Since our friends, the Indians, had quitted us, we had always left some one or other on guard at the shanty, to keep watch over our horses and baggage, both during the day time and at night; for we knew that some of them were continually prowling about, our horses having frequently shown signs of uneasiness in the night time. During the day there was generally one member of the party who remained at the shanty, having either Jose or the lad Horry in company.
The ravine we proposed moving to was nearly half-a-mile distant. After breakfast, Bradley, Lacosse, and McPhail, accompanied by the old trapper, set off on a hunting expedition, for our stock of provisions was now getting very low, leaving Jose and our legal friend at the camp. The remainder of the party, including myself, proceeded to the ravine with our implements, and after working a few hours we succeeded in procuring more gold than we had obtained in any two days during the past week. We were just on the point of returning to the camp to dinner when Dowling, who was standing near some sage bushes at the upper part of the ravine, heard a rustling among them, and on moving in the direction of the noise saw an Indian stealthily creeping along, who, as soon as he perceived he was discovered, discharged an arrow, which just missed its mark, but lacerated, and that rather severely, Dowling’s ear. The savage immediately set up a most terrific whoop, and ran off, but stumbled before he could draw another arrow from his quiver, while Dowling, rushing forward, buried his mattock in the head of his fallen foe, killing him instantaneously.
At this moment we hoard the crack of a rifle in the direction of the camp, which, with the Indian’s whoop at the same moment, completely bewildered us. Every man, however, seized his rifle, and Dowling, hastening towards us, told us what had just occurred. All was still for the next few moments, and I mounted a little hill to reconnoitre. Suddenly I saw a troop of Indians, the foremost of them on horseback, approaching at full speed. I hastily returned to my companions, and we sought shelter in a little dell, determined to await there, and resist the attack, for it was evident that the savages’ intentions were anything but pacific.