Vanished Arizona, Recollections of the Army Life by a New England Woman
Part 2 out of 5
"Our figures must make a mighty good outline against that fire,"
remarked one of officers, nonchalantly; "I dare say those
stealthy sons of Satan know exactly where we are at this minute,"
"Yes, you bet your life they do!" answered one of the younger
men, lapsing into the frontiersman's language, from the force of
"Look behind you at those trees, Jack," said Major Worth. "Can
you see anything? No! And if there were an Apache behind each one
of them, we should never know it."
We all turned and peered into the black darkness which
Another pause followed; the silence was weird--only the cracking
of the fire was heard, and the mournful soughing of the wind in
Suddenly, a crash! We started to our feet and faced around.
"A dead branch," said some one.
Major Worth shrugged his shoulders, and turning to Jack, said, in
a low tone, "D---- d if I don't believe I'm getting nervous," and
saying "good night," he walked towards his tent.
No element of doubt pervaded my mind as to my own state. The
weird feeling of being up in those remote mountain passes, with
but a handful of soldiers against the wary Apaches, the
mysterious look of those black tree-trunks, upon which flickered
the uncertain light of the camp-fire now dying, and from behind
each one of which I imagined a red devil might be at that moment
taking aim with his deadly arrow, all inspired me with fear such
as I had never before known.
In the cyclone which had overtaken our good ship in mid-Atlantic,
where we lay tossing about at the mercy of the waves for
thirty-six long hours, I had expected to yield my body to the dark
and grewsome depths of the ocean. I had almost felt the cold arms
of Death about me; but compared to the sickening dread of the
cruel Apache, my fears then had been as naught. Facing the
inevitable at sea, I had closed my eyes and said good-bye to
Life. But in this mysterious darkness, every nerve, every sense,
was keenly alive with terror.
Several of that small party around the camp-fire have gone from
amongst us, but I venture to say that ,of the few who are left,
not one will deny that he shared in the vague apprehension which
seized upon us.
Midnight found us still lingering around the dead ashes of the
fire. After going to our tent, Jack saw that I was frightened. He
said: "Don't worry, Martha, an Apache never was known to attack
in the night," and after hearing many repetitions of this
assertion, upon which I made him take his oath, I threw myself
upon the bed. After our candle was out, I said: "When do they
attack?" Jack who, with the soldiers' indifference to danger, was
already half asleep, replied: "Just before daylight, usually, but
do not worry, I say; there aren't any Injuns in this
neighborhood. Why! Didn't you meet General Crook to-day? You
ought to have some sense. If there'd been an Injun around here he
would have cleaned him out. Now go to sleep and don't be
foolish." But I was taking my first lessons in campaigning, and
sleep was not so easy.
Just before dawn, as I had fallen into a light slumber, the flaps
of the tent burst open, and began shaking violently to and fro. I
sprang to my feet, prepared for the worst. Jack started up: "What
is it?" he cried.
"It must have been the wind, I think, but it frightened me," I
murmured. The Lieutenant fastened the tent-flaps together, and
lay down to sleep again; but my heart beat fast, and I listened
for every sound.
The day gradually dawned, and with it my fears of the night were
allayed. But ever after that, Jack's fatal answer, "Just before
daylight," kept my eyes wide open for hours before the dawn.
A PERILOUS ADVENTURE
One fine afternoon, after a march of twenty-two miles over a
rocky road, and finding our provisions low, Mr. Bailey and Jack
went out to shoot wild turkeys. As they shouldered their guns
and walked away. Captain Ogilby called out to them, "Do not go
too far from camp."
Jack returned at sundown with a pair of fine turkeys! but Bailey
failed to come in. However, as they all knew him to be an
experienced woodsman, no one showed much anxiety until darkness
had settled over the camp. Then they began to signal, by
discharging their rifles; the officers went out in various
directions, giving "halloos," and firing at intervals, but there
came no sound of the missing man.
The camp was now thoroughly alarmed. This was too dangerous a
place for a man to be wandering around in all night, and
search-parties of soldiers were formed. Trees were burned, and
the din of rifles, constantly discharged, added to the
excitement. One party after another came in. They had scoured the
country--and not a trace of Bailey.
The young wife sat in her tent, soothing her little child;
everybody except her, gave up hope; the time dragged on; our
hearts grew heavy; the sky was alight with blazing trees.
I went into Mrs. Bailey's tent. She was calm and altogether
lovely, and said: "Charley can't get lost, and unless something
has happened to him, he will come in."
Ella Bailey was a brave young army woman; she was an inspiration
to the entire camp.
Finally, after hours of the keenest anxiety, a noise of gladsome
shouts rang through the. trees, and in came a party of men with
the young officer on their shoulders. His friend Craig had been
untiring in the search, and at last had heard a faint "halloo" in
the distance, and one shot (the only cartridge poor Bailey had
After going over almost impassable places, they finally found
him, lying at the bottom of a ravine. In the black darkness of
the evening, he had walked directly over the edge of the chasm
and fallen to the bottom, dislocating his ankle.
He was some miles from camp, and had used up all his ammunition
except the one cartridge. He had tried in vain to walk or even
crawl out of the ravine, but had finally been overcome by
exhaustion and lay there helpless, in the wild vastnesses of the
A desperate situation, indeed! Some time afterwards, he told me
how he felt, when he realized how poor his chances were, when he
saw he had only one cartridge left and found that he had scarce
strength to answer a "halloo," should he hear one. But soldiers
never like to talk much about such things.
By the fourth of October we had crossed the range, and began to
see something which looked like roads. Our animals were fagged to
a state of exhaustion, but the travelling was now much easier and
there was good grazing, and after three more long day's marches,
we arrived at Camp Apache. We were now at our journey's end,
after two months' continuous travelling, and I felt reasonably
sure of shelter and a fireside for the winter at least. I knew
that my husband's promotion was expected, but the immediate
present was filled with an interest so absorbing, that a
consideration of the future was out of the question.
At that time (it was the year of 1874) the officers' quarters at
Camp Apache were log cabins, built near the edge of the deep
canon through which the White Mountain River flows, before its
junction with Black River.
We were welcomed by the officers of the Fifth Cavalry, who were
stationed there. It was altogether picturesque and attractive. In
addition to the row of log cabins, there were enormous stables
and Government buildings, and a cutler's store. We were
entertained for a day or two, and then quarters were assigned to
us. The second lieutenants had rather a poor choice, as the
quarters were scarce. We were assigned a half of a log cabin,
which gave us one room, a small square hall, and a bare shed, the
latter detached from the house, to be used for a kitchen. The
room on the other side of the hall was occupied by the Post
Surgeon, who was temporarily absent.
Our things were unloaded and brought to this cabin. I missed the
barrel of china, and learned that it had been on the unfortunate
wagon which rolled down the mountain-side. I had not attained
that state of mind which came to me later in my army life. I
cared then a good deal about my belongings, and the annoyance
caused by the loss of our china was quite considerable. I knew
there was none to be obtained at Camp Apache, as most of the
merchandise came in by pack-train to that isolated place.
Mrs. Dodge, of the Twenty-third Infantry, who was about to leave
the post, heard of my predicament, and offered me some china
plates and cups, which she thought not worth the trouble of
packing (so she said), and I was glad to accept them, and thanked
her, almost with tears in my eyes.
Bowen nailed down our one carpet over the poor board floor
(after having first sprinkled down a thick layer of clean straw,
which he brought from the quartermaster stables). Two iron cots
from the hospital were brought over, and two bed-sacks filled
with fresh, sweet straw, were laid upon them; over these were
laid our mattresses. Woven-wire springs were then unheard of in
We untied our folding chairs, built a fire on the hearth,
captured an old broken-legged wash-stand and a round table from
somewhere, and that was our living-room. A pine table was found
for the small hall, which was to be our dinning-room, and some
chairs with raw-hide seats were brought from the barracks, some
shelves knocked up against one wall, to serve as sideboard. Now
for the kitchen!
A cooking-stove and various things were sent over from the Q. M.
store-house, and Bowen (the wonder of it!) drove in nails, and
hung up my Fort Russell tin-ware, and put up shelves and stood my
pans in rows, and polished the stove, and went out and stole a
table somewhere (Bowen was invaluable in that way), polished the
zinc under the stove, and lo! and behold, my army kitchen! Bowen
was indeed a treasure; he said he would like to cook for us, for
ten dollars a month. We readily accepted this offer. There were
no persons to be obtained, in these distant places, who could do
the cooking in the families of officers, so it was customary to
employ a soldier; and the soldier often displayed remarkable
ability in the way of cooking, in some cases, in fact, more than
in the way of soldiering. They liked the little addition to their
pay, if they were of frugal mind; they had also their own quiet
room to sleep in, and I often thought the family life, offering
as it did a contrast to the bareness and desolation of the noisy
barracks, appealed to the domestic instinct, so strong in some
men's natures. At all events, it was always easy in those days to
get a man from the company, and they sometimes remained for years
with an officer's family; in some cases attending drills and
Now came the unpacking of the chests and trunks. In our one
diminutive room, and small hall, was no closet, there were no
hooks on the bare walls, no place to hang things or lay things,
and what to do I did not know. I was in despair; Jack came in, to
find me sitting on the edge of a chest, which was half unpacked,
the contents on the floor. I was very mournful, and he did not
"Oh! Jack! I've nowhere to put things!"
"What things?" said this impossible man.
"Why, all our things," said I, losing my temper; "can't you see
"Put them back in the chests,--and get them out as you need
them," said this son of Mars, and buckled on his sword. "Do the
best you can, Martha, I have to go to the barracks; be back again
soon." I looked around me, and tried to solve the problem. There
was no bureau, nothing; not a nook or corner where a thing might
be stowed. I gazed at the motley collection of bed-linen,
dust-pans, silver bottles, boot jacks, saddles, old uniforms,
full dress military hats, sword-belts, riding-boots, cut glass,
window-shades, lamps, work-baskets, and books, and I gave it up
in despair. You see, I was not an army girl, and I did not know
how to manage.
There was nothing to be done, however, but to follow Jack's
advice, so I threw the boots, saddles and equipments under the
bed, and laid the other things back in the chests, closed the
lids and went out to take a look at the post. Towards evening, a
soldier came for orders for beef, and I learned how to manage
that. I was told that we bought our meats direct from the
contractor; I had to state how much and what cuts I wished.
Another soldier came to bring us milk, and I asked Jack who was
the milkman, and he said, blessed if he knew; I learned,
afterwards, that the soldiers roped some of the wild Texas cows
that were kept in one of the Government corrals, and tied them
securely to keep them from kicking; then milked them, and the
milk was divided up among the officers' families, according to
rank. We received about a pint every night. I declared it was not
enough; but I soon discovered that however much education,
position and money might count in civil life, rank seemed to be
the one and only thing in the army, and Jack had not much of
that just then.
The question of getting settled comfortably still worried me, and
after a day of two, I went over to see what Mrs. Bailey had done.
To my surprise, I found her out playing tennis, her little boy
asleep in the baby-carriage, which they had brought all the way
from San Francisco, near the court. I joined the group, and
afterwards asked her advice about the matter. She laughed kindly,
and said: "Oh! you'll get used to it, and things will settle
themselves. Of course it is troublesome, but you can have shelves
and such things--you'll soon learn," and still smiling, she gave
her ball a neat left-hander.
I concluded that my New England bringing up had been too serious,
and wondered if I had made a dreadful mistake in marrying into
the army, or at least in following my husband to Arizona. I
debated the question with myself from all sides, and decided then
and there that young army wives should stay at home with their
mothers and fathers, and not go into such wild and uncouth
places. I thought my decision irrevocable.
Before the two small deep windows in our room we hung some Turkey
red cotton, Jack built in his spare moments a couch for me, and
gradually our small quarters assumed an appearance of comfort. I
turned my attention a little to social matters. We dined at
Captain Montgomery's (the commanding officer's) house; his wife
was a famous Washington beauty. He had more rank, consequently
more rooms, than we had, and their quarters were very comfortable
There was much that was new and interesting at the post. The
Indians who lived on this reservation were the White Mountain
Apaches, a fierce and cruel tribe, whose depredations and
atrocities had been carried on for years, in and around, and,
indeed, far away from their mountain homes. But this tribe was
now under surveillance of the Government, and guarded by a strong
garrison of cavalry and infantry at Camp Apache. They were
divided into bands, under Chiefs Pedro, Diablo, Patone and
Cibiano; they came into the post twice a week to be counted, and
to receive their rations of beef, sugar, beans, and other
staples, which Uncle Sam's commissary officer issued to them.
In the absence of other amusement, the officers' wives walked
over to witness this rather solemn ceremony. At least, the
serious expression on the faces of the Indians, as they received
their rations, gave an air of solemnity to the proceeding.
Large stakes were driven into the ground; at each stake, sat or
stood the leader of a band; a sort of father to his people; then
the rest of them stretched out in several long lines, young bucks
and old ones, squaws and pappooses, the families together, about
seventeen hundred souls in all. I used to walk up and down
between the lines, with the other women, and the squaws looked at
our clothes and chuckled, and made some of their inarticulate
remarks to each other. The bucks looked admiringly at the white
women, especially at the cavalry beauty, Mrs. Montgomery,
although I thought that Chief Diablo cast a special eye at our
young Mrs. Bailey, of the infantry.
Diablo was a handsome fellow. I was especially impressed by his
extraordinary good looks.
This tribe was quiet at that time, only a few renegades escaping
into the hills on their wild adventures: but I never felt any
confidence in them and was, on the whole, rather afraid of them.
The squaws were shy, and seldom came near the officers'
quarters. Some of the younger girls were extremely pretty; they
had delicate hands, and small feet encased in well-shaped
moccasins. They wore short skirts made of stripped bark, which
hung gracefully about their bare knees and supple limbs, and
usually a sort of low-necked camisa, made neatly of coarse,
unbleached muslin, with a band around the neck and arms, and, in
cold weather a pretty blanket was wrapped around their shoulders
and fastened at the breast in front. In summer the blanket was
replaced by a square of bright calico. Their coarse, black hair
hung in long braids in front over each shoulder, and nearly all
of them wore an even bang or fringe over the forehead. Of course
hats were unheard of. The Apaches, both men and women, had not
then departed from the customs of their ancestors, and still
retained the extraordinary beauty and picturesqueness of their
aboriginal dress. They wore sometimes a fine buckskin upper
garment, and if of high standing in the tribe, necklaces of elks
The young lieutenants sometimes tried to make up to the
prettiest ones, and offered them trinkets, pretty boxes of soap,
beads, and small mirrors (so dear to the heart of the Indian
girl), but the young maids were coy enough; it seemed to me they
cared more for men of their own race.
Once or twice, I saw older squaws with horribly disfigured faces.
I supposed it was the result of some ravaging disease, but I
learned that it was the custom of this tribe, to cut off the
noses of those women who were unfaithful to their lords. Poor
creatures, they had my pity, for they were only children of
Nature, after all, living close to the earth, close to the pulse
of their mother. But this sort of punishment seemed to be the
expression of the cruel and revengeful nature of the Apache.
LIFE AMONGST THE APACHES
Bowen proved to be a fairly good cook, and I ventured to ask
people to dinner in our little hall dining-room, a veritable box
of a place. One day, feeling particularly ambitious to have my
dinner a success, I made a bold attempt at oyster patties. With
the confidence of youth and inexperience, I made the pastry, and
it was a success; I took a can of Baltimore oysters, and did
them up in a fashion that astonished myself, and when, after the
soup, each guest was served with a hot oyster patty, one of the
cavalry officers fairly gasped. "Oyster patty, if I'm alive!
Where on earth--Bless my stars! And this at Camp Apache!"
"And by Holy Jerusalem! they are good, too," claimed Captain
Reilly, and turning to Bowen, he said: "Bowen, did you make
Bowen straightened himself up to his six foot two, clapped his
heels together, and came to "attention," looked straight to the
front, and replied: "Yes, sir."
I thought I heard Captain Reilly say in an undertone to his
neighbor, "The hell he did," but I was not sure.
At that season, we got excellent wild turkeys there, and good
Southdown mutton, and one could not complain of such living.
But I could never get accustomed to the wretched small space of
one room and a hall; for the kitchen, being detached, could
scarcely be counted in. I had been born and brought up in a
spacious house, with plenty of bedrooms, closets, and an immense
old-time garret. The forlorn makeshifts for closets, and the
absence of all conveniences, annoyed me and added much to the
difficulties of my situation. Added to this, I soon discovered
that my husband had a penchant for buying and collecting things
which seemed utterly worthless to me, and only added to the
number of articles to be handled and packed away. I begged him to
refrain, and to remember that he was married, and that we had not
the money to spend in such ways. He really did try to improve,
and denied himself the taking of many an alluring share in
raffles for old saddles, pistols, guns, and cow-boy's stuff,
which were always being held at the cutler's store.
But an auction of condemned hospital stores was too much for him,
and he came in triumphantly one day, bringing a box of
antiquated dentist's instruments in his hand.
"Good gracious!" I cried, "what can you ever do with those
"Oh! they are splendid," he said, "and they will come in mighty
handy some time."
I saw that he loved tools and instruments, and I reflected, why
not? There are lots of things I have a passion for, and love,
just as he loves those things and I shall never say any more
about it. "Only," I added, aloud, "do not expect me to pack up
such trash when we come to move; you will have to look out for it
So with that spiteful remark from me, the episode of the forceps
was ended, for the time at least.
As the winter came on, the isolation of the place had a rather
depressing effect upon us all. The officers were engaged in their
various duties: drill, courts-martial, instruction, and other
military occupations. They found some diversion at "the store,"
where the ranchmen assembled and told frontier stories and played
exciting games of poker. Jack's duties as commissary officer kept
him much away from me, and I was very lonely.
The mail was brought in twice a week by a soldier on horseback.
When he failed to come in at the usual time, much anxiety was
manifested, and I learned that only a short time before, one of
the mail-carriers had been killed by Indians and the mail
destroyed. I did not wonder that on mail-day everybody came out
in front of the quarters and asked: "Is the mail-carrier in?" And
nothing much was done or thought of on that day, until we saw him
come jogging in, the mail-bag tied behind his saddle. Our letters
were from two to three weeks old. The eastern mail came via Santa
Fe to the terminus of the railroad, and then by stage; for in
1874, the railroads did not extend very far into the Southwest.
At a certain point on the old New Mexico road, our man met the
San Carlos carrier, and received the mail for Apache.
"I do not understand," I said, "how any soldier can be found to
take such a dangerous detail."
"Why so?" said Jack. "They like it."
"I should think that when they got into those canons and narrow
defiles, they would think of the horrible fate of their
predecessor," said I.
"Perhaps they do," he answered; "but a soldier is always glad to
get a detail that gives him a change from the routine of post
I was getting to learn about the indomitable pluck of our
soldiers. They did not seem to be afraid of anything. At Camp
Apache my opinion of the American soldier was formed, and it has
never changed. In the long march across the Territory, they had
cared for my wants and performed uncomplainingly for me services
usually rendered by women. Those were before the days of lineal
promotion. Officers remained with their regiments for many years.
A feeling of regimental prestige held officers and men together.
I began to share that feeling. I knew the names of the men in the
company, and not one but was ready to do a service for the
"Lieutenant's wife." "K" had long been a bachelor company; and
now a young woman had joined it. I was a person to be pampered
and cared for, and they knew besides that I was not long in the
During that winter I received many a wild turkey and other nice
things for the table, from the men of the company. I learned to
know and to thoroughly respect the enlisted man of the American
And now into the varied kaleidoscope of my army life stepped the
Indian Agent. And of all unkempt, unshorn, disagreeable-looking
personages who had ever stepped foot into our quarters, this was
"Heaven save us from a Government which appoints such men as that
to watch over and deal with Indians," cried I, as he left the
house. "Is it possible that his position here demands social
recognition?" I added.
"Hush!" said the second lieutenant of K company. "It's the
Interior Department that appoints the Indian Agents, and
besides," he added, "it's not good taste on your part, Martha, to
abuse the Government which gives us our bread and butter."
"Well, you can say what you like, and preach policy all you wish,
no Government on earth can compel me to associate with such men
as those!" With that assertion, I left the room, to prevent
And I will here add that in my experience on the frontier, which
extended over a long period, it was never my good fortune to meet
with an Indian Agent who impressed me as being the right sort of
a man to deal with those children of nature, for Indians are like
children, and their intuitions are keen. They know and appreciate
honesty and fair dealing, and they know a gentleman when they
The winter came on apace, but the weather was mild and pleasant.
One day some officers came in and said we must go over to the
"Ravine" that evening, where the Indians were going to have a
rare sort of a dance.
There was no one to say to me: "Do not go," and, as we welcomed
any little excitement which would relieve the monotony of our
lives, we cast aside all doubts of the advisability of my going.
So, after dinner, we joined the others, and sallied forth into
the darkness of an Arizona night. We crossed the large
parade-ground, and picked our way over a rough and pathless
country, lighted only by the stars above.
Arriving at the edge of the ravine, what a scene was before us!
We looked down into a natural amphitheatre, in which blazed great
fires; hordes of wild Apaches darted about, while others sat on
logs beating their tomtoms.
I was afraid, and held back, but the rest of the party descended
into the ravine, and, leaning on a good strong arm, I followed.
We all sat down on the great trunk of a fallen tree, and soon the
dancers came into the arena.
They were entirely naked, except for the loin-cloth; their bodies
were painted, and from their elbows and knees stood out bunches
of feathers, giving them the appearance of huge flying creatures;
jingling things were attached to their necks and arms. Upon their
heads were large frames, made to resemble the branching horns of
an elk, and as they danced, and bowed their heads, the horns lent
them the appearance of some unknown animal, and added greatly to
their height. Their feathers waved, their jingles shook, and
their painted bodies twisted and turned in the light of the great
fire, which roared and leaped on high. At one moment they were
birds, at another animals, at the next they were demons.
The noise of the tomtoms and the harsh shouts of the Indians grew
wilder and wilder. It was weird and terrifying. Then came a
pause; the arena was cleared, and with much solemnity two
wicked-looking creatures came out and performed a sort of shadow
dance, brandishing knives as they glided through the intricate
It was a fascinating but unearthly scene, and the setting
completed the illusion. Fright deprived me of the power of
thought, but in a sort of subconscious way I felt that Orpheus
must have witnessed just such mad revels when he went down into
Pluto's regions. Suddenly the shouts became war whoops, the demons
brandished their knives madly, and nodded their branching horns;
the tomtoms were beaten with a dreadful din, and terror seized my
heart. What if they be treacherous, and had lured our small party
down into this ravine for an ambush! The thing could well be, I
thought. I saw uneasiness in the faces of the other women, and by
mutual consent we got up and slowly took our departure. I barely
had strength to climb up the steep side of the hollow. I was
thankful to escape from its horrors.
Scarce three months after that some of the same band of Indians
fired into the garrison and fled to the mountains. I remarked to
Jack, that I thought we were very imprudent to go to see that
dance, and he said he supposed we were. But I had never regarded
life in such a light way as he seemed to.
Women usually like to talk over their trials and their wonderful
adventures, and that is why I am writing this, I suppose. Men
simply will not talk about such things.
The cavalry beauty seemed to look at this frontier life
philosophically--what she really thought about it, I never knew.
Mrs. Bailey was so much occupied by the care of her young child
and various out-door amusements, that she did not, apparently,
think much about things that happened around us. At all events,
she never seemed inclined to talk about them. There was no one
else to talk to; the soil was strange, and the atmosphere a
foreign one to me; life did not seem to be taken seriously out
there, as it was back in New England, where they always loved to
sit down and talk things over. I was downright lonesome for my
mother and sisters.
I could not go out very much at that time, so I occupied myself a
good deal with needle-work.
One evening we heard firing across the canon. Jack caught up his
sword, buckling on his belt as he went out. "Injuns fighting on
the other side of the river," some soldier reported. Finding that
it did not concern us, Jack said, "Come out into the back yard,
Martha, and look over the stockade, and I think you can see
across the river." So I hurried out to the stockade, but Jack,
seeing that I was not tall enough, picked up an empty box that
stood under the window of the room belonging to the Doctor, when,
thud! fell something out onto the ground, and rolled away. I
started involuntarily. It was dark in the yard. I stood stock
still. "What was that?" I whispered.
"Nothing but an old Edam cheese," said this true-hearted soldier
of mine. I knew it was not a cheese, but said no more. I stood up
on the box, watched the firing like a man, and went quietly back
into the quarters. After retiring, I said, "You might just a
swell tell me now, you will have to sooner or later, what was in
the box--it had a dreadful sound, as it rolled away on the
"Well," said he, "if you must know, it was an Injun's head that
the Doctor had saved, to take to Washington with him. It had a
sort of a malformed skull or jaw-bone or something. But he left
it behind--I guess it got a leetle to old for him to carry," he
laughed. "Somebody told me there was a head in the yard, but I
forgot all about it. Lucky thing you didn't see it, wasn't it? I
suppose you'd been scared--well, I must tell the fatigue party
to-morrow to take it away. Now don't let me forget it," and this
soldier of many battles fell into the peaceful slumber which
comes to those who know not fear.
The next day I overheard him telling Major Worth what had
happened, and adding that he would roast that Doctor if he ever
came back. I was seeing the rugged side of life, indeed, and
getting accustomed to shocks.
Now the cavalry beauty gave a dinner. It was lovely; but in the
midst of it, we perceived a sort of confusion of moccasined
footsteps outside the dining-room. My nerves were, by this time,
always on the alert. I glanced through the large door opening out
into the hall, and saw a group of Indian scouts; they laid a
coffee-sack down by the corner fire-place, near the front door.
The commanding officer left the table hastily; the portiere was
I had heard tales of atrocious cruelties committed by a band of
Indians who had escaped from the reservation and were ravaging
the country around. I had heard how they maimed poor sheep and
cut off the legs of cattle at the first joint, leaving them to
die; how they tortured women, and burned their husbands and
children before their eyes; I had heard also that the Indian
scouts were out after them, with orders to bring them in, dead or
The next day I learned that the ringleader's head was in the bag
that I had seen, and that the others had surrendered and
returned. The scouts were Apaches in the pay of the Government,
and I always heard that, as long as they were serving as scouts,
they showed themselves loyal and would hunt down their nearest
Major Worth got tired of the monotony of a bachelor's life at
Camp Apache and decided to give a dance in his quarters, and
invite the chiefs. I think the other officers did not wholly
approve of it, although they felt friendly enough towards them,
as long as they were not causing disturbances. But to meet the
savage Apache on a basis of social equality, in an officer's
quarters, and to dance in a quadrille with him! Well, the limit
of all things had been reached!
However, Major Worth, who was actually suffering from the ennui
of frontier life in winter, and in time of peace, determined to
carry out his project, so he had his quarters, which were quite
spacious, cleared and decorated with evergreen boughs. From his
company, he secured some men who could play the banjo and guitar,
and all the officers and their wives, and the chiefs with their
harems, came to this novel fete. A quadrille was formed, in which
the chiefs danced opposite the officers. The squaws sat around,
as they were too shy to dance. These chiefs were painted, and
wore only their necklaces and the customary loin-cloth, throwing
their blankets about their shoulders when they had finished
dancing. I noticed again Chief Diablo's great good looks.
Conversation was carried on principally by signs and nods, and
through the interpreter (a white man named Cooley). Besides, the
officers had picked up many short phrases of the harsh and
gutteral Apache tongue.
Diablo was charmed with the young, handsome wife of one of the
officers, and asked her husband how many ponies he would take for
her, and Pedro asked Major Worth, if all those white squaws
belonged to him.
The party passed off pleasantly enough, and was not especially
subversive to discipline, although I believe it was not repeated.
Afterwards, long afterwards, when we were stationed at David's
Island, New York Harbor, and Major Worth was no longer a
bachelor, but a dignified married man and had gained his star in
the Spanish War, we used to meet occasionally down by the barge
office or taking a Fenster-promenade on Broadway, and we would
always stand awhile and chat over the old days at Camp Apache in
'74. Never mind how pressing our mutual engagements were, we
could never forego the pleasure of talking over those wild days
and contrasting them with our then present surroundings. "Shall
you ever forget my party ?" he said, the last time we met.
A NEW RECRUIT
In January our little boy arrived, to share our fate and to
gladden our hearts. As he was the first child born to an
officer's family in Camp Apache, there was the greatest
excitement. All the sheep-ranchers and cattlemen for miles around
came into the post. The beneficent canteen, with its soldiers'
and officers' clubrooms did not exist then. So they all gathered
at the cutler's store, to celebrate events with a round of
drinks. They wanted to shake hands with and congratulate the new
father, after their fashion, upon the advent of the blond-haired
baby. Their great hearts went out to him, and they vied with each
other in doing the handsome thing by him, in a manner according
to their lights, and their ideas of wishing well to a man; a
manner, sometimes, alas! disastrous in its results to the man!
However, by this time, I was getting used to all sides of
I had no time to be lonely now, for I had no nurse, and the only
person who was able to render me service was a laundress of the
Fifth Cavalry, who came for about two hours each day, to give the
baby his bath and to arrange things about the bed. I begged her
to stay with me, but, of course, I knew it was impossible.
So here I was, inexperienced and helpless, alone in bed, with an
infant a few days old. Dr. Loring, our excellent Post Surgeon,
was both kind and skillful, but he was in poor health and
expecting each day to be ordered to another station. My husband
was obliged to be at the Commissary Office all day, issuing
rations to troops and scouts, and attending to the duties of his
But, realizing in a measure the utter helplessness of my
situation, he sent a soldier up to lead a wire cord through the
thick wall at the head of my bed and out through the small yard
into the kitchen. To this they attached a big cow-bell, so, by
making some considerable effort to reach up and pull this wire, I
could summon Bowen, that is, if Bowen happened to be there. But
Bowen seemed always to be out at drill or over at the company
quarters, and frequently my bell brought no response. When he did
come, however, he was just as kind and just as awkward as it was
possible for a great big six-foot farmer-soldier to be.
But I grew weaker and weaker with trying to be strong, and one
day when Jack came in and found both the baby and myself crying,
he said, man-like, "What's the matter?" I said, "I must have some
one to take care of me, or we shall both die."
He seemed to realize that the situation was desperate, and
mounted men were sent out immediately in all directions to find a
At last, a Mexican girl was found in a wood-chopper's camp, and
was brought to me. She was quite young and very ignorant and
stupid, and spoke nothing but a sort of Mexican "lingo," and did
not understand a word of English. But I felt that my life was
saved; and Bowen fixed up a place on the couch for her to sleep,
and Jack went over to the unoccupied room on the other side of
the cabin and took possession of the absent doctor's bed.
I begged Jack to hunt up a Spanish dictionary, and fortunately
one was found at the cutler's store, which, doubtless the cutler
or his predecessor had brought into the country years before.
The girl did not know anything. I do not think she had ever been
inside a casa before. She had washed herself in mountain streams,
and did not know what basins and sponges were for. So it was of
no use to point to the objects I wanted.
I propped myself up in bed and studied the dictionary, and,
having some idea of the pronunciation of Latin languages, I
essayed to call for warm water and various other necessary
articles needed around a sick bed. Sometimes I succeeded in
getting an idea through her impervious brain, but more often she
would stand dazed and immovable and I would let the dictionary
drop from my tired hands and fall back upon the pillow in a sweat
of exhaustion. Then Bowen would be called in, and with the help
of some perfunctory language and gestures on his part, this
silent creature of the mountains would seem to wake up and try to
And so I worried through those dreadful days--and the nights! Ah!
we had better not describe them. The poor wild thing slept the
sleep of death and could not hear my loudest calls nor desperate
So Jack attached a cord to her pillow, and I would tug and tug at
that and pull the pillow from under her head. It was of no avail.
She slept peacefully on, and it seemed to me, as I lay there
staring at her, that not even Gabriel's trump would ever arouse
In desperation I would creep out of bed and wait upon myself and
then confess to Jack and the Doctor next day.
Well, we had to let the creature go, for she was of no use, and
the Spanish dictionary was laid aside.
I struggled along, fighting against odds; how I ever got well at
all is a wonder, when I think of all the sanitary precautions
taken now-a-days with young mothers and babies. The Doctor was
ordered away and another one came. I had no advice or help from
any one. Calomel or quinine are the only medicines I remember
taking myself or giving to my child.
But to go back a little. The seventh day after the birth of the
baby, a delegation of several squaws, wives of chiefs, came to
pay me a formal visit. They brought me some finely woven baskets,
and a beautiful pappoose-basket or cradle, such as they carry
their own babies in. This was made of the lightest wood, and
covered with the finest skin of fawn, tanned with birch bark by
their own hands, and embroidered in blue beads; it was their best
work. I admired it, and tried to express to them my thanks. These
squaws took my baby (he was lying beside me on the bed), then,
cooing and chuckling, they looked about the room, until they
found a small pillow, which they laid into the basket-cradle,
then put my baby in, drew the flaps together, and laced him into
it; then stood it up, and laid it down, and laughed again in
their gentle manner, and finally soothed him to sleep. I was
quite touched by the friendliness of it all. They laid the cradle
on the table and departed. Jack went out to bring Major Worth in,
to see the pretty sight, and as the two entered the room, Jack
pointed to the pappoose-basket.
Major Worth tip-toed forward, and gazed into the cradle; he did
not speak for some time; then, in his inimitable way, and half
under his breath, he said, slowly, "Well, I'll be d--d!" This was
all, but when he turned towards the bedside, and came and shook
my hand, his eyes shone with a gentle and tender look.
And so was the new recruit introduced to the Captain of Company
And now there must be a bath-tub for the baby. The cutler
rummaged his entire place, to find something that might do. At
last, he sent me a freshly scoured tub, that looked as if it
might, at no very remote date, have contained salt mackerel
marked "A One." So then, every morning at nine o'clock, our
little half-window was black with the heads of the curious squaws
and bucks, trying to get a glimpse of the fair baby's bath. A
wonderful performance, it appeared to them.
Once a week this room, which was now a nursery combined with
bedroom and living-room, was overhauled by the stalwart Bowen.
The baby was put to sleep and laced securely into the
pappoose-basket. He was then carried into the kitchen, laid on
the dresser, and I sat by with a book or needle-work watching
him, until Bowen had finished the room. On one of these
occasions, I noticed a ledger lying upon one of the shelves. I
looked into it, and imagine my astonishment, when I read: "Aunt
Hepsey's Muffins," "Sarah's Indian Pudding," and on another page,
"Hasty's Lemon Tarts," "Aunt Susan's Method of Cooking a Leg of
Mutton," and "Josie Well's Pressed Calf Liver." Here were my own,
my very own family recipes, copied into Bowen's ledger, in large
illiterate characters; and on the fly-leaf, "Charles Bowen's
Receipt Book." I burst into a good hearty laugh, almost the first
one I had enjoyed since I arrived at Camp Apache.
The long-expected promotion to a first lieutenancy came at about
this time. Jack was assigned to a company which was stationed at
Camp MacDowell, but his departure for the new post was delayed
until the spring should be more advanced and I should be able to
undertake the long, rough trip with our young child.
The second week in April, my baby just nine weeks old, we began
to pack up. I had gained a little in experience, to be sure, but
I had lost my health and strength. I knew nothing of the care of
a young infant, and depended entirely upon the advice of the Post
Surgeon, who happened at that time to be a young man, much better
versed in the sawing off of soldiers' legs than in the treatment
of young mothers and babies.
The packing up was done under difficulties, and with much help
from our faithful Bowen. It was arranged for Mrs. Bailey, who was
to spend the summer with her parents at Fort Whipple, to make the
trip at the same time, as our road to Camp MacDowell took us
through Fort Whipple. There were provided two ambulances with six
mules each, two baggage-wagons, an escort of six calvarymen fully
armed, and a guide. Lieutenant Bailey was to accompany his wife
on the trip.
I was genuinely sorry to part with Major Worth, but in the
excitement and fatigue of breaking up our home, I had little time
to think of my feelings. My young child absorbed all my time.
Alas! for the ignorance of young women, thrust by circumstances
into such a situation! I had miscalculated my strength, for I had
never known illness in my life, and there was no one to tell me
any better. I reckoned upon my superbly healthy nature to bring
me through. In fact, I did not think much about it; I simply got
ready and went, as soldiers do.
I heard them say that we were not to cross the Mogollon range,
but were to go to the north of it, ford the Colorado Chiquito at
Sunset Crossing, and so on to Camp Verde and Whipple Barracks by
the Stoneman's Lake road. It sounded poetic and pretty. Colorado
Chiquito, Sunset Crossing, and Stoneman's Lake road! I thought to
myself, they were prettier than any of the names I had heard in
A MEMORABLE JOURNEY
How broken plunged the steep descent! How barren! Desolate and
rent By earthquake shock, the land lay dead, Like some proud
king in old-time slain. An ugly skeleton, it gleamed In burning
sands. The fiery rain Of fierce volcanoes here had sown Its
ashes. Burnt and black and seamed With thunder-strokes and strewn
With cinders. Yea, so overthrown, That wilder men than we had
said, On seeing this, with gathered breath, "We come on the
confines of death!" --JOAQUIN MILLER.
Six good cavalrymen galloped along by our side, on the morning of
April 24th, 1875, as with two ambulances, two army wagons, and a
Mexican guide, we drove out of Camp Apache at a brisk trot.
The drivers were all armed, and spare rifles hung inside the
ambulances. I wore a small derringer, with a narrow belt filled
with cartridges. An incongruous sight, methinks now, it must have
been. A young mother, pale and thin, a child of scarce three
months in her arms, and a pistol belt around her waist!
I scarcely looked back at Camp Apache. We had a long day's march
before us, and we looked ahead. Towards night we made camp at
Cooley's ranch, and slept inside, on the floor. Cooley was
interpreter and scout, and although he was a white man, he had
married a young Indian girl, the daughter of one of the chiefs
and was known as a squaw man. There seemed to be two Indian girls
at his ranch; they were both tidy and good-looking, and they
prepared us a most appetizing supper.
The ranch had spaces for windows, covered with thin unbleached
muslin (or manta, as it is always called out there), glass
windows being then too great a luxury in that remote place.
There were some partitions inside the ranch, but no doors; and,
of course, no floors except adobe. Several half-breed children,
nearly naked, stood and gazed at us as we prepared for rest. This
was interesting and picturesque from many standpoints perhaps,
but it did not tend to make me sleepy. I lay gazing into the fire
which was smouldering in the corner, and finally I said, in a
whisper, "Jack, which girl do you think is Cooley's wife?"
"I don't know," answered this cross and tired man; and then
added, "both of 'em, I guess."
Now this was too awful, but I knew he did not intend for me to
ask any more questions. I had a difficult time, in those days,
reconciling what I saw with what I had been taught was right, and
I had to sort over my ideas and deep-rooted prejudices a good
The two pretty squaws prepared a nice breakfast for us, and we
set out, quite refreshed, to travel over the malapais (as the
great lava-beds in that part of the country are called). There
was no trace of a road. A few hours of this grinding and
crunching over crushed lava wearied us all, and the animals found
it hard pulling, although the country was level.
We crossed Silver Creek without difficulty, and arrived at
Stinson's ranch, after traveling twenty-five miles, mostly
malapais. Do not for a moment think of these ranches as farms.
Some of them were deserted sheep ranches, and had only adobe
walls standing in ruins. But the camp must have a name, and on
the old maps of Arizona these names are still to be found. Of
course, on the new railroad maps, they are absent. They were
generally near a spring or a creek, consequently were chosen as
Mrs. Bailey had her year-old boy, Howard, with her. We began to
experience the utmost inconvenience from the lack of warm water
and other things so necessary to the health and comfort of
children. But we tried to make light of it all, and the two
Lieutenants tried, in a man's way, to help us out. We declared we
must have some clean towels for the next day, so we tried to
rinse out, in the cold, hard water of the well, those which we
had with us, and, as it was now nightfall and there was no fire
inside this apparently deserted ranch, the two Lieutenants stood
and held the wet towels before the camp-fire until they were dry.
Mrs. Bailey and I, too tired to move, sat and watched them and
had each our own thoughts. She was an army girl and perhaps had
seen such things before, but it was a situation that did not seem
quite in keeping with my ideas of the fitness of things in
general, and with the uniform in particular. The uniform,
associated in my mind with brilliant functions, guard-mount,
parades and full-dress weddings--the uniform, in fact, that I
adored. As I sat, gazing at them, they both turned around, and,
realizing how almost ludicrous they looked, they began to laugh.
Whereupon we all four laughed and Jack said: "Nice work for
United States officers! hey, Bailey ?"
"It might be worse," sighed the handsome, blond-haired Bailey.
Thirty miles the next day, over a good road, brought us to
Walker's ranch, on the site of old Camp Supply. This ranch was
habitable in a way, and the owner said we might use the bedrooms;
but the wild-cats about the place were so numerous and so
troublesome in the night, that we could not sleep. I have
mentioned the absence of windows in these ranches; we were now to
experience the great inconvenience resulting therefrom, for the
low open spaces furnished great opportunity for the cats. In at
one opening, and out at another they flew, first across the
Bailey's bed, then over ours. The dogs caught the spirit of the
chase, and added their noise to that of the cats. Both babies
began to cry, and then up got Bailey and threw his heavy campaign
boots at the cats, with some fitting remarks. A momentary silence
reigned, and we tried again to sleep. Back came the cats, and
then came Jack's turn with boots and travelling satchels. It was
all of no avail, and we resigned ourselves. Cruelly tired, here
we were, we two women, compelled to sit on hard boxes or the edge
of a bed, to quiet our poor babies, all through that night, at
that old sheep-ranch. Like the wretched emigrant, differing only
from her inasmuch as she, never having known comfort perhaps,
cannot realize her misery.
The two Lieutenants slipped on their blouses, and sat looking
helplessly at us, waging war on the cats at intervals. And so the
dawn found us, our nerves at a tension, and our strength gone--a
poor preparation for the trying day which was to follow.
We were able to buy a couple of sheep there, to take with us for
supplies, and some antelope meat. We could not indulge, in
foolish scruples, but I tried not to look when they tied the live
sheep and threw them into one of the wagons.
Quite early in the day, we met a man who said he had been fired
upon by some Indians at Sanford's Pass. We thought perhaps he had
been scared by some stray shot, and we did not pay much attention
to his story.
Soon after, however, we passed a sort of old adobe ruin, out of
which crept two bare-headed Mexicans, so badly frightened that
their dark faces were pallid; their hair seemed standing on end,
and they looked stark mad with fear. They talked wildly to the
guide, and gesticulated, pointing in the direction of the Pass.
They had been fired at, and their ponies taken by some roving
Apaches. They had been in hiding for over a day, and were hungry
and miserable. We gave them food and drink. They implored us, by
the Holy Virgin, not to go through the Pass.
What was to be done? The officers took counsel; the men looked to
their arms. It was decided to go through. Jack examined his
revolver, and saw that my pistol was loaded. I was instructed
minutely what to do, in case we were attacked.
For miles we strained our eyes, looking in the direction whence
these men had come.
At last, in mid-afternoon, we approached the Pass, a narrow
defile winding down between high hills from this table-land to
the plain below. To say that we feared an ambush, would not
perhaps convey a very clear idea of how I felt on entering the
There was not a word spoken. I obeyed orders, and lay down in the
bottom of the ambulance; I took my derringer out of the holster
and cocked it. I looked at my little boy lying helpless there
beside me, and at his delicate temples, lined with thin blue
veins, and wondered if I could follow out the instructions I had
received: for Jack had said, after the decision was made, to go
through the Pass, "Now, Mattie, I don't think for a minute that
there are any Injuns in that Pass, and you must not be afraid. We
have got to go through it any way; but"--he hesitated,--"we may
be mistaken; there may be a few of them in there, and they'll
have a mighty good chance to get in a shot or two. And now
listen: if I'm hit, you'll know what to do. You have your
derringer; and when you see that there is no help for it, if they
get away with the whole outfit, why, there's only one thing to be
done. Don't let them get the baby, for they will carry you both
off and--well, you know the squaws are much more cruel than the
bucks. Don't let them get either of you alive. Now"--to the
Jack was a man of few words, and seldom spoke much in times like
So I lay very quiet in the bottom of the ambulance. I realized
that we were in great danger. My thoughts flew back to the East,
and I saw, as in a flash, my father and mother, sisters and
brother; I think I tried to say a short prayer for them, and that
they might never know the worst. I fixed my eyes upon my
husband's face. There he sat, rifle in hand, his features
motionless, his eyes keenly watching out from one side of the
ambulance, while a stalwart cavalry-man, carbine in hand, watched
the other side of the narrow defile. The minutes seemed like
The driver kept his animals steady, and we rattled along.
At last, as I perceived the steep slope of the road, I looked
out, and saw that the Pass was widening out, and we must be
nearing the end of it. "Keep still," said Jack, without moving a
feature. My heart seemed then to stop beating, and I dared not
move again, until I heard him say, "Thank God, we're out of it!
Get up, Mattie! See the river yonder? We'll cross that to-night,
and then we'll be out of their God d----d country!"
This was Jack's way of working off his excitement, and I did not
mind it. I knew he was not afraid of Apaches for himself, but for
his wife and child. And if I had been a man, I should have said
just as much and perhaps more.
We were now down in a flat country, and low alkali plains lay
between us and the river. My nerves gradually recovered from the
tension in which they had been held; the driver stopped his team
for a moment, the other ambulance drove up alongside of us, and
Ella Bailey and I looked at each other; we did not talk any, but
I believe we cried just a little. Then Mr. Bailey and Jack
(thinking we were giving way, I suppose) pulled out their big
flasks, and we had to take a cup of good whiskey, weakened up
with a little water from our canteens, which had been filled at
Walker's ranch in the morning. Great Heavens! I thought, was it
this morning that we left Walker's ranch, or was it a year ago?
So much had I lived through in a few hours.
FORDING THE LITTLE COLORADO
At a bend in the road the Mexican guide galloped up near the
ambulance, and pointing off to the westward with a graceful
gesture, said: "Colorado Chiquito! Colorado Chiquito!" And, sure
enough, there in the afternoon sun lay the narrow winding river,
its surface as smooth as glass, and its banks as if covered with
We drove straight for the ford, known as Sunset Crossing. The
guide was sure he knew the place. But the river was high, and I
could not see how anybody could cross it without a boat. The
Mexican rode his pony in once or twice; shook his head, and said
in Spanish, "there was much quicksand. The old ford had changed
much since he saw it." He galloped excitedly to and fro, along
the bank of the river, always returning to the same place, and
declaring "it was the ford; there was no other; he knew it well."
But the wagons not having yet arrived, it was decided not to
attempt crossing until morning, when we could get a fresh start.
The sun was gradually sinking in the west, but the heat down in
that alkali river-bottom even at that early season of the year
was most uncomfortable. I was worn out with fright and fatigue;
my poor child cried piteously and incessantly. Nothing was of any
avail to soothe him. After the tents were pitched and the
camp-fires made, some warm water was brought, and I tried to wash
away some of the dust from him, but the alkali water only
irritated his delicate skin, and his head, where it had lain on
my arm, was inflamed by the constant rubbing. It began to break
out in ugly blisters; I was in despair. We were about as
wretchedly off as two human beings could be, and live, it seemed
to me. The disappointment at not getting across the river,
combined with the fear that the Indians were still in the
neighborhood, added to my nervousness and produced an exhaustion
which, under other circumstances, would have meant collapse.
The mournful and demoniacal cries of the coyotes filled the
night; they seemed to come close to the tent, and their number
seemed to be legion. I lay with eyes wide open, watching for the
day to come, and resolving each minute that if I ever escaped
alive from that lonely river-bottom with its burning alkali, and
its millions of howling coyotes, I would never, never risk being
placed in such a situation again.
At dawn everybody got up and dressed. I looked in my small
hand-mirror, and it seemed to me my hair had turned a greyish
color, and while it was not exactly white, the warm chestnut
tinge never came back into it, after that day and night of
terror. My eyes looked back at me large and hollow from the
small glass, and I was in that state when it is easy to imagine
the look of Death in one's own face. I think sometimes it comes,
after we have thought ourselves near the borders. And I surely
had been close to them the day before.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
If perchance any of my readers have followed this narrative so
far, and there be among them possibly any men, young or old, I
would say to such ones: "Desist! For what I am going to tell
about in this chapter, and possibly another, concerns nobody but
women, and my story will now, for awhile, not concern itself with
the Eighth Foot, nor the army, nor the War Department, nor the
Interior Department, nor the strategic value of Sunset Crossing,
which may now be a railroad station, for all I know. It is simply
a story of my journey from the far bank of the Little Colorado to
Fort Whipple, and then on, by a change of orders, over mountains
and valleys, cactus plains and desert lands, to the banks of the
My attitude towards the places I travelled through was naturally
influenced by the fact that I had a young baby in my arms the
entire way, and that I was not able to endure hardship at that
time. For usually, be it remembered, at that period of a child's
life, both mother and infant are not out of the hands of the
doctor and trained nurse, to say nothing of the assistance so
gladly rendered by those near and dear,
The morning of the 28th of April dawned shortly after midnight,
as mornings in Arizona generally do at that season, and after a
hasty camp breakfast, and a good deal of reconnoitering on the
part of the officers, who did not seem to be exactly satisfied
about the Mexican's knowledge of the ford, they told him to push
his pony in, and cross if he could.
He managed to pick his way across and back, after a good deal of
floundering, and we decided to try the ford. First they hitched
up ten mules to one of the heavily loaded baggage-wagons, the
teamster cracked his whip, and in they went. But the quicksand
frightened the leaders, and they lost their courage. Now when a
mule loses courage, in the water, he puts his head down and is
done for. The leaders disappeared entirely, then the next two and
finally the whole ten of them were gone, irrevocably, as I
thought. But like a flash, the officers shouted: "Cut away those
mules! Jump in there!" and amid other expletives the men plunged
in, and feeling around under the water cut the poor animals loose
and they began to crawl out on the other bank. I drew a long
breath, for I thought the ten mules were drowned.
The guide picked his way over again to the other side and caught
them up, and then I began to wonder how on earth we should ever
There lay the heavy army wagon, deep mired in the middle of the
stream, and what did I see? Our army chests, floating away down
the river. I cried out: "Oh! do save our chests!" "They're all
right, we'll get them presently," said Jack. It seemed a long
time to me, before the soldiers could get them to the bank, which
they did, with the aid of stout ropes. All our worldly goods were
in those chests, and I knew they were soaked wet and probably
ruined; but, after all, what did it matter, in the face of the
serious problem which confronted us?
In the meantime, some of the men had floated the other boxes and
trunks out of the wagon back to the shore, and were busy taking
the huge vehicle apart. Any one who knows the size of an army
wagon will realize that this was hard work, especially as the
wagon was mired, and nearly submerged. But the men worked
desperately, and at last succeeded in getting every part of it
back onto the dry land.
Somebody stirred up the camp-fire and put the kettle on, and Mrs.
Bailey and I mixed up a smoking strong hot toddy for those brave
fellows, who were by this time well exhausted. Then they set to
work to make a boat, by drawing a large canvas under the body of
the wagon, and fastening it securely. For this Lieutenant of mine
had been a sailor-man and knew well how to meet emergencies.
One or two of the soldiers had now forded the stream on
horseback, and taken over a heavy rope, which was made fast to
our improvised boat. I was acquainted with all kinds of boats,
from a catamaran to a full-rigged ship, but never a craft like
this had I seen. Over the sides we clambered, however, and were
ferried across the treacherous and glassy waters of the Little
Colorado. All the baggage and the two ambulances were ferried
over, and the other wagon was unloaded and drawn over by means of
This proceeding took all day, and of course we could get no
farther, and were again obliged to camp in that most
uncomfortable river-bottom. But we felt safer on that side. I
looked at the smooth surface of the river, and its alkali shores,
and the picture became indelibly impressed upon my memory. The
unpleasant reality destroyed any poetic associations which might
otherwise have clung to the name of Sunset Crossing in my ever
After the tents were pitched, and the camp snugged up, Mr. Bailey
produced some champagne and we wished each other joy, that we had
made the dangerous crossing and escaped the perils of Sanford's
Pass. I am afraid the champagne was not as cold as might have
been desired, but the bottle had been wrapped in a wet blanket,
and cooled a little in that way, and we drank it with zest, from
The road began now to ascend, and after twenty miles' travelling
we reached a place called Updyke's Tanks. It was a nice place,
with plenty of wood and grass. The next day we camped at Jay
Coxe's Tanks. It was a hard day's march, and I was tired out when
we arrived there. The ambulance was simply jerked over those
miles of fearful rocks; one could not say driven or dragged over,
for we were pitched from rock to rock the entire distance.
Stoneman's Lake Road was famous, as I afterwards heard. Perhaps
it was just as well for me that I did not know about it in
The sure-footed mules picked their way over these sharp-edged
rocks. There was not a moment's respite. We asked a soldier to
help with holding the baby, for my arms gave out entirely, and
were as if paralyzed. The jolting threw us all by turns against
the sides of the ambulance (which was not padded), and we all got
some rather bad bruises. We finally bethought ourselves of the
pappoose basket, which we had brought along in the ambulance,
having at the last moment no other place to put it. So a halt was
called, we placed the tired baby in this semi-cradle, laced the
sides snugly over him, and were thus enabled to carry him over
those dreadful roads without danger.
He did not cry much, but the dust made him thirsty. I could not
give him nourishment without stopping the entire train of wagons,
on account of the constant pitching of the ambulance; delay was
not advisable or expedient, so my poor little son had to endure
with the rest of us. The big Alsatian cavalryman held the cradle
easily in his strong arms, and so the long miles were travelled,
one by one.
At noon of this day we made a refreshing halt, built a fire and
took some luncheon. We found a shady, grassy spot, upon which the
blankets were spread, and we stretched ourselves out upon them
and rested. But we were still some miles from water, so after a
short respite we were compelled to push on. We had been getting
steadily higher since leaving Sunset Crossing, and now it began
to be cold and looked like snow. Mrs. Bailey and I found it very
trying to meet these changes of temperature. A good place for the
camp was found at Coxe's Tanks, trenches were dug around the
tents, and the earth banked up to keep us warm. The cool air, our
great fatigue, and the comparative absence of danger combined to
give us a heavenly night's rest.
Towards sunset of the next day, which was May Day, our cavalcade
reached Stoneman's Lake. We had had another rough march, and had
reached the limit of endurance, or thought we had, when we
emerged from a mountain pass and drew rein upon the high green
mesa overlooking Stoneman's Lake, a beautiful blue sheet of
water lying there away below us. It was good to our tired eyes,
which had gazed upon nothing but burnt rocks and alkali plains
for so many days. Our camp was beautiful beyond description, and
lay near the edge of the mesa, whence we could look down upon the
lovely lake. It was a complete surprise to us, as points of
scenery were not much known or talked about then in Arizona.
Ponds and lakes were unheard of. They did not seem to exist in
that drear land of arid wastes. We never heard of water except
that of the Colorado or the Gila or the tanks and basins, and
irrigation ditches of the settlers. But here was a real Italian
lake, a lake as blue as the skies above us. We feasted our eyes
and our very souls upon it.
Bailey and the guide shot some wild turkeys, and as we had
already eaten all the mutton we had along, the ragout of turkey
made by the soldier-cook for our supper tasted better to us tired
and hungry travellers, perhaps, than a canvasback at Delmonico's
tastes to the weary lounger or the over-worked financier.
In the course of the day, we had passed a sort of sign-board,
with the rudely written inscription, "Camp Starvation," and we
had heard from Mr. Bailey the story of the tragic misfortunes at
this very place of the well-known Hitchcock family of Arizona.
The road was lined with dry bones, and skulls of oxen, white and
bleached in the sun, lying on the bare rocks. Indeed, at every
stage of the road we had seen evidences of hard travel, exhausted
cattle, anxious teamsters, hunger and thirst, despair,
starvation, and death.
However, Stoneman's Lake remains a joy in the memory, and far and
away the most beautiful spot I ever saw in Arizona. But unless
the approaches to it are made easier, tourists will never gaze
In the distance we saw the "divide," over which we must pass in
order to reach Camp Verde, which was to be our first stopping
place, and we looked joyfully towards the next day's march, which
we expected would bring us there.
We thought the worst was over and, before retiring to our tents
for the night, we walked over to the edge of the high mesa and,
in the gathering shadows of twilight, looked down into the depths
of that beautiful lake, knowing that probably we should never see
And indeed, in all the years I spent in Arizona afterward, I
never even heard of the lake again.
I wonder now, did it really exist or was it an illusion, a dream,
or the mirage which appears to the desert traveller, to satisfy
him and lure him on, to quiet his imagination, and to save his
senses from utter extinction?
In the morning the camp was all astir for an early move. We had
no time to look back: we were starting for a long day's march,
across the "divide," and into Camp Verde.
But we soon found that the road (if road it could be called) was
worse than any we had encountered. The ambulance was pitched and
jerked from rock to rock and we were thumped against the iron
framework in a most dangerous manner. So we got out and picked
our way over the great sharp boulders.
The Alsatian soldier carried the baby, who lay securely in the
One of the cavalry escort suggested my taking his horse, but I
did not feel strong enough to think of mounting a horse, so great
was my discouragement and so exhausted was my vitality. Oh! if
girls only knew about these things I thought! For just a little
knowledge of the care of an infant and its needs, its nourishment
and its habits, might have saved both mother and child from such
Little by little we gave up hope of reaching Verde that day. At
four o'clock we crossed the "divide,"and clattered down a road so
near the edge of a precipice that I was frightened beyond
everything: my senses nearly left me. Down and around, this way
and that, near the edge, then back again, swaying, swerving,
pitching, the gravel clattering over the precipice, the six mules
trotting their fastest, we reached the bottom and the driver
pulled up his team. "Beaver Springs!" said he, impressively,
loosening up the brakes.
As Jack lifted me out of the ambulance, I said: "Why didn't you
tell me?" pointing back to the steep road. "Oh," said he, "I
thought it was better for you not to know; people get scared
about such things, when they know about them before hand."
"But," I remarked, "such a break-neck pace!" Then, to the
driver, "Smith, how could you drive down that place at such a
rate and frighten me so?"
"Had to, ma'am, or we'd a'gone over the edge."
I had been brought up in a flat country down near the sea, and I
did not know the dangers of mountain travelling, nor the
difficulties attending the piloting of a six-mule team down a
road like that. >From this time on, however, Smith rose in my
estimation. I seemed also to be realizing that the Southwest was
a great country and that there was much to learn about. Life out
there was beginning to interest me.
Camp Verde lay sixteen miles farther on; no one knew if the road
were good or bad. I declared I could not travel another mile,
even if they all went on and left me to the wolves and the
darkness of Beaver Springs.
We looked to our provisions and took account of stock. There was
not enough for the two families. We had no flour and no bread;
there was only a small piece of bacon, six potatoes, some
condensed milk, and some chocolate. The Baileys decided to go on;
for Mrs. Bailey was to meet her sister at Verde and her parents
at Whipple. We said good-bye, and their ambulance rolled away.
Our tent was pitched and the baby was laid on the bed, asleep
from pure exhaustion.
The dread darkness of night descended upon us, and the strange
odors of the bottom-lands arose, mingling with the delicious
smoky smell of the camp-fire.
By the light of the blazing mesquite wood, we now divided what
provisions we had, into two portions: one for supper, and one for
breakfast. A very light meal we had that evening, and I arose
from the mess-table unsatisfied and hungry.
Jack and I sat down by the camp-fire, musing over the hard times
we were having, when suddenly I heard a terrified cry from my
little son. We rushed to the tent, lighted a candle, and oh!
horror upon horrors! his head and face were covered with large
black ants; he was wailing helplessly, and beating the air with
his tiny arms.
"My God!" cried Jack, "we're camped over an ant-hill!"
I seized the child, and brushing off the ants as I fled, brought
him out to the fire, where by its light I succeeded in getting
rid of them all. But the horror of it! Can any mother brought up
in God's country with kind nurses and loved ones to minister to
her child, for a moment imagine how I felt when I saw those
hideous, three-bodied, long-legged black ants crawling over my
baby's face? After a lapse of years, I cannot recall that moment
without a shudder.
The soldiers at last found a place which seemed to be free from
ant-hills, and our tent was again pitched, but only to find that
the venomous things swarmed over us as soon as we lay down to
And so, after the fashion of the Missouri emigrant, we climbed
into the ambulance and lay down upon our blankets in the bottom
of it, and tried to believe we were comfortable.
My long, hard journey of the preceding autumn, covering a period
of two months; my trying experiences during the winter at Camp
Apache; the sudden break-up and the packing; the lack of
assistance from a nurse; the terrors of the journey; the
sympathy for my child, who suffered from many ailments and
principally from lack of nourishment, added to the profound
fatigue I felt, had reduced my strength to a minimum. I wonder
that I lived, but something sustained me, and when we reached
Camp Verde the next day, and drew up before Lieutenant
O'Connell's quarters, and saw Mrs. O'Connell's kind face beaming
to welcome us, I felt that here was relief at last.
The tall Alsatian handed the pappoose cradle to Mrs. O'Connell.
"Gracious goodness! what is this?" cried the bewildered woman;
"surely it cannot be your baby! You haven't turned entirely
Indian, have you, amongst those wild Apaches?"
I felt sorry I had not taken him out of the basket before we
arrived. I did not realize the impression it would make at Camp
Verde. After all, they did not know anything about our life at
Apache, or our rough travels to get back from there. Here were
lace-curtained windows, well-dressed women, smart uniforms, and,
in fact, civilization, compared with what we had left.
The women of the post gathered around the broad piazza, to see
the wonder. But when they saw the poor little wan face, the blue
eyes which looked sadly out at them from this rude cradle, the
linen bandages covering the back of the head, they did not laugh
any more, but took him and ministered to him, as only kind women
can minister to a sick baby.
There was not much rest, however, for we had to sort and
rearrange our things, and dress ourselves properly. (Oh! the
luxury of a room and a tub, after that journey!) Jack put on his
best uniform, and there was no end of visiting, in spite of the
heat, which was considerable even at that early date in May. The
day there would have been pleasant enough but for my wretched
The next morning we set out for Fort Whipple, making a long day's
march, and arriving late in the evening. The wife of the
Quartermaster, a total stranger to me, received us, and before we
had time to exchange the usual social platitudes, she gave one
look at the baby, and put an end to any such attempts. "You have
a sick child; give him to me;" then I told her some things, and
she said: "I wonder he is alive." Then she took him under her
charge and declared we should not leave her house until he was
well again. She understood all about nursing, and day by day,
under her good care, and Doctor Henry Lippincott's skilful
treatment, I saw my baby brought back to life again. Can I ever
forget Mrs. Aldrich's blessed kindness?
Up to then, I had taken no interest in Camp MacDowell, where was
stationed the company into which my husband was promoted. I knew
it was somewhere in the southern part of the Territory, and
isolated. The present was enough. I was meeting my old Fort
Russell friends, and under Doctor Lippincott's good care I was
getting back a measure of strength. Camp MacDowell was not yet a
reality to me.
We met again Colonel Wilkins and Mrs. Wilkins and Carrie, and
Mrs. Wilkins thanked me for bringing her daughter alive out of
those wilds. Poor girl; 'twas but a few months when we heard of
her death, at the birth of her second child. I have always
thought her death was caused by the long hard journey from Apache
to Whipple, for Nature never intended women to go through what we
went through, on that memorable journey by Stoneman's Lake.
There I met again Captain Porter, and I asked him if he had
progressed any in his courtship, and he, being very much
embarrassed, said he did not know, but if patient waiting was of
any avail, he believed he might win his bride.
After we had been at Whipple a few days, Jack came in and
remarked casually to Lieutenant Aldrich, "Well, I heard Bernard
has asked to be relieved from Ehrenberg.
"What!" I said, "the lonely man down there on the river--the
prisoner of Chillon--the silent one? Well, they are going to
relieve him, of course?"
"Why, yes," said Jack, falteringly, "if they can get anyone to
take his place."
"Can't they order some one?" I inquired.
"Of course they can," he replied, and then, turning towards the
window, he ventured: "The fact is Martha, I've been offered it,
and am thinking it over." (The real truth was, that he had
applied for it, thinking it possessed great advantages over Camp
"What! do I hear aright? Have your senses left you? Are you
crazy? Are you going to take me to that awful place? Why, Jack, I
should die there!"
"Now, Martha, be reasonable; listen to me, and if you really
decide against it, I'll throw up the detail. But don't you see,
we shall be right on the river, the boat comes up every fortnight
or so, you can jump aboard and go up to San Francisco." (Oh, how
alluring that sounded to my ears!) "Why, it's no trouble to get
out of Arizona from Ehrenberg. Then, too, I shall be independent,
and can do just as I like, and when I like," et caetera, et
caetera. "Oh, you'll be making the greatest mistake, if you
decide against it. As for MacDowell, it's a hell of a place, down
there in the South; and you never will be able to go back East
with the baby, if we once get settled down there. Why, it's a
good fifteen days from the river."
And so he piled up the arguments in favor of Ehrenberg, saying
finally, "You need not stop a day there. If the boat happens to
be up, you can jump right aboard and start at once down river."
All the discomforts of the voyage on the "Newbern," and the
memory of those long days spent on the river steamer in August
had paled before my recent experiences. I flew, in imagination,
to the deck of the "Gila," and to good Captain Mellon, who would
take me and my child out of that wretched Territory.
"Yes, yes, let us go then," I cried; for here came in my
inexperience. I thought I was choosing the lesser evil, and I
knew that Jack believed it to be so, and also that he had set his
heart upon Ehrenberg, for reasons known only to the understanding
of a military man.
So it was decided to take the Ehrenberg detail.
THE COLORADO DESERT
Some serpents slid from out the grass That grew in tufts by
shattered stone, Then hid below some broken mass Of ruins older
than the East, That Time had eaten, as a bone Is eaten by some
Great dull-eyed rattlesnakes--they lay All loathsome,
yellow-skinned, and slept Coiled tight as pine knots in the sun,
With flat heads through the centre run; Then struck out sharp,
then rattling crept Flat-bellied down the dusty way.
At the end of a week, we started forth for Ehrenberg. Our escort
was now sent back to Camp Apache, and the Baileys remained at
Fort Whipple, so our outfit consisted of one ambulance and one
army wagon. One or two soldiers went along, to help with the
teams and the camp.
We travelled two days over a semi-civilized country, and found
quite comfortable ranches where we spent the nights. The greatest
luxury was fresh milk, and we enjoyed that at these ranches in
Skull Valley. They kept American cows, and supplied Whipple
Barracks with milk and butter. We drank, and drank, and drank
again, and carried a jugful to our bedside. The third day brought
us to Cullen's ranch, at the edge of the desert. Mrs. Cullen was
a Mexican woman and had a little boy named Daniel; she cooked us
a delicious supper of stewed chicken, and fried eggs, and good
bread, and then she put our boy to bed in Daniel's crib. I felt
so grateful to her; and with a return of physical comfort, I
began to think that life, after all, might be worth the living.
Hopefully and cheerfully the next morning we entered the vast
Colorado desert. This was verily the desert, more like the desert
which our imagination pictures, than the one we had crossed in
September from Mojave. It seemed so white, so bare, so endless,
and so still; irreclaimable, eternal, like Death itself. The
stillness was appalling. We saw great numbers of lizards darting
about like lightning; they were nearly as white as the sand
itself, and sat up on their hind legs and looked at us with their
pretty, beady black eyes. It seemed very far off from everywhere
and everybody, this desert--but I knew there was a camp somewhere
awaiting us, and our mules trotted patiently on. Towards noon
they began to raise their heads and sniff the air; they knew that
water was near. They quickened their pace, and we soon drew up
before a large wooden structure. There were no trees nor grass
around it. A Mexican worked the machinery with the aid of a mule,
and water was bought for our twelve animals, at so much per head.
The place was called Mesquite Wells; the man dwelt alone in his
desolation, with no living being except his mule for company. How
could he endure it! I was not able, even faintly, to comprehend
it; I had not lived long enough. He occupied a small hut, and
there he staid, year in and year out, selling water to the
passing traveller; and I fancy that travellers were not so
frequent at Mesquite Wells a quarter of a century ago.
The thought of that hermit and his dreary surroundings filled my
mind for a long time after we drove away, and it was only when we
halted and a soldier got down to kill a great rattlesnake near
the ambulance, that my thoughts were diverted. The man brought
the rattles to us and the new toy served to amuse my little son.
At night we arrived at Desert Station. There was a good ranch
there, kept by Hunt and Dudley, Englishmen, I believe. I did not
see them, but I wondered who they were and why they staid in such
a place. They were absent at the time; perhaps they had mines or
something of the sort to look after. One is always imagining
things about people who live in such extraordinary places. At all
events, whatever Messrs. Hunt and Dudley were doing down there,
their ranch was clean and attractive, which was more than could
be said of the place where we stopped the next night, a place
called Tyson's Wells. We slept in our tent that night, for of all
places on the earth a poorly kept ranch in Arizona is the most
melancholy and uninviting. It reeks of everything unclean,
morally and physically. Owen Wister has described such a place in
his delightful story, where the young tenderfoot dances for the
amusement of the old habitues.
One more day's travel across the desert brought us to our El
EHRENBERG ON THE COLORADO
Under the burning mid-day sun of Arizona, on May 16th, our six
good mules, with the long whip cracking about their ears, and the
ambulance rattling merrily along, brought us into the village of
Ehrenberg. There was one street, so called, which ran along on
the river bank, and then a few cross streets straggling back into
the desert, with here and there a low adobe casa. The Government
house stood not far from the river, and as we drove up to the
entrance the same blank white walls stared at me. It did not look
so much like a prison, after all, I thought. Captain Bernard, the
man whom I had pitied, stood at the doorway, to greet us, and
after we were inside the house he had some biscuits and wine
brought; and then the change of stations was talked of, and he
said to me, "Now, please make yourself at home. The house is
yours; my things are virtually packed up, and I leave in a day or
two. There is a soldier here who can stay with you; he has been
able to attend to my simple wants. I eat only twice a day; and
here is Charley, my Indian, who fetches the water from the river
and does the chores. I dine generally at sundown."
A shadow fell across the sunlight in the doorway; I looked
around and there stood "Charley," who had come in with the
noiseless step of the moccasined foot. I saw before me a handsome
naked Cocopah Indian, who wore a belt and a gee-string. He seemed
to feel at home and began to help with the bags and various
paraphernalia of ambulance travellers. He looked to be about
twenty-four years old. His face was smiling and friendly and I
knew I should like him.
The house was a one-story adobe. It formed two sides of a hollow
square; the other two sides were a high wall, and the Government
freight-house respectively. The courtyard was partly shaded by a
ramada and partly open to the hot sun. There was a chicken-yard
in one corner of the inclosed square, and in the centre stood a
rickety old pump, which indicated some sort of a well. Not a
green leaf or tree or blade of grass in sight. Nothing but white
sand, as far as one could see, in all directions.
Inside the house there were bare white walls, ceilings covered
with manta, and sagging, as they always do; small windows set in
deep embrasures, and adobe floors. Small and inconvenient rooms,
opening one into another around two sides of the square. A sort
of low veranda protected by lattice screens, made from a species
of slim cactus, called ocotilla, woven together, and bound with
raw-hide, ran around a part of the house.
Our dinner was enlivened by some good Cocomonga wine. I tried to
ascertain something about the source of provisions, but
evidently the soldier had done the foraging, and Captain Bernard
admitted that it was difficult, adding always that he did not
require much, "it was so warm," et caetera, et caetera. The next
morning I took the reins, nominally, but told the soldier to go
ahead and do just as he had always done. I selected a small room
for the baby's bath, the all important function of the day. The
Indian brought me a large tub (the same sort of a half of a
vinegar barrel we had used at Apache for ourselves), set it down
in the middle of the floor, and brought water from a barrel which
stood in the corral. A low box was placed for me to sit on. This
was a bachelor establishment, and there was no place but the
floor to lay things on; but what with the splashing and the
leaking and the dripping, the floor turned to mud and the white
clothes and towels were covered with it, and I myself was a
sight to behold. The Indian stood smiling at my plight. He spoke
only a pigeon English, but said, "too much-ee wet."
I was in despair; things began to look hopeless again to me. I
thought "surely these Mexicans must know how to manage with these
floors." Fisher, the steamboat agent, came in, and I asked him
if he could not find me a nurse. He said he would try, and went
out to see what could be done.
He finally brought in a rather forlorn looking Mexican woman
leading a little child (whose father was not known), and she said
she would come to us for quinze pesos a month. I consulted with
Fisher, and he said she was a pretty good sort, and that we could
not afford to be too particular down in that country. And so she
came; and although she was indolent, and forever smoking
cigarettes, she did care for the baby, and fanned him when he
slept, and proved a blessing to me.
And now came the unpacking of our boxes, which had floated down
the Colorado Chiquito. The fine damask, brought from Germany for
my linen chest, was a mass of mildew; and when the books came to
light, I could have wept to see the pretty editions of Schiller,
Goethe, and Lessing, which I had bought in Hanover, fall out of
their bindings; the latter, warped out of all shape, and some of
them unrecognizable. I did the best I could, however, not to show
too much concern, and gathered the pages carefully together, to
dry them in the sun.
They were my pride, my best beloved possessions, the links that
bound me to the happy days in old Hanover.
I went to Fisher for everything--a large, well-built American,
and a kind good man. Mrs. Fisher could not endure the life at
Ehrenberg, so she lived in San Francisco, he told me. There were
several other white men in the place, and two large stores where
everything was kept that people in such countries buy. These
merchants made enormous profits, and their families lived in
luxury in San Francisco.
The rest of the population consisted of a very poor class of
Mexicans, Cocopah, Yuma and Mojave Indians, and half-breeds.
The duties of the army officer stationed here consisted
principally in receiving and shipping the enormous quantity of
Government freight which was landed by the river steamers. It was
shipped by wagon trains across the Territory, and at all times
the work carried large responsibilities with it.
I soon realized that however much the present incumbent might
like the situation, it was no fit place for a woman.
The station at Ehrenberg was what we call, in the army, "detached
service." I realized that we had left the army for the time
being; that we had cut loose from a garrison; that we were in a
place where good food could not be procured, and where there were
practically no servants to be had. That there was not a woman to
speak to, or to go to for advice or help, and, worst of all, that
there was no doctor in the place. Besides all this, my clothes
were all ruined by lying wet for a fortnight in the boxes, and I
had practically nothing to wear. I did not then know what useless
things clothes were in Ehrenberg.
The situation appeared rather serious; the weather had grown
intensely hot, and it was decided that the only thing for me to
do was to go to San Francisco for the summer.
So one day we heard the whistle of the "Gila" going up; and when
she came down river, I was all ready to go on board, with
Patrocina and Jesusita,* and my own child, who was yet but five
months old. I bade farewell to the man on detached service, and
we headed down river. We seemed to go down very rapidly,
although the trip lasted several days. Patrocina took to her bed
with neuralgia (or nostalgia); her little devil of a child
screamed the entire days and nights through, to the utter
discomfiture of the few other passengers. A young lieutenant and
his wife and an army surgeon, who had come from one of the posts
in the interior, were among the number, and they seemed to think
that I could help it (though they did not say so).
*Diminutive of Jesus, a very common name amongst the Mexicans.
Finally the doctor said that if I did not throw Jesusita
overboard, he would; why didn't I "wring the neck of its
worthless Mexican of a mother?" and so on, until I really grew
very nervous and unhappy, thinking what I should do after we got
on board the ocean steamer. I, a victim of seasickness, with this
unlucky woman and her child on my hands, in addition to my own!
No; I made up my mind to go back to Ehrenberg, but I said
I did not dare to let Doctor Clark know of my decision, for I
knew he would try to dissuade me; but when we reached the mouth
of the river, and they began to transfer the passengers to the
ocean steamer which lay in the offing, I quietly sat down upon my
trunk and told them I was going back to Ehrenberg. Captain Mellon
grinned; the others were speechless; they tried persuasion, but
saw it was useless; and then they said good-bye to me, and our
stern-wheeler headed about and started for up river.
Ehrenberg had become truly my old man of the sea; I could not get
rid of it. There I must go, and there I must stay, until
circumstances and the Fates were more propitious for my
SUMMER AT EHRENBERG
The week we spent going up the Colorado in June was not as
uncomfortable as the time spent on the river in August of the
previous year. Everything is relative, I discovered, and I was
happy in going back to stay with the First Lieutenant of C
Company, and share his fortunes awhile longer.
Patrocina recovered, as soon as she found we were to return to
Ehrenberg. I wondered how anybody could be so homesick for such a
God-forsaken place. I asked her if she had ever seen a tree, or
green grass (for I could talk with her quite easily now). She
shook her mournful head. "But don't you want to see trees and
grass and flowers?"
Another sad shake of the head was the only reply.
Such people, such natures, and such lives, were incomprehensible
to me then. I could not look at things except from my own
She took her child upon her knee, and lighted a cigarette; I took
mine upon my knee, and gazed at the river banks: they were now
old friends: I had gazed at them many times before; how much I
had experienced, and how much had happened since I first saw
them! Could it be that I should ever come to love them, and the
pungent smell of the arrow-weed which covered them to the water's
The huge mosquitoes swarmed over us in the nights from those
thick clumps of arrow-weed and willow, and the nets with which
Captain Mellon provided us did not afford much protection.
The June heat was bad enough, though not quite so stifling as the
August heat. I was becoming accustomed to climates, and had
learned to endure discomfort. The salt beef and the Chinaman's
peach pies were no longer offensive to me. Indeed, I had a good
appetite for them, though they were not exactly the sort of food
prescribed by the modern doctor, for a young mother. Of course,
milk, eggs, and all fresh food were not to be had on the river
boats. Ice was still a thing unknown on the Colorado.
When, after a week, the "Gila" pushed her nose up to the bank at
Ehrenberg, there stood the Quartermaster. He jumped aboard, and
did not seem in the least surprised to see me. "I knew you'd come
back," said he. I laughed, of course, and we both laughed.
"I hadn't the courage to go on," I replied
"Oh, well, we can make things comfortable here and get through
the summer some way," he said. "I'll build some rooms on, and a
kitchen, and we can surely get along. It's the healthiest place
in the world for children, they tell me."
So after a hearty handshake with Captain Mellon, who had taken
such good care of me on my week's voyage up river, I being
almost the only passenger, I put my foot once more on the shores
of old Ehrenberg, and we wended our way towards the blank white
walls of the Government house. I was glad to be back, and content
So work was begun immediately on the kitchen. My first
stipulation was, that the new rooms were to have wooden floors;
for, although the Cocopah Charley kept the adobe floors in
perfect condition, by sprinkling them down and sweeping them out
every morning, they were quite impossible, especially where it
concerned white dresses and children, and the little sharp rocks
in them seemed to be so tiring to the feet.
Life as we Americans live it was difficult in Ehrenberg. I often
said: "Oh! if we could only live as the Mexicans live, how easy
it would be!" For they had their fire built between some stones
piled up in their yard, a piece of sheet iron laid over the top:
this was the cooking-stove. A pot of coffee was made in the
morning early, and the family sat on the low porch and drank it,
and ate a biscuit. Then a kettle of frijoles* was put over to
boil. These were boiled slowly for some hours, then lard and salt
were added, and they simmered down until they were deliciously
fit to eat, and had a thick red gravy.
*Mexican brown bean.
Then the young matron, or daughter of the house, would mix the
peculiar paste of flour and salt and water, for tortillas, a
species of unleavened bread. These tortillas were patted out
until they were as large as a dinner plate, and very thin; then
thrown onto the hot sheet-iron, where they baked. Each one of the
family then got a tortilla, the spoonful of beans was laid upon
it, and so they managed without the paraphernalia of silver and
china and napery.
How I envied them the simplicity of their lives! Besides, the
tortillas were delicious to eat, and as for the frijoles, they
were beyond anything I had ever eaten in the shape of beans. I
took lessons in the making of tortillas. A woman was paid to come
and teach me; but I never mastered the art. It is in the blood of
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