“The cussed, lyin’ old heathen,” exclaimed Jerry. “I wonder does he ‘spose I’m green enuff to swaller that story o’ his’n. It’s true enuff though, that they’ve got the youngsters, and it’s likely we kin git ’em agin, though I’ve always telled you, boys hain’t no bizness on the plains, no how.”
After long haggling and bargaining between Jerry and the Indian, the amount of ransom was agreed upon, and the brave rode off to bring the boys, while Jerry and I started for the train to procure the blankets, powder, brass wire, beads and tobacco, we were to give in exchange for them.
An hour or two later, two Indians appeared upon the summit of the high ground with the boys; then Jerry and I, with the goods, rode forward to make the exchange. This was soon effected, and they left us with profuse expressions of regard; although, from the haste displayed in removing their ill-gotten wealth, it was evident that they placed as little confidence in our honesty, as we did in theirs.
We were overjoyed to get the boys back safe and sound; and, though Jerry was disposed to grumble at the idea of having them along, in a trip across the plains, he was glad to listen to Ned’s explanation of the manner of their capture.
While they were watching the dogs, their ponies got frightened and ran away; when they discovered this, they also started for camp.
After it grew dark, they saw at a long distance from the road the light of a camp-fire. Thinking it ours, they started for it, and walked directly into the midst of a party of fifteen Comanches, who were as much surprised at seeing two youngsters armed with rifles coming into their midst, as they were frightened at finding themselves surrounded by naked, painted savages.
The Comanches immediately took possession of their fire-arms, and stripped them of nearly all their clothing. Then they tried to ascertain where they came from, and how they had become separated from their party.
The boys told them, as well as they were able by signs, that they were lost, and that their friends would give a great many goods if they would show them the way back to our camp.
This seemed to please the Indians, who soon after, took a large kettle from off the fire and set it before them, motioning them to eat. The kettle held a stew of what they thought was antelope meat, so they ate heartily of it, for they were very hungry. When they had nearly satisfied their appetites, Hal fished up from the depths of the mess the fore-leg and foot of a dog. This was decidedly an unpleasant revelation, and both became very sick and vomited freely, to the great amusement of the Indians.
They were then placed under guard, and soon after fell asleep. In the morning they were rudely awakened and told to mount a pony, to which they were securely tied, so as to prevent any attempt to escape.
Many miles were travelled in this manner. The boys became anxious, and were endeavoring to prepare themselves for the worst, when, from the top of a high bluff, they saw us awaiting their arrival.