Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/137

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131
LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

Just below and about what is known as Grinnell's Station the road is covered from four to five inches deep with a fine and almost impalpable dust, containing an abundance of alkali. The lightest tread sends it in clouds far over head, and a body of men riding together in close column are so thoroughly enveloped as to prevent the recognizing of each other at the distance of only three feet. In some places the road passes through the middle of an extensive plain, apparently incapable of affording covert to a hare. We had arrived at one of these wide openings, and were inclosed in a cloud of dust so dense as completely to bar the vision of all except the two who occupied the advance. One or two others attempted to ride on one side of the road, but the terrible thorns of the cactus and the pointed leaves of the Spanish bayonet which soon covered their horses legs with blood, and lamed the poor animals, induced them to resume the dusty road. No one expected an attack in so open, exposed and unsheltered a place, yet it was the very one selected for such a purpose. The wily savages knew that we would be upon our guard in passing a defile, a thick wood, or a rocky canon; and also judged that we might be careless while crossing an open plain. They were well acquainted with the dusty character of the road, and relying on it to conceal their presence, had secreted themselves close to its southern edge, awaiting our approach.

At a certain spot, where a dozen or two yucca trees elevated their sharp-pointed leaves about four feet above ground, and while we were shrouded in a cloud of dust, a sharp, rattling volley was poured into us from a distance of less than twenty yards. It has always been a matter of astonishment to me that none of our party were either killed or wounded; but we lost two mules and three horses by that fire. The dense dust prevented