Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/130

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neither water nor wood existed, and completely surrounded by hills and banks of white sand. With much toil several of our number ascended one or two of the highest hillocks, but as far as the eye could reach nothing was to be seen but one unbroken expanse of sand—white, dazzling under the rays of a burning sun, unrelieved by a single bush or shrub—broken and fretted with countless hillocks, and utterly void of animal life. This part of the Colorado desert is much more frightful than the great Sahara of Africa. The absolute stillness and repose is something awful; it is death in life; it is the most impressive lesson of man's feebleness, and the most startling reproof against his vanity. In our case these sensations were not mitigated by the knowledge of being surrounded by a fierce, warlike and numerous Indian tribe, thirsting for our blood, and eager to revenge the indignity they had suffered by the captivity of their head chiefs, and the failure of their treacherous schemes.

As before stated, we halted and made preparations as if to encamp. Dr. Webb then directed Mr. Thurber to ascend the highest sand hill in the neighborhood, examine all around with his field glass and report if the Indians were upon our trail. In about half an hour Mr. Thurber returned, and assured us that from two to three hundred Yumas were within five miles of our position, and heading toward our camp. There was no time to lose. Caballo en Pelo with his fellow captives were immediately informed that they must take the back track and return to the river, that our road was toward the west, that we had no more provisions to give them, and that it was indispensable for us to part company then and there. To these requirements the wily chief demurred, and stated his desire to go on with us to California. He was overruled by the strong persuasive force of draw-