Upon inquiring as to the words used, Patsey said,—
“Sure, sur, I only axed him did Juanita look as tickled as he did, and he come at me wid his phists, so he did; but he’ll be aisy about sthriking me the nixt time. Dye’r moind that, noo, yer honor!”
“He’d no business to call her Juanita,” angrily exclaimed Hal.
“Phat would I call her, thin?” asked Patsey.
“Call her by her proper name, the Senorita Ortiz,” said Hal, with much dignity.
“And phat, would I be givin’ her that jaw-crackin’ name fur, when her name’s Juanita?”
“But her name isn’t Juanita to her inferiors, only to her intimate friends,” explained Hal.
“Infariors, sure! Ain’t an Irishman as good as a Mexican, any day? An’, if yez think I’m your infarior, jest come out here and thry it, sure; that’s all, Master Hal.”
I stopped the controversy at once, by telling Hal that Patsey had no intention of offending, and there was no occasion for his attempt to chastise him.
“Oh, he won’t thry it again, sur, niver fear,” interrupted Patsey. “If he does,” declared he in a tone intended only for Hal’s ear, “I’ll break ivery bone in his body, so I will.”
After Patsey had gone, I did not reprimand Hal, only sent him to his tent; for, judging from his crestfallen air, he had suffered physically as well as mentally in the encounter.
We remained in camp the next day, visiting the officers at the fort, and taking our farewell of them, with many regrets. Nor did we forget a generous reminder to Tom Pope, to whose keen observation, quick wit, daring bravery, and perseverance we owed, in so large a degree, the success of our expedition.
The following morning, we crossed the Rio Grande and found ourselves in the celebrated Mesilla valley, one of the most fertile and productive, in the Territory of New Mexico.
The town itself has a population of about one thousand souls, and was first settled in 1850, by colonists from Chihuahua. All land in this portion of the territory is cultivated by irrigation; and, as this was the first time Hal had ever seen it practiced to any extent, he asked permission to remain behind in town a little while, to witness the operation. Ned also expressed a desire to see it, and, after consulting Jerry, I assented to their request, believing with him, “that they’d find mighty hard work to git inter any scrape in such a God-forsaken town as that was, anyhow.”
We crossed the valley, and then ascended the high lands west of the town, through which our road lay, expecting to make our camp about sixteen miles from the river, and get an early start in the morning, to enable us to reach Cook’s Springs, the following night.
As we rode along, I noticed that the distant range of blue mountains before us, seemed to have risen from the earth, and to be reposing upon the line of flickering heat that marked the horizon, and, in a short time, that groups of trees and huge rocks appeared, standing high in air, like islands in mid ocean.