The last and most daring act of these marauders was the kidnapping of Don Ramon Mora, owner of the princely grant of Agua Dulce. Thousands of cattle and horses ranged over the vast acres of his ranch, and he was reputed to be a wealthy man. No one ever enjoyed the hospitality of Agua Dulce but went his way with an increased regard for its owner and his estimable Castilian family. The rancho lay back from the river probably sixty miles, and was on the border of the chaparral, which was the rendezvous of the robbers. Don Ramon had a pleasant home in one of the river towns. One June he and his family had gone to the ranch, intending to spend a few weeks there. He had notified cattle-buyers of this vacation, and had invited them to visit him there either on business or pleasure.
One evening an unknown vaquero rode up to the rancho and asked for Don Ramon. That gentleman presenting himself, the stranger made known his errand: a certain firm of well-known drovers, friends of the ranchero, were encamped for the night at a ranchita some ten miles distant. They regretted that they could not visit him, but they would be pleased to see him. They gave as an excuse for not calling that they were driving quite a herd of cattle, and the corrals at this little ranch were unsafe for the number they had, so that they were compelled to hold outside or night-herd. This very plausible story was accepted without question by Don Ramon, who well understood the handling of herds. Inviting the messenger to some refreshment, he ordered his horse saddled and made preparation to return with this pseudo vaquero. Telling his family that he would be gone for the night, he rode away with the stranger.
There were several thickety groves, extending from the main chaparral out for considerable distance on the prairie, but not of as rank a growth as on the alluvial river bottoms. These thickets were composed of thorny underbrush, frequently as large as fruit trees and of a density which made them impenetrable, except by those thoroughly familiar with the few established trails. The road from Agua Dulce to the ranchita was plain and well known, yet passing through several arms of the main body of the chaparral. Don Ramon and his guide reached one of these thickets after nightfall. Suddenly they were surrounded by a dozen horsemen, who, with oaths and jests, told him that he was their prisoner. Relieving Don Ramon of his firearms and other valuables, one of the bandits took the bridle off his horse, and putting a rope around the animal’s neck, the band turned towards the river with their captive. Near morning they went into one of their many retreats in the chaparral, fettering their prisoner. What the feelings of Don Ramon Mora were that night is not for pen to picture, for they must have been indescribable.