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A Blaze On Pard Huff
by [?]

“And I ‘m free to say that the grand results
of my explorations show
That somehow paint gets redder the farther
out West I go!”

One summer night I was on a train that was speeding eastward across southern New Mexico. It was one of the white nights of that region, when the full moon, shining like sun-lighted snow and hanging so low in the sky that it seems to be dropping earthward, fills the clear, dry air with a silvery radiance and floods the barren plain with a transfiguring whiteness, in which the gray sands glimmer as if with some unearthly light of their own.

The day had been long, wearisome, and unspeakably hot and dusty; and with the coming of this beautiful night and its cool breezes most of the passengers betook themselves to the car steps and platforms, where they lingered until we reached the little town of Separ, late in the evening. As the train stopped, we saw that apparently the entire population of the village was crowded inside the station house. One after another, men came cautiously out upon the platform, carrying guns in their hands and casting long, anxious looks across the plain. Their set faces and ready revolvers and rifles showed that it was no ordinary matter which had sent the whole town to find protection in the railroad depot.

They told us that a man had come running into town a little while before, and, falling headlong, exhausted, at the feet of the first person he met, had cried out that the Apaches were coming. Hastily revived and cared for, he explained that the Indians had attacked the cattle camp, ten or twelve miles south of Separ, where he and some other cowboys had been making a round-up, and killed all but himself. He had managed to creep out undiscovered and had run at the top of his speed all the way to Separ to bring the warning. He said that the Apaches, in a large band, numbering at least a hundred, had surprised the camp, killing the men as they lay in their blankets and committing horrible atrocities upon the dead bodies, and had then fallen upon the horses and cattle, killing and maiming the poor beasts in mere lust of cruelty. He was sure they were following him–he had heard their yells several times during his desperate race, and each time he had redoubled his speed. His shoes were gone, his stockings hung in shreds from his ankles, and his feet were a mass of raw and bleeding flesh, pierced by hundreds of cactus thorns. He had hurried away on an Eastern-bound freight train to Deming, the next station, to rouse the citizens and help to raise a militia company, whose coming was expected in a few hours. And telegrams had been sent to Fort Bayard giving news of the outbreak and asking for a troop of cavalry.

Every soul in Separ–men, women, and children–with all the arms and ammunition in the town, had huddled into the station house, where they hoped they would be able to make a successful resistance, and, as one man said, “make as many good Injuns as the Lord would let them.” For in those days the hearts of the bravest in the Southwest knew terror, and with good reason, when the Apache went on the war path.

The train sped on into the radiant white night, but the car steps and platforms were deserted. The passengers all sought their berths as soon as possible, there to lie below the level of the windows and pile all the pillows they could get between themselves and the side of the car. When we reached Deming we found the place in an uproar. Every bell in town, from the gong of the railroad restaurant to the church bell, was ringing its loudest and wildest. Men in varied degrees of undress were running up and down the streets calling loudly upon all citizens to come out at once. The people were assembling at the depot, where two or three of the cooler-headed had taken the place of leaders and had begun to organize the excited mass into an armed and officered company and get it ready to go quickly to the assistance of beleaguered little Separ.