Then Chief Manuelito, who was highly elated with his victory over the Mexican, challenged me to a game in a very overbearing and provoking manner. I replied that I despised the game of monte, which was perhaps good enough for Mexicans and Indians, but was decided by chance; I boasted that I was ready to bet anything I had on my skill at shooting with the rifle, and challenged him and his whole tribe to the sport which was worthy of men, a shooting match. I think Manuelito would have accepted my challenge without hesitation and in great glee if he had not been restrained by the Indian whom I have mentioned before as having just arrived and recognized me. This Indian said something to the chief, which seemed to interest and excite them all. Chief Manuelito advanced, and extending his hand in greeting, said that he had often wished to meet me, the wizard who had beaten the champion marksman of the Navajo tribe.
Several years before I had in the town of Cubero, at the request of Mexican friends, shot a target match with the most renowned marksman of the Navajo tribe, my pistol being pitted against the Navajo’s rifle, and had beaten him with a wonderful shot to the discomfiture and distress of a trading band of Indians, who bet on their champion’s prowess and lost their goods to the knowing Mexicans.
The chief then requested me to favor them with an exhibition of my skill. I readily assented and directed them to put up a target. They placed a flat rock against the trunk of a pine tree at so great a distance that it was barely distinguishable to the naked eye. I guessed the distance and my shot fell just below the mark. Then I raised the hind sight of my Winchester a notch and the next shot shattered the stone to pieces. At this the Indians went wild. They had thought it impossible for any man to perform this feat of marksmanship, and were most enthusiastic in the profession of their admiration. Gladly would they have adopted me into their tribe as a great chief or medicine man had I wished to ally myself to them. There was the opportunity of a lifetime, but I did not embrace it.
As the sun was now low in the heavens, I advised Don Juan to remain in camp for the night and spoke to Chief Manuelito, expressing my wish to pass through his country unmolested and without delay. The chief assured me of his protection and bade us have no care. We slept soundly that night, a band of Indians guarding our camp and herd under orders of Manuelito, who had become my stanch friend and admirer. The following day we came to the end of the reservation and soon crossed the boundary line of New Mexico into Arizona.
CHAPTER IX. IN ARIZONA
I left New Mexico with the intention of making Los Angeles in the golden State my future home, and now, thirty years later, I have not reached there yet. Vainly have I tried to break the thraldom of my fate, for I did not know that here I was to meet face to face with the mighty mystery of an ancient cult, the God of a long-forgotten civilization, a psychic power which has ordered my path in life and controlled my actions.