Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/283

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277
LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

peding our progress. In due course of time we reached the Pecos river, which was frozen over about two inches thick. The bank on our side was about four feet perpendicular descent, but on the other it rose gradually from the river. We plunged in, breaking through the ice, and as the water was only about two feet and a half deep, no damage was sustained further than cutting the forelegs of the advance animals. Half an hour after crossing the Pecos, we struck the broad, fresh trail of the Navajoes, which gave evidence of having been passed over some hours previous, as in many places it was covered with fresh snow two inches deep. The knowledge of this fact was disheartening, especially as night had commenced to close its sable curtains about our vision; but there was such a marked distinction between the virgin snow and that which had been trampled, that there was no difficulty in following the trail, although with greatly lessened speed. The storm had ceased two hours before, leaving us comparatively relieved. About eight o'clock p. m., we were hailed by an Apache, who said: Nejeunee, pindah lickoyee; nuestche shee—which means, "good friend, white eyes; come here." I halted the command and bade the speaker come forward. It proved to be Nah-tanh, accompanied by Nah-kah-yen and Natch-in-ilk-kisn. Upon hearing my voice, they came up and said that the Navajoes in their march, the evening previous, had crossed through the camp of some herders of beef cattle, about fifteen miles above Fort Sumner, where a slight brush occurred between the vaqueros and the Indians, which was terminated by the Navajoes leaving fifteen hundred head of sheep behind, and making the most of their way with the great body of their plunder.

News was immediately conveyed to the fort, when