California eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 127 pages of information about California.

Don Luis then went on to say, that as soon as they saw the coast was clear, they left their cover and sought out Malcolm, who was lying on the ground with the lasso lightly pinioning his arms, and to all appearance dead.  On a closer examination, however, they found that he still breathed, and also that he had been severely trampled on by some of the horses of the robbers in their retreat.  Bradley pulled out his bowie-knife and cut the lasso in a few moments, when they tried to raise him up, but found that the injuries he had sustained prevented him from standing.  He was, in fact, quite insensible.  At that moment they were alarmed by the sound of voices, and looking round they saw a party of horsemen riding up at full speed from the direction of the Sacramento.  They gave themselves up for lost, but, to their delight, the new-comers proved to be a party of miners, who hearing so many rifle-reports in such rapid succession, had immediately hastened to the spot.  Don Luis supposed that the robbers had seen their approach, and that this, and not the bullet from Bradley’s rifle, had been the cause of the scoundrels’ precipitate retreat.  They found the Indian’s horse, to the saddle of which the lasso was attached, quite dead.  The Indian himself had managed to crawl off, though doubtless much hurt, as Don Luis saw the horse roll right over him.  The body of the robber shot by Bradley was found; life was quite extinct, the ball having passed through his chest in a transverse direction, evidently penetrating the heart.  He was recognised by some of the miners—­natives of the country—­as one of the disbanded soldiers of the late Californian army, by name Tomas Maria Carillo; a man of the very worst character, who had connected himself with a small band of depredators, whose occupation was to lie in wait at convenient spots along the roads in the neighbourhood of the sea’ coast, and from thence to pounce upon and plunder any unfortunate merchant or ranchero that might be passing unprotected that way.  The gang had now evidently abandoned the coast to try their fortune in the neighbourhood of the mines, and, judging from the accounts which one of the miners gave of the number of robberies that had recently taken place about there, their mission had been eminently successful.

“Our first care,” continued Don Luis, “was to see to poor Malcolm, and our next object was to go in pursuit of the ruffians.  On intimating as much to our new friends, to our surprise they declined to render us any assistance.  Their curiosity, which it seems was the only motive that brought them towards us, had been satisfied, and I felt disgusted at the brutality of their conduct when they coolly turned their horses’ heads round, and left us alone with our dying friend, not deigning further to notice our appeals to them for assistance.  No, they must set to work again, digging and washing, and we might thank ourselves that their coming up had saved our lives; this was the burthen of their reply.  In their eager pursuit of gold, they had not a moment to spare for the commonest offices of Christian charity.  At length,” said Don Luis, “in answer to my passionate expostulations, backed by the offer of any reward they might demand—­which offer alone gave force to my words—­two of them consented to return in about an hour with a litter to convey Malcolm to their camp.

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California from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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