Leaping into the saddle, the boy drove his spurs into the animal’s flanks, and was off at a furious run in the direction of Whipple. Startled by the hoof-beats, the Apaches looked back, and began running diagonally across the field to try to intercept the boy before he turned into the direct trail. Arrow after arrow flew after him, one wounding him in the neck and another in the cheek, and when the distance began to increase between him and his pursuers and they saw the boy was likely to get away, one raised his rifle and sent a bullet after him, which fractured the radius of his left arm.
“Well, Chiquita,” said Henry, as he turned fairly into the Prescott trail and had realized the exact nature of his injuries, “you haven’t got a scratch, and are good for this run if I can hold out.”
It was dusk when Henry began his ride, and it rapidly grew darker as he hurried along the trail. Neither he nor the pony had been over it before. Twice he got off the trail, and long and miserable stretches of time elapsed in regaining it; but the fort was reached at last and the alarm given.
PURSUIT OF THE APACHES
With twenty-eight men, including two scouts picked up as we passed through Prescott, and the post surgeon, I left for Skull Valley. The night was moonless, but the myriad stars shone brilliantly through the rarefied atmosphere of that Western region, lighting the trail and making it fairly easy to follow. It was a narrow pathway, with but few places where two horsemen could ride abreast, so conversation was almost impossible, and few words, except those of command, were spoken; nor were the men in a mood to talk. All were more or less excited and impatient, and, wherever the road would permit, urged their horses to a run.
The trail climbed and descended rugged steeps, crossed smooth intervals, skirted the edges of precipices, wound along borders of dry creeks, and threaded forests of pine and clumps of sage-brush and greasewood. Throughout the ride the imaginations of officers and men were depicting the scenes they feared were being enacted in the valley, or which might take place should they fail to arrive in time to prevent.
It is needless to say, perhaps, that the one person about whom the thoughts of the men composing the rescuing party centred was the gentle, bright, and pretty Brenda. To think of her falling into the hands of the merciless Apaches was almost maddening.
On and on rode the column, the men giving their panting steeds no more rest than the nature of the road and the success of the expedition required. At last we reached the spur of the range behind which lay Skull Valley. We skirted it, and with anxious eyes sought through the darkness the place where the ranch buildings should be. All was silence. No report of fire-arms or whoop of savages disturbed the quiet of the valley.