Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/305

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LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

goes imagined that the force would deter the Apaches and keep them away. Under this impression they also permitted their animals to feed by night. On the other hand, the Apaches, as one of them afterward told me, foresaw precisely what happened. Those foolish Papagoes, said they, will think that because the Californian troops are so near that their property will be safe, and will relax their usual caution; now is our time to act. They did act, and to such purpose that they took nearly every horse once possessed by the Papagoes. Here was a specimen of nice judgment, founded upon a shrewd knowledge of human nature, and executed with boldness and address.

A wealthy resident of New Mexico, near Polvadera, owned a herd of superior horses of which he was extremely careful. The band numbered nearly one hundred, and were renowned for their excellence. These horses were strictly guarded every day, while grazing not far from the house, by twelve or fifteen well armed Mexicans, and at nightfall were inclosed in a large and strong corral, the walls of which were sixteen feet high and three feet thick, the only entrance being through a large and strong gate which was heavily barred and locked. Numerous attempts to steal this herd had been made by the Apaches, but invariably without success. The horses fed on a smooth, open plain, which could be easily scanned, and was so close to the corral that they could be placed in safety in a few minutes. At length one bold rascal determined either to get the herd or die attempting it. One very dark and stormy night he contrived to climb over the corral wall, and concealed himself in the hay and feed scattered about. Here he remained until the earliest dawn, when he selected the best horse in the lot, and mounting him, waited for the gates to be thrown open.