When these instructions had been given, Surgeon Coues asked me if the firing would be directed into the tents.
“Yes, doctor,” I replied.
“Of course, Miss Brenda is in one of them,” he observed.
“Yes, and if we shoot into them indiscriminately we are quite as likely to hit her as any one.”
“Can you think of any way of locating her?”
“No; I am at a dead loss. We will try Cooler’s plan of yelling, and perhaps that will bring the Indians out.”
I sent Clary, who had been directed to remain near me, for Sergeant Rafferty, and when the sergeant appeared directed him to forbid any one to fire a shot until ordered to do so.
THE ATTACK ON THE APACHE CAMP
Orders were passed and dispositions so made that one-half the force was placed on each flank of the camp. All movements were made at a considerable distance from the place to be attacked, and the utmost care taken not to make a sound that would alarm the sleeping foe. Once on the flanks, the men were to creep up slowly and stealthily to effective rifle range. When the trunks of the palmettos were lighted all were to yell as diabolically as possible, and fire at every Indian that showed himself.
The front of the camp looked towards the creek, which flowed over bowlders and pebbles with a great rush and roar. The Indians were expected in their flight to make a dash for the stream, and attempt to pass through the shoal rapids to the wooded bluffs beyond. My instructions were for the men to screen themselves on the flanks, behind the yuccas, Spanish-bayonet, emole, and cacti. Accompanied by Tom Clary and Paul Weaver, I selected a clump of vegetation on the northern side, from which the front of the tents could be observed. Sergeant Rafferty, with George Cooler, was on the opposite flank, and the lighting of a tree on my side was to be the signal for one to be lighted on the other, and for the yelling to begin.
This plan was carried out. The flash of one match was followed promptly by the flash of another. Two flames burst forth, and rapidly climbed the shaggy trunks of the little palms, lighting up the whole locality. At the same instant an imitation war-whoop burst from vigorous lungs and throats.
Every one held his rifle in readiness to shoot the escaping Apaches, but not a redskin showed his jetty head. The soldiers yelled and yelled, practising every variation ingenuity could invent in the vain attempt to make their tame white-man utterances resemble the blood-curdling, hair-raising, heart-jumping shrieks of their Indian foes, now so strangely silent. Not a savage responded vocally or otherwise.
But for the presence of the captive girl in one of the thirteen tents the attack would have begun by riddling the thinly covered shelters with bullets at low range.
The two burning trees had gone out and two others had been lighted, and it soon appeared evident that if something was not done to bring out the foe the supply of torches would soon be exhausted and nothing accomplished. In the darkness the advantage might even turn to the side of the redman.