Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/201

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195
LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

sand inhabitants and even now showing the remains of fine brick churches; rancho after rancho, formerly stocked with hundreds of thousands of cattle and horses, and teeming with wealth; village after village all through the northern parts of Sonora and Chihuahua, the whole embraced in a belt five hundred miles long and from thirty to eighty wide, now exhibit one wide-spread and tenantless desolation, the work of the Apache Indians. For ninety consecutive years this ruthless warfare has been, carried on against a timid, nearly unarmed and demoralized people. Thousands of lives have been destroyed, and thousands of women and children carried into a captivity worse than death, during that period; and yet the deadly, destructive and unholy work goes on with unrelaxed vigor. It is both sickening and maddening to ride through that region and witness the far-reaching ruin, to listen to the dreadful tales of unequaled atrocities, and note the despairing terror which the bare mention of the Apaches conjures up to their diseased and horrified imaginations.

Coming to the American side, we enter upon another field of destruction, but in nowise comparable to that which Mexico exhibits. The great majority of our sacrifices of life and property have been the results of want of caution, of fool-hardiness and too great self-reliance. As already stated, we are too prone to underrate the Apache in all respects, and by so doing set a trap for our own feet. But even on our side the border the traveler will encounter many fine farms abandoned, their buildings in ruins, and the products of years of industry wrested from their grasp. On every road little mounds of stones by the way-side, some with a rude cross, and others with a modest head-board, speak in silent but terribly suggestive language of the Apaches' bloody