Three days later the boys and I took leave of Mr. Hudson, who was now in charge of the government storehouse, and, accompanied by Mr. Gray, started for Fort Whipple. Hanging under the hind axle of the ambulance was a ten-gallon keg, and inside was another. We left La Paz early in the morning and arrived at Tyson’s Wells at nine o’clock. Remaining there until six o’clock in the evening, we watered our animals, and with freshly filled kegs started for Hole-in-the-Plain, where we stayed until the following evening, the animals passing the day on grass without water. A second night-drive brought us to Cisternas Negras, and the third to Date Creek, from which last point we resumed travelling by daylight.
At Skull Valley, at the earnest request of Miss Brenda Arnold, Henry was allowed to remain for a few days’ visit. He promised to join the next incoming mail-rider, and to ride back to the fort by way of the mountain-trail.
APACHES IN SKULL VALLEY
It was near midnight, four days after my return from La Paz, that I sat by my open fire, absorbed in a recently published popular novel. I was suddenly aroused by a distant and rapid clatter of horse’s feet. The sound came distinctly through the loop-holes in the outer wall of the room—loop-holes made for rifles and left open for ventilation. Dropping my book upon the table, I listened intently to the hoof-beats. Some one was riding from the direction of Prescott, evidently in great haste; and Arizona being a country of alarms, I surmised that the rider was coming to the fort. The horseman stopped at the great gates.
“Halt! Who comes there?” rang out the voice of Private Tom Clary, who was sentinel No. 1, stationed at the post entrance. “Sargint Hinery, is it you, laddie?” the voice continued, in a lower and gentler tone.
“Yes, Tom; and, oh, tell Mr. Duncan, quick, that—”
“Whist! Take care, laddie! Howld on a bit!” and a rifle fell clattering to the ground and two solid feet sprang forward with a rush.
Hearing this, I started for the secret postern, and as I opened my door, heard the honest old soldier shout:
“Corpril uv th’ guard, No. 1!” and, in a lower and appealing tone: “Liftinint, if ye hear me, come quick to the little sargint. I fear th’ dear b’y is dyin’.”
In an instant I was through the narrow gate-way, standing beside a group of the guard that surrounded Clary, who, kneeling beside a panting and reeking pony, held the inanimate form of Henry Burton in his arms.
“Corpril Duffey, will ye let one uv the b’ys walk me bate a minate till I can take the laddie in?” asked Tom.
“Yes, Clary, go ahead, and stay as long as you’re needed,” was the kindly answer.
“Is it to your room I’ll be takin’ him, sor?” asked Clary, rising and holding his burden across his breast.
“Of course, and place him on my bed. Corporal Duffey, send a man for the surgeon and hospital steward, and send another with the pony to the stable.”