After Frank had looked long and anxiously towards the flocks and herds, he said: “Those specks near the ponies must be men, I suppose. I wonder if Henry is among them? Shall I make the signal?”
“Not yet. It is not yet noon. Let us lie down among these rocks, where we shall be less conspicuous, and use the field-glass.”
“Tell me what you see, sir, if you please.”
“There are five large flocks of sheep in the charge of a lot of women, some mounted and some on foot. The pony herd, which must number several hundred, is in charge of three naked Indians—boys, I think. There are no other persons in sight. Take a look for yourself.”
Frank accepted the glass and surveyed the valley. “I can see nothing that looks like Henry,” he said. “He certainly cannot be there. Why are those boys so ghostly white?”
“They are covered with yeso to protect them from sunburn.”
“Gypsum. The Mexicans use it for whitewash, and to preserve the complexion.”
“Well, those boys must have plastered it on thick; they look like living statues. Not a rag on them except ‘breech-clouts.’ Hello, there comes a troop around that mound to the right. Must be two hundred men.”
Taking the glass, I looked again. Coming into sight from the opposite side of an elevation on the farther side of the valley was a party of two hundred and fifteen Navajo warriors. They rode to each flock of sheep in succession, stopped near the women a few moments, and then came down to the pony herd. They approached the boys, and one large Indian, who appeared to be the chief, lifted the smaller boy out of his saddle, and, swinging him to his shoulder, dashed around the herd at full speed, and then set him back in his own saddle, and patted him approvingly on the back.
The party next proceeded to exchange the ponies they were riding for fresh ones from the herd, and then disappeared behind the trees which bordered the brook to the west.
“The pony that small boy rides looks like Chiquita,” remarked Frank; “but the saddle and bridle are different. Senora Perea said that Manuel was herding ponies for the Navajos, and that he was naked.”
“Yes, I know; but the letter Vic brought from Henry made no mention of another boy, and there are three with that herd. But let us make the signal and see what will happen.”
Standing up and advancing to the edge of the butte’s top, I waved my handkerchief from side to side, keeping my eyes fixed upon the three boys. They formed in line, facing us, looked long in our direction, and then, as if started by a spring, they flew down the plain, leaped the brook, and galloped up the long ascent towards the concealed cavalrymen.
THE CORPORALS ARE PROMOTED
The three Indian boys were doing their utmost to excite their ponies to their greatest speed up the height. As they sped on they glanced repeatedly backward, as if fearing pursuit. Higher and higher they came up the steep until we could not doubt it was their intention to reach the command.