The following morning, we once more took the road, and for three days followed the course of the river, which carried us through the most undesirable portion of country we had yet seen; even game seemed to have forsaken it.
The route then brought us into the vicinity of the celebrated “Comanche Springs,” situated in the open prairie, at the crossing of the great Comanche war trail that leads into Mexico—a trail that may with truth, be said, to be marked with whitened bones, its entire distance.
As we were likely at any time to meet with bands of Comanches in this neighborhood, it became necessary to travel with the greatest precaution; but even this did not appear to prevent one of the “varmints,” as old Jerry called him, from boldly coming into camp the next day, without any one having seen his approach. Hal was the first who discovered him, and as the fellow was alone, begged so hard for permission for him to remain, that I yielded a reluctant assent, and permitted him to come into camp.
The fellow claimed to be very hungry, a good friend of the whites, and said he was on his way from Mexico, to his home on the Brazos, and only wanted permission to remain, long enough to rest a little and obtain something to eat.
“I don’t like the cut of any of them varmints,” said Jerry, “they’re all natral thieves, and ez likely ez not, thet cuss is a spy. We can’t tell nothin’ ’bout ’em, and ther best way is, ter steer clear on ’em, or at any rate keep ’em at good rifle range.”
Telling Hal not to lose sight of the fellow for an instant, and as soon as he had rested an hour, to start him on, I laid down under one of the wagons for the purpose of taking a siesta, but was awakened by hearing Hal loudly inquiring, if any body knew what had become of his pony. No one appeared to know anything about it, but I heard Jerry’s voice suggest, that probably his Comanche friend could tell where it was. This aroused me in an instant, and I crawled out from under the wagon, and, calling Hal, asked him where his horse was, when he saw him last.
“I saw him not half an hour ago, within twenty yards of this spot.”
“How did he get away? pull his picket-pin?” asked I.
“No,” replied Hal, “the lariat looks as though it had been cut.”
“It’s plain enuff to tell who’s got yer hoss; it’s that Comanche. Them varmints are nat’ral hoss thieves, any how.”
“Do you mean to tell me, that that Indian could steal my horse, right here, under my very eyes, and I not see him?” angrily asked Hal.
“Well, you see he has, don’t yer?” replied Jerry; “and not only you didn’t see him, but nobody else; and didn’t he come walkin’ into camp this mornin’ and not a soul know it, till he was right amongst us?”
“I don’t care if he did, he never could have carried off my pony and I not see him,” declared Hal.
“But he did though youngster, as sure’s you’re a livin boy.”