides which there are few
travelers to obliterate tracks.

And Breckenbridge learned before he had gone very many miles that
the badly wanted horse was headed in the direction of the McLowery
ranch. The McLowery boys were members of the Clanton gang of
rustlers and stage-robbers. It did not need a Sherlock Holmes to
figure out the probabilities of where that horse was being pastured
now. Breckenbridge pressed on to the McLowery place.

Night had fallen when he arrived and the barking of many dogs heralded
his approach to all the surrounding country. Breckenbridge knew the
McLowery boys well, as well as he knew the Clantons and a dozen other
outlaws, which was well enough to call one another by their first

But these were ticklish times. The big Earp-Clanton feud was nearing
its climax. The members of the latter faction--several of whom were
wanted on Federal warrants which charged them with stage-robbery--were
keeping pretty well holed up, as the saying is, and it was not
unlikely that if any of them were in the ranch-house at the time, the
visitor who was not extremely skilful in announcing himself would be
shot first and questioned afterward.

So when Billy Breckenbridge came to the house he did not draw rein but
kept right on as if he were riding past. Fortune had favored him by
interposing in his path an enormous puddle, almost a pond, the
overflow from a broken irrigation ditch. He pulled up at this obstacle
and hallooed loudly.

"Any way through here?" he shouted. "This is Breckenbridge."

A moment's silence, and then a streak of light showed where the front
door had been opened a crack.

"Sit quiet on that there hoss," a gruff voice commanded, "and lemme
see if you _be_ Breckenbridge."

"Hallo, Bill," the deputy sheriff answered. "Yes, it's me all right."

And Curly Bill opened the door wider, revealing his burly form.

"Put up yo'r pony in the corral," he said, "and come in."

When Breckenbridge had complied with the last part of the invitation
he found the bare room filled with men. The McLowery boys were there,
two of them, and the Clantons. Half a dozen other outlaws were
lounging about, and Curly Bill himself was looking none too pleasant
as he nodded to the visitor.

"Cain't tell who might come ridin' in these nights," he growled by way
of explanation for his curt welcome. "Set up and eat a bite now yo'
're here."

The lateness of the meal and the general dishevelment of the room's
occupants made it clear to the guest that every one had been riding
hard that day. It was an awkward moment and the constraint endured
long after the last man had shoved back his chair and rolled his
brown-paper cigarette.

Curly Bill found an opportunity to get young Breckenbridge off to one
side during the evening.

"What's on yore mind?" he asked.

The deputy told him.

"The superintendent owns that horse," he explained, "and he's a good
friend of mine. Not only that, but if I get it back it means a whole
lot to the office; it'll put Behan solid with those people over at
Contention, and that helps me."

The outlaw nodded but made no remark by way of comment. Some time
later he sat up at the oilcloth-covered table talking quietly with
Frank McLowery. And Brenckenridge saw McLowery scowling. Then he felt
reasonably sure who had stolen that blooded animal and who was going
to bring it back to Tombstone in the morning.

Bedding-rolls were being unlashed within the half-hour. McLowery
brought Breckenbridge a pair of blankets.

"Reckon you'll have to make down on the floor same as the rest of the
boys," the outlaw growled and then, as if it were an afterthought,
"That there boss yo' 're looking fer is near the ranch."

And that was all the talk there was on the subject during the evening.
But Breckenbridge spread his blankets and lay down among the rustlers
serene in mind. Evidently the horse was going to be in his possession
the next morning.

McLowery's sullenness seemed to have been contagious and there were no
good-nights said to the guest. He knew every man in the room; some of
them he had known ever since that evening when Curly Bill had taken
him to the rustler's camp is the San Simon. But the best he got from
any of them was an averted look; several were scowling openly. Even
Curly Bill had put aside his usual heavy joviality. It was clear that
the burly leader had strained a point in going as far as he had. Some
men might have felt uneasy in dropping off to sleep under the
circumstances, but Breckenbridge understood his hosts well enough to
be certain that, so long as he was on the ranch, the sacred rites of
hospitality were going to be observed. So he closed his eyes and the
last thing he heard was the snoring of outlaws and murderers.

The next morning he awakened to find that several of the company had
departed. No one made any comment on that fact and there was no
mention of the stolen horse. But when the deputy had downed his last
cup of coffee Frank McLowery took him outside and showed him the
animal tethered to a hitching-rack.

"Much obliged, Frank," said Breckenbridge.

The stage-robber gave him a sour grin.

"Bet yo' never fetch him back to Tombstone," he answered quietly.

The two looked into each other's eyes and smiled. You may have seen a
pair of fighters smiling in that same way when the gong has sounded
and they have put up their hands at the beginning of a finish

Now under these circumstances and remembering the absence of several
of the best horsemen in the bunch from the ranch-house, many a man
would have put his saddle on the thoroughbred that morning. But
Breckenbridge had managed to assimilate some of the wiles of diplomacy
during these last few months and he reasoned that if there were a
pursuing-party waiting for him to leave the ranch they would be
prepared for that same contingency. Better let them think him unready;
then perhaps they would let him get the lead. And once he got it, luck
would have to help him carry out his plan. He saddled the hired pony
and rode away, leading the recovered animal.

Before he had gone a half-mile beyond the ranch buildings he saw that
he had figured rightly. The floor of the Sulphur Springs valley did
not hold so much as a bush by way of cover; and here, off to the left,
his eyes fell on a group of horsemen. Evidently they had been watching
him ever since he left the corrals and knew the poorness of his mount,
for they were making no effort to overhaul him as yet.

But he realized that the gang must have graver business on hand than
the recovery of the thoroughbred; they were not going to waste any too
much time over this affair and he would not be allowed to travel far
if they could help it. Just then a wagon outfit climbed out of a dry
wash directly ahead of him and he saw how luck had given him his

He rode on, leisurely closing in upon the train. Off there to the left
the outlaws were keeping pace with him, but as yet they were making no
attempt to lessen the distance between them. He came up with the last
wagon, turned off the road beside it, and had the clumsy covered
vehicle between him and the rustlers. Then he dismounted.

The wagons kept on moving; now and again the teamsters glanced toward
him curiously. He barely heeded them save to see that they made no
sign to the now invisible outlaws. It took all the skill that he owned
to keep both his horses walking while he unsaddled the one and threw
the saddle upon the other. But at last the change was made and he
flung himself upon the thoroughbred's back. Shouting to the nearest
teamster to lead the abandoned pony back to Tombstone, he put spurs to
his fresh mount and came out in the road ahead of the foremost span of
leaders on a dead run.

There were six of the outlaws and they were less than half a mile
away. Breckenbridge had been out of sight behind the wagons just a
little too long to suit them and they were cutting in toward the road
now at top speed.

From the beginning it was a stern chase and they had only one hope of
winning. Nothing less swift than a bullet could ever catch that
thoroughbred. They pulled up at once and began shooting. But although
some of the slugs from their rifles came uncomfortably close none
found its mark and Breckenbridge was fast drawing away from them.
However, they were not the men to give up so long as there was any
chance remaining, and they swung back into their saddles to "burn up
the road" in his wake.

Now all hands settled down to make a long race of it, and it was not
until he was climbing the first slopes toward South Pass in the
Dragoon Mountains that Breckenbridge looked back for the last time
and saw the shapes of those six horsemen diminishing in the distance
as they jogged back toward the McLowery ranch.

So through the good-will of Curly Bill young Breckenbridge recovered
the thoroughbred from the man who had stolen it and brought it to
Tombstone without being obliged to reach for his own gun. And moreover
there were no hard feelings about it when he rode back into
no-man's-land the next time. So far as Frank McLowery and the Clanton
boys were concerned the incident was closed. The deputy had won out
and that was all there was to it.

As a matter of fact only a month or so later a horse-thief from
Lincoln County, New Mexico, came to grief at Galeyville because he did
not understand Breckenbridge's status in the rustlers' metropolis.
This bad man from the Pecos had a pretty sorrel pony and the deputy,
who was in the place on civil business, happened to notice the animal
at the hitching-rack in front of the hotel.

"Say," he said to its possessor, who was standing near by, "that's a
nice horse; where'd you get him?"

The remark was a careless one in a country where ponies often changed
owners overnight, and the man from the Pecos was sensitive enough on
the subject to resent the question from one who wore a star. He
answered it by drawing his gun.

Breckenbridge, who was as dexterous with his left hand as with his
right, reached down as the weapon came forth from its holster and
gripped the stranger's wrist. He gave a sharp wrench and the revolver
clattered down on the sidewalk. And then Curly Bill, who had
witnessed the incident, stepped forward and ordered the visitor out of

"Yo'-all don't need to think," the desperado added, "that you can come
here and make a gun-play on our deputy. We get along all right with
him and I reckon we ain't going to stand for any cow-thieves from
Lincoln County gettin' brash with him."

Something like two years had passed now since young Billy Breckenbridge
first rode across the Dragoon Mountains into no-man's-land and, as the
old-timers who had been watching him all this time well knew, things
could not go on in this way forever. The show-down was bound to come. It
came one day at the Chandler ranch and the old-timers got the answer
to their question.

There were two young fellows by the name of Zwing Hunt and Billy
Grounds who had been working at Philip Morse's sawmill over in the
Chiracahua Mountains.

Somehow or other they had got mixed up with the stock-rustlers and the
temptation to make easy money proved too strong for them. One evening
they went over to the Contention mill and held up the place, killing
the man in charge.

Johnny Behan was out of town at the time with several deputies after
the Earps who had departed from Tombstone. The under-sheriff detailed
Breckenbridge on the case and drafted a posse of three men to help

"No, sir," the former said when the young deputy remonstrated against
the presence of these aides. "This ain't a case of talking John Ringo
into coming over and putting up a bond. This here's murder and those
lads are going to show fight."

Orders were orders; there was no use arguing further. The erstwhile
diplomat made the best of a bad matter and rode away with his three
companions. It was evening when they left Tombstone and the Chandler
ranch lay several hours distant. Those who saw them leave the camp
spread the news. And now the old-timers settled down, certain that
when Billy Breckenbridge returned they were going to know just what he
was made of.

He came back the next evening, riding alongside a lumber-wagon. In
those days the mining companies maintained a hospital at the edge of
the town. The vehicle made one stop at this institution and unloaded
three of its occupants. It made a second stop before the establishment
of a local undertaker, where two bodies were removed. And then young
Breckenbridge rode on alone to the court-house. Two outlaws and four
men in the deputy sheriff's party makes six altogether. Out of the six
he was the only one left on his feet.

"And the hull thing didn't last five minutes," said "Bull" Lewis, the
driver of the wagon. "I was asleep in the ranch-house along with these
two outlaws when some one knocked on the door. Right away I heard a
shot in the next room and I busted out with my hands up and yelling
that I was a nootral. Before I'd gone twenty yards Hunt and Grounds
had killed two of the posse and by the time I was over that rise
behind the house they'd laid out the other. And then I watched this
little deputy get the two of them.

"He was out in the open and they were inside, and both of 'em were
sure burnin' powder mighty fast. But he waited his chance and tore the
top of Grounds's head off with a charge of buckshot when he stepped
to the door to get a better shot. And a second or two later Zwing Hunt
came out of the cabin, firing as he ran. The little fellow dropped him
with a bullet from his forty-five before he'd come more 'n a half a
dozen jumps."

But Breckenbridge was a long way from being jubilant when Johnny Behan
and the under-sheriff congratulated him on his behavior.

"If you hadn't wished those three fellows on me I'd have brought both
these boys back without firing a shot," he told the under-sheriff.
"The blamed posse made such a noise coming up to the cabin that the
two of 'em thought 't was a lynching-party and opened fire on us. Yes,
sir. I could have talked them into coming--if I'd only been alone."

And so when it did finally come to the show-down all hands learned of
just what material young Breckenbridge was made.


There were all kinds of bad men in the days of the old West. John
Ringo was one sort and Buckskin Frank was another. While this tale
deals most with the former, still it concerns the two of them.

In its wild youth the town of Tombstone knew both men. To this day the
old-timers who witnessed the swift march of events during the years
1879, 1880, and 1881 will tell you of their deeds. But things were
happening fast when those deeds took place. There was, if one may be
allowed to use a poetic figure, a good deal of powder-smoke floating
in the air to obscure the vision. And so although no men were ever
more just in passing judgment than these same old-timers, the story
has its sardonic ending.

John Ringo was the big "He Wolf" among the outlaws, a man of quick
intelligence who did not seem to care much whether he or the
other fellow died. To him who wants the ornate trappings of the
motion-picture bad man or the dialect which makes some desperadoes
popular in fiction, Ringo would prove a disappointing figure as he
showed up in southeastern Arizona.

For he wore no hair chaps, nor do those who saw him tell of a knotted
colored handkerchief about his throat. Like most of those riders who
drifted into the territory when other portions of the West had grown
too hot for them, his costume was unobtrusive: light-colored jean
breeches tucked into his boot-tops, a flannel shirt and the gray
Stetson peculiar to the country west of the Pecos, a limp-brimmed hat
with a high crown, which may be creased after the old "Southern
Gentleman" fashion but was most often left with such dents as come by
accident. Of hardware he carried his full share; sometimes two
forty-five revolvers and a Winchester; but if he were in town the arms
were as likely as not concealed.

It would take a second look to separate him from the herd. That second
look would show you a fine, lean form whose every movement was catlike
in its grace, a dark face whose expression was usually sullen, whose
eyes were nearly always somber; slender hands and small feet. And his
speech, whenever you heard it, was sure to be comparatively free from
the idioms of the region; the English was often more correct than
otherwise. A man of parts, and he looked it; they all say that.

This was John Ringo. He had fought in one of those numerous cattle
wars which raged throughout western Texas during the seventies. Before
that period a certain California city had known him as the reckless
son of a decent family.

And in passing note the fact that he still got letters from his people
after he came to Tombstone with a price on his head. Which helps to
explain that somber demeanor, the whisky which he drank--and the
ending of his life's story.

Buckskin Frank fulfils the requirements of some traditions much better
when it comes to externals. He wore leathern fringes on his shirt and
breeches, and his sombrero was bedecked with much silver. His weapons
were always in evidence; a pair of silver-mounted revolvers were the
most noticeable among them.

Because he called himself a scout some men used the term in speaking
of him. He did not ride with the outlaws, although he often vanished
from Tombstone for considerable periods; in town he was always to be
found in some gambling-house or dance-hall.

Of women there were many who fancied him. And he could shoot to
kill--from in front if the occasion demanded it; from behind if the
opportunity was given him. A handsome fellow, and he had a persuasive
way with him.

Whisky got the best of him in his later years, but that was after the
period with which this narrative has to deal; and when he drank, it
was not because of any brooding. The past held no regrets for him;
thus far he had managed to handle every situation to his own

These are the two men; and as for Tombstone, it was booming. The mines
were paying tremendously; business was brisk twenty-four hours a day.
An era of claim-jumping, faro-playing, dance-halls, the Bird-Cage,
Opera House, Apache scares, stage hold-ups; and, of course,

The Earps virtually ran the town government; they enforced the local
laws against shooting up the place and so forth very much after the
manner of Dodge City; and they were strong, resolute men. Buckskin
Frank was on good terms with their henchmen; he was, if the
statements of the old-timers are to be believed, anxious to remain in
the good graces of these stern rulers.

John Ringo, on the other hand, was at outs with them; and soon after
their advent into power he drifted away from Tombstone along with the
other outlaws. To use the expression of the times, he was "short" in
the mining town, which means that when he came there he had to be
ready at all times to defend his life and liberty.

And now that you have seen the men and the town, the tale can go on;
it is a mere recital of certain incidents which took place during the
last year or two of John Ringo's life; incidents which show the
difference between his breed of bad man and the breed to which
Buckskin Frank belonged. To the chronicler these incidents appeal for
that very reason. The days of the old West strike one as being very
much like the days of old knighthood; they were rude days when some
men tried hard to live up to a code of chivalry and some men made
themselves mighty by very foul means indeed. And while we may not
always be sure that the names which have come down to us--from either
of these wild eras--are those that should have been coupled with fame,
still we can be certain of one thing: the chivalry existed in both

According to the code in the Middle Ages the challenge and the single
combat were recognized institutions; and they say that knights-errant
used to go riding through the country seeking worthy opponents. And
according to the cow-boy code in southeastern Arizona during the
early eighties among the outlaws, a champion must be ready to try
conclusions in very much that same way on occasion.

It was one of those traditions which some men observed and
some--wisely--ignored. This desperado John Ringo was among those who
observed it; and one day, like poor old _Don Quixote_, he found
himself trying to force conclusions with men whose ideas were more
modern than his own, which led him--like Cervante's lean hero--into a
bad predicament and also brought him to a strange friendship.

The Earp brothers and their followers, as has been said, were ruling
Tombstone, and the outlaws had fled into the country east of the
Dragoon Mountains. But the outlaws did not fancy remaining out in the
open country; sometimes they came back to town in force and hung about
the place for days; always they were hoping to return permanently. And
always the Earps were looking to drive them out of the country for
good and all.

Eventually the situation came to a climax in the great Earp-Clanton
gun-fight, and there was a long period when this battle was brewing.
During this period whenever they came to town the desperadoes used to
stay at the Grand Central Hotel; and Bob Hatch's saloon, where the
Earp boys and their friends were accustomed to take their "morning's
morning," was directly across the street. Things came to a pass where
the noon hour would often find a group of outlaws on the sidewalk
before the hotel and a number of the Earp faction in front of the
saloon, both outfits heavily armed, the members of each glowering
across the street at those of the other.

Now Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and others of the law-and-order party
had come here with big reputations from Dodge City, where they had
taken part in more than one affair when the lead was flying. They had
sustained those reputations by their deeds in Tombstone; they were
champions--"He Wolves." And so one noontime when he was standing on
the sidewalk among his fellow outlaws, John Ringo was seized with an

He looked across the street at the members of the Earp party, who were
regarding the desperadoes in ominous silence. The idea grew more
powerful, until it owned him. He stepped down from the sidewalk's edge
into the roadway, crossed it, and came to a halt within a few feet of
his enemies. Addressing Wyatt Earp by name--so goes the story--

"This sort of thing," John Ringo said, "has been going on for a long
time now. Pretty soon there's bound to be a big killing if it keeps
up. Now I've got a proposition. You, or Doc Holliday if you'd rather
have him, step into the street here with me, and the two of us will
shoot it out, and, if you're game, why we'll do it holding the
opposite corner of a handkerchief in our teeth. I give my word, my
gang will stand by the result."

Wyatt Earp made no answer. What temptation that offer held to him one
can judge only by the fact that he was a bold man who had a long
record of large deeds to his credit. But also he was the recognized
head of a movement for law and order, a movement which had already
stopped indiscriminate street-shooting in Tombstone; just at this time
he was being groomed in certain quarters as a candidate for sheriff,
and the banner of his party was emblazoned with the word Reform.

It is easy enough to see how John Ringo was behind the times when he
made that proposition on Tombstone's main street. It is easy also to
imagine his feelings when without a word by way of answer or
acknowledgment the members of the Earp faction stood regarding him. He
turned his back upon them and he recrossed the street, and when he had
gained the opposite sidewalk they were gone within Bob Hatch's

Johnny Behan was sheriff then, politically an enemy of the Earps and
politically friendly to the outlaws. He was sitting in his office with
young William Breckenbridge, his diplomatic deputy, when some one
brought word that John Ringo had made a gun-play and was holding down
the main street with drawn revolvers.

"Go and fetch him in," the sheriff bade Breckenbridge.

The latter found the outlaw pacing up and down before the Grand
Central Hotel after the fashion of the cow-boy who has shot up a
saloon and driven all hands out of the place. The two had met months
before when the deputy was out in the eastern part of the county
collecting taxes with Curly Bill as his guide and protector.

"What's up?" the youthful officer demanded, and John Ringo recited his
version of the affair.

"Well," the other told him when he had finished, "the sheriff wants to
see you."

The desperado shrugged his shoulders, but went along quietly enough;
bail was easy to arrange in those days, and this was not a serious

In his office Johnny Behan heard the tale and frowned. There were
times when his cow-boy constituents became a source of embarrassment
to him; this was one of them.

"Guess you'll have to turn over those guns of yours," he bade the

Ringo handed the revolvers to him, and he put them into a desk drawer.
There followed several moments of awkward silence. At length Johnny
Behan arose and started to leave the room.

"Going to lock me up?" Ringo asked. "I'd like to fix it to get bail,
you know."

"No charge against you," the sheriff said in the doorway. "You can go
back downtown whenever you want to."

With which he passed out into the corridor and forgot all about the
matter. In the office Ringo stood scowling at the deputy.

"That's plain murder," he said at length. "Before I get a block away
from here without my guns those coyotes will kill me."

Breckenbridge had been doing some thinking on his own account during
the last few moments, and he realized the justice of this argument.
But the law was the law, and the sheriff was boss. It was not his
business to interfere. He looked Ringo in the eyes, got up from his
chair, opened the desk drawer--and left the room. And when he came
back the guns and their owner had departed.

In itself the incident wasn't much to talk about. In those times all
sorts of things were being done according to different standards from
those which rule now. But it brought its consequences.

The days went by. In Tombstone politics seethed; the law-and-order
party was making things hot for Johnny Behan, whose sympathies with
the cow-boys gave him the support of the desperadoes, a support which
in its turn brought the accusation that he was extending leniency to
wanted men.

Over in the Sulphur Springs valley and the San Simon John Ringo nursed
his grudge against the sheriff for having disarmed him when his guns
were so sorely needed; he cherished that unpleasant memory while he
directed the movements of Curly Bill and their followers, while he
rode forth from Galeyville with them to raid the herds of border
cow-men, or to ambush bands of Mexican smugglers, or to rob the

And so gradually it became known among his fellows that their leader
held a grievance against the sheriff, that he was biding his
opportunity to play even with Johnny Behan for that blundering piece
of thoughtlessness. John Ringo was the biggest man among them all, the
brains of the whole crowd; they wanted to see in what manner he would
settle the score. And finally the time came when he got his chance.

A man who rejoiced in the name of Kettle-Belly Johnson was the
indirect means of bringing about this opportunity. He enters the story
on a blistering afternoon in the little town of Galeyville.

It has been told in another of these tales how Galeyville was the bad
men's metropolis, headquarters for all the rustlers and stage-robbers
of Cochise County; how the place enjoyed a brisk prosperity through
the enterprise of a wide-awake citizen who had established a
cattle-buying business--and no questions asked. On the afternoon in
question John Ringo was the only outlaw in the place; his followers
were absent on some wild errand or other and he was putting in the
time at a poker-game.

There were four men seated around the table in the dingy bar-room,
silent as four owls, mirthless as high priests at a sacred rite.
Observing the full ceremonials which dignify draw-poker, they let the
chips and cards do all the talking--and made signs when they chose to

It has been said that John Ringo's face was sullen and his eyes were
somber; the depth of his unpleasant expression had grown this
afternoon as the shabbiness of his luck increased. Or was it luck?

He sat, of course, facing the door, and Kettle-Belly Johnson occupied
the opposite chair. On the two other players, one of whom was flanking
John Ringo on each side, there is no need to waste words; they
belonged to the same breed as the poetically rechristened Johnson, the
breed that got its name from shaking dice against Mexicans out of tin

It was no more than natural that the desperado should ask himself
whether he was right in blaming fortune for the cards which he drew.
There came a new deal and time to draw again.

"Two," John Ringo muttered.

Kettle-Belly Johnson held up a single finger; and when he had got his
card, performed one of those prestidigital feats by which he made his
living. And when this was accomplished--with the aid of a device known
as a "hold-out"--his moist, plump fingers clutched a full house--jacks
on kings. The betting went briskly to the bitter end.

John Ringo scowled down on the hand which beat his; pushed back his
chair, fumbled briefly at his vest, and laid his gold watch on the

"Lend me a hundred," he growled. "She's worth a hundred and fifty."
But Kettle-Belly Johnson shook his head.

"Easy come," said he, "easy go. Get out and rustle some more cows or
hold up the stage again. We ain't a-runnin' no pawn-shop."

John Ringo left the room without more words, and the three tin horns
fell to cutting for low spade to while away the time. They had been at
it just as long as it would take a man to go down to the corral,
saddle his pony, and bring the animal up in front of the building,
when the outlaw reëntered. His single-action Colt's forty-five
revolver was in his right hand; its muzzle regarded the trio at the
table like a dark, baleful eye.

The bearer of the weapon uttered a single word, a word which is not
found in any dictionary although it has come down from the time when
the first Englishman took to the highway to seek his daily meat.


They obeyed and the ensuing silence was broken by the pleasant chink
of money as John Ringo's left hand raked the winnings into his pocket.
There was no pursuit as he rode away down Galeyville's main street;
but he spurred his pony hard, for self-righteousness was boiling
within him and he had to find relief some way.

"Damn bunch of robbers!" he told the horse.

Ordinarily the incident would have closed then and there; but fate so
willed it that Kettle-Belly Johnson came to Tombstone a few days later
and voiced his plaint in Bob Hatch's saloon, where he found himself
suddenly surrounded by sympathizers. He did not know--and if he had he
would not have cared one way or the other--that the new law-and-order
party had grown to a point where it wanted to get action in the
courts; that its members were looking for an opportunity to swear out
a warrant against some of the bigger outlaws in order to "show up"
Johnny Behan, who--so men said--was unwilling to arrest any of the
cow-boy faction. The grand jury was in session; they got Kettle-Belly
Johnson sober enough to face star-chamber inquisition and led him to
the court-house in the morning.

So it came that young Billy Breckenbridge, whose business was serving
warrants and not bothering over the whys and wherefores of their
issuance, knocked at the door of John Ringo's cabin in Galeyville a
few days later; and then, being a prudent man, stepped to one side
where he would be beyond the zone of fire.

"Got a warrant for you," he announced when the desperado had demanded
to know who was there. "Highway robbery."

There was a bit of parleying through the closed door and finally--

"Man by the name of Johnson is the complaining witness," young
Breckenbridge elucidated. "According to what I hear, the play came up
along of a poker game."

John Ringo swore lightly.

"Come in," he bade the deputy. "I'll get my clothes on in a minute."

He laughed sourly as he was pulling on his boots some moments later.

"Looks as if the grand jury's hard up for something to do," he

He rose and belted on his gun, a proceeding about which his
custodian, being unburdened with any desire to burn powder over such
hair-splitting technicalities as a man's right to wear weapons on
his way to jail, made no comment.

"We'll go down the street," the prisoner suggested as they were
leaving the cabin, "and I'll fix it up to get bail."

But the accommodating cattle-buyer who arranged such matters for the
bigger outlaws was out of town and would not be back until evening.
Breckenbridge's horse was jaded, and if he wanted to reach Tombstone
in good time he should be setting forth at once.

"You go ahead," John Ringo bade him. "I'll catch up with you before
you pass Sulphur Springs ranch."

Those were queer days, and if you judge things from our twentieth-century
point of view you will probably find yourself bewildered.

John Ringo was known to be a cattle-rustler, stage-robber, and--according
to the law--a murderer. And Breckenbridge, whose duty it was to enforce
the statutes, set out for the county seat alone on the strength of
that promise. Nor was he in the least surprised when his prisoner, who
had ridden all night to make good his word, overtook him in the middle of
the valley.

Queer days indeed! And the threads of some men's lives were sadly
tangled. Such desperadoes as Curly Bill were easy enough to read; just
rough-and-tumble cow-boys who had taken to whisky and bad company. But
behind the somber mask of John Ringo's face there lurked a hidden
history; something was there which he did not choose to reveal to the
rest of the world.

The mail had come to Galeyville after young Breckenbridge left. There
is nothing more conducive to confidences than a long ride through a
lonely country. And when these two were jogging across the wide, arid
reaches of the Sulphur Springs Valley the outlaw pulled a letter from
his pocket; the envelope was already broken. Evidently he had read its
contents before; now he scanned them for a long time and his dark face
was set. He thrust the paper back into its enclosure; then suddenly,
as one who yields to impulse, reined his pony closer to his companion
and held forth the envelope for him to read.

"Look at that writing," he said quietly.

The hand was unmistakably that of a woman of education.

"My sister," he added, and shoved the letter into his pocket.

They rode some distance in silence and then--

"And I'm here," John Ringo added in the same even voice. "She writes
me regularly. Thinks I'm doing fine!"

He did not bring up the subject again; it was as if he had opened a
curtain a little way and let it fall at once; but the deputy, who
came from good people himself, had been able to see much during that
brief glimpse into the outlaw's hidden life. And having seen those
tangled threads he was able to understand certain matters all the
better when the end came.

Now while Deputy Sheriff Breckenbridge and John Ringo were riding
toward Tombstone things were brewing in that wild young mining camp.
The law-and-order party was preparing to make a clean-up of the

And when the pair arrived the news went forth; the hour was late, but
late hours meant little in those days of all-night gambling; a number
of the leaders gathered in Bob Hatch's saloon and discussed the
situation. It looked promising, for Ringo was the brains of the bad
men; with him in custody it should be easy to lay hands on Curly Bill,
who was at the time over in the lawless town of Charleston on the San
Pedro. They made their plans toward that end; and, just to make doubly
sure, they arranged with the district attorney to see that Ringo
should be kept in jail for at least twenty-four hours.

That was the situation when the pair arrived from no-man's-land; there
was no chance of getting bail at this time of night. The outlaw slept
behind the bars; and when the morning came he sent for the lawyer who
was always retained by the stock-rustlers, a criminal attorney by the
name of Goodrich.

Goodrich brought news that the law-and-order party were preparing an
expedition to Charleston to round up Curly Bill. Knowing the habits of
his burly aide, John Ringo was reasonably sure that the crusaders
would find the latter the worse for whisky and bring him back a
captive. His natural itching to depart from custody was aggravated by
the feeling that his presence in the cow-town by the San Pedro was
badly needed. He urged Goodrich to hurry to the bank and get the

The conference took place in Johnny Behan's office, and after the
lawyer's departure on this errand the outlaw remained there pacing the
floor. Half an hour passed; a man had brought Ringo's pony from the
O.K. corral and left it at the hitching-rack before the court-house.
Everything was in readiness--except the cash. Finally Goodrich

"All right," he told the sheriff, who was seated at his desk. "I've
got the bail here, Johnny. Everything's arranged."

And Johnny Behan, who was, if the truth be owned, a very easy-going
peace officer indeed, bade his prisoner depart. He did not know--and
Goodrich did not know--that on this occasion the bailing out of John
Ringo was going to be something more than a mere formality.

So it came about that a number of people met with surprises this same
morning. Included in these were a delegation from the law-and-order
party who rode over to Charleston to gather in Curly Bill but got no
further than the approach to the bridge which spanned the San Pedro
River. A solitary figure at the other end of the structure made them
draw rein. John Ringo's voice reached them from across the stream.

"Come on," he called. "I'm waiting for you."

Something had gone wrong, and when something goes wrong the wise
general does well to investigate before continuing his advance. The
posse deliberated briefly; and then turned back for Tombstone. But
their astonishment at finding the leader of the desperadoes at large
was as nothing compared to Johnny Behan's bewilderment when he met the
district judge in the court-house corridor some time near noon.

"I'll be ready to take up the matter of that man Ringo's bail in a few
minutes," Judge Stilwell said pleasantly.

The sheriff remained inarticulate for several seconds. Finally--

"Ringo!" he managed to gasp. "Why, he's gone. I thought----"

Perfervid language followed. Johnny Behan had been a cow-boy in his
time, and the court had--in his unofficial capacity--a rather large
vocabulary of his own. In the end certain facts began to outline
themselves through the sulphuric haze: the district attorney had
offered objections to the proffered bail.

"I'll take this matter up," the judge told the stricken sheriff,
"to-morrow morning, and I'll hold you responsible for the appearance
of the defendant in court at that time."

The news flew fast, and when the posse returned from Charleston they
found the town of Tombstone discussing Johnny Behan's predicament.
Being wise politicians, the leaders of the law-and-order party kept to
themselves the information as to John Ringo's whereabouts. That
evening they called a meeting of their followers, and a second posse
set forth through the darkness for Charleston.

There were some fifty-odd of them, well armed and enthusiastic. Their
purpose was to bring the outlaw to the court-house the next morning.
Thereby the reform movement should gain much prestige--and the sheriff
lose standing.

But Charleston was full of stock-rustlers and bad men that night, and
when the members of the law-and-order party rode into the place they
found themselves surrounded by a half a hundred of the worst men in
the Territory of Arizona. John Ringo had been looking for further
trouble, and his forces were so well disposed that the invaders had
their choice between surrender and being massacred.

They yielded to necessity like wise men and gave over their arms to
their captors, who forthwith took them to the nearest saloon and
bought them many drinks. It was during this portion of the proceedings
that Curly Bill, who had led the ambushing-party, learned whom the
prisoners were seeking. He brought the news to John Ringo.

"So it's me they're after," the outlaw said.

"And it looks," said Curly Bill, "like Johnny Behan is in a mighty
tight box, the way things has turned out."

Knowing the grudge which his friend held against the sheriff, he was
not surprised to see John Ringo's face grow darker and the light in
his eyes more devilish.

"I tell you what," the latter bade him after some moments of thinking.
"You keep those fellows here to-night. Don't let one of them leave

And Curly Bill departed to see that the command was obeyed. They say
that the celebration which attended the holding of the captives was
one of the large events in the tumultuous history of the cow-town by
the San Pedro, and those who witnessed it are unanimous in stating
that the Tombstone contingent upheld the reputation of their camp when
it came to whisky-drinking. It was late the next day before the last
of them rode back through the foot-hills of the Mule Mountains to
their homes. But all of this is apart from the story.

The point is that John Ringo saddled up that very night and journeyed
to Tombstone, where he sought out young Billy Breckenbridge.

"Heard there was some trouble about my being turned loose," he
announced when he had roused the deputy from his slumbers, "and I
didn't know but what maybe you'd lose your job if Johnny Behan got
turned out of office."

Wherefore it came about that when court convened in the morning and
the matter of John Ringo's bail was brought up the prisoner was
produced to the utter astonishment of all concerned--except himself
and the man who had allowed him to recover his confiscated revolvers.

Within the hour John Ringo walked out of the court-house under bond to
insure his appearance at the trial. And no one expected the case to
come to anything. In short, the situation was unchanged, and the head
men of the reform movement settled down to bide their opportunity of
killing off the bigger desperadoes, which was apparently the only way
of settling the issue.

So John Ringo went his way, a marked man, and many a trigger-finger
itched when he appeared in Tombstone; many a bold spirit longed to
take a shot at him. But the knowledge of his deadliness kept him from
being made a target.

He went his way, and it was a bad way. Dark deeds piled up to fill the
debit pages of his life's ledger.

If he was influenced by those letters, which came regularly to remind
him of gentle womanhood disgraced by his wild career, it was only to
make him drink harder. And the more he drank the blacker his mood
became. Those who rode with him have said so. A bad man, there is no
doubt about it; and big in his badness, which made it all the worse.

There came a blazing day in the late summer, one of those days when
the Arizona sun flays the wide, arid valleys without surcease, when
the naked rock on the mountain heights is cloaked in trembling
heat-waves and the rattlesnakes seek the darkest crevices among the
cliffs. Deputy Sheriff Breckenbridge on his way back to Tombstone from
some errand in the eastern end of the county was riding through Middle
Pass in the Dragoons.

As he came forth against the flaring sky-line at the summit he saw a
rider coming toward him from the west. He turned to one side where the
lay of the land gave him a vantage-point, loosened his revolver in its
holster, and awaited the traveler's closer approach.

Some moments passed; the pony drew nearer, and the deputy withdrew the
hand which was resting on his weapon's butt. His face relaxed.

"Hello there, John," he called, and Ringo rode up to him in silence.
"Hot day," Breckenbridge announced cheerfully.

The desperado swore at the sun in the drawling monotone wherein your
artist at profanity intones his curses when he means them. His face
was a good shade darker than usual; his eyes were satanic. He reached
to his hip and brought forth a flask of whisky.

"Have a drink." He uttered it rather as a demand than an offer.

The deputy took the bottle and made pretense of swallowing some of the
lukewarm liquor. The outlaw laughed sourly, snatched it from him, and
drained it.

"Got another quart," he announced as he flung the empty flask against
a boulder.

"Better hit it mighty light," Breckenbridge advised. "The sun's bad
when you get down there in the valley."

He waved his hand toward the wide flat lands which lay shimmering like
an enormous lake a thousand feet below them. Ringo raised his somber
face toward the blazing heavens and launched another volley of curses
upon them before he rode away. And that was the last time young
Breckenbridge saw him alive.

The thing which took place afterward no man beheld save John Ringo,
and his lips were sealed for all time when others came upon him. But
the desert holds tracks well, and the men of southeastern Arizona were
able to read trails as you or I would read plain print. So they picked
the details of that final chapter from the hot sands of the Sulphur
Springs Valley as they are set down here.

Morning was drawing on toward noon when John Ringo's pony bore him
downward from the living granite pinnacles to the glaring plain. Noon
was passing as he jogged onward across the Sulphur Springs Valley.

To this day, when ranchers have drawn floods of limpid water from the
bowels of the earth, the place sees long periods whose heat is
punishing. At that time the whole land was a desert; a flat floor,
patched in spots by alkali deposits, girded round by steep-walled
mountain ranges. Cacti grew there, and huge tufts of Spanish

John Ringo's pony jogged on and on; the fine dust rose from its hoofs,
surrounding animal and rider like a moving wraith of fog, settling
down upon their sweating skins in a whitish-gray film which stung like
fire. Before them the mirage wavered like an enormous, vague tapestry
stirring in a breeze.

But of breeze there was none, nor was there any sign of water save
that phantom of a lake--dead now for ages--which kept its distance
always ahead. And the sun climbed higher; its scourgings grew ever

Scourged also by thoughts and memories which he had never revealed to
men--save only as he had hinted at them on that other afternoon to
Breckenbridge--the bad man drank the lukewarm whisky as he rode. And
the liquor did its work until when he had gone two hours from the foot
of the pass he realized that it was overcoming him.

He drew rein, dismounted, and sought the shade of a clump of
soto-bushes. But before he flung himself upon the baking sands he took
off his boots and, tying their tops together, hung them over his
saddle-horn. The pony he turned loose with the reins down cow-boy
fashion. After which he yielded to the whisky and knew no more.

The sun was still glaring in the cloudless sky when he came back to
his senses; and the torture of that thirst which comes after heavy
drinking was upon him. He got to his feet. The pony had gone.
Afterward the searchers tracked the animal to the Sulphur Springs
ranch, where it had come with the boots hanging to the saddle-horn.

John Ringo was alone, a speck in the middle of the shimmering plain,
and there was no water for miles. He started walking eastward toward
the pass which leads over into the San Simon. The cactus did its work;
the alkali sands scalded his bleeding feet; he took off his shirt,
tore it into strips and bound them round his ankles for footgear; and
when the strips were cut through he used his undershirt, until finally
he walked barefooted and the blood-drops showed beside his tracks.

Toward the end the same blindness which comes to thirst-maddened
cattle seized upon him. When they found him he was within a stone's
throw of water and the sound of the stream must have been in his ears,
for his footprints showed where he had circled and zigzagged, striving
to reach the spot whence that limpid murmuring came. Among the
cartridges in his belt were two whose lead was deeply dented by his
teeth as he chewed upon them in the vain hope of moistening his lips.

He was seated on a boulder between two dwarf live-oaks and his big
forty-five revolver lay beside him, with one empty shell. The
bullet-hole was fairly between his eyes, all powder-marked.

And so they knew just how he died; and young Billy Breckenbridge, who
came over into no-man's-land a day or two later, was able to piece out
the story by backtracking along that trail through the sands; able to
read those signs from the foot of the Dragoons on across the valley;
and able also--because he had seen that letter--to realize the torture
of memories which had come along with the torture of thirst to goad
John Ringo on to self-destruction.

In this manner it came about that the outlaws of Cochise County lost
their leader; and now that the man of brains was gone it became
possible for events to shape up, as they did soon afterward, toward
the big Earp-Clanton gun-fight.

The old-timers are unanimous in saying that had John Ringo been alive
that battle wherein the leaders of the Earp faction slew several of
the biggest desperadoes would never have taken place as it did. The
forces would have been differently disposed than they were on that
bloody morning when Billy Clanton and the McLowery boys died in
Tombstone's street by the O.K. corral; the chances are the victory
would have gone the other way. To this day they tell how Ringo's
passing was the beginning of the end; how Curly Bill vanished soon
afterward; how the stage-robbers and rustlers became disorganized and
were no longer any match for the law-and-order faction.

And when the old-timers, who witnessed these wild doings, recount the
history of the wind-up, laying the cause as has been stated, they give
the credit to the man whom they believe entitled to it; which brings
us back to Buckskin Frank.

On that blazing day when John Ringo rode out into no-man's-land
Buckskin Frank was away from Tombstone. And this time there were more
urgent reasons for his departure from the camp than the mere seeking
after plunder. He was, as has been said, a bad man; a bad man of the
type who can kill from in front but relishes best that opportunity
which offers the back of his enemy as a target.

During the long period while the outlaws were swaggering down
Tombstone's streets, defying the leaders of the law-and-order
movement, the two-gun man managed to cling to the good graces of the
Earp faction; just as in these days you may have seen a crooked
ward-heeler hanging to the skirts of a good-government crusade. Nobody
loved him, but there were those who thought he might be useful. He
traded on their names and--when there was dirty business to be done,
as there always has been since politics began--he was there to do it.
Also he was right there to ask favors in return.

So it came that the knowledge of his killings spread abroad; men told
how he had slain one victim who was drinking in a dance-hall when the
bullet entered his back; how another had fallen, shot from behind in a
dark alley. But prosecutions never followed, and the buckskin-clad
figure with its bad, handsome face became a sinister object in
Tombstone's streets.

However, a man can not keep up this sort of thing forever without
getting an ill name, and the time came when Buckskin Frank was
beginning to be a source of embarrassment to those who had thus far
tolerated him. On top of which his prestige was suddenly threatened.

There was, in the camp, a fellow by the name of Nigger Jim, one of
those black negroes whose blood is undiluted by the white man's; a
former slave; more than six feet tall and--to this very day--as
straight as a ramrod. He had fought Apaches and on more than one
occasion held his own against outlaws; and the early settlers, of whom
he was one, treated him as an equal.

This Nigger Jim had staked a silver claim over Contention way, and one
day Buckskin Frank jumped the property. The owner heard that the bad
man had put up new location notices in place of his own and hastened
to the place to investigate. He found Frank camped on the ground, well
armed and ready to maintain possession.

What followed does not amount to much when it comes to action with
which to adorn a tale.

Nigger Jim walked up to the bad man, his hand on his revolver-butt.
The luck which sometimes looks out for the righteous party in a
quarrel was with him to the extent of seeing to it that the meeting
took place out in the open where there was no chance for ambush.

The break was even. And the black man was determined to see the issue
through, willing to abide by whatever consequences might follow.
Moreover he had earned his reputation with a six-shooter. So, as has
been said, he came walking up to Buckskin Frank--from in front.

And Buckskin Frank allowed him to approach until the two stood facing
each other out there among the rocks and Spanish bayonets. Then the
two-gun man spoke, holding forth his right hand.

"I heard some parties were jumping your claim, Jim," said he, "and,
being near, I thought I'd come over and look out for you."

"Thanky," said Nigger Jim, but made no offer to take the extended
hand; nor did he turn his back upon the bad man, who evidently did not
think the claim worth the hazards of an honest gun-fight, for he left
soon afterward.

In Tombstone Nigger Jim kept silent regarding the incident, but the
news leaked out within a week or two when Buckskin Frank tried to slay
the black man from behind and was prevented by a woman who threw her
arms over him and held him until the prospective victim turned his
head and took in the situation. With the spread of the story Frank saw
that Tombstone was no place for him at present and he left the camp.
Whereby it happened that he was over in the San Simon on that hot day
when John Ringo came across the Dragoon Mountains. And on the morning
when the body was discovered he was riding through the pass on some
dubious errand or other.

News traveled slowly in those days. Frequently it came to its
destination sadly garbled. On this occasion young Billy Breckenbridge
was the only man who brought the facts back to Tombstone; and he
arrived there long after Buckskin Frank.

For the two-gun man had seen his opportunity to make men forget that
incident wherein he had figured so poorly against Nigger Jim, and had
spurred his pony all the way to the county seat, where he told his
story--how he had seen the desperado sitting under the dwarf
live-oaks, had stalked him as a man stalks big game, and shot him
through the head. And just to give his tale versimilitude he said he
had done the killing from behind.

The times were brisk; one shooting came so fast on the heels of its
predecessor that every affair in its turn swiftly passed from public
attention. By the time that Deputy Sheriff Breckenbridge arrived with
the facts people were turning their minds to the big Benson stage
hold-up. And so Buckskin Frank's story lived, and to this day in
speaking of that bad man the old-timers give him grudging credit for
having slain the big "He Wolf."


It was springtime in southwestern Texas and John Slaughter was
gathering a great herd near the mouth of Devil's River for the long
drive northward over the Pecos trail. Thousands of cattle were moving
slowly in a great mass, obliterating miles of the landscape, trampling
out clouds of dust which rose into the blue sky; the constant
bellowing came down the wind as a deep, pulsating moan which was
audible for miles.

The Man from Bitter Creek reined in his horse and turned in the saddle
to look back upon that scene. He was a small man with hard, quick
eyes; they grew harder as they rested on that wealth of beeves.

In the wild country farther up the Pecos the Man from Bitter Creek was
known by the name of Gallagher. Among the riders who roved over that
Land Beyond the Law, taking their toll from the north-going herds as
gray wolves take it under cover of the night, he passed as the big "He
Wolf," the leader of the pack. Wyoming's sage-brush hills gave
sepulture to eleven of his dead, and since he had fled hither he had
added two graves to the boot-hill cemeteries of the Southwest.

Now as he gazed over John Slaughter's cattle, he promised himself that
when they came on into the region where he maintained his supremacy,
he would seize them and, at the same time, increase his grim list of
victims to fourteen.

It was an era in some respects very much like the feudal days of
Europe, a time of champions and challenges and deeds of arms, a period
when strong men took definite stands for right or wrong and were ready
at all times to defend those positions with their lives. The Man from
Bitter Creek had received John Slaughter's gage within the hour. He
had dismounted from his pony at the cattle-buyer's camp, attracted by
the spectacle of that enormous herd destined to pass through the
country where he and his companions held sway, and he had hung about
the place to see what he could see.

He noted with satisfaction that the cattle were sleek and fat for this
time of the year; and the satisfaction grew as he peered through the
dust-clouds at the riders who were handling them, for every one of the
wiry ponies that passed him carried a swarthy vaquero--and half a
dozen of those Mexicans would not be a match for one of the hard-eyed
rustlers who were waiting along the upper Pecos in that spring of
1876. Just as he was congratulating himself on such easy pickings the
cattle-buyer noticed him.

John Slaughter was in his early thirties but his lips had settled into
an unrelaxing line, and his eyes had grown narrow from the habit of
the long sun-smitten trails. He was black-bearded, barely of middle
stature, a parsimonious man when it came to using words. When he was a
boy fighting under the banner of the Lost Cause he sickened, and his
colonel sent him home, where he did his recuperating as a lieutenant
of the Texas rangers fighting Comanche Indians and border outlaws.

Then he drove cattle into Kansas over the Chisholm and Western trails
and got further seasoning in warfare against marauders, both red and
white. To maintain his rights and hold his property against armed
assault had become part of his every-day life; guardedness was a habit
like those narrowed eyes. And when he recognized the Man from Bitter
Creek, whose reputation he well knew, he lost no time in confronting

So they faced each other, two veteran paladins who had been riding
under hostile banners ever since they first bore arms; and John
Slaughter delivered his ultimatum in three syllables.

"Hit the trail," he said, and clamped his lips into a tight line as if
he begrudged wasting that many words.

His eyes had become two dark slits.

It was a case of leave or fight and the Man from Bitter Creek had
never allowed such a challenge to go unanswered by his gun. But during
the moment while he and John Slaughter stood looking into each other's
eyes he reflected swiftly, and it occurred to him that it would be
wise to postpone this killing until the cattle-buyer had brought the
herd on into the upper country where, without their employer, the
Mexican vaqueros would be of no more consequence than so many sheep.

That was an inspiration: thousands of cattle for his own, where he had
hoped to steal a few hundred at the very outside. He felt that he
could well afford to mount his pony and ride away in silence. Now as
he settled himself in his saddle after that last look backward, his
heart was light with the thought of the wealth which was to come to
him within the next two months. He urged the pony forward at a gallop
toward the Land Beyond the Law.

The days went by, and late springtime found the Man from Bitter Creek
in the upper river country which lies just west of the great Llano
Estacado. Among those lonely hills the badness of the whole frontier
had crystallized that year. Outlaw and murderer, renegade, rustler,
and common horse-thief--all for whom the eastern trails had been
growing too hot--had ridden into this haven beyond the range of the
boldest sheriff until even the vigilance committee could not function
here for the simple reason that there were too many to adorn the ropes
and too few to pull them.

The ranchers of Lincoln County were starting in business, and the
temptation to increase one's herds by means of rope and running-iron--a
temptation which was always strong on the frontier--was augmented
among some by a wholesome regard for their own lives and property:
better to give shelter to outlaws and buy stolen cows for a dollar or
two a head, than to defend your own stock against an overwhelming force
of dead shots. There were others--and these included several of the
bigger cow-men--who held that this was their territory and, deeming all
outsiders interlopers, levied such toll of plunder on them as the old
feudal barons levied on travelers by the Rhine in medieval times.

That was the way they reasoned; and the rustlers had easy pickings,
stampeding range cattle across the bedding-grounds of the trail herds,
gathering unto themselves the strays, disposing of their loot right on
the spot. They were taking full advantage of the opportunity, and the
Man from Bitter Creek was getting his share of the spoils.

But all of this struck Gallagher as petty business now; he was waiting
impatiently for John Slaughter's herd. At Chisum's ranch, where he and
a number of his companions had enforced their presence as unbidden
guests since the passing of the spring, he proclaimed his plan openly
after the manner of his breed; and he even went so far as to exhibit a
forged power of attorney by virtue of which he intended selling the
beeves in the Northern market, after he had killed their owner and
driven off the Mexicans.

"I'll lay for him up Fort Sumner way," he told his fellow-wolves, nor
did he take the trouble to lower his voice because he saw several
cow-boys from neighboring outfits among his auditors. It was a
tradition among those who lived by the forty-five thus to brag and
then--make good. And it was a firmly established habit in Lincoln
County to mind your own business; so the project, while it became
generally known, created no excitement.

The Man from Bitter Creek went up the river to the neighborhood of
Fort Sumner when John Slaughter's herd drew near the Chisum ranch. He
made his camp and bided the arrival of the cattle; but that arrival
did not materialize. He was beginning to wonder what could have
delayed them, for the fords were good and this particular section was
one where no drover cared to linger. And while he was wondering a
rider came to him with tidings that brought oaths of astonishment to
his lips. John Slaughter had taken his herd off the trail and made
camp at the Chisum ranch.

Now every one in the country knew that the Man from Bitter Creek was
holding down the Chisum place that season, and the action was nothing
more nor less than a direct challenge. It did not matter whether
sublime ignorance or sublime daring prompted it; it was defiance in
either case. There was only one thing for Gallagher to do--get the
killing over in quick time. Moreover he must attend to the affair by
himself--for just as surely as he took others to help, his prestige
was going to be lowered. So he saddled up at once and rode back to
Chisum's with a double-barreled shotgun across his lap and two
single-action forty-five revolvers at his hips.

He was an old hand at ambush and so he took no chances when he drew
near the ranch but reconnoitered a bit from a convenient eminence. The
house stood on the summit of a knoll; the land sloped away before it
to the river, bare of shrubs or trees. Those of the Mexicans who were
not riding herd were down among the cottonwoods by the stream, busy
over some washing. In the middle of the open slope, two hundred yards
or so from the ranch buildings and a good quarter of a mile from the
nearest vaqueros, a solitary figure showed. It was the cattleman. No
chance for ambush here. The Man from Bitter Creek spurred his pony to
a dead run and came on blithely to shoot his way to wealth.

John Slaughter watched him approaching and waited until he was within
easy range. Whereat he picked up a forty-four caliber rifle and shot
his horse from under him.

Pony and rider crashed down together in a thick cloud of dust. The Man
from Bitter Creek sprang to his feet and the flame of his revolver
made a bright orange streak in the gray-white haze. He left his
shotgun where it had fallen; the distance was too great for it.

As a matter of fact it was over-long range for a Colt forty-five; and
now, as he came on seeking to close in, it occurred to Gallagher that
his prospective victim had used excellent judgment in selecting a
weapon with reference to this battleground. Evidently he was engaged
with one who knew some things about the deadly game himself.

He took good care to keep weaving about from side to side during his
advance, in order that the bead of that Winchester might find no
resting-place with his body outlined before it. And he kept his
revolvers busy throwing lead. One bullet was all it needed to do the
work and he was trying hard to put one into the proper place, using
all the skill he had attained in long practice under fire, when a shot
from John Slaughter's rifle broke his arm. The Texan was firing
slowly, lining his sights carefully every time before he pressed the
trigger. The Man from Bitter Creek was darting to and fro; his
revolver bullets were raising little clouds of dust about the
cattleman. He was nearing the area wherein the forty-five revolver was
more deadly than the clumsier rifle, when John Slaughter shot him
through the body.

But he was made of tough fiber and the extreme shock that would leave
some men stunned and prostrate only made him stagger a little. His
revolver was spitting an intermittent stream of fire and it continued
this after a second slug through his lungs had forced him to his
knees. He sank down fighting and got his third fatal wound before the
cow-boys carried him up to the ranch-house to die. There, after the
manner of many another wicked son of the border, he talked the matter
over dispassionately with his slayer and in the final moment when
death was creeping over him he alluded lightly to his own misdeeds.

"Anyhow I needed killing twenty years ago," he said.

No one mourned the passing of the Man from Bitter Creek; the members
of the pack who hunt the closest to the big he wolf are always the
gladdest to see him fall. Nor was there any sorrowing when John
Slaughter departed for the north. On the contrary both outlaws and
cow-men watched the dust of his herds melting into the sky with a
feeling of relief.

The outlaws continued as the weeks went by to speak his name with the
hard-eyed respect due one whose death would bring great glory on his
slayer; the cow-men cherished his memory more gratefully because
hundreds of cattle bearing his road-brand were grazing on their
ranges. All hands were more than willing to regard the incident as
closed--all save John Slaughter.

That was not his way. And in the season of the autumn round-up when
the ranchmen of Lincoln County were driving their cattle down out of
the breaks into the valley, when their herds were making great
crawling patches of brown against the gray of the surrounding
landscape, the black-bearded Texan came riding back out of the north.
He visited every outfit and greeted the owner or the foreman with the
same words in every case.

"I've come to cut your herd for my brand."

That was the law of the cattle-trails; every man had the right to seek
out his strays in the country through which he had passed. But it was
not the custom along the Pecos. In that Land Beyond the Law the rule
of might transcended any rule of action printed in the statute-books.
And the new possessors did not fancy giving up the beeves which had
been fattening on their ranges during all these weeks. In those lonely
hills John Slaughter made a lonely figure, standing on his rights.

But those who gathered around him when he made the declaration always
noticed that he had his right hand resting on his pistol-butt and the
memory of what had taken place at Chisum's ranch was still fresh in
every mind. So they allowed his vaqueros to ride into their herds and
in silence they watched them drive out the animals which bore his
brand. Sometimes the affair came to an issue at this point.

Chisum, who was an old-timer in the country and had fought Comanches
all along the river before others had dared to drive up the trail,
produced a bill of sale for sixty rebranded cattle which the Texan's
vaqueros had cut out. John Slaughter allowed his tight lips to relax
in a grim smile.

"You bought 'em all right--but too cheap," he said, and ordered his
foreman to take them away.

Chisum stormed a bit, but that was as far as it went. And John
Slaughter rode off behind his vaqueros without so much as looking

At Underwood's there was trouble. The cattle-buyer had recovered 110
steers from a bunch of 160, and when Underwood heard about it that
evening he stated, in plain and profane terms, that he would kill John
Slaughter unless those beeves were turned back to him. He had a
reputation as a dead shot and he took two friends, who were known as
good gunmen, along with him. They set forth for the Texan's camp. All
three were armed with rifles beside their six-shooters.

But John Slaughter saw them coming, for he was keeping his eyes open
for visitors these days, and dismounted on the opposite side of his
pony. He received them with his Winchester leveled across his saddle
and he answered their hail without lifting his eyes from the sights.

"Where's Underwood?" he demanded.

The cow-man announced his identity; it took more than the muzzle of a
rifle to silence him.

"I bought those cattle and I paid for them," he shouted.

"And I'll pay you," Slaughter proclaimed across his sights, "just as
sure as you try to take them away."

This was about all there was to the debate. The Texan was never strong
when it came to conversation and the other party seemed to realize
that further words would merely amount to so much small talk under the
circumstances. It was a show-down--shoot or ride away. And the muzzle
of that rifle had an unpleasant way of following any one of the trio
who made a move in the saddle. They were men of parts, seasoned
fighters in a fighting land, but they were men of sense. They rode

Some miles farther down the river John Slaughter was biding the
arrival of two half-breeds and a pair of rustlers who had announced
their intention to get him, when a vaquero whom he had summoned to
help him receive the guests showed symptoms of reluctance. While the
vaquero was talking the invaders came into view, riding fast.

"Fight or hit the road," John Slaughter bade his swarthy aide.

The latter announced his choice in Spanish; and the cattle-buyer paid
him off with one hand while he pulled his rifle from its sheath with
the other. The discharged vaquero did not wait to gather his scanty
personal possessions and started down the road as fast as his legs
could take him, but before he was out of sight his former employer had
fortified himself behind his pony and brought the rustlers to a

A cattleman by the name of Richardson tried swearing out a warrant as
a means of recovering the beeves which John Slaughter cut out of his
herds, but the deputy returned with the paper unserved.

"He told me to keep it in my pocket," the officer explained. "Said I
couldn't serve it."

Richardson met the cattle-buyer riding to his ranch the next day,
having heard in the meantime some stories of what had taken place
farther up the river.

"I've made up my mind to withdraw that complaint," the ranchman said.
"I saw a chance to buy cheap cattle and I guess I got off wrong."

So John Slaughter rode on southward taking with him such of his cattle
as he could find, and men who boasted that they would kill him before
nightfall came back to their companions in the evening, glad that they
were there to tell the tales of their defeats. Finally he vanished
down in Texas with his vaqueros and the salvaged herd.

When he had come up the river that spring one man was seeking his
life; now he left behind him a full score who were as eager to slay
him as the Man from Bitter Creek had been. But the outlaws of Lincoln
County did not see him again for three years.

The next spring he began breaking trail to a new market through a
country where others did not dare to drive their herds. The market was
southeastern Arizona, on whose ranges the grass grew belly-deep; its
stockmen, who were beginning operations in 1877, were in sore need of
cattle. But the interval between the Rio Grande and these virgin
pastures was a savage land; Victorio's bands of turbaned Apache
warriors lurked among its shadowed purple mountains; there were long
stretches of blistering desert dotted with the skeletons of men and
animals who had died of thirst.

John Slaughter brought his first herd west of the Pecos with the
coming of the grass, and his cow-boys lined them out on this
forbidding route. They crossed wide reaches of sand-dunes and alkali
flats--ninety miles was the length of one of those dry drives--where
they never saw a water-hole for days, until the cattle went blind from
thirst and sun-glare and wandered aimlessly over the baked earth
lolling their tongues, moaning for drink, ignoring the red-eyed riders
who spurred their famished ponies through the stifling dust-cloud and
sought by shouts and flaming pistols to hold them to the proper

The Apaches watched them coming from the heights and crept down to
ambush them, but John Slaughter had learned Indian-fighting while he
was still in his teens until he knew its tricks as well as the savages
themselves; and he led his cow-boys out against them, picking his own
ground, swooping down on them from vantage-points, routing them.

The herd came on into the long thin valleys which reach like fingers
from northern Mexico to the Gila River. On the San Pedro the cow-boys
turned them southward and the outfit made its last camp near where the
town of Hereford stands to-day.

Here the Texan established his home ranch, for he had made up his mind
to forsake the valley of the Rio Grande for this new country; and
hither now, over the trail which he had broken, his men drove other
herds; he sold them to the cow-men of southeastern Arizona as fast as
they came in. From now on he devoted himself to stocking the ranges of
the Santa Cruz, the San Pedro, the Sulphur Springs, and the San Simon,
turning a tawny wilderness into a pastoral commonwealth.

For he brought more than Texas cattle into this land which had
heretofore been the hunting-ground of Apaches, the wild refuge of
white renegades more savage than the Indians. Where he came he took
with him the law. It was his way--the way he had taken on the Pecos
and he kept it now--to stand for his own rights, to fight for them if
need be, until he established them; thus he maintained a rule of
action, a rule that accorded with the definition of the old English
jurist, "prescribing what is right and prohibiting what is wrong."

During those days he rode on far journeys, eastward to the Rio Grande,
northward to the country where the land breaks toward the gorges of
the Colorado; and because a cattle-buyer was always a marked man,
carrying large sums of money with him, there were many who sought his
life. But these he slew or drove away.

There came a time when the demand for stock was so heavy that he
looked about him for a new point of supply and saw Mexico. Troops of
bandits rode through the southern republic, gathering tribute where
they willed. He loaded down pack-mules with dobie dollars, led his
cow-boys down across the boundary, played hide and seek with bands of
swarthy murderers in the mountains, and battled with them at the
desert water-holes.

His fame spread until forty-five guerrillas came riding up from
Sinaloa to gain wealth and glory by murdering his little company. They
found John Slaughter and two cow-boys encamped in a hamlet down beyond
Moctezuma with the nucleus of a herd which they were gathering. A
sharp-eyed scout reported two pack-mules, their aparejos bulging with
dobie dollars, in the train. Immediately thereafter the Mexicans whom
the drover had employed as vaqueros and guides deserted him; the
people of the hamlet closed their houses against the trio of gringos.

The bandits watched their prospective victims going from door to door,
seeking four walls to shelter them against attack, and laughed. That
was fine sport to their way of thinking; they held off, just as a cat
holds off from a cornered mouse; there was plenty of time for the
killing, no use of hurrying.

The shadows lengthened between the little adobe buildings; dusk came
on. They had a final round of drinks in a mescal groggery, swung into
their saddles, and went jingling down the street to enjoy the

Bad news travels fast. The tidings sped northward like a stray horse
running home. One day a rider came to the ranch on the San Pedro with
the story: how John Slaughter was last seen alive in the dismal hamlet
at the foot of the Sierra Madre, abandoned by his Mexicans, with two
cow-boys as his only companions, and half a hundred well-armed bandits
on their way to murder him. A grim tale for the ears of a woman who
was waiting word from Mexico.

A woman heard it out--John Slaughter's young bride. He had brought her
to the ranch-house a few months before and in these first days of her
happiness, a happiness made the more poignant by those deep anxieties
which the brave-souled women of the frontier had to bear, she listened
to the announcement which abiding dread had foreshadowed during many a
lonely night. When the rider had departed she ordered a team harnessed
to the buckboard and set forth for Mexico within the hour.

It was growing late when she passed the customhouse; they had no
confirmation of the rumor for her there, nor contradiction either; the
best they could do was to try to hearten her and to advise her to
wait. But she shook her head at the advice and drove on southward in
the darkness. She was alone. Blackness hid the land before her; save
for the drumming of the hoofs and the scrape of the wheels in the
rough roadway there was no sound. The wilderness remained silent,
invisible, offering no sign of what tragedy it held for her.

The night passed; gray dawn came; the sky flamed above the ragged
crests of the Sierra Madre; the sun climbed past the mountain wall;
morning grew on toward noon. Far to the south--so tenuous at first
that it barely showed against the clear air, now thickening until it
was unmistakable at last--a gray-brown dust column was climbing into
the cloudless sky. It came on toward her as she urged on the jaded
team, the signal of an advancing herd.

She strained her eyes and saw the thin, undulating line beneath it;
the sun gleamed on the tossing horns of the cattle, their lowing
sounded faint with distance, growing into a deep pulsating moan. She
distinguished the dots of horsemen in the van; and now one rode on
swiftly before the moving mass. She recognized her husband from afar.

John Slaughter had seized his opportunity while the bandits were
drinking to their own good luck and his death in the mescal shop. He
and John Roberts, his foreman, had taken the treasure-laden mules up a
steep-walled cañon five miles away. When the murderers followed the
hot trail they found themselves, with the coming of darkness, in the
narrowest part of the defile, so neatly ambushed that they wheeled
their horses and rode down the gorge in full flight before the fight
had fairly begun.

John Slaughter's wife was a brave woman. She rode beside him now on
many an expedition; into the sand-hills of southwestern New Mexico,
and down across the border into northern Sonora. She saw the smoking
remnants of wagon-trains beside the road, the bodies of Apaches'
victims sprawled among the ruins. She looked upon the unutterably
lonely crosses which marked the graves of travelers where Victorio's
turbaned warriors had traveled before her into Mexico. She slept
beside her husband where the desert night wind whispered of lurking
enemies; and watched enshadowed soap-weeds beyond the ring of
firelight taking on the semblance of creeping savages.

He beheld her drinking deeply from the cup of dread which was the
bitter portion of the strong-hearted women of the frontier. And when
he journeyed away without her he had for company the constant
knowledge of what other men had found on return to their ravaged
homes--what might be awaiting him when he came back. And so he
enlarged the scope of his warfare, which heretofore had been confined
to the defensive; he began a grim campaign to keep the Apaches out of
his portion of the San Pedro valley for all time.

He led his own war-parties out to hunt down every roving band who
passed through the country. He used their own science of reading
trails to track them to their camping-places; and their own wiles to
steal upon them while they rested. He improved on their methods by
making his raids during the darkness when their superstitions made
them afraid to go abroad.

One midnight he was deploying a company of Mexicans about the
mesquite-thicket which sheltered a band of warriors. As he was about
to give the whispered order to close in, the unknown dangers which
awaited them within the blackness became too much for his followers.
They balked, then began to fall back. He drew his forty-five.

"First man that shows another sign of hanging back, I'll kill him," he
said in Spanish, and drove them before him to the charge.

Gradually the Apaches began changing their warpaths into Mexico, and
as they swung away from his ranges John Slaughter increased the radius
of his raids until he and his cow-boys rode clear over the summits of
the passes in the Sierra Madre which lead eastward into Chihuahua.

With nine seasoned fighters at his heels he attacked a war-party in
the heights of the range on the dawn of a summer morning; and when the
Indians fled before the rifle-fire of the attackers--scurrying up into
the naked granite pinnacles like frightened quail--they left a baby
behind them. The mother had dropped it or missed it in her panic, and
the little thing lay whimpering in the bear-grass.

John Slaughter heard it and stopped shooting long enough to pick it
up. With the bullets of her people buzzing around his ears he carried
the brown atom down the mountain-side and took her home on his saddle
to his wife.

That was one of his last expeditions, for his name had become a byword
among the tribes, and Geronimo himself gave instructions to his people
to leave John Slaughter's herds inviolate, to avoid his range in
traveling. With this degree of peace ensured, the cow-man had bought
an old Spanish grant not far from where the town of Douglas stands
to-day and was settling down in the security for which he had been
fighting, when the Tombstone rush brought the bad men from all over
the West into the San Pedro and Sulphur Springs valleys; and with them
came the outlaws of the Pecos who had been waiting to kill him during
these three years.

In the wild cow-town of Charleston where the lights turned pale under
the hot flush of every dawn the desperadoes from the Pecos learned how
John Slaughter had established himself before them in this new land;
how his cow-boys patrolled the range which he still held on the San
Pedro and the new range farther to the east, guarding his herds by
force of arms; and how the silent Texan had already declared war on
the whole incoming tribe of cattle-thieves by driving Ike and Billy
Clanton from his old ranch at revolver's point, bidding them never to
show their faces there again.

They heard these things in the long adobe dance-halls while
rouge-bedizened women went whirling by in the arms of bold-eyed
partners wearing revolvers on their hips. From stage-robber,
stock-rustler, horse-thief, and the cold-faced two-gun man who sold
his deadly talents to the highest bidder, the stories came to them.
And then, to the beat of the piano and the cornet's throbbing blare,
the bad men of the Pecos told of the passing of the Man from Bitter
Creek, and how his slayer came back down the river recovering his
stolen cattle in the autumn.

Now another champion had risen among the bad men of the Pecos since
the day of Gallagher, a burly, headstrong expert with the forty-five,
known by the name of "Curly Bill." Already he had shot his way to
supremacy over the other "He Wolves" who had flocked into the new
country; he had slain Tombstone's city marshal and defied the Earps
when they came into power in the booming mining camp.

When it came to a question of single combat he was acknowledged
champion among those who lived by what toll they could exact at the
muzzles of their deadly weapons; when it came to warfare he was the
logical leader. And so, when John Slaughter's name was spoken in
Charleston's dance-halls, the eyes of his followers were turned on
him. He saw those glances and he read the unspoken question which they
conveyed; he met it with a laugh.

"I'll go and get that fellow," he proclaimed. "I'll kill him and I'll
fetch his herd in to Charleston myself."

He started forth to make good his boast, and twenty-five hard-eyed
followers went riding at his heels. It was a wild project even in that
wild era and Curly Bill deemed it wise to do his massacring down in
Mexico, where it was every man for himself and coroner's juries were
not known. He took his company across the boundary and lay in wait for
John Slaughter on a mesa overlooking a little valley, down which the
herd must pass.

Mesquite-thickets gave the outlaws good cover; the slopes below them
were bare brush; the valley's floor was open ground. They bided here
and watched the country to the south. The dust column showed one
cloudless morning and they saw the undulating line of cattle reveal
itself beneath the gray-brown haze. The herd came on down the valley,
with dust-stained riders speeding back and forth along its flanks,
turning back rebellious cows, urging the main body forward. Curly Bill
spoke the word of command and the twenty-five bad men rode forth from
their hiding-place.

The sun gleamed on their rifle barrels as they spurred their ponies
down the open slope. They rode deep in their saddles, for the ground
was broken with many little gullies and the horses were going at a
headlong pace. They drew away from the shelter of the mesquite and
descended toward the valley bed. Some one heard a rifle bullet whining
over his head. The man glanced around as the sharp report followed the
leaden slug; and now every face was turned to the rear. Twelve
cow-boys were following John Slaughter keeping their ponies to a dead
run along the heights which Curly Bill and his band had so blithely

It was a custom as old as Indian-fighting; this bringing on of the
main force over the high ground whence they could guard against
surprise and hold the advantage over luring enemies. By its result the
ambuscaders were ambushed, riding headlong into a trap.

It was a simple situation, apparent to the dullest mind. Who lingered
on the low ground would never steal cattle again. The outlaws wheeled
their ponies to a man; and now as they raced back up the hill they saw
the cow-boys coming onward at a pace which threatened to cut them off
from the shelter of the mesquite. Then panic seized them and it held
them until the last cow-thief had spurred his sweating horse into the
thickets. By the time Curly Bill had re-gathered his scattered forces
the herd was nearly out of sight.

He did not seek renewal of the attack. He let it go at that. And when
he came to Charleston he announced that so far as he was concerned the
incident was closed; he was going to do his cattle-rustling henceforth
over San Simon way where cow-men did not maintain rear-guards and
scout out the country ahead of them for enemies. He changed his base
of operations to Galeyville within a month and came to Charleston for
pleasure only.

The story spread and every man who deemed himself as bad as Curly Bill
saw his opportunity to demonstrate his qualifications as a killer by
succeeding where the leader had failed. Doc Holliday tried it one
night on the Charleston road. Next to Wyatt Earp he ranked as the
highest in the faction that was ruling Tombstone. Unquestionably he
was an artist with deadly weapons, and the trail of his wanderings
through the West was marked by wooden headboards. On the evening in
question--it was the evening after the bloody and unsuccessful attempt
to rob the Benson stage, and several men were riding hard toward home
and help and alibis--he was spurring his sweating horse to Tombstone
when he got sight of John Slaughter's double rig ahead of him.

The cattle-buyer had drawn ten thousand dollars from the bank that
afternoon and was taking the specie home with him; the fact was known
in Charleston where Doc Holliday had stopped within the last hour. The
vehicle was rounding a long turn; the horseman cut across country
through the mesquite; he reached the farther end of the curve just in
time to draw alongside the team.

John Slaughter's wife was beside him on the driver's seat. She saw the
rider bursting out of the gloom, and then her eyes fell on the
forty-five which he was in the very act of "throwing down."

"That man has a gun in his hand," she cried.

Without turning his head her husband answered, "So have I."

She glanced down at his cocked revolver; its muzzle was moving, to
follow the enshadowed figure in the saddle less than ten feet away.
She raised her eyes; the horseman had lowered his weapon and was
wheeling his pony off into the night.

"Knew his bronco as soon as I saw that blazed face show," John
Slaughter said in explanation of his quick draw.

That same vigilance, which had grown to be second nature with him,
combined with an almost uncanny swiftness in putting two and two
together, which latter had come to him during the years when guarding
his life was a part of his trade, kept the cow-man a step ahead of his
enemies on every occasion. These things were instinctive from long
habit; he prepared himself to meet a situation just as an expert
gunman draws his forty-five--just as a scientific boxer blocks a
blow--without wasting an instant in thinking.

It was thus with him when Ed Lyle and Cap Stilwell waylaid him on the
road to the Empire ranch over near Port Huachuca. These two, who had
endured humiliation under the muzzle of the Texan's pistol on the
Pecos trail, brought four others along with them and planned to do
the murder in the night. Three took their stations on one side of the
wagon track and three on the other, all well armed. They had spotted
the victim's buckboard several miles back.

Now when it came on to the spot which they had selected, the two trios
galloped up to do the killing--and found John Slaughter leveling a
double-barreled shotgun while his wife held the reins. One glimpse of
that weapon at the cattle-buyer's shoulder was enough; they did not
wait for him to pull the trigger but fled.

John Slaughter was wearying of this sort of thing. Lyle and Stilwell
were men of parts; good men of whom to make examples. He sought the
former out in Charleston. They met in front of a saloon on the main
street. John Slaughter drew and, as he threw down--

"I've got no gun," Lyle cried.

"If you were armed," the cow-man said, "I'd kill you now. But if I
ever see you in this country again, I'll kill you anyhow."

Lyle left and Cap Stilwell, receiving his sentence of banishment in
the same manner, departed within a week. From that time the bad men
let John Slaughter alone; he was too big for them. He took his family
to his new San Bernardino ranch and it was beginning to seem as if the
days of constant warfare were over. He was settling down to enjoy
peace in his home, when a call for help made him forsake the security
which had been so hard to earn.

That security was unknown elsewhere in Cochise County. The strong men
who had seized the reins in Tombstone, wielding their power for their
own selfish ends, were gone; they had ridden away with warrants out
against them. The outlaw leaders were dead: John Ringo, Curly Bill,
the Clantons, and others who had swaggered where they willed, had met
violent ends.

With their passing the courts were trying to administer the statutes,
but the courts were impotent. The statutes were mere printed words.
For the rank and file of the bad men were raiding and murdering under
the guidance of new leaders who furnished them with food and
ammunition, notified them of the movements of the officers, procured
perjured witnesses to take the stand in their behalf, and bribed

Money and influence were taking the place of deadly weapons to uphold
a dynasty whose members reigned unseen and under cover, whose henchmen
looted express-cars, stole cattle, and murdered men on the highways,
until things had come to such a pass that President Arthur had issued
a proclamation threatening martial law in Southeastern Arizona.

And now the people of Tombstone, grown sick with blood and much
violence, called to John Slaughter to take the office of sheriff and
bring the law to them. It meant the abandonment of his herds just as
he was getting them well started, the putting aside of plans which he
had cherished through the years. But he answered the call and forsook
the San Bernardino ranch for the dingy little room beside the
court-house entrance. Before he had got fairly acquainted with the new
quarters war was on.

Cochise County was being used as a haven by bandits throughout the
Southwest. Four train-robbers fled hither from Mexico, where they had
looted an express-car and killed the messenger, soon after John
Slaughter's term began. He took his chief deputy, Bert Alvord, and
two others and followed their trail high into the Whetstone Mountains.
In the night-time the posse crawled through the brush and rocks to the
place where they had located the camp of the fugitives.

A man must leave many things to chance when it comes to choosing his
position in the dark, and it so happened that when dawn came the
sheriff and his deputy found themselves right under the nook where the
bandits were ensconced; the other members of their party had become
separated from them.

They had the enemy nicely cornered, with a cliff to cut off escape to
the rear, but they were themselves in the open; two men against four
and the four entrenched behind outcroppings of the living rock.

A small space of time was jammed with many large incidents immediately
after this discovery. Men attaining supreme exaltation died in the
instant of that attainment; pulses that leaped with the joy that comes
when sight lines with bead, bead with living target and the
trigger-finger begins to move, ceased their beating more abruptly than
a machine stops when the power is turned off.

The leaden slugs snarled as thick as angry wasps when the nest has
been disturbed; the crackling of the rifles was as a long roll; little
geysers of dust spouted among the rocks; the smoke of black powder
arose in a thin blue haze.

A bullet clipped away a little portion from John Slaughter's ear. He
called to Alvord:

"Bert; you're shooting too high; pull down; I see you raising dust
behind 'em every time."

Alvord, fighting his first battle, clenched his teeth and lowered his
front sight. John Slaughter had prefaced his advice by killing one of
the bandits; he supplemented it by putting a bullet through a head
that bobbed above the rocks. And when the other two members of the
posse came to take part in the fight, there was only one train-robber
living. They found him breathing his last where he had crept away
among the cliffs.

But killing desperadoes would not eradicate the reign of lawlessness
unless a man slew the entire pack; and John Slaughter had no intention
of instituting a St. Bartholomew's eve in Cochise County. Thus far he
had managed to get along with less bloodshed than many a man who had
not accomplished nearly as much as he. So now he went on with his task
as he had gone about his business always and proceeded to smoke out
the men who were responsible for this state of affairs.

It was not so hard to learn their identity as it was to get the proof
of what they were doing. That was slow work. But he had hired Bert
Alvord as his deputy with just this end in view. For Alvord was
hail-fellow-well-met in every bar-room of the county; owner of a
multitude of friends, many of whom were shady characters. In later
years he gained his own dark fame as an outlaw, but that was long
after John Slaughter left the office of sheriff.

At present Alvord was working honestly and hard, getting such
information as he could concerning who was who among the desperadoes,
gathering data as to their movements. The facts began to accumulate: a
word dropped in a gambling-hall, a name spoken before a noisy bar, a
whispered confidence from a prisoner who felt his companions had not
done all they might in his behalf.

Gradually the evidence took the shape of a long finger pointing toward
Juan Soto, who was living in the little town of Contention, as the
leader who was handling matters in the San Pedro valley. About this
time John Slaughter began riding out of Tombstone under cover of the
night. The days went by; the sheriff came back to Tombstone morning
after morning, red-eyed with weariness, put up his pony, and went
about his business saying nothing as usual.

One day news came to the county seat that two cattle-buyers had been
robbed and murdered down near the Mexican line. John Slaughter saddled
up and rode over to Charleston that morning, and when Juan Soto came
into town he met the sheriff who addressed him over the barrel of a
leveled forty-five.

"I'll just take you along with me to-day," John Slaughter said.

It was a good tight case. Tombstone was startled by the news that Juan
Soto had been a member of a bandit band in California. The sheriff was
able to give some first-hand testimony concerning the defendant's
nocturnal habits. But the community's excitement slumped to sullen
anger when the jury brought in its verdict and Juan Soto smiled as he
departed from the court-house a free man.

Things had reached a pass where a vigilance committee appeared to be
the appropriate climax. But that was not John Slaughter's way; if any
one were going to take the power of the high justice he proposed to be
the man. He rode over to Contention and camped in front of Juan
Soto's house late in the evening. The night passed, and when the
bandit leader came riding home from Charleston with the dawn, he saw
the sheriff standing before his door.

Both men reached for their revolvers at the same moment, but John
Slaughter's hand was quicker. It was his chance to kill; according to
the ethics of the gun-play he had that right. But he chose a different

"Leave the country," he said. "If you're here after ten days, I'll
kill you on sight."

Soon after Juan Soto departed on his exile, the town of Wilcox over in
Sulphur Springs valley was treated to a sensation, in the banishment
of Van Wyck Coster. Every one thought Coster had enough money and
influence to keep him immune from legal proceedings, but John
Slaughter wasted none of the county's money in arrest or trial.

"I've known what you were doing for a long time now," he announced,
holding his revolver leveled on his auditor while he spoke. There was
some debate, but the sheriff clinched his argument by going into
details, and when he had finished outlining the prosecution's case he
delivered his ultimatum: "Get out or I'll kill you."

Coster joined Juan Soto in exile. And then it became a simple matter
of hunting down outlaws and bringing them in for trial. The arm of the
law was limbered and justice functioned in the Tombstone court-house
as well as it does in any city of the land; far better than is the
case in some more pretentious communities. There was of course plenty
of work left. Tombstone is full of stories of John Slaughter's

A desperado, seeking to kill him, threw down on him as he was entering
a saloon. Caught unawares for once, the sheriff flung up his hand and,
as he grasped the pistol, thrust his thumb under the descending
hammer. Meantime he drew his own weapon and placed the man under
arrest. Two train-robbers sought to lure him to Wilcox by a decoy
letter stating that his nephew had been killed. The instinct which had
saved him from other ambuscades made him investigate; and when he
learned that his nephew was living he summoned a friend who made the
journey with him. The spectacle of these two old-timers emerging from
opposite doors of the day coach, each with a double-barreled shotgun
under his arm, drove the conspirators from the station platform. Years
afterward one of them confessed the details of the plot.

John Slaughter served two terms as sheriff, and when he retired from
office Cochise County was as peaceable as any county in the whole
Southwest. The old-timers who witnessed the passing of events during
his régime invariably speak of him when they are telling of great
gunmen. Yet, from the time when he started up the Pecos with that herd
in the spring of 1876 until the day when he went to his San Bernardino
ranch to take up life as a peaceful cattleman, he slew fewer men than
some whose names are absolutely unknown. What he did he managed to
accomplish in most instances without pulling a trigger. That was his


Darkness had settled down upon the wide mesquite flat, smoothing off
all irregularities, hiding outlines until the tallest thickets were
but deeper shadows merging into the lesser shades of the open places.
Only one object showed, a Sibley tent glowing from the light within.

Under the flaming yellow stars it stood out luminous, marking the
exact center of an enormous circle; a circle roofed by the radiantly
flecked heavens, bounded by mountains which rose against the sky-line,
abrupt as a wall, black as ink. In the different segments of this
far-flung ring the peaks of the Chiracahuas, the Grahams, the
Dragoons, and the Galiuros betrayed their ranges by varying outlines.

But to the eye they all formed portions of one huge circumference,
whose center was a glowing point, the Sibley tent.

On the translucent walls of canvas there was a weird design of black
shadows, a design which was constantly shifting and taking on new
shapes. And as the shadows moved, sometimes with grotesque effect and
swiftly, sometimes slowly, voices filtered through the gleaming cloth
to mingle with the whispering of the night wind in the bear-grass, the
dull stamping of tethered horses, the intermittent jingling of
bitt-chains and the steady soft footfalls of two sentries.

The voices changed as often as the shadows on the tent-wall; now it
was the abrupt, clipping speech of a white man and now the deep,
inflectionless bass of an Indian. But most often it was the droning
monotone of the post interpreter, uttering his translations in English
or in the tongue of the Apache.

Of what was taking place within those luminous walls of canvas,
official records still exist; and of what followed there are whole
volumes of further records in Washington. Dry reading in themselves,
they hold the meat of a remarkable story, a story whose colorful
narration has been given by its own main characters and thus has come
down among the true chronicles of the old-timers.

On that evening in 1859 two groups of men faced one another, and the
lantern which hung on the center-pole of the Sibley tent shone down on
their faces, revealing the growing passion in their eyes. One of the
groups was composed of soldiers, wearing the blue uniforms, the queer
straight-visored caps, and the huge wide-topped boots which our
cavalry used during those times; a guard of sunburnt troopers under a
hard-bitten nom-com.; and standing a pace or so ahead of them, a young
second lieutenant fresh from West Point: Lieutenant Bascom, a stranger
in a strange, harsh land, just a little puzzled over the complications
which he saw arising here, but dead sure of himself and intolerant of
the men with whom he was treating. That intolerance showed in his
stare as he regarded them.

There were half a dozen of the Apaches, chiefs every one of them, a
ragged group clad in a mixture of their native garb and cast-off
clothes of the white man; frowzy hair hanging to their shoulders and
bound round at the brows by soiled thin turbans. But they stood erect
and there was a dignity in the way they held their heads back, a
dignity in their immobility of feature and in their slow, grave
speech. It was the dignity of men who knew that they were leaders of
their people; who felt themselves on entire equality with the leader
of the white man's warriors; who felt the gravity of this occasion
where they had been invited into conference with this blue-clad
representative of a mighty government. Their head man was Cochise.

Like Lieutenant Bascom, he stood a pace ahead of his followers, a lean
Apache, with a thinner face than most of his tribesmen and a
remarkably high forehead. And as he looked into the eyes of the young
man in blue who had just come from the far cities of the east coast
there began to come into his own eyes the shadow of suspicion. The
talk went on; the interpreter droned out one answer after another to
his speeches, and that shadow in the eyes of Cochise deepened.

In itself the matter at issue was a small one. A settler had lost a
cow and he had accused the Apaches of stealing the animal. Young
Lieutenant Bascom had summoned the chiefs to conference and they had
come--they said--to help him find the culprit. After the manner of the
Indian, of whose troubles the passing of time is the very least, they
talked slowly, listened to the interpreter's rendition of the
lieutenant's answers, and then talked more.

They did not know the man who had stolen the cow; that was the sum
and substance of their speeches. And Lieutenant Bascom, fretting with
the passage of the hours, looked on the ragged group in their dirty
nondescript garments and chafed with fresh intolerance.

Cochise read that intolerance in the eyes of the smooth-cheeked
officer and, being an Apache, managed to conceal the suspicion in his
own eyes. He did not want trouble with the white man. He had never yet
had trouble with soldier or settler. Ever since he had been a chief
among the Chiracahua Apaches he had held down the turbulent spirits in
his portion of the tribe; he had out-intrigued savage politicians and
had smoothed over more than one difficulty like this. As a matter of
fact he was assimilating some of the white man's ways; he was getting
into business; working a crew of his people at wood-cutting, selling
cord-wood to the stage company at the Stein's Pass station. He was
doing well, saving money, and saw ahead of him the time when he would
own many cattle, like some of the settlers.

All of this was very comfortable and to his taste, and because he
liked it he held a firm stand against the suasions of warring chiefs
from his and other tribes. He even came to cool terms with his
relative Mangus Colorado, the greatest leader the Apaches had ever
known. But while he was keeping to his position he had to listen to
many an argument and many a tale of the white man's treachery, and a
man cannot listen often without sometimes finding himself inclined to

Settler and soldier, so said Mangus Colorado and other men of parts
among his people, regarded their promises to the Indians as nothing;
they were forever trying to entice the Apaches into conference and
then taking advantage of them--sometimes by massacre. While he argued
slowly against the impatient utterances of Lieutenant Bascom, reading
the growing intolerance in the other's eyes, Cochise remembered some
of the stories which he had frowned down when his people told them.

That was the state of affairs when Lieutenant Bascom, with the
cocksureness of the young and the intolerance of the Easterner for
frowzy Indians, made a decision. To him it was evident that these
tattered savages were lying, they were a treacherous lot at the best,
and always thieves. So, now that he was getting sick of the whole
drawn-out business, he turned from the interpreter to his sergeant.

"Arrest 'em," he said.

Cochise heard him and slipped to the rear of the tent as the troopers
stepped forward. The other chiefs, who could understand no English,
did not need an interpreter to tell them the meaning of this movement.
At once the quiet of the Arizona night was shattered by the thud of
blows and savage outcries. The crowded space within the tent was
filled with struggling men.

And while that fight went on, Cochise, aflame with hatred, outraged by
this violation of the sacred custom of conference, believing now every
word that had been spoken to him by Mangus Colorado and the other
war-chiefs, whipped out his knife. The sound of the blade as it rent
the canvas was drowned by the other noises, and when Lieutenant Bascom
and his breathless troopers surveyed their bound captives Cochise was
in full flight across the darkened plain.

Now word was sent by courier to the agency, and government runners
went forth that night to all parts of the reservation, but they found
no Indians to receive their messages. The Chiracahua Apaches were
already riding toward their mountains where Mangus Colorado and the
renegade members of their tribe were biding on the heights, like
eagles resting on the rocky peaks before they take their next flight.

Like roosting eagles the warriors of Mangus Colorado scanned the wide
plains beneath the mountains. Their eyes went to the ragged summits of
the ranges beyond. Now as the day was creeping across the long, flat
reaches of the Sulphur Springs valley, tipping the scarred crests of
the Dragoons with light off to the west, touching the distant northern
pinnacles of the Grahams with throbbing radiance, one of these
lookouts beheld a thread of smoke unraveling against the bright
morning sky.

Under the newly-risen sun Cochise and his followers were traveling
hard away off there to the northward. The turbaned warriors came on
first, half-naked, armed some of them with lances, some with bows and
poisoned arrows, and a goodly number bearing rifles. Their lank brown
legs moved ceaselessly in rhythm with the trotting of the little
ponies; their moccasined heels thudded against the flanks of the

In the rear of the column the squaws rode with the children and the
scanty baggage. As they traveled thus, an outrider departed from the
column to leave his horse upon an arid slope and climb afoot among the
rocks above until he stood outlined against the clear hot sky,
kindling a wisp of flame. Now he bent over the fire, casting bits of
powdered resin upon the blaze, holding a square of tattered blanket
over it after the first puff of black smoke had risen, feeding it then
with a scattering of green leaves which in their turn gave forth a
cloud of white fumes.

And so the smoke thread unwound its length, showing itself in black
and white; spelling forth, by the same system of dot and dash which
the white man employs in his telegraph, the tidings of what had taken
place back there in the Sibley tent.

From his nook in the Chiracahuas the watching warrior read its
message. And long before the first faint haze of mounting dust
betrayed the approach of the fugitives, Mangus Colorado knew that his
nephew and his nephew's people had quit the reservation and the
rations of meat and flour to make their living henceforth, as their
savage forebears had made theirs as far back as the memory of the
oldest traditions went--by marauding. So he gathered all his forces
and welcomed Cochise into a council, where they planned their first
series of raids against the white men.

In this manner Cochise reverted to the customs of his ancestors;
customs which had come gradually to the Apaches when they wandered
down from Athabasca, passing southward through regions held by hostile
tribes snatching their sustenance from these enemies, fleeing before
superior forces of warriors, until they reached the flaming deserts
down by the Mexican border, past-masters of the arts of ambush and
raid and retreat, owning no longer any love of home or knowledge of
tepee building; nomads who made their lodges by spreading skins or
blankets over the tops of bushes which they had tied together; to whom
the long march had become an ingrained habit and all the arts of
bloody ambush an instinctive pleasure.

Now he devoted all his mind and bent his talents to these wiles of
Apache warfare; he directed his young men in making a living for the
rest of the tribe by theft and murder.

His uncle, Magnus Colorado, was the most skilful leader the Apaches
had ever known, a marvelously tall savage with an enormous head.
Cochise learned from him and in time surpassed him as a general. For
nearly a decade and a half he made a plunder ground of southeastern
Arizona and southwestern New Mexico, extending his forays away down
across the line into Sonora and Chihuahua until a remarkable man among
his white enemies came to him, and by a daring bit of frontier
diplomacy, put an end to the bloodiest outbreak in the history of the

But in the beginning there was neither diplomat nor general among the
white men. The days before the Civil War witnessed a withdrawal of the
troops from Arizona, and the Apaches had things very much their own
way. From their home in the Chiracahua Mountains they rode westward
across the wide reaches of the Sulphur Springs valley to the ridges of
the Catalinas away beyond the San Pedro, then turned southward, making
their way toward Mexico by the Whetstone and the Huachuca ranges.

Now, as they trekked along the heights, they paused at times to send
bands of warriors down into the flat lands which lie along the course
of the Santa Cruz. Here were ranches and a few small settlements. It
was the custom of the raiders to steal upon these places, always in
force superior to that of their enemies, camouflaging themselves by
bits of brush and handfuls of earth which they stuck among the folds
of their turbans and spread over their bare backs until one looking at
them from a distance of twenty-five yards would never suspect the
presence of lurking warriors.

In this manner they lay along the roadside biding the wagon-trains and
stages, or crept up on ranch-houses, or wormed their way toward
sleeping prospectors at the hour of dawn. And when they felt sure that
the issue was safely in their hands they opened fire.

During the Civil War times they put the Butterfield stage line out of
business and were an important factor in determining the northern
route for the carrying of the United States mails to California; they
wiped out the ranches of the valleys until cattle-raising and
agriculture ceased entirely; they raided the pueblo of Tubac until its
people finally fled for safety to Tucson and then they burned the
deserted buildings. They made a howling waste out of southeastern

Travel was suspended; there was no ranching and nearly every mine in
this portion of the territory was abandoned. Of northern Sonora they
made a source of supply for their horses and drove whole herds out of
Mexico, using the surplus animals for food, keeping the rest for
mounts until these knuckled under from hard treatment.

During the years that followed the Civil War those fat days came to an
end. Fresh troops were sent out from Washington. Mangus Colorado was
captured by a detachment of cavalry and, according to the story of one
present, was killed in his blankets by the troopers who guarded him.
White settlers, stung to reprisals by the barbarity of successive
massacres, hunted down several bands of the Apaches at their
rancherias and wiped them out in night attacks, men, women, and
children. Cochise found himself faced with a new set of conditions and
changed his tactics to meet them.

It was the habit of the Apaches to rest between the long forced
marches of their raids, choosing always a spot high in the mountains
where the mescal plant grew. Here they would gather the roots of the
thorny vegetable, bury them in the earth, kindle roaring fires over
them, and bake them. Thus they got the sugar which their wasted bodies
needed; and during the days at these camps they gained the rest which
their aching bones craved.

But the white man's cavalry, guided by scouts recruited from the Touto
Basin Apaches and from settlers who knew the country, began tracking
the renegades to their aërial refuges, and sometimes massacred whole
bands of them. Failing to steal upon them, the cavalry always managed
to get them on the run once more, and that meant scant rations when
full bellies were long overdue.

In this manner the soldiers and the settlers were making the
Chiracahuas too hot for Cochise and his people.

Then the war-chief led his tribe across the Sulphur Springs valley
to the northern end of the Dragoon Mountains where the peaks rise
straight from the mesquite flat lands, two thousand feet of sheer
walls whose summits command a view for many miles; whose pinnacles
and overhanging rocks give endless opportunity for hiding and
ambush. In this sanctuary they found rest between raids during the
early seventies; and the place is known to this day as Cochise's

Here one time a force of several hundred soldiers made camp in the
lowlands, and strung a series of strong outposts through Middle Pass,
cutting off the northern part of the range from all the rest of the
world, holding it inside a ring of armed men. It was such a siege as
the warriors of the Middle Ages used to wage, starving their walled-in
enemies to surrender. For weeks the soldiers bided and sometimes got
glimpses of the turbaned heads of Apache warriors who were gazing down
on them from the rocks above.

Then, one dark night, Cochise took his entire tribe, numbering
somewhere between two and three hundred men, women, and children, down
the niches among the cliffs. Carrying their arms and their scanty
baggage, the Apaches wormed their way from the crest to the plain two
thousand feet below and crawled through the line of the besiegers. So
adroitly was the thing manoeuvered that no one cut their trail, and
two days passed before the escape was discovered. By that time the
whole band were raiding down along the headwaters of the San Pedro,
getting new horses from the herds of ranchers on the border.

In the old days this northern end of the Dragoon Mountains, which
towers above the flat lands of the Sulphur Springs valley on the one
side and the rolling plains of the San Pedro on the other, had been
known among the Apaches as the abode of the dead. Here, they said, the
departed spirits of their ancestors whispered among the granite caves
and pinnacles every evening with the coming of the night wind.

But from now on they forgot the tribal legends and looked upon the
place as their inviolable refuge.

Time after time the blue-clad troopers chased them as far as the base
of the cliffs, but never pressed them farther. For Cochise had
developed into a consummate strategist and, for the first time in
their history, the Apaches learned the art of making a stand against
superior forces.

To this day the rolling hills under those pinkish granite precipices
show traces of the camps which the troopers occupied during successive
sieges, only to abandon them on learning that their turbaned enemies
had stolen away in some other quarter to resume their raiding all
along the border.

In some of the cañons which lead up toward the ragged crests of naked
rock one can still pick up old brass cartridge-shells, the relics of
grim battles where the soldiers always found themselves at a
disadvantage, targets for the frowzy, naked savages who slipped and
squirmed among the granite masses above them like rattlesnakes.

Far to the southward the Sierra Madre reared its lofty crests toward
the flaring sky; and there Cochise established another sanctuary where
his people could rest and hunt when the chase became too hot in
Arizona. His breech-clouted scouts discovered some dry placer diggings
here, and he bade the squaws mine the dust which he exchanged with
crooked-souled white traders for ammunition.

And now, having mastered the art of flight as he had mastered the art
of raiding, the war-chief of the Chiracahua Apaches waged his vendetta
against the white men more remorselessly than any of his forefathers
had done in their time.

But few men are absolutely consistent and Cochise had some
idiosyncracies, which it is just as well to note in passing, for they
give an inkling of a side of his character that was instrumental in
bringing an end to the whole bloody business.

For one thing he could not enjoy torturing his prisoners. He tried
that once on a Mexican down Agua Prieta way. After the custom of his
nation he pegged out the luckless prisoner near an ant-hill, with his
mouth propped open by a wooden gag and a trail of honey leading into

But when he settled down that night to enjoy the torments of the man,
he found that pleasure would not come to him; and during the long
hours that followed, the groans of the slowly dying Mexican became a
punishment to his savage captor, a punishment which endured for years
afterward, for in his sleep Cochise sometimes heard those moanings
when he was an old man, and hearing them sweated in agony of mind.

Another of his peculiarities was a love of the truth. He was no hand
at lying like the ordinary Indian. In an era when the white men were
careless with their compacts, an era when Washington set the fashion
in breaking treaties with the hostile Indians, he came out with the
reputation of always keeping his word.

"If you can not tell the truth," he said, "keep silent or avoid the

That was the way he put it to Captain Thomas Jonathan Jeffords, to
whom he also confessed the weakness which had overcome him in the case
of the tortured Mexican. And the knowledge of this side of Cochise's
character helped Captain Jeffords to pave the way for the wind-up of
the war-chief's maraudings. That knowledge came after a long strange
intimacy which began in a remarkable manner.

This Captain Thomas Jonathan Jeffords owned a wagon outfit and not
only contracted for government freighting in those times when teaming
was a perilous venture, but rode as an express messenger for various
military posts along the border. During the days when Cochise was
using the northern end of the Dragoon Mountains as his stronghold, the
days before these two men became acquainted, the lean brown warriors
made several attacks on Jeffords's wagon-trains and on more than one
occasion forced the old-timer himself to do some extremely hard

Finally when he had lost fourteen employees and property amounting to
thousands of dollars in ambuscades and raids, Jeffords decided that it
was high time to put an end to this sort of thing as far as he was
concerned. He had tried reprisals on his own account but although he
and his leather-skinned followers had managed to kill off numerous
Apaches, there were more warriors in the tribe than he could ever hope
to massacre.

He had worked with the soldiers as a scout but had found the cavalry
hampered by too many conflicting orders from Washington, and in some
cases too inefficiently officered in high places, to be very
formidable. Cochise was too much for them to handle and that was all
there was about it. Now he made up his mind to try a new scheme.

Captain Jeffords had mixed a great deal with Apaches of various
tribes, until he knew their customs as well as they did themselves. He
could speak their tongue and he knew the sign language which was the
lingua Franca of the western tribes. He could read smoke signals; he
had made friends among those of the renegades who sometimes took a
long chance and drifted down to the government posts in company with
peaceful Indians. Gradually he got such information as he could, and
as he got it he stored it away in his mind until he felt he was as
well equipped with knowledge as he could hope.

Then he set forth one day to pay a visit to Cochise in person. It was
a risky venture but the old-timers never balked at taking long
chances; else they would never have come west of the Rio Grande.
Jeffords induced an Apache who had been with Cochise to accompany him
part way on the journey; and before the Indian back-tracked for the
military post, he had him send up a smoke signal announcing the visit
and stating that its nature was peaceable.

When the last shreds of smoke vanished in the clear sky the native
departed and Jeffords resumed his journey toward the Dragoons. No
answering sign had come from those scarred granite peaks; and as he
rode on across the blazing plain they stood forth against the
cloudless sky, frowning, inscrutable. For all that the eye could see
they might have been deserted, without life among them since the
beginning of time; or they might be at this moment sheltering hundreds
of biding enemies. He had to wait until he got among those rocks
before he knew what they held in store for him.

He rode to the edge of the plain and from the lowlands up the first
slopes of talus at the mouth of a long, steep-walled cañon. He pressed
his horse on up the narrow gorge. On either side the cliffs loomed
above him; in places they were so close together that he could have
tossed a pebble from one to the other. There was no sign of life; no
sound, no movement.

But this tall lean rider knew that somewhere among those granite
pinnacles which stood out against the sky-line before him and on
either side, scores of venomous black eyes were watching him. He knew
that for every pair of eyes there was a rifle; and that many a crooked
brown finger was fairly itching to press the trigger.

Thus he rode his sweating pony up and up where the gorge wound toward
the summit, up and up until he reached the nests of enormous granite
boulders which hang seemingly poised between the heavens and the flat
plain beneath. And finally he saw before him the lodges made of bended
bushes with skins and blankets spread over their curved sides. He
reined in his horse, dismounted, and walked into the camp of the

Cochise was sitting in his lodge, which was but a bare shelter from
the sun's rays--a number of bushes bound together at their tops formed
the ribs for a haphazard sort of tent made of outspread skins,--and
whether he was awaiting this visit no man knows. For the war-chief
showed no sign of surprise or of welcome when Captain Jeffords entered
the place. But when the tall white man had seated himself upon the
skins which covered the dry earth and announced his purpose, Cochise
betrayed astonishment.

"I have come here," Jeffords said with the deliberation which one
must use when he is talking with an Indian, "to see you, to know you
better, and to talk over certain matters with you. I will stay here
two days or maybe three; and while I remain--to show my good
faith--one of your squaws may keep my weapons." With which he laid
aside his rifle and revolver.

After a silence whose length would have been disconcerting to any
other than an old-timer owning a knowledge of the Indian ways, Cochise
called a squaw, who picked up the firearms at his bidding and took
them away with her. Then these two men of parts settled down to talk

It took them two days and two nights, for Jeffords was careful not to
crowd matters in the slightest, hanging to the savage custom of long
silences and few words at a time between them. As the hours went on he
sat there patiently listening to the war-chief recounting at great
length his experiences with the white men, reciting the stories of bad
faith and broken compacts; and when these recitals were finished he
continued to sit in silence for long intervals, before he resumed his
own arguments.

Thus the talk went on in the little brush shelter during the hot days
and the cool evenings; and what it all came to was this:

Jeffords said that this war between Cochise and the soldiers was not
his war. It was, he maintained, no business of his excepting when the
officers who carried the authority of the great father in Washington,
bade him to do their bidding and act as a guide or scout. Otherwise,
why should he take up his good time and risk his life in fighting a
people against whom he held no personal grudge?

And why should that people bother their heads and risk their lives in
fighting him? He followed that question by reminding Cochise of the
reprisals which he had launched against the Chiracahua Apaches. They
had killed fourteen of his men and stolen much of his property; but he
and his men had killed several times fourteen of Cochise's warriors
and had wrought devastation in proportion. Did that pay the Apaches?

Well, then, why keep on with it? He knew good things of Cochise and
had respect for him. Cochise knew who he was and the sort of man he
was. No need for them to go on injuring each other and each other's
people. They could call it a draw and quit right now.

If the white soldiers demanded Jefford's services, all well and good;
he would go and serve them as scout or interpreter or guide, and do
what fighting one must do when he is on the war-path. And on such
occasions, if the warriors of Cochise could kill him or capture him,
all right; it was their privilege. But no more of this attacking each
other out of season. If Cochise would let his men and property alone,
he would no longer make any raids on Cochise's people.

That was the gist of it and it took a long time to say; a long time
during which Cochise told Jeffords many things and Jeffords spoke with
Cochise of many subjects outside the direct line of discussion. For
that was the Indian manner; they must feel each other out and satisfy
themselves each as to the other's personality.

In the end they shook hands on their bargain, and Captain Thomas
Jonathan Jeffords got back his weapons from the squaw, saddled up his
pony, and rode forth from the camp of the Apache war-chief, the party
of the first part to a compact such as never had been heard of up to
that time in the history of Indian warfare.

That compact stood. And there were times when its observance was a
delicate matter; times when Captain Jeffords had to draw fine lines
between his duty as a government scout and his obligations to Cochise.
But he managed to perform those duties and to keep the faith; and
although he went forth with the cavalry troopers on many an occasion,
serving them faithfully and well, he never fell out with the war-chief
of the Chiracahuas.

In fact their friendship grew as the years went by and they came to
regard each other as brothers. During such visits as he paid to the
stronghold in lulls of the border warfare, Jeffords got to know much
of Cochise's history, of his grievances, and of his point of view.

During these same years there came a change in the command, and
General George Crook, who is looked upon by the old-timers as perhaps
the greatest of our Indian-fighters, led the cavalry against the
Apaches. Crook's understanding of the Indian was perfect; and not only
was he able to beat the natives at their own game of ambuscade but he
thoroughly sympathized with their cause. He knew how Washington and
incompetent officers had blundered and lied to them.

It was therefore with the utmost willingness that he combined his
campaign of savage fighting with another and quieter campaign of
diplomacy which was being waged by General O. O. Howard.

The latter had been sent out by President Grant to get the Chiracahua
Apaches back on the reservation. And one day he made up his mind to
open negotiations with the war-chief in person.

He asked his scouts for a man who could find where Cochise was hiding
at the time and conduct him to the place, and they told him that there
was only one man in the territory of Arizona, who stood a chance of
doing this--Captain Jeffords.

General Howard sent for Jeffords and the two conferred in the presence
of a number of cavalry officers. And when the general had announced
his purpose a dispute arose; the officers advised him to take along a
strong escort of troops if he intended making this call. Jeffords
declared flatly that such an escort would need all the cavalry along
the border. No troops or else an army, was his way of putting it; and
if there were an army he did not purpose accompanying the expedition.
On the other hand he would willingly take General Howard alone. They
compromised by sending along a single aide, a captain.

Then these three men journeyed to the northern end of the Dragoon
Mountains; and as they crossed the wide plains toward the somber
range, they halted two or three times while Captain Jeffords built a
little fire. The general and his aide watched the old-timer standing
by the wisp of flame, sprinkling upon it now one sort of fuel and now
another, occasionally smothering the rising fumes with his saddle
blanket. And as they rode onward they saw the smoke of Apache
signal-fires rising from the ragged summits ahead of them. They saw
these things, and it is a fact that they thought but little of them.

So they marveled when Captain Jeffords chose his route into the
mountains without hesitation; and their wonder grew when he pointed to
a group of enormous boulders which topped the ridge ahead of them,

"We will find Cochise's people camped there to-day."

They rode on upward and came into the camp of the Apaches. Here and
there a ragged squaw peered out of a dirty lodge at them; they saw a
group of children scattering like frightened quail. There were no
warriors, only one or two old men.

"Where is Cochise?" General Howard asked.

"He will be here within an hour," Jeffords answered, "and when he
comes you will know him because you will see riding ahead of him the
ugliest-looking Apache in Arizona carrying a lance."

And because Jeffords had exchanged no word as yet with the Indians,
the two white men marveled again.

The old-timer led them to the chief's lodge, where they sat down and

Within the hour a group of Apaches came riding up the nearest gorge,
and at their head General Howard saw one whose sinister face conformed
to the description which Jeffords had given him. The warrior was
carrying a lance. And behind him rode the war-chief. Cochise
dismounted and entered his lodge. After the Mexican fashion he kissed
Jeffords on both cheeks embracing him warmly. Then--

"What is it these men want?" he asked.

Jeffords introduced General Howard and the aide, and stated the
former's motive in making this visit. Cochise sat silent for some
moments. At length, pointing to General Howard--

--"Will he keep his word if we exchange promises?" he demanded.

"I have advised him not to promise too much, as is the habit of many
white men," Jeffords answered, "and I believe he is honest."

The old war-chief fell silent again. Finally he turned to General

"Some of my young men," he said slowly, "are away now. They are making
their living. They may come back at any time. And when they come back
there may be trouble. It would be better if you were not here then."

And General Howard knew enough about the Apaches and their habits to
be sure in what manner those young men were making their living; what
sort of trouble would probably follow their arrival in the camp. It
would be an awkward situation if he were to be in this place during a
battle between the savages and his fellow-soldiers. But he was not a
young man and the prospects of a long ride back to the nearest
military post were not alluring. He said as much.

"Four of my young men will take you to a good place," Cochise told
him, "and after the third day they will bring you back."

On the advice of Jeffords this course of action was agreed to; and
four Apaches took General Howard down into the valley as far as the
point where the Sulphur Springs ranch buildings now stand.

Jeffords and the aide bided here on the heights with the Indians. And
on the second day, true to Cochise's prophecy, a band of renegades
came riding hard up the gorge. The spot where the Indians were
encamped was a saddle at the summit, some hundreds of feet lower than
the adjoining ridges. Now as the fugitive warriors threw themselves
from their lathered ponies, announcing that two troops of cavalry were
close behind them, the aide of General Howard witnessed one of those
spectacles which are easier to tell than to believe.

With the announcement of this emergency, the camp moved. In the same
time that it takes to say the foregoing sentence, it moved--men,
women, children, and every bit of impedimenta. It was like one of
those magic transformations of which we used to read in fairy-tales
when we were children.

One moment the Apaches were squatting among their lodges; and in the
next moment people and goods and wickiups were gone; the place was

Every warrior and squaw and child seized what objects were nearest at
hand, overlooking none, and scampered off with them. Within a few
minutes of the arrival of the fugitives, the entire band was scattered
among the boulders and pinnacles on the higher portion of the ridge;
Cochise was disposing his warriors to the best advantage to repel the

But the cavalry made no advance beyond the cañon mouth, and there was
no fight. When General Howard returned at the end of the next day he
saw the manner in which the war-chief had deployed his men and was
struck with admiration. No general, he said in telling of the
incident afterward, no matter how highly schooled in the arts of
modern warfare, could have disposed of his forces to better advantage
than this savage had done.

Then General Howard, his aide, and Captain Jeffords were given one of
those primitive lodges and settled down here among the lofty heights
of Cochise's stronghold, isolated from all white men, surrounded by
the most bloodthirsty savages in America, rubbing elbows with naked
warriors who had spent the years of their manhood perfecting
themselves in the fine arts of ambush and murder.

Cochise saw to it that they were well supplied with robes and
blankets; by his orders they were feasted as became ambassadors; and
General Howard ate with a relish one evening a stew which he afterward
learned was made from the meat of a fat half-grown colt.

The conference went on at a leisurely rate; but at that it was
conducted much more swiftly than most discussions in which Indians
have taken part, for since the party had come to these heights they
had sent back no word of how they were faring, and they dared not drag
out the business to too great a length lest an expedition come after
them. Such a development would effectually stop the negotiations and,
in all probability, forever prevent their renewal.

General Howard told Cochise his purpose in coming to Arizona, and
dwelt with emphasis on the fact that President Grant had sent him. The
name of this famous warrior of the white men had weight with the
leader of the Chiracahuas. If the man who led the armies of the great
father to victory was behind this movement, he must at least respect
the overtures. Howard went on to say that all the President wanted was
peace with the Indians; to get them back on the reservation and to
treat them fairly.

Cochise replied with a long statement of his own grievances beginning
with the incident wherein Lieutenant Bascom was a main figure; he told
of other cases wherein the white man had not shown up well. Many
promises had been made to the Apaches but none had been kept. Still he
was willing to go on with this thing; President Grant was a mighty
warrior, and Captain Jeffords had vouched for his envoy's honesty.

Thus they sat within the rude shelter of boughs and skins, smoking and
talking while the naked braves passed outside eying them through the
doorway with sharp sidelong glances, and lean withered squaws cackled
all day long among the vermin-ridden lodges about them.

Then Cochise announced that he and his people would go back to live
upon a reservation and to eat the white man's rations--on certain
conditions. The reservation must be in their own country; he named a
portion of the Sulphur Springs valley and the adjoining Chiracahuas.
And the agent must be Captain Jeffords.

There was justice in these conditions. The tribe had always roved over
the country which Cochise named. As for the agent, it was a notorious
fact that about nine-tenths of the Indian troubles originated through
dishonesty of officials; either they were thieves or their friends
were, which amounted to the same thing. And Jeffords was honest.

When General Howard had heard out the war-chief, he at once accepted
the stipulations. President Grant had given him carte blanche in this
matter; he was sure that he could keep his promises. But Captain
Jeffords interposed an obstacle.

The last thing that he wanted was to be an Indian agent. The
government owed him about twenty thousand dollars and if he took the
office it would prevent his collecting the claims which were then
under adjudication in Washington. Besides he well knew the political
forces which were always working on an Indian agent, the strings which
were being pulled in Washington, the various grafts, big and petty, to
which one must shut his eyes if he wanted to remain in charge of a
reservation. He stated his position.

Cochise remained firm. No agent other than Jeffords. That was his
ultimatum. He would rather go on fighting until his people were
extinct than to take them back and have them robbed. General Howard
turned in appeal to the old-timer. And Captain Jeffords then
capitulated--under conditions.

He would give up the hope of collecting the money which the government
owed him and he would take charge of the new reservation. But if he
did these things he must be in complete control. His word must be law
and there must be no outside interference. If he gave the order, no
white man--not even the commander of the United States army--could
come within the boundaries of the district set apart for the Indians.
Beyond his judgment there could be no appeal. He did not purpose to
have matters taken to Washington over his head.

And, to make a long story short, General Howard not only consented to
all of this, but he saw to it that President Grant confirmed his
promises. He made a special trip to Washington and placed the matter
before the nation's chief executive, who issued the necessary orders.
And so late in 1872 Cochise and his people came back to the

That was not all, either. They lived there, during the lifetime of
Cochise, in peace and quiet. There were thefts and there were cases of
whisky-peddling with their inevitable accompaniments in the way of
murder. There were times when the young men got restless; when passing
Apaches from the White Mountains tried to induce the tribe to rise and
leave the reservation with them, when medicine-men from these other
clans preached bloody war.

But Cochise and Captain Thomas Jonathan Jeffords attended to all of
these things as they came up. They ferreted out the criminals; they
hunted down the whisky-peddlers; they drove the recalcitrant spirits
from other tribes away and quelled the dissatisfaction which they had
stirred up.

And because there was no appeal beyond their judgment; because no
hungry politician could bring it about that his friends got the chance
to swindle the Apaches or to rob them of their rations--as was being
done with other Indians all over the West at the time--these two old
men were able to enforce their edicts and to keep at peace the most
warlike savages in the whole Southwest. They kept the faith with the
government, those two; and they kept the faith with each other; and
the friendship which had begun that day when Jeffords rode up into
Cochise's stronghold, grew closer and closer.

That friendship never wavered until the day of Cochise's death. And
when he knew that the end was coming he called for Jeffords, who was
brought to his bedside. It was about two hours before noon.

"To-morrow at this time in the morning," Cochise said, "I will die. I
want to say good-by to you."

They talked for some time over things that had happened in days gone
by. And finally Cochise asked the old-timer whether he believed in a
hereafter. Jeffords, like many another man, could only hope that there
might be such a thing.

"Well," Cochise told him finally, "I believe that after I am gone I
will see you again, my friend."

And those were their last words together. The next morning, at the
hour which he had named, Cochise breathed his last.


Maybe you will get an insight into certain traits of the old-timers
and so will find it easier to believe the facts set forth in this
chronicle, if I begin with the tale of "Big Foot" Wallace.

Away back in the days before the Mexican War this Big Foot Wallace,
lusty then and in his prime, was taking part in a bushwhacking
expedition into Northern Chilhuahua; and his little company was
captured by the soldiers of the southern republic. No one was losing
any sleep in those parts over the laws of nations, and the officer
commanding the victorious enemy was in a hurry to be moving on.
Wherefore, like many another handful of Americans, the prisoners soon
found themselves surrounding a jar within whose hidden depths were
white and black beans, in number corresponding to their own.

The idea was that each man must draw his bean, and he who got a
white one lived, while he who picked a black kernel was lined up with
his luckless friends before the nearest wall and shot within an hour.
Thus the Mexican commander intended to reduce by one-half the
number of his prisoners, and at the same time afford his troops a
little entertainment in witnessing the drama of the bean-picking.

There was in Big Foot Wallace's company a young fellow with a wife and
children waiting for him back in Texas, and as the tattered group
crowded around the jar to thrust their hands within and draw forth
their different fates this soldier broke down. The thought of the
woman and the babies was too much for him.

Big Foot Wallace had just plunged in his hand when the man began to
sob. He glanced down at the white bean which his fingers clutched and
turned to the stricken youth.

"Here," he whispered with an oath thrown in to show his indifference
to the heroics, "take this, I'm feeling lucky to-day."

With which he turned over his precious bean and--proceeded to draw
another white one.

The tale is told to this day by white-bearded men who maintain that it
came to them from the lips of Big Foot Wallace. It has been used as
the basis for at least one bit of fine fiction, but in its original
form it illuminates for us of a later generation the characters of
those extraordinary men who won the great Southwest away from the
Apaches. They were, whenever occasion came, perfectly willing to take
a long chance against ugly death. That willingness made every one of
the old-timers a host in himself.

During the decades between the end of the Mexican War and the coming
of the railroads these men drifted westward from the Rio Grande and
the Pecos. A lean and sunburned crew, they came by saddle-horse and
wagon, by thorough-brace Concord stage-coach and by bull team,
dribbling into the long, thin valleys which reach northward from the
Mexican border to the Gila River.

They found such spots as suited them; there they built their cabins,
gouged their prospect-holes from the rocky hillsides, and dug the
irrigation-ditches for their ranches. There were few settlements
and these remote from one another; the military posts were so
insufficiently garrisoned that the troopers had all they could do to
look out for themselves; and the Apaches roamed unhindered whither the
lust for plunder led them.

These savages had owned the valleys and the ragged mountain ranges
between them. They saw the white men drifting in, in twos and threes;
they saw the lonely camps and cabins, tenanted by little groups of
settlers, beyond all reach of help; they saw the wagon-trains and
stages traveling without convoys. Their chiefs were wily, their
warriors past masters of the art of ambush. They started in to kill
off the new-comers; and they undoubtedly would have succeeded in
depopulating most of New Mexico and Arizona if it had not been for
that one trait of which Big Foot Wallace furnishes an example.

Therein lies the key-note to the incidents within this little
chronicle; the contemptuous disregard for danger, the willingness to
take the supreme risk, which made those old-timers perform exploits
that were seemingly impossible; which made them outface their naked
enemies--who were always looking out for their own swarthy skins--and
come forth unscathed from situations wherein death seemed the only
means by which they could emerge; which made them win in many a grim
fight where the odds were one man against many.

One man against many. That was the case with Uncle Billy Rhodes. Back
in the early sixties he and his partner had taken up some land down in
the Santa Cruz valley near the pueblo of Tubac. If you drive southward
in your car to-day from Tucson you will pass the spot where Tubac
stood until the Apaches laid waste the town during Civil War times,
and go within a stone's throw of the place where Uncle Billy Rhodes
ran one of the biggest and finest bluffs in all the history of

It was the custom of the Apaches to raid southward from their
reservations into Mexico, scooping up such loot and lives as they
could during their journeys. Usually at this particular time they
traveled by way of the Santa Catalina Mountains, keeping well to the
heights until they reached the Pantano Wash, where they frequently
swooped down on the Butterfield stage-station before climbing to the
summits of the Whetstones and the Huachucas. Clinging to the rocky
ridges, they went on southward and watched the lowlands for signs of

Such a war-party descended into the Santa Cruz valley one afternoon
and found Billy Rhodes's partner alone at the ranch. When they got
through with him there was little left in the semblance of a man, but
they took good care to postpone burning the ranch-buildings,
contenting themselves with promiscuous looting.

The idea was that smoke creates a warning signal and Uncle Billy
Rhodes would never come within rifle-shot of the spot once he got
sight of the ascending cloud. He was their meat; they possessed their
souls in patience and settled down to await his home-coming.

Afternoon was waning and the first long shadows of early evening were
beginning to steal across the plain from the base of the mountains
when Uncle Billy rode his jaded pony down the faint wagon-track toward
the ranch-house. He was weary from the saddle, for he had come a long
distance that day--so long a distance that the horse was unfit for
much more travel.

He passed his first rude fence and was within two hundred yards or so
of the cabin when something made him pull up. He did not know what
that something was; but the bronco added to his suspicions by its
behavior. And then, while he was reconnoitering, an over-eager brave
took a pot-shot at him.

The bullet missed, as most Apache bullets had a habit of doing. Next
to the courage of the old-timers the utter inability of the North
American Indian to grasp the necessity of pulling down his front sight
was perhaps the largest factor that helped the white man to win the
country west of the Mississippi River. Uncle Billy Rhodes whirled his
pony and started back in the direction he had come from.

But the ponies of the Apaches were fresh from the rest they had
enjoyed while their masters were prolonging the death agonies of Uncle
Billy's partner. It took but a short time for the Indians to catch
them up and within a minute or two something like fifty warriors,
turbaned, naked from the waist up, were crowding their frenzied mounts
in the wake of the fugitive.

The chase, as might have been expected, was a short one. Before he had
gone a half-mile Uncle Billy saw that he was going to be overtaken.
Already the savages were spreading out, and he could hear the yells of
those who were drawing up on each side.

It was the proper time for a man to despair; but Uncle Billy was too
busy looking about him for a point of vantage to indulge in any such
emotion as that. He had an old-fashioned cap-and-ball revolver, all of
whose chambers were loaded; and it was his intention to make those six
bullets if possible account for six Apaches before he resigned himself
to unkind fate.

The river-bed was close at hand; in places the road skirted the willow
thickets which lined the stream. Before the fugitive a particularly
thick clump of the green shrubs showed; all about it the ground was
open. Uncle Billy hardly bothered to check his pony's lame gallop
before casting himself bodily into the midst of this shelter. And
thereafter the affair took on a different complexion.

The Apache was never foolhardy. Possessed of marvelous patience, he
was willing to wait when waiting was the more prudent course of
action. And in the beginning the pursuers, who had encircled the
willow thicket, contented themselves with shooting from a distance
where they could keep to cover.

But evening was growing on, and these savages were imbued with more
superstitious fears of the dark than the members of most Indian
tribes. It became evident that they must rush matters if they would go
to camp before the night enwrapped them.

So the forty-odd came wriggling down the surrounding slopes toward the
willow thicket, keeping as close to the earth as possible, striving to
close in before they made their open charge. Uncle Billy waited until
he got a good shot, and "turned loose" for the first time. A
spattering of bullets answered his, but he had the satisfaction of
seeing one naked form lying motionless on the hillside.

There came a yell, and now the Apaches showed themselves as they ran
forward. The old revolver spoke again and then the third time. The
charge broke in its inception; and the retreating enemy left two more
of their number behind them when they went back to cover.

There followed an interval of silence. It was succeeded by another
rush. Uncle Billy fired twice from the depths of his thicket, and both
shots scored. The Apaches sought the rocks once more; but the
old-timer lay among the willows with a broken elbow from one of their
bullets. There was no time, nor were there means, for dressing the
wound. He gritted his teeth, dug the elbow into the soft sand to
stanch the flow of blood, and waited for the next onset.

It came within a few minutes, and Uncle Billy fired his last shot. The
good luck which sometimes helps out a brave man in time of trouble saw
to it that the ball from his revolver found the chief of the party.
When they saw him fall the Indians retired in bad order.

And now, where force had failed them, the Apaches resorted to
diplomacy. All they wanted was to get their hands on the white man,
and a little lying might be the means to help them to it. In Spanish
one of them called from his cover, bidding Uncle Billy give himself up
as a prisoner. He had, the herald said, been so brave that they would
observe the amenities of the white man's warfare; they would not harm
a hair of his head. But if he refused they surely would come on this
time and kill him.

To which Uncle Billy Rhodes replied profanely inviting them to make
the charge.

"Because," he ended, "I'm plumb anxious to get some more of you."

And then he sat back biding their coming--with his empty revolver. But
the silence continued uninterrupted; the shadows merged to dusk;
twilight deepened to darkness. The Apaches had stolen away, and Uncle
Billy Rhodes crept forth from the willows to catch up his horse and
ride with his broken arm to Tucson, where he told the story.

Now there is no doubt what would have happened to Uncle Billy had he
been gullible enough to believe that statement of the Apaches as to
his personal safety in case of surrender. As a matter of cold fact
neither Indian nor white man had any particular reason to look for
favor or expect the truth from his enemy during this long struggle.

Just to get an idea of the relentlessness of their warfare it is worth
while noting this incident in passing--one of those incidents which
were never reported to Washington for the simple reason that
Washington could never understand them.

A band of renegade Apaches had left the reservation to go a-plundering
down in Mexico. A certain troop of cavalry was riding after them with
the usual instructions from Washington to bring them back without

The captain of the troop was a seasoned Indian-fighter, and he managed
to keep the fugitives moving so fast that they got next to nothing to
eat. When you are traveling without rations along the ridges during an
Arizona summer and there is no time to stop for hunting, no time to
bake mescal roots; when you need every pony for riding and you have
eaten the last lean dog; then bellies draw in and the ribs begin to
stand out.

There were a number of squaws and children in the Apache outfit, and
by the time the chase had been going on for two weeks or so with
back-trackings, twistings and turnings, and every march a forced one,
why then the pace of the fugitives began to slacken. And the troopers
overtook them one fine day right out in the open where there was no
opportunity for stand or ambush.

According to his instructions from the men who ran our Indian
affairs in Washington, the captain of the troopers must bring these
renegades back unharmed or face the necessity of making a great many
explanations. So he drew up his men in formation and rode forward
to parley with the half-starved savages. He rode right up to them,
and their chief came forth to have a talk with him.

This captain was a fine figure of a man, and those who watched him say
that he made a noble picture on his big troop-horse before the frowzy
band whose gaunted members squatted in the bear-grass, their beady
eyes glinting on him under their dirty turbans. And he was a good,
persuasive talker. He promised them safe-conduct to the reservation
and assured them that their truancy would be overlooked, were they to
come back now.

He went on to tell of the rations which would be issued to them. He
dwelt on that; he mentioned the leanness of their bodies and described
at length the stores of food that were awaiting for them in the
reservation warehouse.

And the words of the captain were beginning to have an effect. There
was a stirring among the warriors and a muttering; men glanced at
their squaws and the squaws looked at their children. The captain went
on as if unconscious that his eloquence was bearing fruit.

All the time he was speaking a girl just grown to womanhood kept
edging toward him. In the days when food was plenty she must have
owned a savage sort of beauty; but her limbs were lank now and her
cheeks were wasted. Her eyes were overlarge from fasting as they hung
on the face of the big captain.

So she stood at last in the very forefront of her people, quite
unconscious that other eyes were watching her. And behind her her
people stirred more and more uneasily; they were very hungry.

Under the hot, clear sky the troopers sat in their saddles, silent,
waiting. The lieutenant who had been left in charge watched the little
drama. He saw how the moment of the crisis was approaching; how just
one little movement in the right direction, one word perhaps, would
turn the issue. He saw the half-starved girl leaning forward, her lips
parted as she listened to the big captain. He saw an old squaw,
wrinkled and toothless, venom in her eyes, crouching beside the
hungered girl.

Suddenly the girl took an eager step forward. As if it were a signal a
full half of the band started in the same direction.

And just then with the turning of the scales, just as the captain's
eloquence was winning, the old squaw sprang to her feet. She whirled
an ax over her head and brought it down upon the girl. And before the
body had fallen to the earth a warrior leveled his rifle and shot the
captain through the heart.

The lieutenant started to turn toward his troopers. But he never had a
chance to give his order. The whole blue-clad band was charging on a
dead run. What followed did not take long. There was not a single
prisoner brought back to the reservation.

When men are warring in that relentless spirit, no one who is blessed
with the ordinary amount of reasoning power looks for mercy even if it
be promised. And Uncle Billy Rhodes did well to run his bluff down
there in the willows by the river.

Sometimes, however, the Apaches felt themselves forced to show respect
for their dead enemies. There was, for instance, the short-card man
from Prescott. Felix was his name; the surname may be chronicled
somewhere for all the writer knows; it ought to be. A short-card
gambler, and that was not all; men say that he had sold whisky to the
Indians, that he was in partnership with a band of stock-rustlers, and
that on occasion he had been known to turn his hand to robbery by
violence. In fact there is no good word spoken of his life up to the
time when the very end came.

In Prescott he owned none of that friendship which a man craves from
his fellows; respect was never bestowed upon him. He walked the
streets of that frontier town a moral pariah.

Those who associated with him--those who made their living by dubious
means--looked up to him with an esteem born only of hard-eyed envy for
his prosperity. For he was doing well, as the saying goes; making good

Felix had managed to find a wife, a half-breed Mexican woman; and she
had borne him children, two or three of them. He had a ranch some
distance from the town, and many cattle.

And on the great day of his life, the day when he became glorious, he
was driving from the ranch to Prescott with his family: a two-horse
buckboard and Felix at the reins; the woman and the children bestowed
beside him and about him.

Somewhere along the road the Apaches "jumped" them, to use the idiom
of those times. A mounted band and on their way across-country, they
spied the buckboard and started after it. The road was rough; the
half-broken ponies weary; and the renegades gained at every jump.
Felix plied the whip and kept his broncos to the dead run until their
legs were growing heavy under them and the run slackened to a
lumbering gallop.

Prescott was only a few miles away. They reached a place where the
road ran between rocky banks, a place where there was no going save by
the wagon-track.

Felix slipped his arm around his wife and kissed her. It was perhaps
the first time he had done it in years; one can easily believe that.
He kissed the children.

"Whip 'em up," he bade the woman. "I'll hold the road for you."

And he jumped off of the buckboard with his rifle and sixteen rounds
of ammunition.

In Prescott the woman told the story and a relief party rode out
within a half-hour. They found the body of the short-card man and
stock-thief with the bodies of fourteen Indians sprinkled about among
the rocks. And the surviving Apaches, instead of mutilating the
remains of their dead enemy as was their custom on such occasions, had
placed a bandanna handkerchief over his face, weighting down its
corners with pebbles lest the wind blow it away.

It was near Prescott--only four miles below the village--that a woman
fought Apaches all through a long September afternoon. The Hon. Lewis
A. Stevens was in town attending a session of the Territorial
Legislature and his wife was in charge of the ranch near the Point of
Rocks that day in 1867. A hired man was working about the place.

One hundred yards away from the house an enormous pile of boulders
rose toward the nearer hills. Beneath some of the overhanging rocks
were great caves, and the depressions between the ridges gave
hiding-places to shelter scores of men.

Shortly after noon Mrs. Stevens happened to look from the window of
the kitchen where she was at work. Something was moving behind a clump
of spiked niggerheads between the back door and the corrals; at first
glance it looked like a dirty rag stirring in the wind, but when the
woman had held her eyes on it a moment she saw, among the bits of rock
and the thorny twigs with which it had been camouflaged, the folds of
an Apache warrior's head-gear.

Now as she stepped back swiftly from the window toward the
double-barreled shotgun which was a part of her kitchen furnishings
and always hung conveniently among the pots and pans, she caught sight
of more turbans there in her back yard. With the consummate patience
of their kind some twenty-odd Apaches had been spending the last hour
or so wriggling along the baked earth, keeping to such small cover as
they could find as they progressed inch by inch from the boulder hill
toward the ranch-house.

The majority of the savages were still near the pile of rocks when
Mrs. Stevens threw open her kitchen door and gave the warrior behind
the niggerheads one load of buckshot; and the more venturesome among
them who had been following their luckless companion's lead broke back
to that shelter at the moment she fired. Fortunately the hired man was
out in the front and the roar of the shotgun brought him into the
house on a run. By this time more than twenty Apaches were firing from
the hill; the tinkling of broken glass from the windows and the
buzzing of bullets was filling the intervals between the banging of
their rifles.

Like most Arizona ranch-houses in those days, the place was a rather
well-equipped arsenal. By relaying each other at loading Mrs. Stevens
and the hired man managed to hold down opposite sides of the building.
Thus they repelled two rushes; and when the enemy made an attempt to
reach the corrals and run off the stock, they drove them back to their
hillside a third time.

The battle lasted all the afternoon until a neighbor by the name of
Johnson who had heard the firing came with reënforcements from his
ranch. That evening after the savages had vanished for good Mrs.
Stevens sent a message into Prescott to her husband.

"Send me more buckshot. I'm nearly out of it," was what she wrote.

During the late sixties and the seventies the stage-lines had a hard
time of it, what with Apaches driving off stock and ambushing the
coaches along the road. There were certain stations, like those at the
Pantano Wash and the crossing of the San Pedro, whose adobe buildings
were all pitted with bullet-marks from successive sieges; and at these
lonely outposts the arrival of the east or west bound mail was always
more or less of a gamble.

Frequently the old thorough-brace Concord would come rattling in with
driver or messenger missing; and on such occasions it was always
necessary to supply the dead man's place for the ensuing run. Yet
willing men were rarely lacking, and an old agent tells how he merely
needed to wave a fifty-dollar bill in the faces of the group who
gathered round at such a time to secure a new one to handle the

In those days an Indian fight wasn't such a great matter if one bases
his opinion on the way the papers handled one of them in their news
columns. Judge by this paragraph from the "Arizonian," August 27,

  On Thursday, August 18, the mail buggy from the Rio Grande had
  come fifteen miles toward Tucson from the San Pedro crossing when
  the driver, the messenger, and the escort of two soldiers were
  killed by Apaches. The mail and stage were burned. Also there is
  one passenger missing who was known to have left Apache Pass with
  this stage.

You are of course at liberty to supply the details of that affair to
suit yourself; but it is safe to say there was something in the way of
battle before the last of these luckless travelers came to his end.
For even the passengers went well armed in those days and were
entirely willing to make a hard fight of it before they knuckled
under; as witness the encounter at Stein's Pass, where old Cochise and
Mangus Colorado got the stage cornered on a bare hilltop with six
passengers aboard one afternoon. The writer has given that story in
detail elsewhere, but it is worth mentioning here that it took Cochise
and Mangus Colorado and their five hundred warriors three long days to
kill off the Free Thompson party--whose members managed to take more
than one hundred and fifty Apaches along with them when they left this

But drivers were canny, and even the Apache with all his skill at
ambush could not always entrap them. In the "Tucson Citizen" of April
20, 1872, under the heading "Local Matters," we find this brief

  The eastern mail, which should have arrived here last Monday
  afternoon, did not get in until Tuesday. The Apaches attacked it
  at Dragoon Pass and the driver went back fifteen miles to Sulphur
  Springs; and on the second trial ran the gauntlet in safety.

Which reads as if there might have been considerable action and much
manoeuvering on that April day in 1872 where the tracks of the
Southern Pacific climb the long grade up from Wilcox to Dragoon Pass.

There was a driver by the name of Tingley on the Prescott line who had
the run between Wickenburg and La Paz back in 1869. He had seen much
Indian-fighting and was sufficiently seasoned to keep his head while
the lead was flying around him. One February day he was on the box
with two inside passengers, Joseph Todd of Prescott and George Jackson
of Petaluma, California.

Everything was going well, and the old Concord came down the grade
into Granite Wash with the horses on the jump and Tingley holding his
foot on the brake. They reached the bottom of the hill, and the driver
lined them out where the road struck the level going.

And then, when the ponies were surging into their collars, with the
loose sand and gravel half-way to the hubs, somewhere between thirty
and forty Apaches opened fire from the brush on both sides of the

The first volley came at close range; so close that in spite of the
customary poor marksmanship of their kind the Indians wounded every
man in the coach. A bullet got Tingley in the wrist. He dropped the
reins, and before he could regain them the team was running away.

The six ponies turned off from the road at the first jump and plunged
right into the midst of the Indians. Tingley could see the half-naked
savages leaping for the bridles and clawing at the stage door as they
strove to get hand-holds; but the speed was too great for them; the
old Concord went reeling and bumping through the entire party, leaving
several warriors writhing in the sand where the hoofs of the
fright-maddened broncos had spurned them.

By this time Tingley had drawn his revolver, and the two passengers
joined him in returning the fire of the enemy. Now he bent down and
picked up the reins, and within the next two hundred yards or so he
managed to swing the leaders back into the road.

From there on it was a race. The Apaches were catching up their ponies
and surging along at a dead run to overtake their victims. But
Tingley, to use the expression of the old-timers, poured the leather
into his team, and kept the long lead which he had got.

The stage pulled up at Cullen's Station with its load of wounded; and
word was sent to Wickenburg for a doctor, who arrived in time to save
the lives of the two inside passengers, although both men were shot
through the body.

Stage-driver and shotgun messenger usually saw plenty of perilous
adventures during the days of Mangus Colorado, Cochise, Victorio,
Nachez, and Geronimo; but if one was hungry for Indian-fighting in
those times he wanted to be a mule-skinner. The teamsters became so
inured to battling against Apaches that the cook who, when the savages
attacked the camp near Wickenburg one morning before breakfast, kept
on turning flapjacks during the entire fight and called his companions
to the meal at its conclusion, is but an example of the ordinary run
of wagon-hands. That incident, by the way, is vouched for in the
official history of Arizona.

Bronco Mitchel's experiences afforded another good illustration of the
hazards of freighting. In the latter seventies and the early eighties,
when Victorio, Nachez, and Geronimo were making life interesting for
settlers, he drove one of those long teams of mules which used to haul
supplies from Tucson to the military posts and mining camps of
southeastern Arizona. Apparently he was a stubborn man, else he would
have forsaken this vocation early in the game.

At Ash Springs near the New Mexican boundary a wagon-train with which
he was working went to camp one hot summer's day. They had been warned
against the place by some one who had seen Apaches lurking in the
vicinity; but the animals needed water and feed, and the wagon-master
took a chance. Bronco Mitchel, who was young then, and a foreigner who
was cooking for the outfit were placed on sentry duty while the mules
were grazing.

The heat of the early afternoon got the best of Bronco Mitchel as he
sat on the hillside with his back against a live-oak tree; and after
several struggles to keep awake, he finally dropped off. How long he
had been sleeping he never was able to tell, but a shot awakened him.

He opened his eyes in time to see the whole place swarming with
Apaches. The cook lay dead a little way from him. The rest of his
companions were making a desperate fight for their lives; and a
half-dozen of the Indians, who had evidently just caught sight of him,
were heading for him. There was one thing to do, and no time to lose
about it. He ran as he had never run before, and after a night and day
of wandering was picked up, all but dead, by a squad of scouting

One evening two or three years later Bronco Mitchel was freighting
down near the border, and he made his camp at the mouth of Bisbee
Cañon. The mules were grazing near by, and he was lying in his
blankets under the trail-wagon, with a mongrel puppy, which he
carried along for company, beside him.

Just as he was dropping off to sleep the puppy growled. Being now
somewhat experienced in the ways of the Territory, Bronco Mitchel
immediately clasped his hands over the little fellow's muzzle and held
him there, mute and struggling.

He had hardly done this when the thud of hoofs came to his ears; and a
band of Apaches appeared in the half-light passing his wagon. There
was a company of soldiers in camp within a mile or two, and the
savages were in a hurry; wherefore they had contented themselves with
stealing the mules and forbore from searching for the teamster, who
lay there choking the puppy as they drove the plundered stock within
three yards of him.

Now it so happened that Bronco Mitchel's team included a white mare,
who was belled; for mules will follow a white mare to perdition if she
chooses to wander thither. And knowing the ways of that mare, Bronco
Mitchel was reasonable certain that she would seize the very first
opportunity to stray from the camp of her captors--just as she had
strayed from his own camp many a time--with all the mules after her.
So when the Indians had gone far enough to be out of earshot he took
along his rifle, a bridle, and canteen, and dogged their trail. He did
not even go to the trouble of seeking out the soldiers but hung to the
tracks alone, over two ridges of the Mule Mountains and up a lonely
gorge--where, according to his expectations, he met his stock the next
day and, mounting the old bell mare, ran them back to Bisbee Cañon.

Other encounters with Victorio's renegades enriched the teamster's
store of experience, but his narrowest escape remained as the climax
of the whole list during the days when old Geronimo was off the
reservation. One torrid noon he had watered his mules and drawn his
lead and trail wagons off the road over in the San Simon country.

At the time it was supposed that no renegades were within a hundred
miles, and Bronco Mitchel felt perfectly safe in taking a siesta under
one of the big vehicles. Suddenly he awakened from a sound sleep; and
when his eyes flew open he found himself gazing into the face of an
Apache warrior.

The Indian was naked save for his turban, a breech-clout, his
boot-moccasins, and the usual belt of cartridges. Even for an Apache
he was unusually ugly; and now as he saw the eyes of the white man
meeting his, he grinned. It was such a grin as an ugly dog gives
before biting. At that instant Bronco Mitchel was laying flat on his

An instant later, without knowing how he did it, Bronco Mitchel was on
all fours with the wagon between him and the renegade. In this posture
he ran for some distance before he could gather his feet under him;
and to stimulate his speed there came from behind him the cracking of
a dozen rifles. He rolled into a shallow arroyo and dived down its
course like a hunted rabbit.

Once he took enough time to look back over his shoulder and saw the
turbaned savages spreading out in his wake. After that he wasted no
energy in rearward glances, but devoted all his strength to the race,
which he won unscathed, and kept on teaming thereafter until the
railroad spoiled the business.

Such incidents as these of Bronco Mitchel's, however, were all in the
day's work and weren't regarded as anything in particular to brag
about in those rough times. As a matter of fact the "Weekly Arizonian"
of May 15, 1869, gives only about four inches under a one-line head to
the battle between Tully & Ochoa's wagon-train and three hundred
Apaches, and in order to get the details of the fight one must go to
men who heard its particulars narrated by survivors.

Santa Cruz Castañeda was the wagon-master, an old-timer even in those
days, and the veteran of many Indian fights. There were nine wagons in
the train, laden with flour, bacon and other provisions for Camp
Grant, and fourteen men in charge of them. The Apaches ambushed them
near the mouth of a cañon not more than ten miles from the post.

Somehow the wagon-master got warning of what was impending in time to
corral the wagons in a circle with the mules turned inside the
enclosure. The teamsters disposed themselves under the vehicles and
opened fire on the enemy, who were making one of those loose-order
rushes whereby the Apache used to love to open proceedings if he
thought he had big enough odds.

Before the accurate shooting of these leather-faced old-timers the
assailants gave back. When they had found cover they sent forward a
warrior, who advanced a little way waving a white cloth and addressed
Santa Cruz in Spanish.

"If you will leave these wagons," the herald said, calling the
wagon-master by name, "we will let all of you go away without harming

To which Santa Cruz replied:

"You can have this wagon-train when I can't hold it any longer."

The Apache translated the words and backed away to the rocks from
behind which he had emerged. And the fight began again with a volley
of bullets and a cloud of arrows. At this time there were about two
hundred Indians in the ambushing party, and they were surrounding the
corral of wagons.

Occasionally the Apaches would try a charge; but there never was a
time on record when these savages could hold a formation under fire
for longer than a minute or two at the outside; and the rushes always
broke before the bullets of the teamsters. Between these sorties there
were long intervals of desultory firing--minutes of silence with
intermittent pop-popping to vary the deadly monotony. Once in a while
the surrounding hillsides would blossom out with smoke-puffs, and the
banging of the rifles would merge into a sort of long roll.

Always the teamsters lay behind the sacks of flour which they had put
up for breastworks, lining their sights carefully, firing with slow
deliberation. Now and again a man swore or rolled over in limp
silence; and the sandy earth under the wagons began to show red
patches of congealing blood.

By noon the forces of the enemy had been augmented by other Apaches
who had come to enjoy the party until their number now reached more
than three hundred. And the afternoon sun came down hot upon the
handful of white men. Ammunition began to run low.

The day dragged on and the weary business kept up until the sun was
seeking the western horizon, when a squad of seven cavalrymen on their
way from Camp Grant to Tucson happened to hear the firing. They came
charging into the battle as enthusiastically as if they were seven
hundred, and cut right through the ring of the Apaches.

Under one of the wagons the sergeant in charge of the troopers held
counsel with Santa Cruz Castañeda. Cartridges were getting scarce; the
number of the Apaches was still growing; there was no chance of any
other body of soldiers coming along this way for a week or so at the

"Only way to do is make a break for it," the sergeant said.

The wagon-master yielded to a fate which was too great for him and
consented to abandon the train. They bided their time until what
seemed a propitious moment and then, leaving their dead behind them,
the sixteen survivors--which number included the seven soldiers--made
a charge at the weakest segment of the circle. Under a cloud of arrows
and a volley of bullets they ran the gantlet and came forth with their
wounded. Hanging grimly together, they retreated, holding off the
pursuing savages, and eventually made their way to Camp Grant.

Now the point on which the little newspaper item dwells is the fact
that the Indians burned the entire wagon-train, entailing a loss of
twelve thousand dollars to Tully & Ochoa and of twenty thousand
dollars to the United States government. On the heroics it wastes no
type. It seems to have been regarded as bad taste in those days to
talk about a man's bravery. Either that, or else the bravery was taken
for granted.

In that same cañon near Camp Grant two teamsters died, as the berserks
of old used to like to die, taking many enemies with them to the great
hereafter. James Price, a former soldier, was the name of one, and the
name which men wrote on the headboard of the other was Whisky Bill. By
that appellation you may sketch your own likeness of him; and to help
you out in visualizing his partner, you are hereby reminded that the
gray dust of those Arizona roads used to settle into the deep lines of
the mule-skinners' faces beyond all possibility of removal; the sun
and wind used to flay their skins to a deep, dull red.

Whisky Bill and Jim Price with an escort of two cavalry troopers were
driving two wagons of Thomas Venable's, loaded with hay for Camp
Grant, when fifty Apaches ambushed them in the cañon. Price was killed
at the first volley and one of the soldiers was badly wounded in the

The three living men took refuge under the wagons and stood off
several rushes of the savages. Then the soldier who had been wounded
got a second bullet and made up his mind he would be of more use in
trying to seek help at Camp Grant than in staying where he was. He
managed to creep off into the brush before the Indians got sight of

Now Whisky Bill and the other soldier settled down to make an
afternoon's fight of it, and for three hours they held off the
savages. Half a dozen naked bodies lay limp among the rocks to bear
witness to the old teamster's marksmanship when a ball drilled him
through the chest and he sank back dying.

There was only one chance now for the remaining trooper, and he took
it. With his seven-shot rifle he dived out from under the wagon and
gained the nearest clump of brush. At once the Apaches sallied forth
from their cover in full cry after him.

Heedless of their bullets, he halted long enough to face about and
slay the foremost of his pursuers; then ran on to a pile of rocks,
where he made another brief stand, only to leave the place as his
enemies hesitated before his fire. Thus he fled, stopping to shoot
when those behind him were coming too close for comfort; and
eventually they gave up the chase.

In Camp Grant, where he arrived at sundown, he found his fellow-trooper,
badly wounded but expected to live, under care of the post surgeon. And
the detachment who went out after the renegades buried the two teamsters
beside the road where they had died fighting.

One against many; that was the rule in these grim fights. But the
affair which took place on the Cienega de Souz, fifteen miles above
the old San Simon stage-station and twenty-five miles from Port Bowie,
tops them all when it comes to long odds. On October 21, 1871, one
sick man battled for his life against sixty-odd Apaches and--won out.

R. M. Gilbert was his name; he was ranching and for the sake of mutual
aid in case of Indian raids he had built his adobe house at one end of
his holding, within two hundred yards of his neighbor's home. The
building stood on bare ground at the summit of a little rise near the
Cienega bottom, where the grass and tulles grew waist-high.

Early in the month of October Gilbert was stricken with fever, and
Richard Barnes, the neighbor, moved into his house to take care of
him. The patient dragged along after a fashion until the early morning
of the twenty-first found him wasted almost to skin and bone, weak,
bedridden. And about six o'clock that morning Barnes left the house to
go to his own adobe.

The Apaches, according to their habit when they went forth to murder
isolated settlers or prospectors, had chosen the dawn for the hour of
attack, and they were lying in the tall grass in the Cienega bottom
when Barnes emerged from the building. They let him go almost to the
other adobe before they opened fire; and he dropped at the volley,
dying from several wounds.

Then Gilbert, who had not stirred from his bed for many days, leaped
from his blankets and took down a Henry rifle from the cabin wall. He
had been weak; now that thing which men call "sand" gave strength unto
him; and he ran from the house to rescue his companion.

The Apaches were rushing from the tulles toward the prostrate form. He
paused long enough to level his rifle and fire; then came on again.
And the savages fell back. It was easier to bide in the shelter of the
tulles and kill off this mad white man than to show themselves and run
a chance of getting one of his bullets.

They reasoned well enough; but something mightier than logic was
behind Gilbert that morning. With the strength which comes to the
fever-stricken in moments of supreme excitement he reached his friend,
picked him up, and while the bullets of his enemies kicked up dust all
about him bore him on his shoulders back into the cabin. There he laid
him down and proceeded to hold the place against besiegers.

The Apaches deployed until they were surrounding the house. Then they
opened fire once more, and as they shot they wriggled forward, coming
ever closer until some of them were so near that they were able to
place their bullets through the rude loopholes which the settler had
made for defense of his home.

All the morning the battle went on. Sometimes the savages varied their
tactics by rushes and even thrust the barrels of their rifles through
the windows. The room was filled with smoke. During lulls in the
firing Gilbert heard the groaning of his companion; he heard the moans
change to the long, harsh death-rattle.

Some time during the noon-hour as he was standing at a loophole
shooting at a bunch of naked, frowzy-haired warriors who had appeared
in front of the building, an Apache brave who had stolen up behind the
adobe took careful aim through a broken window and got him in the
groin. But the sick man bound a handkerchief about the wound and
dragged himself from window to window, loading his rifle, firing
whenever a turban showed.

About midafternoon a venturesome group of warriors rushed the side
hill, gained the cabin wall and flung bundles of blazing fagots on the
roof. And within ten minutes the inside of the place was seething with
smoke-clouds; showers of sparks were dropping on the floor; flaming
shreds of brush were falling all about the sick man.

He groped his way to the bed and called Barnes. There was no answer.
He bent down and peered through the fumes at the other's face. Death
had taken his friend.

Gilbert loaded his rifle and a revolver. With a weapon in either hand
he flung open the door, and as he ran forth he saw in the hot
afternoon sunshine the shadow of an Indian who was hiding behind a
corner of the building. He leaped toward the place and as the warrior
was stepping forth shot him in the belly. Then he fled for the tulles
in the Cienega bottom.

Under a shower of bullets he gained the shelter of the reeds. And
during all the rest of that afternoon he lay there standing off the
Apaches. When darkness came he crawled away. All night and all the
next day he traveled on his hands and knees and finally reached the
hay camp of David Wood, sixteen miles away.

Wood dressed his wounds and sent word to Camp Bowie, and a troop of
cavalry chased the renegades into the Chiracahua Mountains, where they
eventually escaped, to make their way back to the reservation in time
for next ration-day.

These tales are authentic, and are but a few examples of the battles
which the old-timers fought during the years while they were winning
the Southwest away from the Indians. Some of those old-timers are
living to this day.

There is one of them dwelling in Dragoon Pass, where the mountains
come down to the lowlands like a huge promontory fronting the sea.
Uncle Billy Fourrs is his name; and if you pass his place you can see,
on a rocky knoll, the fortress of boulders which he built to hold his
lands against the renegades back in the seventies.

Not many years ago some Federal agents had Uncle Billy up in Tucson on
a charge of fencing government land, for according to the records he
had not gone through the formality of taking out some of the requisite
papers for proper possession. That case is one instance of a man
pleading guilty and getting acquittal.

For Uncle Billy Fourrs acknowledged the formal accusation and still
maintained the land was his own.

"How," asked the government prosecutor, "did you get it?"

"I took it away from the Indians," was the answer. And the jury, being
an Arizona jury, promptly acquitted him. Which, was, when you come to
think over such incidents as the foregoing, only simple justice.


From the time when the first lean and bearded horsemen in their
garments of fringed buckskin rode out into the savage West, men gave
the same excuse for traveling that hard road toward the setting sun.

The early pathfinders maintained there must be all manner of
high-priced furs off there beyond the sky-line. The emigrants who
followed in the days of '49, informed their neighbors that they were
going to gather golden nuggets in California. The teamsters who drove
the heavy freight-wagons over the new trails a few years later told
their relatives and friends that they were going West to better their
fortunes. And when the Concord coaches came to carry the mail between
the frontier settlements and San Francisco, the men of wealth who
financed the different lines announced there was big money in the
ventures; the men of action who operated them claimed that high wages
brought them into it.

So now you see them all: pathfinder, argonaut, teamster, stage-driver,
pony-express rider, and capitalist, salving their consciences and
soothing away the trepidations of their women-folk with the good old
American excuse that they were going to make money.

As a matter of fact that excuse was only an excuse and nothing more.
In their inmost hearts all these men knew that they had other

There was one individual who did not try to hoodwink himself or others
about this Western business, and if you will but take the time to look
into his case you will be able easily to diagnose an itching which was
troubling all the rest of them.

That Individual was usually taken most acutely with his ailment on a
warm May morning, one of those mornings when the lawless youths of the
village decided to play hooky in the afternoon and test the
temperature of the swimming-hole. On such a morning he was to be found
somewhere near the center of the school-room, this being the point
most remote from the distraction of open windows and hence selected
for him by the teacher. He was seated at a small desk whose top was
deeply scored by carven initials and monograms of rude design, all
inked in to give them the boldness of touch necessary when one would
have his art impress the beholder. An open book lay on that desk-top
but the eyes of the Individual were not focused on its pages.

He was gazing--aslant so that the teacher would not detect him at
it--through one of those remote open windows. And he was not seeing
the roofs of the little town or the alluring line of low wooded bluffs
across the river. He was seeing swarms of Indians mounted bare-back on
swift ponies.

Swarms and swarms of them, stripped to the waist, befeathered,
trousered in tightly fitting buckskin, they were defying all the laws
of gravitation by the manner in which every one clung by a single heel
to his mustang, allowing his body to droop alongside in a negligently
graceful attitude. These savages were circling round and round a
stage-coach. And on the top of that stage-coach, with his trusty rifle
at his shoulder--while the driver beside him died a painful
death,--sat the Individual himself. None other. And he was certainly
playing havoc with those redskins.

We need not undergo the weary ordeal of waiting with him while the
clock's slothful hands creep around the dial. We may skip the
interval--as he would do ever so gladly if he only could--and see him
that night as he climbs from his bedroom window, crawls down the
woodshed roof, and drops from the low eaves to make his way across the
vacant lot next door and thence--out West.

As far perhaps as the next town, which lies seven miles or so
away; where he is overhauled and ignominiously dragged back to

That Individual--the only one of them all who did not attain the
consummation of his hopes, the only one who had to stay at home--is
the sole member of the foregoing list who acknowledged his true
motives. For he asserted loudly, and with lamentations, that the
spirit of adventure was blazing within him; he wanted to go out West
to fight Indians and desperadoes.

Resisting the temptation to indulge in dissertation concerning the
beneficial effects of the dime-novel on the morale of successive
younger generations, we return to the men who said that they went
beyond the Mississippi to gain money. Like the schoolboy they were hot
with the lust for adventure. The men of action wanted to risk their
lives, and the men of wealth wanted to risk their dollars.

Which does not imply that the latter element were anxious to lose
those dollars any more than it implies that the former expected to
lose their lives. But both were eager for the hazard.

Like the schoolboy all of them dreamed dreams and saw visions. And the
dreams were realized; the visions became actualities. Few of them
justified their excuse of money-making; many came out of the adventure
poorer in this world's goods than when they went into it. But every
man of them had the time of his life and lived out his days with a
wealth of memories more precious than gold; memories of a man's part
in a great rough drama.

The Winning of the West, that drama has been called. Perhaps no act in
the play attained the heights which were reached by the last one
before the coming of the railroad, the one with which this story has
to deal, wherein bold men allied themselves on different sides to get
the contract of carrying the mails by stage-coaches on schedule time
across the wilderness.

And in the tale of this great struggle there is another motive in
addition to the love of adventure--and like that love, unacknowledged
by those whom it stirred,--the strong instinctive desire for a closer
union which exists among all Americans.

In the beginning there was a frontier two hundred miles or so west of
the Mississippi River. Behind that frontier wide-stacked wood-burning
locomotives were drawing long trains on tracks of steel; steamers came
sighing up and down the muddy rivers; cities smeared the sky with
clouds of coal smoke; under those sooty palls men in high hats and
women in enormous hoop-skirts passed in afternoon promenade down the
sidewalks; newspapers displayed the day's tidings in black
head-lines; the telegraph flashed messages from one end of that land
to the other; and where the sharp church steeple of the most remote
village cut the sky, the people read and thought and talked the same
things which were being discussed in Delmonico's at the same hour.

Beyond the Sierra Nevadas there was another civilization. In San
Francisco hotel lobbies men and women passed and repassed one another
dressed in Eastern fashions--some months late, but Eastern fashions
none the less. Newspapers proclaimed the latest tidings from the East
in large type. Men were falling out over the same political issues
which embroiled men by the Atlantic seaboard; they were embarking in
the same sort of business ventures.

But two thousand miles of wilderness separated these two portions of
the nation. That vast expanse of prairies as level as the sea, of
sage-brush plains, of snow-capped mountains and silent, deadly
deserts, was made more difficult by bands of hostile Indians.

In Europe such an interval would have remained for centuries, to be
spanned by the slow migration of those whom ill-fortune and bad
government had driven from the more crowded communities on each side.
During that time these two civilizations would have gone on in their
own ways developing their own distinct customs, until in the end they
would have become separate countries.

But the people east of the Mississippi and the people west of the
Sierras were Americans, and the desire for a close union was strong
within them. Their business habits were such that they could not
carry on commercial affairs without it. Their political beliefs and
their social tendencies kept them chafing for it. And furthermore it
was their characteristic not to acknowledge nature's obstacles as
permanent. Two thousand miles of wild prairie, mountain ranges, and
deserts simply meant a task, the more blithely to be undertaken
because it was made hazardous by the presence of hostile savages.

So now the East began to cry to the West and the West to the East,
each voicing a desire for quicker communication, and to get letters
from New York to San Francisco in fast time became one of the problems
of the day.

The first step toward solution was the choice of a route, and while
this was up to Washington, the proof on which it rested was up to
the men of wealth and the men of action. Immediately two rival
groups began striving, each to prove that its route was the
quickest. Russel, Majors & Waddel, who held large freighting
contracts on the northern road, from Independence, Missouri, via Salt
Lake to Sacramento, bent their energies to demonstrating its
practicability; the Wells-Butterfield coterie of stage and express
men undertook to show that the longer pathway from St. Louis by
way of the Southwestern territories to San Francisco was best.

In 1855 Senator W. M. Gwinn of California, who had conceived the idea
with F. B. Ficklin, general-superintendent of the Russel, Majors &
Waddel Co., introduced a bill in Congress for bringing the mails by
horseback on the northern route, but the measure was pigeonholed.
Snow in the mountains was the main argument against it.

In 1857 James E. Birch got the contract for carrying a semimonthly
mail from San Antonio, Texas, to San Diego, and the southern route's
champions had the opportunity to prove their contention.

Save for a few brief stretches in Texas and Arizona there was no wagon
road. El Paso and Tucson were the only towns between the termini. A
few far-flung military outposts, whose troops of dragoons were having
a hard time of it to hold their own against the Comanches and Apaches,
afforded the only semblance of protection from the Indians.

Horsemen carried the first mail-sacks across this wilderness of dark
mountains and flaming deserts. On that initial trip Silas St. Johns
and Charles Mason rode side by side over the stretch from Cariso Creek
to Jaeger's Ferry, where Yuma stands to-day. That ride took them
straight through the Imperial valley. The waters of the Colorado,
which have made the region famous for its rich crops, had not been
diverted in those days. It was the hottest desert in North America;
sand hills and blinding alkali flats, and only one tepid spring in the
whole distance. One hundred and ten miles and the two horsemen made it
in thirty-two hours--without remounts.

The company now began to prepare the way for stage-coaches. During the
latter part of November, St. Johns and two companions drove a herd of
stock from Jaeger's Ferry to Maricopa Wells. The latter point had been
selected for a relay station because of water and the presence of the
friendly Pima and Maricopa Indians, who kept the Apaches at a
distance. During that drive of something like two hundred miles the
pack-mule lost his load one night in the desert. The men went without
food for three days, and for thirty-six hours traveled without a drop
of water in their canteens.

The first stage left San Diego for the East in December with six
passengers. Throughout the trip a hostler rode behind herding a relay
team. The driver kept his six horses to their utmost for two hours;
then stock and wearied passengers were given a two hours' rest, after
which the fresh team was hooked up and the journey resumed.

In this manner they made about fifty miles a day. Luck was with them.
There were several runaways along the route; at Port Davis, Texas,
they found the garrison, whom they had expected to supply them with
provisions according to orders from Washington, short of food, and
they subsisted for the next five days on what barley they felt
justified in taking away from the horses; they arrived at Camp
Lancaster just after the departure of a Comanche war-party who had
stolen all the stock, and were obliged to go two hundred miles further
before they could get a relay. But these incidents, and a delay or two
because of swollen rivers, were accounted only small mishaps. They
came through with their scalps and the mail-sacks--only ten days
behind the schedule.

Thereafter the Birch line continued its service; and letters came from
San Francisco to St. Louis in about six weeks. Occasionally Indians
massacred a party of travelers; now and then renegade whites or
Mexicans robbed the passengers of their belongings and looted the
mail-sacks. But such things were no more than any one expected. James
Birch had proved his point. The southern route was practical, and in
1858 the government let a six years' contract for carrying letters
twice a week between St. Louis and San Francisco, to John Butterfield
of Utica, New York.

Thus the Wells-Butterfield interests scored the first decisive

Butterfield's compensation was fixed at $600,000 a year and the
schedule at twenty-five days. The route went by way of Fort Smith,
Arkansas, El Paso, Tucson, and Jaeger's Ferry. Tie one end of a loose
string to San Francisco and the other to St. Louis on your wall-map;
allow the cord to droop in a semicircle to the Mexican boundary, and
you will see the general direction of that road, whose length was 2760
miles. Of this nearly two thousand miles was in a hostile Indian

Twenty-seven hundred and sixty miles in twenty-five days, meant a
fast clip for horses and a lumbering Concord coach over ungraded
roads. And such a clip necessitated frequent relays. Which, in their
turn, demanded stations at short intervals. While a road gang was
removing the ugliest barriers in the different mountain passes--which
was all the smoothing away that highway ever got during the
stage-coach era--a party went along the line erecting adobe houses.
These houses were little forts, well suited for withstanding the
attacks of hostile Indians. The corrals beside them were walled like
ancient castle-yards.

William Buckley of Watertown, New York, headed this party. Bands of
mounted Comanches attacked them on the lonely Staked Plains of western
Texas. Apaches crept upon them in the mountains of southwestern New
Mexico. Of the battles which they fought history contains no record;
but they went on driving the Mexican laborers to their toil under the
hot sun, and the chain of low adobe buildings crept slowly westward.

In those days Mexican outlaws were drifting into Arizona and New
Mexico from Chihuahua and Sonora; and these cutthroats, to whom murder
was a means of livelihood, were almost as great a menace as the
Indians. Three of them got jobs on the station building gang and
awaited an opportunity to make money after their bloody fashion.

At Dragoon Springs they found their chance.

Here, where the Dragoon Mountains come out into the plain like a lofty
granite promontory that faces the sea, the party had completed the
walls of a stone corral, within which enclosure a storehouse and stage
station were partitioned off. The roofing of these two rooms and some
ironwork on the gate remained to be completed. The main portion of the
party moved on to the San Pedro River, leaving Silas St. Johns in
charge of six men to attend to these details. The three Mexican
bandits were members of this little detachment. The other three were

The place was right on the road which Apache war-parties took to
Sonora. For this reason a guard was maintained from sunset to sunrise.
St. Johns always awoke at midnight to change the sentries. One
starlight night when he had posted the picket who was to watch until
dawn, St. Johns went back to his bed in the unroofed room that was to
serve as station. He dropped off to sleep for an hour or so and was
roused by a noise among the stock in the corral. The sound of blows
and groans followed.

St. Johns leaped from his blankets just as the three Mexicans rushed
into the room. Two of them were armed with axes and the third with a

The fight that followed lasted less than a minute.

St. Johns kicked the foremost murderer in the stomach, and as the man
fell, sprang for a rifle which he kept in the room. The other two
attacked him with their axes. He parried one blow, aimed at his head,
and the blade buried itself in its hip. While the man was tugging to
free the weapon St. Johns felled him with a blow on the jaw. The third
Mexican struck downward at almost the same instant, severing St.
Johns' left arm near the shoulder.

Then the white man got his right hand on his rifle and the three
murderers fled. They had killed one of the Americans who was sleeping
in the enclosure, left another dying near him and the third gasping
his last outside the gate.

St. Johns staunched the blood from his wounds and crawled to the top
of a pile of grain-sacks whence he could see over the unroofed wall.
Here he stayed for three days and three nights. With every sunrise the
magpies and buzzards came in great flocks, to sit upon the wall after
they had sated themselves in the corral, and watch him. With every
nightfall the wolves slunk down from the mountains and fought over the
body outside the gate. Night and day the thirst-tortured mules kept
up a pandemonium.

A road-grading party came along on Sunday morning. They gave him such
first aid as they could and sent a rider to Fort Buchanan for a
surgeon. The doctor amputated the arm nine days after the wound had
been inflicted. Three weeks later St. Johns was able to ride a horse
to Tucson.

Silas St. Johns is offered as a sample of the men who built and
operated the overland mail lines. Among the drivers, stock-tenders,
and messengers there were many others like him. Iron men, it was not
easy to kill them, and so long as there was breath in their bodies
they kept on fighting.

John Butterfield and his associates were made of the same stuff as
these employees.

How many hundred thousand dollars these pioneer investors put into
their line before the turning of a single wheel is not known; it must
have been somewhere near a cool million, and this was in a day when
millions were not so common as they are now; a day, moreover, when
nothing in the business was certain and everything remained to be

They established more than a hundred stage-stations along that
semicircle through the savage Southwest. They bought about fifteen
hundred mules and horses, which were sent out along the route. To feed
these animals, hay and grain were freighted, in some cases for two
hundred miles, and the loads arrived at the corrals worth a goodly
fraction of their weight in silver. There was a station in western
Texas to which teamsters had to haul water for nine months of the
year from twenty-two miles away. At every one of these lonely outposts
there were an agent and a stock-tender, and at some it was necessary
to maintain what amounted to a little garrison. Arms and ammunition
were provided for defense against the savages; provisions were laid in
to last for weeks. One hundred Concord coaches were purchased from the
Abbot-Downing Co., who had been engaged in the manufacture of these
vehicles in the New Hampshire town since 1813; they were built on the
thorough-brace pattern, and were regarded as the best that money could
buy. Seven hundred and fifty men, of whom a hundred and fifty were
drivers, were put on the pay-roll and transported to their stations.

Nearly all this outlay was made before the beginning of the
first trip. It was the greatest expenditure of money on a single
transportation project of its kind up to this time in America.
And there were a thousand hazards of the wilderness to be incurred,
a thousand obstacles of nature to be overcome before the venture
could be proved practical.

The men of money had done their part now. The line was ready for the
opening of traffic. On September 15, 1853, the mail-sacks started from
St. Louis and San Francisco. It was up to the men of action to get
them through within the schedule.

Twenty-five days was the allowance for the 2760 miles. The westbound
coach reached San Francisco about twenty-four hours inside of the
limit. On that October evening crowds packed Montgomery Street; the
booming of cannon and the crashing of anvils loaded with black powder,
the blaring of brass bands and the voices of orators, all mingled in
one glad uproar, to tell the world that the people by the Golden Gate
appreciated the occasion.

In St. Louis, the eastbound mail was an hour earlier. John Butterfield
stepped from the Missouri Pacific train with the sacks, and a great
procession was on hand to escort him to the post-office.

Bands and carriages and a tremendous display of red, white, and blue
bunting enlivened the whole city. President Buchanan sent a telegram
of congratulation.

It looked as if the northern route were out of it for good now, but it
remained for the men to keep the southern line in operation. What had
been done was only a beginning; the long grind of real accomplishment
still lay ahead.

Storm and flood and Indian massacre were incidents; hold-ups and
runaways mere matters of routine in carrying on the task. The stock
was for the most part unbroken. At nearly every change the fresh team
started off on a mad gallop, and if the driver had a wide plain where
he could let them go careering through the mesquite or greasewood,
while the stage followed, sometimes on two wheels, sometimes on one,
he counted himself lucky. There was many a station from which the road
led over broken country--along steep side hills, across high-banked
washes, skirting the summits of rocky precipices; and on such
stretches it was the rule rather than the exception for the coach to

The bronco stock was bad enough but the green mules were the worst. It
was often found necessary to lash the stage to a tree--if one could be
found near the station, and if not to the corral fence--while the
long-eared brutes were being hooked up. When the last trace had been
snapped into place the hostlers would very gingerly free the vehicle
from its moorings and, as the ropes came slack, leap for their lives.

They called the route a road. As a matter of fact that term was a
far-fetched euphemism. In some places approaches had been dug away to
the beds of streams; and the absolutely impassable barriers of the
living rock had been removed from the mountain passes. But that was
all. What with the long climbs upgrade and the bad going through loose
sand or mud, it was always necessary for the driver to keep his six
animals at a swinging trot when they came to a level or a downhill
pull. Often he had to whip them into a dead run for miles where most
men would hesitate to drive a buckboard at a walk.

During the rainy seasons the rivers of that Southwestern land
proceeded to demonstrate that they had a right to the name--to which
they never pretended to live up at other times--by running bank full.
These coffee-colored floods were underlaid by thick strata of
quicksands. Occasionally one of them simply absorbed a coach; and,
unless the driver was very swift in cutting the traces, it took unto
itself two or three mules for good measure.

The Comanche Indians were on the war-path during these years in
western Texas. On the great Staked Plain they swooped down on many a
stage, and driver and passengers had to make a running fight of it to
save their scalps. The Indians attacked the stations, two or three
hundred of them in a band. The agents and stock-tenders, who were
always on the lookout, usually saw them in time to retreat inside the
thick adobe walls of the building, from which shelter they sometimes
were able to stand them off without suffering any particular damage.
But sometimes they were forced to watch the enemy go whooping away
with the stampeded stock from the corral. And now and again there was
a massacre.

Under Mangus Colorado, whom historians account their greatest
war-chief, the Apaches were busy in New Mexico and Arizona. They
worked more carefully than their Texan cousins, and there was a gorge
along the line in that section which got the name of Doubtful Cañon
because the only thing a driver could count on there with any
certainty was a fight before he got through to the other side.

Nor were the Indians the only savage men in that wilderness. Arizona
was becoming a haven for fugitives from California vigilance
committees and for renegade Mexicans from south of the boundary. The
road-agents went to work along the route, and near Tucson they did a
thriving business.

Yet with all these enemies and obstacles, it is a matter of record
that the Butterfield overland mail was only late three times.

In spite of runaways, bad roads, floods, sand-storms, battles, and
hold-ups, the east and west bound stages usually made the distance
in twenty-one days. And there was a long period during 1859 when
the two mails--which had started on the same day from the two
termini--met each other at exactly the half-way point. Apparently
the Wells-Butterfield interests had won the struggle. Service was
increased to a daily basis and the compensation was doubled. The
additional load was handled with the same efficiency that had been
shown in the beginning.

It is hard, in these days of steam and gasolene and electricity, to
understand how men did such things with horse-flesh. The quality of
the men themselves explains that. One can judge that quality by an
affair which took place at Stein's Pass.

"Steen's Pass," as the old-timers spelled it--and as the name is still
pronounced--is a gap in the mountains just west of Lordsburg, New
Mexico. The Southern Pacific comes through it to-day. One afternoon
Mangus Colorado and Cochise were in the neighborhood with six hundred
Apache warriors, when a smoke signal from distant scouts told them
that the overland stage was approaching without an armed escort. The
two chieftains posted their naked followers behind the rocks and
awaited the arrival of their victims.

When one remembers that such generals as Crook have expressed their
admiration for the strategy of Cochise, and that Mangus Colorado was
the man who taught him, one will realize that Stein's Pass, which is
admirably suited for all purposes of ambush, must have been a terribly
efficient death-trap when the Concord stage came rumbling and rattling
westward into it on that blazing afternoon.

There were six passengers in the coach, all of them old-timers in the
West. And they were known as the Free Thompson party, from the name of
the leader. Every one of these men was armed with a late model rifle
and was taking full advantage of the company's rule which allowed the
carrying of as much ammunition as one pleased. They had several
thousand rounds of cartridges.

Such a seasoned company as this was not likely to go into a place like
Stein's Pass without taking a look or two ahead; and six hundred
Apaches were certain to offer some evidence of their presence to keen
eyes. Which probably explains why the horses were not killed at once.
For they were not. The driver was able to get the coach to the summit
of a low bare knoll a little way off the road. The Free Thompson party
made their stand on that hilltop.

They were cool men, uncursed by the fear of death, the sort who could
roll a cigarette or bite a mouthful from a plug of chewing-tobacco
between shots and enjoy the smoke or the cud; the sort who could look
upon the advance of overwhelming odds and coolly estimate the number
of yards which lay between.

These things are known of them and it is known that the place where
they made their stand was far from water, a bare hilltop under a
flaming sun, and round about them a ring of yelling Apaches.

There were a few rocks affording a semblance of cover. You can picture
those seven men, with their weather-beaten faces, their old-fashioned
slouching wide-rimmed hats, and their breeches tucked into their
boot-tops. You can see them lying behind those boulders with their
leathern cheeks pressed close to their rifle-stocks, their narrowed
eyes peering along the lined sights; and then, as time went on,
crouching behind the bodies of their slain horses.

And you can picture the turbaned Apaches with their frowzy hair and
the ugly smears of paint across their grinning faces. You can see them
creeping on their bellies through the clumps of coarse bear-grass,
gliding like bronze snakes among the rocks, slowly enough--the Apache
never liked the music of a rifle-bullet--but coming closer every hour.
Every gully and rock and clump of prickly pear for a radius of a
half-mile about that knoll sheltered its portion of the venomous brown

Night followed day; hot morning grew into scorching noontide; the full
flare of the Arizona afternoon came on; and night again. The rifles
cracked in the bear-grass. Thin jets of pallid flame spurted from
behind the rocks. The bullets kicked up little dust-clouds.

So for three days and three nights. For it took those six hundred
Apaches that length of time to kill the seven white men.

But before the last of them died, the Free Thompson party slew between
135 and 150 Indians.

In after years Cochise told of the battle.

"They were the bravest men I ever saw," he said. "They were the
bravest men I ever heard of. Had I five hundred warriors such as they,
I would own all of Chihuahua, Sonora, New Mexico, and Arizona."

That was the breed of men who kept the Butterfield stage line open,
and the affair at Stein's Pass is cited to show something of their
character, although it took place after the company began removing its
rolling-stock. For in 1860 Russel, Majors & Waddel accomplished a
remarkable coup and brought the overland mail to the northern route.

They performed what is probably the most daring exploit in the history
of transportation. The story of their venture bristles with action; it
is adorned by such names as Wild Bill Hickok, Pony Bob Haslam, Buffalo
Bill, and Colonel Alexander Majors.

Colonel Majors held the broadhorn record on the old Santa Fé trail,
ninety-two days on the round trip with oxen. He was the active spirit
of the firm of Russel, Majors & Waddel. In 1859 these magnates of the
freighting business had more than six thousand huge wagons and more
than 75,000 oxen on the road between St. Joseph, Missouri, and Salt
Lake City, hauling supplies for government posts and mining companies;
they were operating a stage line to Denver where gold excitements were
bringing men in droves.

One day in the winter of 1859-60 Senator W. M. Gwinn of California had
a meeting with Majors' senior partner, William H. Russel, and several
New York capitalists in Washington. Senator Gwinn proposed a plan to
show the world that the St. Joseph-San Francisco route was practical
throughout the year.

That scheme was the pony express; men on horseback with fresh relays
every ten or twelve miles, to carry letters at top speed across the
wilderness. Congress had pigeonholed his bill to finance such a
venture. He urged now that private capital undertake it, and he talked
so convincingly that Russel committed himself to enlist his partners
in the enterprise.

Russel went back to Leavenworth, Kansas, the headquarters of the firm,
and put the matter up to Majors and Waddel. They showed him in a very
few minutes that he had been talked into a sure way of losing several
hundred thousand dollars. But he reminded them that he had committed
himself to the undertaking. They said that settled it; they would
stand by him and make his word good.

Their stage line had stations every ten or twelve miles as far as Salt
Lake; beyond that point there was not a single building; but within
two months from the day when Russel had that talk with Senator Gwinn,
the firm had completed the chain of those stations clear to
Sacramento, purchased five hundred half-breed mustang ponies which
they apportioned along the route, hired eighty riders and what
stock-tenders were necessary, and hauled feed and provisions out
across the intermountain deserts. They had droves of mules beating
down trails through the deep drifts of the Sierras and the Rockies.

On April 3, 1860, Henry Roff swung into the saddle at Sacramento and
Alexander Carlyle leaped on a brown mare in St. Joseph, Missouri.
While cannon boomed and crowds cheered in those two remote cities, the
ponies came toward each other from the ends of that two-thousand-mile
trail on a dead run.

At the end of ten miles or so a relay mount was waiting for each
rider. As he drew near the station each man let out a long coyote
yell; the hostlers led his animal into the roadway. The messenger
charged down upon them, drew rein, sprang to the earth, and while the
agent lifted the pouches from one saddle to the other--as quickly as
you read these words describing the process--gained the back of his
fresh horse and sped on. At the end of his section--the length of
these intervals varied from seventy-five to a hundred and twenty-five
miles--each rider dismounted for the last time and turned the pouches
over to a successor.

In this manner the mail went across prairie and sage-brush plain,
through mountain passes where the snow lay deep beside the beaten
trail and across the wide silent reaches of the Great American Desert.
And the time on that first trip was ten days for both east and west
bound pouches.

The riders were light of weight; they were allowed to carry no weapons
save a bowie-knife and revolver; the letters were written on
tissue-paper; the two pouches were fastened to a leathern covering
which fitted over the saddle, and the thing was lifted with one
movement from the last horse to the relay animal. When one of these
messengers came within earshot of a station he always raised his voice
in the long shrill coyote yell, and by day or night, as that signal
came down the wind to them, the men who were on duty scrambled to get
the waiting horse into its place.

Many of these half-breed mustangs were unbroken; some were famous for
their ability at bucking. There is a man in my town, Joe Hand--he
would hate to acknowledge that he is getting on in years even now--who
used to ride the western end, and he said:

"They'd hold a bad horse for a fellow long enough to let you get the
rowels of those big Mex spurs fastened in the hair cinch. Then it was
you and that horse for it. The worst of it was that the pony would
usually tire himself out with his pitching, and you'd lose time. I
remember one that left me pretty badly stove up for a while, but I had
the satisfaction of knowing he'd killed himself trying to pile me."

But bad horses were a part of the game; like bad men every one in the
business expected them and took them as a matter of course. The riders
of the pony express hardly recall such incidents because of the larger
adventures with which their lives were filled.

There was the ride of Jim Moore, for a long time famous among the
exploits on the frontier. His route went from Midway station to old
Julesburg, one hundred and forty miles across the great plains of
western Nebraska. The stations were from ten to fourteen miles apart.
Arriving at the end of that grueling journey, he would rest for two
days before making the return trip.

One day Moore started westward from Midway station, knowing that his
partner, who carried the mail one way while he was taking it the
other, was sick at Julesburg. It was a question whether the man would
be able to take the eastbound pouches, and if he should not be there
was no substitute on hand.

Realizing what might lie ahead of him, Moore pressed each fresh horse
to its utmost speed during that westward ride. A man can endure only
so long a term of punishment, and he resolved to save himself what
minutes he could at the very beginning. He made that one hundred and
forty miles in eleven hours.

The partner was in bed, and there was no hope of his rising for a day
or two. The weary messenger started toward one of the bunks to get a
bit of rest, but before he had thrown himself on the blankets, the
coyote yell of the eastbound rider sounded up the road.

It was up to Moore to take the sick man's place now. While the
hostlers were saddling a pony and leading it out in front of the
station, he snatched some cold meat from the table, gulped down a cup
of lukewarm coffee, and hurried outside. He was just in time to swing
into the saddle. He clapped spurs to the pony and kept him on a run.
So with each succeeding mount; and when he arrived at Midway he had
put the two hundred and eighty miles of the round trip behind him in
twenty-two hours.

In western Nevada, where the Paiute Indians were on the war-path,
several of the stations were little forts, and riders frequently raced
for their lives to these adobe sanctuaries. Pony Bob Haslam made his
great three hundred and eighty mile ride across this section of
scorching desert.

He rode out of Virginia City one day while the inhabitants were
frantically working to fortify the town against war-parties whose
signal-fires were blazing at the time on every peak for a hundred

When he arrived at the Carson River, sixty miles away, he found that
the settlers had seized all the horses at the station for use in the
campaign against the savages. He went on without a relay down the
Carson to Fort Churchill, fifteen miles farther. Here the man who was
to relieve him refused to take the pouches.

Within ten minutes Haslam was in the saddle again. He rode thirty-five
miles to the Carson sink; got a fresh horse and made the next thirty
miles, without a drop of water; changed at Sand Springs and again at
Cold Springs; and after one hundred and ninety miles in the saddle
turned the pouches over to J. G. Kelley.

Here, at Smith's Creek, Pony Bob got nine hours' rest. Then he began
the return trip. At Cold Springs he found the station a smoking
shambles; the keeper and the stock-tender had been killed, the horses
driven off by Indians. It was growing dark. He rode his jaded animal
across the thirty-seven-mile interval to Sand Springs, got a remount,
and pressed on to the sink of the Carson. Afterward it was found that
during the night he had ridden straight through a ring of Indians who
were headed in the same direction in which he was going. From the sink
he completed his round trip of three hundred and eighty miles without
a mishap, arriving at the end within four hours of the schedule time.

Nine months after the opening of the line the Civil War began, and the
pony express carried the news of the attack on Fort Sumter from St.
Joseph to San Francisco in eight days and fourteen hours.

Newspapers and business men had awakened to the importance of this
quick communication, and bonuses were offered for the delivery of
important news ahead of schedule. President Buchanan's last message
had heretofore held the record for speedy passage, going over the
route in seven days and nineteen hours. But that time was beaten by
two hours in the carrying of Lincoln's inaugural address. Seven days
and seventeen hours--the world's record for transmitting messages by
men and horses!

The firm of Russel, Majors & Waddel spent $700,000 on the pony express
during the eighteen months of its life; they took in something less
than $500,000. But they accomplished what they had set out to do. In
1860 the Butterfield line was notified to transfer its rolling-stock
to the west end of the northern route; their rivals got the mail
contract for the eastern portion.

The Wells-Butterfield interests were on the under side now. The change
to the new route involved enormous expense; and with the withdrawal of
troops at the beginning of the Civil War, Apaches and Comanches
plundered the disintegrating line of stations. The company lasted only
a short time on the west end of the overland mail and retired. Its
leaders now devoted their energies to the express business.

At this juncture a new man got the mail contract. Ben Holliday was his
name, and in his day he was known as a Napoleon. Perhaps it was the
first time that term was used in connection with American promoters.
Holliday, who had begun as a small storekeeper in a Missouri village,
had made one canny turn after another until, at the time when the mail
came to the northern route, he owned several steamship lines and large
freighting interests and was beginning to embark in the stage
business. The firm of Russel, Majors & Waddel was losing money, owing
in part to bad financial management and in part to the courageous
venture of the pony express. Holliday absorbed their property early in
the sixties. He was the transportation magnate of his time, the first
American to force a merger in that industry.

One of his initial steps was to improve the operation of the stage
line. Some of the efficiency methods of his subordinates were
picturesque to say the least. In Julesburg, which was near the mouth
of Lodge Pole Creek in northeastern Colorado, the agent was an old
Frenchman, after whom the place had been named. This Jules had been
feathering his own nest at the expense of the company, and the new
management supplanted him with one Jack Slade, whose record up to that
time was either nineteen or twenty killings. Slade was put in charge
at Julesburg with instructions to clean up his division.

While the new superintendent was exterminating such highway robbers
and horse-thieves as Jules had gathered about him in this section, his
predecessor was biding in the little settlement, watching for a chance
to play even.

One day Slade came into the general store near the station, and the
Frenchman, who had seen a good opportunity for ambush here, fired both
barrels of a double-barreled shotgun into his body at a range of about
fifty feet.

Slade took to his bed. But he was made of the stuff which absorbs much
lead without any great amount of permanent harm. He was up again in a
few weeks. He hunted down Jules, who had taken refuge in the Indian
country to the north on hearing of his recovery. He brought the
prisoner back to Julesburg, and bound him to the snubbing-post in the
middle of the stage company's corral.

Accounts of what followed differ. Some authorities maintain that Slade
killed Jules. Others, who base their assertions on the statement of
men who said they were eye-witnesses, tell how Slade enjoyed himself
for some time filling the prisoner's clothing with bullet holes and
then exclaimed,

"Hell! You ain't worth the lead to kill you." And turned the victim

But all narrators agree on this; before Slade unbound the living
Jules--or the dead one, whichever it may have been--he cut off the
prisoner's ears and put them in his pocket.

It may be noted in passing that this truculent efficiency expert went
wrong in after years and wound up his days at the end of a rope in
Virginia City, Montana.

Ben Holliday carried the mails overland throughout the early sixties.
But during the summer of 1864 the Indians of the plains, for the first
time in their history, made a coalition. They united in one grand
war-party against the outposts along the line, and for a distance of
four hundred miles they destroyed stations, murdered employees, and
made off with live stock. The loss to the company was half a million

It crippled Holliday. And the government so delayed consideration of
his claims for reimbursment that he was glad to sell the property. The
firm of Wells Fargo, who had been increasing their express business
until they virtually monopolized that feature of common carrying
throughout the West at the close of the Civil War, took the line over.
Wells Fargo! It was the old Wells Butterfield Co. again. The first
winners in the struggle were the last.

The railroad came. Men said that the day of adventure was over. But
this adventure has not ended yet.

While this story was being written another pioneer died on that
overland mail route. And when his aëro-plane came fluttering down out
of a driving snowstorm to crash, in a mass of tangled wreckage, on
the side of Elk Mountain, Wyoming, Lieutenant E. V. Wales went to
his death within a rifle-shot of the road where so many of his
predecessors gave up their lives trying--even as he was then
striving--to quicken communication between the Atlantic and the


Boot-Hill! Back in the wild old days you found one on the new town's
outskirts and one where the cattle trail came down to the ford, and
one was at the summit of the pass. There was another on the mesa
overlooking the water-hole where the wagon outfits halted after the
long dry drive. The cow-boys read the faded writing on the wooden
headboards and from the stories made long ballads which they sang to
the herds on the bedding grounds. The herds have long since vanished,
the cow-boys have ridden away over the sky-line, the plaintive songs
are slipping from the memories of a few old men, and we go riding by
the places where those headboards stood, oblivious.

Of the frontier cemeteries whose dead came to their ends, shod in
accordance with the grim phrase of their times, there remains one just
outside the town of Tombstone to the north. Here straggling mesquite
bushes grow on the summit of the ridge; cacti and ocatilla sprawl over
the sun-baked earth hiding between their thorny stems the headboards
and the long narrow heaps of stones which no man could mistake. Some
of these headboards still bear traces of black-lettered epitaphs which
tell how death came to strong men in the full flush of youth. But the
vast majority of the boulder heaps are marked by cedar slabs whose
penciled legends the elements have long since washed away.

The sun shines hot here on the summit of the ridge. Across the wide
mesquite flat the granite ramparts of the Dragoons frown all the long
day, and the bleak hill graveyard frowns back at them. Thus the men
who came to this last resting-place frowned back at Death.

There was a day when every mining camp and cow-town from the Rio
Grande to the Yellowstone owned its boot-hill; a day when lone
graves marked the trails and solitary headboards rotted slowly in the
unpeopled wilderness. Many of these isolated wooden monuments fell
before the long assaults of the elements; the low mounds vanished
and the grass billowed in the wind hiding the last vestiges of the
leveled sepulchers. Sometimes the spot was favorable; outfits
rested there; new headboards rose about the first one; for the road
was long and weary, the fords were perilous from quicksands; thirst
lurked in the desert, and the Indians were always waiting. The camp
became a settlement, and in the days of its infancy, when there was
no law save that of might, the graveyard spread over a larger area.
There came an era when a member of that stern straight-shooting breed
who blazed the trails for the coming of the statutes wielded the
powers of high justice, the middle, and the low. Outlaw and rustler
opposed the dominion of this peace officer. Then the cemetery
boomed like the young town. Finally things settled down to jury
trials and men let lawyers do most of the fighting with forensics
instead of forty-fives. Churches were built and school-houses; a new
graveyard was established; brush and weeds hid the old one's
leaning headboards. Time passed; a city grew; the boot-hill was

This is a chronicle of men whose bones lie in those vanished
boot-hills. If one could stand aside on the day of judgment and watch
them pass when the brazen notes of the last trump are growing fainter,
he would witness a brave procession. But we at least can marshal the
shadowy host from fast waning memories and, looking upon some of their
number, recall the deeds they did, the manner of their dying.

Here then they come through the curtain of time's mists, Indian
fighter, town marshal, faro-dealer, and cow-boy. There are a few among
them upon whom it is not worth while to gaze, those whose lives and
deaths were unfit for recording; there are a vast multitude whose
heroic stories were never told and never will be; and there are some
whose deeds as they have come down from the lips of the old-timers
should never die.

Thus in the forefront pass lean forms clad for the most part in
garments fringed with buckskin. You can see where some have torn off
portions of the fringes to clean their rifles.

Old-fashioned long-barreled muzzle-loaders, these rifles; and
powder-horns hang by the sides of the bearers. They are long-haired
men; and their faces are deeply burned by sun and wind, one hundred
and eighty-three of them; and where they died, fighting to the last
against four thousand of Santa Ana's soldiers, rose the first
boot-hill. That was in San Antonio, Texas, at the building called the
Alamo; and in this day, when schoolboys who can describe Thermopylæ in
detail know nothing of that far finer stand, it will do no harm to
dwell on a proud episode ignored by most text-book histories.

On the fifth day of March, 1836, San Antonio's streets were resonant
with the heavy tread of marching troops, the clank of arms and the
rumble of moving artillery. Four thousand Mexican soldiers were being
concentrated on one point, a little mission chapel and two long adobe
buildings which formed a portion of a walled enclosure, the Alamo.

For nearly two weeks General Santa Ana had been tightening the cordon
of cavalry, infantry, and artillery about the place. It housed one
hundred and eighty-three lank-haired frontiersmen, a portion of
General Sam Houston's band who had declared for Texan independence.
The Mexicans had cut them off from water; their food was running low.
On this day the dark-skinned commander planned to take the square. His
men had managed to plant a cannon two hundred yards away. When they
blew down the walls the infantry would charge. It only remained for
them to load the field-piece. Bugles sounded; officers galloped
through the sheltered streets where the foot soldiers were held in
waiting. There came from the direction of the Alamo the steady
rat-tat-tat of rifles. The hours went by but the cannon remained

A little group of lean-faced men were crouching on the flat roof of
the large out-building. The most of them were clad in fringed garments
of buckskin; here and there was one in a hickory shirt and home-spun
jeans. Six of them, some bareheaded and some with hats whose wide rims
dropped low over their foreheads, were clustered about old Davy
Crockett, frontiersman and in his day a member of Congress. Always the
six were busy, with ramrods, powder-horns, and bullets, loading the
long-barreled eight-square Kentucky rifles. The grizzled marksman took
the cocked weapons from their hands; one after another, he pressed
each walnut stock to his shoulder, lined the sights, pulled the
trigger, and laid the discharged piece down, to pick up its

He crouched there on the flat roof facing the Mexican cannon. As fast
as men came to load it, he fired. Sometimes a dozen soldiers rushed
upon the muzzle of the field-piece surrounding it. At such moments
Davy Crockett's arms swept back and forth with smooth unhurried
swiftness and his sinewy fingers relaxed from one walnut stock only to
clutch another; his hands were never empty. Always a little red flame
licked the smoke fog before him like the tongue of an angered snake.
He was getting on in years but in all his full life his technic had
never been so perfect, his artistry of death so flawless, as on this
day which prefaced the closing of his chapter. The bodies of his
enemies clogged the space about their cannon; the rivulets of red
trickled from the heap across the roadway. The long hours passed.
Darkness came. The field-piece remained silent.

Long before daylight the next morning the four thousand were marching
in close ranks to gather for the final assault. The sun had not risen
when they made the charge. The infantry came first; the cavalry closed
in behind them driving them on with bared sabers. The Americans took
such toll with their long-barreled rifles from behind the barricaded
doors and windows that the foot-soldiers turned to face the naked
swords rather than endure that fire. The officers reformed them under
cover; they swept forward again, and again fell back. Santa Ana
directed the third charge in person. They swarmed to the courtyard
wall and raised ladders to its summit. The men behind bore those
before them onward and literally shoved them up the ladders. They
overwhelmed the frontiersmen through sheer force of numbers. Colonel
W. B. Travis fell fighting hand to hand here. The courtyard filled
with dark-skinned soldiers.

The Alamo was fallen. But there remained for the lean hard-bitten men
of Texas, who had retired within the adobe buildings, the task of
dying as fighting men should die. It was now ten o'clock, nearly six
hours since the beginning of the first advance. It took the four
thousand two hours more to finish the thing.

For every room saw its separate stand; and every stand was to the
bitter end.

There were fourteen gaunt frontiersmen in the hospital, so weak with
wounds that they could not drag themselves from their tattered
blankets. They fought with rifles and pistols until forty Mexicans lay
heaped dead about the doorway. The artillery brought up a field-piece;
they loaded it with grape-shot and swept the room, and then at last
they crossed the threshold.

Colonel James Bowie, who brought into use the knife that bears his
name, was sick within another apartment. How that day's noises of
combat roused the old fire within his breast and how he lay there
chafing against the weakness which would not let him raise his body,
one can well imagine. A dozen Mexican officers rushed into the place,
firing as they came. Colonel Bowie waited until the first of them was
within arm's length. Then he reached forth, seized the man by the hair
and, dying, plunged the knife that bore his name hilt-deep into the
heart of his enemy.

So they passed in stifling clouds of powder smoke with the reek of hot
blood in their nostrils. The noon hour saw Davy Crockett and five or
six companions standing in a corner of the shattered walls; the old
frontiersman held a rifle in one hand, in the other a dripping knife,
and his buckskin garments were sodden, crimson. That is the last of
the picture.

"Thermopylæ had its messenger of defeat. The Alamo had none." So reads
the inscription on the monument erected in latter years by the State
of Texas to commemorate that stand. The words are true. But the Alamo
did leave a memory and the tale of the little band who fought in the
sublimity of their fierceness while death was slowing their pulses did
much toward the development of a breed whose eyes were narrow,
sometimes slightly slanting, from constant peering across rifle sights
under a glaring sun.

The procession is passing; trapper and Indian fighter; teamsters with
dust in the deep lines of their faces--dust from the long dry trail to
old Santa Fé; stage-drivers who have been sleeping the long sleep
under waving wheat-fields where alkali flats once stretched away
toward the vague blue mountains; and riders of the pony express. A
tall form emerges from the past's dim background, and comes on among

Six feet and an inch to spare, modeled as finely as an old Greek
statue, with eyes of steel grey, sweeping mustache and dark brown hair
that hangs to his shoulders, he moves with catlike grace. Two
forty-fives hang by his narrow hips; there is a hint of the cavalier
in his dropping sombrero and his ornately patterned boots. This is
Wild Bill Hickok; he was to have gone with Custer, but a coward's
bullet cheated him out of the chance to die fighting by the Little Big
Horn and they buried him in the Black Hills in the spring of 1876.

James B. Hickok was the name by which men called him until one
December day in the early sixties when the McCandless gang of outlaws
tried to drive the horses off from the Rock Creek station of the
Overland Stage on the plains of southwestern Nebraska near the Kansas

There were ten of the desperadoes, and Hickok, who was scarcely more
than a boy then, was alone in the little sod house, for Doc Brinck,
his partner, was off hunting that afternoon. He watched their approach
from the lonely cubicle where he and Brinck passed their days as
station-keepers. They rode up through the cottonwoods by the creek.
Bill McCandless leaped from the saddle and swaggered to the corral

"The first man lays a hand on those bars, I'll shoot," Hickok called.
They answered his warning with a volley, and their leader laughed as
he dragged the topmost railing from its place. Laughing he died.

Now the rifles of the others rained lead against the sod walls and
slugs buzzed like angry wasps through the window. He killed one more
by the corral and a third who had crept up behind the wooden
well-curb. The seven who were left retired to the cottonwoods to hold
council. They determined to rush the building and batter down the

When they came forth bearing a dead tree-trunk between them, he got
two more of them. And then the timber crashed against the flimsy door;
the rended boards flew across the room; the sod walls trembled to the
shock. He dropped his rifle and drew his revolver as he leaped to meet

Jim McCandless and another pitched forward across the threshold with
leveled shotguns at their shoulders. Young Hickok ducked under the
muzzle of the nearest weapon, and its flame seared his long hair as he
swung for the bearer's mid-section with all the weight of his body
behind the blow. Whirling with the swiftness of a fighting cat he
spurned the senseless outlaw with his boot and "threw down" on
McCandless. Revolver and shotgun flamed in the same instant;
McCandless fell dead; Hickok staggered back with eleven buckshot in
his body.

The other three were on him before he recovered his balance. He felt
the searing of their bowie-knives against his ribs as they bore him
down on the bed. Fingers closed in on his windpipe. He seized the arm
in his two hands and twisted it, as one would twist a stick, until the
bones snapped. He struggled to his feet, and the warm blood bathed his
limbs as he hurled the two who were left across the room.

They came on crouching and their knives gleamed through the thick
smoke-clouds. His own bowie-knife was in his hand now, and he stabbed
the foremost through the throat. The other fled. Hickok stumbled out
through the door after him, and Doc Brinck came riding back from his
hunting expedition in time to lend his rifle to his partner, who
insisted profanely that he was fit to finish what he had so well

So young James Hickok shut his teeth against the weakness which was
creeping over him and lined his sights on the last of his enemies; for
the man whom he had felled with his fist and he with the broken arm
had escaped some time during the latter progress of the fight. That
final shot was not so true as its predecessors; the outlaw did not die
until several days later in the little town of Manhattan, Kansas.

When the eastbound stage pulled up that afternoon the driver and
passengers found the long-haired young station-keeper in a deep swoon,
with eleven buckshot and thirteen knife wounds in his body. They took
him aboard and carried him to Manhattan where he recovered six months
later, to find himself known throughout the West as Wild Bill Hickok.

How many men he killed is a mooted question. But it is universally
acknowledged that he slew them all fairly. Owning that prestige whose
possessor walks amid unseen dangers, he introduced the quick draw on
his portion of frontier; and many who sought his life for the sake of
the dark fame which the deed would bring them died with their weapons
in their hands.

In Abilene, Kansas, where he was for several years town marshal, one
of these caught him unawares as he was rounding a corner. Wild Bill
complied with the order to throw up his hands and stood, rigid,
expressionless, while the desperado, emulating the plains Indians,
tried to torture him by picturing the closeness of his end. He was in
the midst of his description when Hickok's eyes widened and his voice
was thick with seeming horror as he cried,

"My God! Don't kill him from behind!" The outlaw allowed his eyes to
waver and he fell with a bullet-hole in his forehead.

As stage-driver, Indian fighter, and peace officer Wild Bill Hickok
did a man's work in cleaning up the border. He was about to go and
join the Custer expedition as a scout when one who thought the murder
would give him renown shot him from behind as he was sitting in at a
poker game in Deadwood. He died drawing his two guns, and the whole
West mourned his passing. It had never known a braver spirit.

The silent ranks grow thicker: young men, sunburned and booted for the
saddle; the restless souls who forsook tame Eastern farm-lands, lured
by the West's promise of adventure, and received the supreme
fulfilment of that promise; the finest of the South's manhood drawn
toward the setting sun to seek new homes. They come from a hundred
boot-hills, from hundreds of solitary graves; from the banks of the
Yellowstone, the Platte, the Arkansas, and the two forks of the

There are so many among them who died exalted that the tongue would
weary reciting the tales. This tattered group were with the fifty who
drove off fifteen hundred Cheyennes and Kiowas on Beecher Island. The
Battle of the Arickaree was the name men gave the stand; and the
sands of the north fork of the Republican were red with the blood of
the Indians slain by Forsythe and his half hundred when night fell.

These three who follow in boots, jean breeches, and Oregon shirts are
Billy Tyler and the Shadler brothers, members of that company of
twenty-eight buffalo hunters who made the big fight at Adobe Walls.
The sun was just rising when Quanah Parker, Little Robe, and White
Shield led more than eight hundred Comanches and Kiowas in the first
charge upon the four buildings which stood at the edge of the Llano
Estacado, one hundred and fifty miles from the nearest settlement. The
Shadler boys were slain in their wagon at that onslaught. Tyler was
shot down at midday as he ventured forth from Myers & Leonard's store.
Before the afternoon was over the Indians sickened of their losses and
drew off beyond range of the big-caliber Sharp's rifles. They
massacred one hundred and ninety people during their three months'
raiding but the handful behind the barricaded doors and windows was
too much for them.

Private George W. Smith of the Sixth Cavalry is passing now. You would
need to look a second time to notice that he was a soldier, for the
rifle under his arm is a long-barreled Sharp's single shot and he has
put aside much of the old blue uniform for the ordinary Western
raiment. That was the way of scouting expeditions, and he, with his
five companions, was on the road from McClellan's Creek to Fort Supply
when they met two hundred Indians on that September morning of 1874.

Up near the northeast corner of the Texas Panhandle, where the land
rises to a divide between Gageby's Creek and the Washita River, the
five survivors dug his grave with butcher-knives. They pulled down the
banks of a buffalo wallow over his body in the darkness of the night;
and they left him in this shallow sepulcher, unmarked by stone or
headboard. There his bones lie to this day, and no man knows when he
is passing over them.

The six of them had left General Miles's command two days before. At
dawn on September 13, they were riding northward up the long open
slope: Billy Dixon and Amos Chapman, two buffalo hunters serving as
scouts, and the four troopers, Sergeant Z. T. Woodhull, Privates Peter
Rath, John Harrington, and George W. Smith. You could hardly tell the
soldiers from the plainsmen, had you seen them; a sombreroed group,
booted to the knees and in their shirt-sleeves; all bore the heavy,
fifty-caliber Sharp's single-shot rifles across their saddle-horns.

The bare land rolled away and away, dark velvet-brown toward the
flushing east. The sky was vivid crimson when they turned their horses
up a little knoll. They reached its summit just as the sun was rising.
Here they drew rein. Two hundred Comanches and Kiowas were riding
toward them at the bottom of the hill; the landscape had tricked them
into ambush.

There passed an instant during which astonishment held both parties
motionless: the white men on the crest, unshaven, sunburned, their
soiled sombreros drooping over their narrowed eyes; and at the slope's
foot the ranks of half-naked braves all decked out in the war-path's
gaudy panoply. Their lean torsos gleamed under the rays of the rising
sun like old copper; patches of ocher and vermilion stood out in vivid
contrast against the dusky skins; feathered war-bonnets and dyed
scalp-locks fluttered, gay bits of color in the morning breeze. The
instant passed; the white men flung themselves from their saddles; the
red men deployed forming a wide circle about them. A ululating yell,
so fierce in its exultation that the cavalry horses pulled back upon
their bridles in a frenzy of fear, broke the silence. Then the booming
of the long Sharp's fifties on the summit mingled with the rattle of
Springfields and needle-guns on the hill's flank.

Now, while the bullets threw the dust from the dry sod into their
faces, five of the six dropped on their bellies in a ring. And by
the sergeant's orders Private George Smith took charge of the
panic-stricken horses. Perhaps that task fell to him because he was
the poorest shot, perhaps it was because he had the least experience;
but it was a man's job. He stood upright clinging to the tie-ropes,
trying to soothe the plunging animals; and he became the target
for a hundred of those rifles which were clattering along the
hillside below him. For every warrior in the band knew that the
first bullet that found its mark in his body would send the horses
stampeding down the slope; and to put his foes afoot was the
initial purpose of the plains Indian when he went into battle.

So Private Smith clinched his teeth and did his best, while the
deep-toned buffalo-guns roared and the rifles of the savages answered
in a never-ending volley all around him. The leaden slugs droned past
his ears as thick as swarming bees; the plunging hoofs showed through
the brown dust-clouds, and his arms ached from the strain of the

Billy Dixon had thrown away his wide-rimmed sombrero and his long hair
rippled in the wind. He had been through the battle at Adobe Walls and
men knew him for one of the best shots in the country south of the
Arkansas River. He was taking it slowly, lining his sights with the
coolness of an old hand on a target-range. Now he raised his head.

"Here they come," he shouted.

The circle was drawing inward where the land sloped up at the easiest
angle. A hundred half-naked riders swung toward the summit, and the
thud-thud of the ponies' little hoofs was audible through the rattle
of the rifles. The buffalo-guns boomed in slow succession like the
strokes of a tolling bell. Empty saddles began to show in the
forefront. The charge swerved off, and as it passed at point-blank
range a curtain of powder smoke unrolled along the whole flank.

Private George Smith pitched forward on his face. His rifle flew far
from him. He lay there motionless. A trooper binding his wounded thigh
glanced around when the assault had become a swift retreat.

"Look!" he cried. "They've got Smith."

"Set us afoot," another growled and pointed after the stampeded

Smith lay quite still as he had fallen. They thought him dead. Within
the hour, a dozen whooping Comanches ran their ponies up the hill
toward his limp form. To gain that scalp-lock under fire would be an
exploit worth telling to their grandchildren in after years. And
there was the long-barreled rifle as a bit of plunder. But the five
white men, who had changed their position under a second charge,
emptied four saddles before the warriors were within a hundred yards
of the spot, and the eight survivors whipped their ponies down the
slope again.

The sun was climbing high when Amos Chapman rolled over on his side
and called to Billy Dixon that his leg was broken. Dixon lifted his
head and surveyed the situation. The Indians were gathering for
another rush. Thus far they had taken things as though they were so
sure of the ultimate result that they did not see fit to run great
chances. But this could not last. The next charge might be the final
one. Down on a little mesquite flat about two hundred yards distant,
he saw a buffalo wallow. He pointed to it.

"We got to make it," he told the others, and they followed him as he
ran for the shelter. But Amos Chapman crawled only a dozen paces or so
before he had to give it up. The four fell to work with their
butcher-knives heaping up the sand at the summit of the low bank which
surrounded the shallow circular depression. They dropped their knives
and picked up their rifles, for the savages were sweeping down upon

So they dug and fought and fought and dug for another hour and then
Billy Dixon was unable to stand the sight of his partner lying
helpless on the summit of the knoll.

"I'm going to get Amos," he announced, and set forth amid a rain of
bullets. Those who saw him after the fight was over--and General
Miles was among them--said that his shirt was ripped in twenty places
by flying lead. He halted on the hilltop and took up Chapman
pick-a-back, then bore him slowly down the slope to the little

Noon came on. The sun shone hot. Dixon had got a bullet in the calf of
his leg when he was bearing his companion on his back. Private Rath
was the only man who was not wounded. They all thirsted as only men
can thirst who have been keyed up to the high pitch of endeavor for
hours. The savages charged thrice more; and when they came, numbers of
them always deployed toward the top of the knoll where Private Smith
lay dying: dead his companions thought, but they were grim in their
determination that the red men should never get the scalp which they
coveted so sorely. The big Sharps boomed; the saddles emptied to their
booming. Private Smith wakened from one swoon only to fall into
another. Sometimes he wakened to the thudding of hoofs and saw the
savages sweeping toward him on their ponies.

Near midafternoon the warriors formed for a charge and it was evident
from the manner of their massing that they were going to ride down on
the buffalo wallow in one solid body. But while their ranks were
gathering there came up one of those sudden thunderstorms for which
the Staked Plains were famous. The rain fell in sheets; the lightning
blazed with scarcely an intermission between flashes. And the charge
was given up for the time being. The braves drew off beyond rifle-shot
and huddled up within their blankets.

Morris Rath seized the respite to go for ammunition. For Smith's
cartridge-belts were full. He came back from the knoll breathless.

"Smith's living," he cried.

"Come on," Billy Dixon bade him and the two went back to the summit.

"I can walk if you two hold me up," Private George Smith whispered. A
bullet had passed through his lungs and when he breathed the air
whistled from a hole beneath his shoulder-blade. They supported him on
either side and half-carried him to the buffalo wallow.

The thunder-shower had passed. Another was coming fast. The Indians
were gathering to take advantage of the brief interval. The agony
which had come from rough motion was keeping Smith from swooning now.
He saw his companions preparing to stand off the assault. Amos Chapman
was holding himself upright by bracing his body against the side of
the wallow. Private Smith whispered to the others,

"Set me up like Chapman. They'll think there's more of us fit to shoot
that way." And they did as he had asked them.

So he held his body erect while the life was ebbing from it; and the
rain came down again in sheets. The Indians fell back before the
charge was well begun. It was their last attempt.

The wind rose, biting raw. The savages melted away as dusk drew down
over the brown land. Some one looked at Smith. His head was sunk and
he was moaning with pain. They found a willow switch and tamped a
handkerchief into the wound. And then they laid him down in the
rain-water which had gathered in the wallow. His blood and the blood
of the others turned that water a dull red.

Some time near midnight he died. And several days later, when General
Miles's troops came to rescue them, the five others buried his body.
It was night-time. The fires of the troopers glowed down at the foot
of the slope. They made the grave with their butcher-knives by pulling
down the sand from the wallow's side upon the body. And then they went
to the camp-fires of the soldiers.

                  *       *       *       *       *

They are passing from bleak graveyards on the alkali flats and in the
northern mountains where the sage-brush meets the pines: gaunt men in
laced boots and faded blue overalls who traveled once too often
through the desert's mirage searching for the golden ledges; big-boned
hard rock men who died in underground passages where the steel was
battering the living granite; men with soft hands and cold eyes who
fattened on the fruits of robbery and murder.

This swarthy black-haired one in the soft silk shirt and spotless
raiment of the gambler is Cherokee Bob, who killed and plundered
unchallenged throughout eastern Washington and Idaho during the early
sixties; until the camp of Florence celebrated its third New Year's
Eve with a ball in which respectability held sway, and he took his
consort thither to mingle with the wives of others. Then he kindled a
flame of resentment which his blackest murders had failed to rouse.
The next morning the entire camp turned out to drive him forth
together with Bill Willoughby, his partner. The two retreated slowly,
from building to building, facing the mob. Shotguns bellowed;
rifle-bullets sang about their ears, and they answered with their
revolvers, until death left their trigger fingers limp.

Here comes one with catlike tread, slender and with a dignity of
presence which proclaims the gentleman. But when you glance at the
lean immobile face, there is that in the pale eyes which checks your
blood; their gray is like the gray of old ice late in the wintertime.
This is Henry Plummer. Behind him troop thirty others, bearded men,
and the evil of their deeds is plainly written on their features; the
members of his band who slew for gold, leaving the dead to mark their
trail through Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. In Alder Gulch
their leader was elected sheriff and planned their murders for them
while he held the office. Finally such men as Sam Hauser, N. P.
Langford, J. X. Beidler, and Colonel W. F. Saunders took their lives
in their hands and organized a vigilance committee at Virginia City.
They got their evidence; and in January, 1864, they lynched the
sheriff and his thirty, whose deeds would make a long story were they
worthy of a place within this chronicle. But the mining camps never
produced the type of desperado who was willing to take his share of
chances in a shooting affair; excepting when the cattle country was
close by. The bad man who could command a measure of admiration always
was a horseman.

Here pass those who died boldly in the glaring lands by the Arizona
border; a multitude of sunburned men with revolvers swinging low
beside their hips and in their hands the deadly Winchesters. One comes
among them, rugged of frame, big-featured, red from weather and the
fulness of his blood. There is, in the poise of his head and in his
eyes, a fierce intolerance. This is Joe Phy. More than forty years
have passed since they buried him in the little boot-hill at
Florence, Arizona. To-day the town is as conventional as any Eastern
village, but it saw a time when men lived up to the rude clean code of
our American age of chivalry. During that era Joe Phy met his end with
a grimness befitting a son of the Old West.

Florence was the county-seat and Pete Gabriel was sheriff. He was a
handsome man with his twisted mustache and Napoleon goatee,
free-handed with his money, widely liked. Moreover he was a wonderful
shot with his rifle and deadly quick with a single-action revolver.
Among the gun-fighters of southern Arizona none was better known than
he, and Joe Phy was his deputy.

The county of Pinal extended from the glaring flats below the Gila
northward beyond the Superstition Mountains, a savage land where the
sun was killing hot in summer-time, where forests of giant cacti
stretched for miles like the pine woods that cloaked the higher
plateaus. Phy and Gabriel rode together through the country on many a
bold errand; they shared their blankets and the hardships of dry
camps; they fought beside each other while the bullets of wanted men
snarled, ricochetting from the rocks about them.

Then politics brought a rift in their friendship and the day came when
the deputy ran for office against his former chief. The campaign was
made bitter by accusations. There was, men said, a court-house ring;
the big companies were dodging taxes, the small ranchers were getting
the worst of it. Election came and the rancor of the reformers grew
hotter when the count showed that Gabriel had won. Many openly
proclaimed that the court-house crowd had juggled with the ballots,
and Phy was among these. When a contest was instituted and the result
of the election was carried to the courts, he grew to hate Gabriel.
The hatred flamed within him until he could stand it no longer and one
night he hunted the town over until he found the sheriff in Keating's

"Pete," he said, "I'm going home after my six-shooter and I'm coming
back to fight it out with you. Get ready while I'm gone."

And Gabriel answered quietly, "All right, Joe. I'll be here when you
come back."

The swinging doors closed behind Phy's back and the sheriff turned to
the man behind the bar.

"Call 'em up," he said. "This is on me." He ordered whisky and those
who lined up beside him kept looking toward the street entrance; but
he remained with his back to the swinging doors. The minutes passed;
the doors flew open. Within the threshold Joe Phy halted.

"Commence!" he shouted and flung an oath after the word. "Commence!"

Pete Gabriel turned, and his revolver flew from its holster spitting
fire. Phy's forty-five ejected a thin stream of orange flame. The
voices of the weapons mingled in one loud explosion. The two men took
a pace toward each other and the smoke grew thicker as they shot again
in unison. They came on slowly, pulling the triggers until the room
was filled with the black powder fumes.

Then Pete Gabriel stood swaying within arm's length of Joe Phy's
prostrate form. And as he struggled against the mortal weakness which
was now creeping through his lead-riddled body the man on the floor

"I cain't get up. Get down. We'll finish it with knives."

"I guess we've both of us got enough," the sheriff muttered, and
staggered out through the door, to lie all night in a near-by corral
and live for two years afterward with a bullet through his kidneys.

Joe Phy died hard on the saloon floor. Those in the room gathered
about him, and Johnny Murphy strove to lift his head that they might
give him a sip of water. A year before he and two others had slain Joe
Levy, a faro-dealer in Tucson, and they had done it foully from
behind. Since that time men had avoided him, speaking to him only when
it was absolutely necessary, and his hair had turned snow-white. Joe
Phy opened his eyes and recognized his would-be helper.

"Don't you dare lay a hand on me," he cried, "you murderer," and
struck Murphy full in the face. His hand fell limply back. The breath
had departed from his body with that blow.

The long procession is waning. Now those are coming whose headboards
were erected in the early eighties. A company of swarthy black-eyed
riders in the flaring trousers and steep-crowned sombreros of Mexico
jog along elbow to elbow with hard-eyed horsemen from the valleys of
the San Simon and the Animas. Smuggler and cow-thief, there is a story
in their passing which centers about a deep gorge near the place where
the boundary between New Mexico and Arizona meets the international
line. That story goes a long way back.

Down in the southwestern corner of the Animas valley the Guadalupe
Cañon trail approached the gorge from which it got its name. In the
days when the American colonists were still contented with Great
Britain's rule it was a main thoroughfare between the Piños Altos
mines and old Mexico. Long trains of pack-mules, laden with treasure
which the Spaniards had delved from the sun-baked mountains near where
Silver City now stands, traveled this route. Apaches and bandits made
many an attack on them in the cañon.

The Piños Altos mines were abandoned. The trail fell into disuse. The
years passed by. The '49 rush brought new travelers of another breed
who beat down the old track again. Passing through the gorge they too
found the Apaches lurking among the rocks and more than one old
argonaut laid down his eight-square rifle for the last time within the
shadow of those arid cliffs.

Old Man Clanton came with one of these '49 outfits, a typical specimen
of that lean-jawed leathern-faced breed who have fought Indians,
lynched Mexicans, and established themselves in hundreds of dreary
outposts beyond the last settlements. He went on to California, failed
to find the gold, and returned some time during the latter seventies
to the upper San Pedro valley. Here he "raised his family," as the old
expression has it, and, his sons grew up, Finn, Ike, and Billy. Those
were wild days, and the two last-named boys became more proficient
with rope, running-iron, and forty-five revolver than they ever did
with their school-books. In time they were known as rustlers and in
the lawless town of Charleston by the San Pedro River they fell in
with Curly Bill. When the outlaw went eastward into the valleys of
the San Simon and the Animas the two young Clantons went with him. The
cow-thieves of the San Simon and the Animas did not go to the trouble
of altering brands or "sleepering," as their successors have in later
years, but drove entire herds and sold them, as they were, to
shippers. Occasionally they rode down into Sonora to raid the ranges
south of the border. One July day in 1881 a number of them embarked on
such an expedition and they gathered a bunch of several hundred
longhorns. They brought them up through Guadalupe Cañon and came on
northward to the Double Dobe Ranch. Here they left the cattle with a
man to hold them, while they rode over to Curly Bill's place, not far

But the Mexicans had been suffering from this sort of depredations
until patience had ceased to be a virtue and a band of thirty dusky
vaqueros were following the trail of those stolen longhorns. On the
afternoon of July 26 the man who was riding herd caught sight of the
steep-crowned sombreros coming out through the mirage on the flats to
the south. He waited only long enough to satisfy himself as to the
nationality of the riders, then clapped spurs to his pony and raced to
Curly Bill's place.

It took the rustlers some time to saddle up. When they arrived at the
Double Dobe they found nothing of their former prizes but a fresh
trail. They made the best speed they could, but the Mexicans were
"shoving those cattle hard," as the old-timers say. They had a good
lead and they held it clear to Guadalupe Cañon. The running fight
that followed lasted half-way through the gorge. The men from Sonora
were seasoned hands at Indian warfare, and they had no mind to give
up their beef. They left a small rear-guard, who fell back slowly
from rock to rock while their companions urged the longhorns to a
run. The shouts of "Toro! Toro! Vaca! Vaca"! mingled with the
crackling of the rifles. And when the rustlers finally routed the
stubborn defenders to chase the herders on through the ravine and
reassemble the panic-stricken stock, they took back three dead men
across their saddles. They buried the bodies at the Cloverdale
ranch and so started a lonely little boot-hill whose headboards
showed on the edge of the mesa for many years.

There came now to the old Guadalupe Cañon trail a new traffic. Mexican
smugglers who had formerly been crossing the boundary at the southern
end of the San Pedro valley shifted their route hither and traveled
northward to Silver City. They were hard men, accustomed to warring
with the Apaches, bandits, and border officers. They banded together
in formidable outfits to guard the dobie dollars which loaded down the
aparejos during the northern journey. And Curly Bill's companions saw
them passing on more than one occasion: a scuffle of hoofs, a haze of
dust, through which showed the swarthy faces of the outriders under
the great sombreros--and, what lingered longest in the memories of
these hard-faced men of the Animas, the pleasant dull chink of the
dobie dollars in the rawhide pack-sacks.

In Galeyville the rustlers talked the matter over. It was a simple
problem: go and get the money. They went one day and made their camp
near Guadalupe Cañon. They sent scouts on through the gorge to watch
the country from the mesa above the spot where John Slaughter's ranch
buildings now stand. One hot noontide the scouts came riding in.

"There's a big outfit coming. Must be a dozen mules and nigh on to
thirty men." The outlaws were in the saddle before those who brought
the tidings had time to breathe their horses.

In those days you were supposed to give a man what the old-timers
called an even break before you killed him. The supposition was lived
up to by the chivalrous and ignored by many who gained large
reputations. But when it came to Mexicans there was not even that
ideal to attain; they were not rated as full-fledged human beings; to
slay one meant no addition to the notches on one's gun, nor did one
feel obliged to observe the rules of fair play. You simply killed your
greaser in the most expeditious manner possible and then forgot about
it. The rustlers went about the business according to this custom.
Save for Curly Bill the members of the party left their horses in
charge of a man around a turn of the gorge. They hid themselves behind
the rocks on the steep mountain-side and waited while their burly
leader rode slowly to meet the smugglers.

The train was traveling after the Mexican fashion, which is very much
like the Spanish California manner of driving a herd. The chief of the
outfit rode in the lead some distance before the first pack-mule. The
laden animals followed in single file. Flanking them on each side were
the armed guards, with one or two closing in on the rear. Thus they
came, winding their way among the stark rocks and the clumps of
Spanish bayonet, and when the leader caught sight of Curly Bill from
under his huge, silver decked sombrero, he reined in his horse; his
grip tightened on the rifle which he carried across his saddle. The
outriders pulled up; there was a low rattle of shifting weapons and
the bell of the first mule stopped tinkling as the train came to a

But the strange rider was alone. The leader raised his arm in signal
and the straggling procession resumed its advance. The solitary
American rode on until he was alongside their head man.

"Buenos dias, Señor," he said and checked his pony. The Mexican
answered. The pair shook hands. When they had talked for some moments,
Curly Bill turned and rode back up the cañon beside the smuggler. The
pack-train followed and the men on the flanks eased their rifles back
into the sheaths. They traveled until the lead mule had passed the
last hidden rustler.

Curly Bill's right hand swept to his revolver holster and came on
upward clutching the weapon's butt. The movement was so quick that
before those who were looking at him really grasped its meaning the
hot rocks were bandying echoes of the report. The Mexican was sliding
from his saddle, quite dead. The outlaw was spurring his pony up the

Now the outriders dragged their rifles from the sheaths but while they
were seeking to line their sights on the murderer the rustlers opened
fire on them. Those cow-thieves of the Animas were good shots; the
range was brief. The flat explosions of the Winchesters, the scuffling
of hoofs, the voices of dark-skinned riders calling upon their saints
as they pitched forward from their frenzied horses, dying; the
squealing of a hit burro; these things the arid cliffs heard and
repeated to one another. And then the rat-tat-tat of hoofbeats as the
surviving smugglers fled westward.

That is the way the rustlers told the story in Galeyville amid grim
laughter; and the voices of the narrators were raised to carry
above the staccato pounding of the painos, the scuffling of boot
heels on the dance-hall floors, the shrill mirthless outcries of
rouge-bedizened women, and the resonant slapping of dobie dollars
on the unpainted pine bars. Now and again the recitals were
interrupted by the roaring of forty-five revolvers as the more
fervid celebrants showed their expertness at marksmanship by shooting
the French heels from the shoes of the dance-hall girls.

John Ringo, the king of the outlaws, got wind of what was going on and
rode over from Tombstone, silent as usual, and with that saturninity
of expression which grew darker as the whisky began to work within
him. He took no part in the celebration but sat through one day and
two blazing nights, dumbly sardonic, at a round table. Save for his
dark countenance, the faces which ringed that table were changing
constantly. Men came noisily, sat down for a time, and departed at
length in chastened silence as the poker-game which he had organized
went on and on--until a large share of those dobie dollars passed unto
him. Then, with the sudden flare of recklessness which invariably came
to him sooner or later, he in his turn flung away the silver over the
unpainted bars. So the incident passed and was forgotten--by the

The Mexicans did not forget.

Old Man Clanton started with a Tombstone butcher and three others on
a journey for the Animas valley a few weeks later. They were going to
buy beef cattle and they took the Guadalupe Cañon route. One night
they made camp near the middle of the gorge. And while they slept a
dozen swarthy men, who wore the steep-crowned sombreros and the
trousers with leathern facings which were a part of every Mexican
smuggler's costume, came creeping in and out among the boulders like
the Apaches whose ways they had studied in years of border warfare.

They had waited a long time in the lofty mountains south of the
boundary, watching the malapi flats for a party of Americans; and at
last these had come. They had dogged their trail through the long hot
afternoon, keeping well back lest they should be discovered. Now they
were closing in. The air grew cooler and the hour of dawn approached.
They slipped, black shadows a little deeper than the night which
enfolded them. The light climbed up the eastern sky and leaked down
between the cliffs; the cold gray dusk which comes before the dawn.
The shadows melted slowly; the heavens began to blush. Down here a man
could line the notch of his hindsight with the bead. A pebble tinkled
in the arid watercourse. One of the sleepers stirred in his blankets.
He caught the sound, opened his eyes, and saw the crown of a sombrero
rising behind a rock. He leaped from his bed and flung himself among a
clump of boulders just as the rifles began to talk.

Two or three cow-boys were lounging about the Cloverdale ranch-house
on a blazing summer afternoon when a queer figure came into sight upon
the palpitating plain. The spectacle of a man on foot was so uncommon
in those days that they had a hard time making themselves believe that
this form, which at times took distorted shapes in the wavering
overheated air, was that of a human being. Then they set forth to meet
him, and they brought the one survivor of the Canton party to the
ranch-house. His bare-feet were bleeding; he was half-clad; and his
tongue was swollen with thirst. They got his story and they rode to
Guadalupe Cañon where they found the bodies of his companions. They
buried them on the little boot-hill overlooking the ranch buildings.

But the episode was not yet finished.

Time went by. Billy Clanton and the two MacLowery boys, who are said
to have been parties to the dobie dollar hold-up, died one autumn
morning fighting it out against the Earp faction in Tombstone's
street. Curly Bill's fate remains something of a mystery, but one
story has it that Wyatt Earp killed him near Globe two years or so
later. John Ringo killed himself up in the San Simon, delirious from
thirst. Rattlesnake Bill, who helped to spend the Mexican silver, was
shot down by a fellow-rustler in Galeyville. Jake Gauz, another of the
participants, was lynched for horse-stealing not far from the head of
Turkey Creek Cañon.

So they went one after the other, and it is possible that every man
who was present at the massacre of the Mexicans died with his boots

                  *       *       *       *       *

"Those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword." The words
come from one who rides near the grim procession's end; a slim young
fellow, beardless, his hair hanging to his shoulders. It is the boy
whom men called Billy the Kid. He quoted the passage to Pat Garret
when the Lincoln County sheriff and his posse were taking him and his
captured companions to Santa Fé.

"Those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword." Only a few
nights before he spoke, Tom O'Phalliard, one of the last of his band,
had fallen from his horse with a bullet through his chest in Fort
Sumner to die, cursing the tall silent sheriff, in the room where the
posse had carried him. Two mornings afterward at the Arroyo Tivan,
Charley Bowdre had staggered into the stone house where the outlaws
were hiding, wounded unto death by the rifles of these same pursuers.

"Charley, you're done for. Go out and see if you can't get one of
them," Billy the Kid had told the dying man, and through the crack of
the door had watched him stumbling over the frozen snow toward the
posse, while his numbed fingers fumbled with his revolver butt in a
final access of vain effort.

And now this youth, the deadliest of the Southwestern outlaws, spoke
from the Scriptures to Pat Garret; perhaps it was all of his Bible
that he knew. He said it in December. In July Garret shot him in Pete
Maxwell's room at Fort Sumner. The years went by. One day the former
sheriff fell in the sand hills west of Tularosa with an assassin's
bullet in his back.

Thus, throughout the Old West: bad man and frontier officer, Indian
fighter, cow-boy, stage-driver, trooper, and faro-dealer, they lived
their lives in accordance with bold customs which bridged the gap
between savagery and modern civilization. In a strange land they did
the best they could; and, bad or good, they came to their ends with a
fine unflinching disregard for the supreme adventure.

To-day fat prairie corn-fields stand tasseled in the sunlight, the
smoke of lusty young cities rises black against the sky; while
automobiles speed upon concrete highways over the forgotten graveyards
where their bones lie.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "When the West Was Young" ***

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