Ocean Echoes - Killing Mexican Bandits
( Originally Published 1922 )
FOR about three miles we rode silently, the farmer well in the lead, and I holding to my horse as best I could, for he was anything but quiet. My mind was swirling as to what would be the outcome before the sun should go down.
We reined up in a little meadow, where we were joined by four other horsemen, farmers also, one of them cross-eyed and carrying a Springfield rifle. I wondered how he could be useful on a man-hunt. How little use he was, was shown before the day was out, by the things he thought he saw, the times his gun nearly went off, and the one time that it did go off, when it was not his fault that no one was hurt.
"We're on their trail, boys," he shouted. "All we have to do is to keep after them." Then he went on to tell how they had broken into a store and stolen arms which he had been told tance of two miles. Mexicans were Pane tionists, who had crossed the line into California.
We scoured the hills, and about four o'clock came on them where they lay including a Savage rifle, could kill a man at a disnd that these murdering o Villa's soldiers, revoluedthe line into California. Is, and about four o'clock hey lay behind some fallen timber. They were fill of fight, and opened fire on us without warning. The first shot killed the horse upon which I was riding, the second took a sliver out of the cross-eyed farmer's chin—which was a pity, in that it hurt him, but undoubtedly a blessing in that it took his wind off his gun.
It seemed that we were to be at the mercy of the Mexicans. Everything was in their favour, with us in the open and no shelter within reach. But it so happened that two of our posse were Spanish-American War veterans, and good shots, whose presence saved me, at least, to write this story. The moment that one of the "hombres" raised his head above the fallen timber to shoot again, one of the soldiers silenced him for all time; and so it went with the second and the third, without further casualty to us.
We tied them onto saddles and packed them o the coroner, who received ten dollars from the county for pronouncing them dead. The roadhouse at the head of Mono Lake, where the sheriff had been killed, was crowded with people waiting for 'news of the desperadoes.
Farmers wives whose dear ones had joined in the hunt were there, anxious for news of their husbands; sweethearts of the dead sheriff hung around the corpse with wet eyes; the old widow whose house, barn, and stacks of hay the Mexicans had burned was there too, and wailing her loss.
Altogether it seemed a fine chance to the prosecuting attorney to square himself with the public forever; so he ordered drinks for the crowd, and addressed them imposingly, telling them everything they already knew, to their great interest.
Nevertheless, when the oration was over, and the dead sheriff had received more homage than ever he had had in life, and the Mexicans had been sufficiently reviled, I emerged into the open air thoughtfully.
It was the farmers I was thinking of, and their courage, going off that morning of their own accord, leaving their wives and children, their stock and growing crops, to which they might never return, to do duty out there; the duty that all right-thinking men owe to civilization the performance of the laws of justice, derived from usage of the ages.