As soon as we arrived at this post, in company with Ned, I called upon Lieutenant Howland, then in command, and communicated to him the facts regarding the attack upon, and capture of a portion of our party, and from him learned the startling intelligence that a scout from Fort Stanton, had that day arrived at the post, reporting that, the day previous, he had discovered the fresh trail of a party of Indians near the eastern base of the Organos Mountains, who had with them, three white persons, one of whom, was a woman.
As soon as Ned heard the lieutenant make this statement, he started to his feet, exclaiming, “That’s them! that’s them! Hurrah! we’ll find ’em, sure. Let’s start now!” and away he went to carry the glad tidings to the camp.
At my request, the scout was sent for. He proved to be a keen, shrewd Yankee, who had spent the last twenty years of his life, among the mountains of New Mexico.
His statement was clear and concise, and showed a familiarity with Indian manners and habits, that entitled his opinion to great weight. After a long interview, both Lieutenant Howland and myself became convinced that Hal and Juanita were with the party he described. So positive was the lieutenant that he volunteered to send a force in pursuit early on the following morning, with Tom Pope as guide.
When this determination was announced I hastened back to camp to consult old Jerry, and found all assembled around Ned, who was repeating over and over again, the story told by Tom. Even Patsey, whom I had scarcely noticed since he joined the train, was tossing his well-worn cap in the air, catching it upon the toe of a toeless boot, while executing a lively Irish jig, and exclaiming every time he drew a long breath,—
“Whoo-o-o-op! think of it now, will yez! The boss has got the byse, sure. Whoo-o-o-op now, whoo-o-op!”
In fact, all seemed delighted at the idea of our receiving even the meagre information we had obtained at the fort.
As soon as Jerry found a moment’s leisure, I gave him a detailed account of the interview with Tom Pope, as well as Lieutenant Howland’s opinion regarding it.
He expressed much satisfaction at the Lieutenant’s intention to pursue the party, and asked, if I thought the guide would object to his accompanying him on the expedition.
While talking the matter over, we saw Tom himself approaching camp. Jerry at once recognized him as an old Comanche scout, whom he had once met in Texas; and the two were soon upon the most friendly terms. It was understood, that Jerry and myself were to accompany Tom on the expedition, and finally I obtained permission to take Ned along.
I invited Tom to remain and take supper with us, and afterwards, while Jerry was making his preparations for the morrow’s expedition, Ned and Patsey asked Tom for a story; but Tom said “he warn’t no account at story tellin’ and would let that job out to somebody else.”