The weather was now fairly comfortable, and in the evenings we sat under the ramáda, in front of the house, and watched the beautiful pink glow which spread over the entire heavens and illuminated the distant mountains of Lower California. I have never seen anything like that wonderful color, which spread itself over sky, river, and desert. For an hour, one could have believed oneself in a magician's realm.
At about this time, the sad-eyed Patrocina found it expedient to withdraw into the green valleys of Lower California, to recuperate for a few months. With the impish Jesusíta in her arms, she bade me a mournful good-bye. Worthless as she was from the standpoint of civilized morals, I was attached to her and felt sorry to part with her.
Then I took a Mexican woman from Chihuahua.
Now the Chihuahuans hold their heads high, and it was rather with awe that I greeted the tall middle-aged Chihuahuan lady who came to be our little son's nurse. Her name was Angela. “Angel of light,” I thought, how fortunate I am to get her!
After a few weeks, Fisher observed that the whole village was eating Ferris ham, an unusual delicacy in Ehrenberg, and that the Goldwaters' had sold none. So he suggested that our commissary storehouse be looked to; and it was found that a dozen hams or so had been withdrawn from their canvas covers, the covers stuffed with straw, and hung back in place. Verily the Chihuahuan was adding to her pin-money in a most unworthy fashion, and she had to go.
(verlinden above)After that, I was left without a nurse. My little son was now about nine months old.
Milk began to be more plentiful at this season, and, with my sister's advice and help, I decided to make the one great change in a baby's life—i.e., to take him from his mother. Modern methods were unknown then, and we had neither of us any experience in these matters and there was no doctor in the place.
The result was, that both the baby and myself were painfully and desperately ill and not knowing which way to turn for aid, when, by a lucky turn of Fortune's wheel, our good, dear Doctor Henry Lippincott came through Ehrenberg on his way out to the States. Once more he took care of us, and it is to him that I believe I owe my life.
Captain Ernest sent us a cook from Yuma, and soon some officers came for the duck-shooting. There were thousands of ducks around the various lagoons in the neighborhood, and the sport was rare. We had all the ducks we could eat.
Then came an earthquake, which tore and rent the baked earth apart. The ground shivered, the windows rattled, the birds fell close to the ground and could not fly, the stove-pipes fell to the floor, the thick walls cracked, and finally, the earth rocked to and fro like some huge thing trying to get its balance.Spillway Toy Soldiers
It was in the afternoon. My sister and I were sitting with our needle-work in the living-room. Little Harry was on the floor, occupied with some toys. I was paralyzed with fear; my sister did not move. We sat gazing at each other, scarce daring to breathe, expecting every instant the heavy walls to crumble about our heads. The earth rocked and rocked, and rocked again, then swayed and swayed and finally was still. My sister caught Harry in her arms, and then Jack and Willie came breathlessly in. ‘‘“Did you feel it?”’’ said Jack.
‘‘“Did we feel it!”’’ said I, scornfully.
Sarah was silent, and I looked so reproachfully at Jack, that he dropped his light tone, and said: ‘‘“It was pretty awful. We were in the Goldwaters' store, when suddenly it grew dark and the lamps above our heads began to rattle and swing, and we all rushed out into the middle of the street and stood,(yuma railroad bridge)
rather dazed, for we scarcely knew what had happened; then we hurried home. But it's all over now.”’’
‘‘“I do not believe it,”’’ said I; “ we shall have more”; and, in fact, we did have two light shocks in the night, but no more followed, and the next morning, we recovered, in a measure, from our fright and went out to see the great fissures in that treacherous crust of earth upon which Ehrenberg was built.
I grew afraid, after that, and the idea that the earth would eventually open and engulf us all took possession of my mind.
My health, already weakened by shocks and severe strains, gave way entirely. I, who had gloried in the most perfect health, and had a constitution of iron, became an emaciated invalid.
From my window, one evening at sundown, I saw a weird procession moving slowly along towards the outskirts of the village. It must be a funeral, thought I, and it flashed across my mind that I had never seen the burying-ground.
A man with a rude cross led the procession. Then came some Mexicans with violins and guitars. After the musicians, came the body of the deceased, wrapped in a white cloth, borne on a bier by friends, and followed by the little band of weeping women, with black ribosos folded about their heads. They did not use coffins at Ehrenberg, because they had none, I suppose.below comanche
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 whitened bones. I was quite ignorant or unthinking, and asked what the By the late 1880s, many Indian tribes, desperate and facing a dire existence of poverty, hunger and disease, sought a means of salvation to revitalize their traditional culture. The evolution of a new religion, the Ghost Dance, was a reaction to the Indians being forced to submit to government authority and reservation life.holes were.But as in present times newspaper propaganda ruled the minds of the dopes .
‘‘“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 low 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 of nodded towards the grewsome burying-ground: “You'll be with us soon, you'll be with us soon.”“I MUST send you out. I see that you cannot stand it here another month,” said Jack one day; and so he bundled us onto the boat in the early spring, and took us down the river to meet the ocean steamer.
There was no question about it this time, and I well knew it.
I left my sister and her son in Ehrenberg, and I never saw my nephew again. A month later, his state
of health became so alarming that my sister took him to San Francisco. He survived the long voyage, but died there a few weeks later at the home of my cousin.
At Fort Yuma(above)we telegraphed all over the country for a nurse, but no money would tempt those Mexican women to face an ocean voyage. Jack put me on board the old “Newbern” in charge of the Captain, waited to see our vessel under way, then waved goodbye from the deck of the “Gila,” and turned his face towards his post and duty. I met the situation as best I could, and as I have already described a voyage on this old craft, I shall not again enter into details: There was no stewardess on board, and all arrangements were of the crudest description. Both my child and I were seasick all the way, and the voyage lasted sixteen days. Our misery was very great.
The passengers were few in number, only a couple of Mexican miners who had been prospecting, an irritable old Mexican woman, and a German doctor, who was agreeable but elusive.
The old Mexican woman sat on the deck all day, with her back against the stateroom door; she was a picturesque and indolent figure.
There was no diversion, no variety; my little boy required constant care and watching. The days seemed endless. Everybody bought great bunches of green bananas at the ports in Mexico, where we stopped for passengers.
The old woman was irritable, and one day when (below Yuma)
she saw the agreeable German doctor pulling bananas from the bunch which she had hung in the sun to ripen, she got up muttering “Carramba,” and shaking her fist in his face. He appeased her wrath by offering her, in the most fluent Spanish, some from his own bunch when they should be ripe.
Such were my surroundings on the old “Newbern.” The German doctor was interesting, and I loved to talk with him, on days when I was not seasick, and to read the letters which he had received from his family, who were living on their Rittergut (or landed estates) in Prussia.
He amused me by tales of his life at a wretched little mining village somewhere about fifty miles from Ehrenberg(below), and I was always wondering how he came to have lived there.
He had the keenest sense of humor, and as I listened to the tales of his adventures and miraculous escapes from death at the hands of these desperate folk, I looked into his largo laughing blue eyes and tried to solve the mystery.
For that he was of noble birth and of ancient family there was no doubt. There were the letters, there was the crest, and here was the offshoot of the family. I made up my mind that he was a ne'er-do-weel and a rolling stone. He was elusive, and, beyond his adventures, told me nothing of himself. It was some time after my arrival in San Francisco that I learned more about him.
Now, after we rounded cape st.lucas
A gentle and kindly spirit, met by chance, known through the propinquity of a sixteen days' voyage, and never forgotten.
Everything comes to an end, however interminable it may seem, and at last the sharp and jagged outlines of the coast began to grow softer and we approached the Golden Gate.
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.
The customs officers wanted to confiscate the great
bundles of Mexican cigarettes they found in my trunk, but ‘‘“No,”’’ I told them, ‘‘“they were for my own use.”’’ They raised their eyebrows, gave me one look, and put them back into the trunk.
My beloved California relatives met us, and took care of us for a fortnight, and when I entered a Pullman car for a nine days' journey to my old home, it seemed like the most luxurious comfort, although I had a fourteen-months-old child in my arms, and no nurse. So does everything in this life go by comparison.
Arriving in Boston, my sister Harriet met me at the train, and as she took little Harry from my arms she cried: ‘‘“Where did you get that sunbonnet? Now the baby can't wear that in Boston!”’’
Of course we were both thinking hard of all that had happened to me since we parted, on the morning after my wedding, two years before, and we were so overcome with the joy of meeting that if it had not been for the baby's white sunbonnet, I do not know what kind of a scene we might have made. That saved the situation, and after a few days of rest and necessary shopping, we started for our old home in Nantucket. Such a welcome as the baby and I had from my mother and father and all old friends!
But I saw sadness in their faces, and I heard it in their voices, for no one thought I could possibly live. I felt, however, sure it was not too late. I knew the East wind's tonic would not fail me, its own child.above and below Nantucket
Stories of our experiences and misfortunes were eagerly listened to, by the family, and betwixt sighs and laughter they declared they were going to fill some boxes which should contain everything necessary for comfort in those distant places. So one room in our old house was set apart for this; great boxes were brought, and day by day various articles, useful, ornamental, and comfortable, and precious heirlooms of silver and glass, were packed away in them. It was the year of 1876, the year of the great Centennial, at Philadelphia. Everybody went, but it had no attractions for me. I was happy enough, enjoying the health-giving air and the comforts of an Eastern home. I wondered that I had ever complained about anything there, or wished to leave that blissful spot.
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.(below Macdowell)
After eight months, in which my health was wholly restored, I heard the good news that Captain Corliss had applied for his first lieutenant, and I decided to join him at once at Camp MacDowell.THE LAST nails were driven in the precious boxes, and I started overland in November with my little son, now nearly two years old.(what remains of US cavalry outpost Bubblebee)
In San Francisco I learned that I could now go as far as Los Angeles by rail, thence by steamer to San Diego, and so on by stage to Fort Yuma, where my husband was to meet me with an ambulance and a wagon.
I was enchanted with the idea of avoiding the long sea-trip down the Pacific coast, but sent my boxes down by the Steamer “Montana,” sister ship of the old “Newbern,” and after a few days' rest in San Francisco, set forth by rail for Los Angeles. At San Pedro,(above) the port of Los Angeles, we embarked for San Diego. It was a heavenly night. I sat on deck enjoying the calm sea, and listening to the romantic story of Lieutenant Philip Reade, then stationed at San Diego. He was telling the story himself, and I had never read or heard of anything so mysterious or so tragic.
Then, too, aside from the story, Mr. Reade was a very good-looking and chivalrous young army officer. He was returning to his station in San Diego, and we had this pleasant opportunity to renew what had been a very slight acquaintance.
The calm waters of the Pacific, with their long and gentle swell, the pale light of the full moon, our steamer gliding so quietly along, the soft air of the California coast, the absence of noisy travellers, these made a fit setting for the story of his early love and marriage, and the tragic mystery which surrounded the death of his young bride.US cavalry wife in Arizona Martha Summerhayes)(
All the romance which lived and will ever live in me was awake to the story, and the hours passed all too quickly.
But a cry from my little boy in the near-by deck stateroom recalled me to the realities of life and I said good-night, having spent one of the most delightful evenings I ever remember.
I believe Mr. Reade wears now a silver eagle on his shoulder, and well earned it is, too. I wonder if he has forgotten how he helped to bind up my little boy's finger which had been broken in an accident on the train from San Francisco to Los Angeles? or how he procured a surgeon for me on our arrival there, and got a comfortable room for us at the hotel? of how he took us to drive (with an older lady for a chaperon), or how he kindly cared for us until we were safely on the boat that evening? If I had ever thought chivalry dead, I learned then that I had been mistaken.
San Diego (above)charmed me, as we steamed, the next morning, into its shining bay. But as our boat was two hours late and the stage-coach was waiting, I had (narrows below fort Yuma)
to decline Mr. Reade's enchanting offers to drive us around the beautiful place, to show me the fine beaches, and his quarters, and all other points of interest in this old town of Southern California.
Arizona, not San Diego, was my destination, so we took a hasty breakfast at the hotel and boarded the stage, which, filled with passengers, was waiting before the door.
The driver waited for no ceremonies, muttered something about being late, cracked his whip, and away we went. I tried to stow myself and my little boy and my belongings away comfortably, but the road was rough, and the coach swayed, and I gave it up. There were passengers on top the coach, and passengers inside the coach. One woman who was totally deaf, and some miners and blacksmiths, and a few other men, the flotsam and jetsam of the Western countries, who come from no one knoweth whence, and who go, no one knoweth whither, who have no trade or profession and are sometimes even without a name.They seemed to want to be kind to me. Harry got very stage-sick and gave us much trouble, and they all helped me to hold him. Night came. I do not remember that we made any stops at all; if we did, I have forgotten them. The night on that stage-coach can be better imagined than described. I do not know of any adjectives that I could apply to it.
Just before dawn, we stopped to change horses and
driver, and as the day began to break, we felt ourselves going down somewhere at a terrific speed.
The great Concord coach slipped and slid and swayed on its huge springs as we rounded the curves.
The road was narrow and appeared to be cut out of solid rock, which seemed to be as smooth as soapstone; the four horses were put to their speed, and down and around and away we went. I drew in my breath as I looked out and over into the abyss on my left. Death and destruction seemed to be the end awaiting us all. Everybody was limp, when we reached the bottom—that is, I was limp, and I suppose the others were. The stage-driver knew I was frightened, because I sat still and looked white and he came and lifted me out. He lived in a small cabin at the bottom of the mountain; I talked with him some. ‘‘“The fact is,”’’ he said, ‘‘“we are an hour late this morning; we always make it a point to ‘do it’ before dawn, so the passengers can't see anything; they are almost sure to get stampeded, if we come down by daylight.”’’
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.
After a little rest and a breakfast at a sort of roadhouse, a relay of horses was taken, and we travelled one more day over a flat country, to the end of the stage-route. Jack was to meet me. Already from the stage I had espied the post ambulance and two blue uniforms. Out jumped Major Ernest and Jack. I remember thinking how straight and how well they looked. I had forgotten really how army men did look, I had been so long away.
And now we were to go to Fort Yuma and stay with the Wells' until my boxes, which had been sent around by water on the steamer “Montana,” should arrive. I had only the usual thirty pounds' allowance of luggage with me on the stage, and it was made up entirely of my boy's clothing, and an evening dress I had worn on the last night of my stay in San Francisco.
Fort Yuma was delightful at this season (December), and after four or five days spent most enjoyably, we crossed over one morning on the old rope ferryboat to Yuma City, to inquire at the big country store there of news from the Gulf.
The merchant called Jack to one side and said something to him in a low tone. I was sure it concerned the steamer, and I said: ‘‘“What is it?”’’
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.
The merchant was very sympathetic and kind, and Major Wells said, ‘‘“Let's go home and tell Fanny; maybe she can suggest something.”’’
I turned toward the counter, and bought some sewing materials, realizing that outside of my toilet articles and my party dress all my personal belongings were swept away. I was in a country where there were no dressmakers, and no shops; I was, for the time being, a pauper, as far as clothing was concerned.
When I got back to Mrs. Wells I broke down entirely; she put her arms around me and said: ‘‘“I've heard all about it; I know just how you must feel; now come in my room, and we'll see what can be done.”’’
She laid out enough clothing to last me until I could get some things from the East, and gave me a grey and white percale dress with a basque, and a border, and although it was all very much too large for me, it sufficed to relieve my immediate distress.
Letters were dispatched to the East, in various directions, for every sort and description of clothing, but it was at least two months before any of it appeared, and I felt like an object of charity for a long time. Then, too, I had anticipated the fitting up of our quarters with all the pretty crÉtonnes and other things I had brought from home. And now the contents of those boxes were no more! The memory of the visit was all that was left to me. It was very hard to bear.
Preparations for our journey to Camp MacDowell were at last completed. The route to our new post lay along the valley of the Gila River, following it up from its mouth, where it empties into the Colorado, eastwards towards the southern middle portion of Arizona.HE DECEMBER sun was shining brightly down, as only the Arizona sun can shine at high noon in winter, when we crossed the Colorado on the primitive ferryboat drawn by ropes, clambered up into the great thorough-brace wagon (or ambulance) with its dusty white canvas covers all rolled up at the sides, said good-bye to our kind hosts of Fort Yuma, and started, rattling along the sandy main street of Yuma City, for old Camp MacDowell.
Our big blue army wagon, which had been provided for my boxes and trunks, rumbling along behind us, empty except for the camp equipage.
But it all seemed so good to me: I was happy to see the Soldiers again, the drivers and teamsters, and even the sleek Government mules. The old blue uniforms made my heart glad. Every sound was familiar, even the rattling of the harness with its ivory rings and the harsh sound of the heavy brakes reinforced with old leather soles.
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.