The suggestion seemed to be a good one, for it was no sooner made than adopted, and we had barely time to reach the desired location, ere they were upon us.
“Steady,” said Jerry; “let me give ’em one;” and taking deliberate aim’ he fired, killing one of the ponies, thereby forcing its rider to mount behind one of the others; but on they came towards us, as fast as their horses could bring them.
“Now’s your’ time,—fire!” said Jerry.
I brought my rifle to my face and blazed away; seemingly, however, without effect.
“That won’t do. If you can’t shoot surer’n that, you’d better load and let me do it,” said Jerry.
The Indians were now so close that several of their arrows fell about us, two or three striking the rock behind and shivering to pieces, and enabling us to recognize among them, the two who had hailed us but a short time before.
“The treacherous cusses,” said Jerry. “I’ll pay them fellows off, afore I git through with ’em, or my name ain’t Jerry Vance, sartin.”
The Indians appeared to be in no hurry to come within range of our rifles, but kept well out of the way, occasionally coming furiously to wards us, and as we raised our rifles to our faces, they would hastily throw themselves over upon the sides of their animals for protection, and ride rapidly away.
“They ain’t goin’ to hurt us much in this way,” said I to Jerry.
“No; but they’re going to tire us out, for it’ll soon be dark, and we’ve got neither water nor food here; besides them fellers’ eyes arc like cats’,—they kin see ez well in the dark, ez we kin in the daytime. We kin hold ’em safe enuff now, but we must git a way from here before dark. There goes for El Chico,” said Jerry, suddenly bringing his rifle to his face; and the next instant, an Indian fell heavily from his horse, and was instantly caught up from the ground by one of his companions, thrown across the horse before him and the party once more galloped out of range.
“I reckon we’d better mount and ride slowly towards camp,” said Jerry. “Ef we do we shall get there some time ter-night, but ef we stay here we shan’t, that’s sartin.”
“Do you suppose they’ll follow us?” inquired I.
“Sartin sure,” responded Jerry; “but I reckon by good engineerin’ we kin keep ’em off, so that their arrers won’t hurt us much: it’s a mighty lucky thing they ain’t got no firearms.”
We immediately mounted our horses and rode out upon the plain. The instant the Indians saw us they began whooping and yelling, as though we had done the very thing, they most desired; but Jerry was strong in the opinion that it was our best course and we continued on.
Every few minutes they would make a rush towards us, and we would turn and bring our rifles up; and then they would wheel and rapidly ride away out of possible range, when we would continue our course towards camp.