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Montezuma’s Castle
by [?]

“No,” said the curiosity dealer, “that mummy is not for sale. I had too big a job to get it.”

“Tell me about it,” I asked.

The curiosity dealer carefully closed and locked the case, and then meditatively rolled a cigarette.

“Well, it was this way: you see I was out after snakes and other natural history specimens. I had a special order from a chap in New York for three hundred snakes–he wanted some big rattlers. I think I sent him some that pleased him; anyhow he paid for them all right. I had a customer who wanted a rattlesnake with a very big rattle, and I fixed up a snake for him on this trip and sent it to him afterwards. It had one hundred and eighteen rattles! I glued a lot of rattles together, and by taking off the buttons it was pretty hard to see where they were joined. This rattle was more than a foot long.

“There was another Eastern chap wanted an ibex, which he said was found up in these mountains. It had light-colored horns curved over at the tips like a chamois and striped legs and eyes that stuck out like an antelope. He had heard about the ibex and wanted a pair. I told him I had often killed them, but they were hard to get.”

“What is an ibex?” I asked.

“I’ll be hanged if I know,” answered the collector. “But there are fellows in these mountains who say that there really are such animals, and if he wanted to have an ibex, and had to have an ibex, I might as well get him an ibex as anybody else, even if I had to make one.

“But to get back to my story. I had a big outfit on this trip and I expected to get a lot of curios one way and another, what with snakes and animals of various kinds, besides all the things that I might pick up in the way of baskets and Indian relics, which might prove salable. My outfit consisted of two wagons, five horses, and I had a Mexican along to look after the teams and do the cooking.

“After being out some two weeks we found ourselves near what is called ‘Montezuma’s Castle,’ up by the Verde. There are a lot of caves scattered about up there, supposed to have been made by the Cave Dwellers, and many of them had never been touched or examined.

“I had an offer of good money for a mummy, and had tried making them from the bodies of Indian children, but I never could get them to look real. The bones are not crumbly enough, and the rags which the real mummies are done up in are pretty difficult to imitate.

“I was mighty anxious to explore the big caves, so off we went to the place, and I tell you the old ruin they call ‘Montezuma’s Castle’ is a dandy, and don’t you forget it. The castle is built on a ledge high up on the side of a mountain which hangs over at the top. The only way to get up is by ladders or ropes, and it is mighty hard to get there even then.

“Right near there, on the face of the high cliff, there are a lot of fine old Cliff dwellings, and some of them are more than one hundred feet from the base. These cliffs are straight up and down, sometimes nearly smooth, but often with narrow broken ledges here and there on the face of the wall.

“One particular cave which seemed to be a rather large one was about fifty feet up, and immediately below it were two or three small ledges, which, after I had looked the place over, seemed to me to be sufficiently wide to hold a ladder; and I came to the conclusion that if I wished to explore one of these caves I had better try the one in question.