Extra guards were sent out, the animals securely corralled, each man required to sleep upon his arms, and every precaution taken to enable us to repel an attack at a moment’s notice.
The night passed without any alarm, and Jerry chuckled at the thought that we should probably get through without being molested. Just as we were starting, however, it was found that one of our wagons required repairs, that would cause a delay of several hours. As the water was good and the grass luxuriant, we concluded to run the risk of an attack, and to remain for the day where we were and give our animals, which were sent to graze a limit a mile from camp, a much-needed rest.
Jerry undertook the repair of the wagon; and, as the day was bright, the boys determined to do some washing.
I had thrown myself upon my blanket, and was lazily admiring the beauties of an Arizona landscape, when Patsey approached me, and, pulling off his brimless hat, said, “Ef yer plase, sur, the byze wants to git some sooap.”
“What is it, Patsey?” said I.
“It’s the sooap, sur. Where’ll the byze git the sooap ter wash wid?”
“Tell them to take a spade, and go and dig some,” was my reply.
Patsey looked at me a moment, as though half inclined to think I had suddenly taken leave of my senses, and then exclaimed, in tones of astonishment,—
“Dig sooap! Where’ll they go to dig it, shure?”
“Right there,” said I, pointing to a small palmilla,[The palmilla is a species of palm, known as the soap-plant, whose roots, when bruised in water, make a very thick and remarkably soft and white lather. The plant is much used by the natives for cleansing clothes, and is far superior to any manufactured soap for scouring woolens. It also makes an admirable shampoo mixture.] numbers of which were growing all about us.
Patsey looked in the direction indicated; and, seeing nothing that resembled soap, regarded me attentively for a moment, and then wheeled and darted away.
Presently I saw the three boys coming towards me, and Ned laughingly remarked that he and Hal wanted some soap to wash their shirts with.
I answered, that I had just sent them word by Patsey, to go and dig some.
Evidently Ned was as much surprised at my answer as Patsey had been; but he mustered courage enough to inquire where he should find it.
“There, there, and there!” replied I, pointing in rapid succession to the plants that were growing around us. Ned stood spell-bound for a moment, and then slowly turned towards Hal and Patsey, who were standing at a little distance.
As he approached them, Patsey caught him by the arm, and, with a most knowing look on his broad, Irish face, exclaimed, “Didn’t I tell yez the boss wuz crazy, an’ I wouldn’t git my new clo’es, any how?”
Wishing them to learn the merits of this truly wonderful plant that grows so common throughout this region, I rose from the ground. Patsey beat a hurried retreat, taking refuge with Jerry, saying, the “Boss had gone as crazy as a bidbug, wid his diggin’ sooap and givin’ clo’es away, to be shure.”