Martha Summerhayes (1908)
[From the introduction by Dan L. Thrapp:] The fact that two or three basic languages and as many cultures were involved suggests that a lack of communication was a fundamental cause, although there were others. Among them was the heedless in flux of whites into what they considered an "empty" land, little knowing or caring that already the place was settled to its approximate capacity in terms of a native culture that depended for survival upon hunting and food gathering over huge expanses. When considerable portions of these lands were seized upon and made unavailable for native use, the aboriginal people were faced with slow starvationor else seizure from the invaders of the requirements for survival. This caused inevitable retribution for these "depredations," and "thievery." Vengeance then was levied for this punishment, and soon there developed what many believed an endemic "war," as implacable as it was considered un warranted. . . .
As one white participant admitted, however, "savage civilized men are the most monstrous of all monsters," and so it proved in Arizona. (xi-xii)
[Thrapp:] What made Arizona seem an undesirable place in which to be stationed, aside from the hard soldier work of Indian scouting, was the harsh climate, which in some areas saw the summer temperatures soar regularly well above 100 degrees and along the Colorado above 120 degrees on occasion. There was little relief from the awful heat in those pre-air conditioning days, although as the veteran scout Al Sieber once pointed out, "Folks git yoused to it," given time enough. (xvi)
I have written this story of my army life at the urgent and ceaseless request of my children.
For whenever I allude to those early days, and tell to them the tales they have so often heard, they always say: "Now, mother, will you write these stories for us? Please, mother, do; we must never forget them."
Then, after an interval, "Mother, have you written those stories of Arizona yet?" until finally, with the aid of some old letters written from those very places (the letters having been preserved, with other papers of mine, by an uncle in New England long since dead), I have been able to give a fairly connected story. (xxv)
The adjutant of the battalion read the burial service, and the trumpeters stepped to the edge of the graves and sounded "Taps," which echoed sad and melancholy far over those parched and arid lands. My eyes filled with tears, for one of the soldiers was from our own company, and had been kind to me.
Jack said: "You musn't cry, Mattie; it's a soldier's life, and when a man enlists he must take his chances."
"Yes, but," I said, "somewhere there must be a mother or sister, or some one who cares for these poor men, and it's all so sad to think of.''
"Well, I know it is sad," he replied, soothingly, "but listen! It is all over, and the burial party is returning."
I listened and heard the gay strains of "The girl I left behind me," which the trumpeters were playing with all their might. "You see," said Jack, "it would not do for the soldiers to be sad when one of them dies. Why, it would demoralize the whole command. So they play these gay things to cheer them up."
And I began to feel that tears must be out of place at a soldier's funeral. (30-1)
The Rio Colorado deserves its name, for its swift-flowing current sweeps by like a mass of seething red liquid turbulent and thick and treacherous. It was said on the river, that those who sank beneath its surface were never seen again, and in looking over into those whirlpools and swirling eddies, one might well believe this to be true. (43)
The only other incident of that day's march was the suicide of Major Worth's pet dog "Pete." Having exhausted his ability to endure, this beautiful red setter fixed his eye upon a distant range of mountains, and ran without turning, or heeding any call, straight as the crow flies, towards them and death. We never saw him again; a ranchman told us he had known of several other instances where a well-bred dog had given up in this manner, and attempted to run for the hills. We had a large greyhound with us, but he did not desert.
Major Worth was much affected by the loss of his dog, and did not join us at supper that night. (55)
In the darkness, our great kangaroo hound had stolen noiselessly upon his master's heels, and quietly removed the bird. The two officers were dumbfounded. Major Worth said: "D__n my luck;" and turned his face again to the wall of his tent.
Now Major Worth was just the dearest and gentlest sort of a man, but he had been born and brought up in the old army, and everyone knows that times and customs were different then.
Men drank more and swore a good deal, and while I do not wish my story to seem profane, yet I would not describe army life or the officers as I knew them, if I did not allow the latter to use an occasional strong expression.
The incident, however, served to cheer up the Major, though he continued to deplore the loss of his beautiful dog. (56)
For the next two days our route layover the dreariest and most desolate country. It was not only dreary, it was positively hostile in its attitude towards every living thing except snakes, centipedes and spiders. They seemed to flourish in those surroundings
Sometimes either Major Worth or Jack would come and drive along a few miles in the ambulance with me to cheer me up, and they allowed me to abuse the country to my heart's content. It seemed to do me much good. The desert was new to me then. I had not read Pierre Loti's wonderful book, "Le Desert," and I did not see much to admire in the desolate waste lands through which we were travelling. I did not dream of the power of the desert, nor that I should ever long to see it again. But as I write, the longing possesses me, and the pictures then indelibly printed upon my mind, long forgotten amidst the scenes and events of half a lifetime, unfold themselves like a panorama before my vision and call me to come back, to look upon them once more. (56-7)
I wondered what beautiful and high-sounding name they might have given it. I wondered a good deal about that bare and isolated mountain, rising out of what seemed an endless waste of sand. I asked the driver if he knew the name of it: "That is Bill Williams' mountain, ma'am," he replied, and relapsed into his customary silence, which, was unbroken except by an occasional remark to the wheelers or the leaders.
I thought of the Harz Mountains, which I had so recently tramped over, and the romantic names and legends connected with them, and I sighed to think such an imposing landmark as this should have such a prosaic name. I realized that Arizona was not a land of romance; and when Jack came to the ambulance, I said, "Don't you think it a pity that such I monstrous things are allowed in America, as to call that great fine mountain 'Bill Williams' mountain'?"
"Why no," he said; "I suppose he discovered it and I dare say he had a hard enough time before he got to it." (60)
General Crook commanded the Department of Arizona then; he was out on some expedition, but Mrs. Crook gave a pleasant dinner for us. After dinner, Mrs. Crook came and sat beside me, asked kindly about our long journey, and added: "I am truly sorry the General is away; I should like for him to meet you; you are just the sort of woman he likes." A few years afterwards I met the General, and remembering this remark, I was conscious of making a special effort to please. The indifferent courtesy with which he treated me, however, led me to think that women are often mistaken judges of their husband's tastes. (63)
It did not surprise us to learn that ours was the first wagon-train to pass over Crook's Trail. For miles and miles the so-called road was nothing but a clearing, and we were pitched and jerked from side to side of the ambulance, as we struck large rocks or tree-stumps; in some steep places, logs were chained to the rear of the ambulance, to keep it from pitching forward onto the backs of the mules. At such places I got out and picked my way down the rocky declivity.
We now began to hear of the Apache Indians, who were always out, in either large or small bands, doing their murderous work. (69-70)
In the cyclone which had overtaken our good ship in mid-Atlantic, where we lay tossing about at the mercy of the waves for thirty-six long hours, I had expected to yield my body to the dark and grewsome depths of the ocean. I had almost felt the cold arms of Death about me; but compared to the sickening dread of the cruel Apache, my fears then had been as naught. Facing the inevitable at sea, I had closed my eyes and said good-bye to Life. But in this mysterious darkness, every nerve, every sense, was keenly alive with terror. (72)
Scarce three months after that some of the same band of Indians fired into the garrison and fled to the mountains. I remarked to Jack, that I thought we were very imprudent to go to see that dance, and he said he supposed we were. But I had never regarded life in such a light way as he seemed to.
Women usually like to talk over their trials and their wonderful adventures, and that is why I am writing this, I suppose. Men simply will not talk about such things. (92)
At last, a Mexican girl was found in a wood chopper's camp, and was brought to me. She was quite young and very ignorant and stupid, and spoke nothing but a sort of Mexican "lingo," and did not understand a word of English. But I felt that my life was saved; and Bowen fixed up a place on the couch for her to sleep. (98-9)
The drivers were all armed, and spare rifles hung inside the ambulances. I wore a small derringer, with a narrow belt filled with cartridges. An incongruous sight, methinks now, it must have been. A young mother, pale and thin, a child of scarce three months in her arms, and a pistol belt around her waist!
I scarcely looked back at Camp Apache.
We had a long day's march before us, and we looked ahead. Towards night we made camp at Cooley's ranch, and slept inside, on the floor. Cooley was interpreter and scout, and although he was a white man, he had married a young Indian girl, the daughter of one of the chiefs and was known as a squaw man. There seemed to be two Indian girls at his ranch; they were both tidy and good-looking, and they prepared us a most appetizing supper.
The ranch had spaces for windows, covered with thin unbleached muslin (or manta, as it is always called out there), glass windows being then too great a luxury in that remote place. There were some partitions inside the ranch, but no doors; and, of course, no floors except adobe. Several half-breed children, nearly naked, stood and gazed at us as we prepared for rest. This was interesting and picturesque from many standpoints perhaps, but it did not tend to make me sleepy. I lay gazing into the fire which was smouldering in the corner, and finally I said, in a whisper, "Jack, which girl do you think is Cooley's wife?"
"I don't know," answered this cross and tired man, and then added, "both of 'em, I guess."
Now this was too awful, but I knew he did not intend for me to ask any more questions. I had a difficult time, in those days, reconciling what I saw with what I had been taught was right, and I had to sort over my ideas and deep-rooted prejudices a good many times. (105-6)
At last, in mid-afternoon, we approached the Pass, a narrow defile winding down between high hills from this table-land to the plain below. To say that we feared an ambush, would not perhaps convey a very clear idea of how I felt on entering the Pass.
There was not a word spoken. I obeyed orders, and lay down in the bottom of the ambulance; I took my derringer out of the holster and cocked it. I looked at my little boy lying helpless there beside me, and at his delicate temples, lined with thin blue veins, and wondered if I could follow out the instructions I had received: for Jack had said, after the decision was made, to go through the Pass, "Now, Mattie, I don't think for a minute that there are any Injuns in that Pass, and you must not be afraid. We have got to go through it any way; but"he hesitated"we may be mistaken; there may be a few of them in there, and they'll have a mighty good chance to get in a shot or two. And now listen: if I'm hit, you'll know what to do. You have your derringer; and when you see that there is no help for it, if they get away with the whole outfit, why, there's only one thing to be done. Don't let them get the baby, for they will carry you both off andwell, you know the squaws are much more cruel than the bucks. Don't let them get either of you alive. Now"to the driver"go on."
Jack was a man of few words, and seldom spoke much in times like that. (110-11)
Jack and I sat down by the camp-fire, musing over the hard times we were having, when suddenly I heard a terrified cry from my little son. We rushed to the tent, lighted a candle, and oh! horror upon horrors! his head and face were covered with large black ants; he was wailing helplessly, and beating the air with his tiny arms.
"My God!" cried Jack, "we're camped over an ant-hill!"
I seized the child, and brushing off the ants as I fled, brought him out to the fire, where by its light I succeeded in getting rid of them all. But the horror of it! Can any mother brought up in God's country with kind nurses and loved ones to minister to her child, for a moment imagine how I felt when I saw those hideous, three-bodied, long-legged black ants crawling over my baby's face? After a lapse of years, I cannot recall that moment without a shudder. (125)
The tall Alsatian handed the pappoose cradle to Mrs. O'Connell.
"Gracious goodness! what is this?" cried the be wildered woman; "surely it cannot be your baby! You haven't turned entirely Indian, have you, amongst those wild Apaches?"
I felt sorry I had not taken him out of the basket before we arrived. I did not realize the impression it would make at Camp Verde. After all, they did not know anything about our life at Apache, or our rough travels to get back from there. Here were lace curtained windows, well-dressed women, smart uniforms, and, in fact, civilization, compared with what we had left. (126-7)
We traveIled two days over a semi-civilized country, and found quite comfortable ranches where we spent the nights. The greatest luxury was fresh milk, and we enjoyed that at these ranches in Skull Valley. They kept American cows, and supplied Whipple Barracks with milk and butter. We drank, and drank, and drank again, and carried a jugful to our bedside. The third day brought us to Cullen's ranch, at the edge of the desert. Mrs. Cullen was a Mexican woman and had a little boy named Daniel; she cooked us a delicious supper of stewed chicken, and fried eggs, and good bread, and then she put our boy to bed in Daniel's crib. I felt so grateful to her; and with a return of physical comfort, I began to think that life, after all, might be worth the living. (131-2)
We soon drew up before a large wooden structure. There were no trees nor grass around it. A Mexican worked the machinery with the aid of a mule, and water was bought for our twelve animals, at so much per head. The place was called Mesquite Wells; the man dwelt alone in his desolation, with no living being except his mule for company. How could he endure it! I was not able, even faintly, to comprehend it; I had not lived long enough. He occupied a small hut, and there he staid, year in and year out, selling water to the passing traveller; and I fancy that travellers were not so frequent at Mesquite Wells a quarter of a century ago.
The thought of that hermit and his dreary surroundings filled my mind for a long time after we drove away, and it was only when we halted and a soldier got down to kill a great rattlesnake near the ambulance, that my thoughts were diverted. The man brought the rattles to us and the new toy served to amuse my little son.
At night we arrived at Desert Station. There was a good ranch there, kept by Hunt and Dudley, Englishmen, I believe. I did not see them, but I wondered who they were and why they staid in such a place. They were absent at the time; perhaps they had mines or something of the sort to look after. One is always imagining things about people who live in such extraordinary places. At all events, whatever Messrs. Hunt and Dudley were doing down there, their ranch was clean and attractive, which was more than could be said of the place where we stopped the next night, a place called Tyson's Wells. We slept in our tent that night, for of all places on the earth a poorly kept ranch in Arizona is the most melancholy and uninviting. It reeks of everything unclean, morally and physically. (132-3)
Patrocina recovered, as soon as she found we were to return to Ehrenberg. I wondered how anybody could be so homesick for such a God-forsaken place. I asked her if she had ever seen a tree, or green grass (for I could talk with her quite easily now). She shook her mournful head. "But don't you want to see trees and grass and flowers?"
Another sad shake of the head was the only reply.
Such people, such natures, and such lives, were incomprehensible to me then. I could not look at things except from my own standpoint. (142)
The women were scrupulously clean and modest, and always wore, when in their casa, a low-necked and short-sleeved white linen camisa, fitting neatly, with bands around neck and arms. Over this they wore a calico skirt; always white stockings and black slippers. When they ventured out, the younger women put on muslin gowns, and carried parasols. The older women wore a linen towel thrown over their heads, or, in cool weather, the black riboso. I often cried: "Oh! if I could only dress as the Mexicans do! Their necks and arms do look so cool and clean."
I have always been sorry I did not adopt their fashion of house apparel. Instead of that, I yielded to the prejudices of my conservative partner, and sweltered during the day in high-necked and long-sleeved white dresses, kept up the table in American fashion, ate American food in so far as we could get it, and all at the expense of strength; for our soldier cooks, who were loaned us by Captain Ernest from his company at Fort Yuma, were constantly being changed, and I was often left with the Indian and the indolent Patrocina. At those times, how I wished I had no silver, no table linen, no china, and could revert to the primitive customs of my neighbors! (146)
The Indian brought the water every morning in buckets from the river. It looked like melted chocolate. He filled the barrels, and when it had settled clear, the ollas were filled, and thus the drinking water was a trifle cooler than the air. One day it seemed unusually cool, so I said: "Let us see by the thermometer how cool the water really is." We found the temperature of the water to be 86 degrees; but that, with the air at 122 in the shade, seemed quite refreshing to drink. (147-8)
A clump of low mesquite trees at the top of the bank afforded sufficient protection at that hour; we rubbed dry, slipped on a loose gown, and wended our way home. What a contrast to the limpid, bracing salt waters of my own beloved shores!
When I thought of them, I was seized with a longing which consumed me and made my heart sick; and I thought of these poor people, who had never known anything in their lives but those desert places, and that muddy red water, and wondered what they would do, how they would act, if transported into some beautiful forest, or to the cool bright shores where clear blue waters invite to a plunge. (149)
At such times we heard all the news from Washington and the States, and all about the fashions, and they, in their turn, asked me all sorts of questions about Ehrenberg and how I managed to endure the life. They were always astonished when the Cocopah Indian waited on them at table, for he wore nothing but his gee-string, and although it was an every-day matter to us, it rather took their breath away.
But "Charley" appealed to my aesthetic sense in every way. Tall, and well-made, with clean-cut limbs and features, fine smooth copper-colored skin, handsome face, heavy black hair done up in pompadour fashion and plastered with Colorado mud, which was baked white by the sun, a small feather at the crown of his head, wide turquoise bead bracelets upon his upper arm, and a knife at his waist--this was my Charley, my half-tame Cocopah, my man about the place, my butler in fact, for Charley understood how to open a bottle of Cocomonga gracefully, and to keep the glasses filled.
Charley also wheeled the baby out along the river banks, for we had had a fine "perambulator" sent down from San Francisco. It was an incongruous sight, to be sure, and one must laugh to think of it. The Ehrenberg babies did not have carriages, and the village flocked to see it. There sat the fair-haired, six-months-old boy, with but one linen garment on, no cap, no stockings--and this wild man of the desert, his knife gleaming at his waist, and his gee-string floating out behind, wheeling and pushing the carriage along the sandy roads. (150-1)
In the meantime, the young woman had gone ashore and was sitting upon her trunk, gazing hopelessly about. Jack approached, offered her a home and good wages, and brought her to me.
I could have hugged her for very joy, but I restrained myself and advised her to stay with us for awhile, saying the Ehrenberg climate was quite as good as that of Tucson.
She remarked quietly: "You do not look as if it agreed with you very well, ma'am.'"
Then I told her of my young child, and my hard journeys, and she decided to stay until she could earn enough to reach Tucson. (160-1)
Now Fisher was the steamboat agent. He stood six feet in his stockings, had a powerful physique and a determined eye. Men in those countries had to be determined; for if they once lost their nerve, Heaven save them. (162)
It was now cool enough to sleep indoors, and we began to know what it was to have a good night's rest. (166)
How often I said to my husband. "If we must live in this wretched place, let's give up civilization and live as the Mexicans do! They are the only happy beings around here.
"Look at them, as you pass along the street! At nearly any hour in the day you can see them, sitting under their ramada, their backs propped against the wall of their casa, calmly smoking cigarettes and gazing at nothing, with a look of ineffable contentment upon their features! They surely have solved the problem of life!"
But we seemed never to be able to free ourselves from the fetters of civilization, and so I struggled on. (169)
The next day I asked Jack to walk to the grave-yard with me. He postponed it from day to day, but I insisted upon going. At last, he took me to see it.
There was no enclosure, but the bare, sloping, sandy place was sprinkled with graves, marked by heaps of stones, and in some instances by rude crosses of wood, some of which had been wrenched from their upright position by the fierce sand-storms. There was not a blade of grass, a tree, or a flower. I walked about among these graves, and close beside some of them I saw deep holes and whitnened bones. I was quite ignorant or unthinking, and asked what the holes were.
"It is where the coyotes and wolves come in the nights," said Jack.
My heart sickened as I thought of these horrors, and I wondered if Ehrenberg held anything in store for me worse than what I had already seen. We turned away from this unhallowed grave-yard and walked to our quarters. I had never known much about "nerves," but I began to see spectres in the night, and those ghastly graves with their coyote-holes were ever before me. The place was but a stone's throw from us, and the uneasy spirits from these desecrated graves began to haunt me. I could not sit alone on the porch at night, for they peered through the lattice, and mocked at me, and beckoned. Some had no heads, some no arms, but they pointed or nodded towards the grewsome burying-ground: "You'll be with us soon, you'll be with us soon." (174)
The old "Newbern," with nothing in her but ballast, rolled and lurched along, through the bright green waters of the outer bar. I stood leaning against the great mast, steadying myself as best I could, and the tears rolled down my face; for I saw the friendly green hills, and before me lay the glorious bay of San Francisco. I had left behind me the deserts, the black rocks, the burning sun, the snakes, the scorpions, the centipedes, the Indians and the Ehrenberg graveyard; and so the tears flowed, and I did not try to stop them; they were tears of joy. (178)
The poorest person in that place by the sea had more to be thankful for, in my opinion, than the richest people in Arizona. I felt as if I must cry it out from the house-tops. My heart was thankful every minute of the day and night, for every breath of soft air that I breathed, for every bit of fresh fish that I ate, for fresh vegetables, and for butter--for gardens, for trees, for flowers, for the good firm earth beneath my feet. I wrote the man on detached service that I should never return to Ehrenberg. (180)
On entering the section, I saw an enormous pair of queer cow hide shoes, the very queerest shoes I had ever seen, lying on the floor, with a much used travelling bag. I speculated a good deal on the shoes, but did not see the owner of them until several hours later, when a short thick-set German with sandy close-cut beard entered and saluted me politely. "You are noticing my shoes perhaps Madame?"
"Yes" I said, involuntarily answering him in German.
His face shone with pleasure and he explained to me that they were made in Russia and he always wore them when travelling. "What have we," I thought, "an anarchist?" (182)
After awhile, he looked at me steadily, and said, very deferentially, "Madame, the spirit of my dead wife is looking at me from out your eyes."
By this time I realized that the man was a maniac, and I had always heard that one must agree with crazy people, so I nodded, and that seemed to satisfy him, and bye and bye after some minutes which seemed like hours to me, he went off to the smoking room.
The tension was broken and I appealed to a very nice looking woman who happened to be going to some place in Nevada near which this Doctor lived, and she said, when I told her his name, "Why, yes, I heard of him before I left home, he lives in Silver City, and at the death of his wife, he went hopelessly insane, but," she added, "he is harmless, I believe." (183)
I mentioned this road afterwards in San Francisco, and learned that it was a famous road, cut out of the side of a solid mountain of rock; long talked of, long desired, and finally built, at great expense, by the state and the county together; that they always had the same man to drive over it, and that they never did it by daylight. I did not inquire if there had ever been any accidents. I seemed to have learned all I wanted to know about it. (187-8)
Then they told me that news had just been received from below, that the "Montana" had been burned to the water's edge in Guaymas harbor, and everything on board destroyed; the passengers had been saved with much difficulty, as the disaster occurred in the night.
I had lost all the clothes I had in the world--and my precious boxes were gone. I scarcely knew how to meet the calamity.
Jack said: "Don't mind, Mattie; I'm so thankful you and the boy were not on board the ship; the things are nothing, no account at all."
"But," said I, "you do not understand. I have no clothes except what I have on, and a party dress. Oh! what shall I do?" I cried. (189)
Even the country looked attractive, smiling under the December sun. I wondered if I had really grown to love the desert. I had read somewhere that people did. But I was not paying much attention in those days to the analysis of my feelings. I did not stop to question the subtle fascination which I felt steal over me as we rolled along the smooth hard roads that followed the windings of the Gila River. I was back again in the army; I had cast my lot with a soldier, and where he was, was home to me.
In Nantucket, no one thought much about the army. The uniform of the regulars was never seen there. The profession of arms was scarcely known or heard of. Few people manifested any interest in the life of the Far West. I had, while there, felt out of touch with my oldest friends. Only my darling old uncle, a brave old whaling captain, had said: "Mattie, I am much interested in all you have written us about Arizona; come right down below and show me on the dining-room map just where you went."
Gladly I followed him down the stairs, and he took his pencil out and began to trace. After he had crossed the Mississippi, there did not seem to be anything but blank country, and I could not find Arizona, and it was written in large letters across the entire half of this antique map, "Unexplored."
"True enough," he laughed. "I must buy me a new map." (191-2)
The mules trotted along contentedly on the smooth white road, which followed the south bank of the Gila River. Myriads of lizards ran out and looked at us. "Hello, here you are again," they seemed to say.
The Gila Valley in December was quite a different thing from the Mojave desert in September; and although there was not much to see, in that low, flat country, yet we three were joyous and happy.
Good health again was mine, the travelling was ideal, there were no discomforts, and I experienced no terrors in this part of Arizona. (193-4)
[Caption:] Suwarro, Giant Cactus. Near Camp McDowell, Arizona, 1877. (195)
Jack had told me of the curious cholla cactus, which is said to nod at the approach of human beings, and to deposit its barbed needles at their feet. Also I had heard stories of this deep, dark canon and things that had happened there.
Fort MacDowell was in Maricopa County, Arizona, on the Verde River, seventy miles or so south of Camp Verde; the roving bands of Indians, escaping from Camp Apache and the San Carlos reservation, which lay far to the east and southeast, often found secure hiding places in the fastnesses of the Superstition Mountains and other ranges, which lay between old Camp MacDowell and these reservations. (194-5)
As we wound our way through this deep, dark canon, after crossing the Salt River, I remembered the things I had heard, of ambush and murder. Our animals were too tired to go out of a walk, the night fell in black shadows down between those high mountain walls, the chollas, which are a pale sage-green color in the day-time, took on a ghastly hue. They were dotted here and there along the road, and on the steep mountainsides. They grew nearly as tall as a man, and on each branch were great excrescences which looked like people's heads, in the vague light which fell upon them.
They nodded to us, and it made me shudder; they seemed to be something human. (195-6)
It was easy enough to obtain a man from the company. There were then no hateful laws forbidding soldiers to work in officers' families; no dreaded inspectors, who put the flat question, "Do you employ a soldier for menial labor?" (197-8)
When, after some months, his boxes came, he brought me in a package, done up in tissue paper and tied with ribbon: "Mother sends you these; she wrote that I was not to open them; I think she felt sorry for you, when I wrote her you had lost all your clothing. I suppose," he added, mustering his West Point French to the front, and handing me the package, "it is what you ladies call 'lingerie.'" (201)
It was cool enough to wear white cotton dresses, but nothing heavier. It never rained, and the climate was superb, although it was always hot in the sun. We had heard that it was very hot here; in fact, people called MacDowell by very bad names. As the spring came on, we began to realize that the epithets applied to it might be quite appropriate. (203)
Two iron cots, therefore, were brought from the hospital, and placed side by side in front of our quarters, beyond the acequia and the cottonwood trees, in fact, out in the open space of the parade ground. Upon these were laid some mattresses and sheets, and after "taps" had sounded, and lights were out, we retired to rest. Near the cots stood Harry's crib. We had not thought about the ants, however, and they swarmed over our beds, driving us into the house. The next morning Bowen placed a tin can of water under each point of contact; and as each cot had eight legs, and the crib had four, twenty cans were necessary. He had not taken the trouble to remove the labels, and the pictures of red tomatoes glared at us in the hot sun through the day; they did not look poetic, but our old enemies, the ants, were outwitted.
There was another species of tiny insect, however, which seemed to drop from the little cotton-wood trees which grew at the edge of the acequia, and myriads of them descended and crawled all over us, so we had to have our beds moved still farther out on to the open space of the parade ground. (204-5)
With but a sheet for a covering, there we lay, looking up at the starry heavens. I watched the Great Bear go around, and other constellations and seemed to come into close touch with Nature and the mysterious night. But the melancholy solemnity of my communings was much affected by the howling of the coyotes, which seemed sometimes to be so near that I jumped to the side of the crib, to see if my little boy was being carried off. The good sweet slumber which I craved never came to me in those weird Arizona nights under the stars. (205)
The bugle call of "taps" is mournful also through association, as it is always blown over the grave of a soldier or an officer, after the coffin has been lowered into the earth. The soldier-musicians who blow the calls, seem to love the call of "taps," (strangely enough) and I remember well that there at Camp MacDowell, we all used to go out and listen when "taps went," as the soldier who blew it, seemed to put a whole world of sorrow into it, turning to the four points of the compass and letting its clear tones tremble through the air, away off across the Maricopa desert and then toward the East, our home so faraway. We never spoke, we just listened, and who can tell the thoughts that each one had in his mind? (209)
Another bright winter found us still gazing at the Four Peaks of the MacDowell Mountains, the only landmark on the horizon. I was glad, in those days, that I had not staid back East, for the life of an officer without his family, in those drear places, is indeed a blank and empty one.
"Four years I have sat here and looked at the Four Peaks," said Captain Corliss, one day, "and I'm getting almighty tired of it." (210)
In June, 1878, Jack was ordered to report to the commanding officer at Fort Lowell (near the ancient city of Tucson), to act as Quartermaster and Commissary at that post. This was a sudden and totally unexpected order. It was indeed hard, and it seemed to me cruel. For our regiment had been four years in the Territory, and we were reasonably sure of being ordered out before long. Tucson lay far to the south of us, and was even hotter than this place. But there was nothing to be done; we packed up, I with a heavy heart, Jack with his customary stoicism. (211)
Away we went, down over the flat, through the dark MacDowell canon, with the chollas nodding to us as we passed, across the Salt River, and on across an open desert to Florence, forty miles or so to the southeast of us.
At Florence we sent our military transportation back and staid over a day at a tavern to rest. We met there a very agreeable and cultivated gentleman, Mr. Charles Poston, who was en route to his home, somewhere in the mountains nearby. We took the Tucson stage at sundown, and travelled all night. I heard afterwards more about Mr. Poston: he had attained some reputation in the literary world by writing about the Sun-worshippers of Asia. He had been a great traveller in his early life, but now had built himself some sort of a house in one of the desolate mountains which rose out of these vast plains of Arizona, hoisted his sun-flag on the top, there to pass the rest of his days. People out there said he was a sun-worshipper. I do not know. "But when I am tired of life and people," I thought, "this will not be the place I shall choose."
Arriving at Tucson, after a hot and tiresome night in the stage, we went to an old hostelry. Tucson looked attractive. Ancient civilization is always interesting to me. (212)
After we got fairly into the desert, which was a trackless waste, I became possessed by a feeling that the man did not know the way. He talked a good deal about the North Star, and the fork in the road, and that we must be sure not to miss it. (214)
My husband was a soldier who obeyed orders without questioning them. If he had been a political wire-puller, many of our misfortunes might have been averted. But then, while I half envied the wives of the wire-pullers, I took a sort of pride in the blind obedience shown by my own particular soldier to the orders he received. (217)
We took supper in Phoenix, at a place known as "Devine's." I was hearing a good deal about Phoenix; for even then, its gardens, its orchards and its climate were becoming famous, but the season of the year was unpropitious to form a favorable opinion of that thriving place, even if my opinions of Arizona, with its parched-up soil and insufferable heat, had not been formed already.
We crossed the Gila somewhere below there, and stopped at our old camping places, but the entire valley was seething hot, and the remembrance of the December journey seemed but an aggravating dream. (219)
I could not break away from my Arizona habits. I wore only white dresses, partly because I had no others which were in fashion, partly because I had become imbued with a profound indifference to dress.
"They'll think you're a Mexican," said my New England aunt (who regarded all foreigners with contempt). "Let them think," said I; "I almost wish I were; for, after all, they are the only people who understand the philosophy of living. Look at the tired faces of the women in your streets," I added, "one never sees that sort of expression down below, and I have made up my mind not to be caught by the whirlpool of advanced civilization again."
Added to the white dresses, I smoked cigarettes, and slept all the afternoons. I was in the bondage of tropical customs, and I had lapsed back into a state of what my aunt called semi-barbarism.
"Let me enjoy this heavenly cool climate, and do not worry me," I begged. I shuddered when I heard people complain of the cold winds of the San Francisco summer. How do they dare tempt Fate, thought I, and I wished them all in Ehrenberg or MacDowell for one summer. "I think they might then know something about climate, and would have something to complain about!" (222)
At my aunt's suggestion, I secured a Chinaman of good caste for a servant, and by deceiving him (also my aunt's advice) with the idea that we were going only as far as Sacramento, succeeded in making him willing to accompany us. (224)
He always showed me the pasteboard medal which hung around his neck, and which bore General Howard's signature; and he always said: "General Howard tell me, me good Injun, me go up--up--up"--pointing dramatically towards Heaven. On one occasion, feeling desperate for amusement, I said to him: "General Howard very good man, but he make a mistake; where you go, is not up--up--up, but," pointing solemnly to the earth below us, "down--down--down." He looked incredulous, but I assured him it was a nice place down there. (228-9)
Arriving in San Francisco, we went to the old Occidental Hotel, and as we were going in to dinner, a card was handed to us. "Hoo Chack" was the name on the card. "That Chinaman!" I cried to Jack. "How do you suppose he knew we were here?"
We soon made arrangements for him to accompany us to Angel Island, and in a few days this "heathen Chinee" had unpacked all our boxes and made our quarters very comfortable. He was rather a high-caste man, and as true and loyal as a Christian. He never broke his word, and he staid with us as long as we remained in California. (231)
At the end of two years spent so pleasantly with the people of the First Cavalry, our company was again ordered to Angel Island. But a second very active campaign in Arizona and Mexico, against Geronimo, took our soldiers away from us, and we passed through a period of considerable anxiety. June of '86 saw the entire regiment ordered to take station in Arizona once more.
We travelled to Tucson in a Pullman car. It was hot and uninteresting. I had been at Tucson nine years before, for a few hours, but the place seemed unfamiliar. I looked for the old tavern; I saw only the railroad restaurant. We went in to take breakfast, before driving out to the post of Fort Lowell, seven miles away. Everything seemed changed. Iced cantaloupe was served by a spick-span alert waiter; then, quail on toast. "Ice in Arizona?" It was like a dream, and I remarked to Jack, "This isn't the same Arizona we knew in '74," and then, "I don't believe I like it as well, either; all this luxury doesn't seem to belong to the place." (238-9)
For Valentine was like all frontier towns; a row of stores and saloons. The men who kept them were generous, if somewhat rough. One of the officers of the post, having occasion to go to the railroad station one day at Valentine, saw the body of a man hanging to a telegraph pole a short distance up the track. He said to the station man: "What does that mean?" (nodding his head in the direction of the telegraph pole).
"Why, it means just this," said the station man, "the people who hung that man last night had the nerve to put him right in front of this place, by G--. What would the passengers think of this town, sir, as they went by? Why, the reputation of Valentine would be ruined! Yes, sir, we cut him down and moved him up a pole or two. He was a hard case, though," he added. (257-8)
I knew that our frontier life was over. I welcomed the change, for our children were getting older, and we were ourselves approaching the age when comfort means more to one than it heretofore has. (259)
To be sure, the young woman teacher gave a rousing lecture on total abstinence once a week; going even so far as to say, that to partake of apple sauce which had begun to ferment was yielding to the temptations of Satan. (265)
It was against the law now for soldiers to marry; the old days of "laundresses" had passed away. (267)
Then Augustus Thomas wrote the play of "Arizona" and we went to New York to see it put on, and we sat in Mr. Thomas' box and saw our frontier life brought before us with startling reality. (286)
The old post is long since abandoned, but the Four Peaks still stand, wrapped in their black shadows by night, and their purple colors by day, waiting for the passing of the Apache and the coming of the white man, who shall dig his canals in those arid plains, and build his cities upon the ruins of the ancient Aztec dwellings.
The Sixth Cavalry, as well as the Eighth Infantry, has seen many vicissitudes since those days. Some of our gallant Captains and Lieutenants have won their stars, others have been slain in battle. (290)
When, a few years ago, I determined to write my recollections of life in the army, I was wholly unfamiliar with the methods of publishers, and the firm to whom I applied to bring out my book, did not urge upon me the advisability of having it electrotyped, firstly, because, as they said afterwards, I myself had such a very modest opinion of my book, and, secondly because they thought a book of so decidedly personal a character would not reach a sale of more than a few hundred copies at the farthest. The matter of electrotyping was not even discussed between us. The entire edition of one thousand copies was exhausted in about a year, without having been carried on the lists of any bookseller or advertised in any way except through some circulars sent by myself to personal friends, and through several excellent reviews in prominent newspapers. (292)
[From a letter of Captain Mellon:] I have done nothing on the River since the 23rd of last August, at which date they closed the River to Navigation, and the only reason I am now in Yuma is trying to get something from Government for my boats made useless by the Dam. I expect to get a little, but not a tenth of what they cost me.
Your book could not have a better title: it is "Vanished Arizona" sure enough, vanished are the good and warm Hearts that were here when you were. The People here now are cold blooded as a snake and are all trying to get the best of the other fellow. (296-7)
[From a letter of Captain Mellon:] In 1864 I was on a trip down the Gulf of California, in a small sail boat and one of my companions was John Stanton. In Angel's Bay a man whom we were giving a passage to, murdered my partner and ran off with the boat and left Charley Ticen, John Stanton and myself on the beach. We were seventeen days tramping to a village with nothing to eat but cactus. (297-8)
[From a letter of Captain Mellon:] I have a little bungalow on Coronado Beach, across the bay from San Diego, and if you ever come there, you or your husband, you are welcome; while I have a bean you can have half. I would like to see you and talk over old times. Yuma is quite a place now; no more adobes built; it is brick and concrete, cement sidewalks and flower gardens with electric light and a good water system. (298)
Dear Mrs. Summerhayes:
Read your book--in fact when I got started I forgot my bedtime (and you know how rigid that is) and sat it through.
It has a bully note of the old army--it was all worthwhile--they had color, those days.
I say--now suppose you had married a man who kept a drug store--see what you would have had and see what you would have missed.
Yours, FREDERIC REMINGTON. (307)