The second volume of Ruxton's classic account of the great frontier
This is young Frederick Ruxton's second volume of his Western frontier adventures. Readers may be confused by the many titles this author's work have been given. These have occurred primarily as the totality of his writing has been divided in different ways to suit the needs of a particular publisher. In this special two volume edition from Leonaur—available in hardcover with dust jacket for collectors and in softcover—all of Ruxton's exciting western writings appear together. In this volume Ruxton comes in contact with the deadly knights of the south-west—the Comanche's—and with many other perils of the American wilderness. This was a time of turmoil between the United States and Mexico and war, with all its uncertainties, was also imminent. 'Life in the Far West', the first of the series is also available from Leonaur.
As they strolled onward; a little cloud of dust arose from the chapparal in front of them; and in the distance, but seemingly in another direction, they heard the shouts of the returning cowherds, and the thundering tread of the bulls they were driving to the corral. In advance of these was seen one horseman, trotting quickly on toward the hacienda.<br>
Nevertheless, the cloud of dust before them rolled rapidly onward, and presently several horsemen emerged from it, galloping toward them in the road.<br>
“Here come the bull-fighters,” exclaimed the girl, withdrawing her waist from the encircling arm of Escamilia; “let us return.”<br>
“Perhaps they are my brothers,” answered he; and continued, “Yes, they are eight, look.”<br>
But what saw the poor girl, as, with eyes almost starting from her head, and motionless with sudden fear, she directs her gaze at the approaching horsemen, who now, turning a bend in the chapparal, are within a few hundred yards of them!<br>
Escamilia follows the direction of the gaze, and one look congeals the trembling coward. A band of Indians are upon them. Naked to the waist, and painted horribly for war, with brandished spears they rush on. Heedless of the helpless maid, and leaving her to her fate, the coward turned and fled, shouting as he ran the dreaded signal of “Los barbaros! los barbarous!”<br>
A horseman met him—it was Juan Maria, who, having lassoed a little antelope on the plains, had ridden in advance of his brothers to present it to the false but unfortunate Ysabel. The exclamations of the frightened Escamilia, and one glance down the road, showed him the peril of the poor girl. Throwing down the animal he was carefully carrying in his arms, he dashed the spurs furiously into the sides of his horse, and rushed like the wind to the rescue. But already the savages were upon her, with a whoop of bloodthirsty joy.<br>
She, covering her face with her hands, shrieks to her old lover to save her:—“Salva me, Juan Maria, por Dios, salva me!” ‘At that moment the lance of the foremost Indian pierced her heart, and in another her reeking scalp was brandished exultingly aloft by the murderous savage.<br>
Shortlived, however, was his triumph; the clatter of a galloping horse thunders over the ground, and causes him to turn his head. Almost bounding through the air, and in a cloud of dust, with ready lasso swinging round his head, Juan Maria flies, alas! too late, to the rescue of the unhappy maiden. Straight upon the foremost Indian he charged, regardless of the flight of arrows with which he was received. The savage, terrified at the wild and fierce look of his antagonist, turns to fly; but the open coil of the lasso whirls from the expert hand of the Mexican, and the noose falls over the Indian’s head, and, as the thrower passes in his horse’s stride, drags him heavily to the ground.<br>
But Juan Maria had fearful odds to contend against, and was unarmed, save by a small machete, or rusty sword. But with this he attacks the nearest Indian, and, succeeding in bringing him within reach of his arm, cleaves his head by a sturdy stroke, and the savage dropped dead from his horse. The others, keeping at a distance, assailed him with arrows, and already he was pierced with many bleeding wounds.<br>
Still the gallant fellow fights bravely against the odds, and is encouraged by the shouts of his father and brothers, who are galloping, with loud cries, to the rescue. At that moment an arrow discharged at but a few paces’ distance, buried itself to the feathers in his breast, and the brothers reach the spot but in time to see Juan Maria fall from his horse, and his bloody scalp borne away in triumph by a naked savage.