Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/307

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301
LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

the Colonel's horse after that hour. About the time mentioned, the camp was alarmed by the report of a couple of carbines, and on inquiring the cause, found that the sentries had fired at an Apache who had gone off with the Colonel's horse. The successful robber had approached quite close to the animal without being discovered, and the moment the moon hid her light behind the hill, he cut the halter, sprang upon its back, stooped off on one side, and galloped up the cañon. The sentries heard the noise, suspected the cause, and fired in the direction of the retreating savage.

The mail service between Forts Sumner and Union, one hundred and eighty miles apart, required that the military courier should be mounted on the best horse disposable. The Reservation, at the former place, was forty miles square, and within its limits the Indians had a right to roam. On one occasion, while the courier was returning with the mails, he stopped near the entrance to a large and very crooked cañon, dotted with huge fragments of rock. At this place the grass was very fresh and fine, which induced the soldier to halt and permit his tired and hungry horse to graze for half an hour. He accordingly dismounted, and let the animal range to the extent of his reata, which was a remarkably fine one, and about sixty feet long. Although on the Reservation, he drew his pistol and seated himself on a fragment of the rock. While occupied in noticing the movements of his horse, he was addressed by an Apache, who had come up within four feet of him without being perceived. The Indian, who was unarmed, held out his hand in the frankest manner, and said: Nejeunee, nejeunee; which means, "friendly, kind." The soldier, believing him to be one of those under our charge, suffered him to approach and shake hands.