A Memorandum Of Sudden Death
From: A Deal In Wheat And Other Stories
The manuscript of the account that follows belongs to a harness-maker in
Albuquerque, Juan Tejada by name, and he is welcome to whatever of
advertisement this notice may bring him. He is a good fellow, and his
patented martingale for stage horses may be recommended. I understand he
got the manuscript from a man named Bass, or possibly Bass left it with
him for safe-keeping. I know that Tejada has some things of Bass's
now--things that Bass left with him last November: a mess-kit, a lantern
and a broken theodolite--a whole saddle-box full of contraptions. I
forgot to ask Tejada how Bass got the manuscript, and I wish I had done
so now, for the finding of it might be a story itself. The probabilities
are that Bass simply picked it up page by page off the desert, blown
about the spot where the fight occurred and at some little distance from
the bodies. Bass, I am told, is a bone-gatherer by profession, and one
can easily understand how he would come across the scene of the
encounter in one of his tours into western Arizona. My interest in the
affair is impersonal, but none the less keen. Though I did not know
young Karslake, I knew his stuff--as everybody still does, when you come
to that. For the matter of that, the mere mention of his pen-name,
"Anson Qualtraugh," recalls at once to thousands of the readers of a
certain world-famous monthly magazine of New York articles and stories
he wrote for it while he was alive; as, for instance, his admirable
descriptive work called "Traces of the Aztecs on the Mogolon Mesa," in
the October number of 1890. Also, in the January issue of 1892 there are
two specimens of his work, one signed Anson Qualtraugh and the other
Justin Blisset. Why he should have used the Blisset signature I do not
know. It occurs only this once in all his writings. In this case it is
signed to a very indifferent New Year's story. The Qualtraugh "stuff" of
the same number is, so the editor writes to me, a much shortened
transcript of a monograph on "Primitive Methods of Moki Irrigation,"
which are now in the archives of the Smithsonian. The admirable novel,
"The Peculiar Treasure of Kings," is of course well known. Karslake
wrote it in 1888-89, and the controversy that arose about the incident
of the third chapter is still--sporadically and intermittently--continued.
The manuscript that follows now appears, of course, for the first time
in print, and I acknowledge herewith my obligations to Karslake's
father, Mr. Patterson Karslake, for permission to publish.
I have set the account down word for word, with all the hiatuses and
breaks that by nature of the extraordinary circumstances under which it
was written were bound to appear in it. I have allowed it to end
precisely as Karslake was forced to end it, in the middle of a sentence.
God knows the real end is plain enough and was not far off when the poor
fellow began the last phrase that never was to be finished.
The value of the thing is self-apparent. Besides the narrative of
incidents it is a simple setting forth of a young man's emotions in the
very face of violent death. You will remember the distinguished victim
of the guillotine, a lady who on the scaffold begged that she might be
permitted to write out the great thoughts that began to throng her mind.
She was not allowed to do so, and the record is lost. Here is a case
where the record is preserved. But Karslake, being a young man not very
much given to introspection, his work is more a picture of things seen
than a transcription of things thought. However, one may read between
the lines; the very breaks are eloquent, while the break at the end
speaks with a significance that no words could attain.
The manuscript in itself is interesting. It is written partly in pencil,
partly in ink (no doubt from a fountain pen), on sheets of manila paper
torn from some sort of long and narrow account-book. In two or three
places there are smudges where the powder-blackened finger and thumb
held the sheets momentarily. I would give much to own it, but Tejada
will not give it up without Bass's permission, and Bass has gone to the
As to Karslake himself. He was born in Raleigh, in North Carolina, in
1868, studied law at the State University, and went to the Bahamas in
1885 with the members of a government coast survey commission. Gave up
the practice of law and "went in" for fiction and the study of the
ethnology of North America about 1887. He was unmarried.
The reasons for his enlisting have long been misunderstood. It was known
that at the time of his death he was a member of B Troop of the Sixth
Regiment of United States Cavalry, and it was assumed that because of
this fact Karslake was in financial difficulties and not upon good terms
with his family. All this, of course, is untrue, and I have every reason
to believe that Karslake at this time was planning a novel of military
life in the Southwest, and, wishing to get in closer touch with the
milieu of the story, actually enlisted in order to be able to write
authoritatively. He saw no active service until the time when his
narrative begins. The year of his death is uncertain. It was in the
spring probably of 1896, in the twenty-eighth year of his age.
There is no doubt he would have become in time a great writer. A young
man of twenty-eight who had so lively a sense of the value of accurate
observation, and so eager a desire to produce that in the very face of
death he could faithfully set down a description of his surroundings,
actually laying down the rifle to pick up the pen, certainly was
possessed of extraordinary faculties.
"They came in sight early this morning just after we had had breakfast
and had broken camp. The four of us--'Bunt,' 'Idaho,' Estorijo and
myself--were jogging on to the southward and had just come up out of the
dry bed of some water-hole--the alkali was white as snow in the
crevices--when Idaho pointed them out to us, three to the rear, two on
one side, one on the other and--very far away--two ahead. Five minutes
before, the desert was as empty as the flat of my hand. They seemed
literally to have grown out of the sage-brush. We took them in through
my field-glasses and Bunt made sure they were an outlying band of
Hunt-in-the-Morning's Bucks. I had thought, and so had all of us, that
the rest of the boys had rounded up the whole of the old man's hostiles
long since. We are at a loss to account for these fellows here. They
seem to be well mounted.
"We held a council of war from the saddle without halting, but there
seemed very little to be done--but to go right along and wait for
developments. At about eleven we found water--just a pocket in the bed
of a dried stream--and stopped to water the ponies. I am writing this
during the halt.
"We have one hundred and sixteen rifle cartridges. Yesterday was Friday,
and all day, as the newspapers say, 'the situation remained unchanged.'
We expected surely that the night would see some rather radical change,
but nothing happened, though we stood watch and watch till morning. Of
yesterday's eight only six are in sight and we bring up reserves. We now
have two to the front, one on each side, and two to the rear, all far
out of rifle-range.
[The following paragraph is in an unsteady script and would appear to
have been written in the saddle. The same peculiarity occurs from time
to time in the narrative, and occasionally the writing is so broken as
to be illegible.]
"On again after breakfast. It is about eight-fifteen. The other two have
come back--without 'reserves,' thank God. Very possibly they did not go
away at all, but were hidden by a dip in the ground. I cannot see that
any of them are nearer. I have watched one to the left of us steadily
for more than half an hour and I am sure that he has not shortened the
distance between himself and us. What their plans are Hell only knows,
but this silent, persistent escorting tells on the nerves. I do not
think I am afraid--as yet. It does not seem possible but that we will
ride into La Paz at the end of the fortnight exactly as we had planned,
meet Greenock according to arrangements and take the stage on to the
railroad. Then next month I shall be in San Antonio and report at
headquarters. Of course, all this is to be, of course; and this business
of to-day will make a good story to tell. It's an experience--good
'material.' Very naturally I cannot now see how I am going to get out of
this" [the word "alive" has here been erased], "but of course I
will. Why 'of course'? I don't know. Maybe I am trying to deceive
myself. Frankly, it looks like a situation insoluble; but the solution
will surely come right enough in good time.
"Eleven o'clock.--No change.
"Two-thirty P. M.--We are halted to tighten girths and to take a single
swallow of the canteens. One of them rode in a wide circle from the rear
to the flank, about ten minutes ago, conferred a moment with his fellow,
then fell back to his old position. He wears some sort of red cloth or
blanket. We reach no more water till day after to-morrow. But we have
sufficient. Estorijo has been telling funny stories en route.
"Four o'clock P. M.--They have closed up perceptibly, and we have been
debating about trying one of them with Idaho's Winchester. No use;
better save the ammunition. It looks...." [the next words are
undecipherable, but from the context they would appear to be "as if
they would attack to-night"]"...we have come to know certain of them
now by nicknames. We speak of the Red One, or the Little One, or the One
with the Feather, and Idaho has named a short thickset fellow on our
right 'Little Willie.' By God, I wish something would turn up--relief or
fight. I don't care which. How Estorijo can cackle on, reeling off his
senseless, pointless funny stories, is beyond me. Bunt is almost as bad.
They understand the fix we are in, I know, but how they can take it so
easily is the staggering surprise. I feel that I am as courageous as
either of them, but levity seems horribly inappropriate. I could kill
"Sunday morning.--Still no developments. We were so sure of something
turning up last night that none of us pretended to sleep. But nothing
stirred. There is no sneaking out of the circle at night. The moon is
full. A jack-rabbit could not have slipped by them unseen last night.
"Nine o'clock (in the saddle).--We had coffee and bacon as usual at
sunrise; then on again to the southeast just as before. For half an hour
after starting the Red One and two others were well within rifle-shot,
nearer than ever before. They had worked in from the flank. But before
Idaho could get a chance at them they dipped into a shallow arroyo, and
when they came out on the other side were too far away to think of
"Ten o'clock.--All at once we find there are nine instead of eight;
where and when this last one joined the band we cannot tell. He wears a
sombrero and army trousers, but the upper part of his body is bare.
Idaho calls him 'Half-and-half.' He is riding a---- They're coming.
"Later.--For a moment we thought it was the long-expected rush. The Red
One--he had been in the front--wheeled quick as a flash and came
straight for us, and the others followed suit. Great Heavens, how they
rode! We could hear them yelling on every side of us. We jumped off our
ponies and stood behind them, the rifles across the saddles. But at four
hundred yards they all pivoted about and cantered off again leisurely.
Now they followed us as before--three in the front, two in the rear and
two on either side. I do not think I am going to be frightened when the
rush does come. I watched myself just now. I was excited, and I remember
Bunt saying to me, 'Keep your shirt on, m'son'; but I was not afraid of
being killed. Thank God for that! It is something I've long wished to
find out, and now that I know it I am proud of it. Neither side fired a
shot. I was not afraid. It's glorious. Estorijo is all right.
"Sunday afternoon, one-thirty.--No change. It is unspeakably hot.
"Three-fifteen.--The One with the Feather is walking, leading his pony.
It seems to be lame." [With this entry Karslake ended page five, and
the next page of the manuscript is numbered seven. It is very probable,
however, that he made a mistake in the numerical sequence of his pages,
for the narrative is continuous, and, at this point at least, unbroken.
There does not seem to be any sixth page.]
"Four o'clock.--Is it possible that we are to pass another night of
suspense? They certainly show no signs of bringing on the crisis, and
they surely would not attempt anything so late in the afternoon as this.
It is a relief to feel that we have nothing to fear till morning, but
the tension of watching all night long is fearful.
"Later.--Idaho has just killed the Little One.
"Later.--Still at it.
"Later, about five.--A bullet struck within three feet of me.
"Seven-thirty P. M., in camp.--It happened so quickly that it was all
over before I realized. We had our first interchange of shots with them
late this afternoon. The Little One was riding from the front to the
flank. Evidently he did not think he was in range--nor did any of us.
All at once Idaho tossed up his rifle and let go without aiming--or so
it seemed to me. The stock was not at his shoulder before the report
came. About six seconds after the smoke had cleared away we could see
the Little One begin to lean backward in the saddle, and Idaho said
grimly, 'I guess I got you.' The Little One leaned farther and farther
till suddenly his head dropped back between his shoulder-blades. He held
to his pony's mane with both hands for a long time and then all at once
went off feet first. His legs bent under him like putty as his feet
touched the ground. The pony bolted.
"Just as soon as Idaho fired the others closed right up and began riding
around us at top speed, firing as they went. Their aim was bad as a
rule, but one bullet came very close to me. At about half-past five they
drew off out of range again and we made camp right where we stood.
Estorijo and I are both sure that Idaho hit the Red One, but Idaho
himself is doubtful, and Bunt did not see the shot. I could swear that
the Red One all but went off his pony. However, he seems active enough
"Monday morning.--Still another night without attack. I have not slept
since Friday evening. The strain is terrific. At daybreak this morning,
when one of our ponies snorted suddenly, I cried out at the top of my
voice. I could no more have repressed it than I could have stopped my
blood flowing; and for half an hour afterward I could feel my flesh
crisping and pringling, and there was a sickening weakness at the pit of
my stomach. At breakfast I had to force down my coffee. They are still
in place, but now there are two on each side, two in the front, two in
the rear. The killing of the Little One seems to have heartened us all
wonderfully. I am sure we will get out--somehow. But oh! the suspense of
"Monday morning, nine-thirty.--Under way for over two hours. There is no
new development. But Idaho has just said that they seem to be edging in.
We hope to reach water to-day. Our supply is low, and the ponies are
beginning to hang their heads. It promises to be a blazing hot day.
There is alkali all to the west of us, and we just commence to see the
rise of ground miles to the southward that Idaho says is the San Jacinto
Mountains. Plenty of water there. The desert hereabout is vast and
lonesome beyond words; leagues of sparse sage-brush, leagues of
leper-white alkali, leagues of baking gray sand, empty, heat-ridden, the
abomination of desolation; and always--in whichever direction I turn my
eyes--always, in the midst of this pale-yellow blur, a single figure in
the distance, blanketed, watchful, solitary, standing out sharp and
distinct against the background of sage and sand.
"Monday, about eleven o'clock.--No change. The heat is appalling. There
is just a----
"Later.--I was on the point of saying that there was just a mouthful of
water left for each of us in our canteens when Estorijo and Idaho both
at the same time cried out that they were moving in. It is true. They
are within rifle range, but do not fire. We, as well, have decided to
reserve our fire until something more positive happens.
"Noon.--The first shot--for to-day--from the Red One. We are halted. The
shot struck low and to the left. We could see the sand spout up in a
cloud just as though a bubble had burst on the surface of the ground.
"They have separated from each other, and the whole eight of them are
now in a circle around us. Idaho believes the Red One fired as a signal.
Estorijo is getting ready to take a shot at the One with the Feather. We
have the ponies in a circle around us. It looks as if now at last this
was the beginning of the real business.
Later, twelve-thirty-five.--Estorijo missed. Idaho will try with the
Winchester as soon as the One with the Feather halts. He is galloping
toward the Red One.
"All at once, about two o'clock, the fighting began. This is the first
let-up. It is now--God knows what time. They closed up suddenly and
began galloping about us in a circle, firing all the time. They rode
like madmen. I would not have believed that Indian ponies could run so
quickly. What with their yelling and the incessant crack of their rifles
and the thud of their ponies' feet our horses at first became very
restless, and at last Idaho's mustang bolted clean away. We all stood to
it as hard as we could. For about the first fifteen minutes it was hot
work. The Spotted One is hit. We are certain of that much, though we do
not know whose gun did the work. My poor old horse is bleeding
dreadfully from the mouth. He has two bullets in the stomach, and I do
not believe he can stand much longer. They have let up for the last few
moments, but are still riding around us, their guns at 'ready.' Every
now and then one of us fires, but the heat shimmer has come up over the
ground since noon and the range is extraordinarily deceiving.
"Three-ten.--Estorijo's horse is down, shot clean through the head. Mine
has gone long since. We have made a rampart of the bodies.
"Three-twenty.--They are at it again, tearing around us incredibly fast,
every now and then narrowing the circle. The bullets are striking
everywhere now. I have no rifle, do what I can with my revolver, and try
to watch what is going on in front of me and warn the others when they
press in too close on my side." [Karslake nowhere accounts for the
absence of his carbine. That a U. S. trooper should be without his gun
while traversing a hostile country is a fact difficult to account for.]
"Three-thirty.--They have winged me--through the shoulder. Not bad, but
it is bothersome. I sit up to fire, and Bunt gives me his knee on which
to rest my right arm. When it hangs it is painful.
"Quarter to four.--It is horrible. Bunt is dying. He cannot speak, the
ball having gone through the lower part of his face, but back, near the
neck. It happened through his trying to catch his horse. The animal was
struck in the breast and tried to bolt. He reared up, backing away, and
as we had to keep him close to us to serve as a bulwark Bunt followed
him out from the little circle that we formed, his gun in one hand, his
other gripping the bridle. I suppose every one of the eight fired at him
simultaneously, and down he went. The pony dragged him a little ways
still clutching the bridle, then fell itself, its whole weight rolling
on Bunt's chest. We have managed to get him in and secure his rifle, but
he will not live. None of us knows him very well. He only joined us
about a week ago, but we all liked him from the start. He never spoke of
himself, so we cannot tell much about him. Idaho says he has a wife in
Torreon, but that he has not lived with her for two years; they did not
get along well together, it seems. This is the first violent death I
have ever seen, and it astonishes me to note how unimportant it seems.
How little anybody cares--after all. If I had been told of his
death--the details of it, in a story or in the form of fiction--it is
easily conceivable that it would have impressed me more with its
importance than the actual scene has done. Possibly my mental vision is
scaled to a larger field since Friday, and as the greater issues loom up
one man more or less seems to be but a unit--more or less--in an eternal
series. When he was hit he swung back against the horse, still holding
by the rein. His feet slid from under him, and he cried out, 'My God!'
just once. We divided his cartridges between us and Idaho passed me his
carbine. The barrel was scorching hot.
"They have drawn off a little and for fifteen minutes, though they still
circle us slowly, there has been no firing. Forty cartridges left.
Bunt's body (I think he is dead now) lies just back of me, and already
the gnats--I can't speak of it."
[Karslake evidently made the next few entries at successive intervals
of time, but neglected in his excitement to note the exact hour as
above. We may gather that "They" made another attack and then repeated
the assault so quickly that he had no chance to record it properly. I
transcribe the entries in exactly the disjointed manner in which they
occur in the original. The reference to the "fire" is unexplainable.]
"I shall do my best to set down exactly what happened and what I do and
think, and what I see.
"The heat-shimmer spoiled my aim, but I am quite sure that either
"This last rush was the nearest. I had started to say that though the
heat-shimmer was bad, either Estorijo or myself wounded one of their
ponies. We saw him stumble.
"Only a few cartridges left.
"The Red One like a whirlwind only fifty yards away.
"We fire separately now as they sneak up under cover of our smoke.
"We put the fire out. Estorijo--" [It is possible that Karslake had
begun here to chronicle the death of the Mexican.]
"I have killed the Spotted One. Just as he wheeled his horse I saw him
in a line with the rifle-sights and let him have it squarely. It took
him straight in the breast. I could feel that shot strike. He went
down like a sack of lead weights. By God, it was superb!
"Later.--They have drawn off out of range again, and we are allowed a
breathing-spell. Our ponies are either dead or dying, and we have
dragged them around us to form a barricade. We lie on the ground behind
the bodies and fire over them. There are twenty-seven cartridges left.
"It is now mid-afternoon. Our plan is to stand them off if we can till
night and then to try an escape between them. But to what purpose? They
would trail us so soon as it was light.
The last stand of three troopers and a scout overtaken by a band of
Drawn by Frederic Remington. Courtesy of Collier's Weekly.]
"We think now that they followed us without attacking for so long
because they were waiting till the lay of the land suited them. They
wanted--no doubt--an absolutely flat piece of country, with no
depressions, no hills or stream-beds in which we could hide, but which
should be high upon the edges, like an amphitheatre. They would get us
in the centre and occupy the rim themselves. Roughly, this is the bit of
desert which witnesses our 'last stand.' On three sides the ground
swells a very little--the rise is not four feet. On the third side it is
open, and so flat that even lying on the ground as we do we can see
(leagues away) the San Jacinto hills--'from whence cometh no help.' It
is all sand and sage, forever and forever. Even the sage is sparse--a
bad place even for a coyote. The whole is flagellated with an
intolerable heat and--now that the shooting is relaxed--oppressed with a
benumbing, sodden silence--the silence of a primordial world. Such a
silence as must have brooded over the Face of the Waters on the Eve of
Creation--desolate, desolate, as though a colossal, invisible pillar--a
pillar of the Infinitely Still, the pillar of Nirvana--rose forever into
the empty blue, human life an atom of microscopic dust crushed under its
basis, and at the summit God Himself. And I find time to ask myself why,
at this of all moments of my tiny life-span, I am able to write as I do,
registering impressions, keeping a finger upon the pulse of the spirit.
But oh! if I had time now--time to write down the great thoughts that do
throng the brain. They are there, I feel them, know them. No doubt the
supreme exaltation of approaching death is the stimulus that one never
experiences in the humdrum business of the day-to-day existence. Such
mighty thoughts! Unintelligible, but if I had time I could spell them
out, and how I could write then! I feel that the whole secret of Life
is within my reach; I can almost grasp it; I seem to feel that in just
another instant I can see it all plainly, as the archangels see it all
the time, as the great minds of the world, the great philosophers, have
seen it once or twice, vaguely--a glimpse here and there, after years of
patient study. Seeing thus I should be the equal of the gods. But it is
not meant to be. There is a sacrilege in it. I almost seem to understand
why it is kept from us. But the very reason of this withholding is in
itself a part of the secret. If I could only, only set it down!--for
whose eyes? Those of a wandering hawk? God knows. But never mind. I
should have spoken--once; should have said the great Word for which the
World since the evening and the morning of the First Day has listened.
God knows. God knows. What a whirl is this? Monstrous incongruity.
Philosophy and fighting troopers. The Infinite and dead horses. There's
humour for you. The Sublime takes off its hat to the Ridiculous. Send a
cartridge clashing into the breech and speculate about the Absolute.
Keep one eye on your sights and the other on Cosmos. Blow the reek of
burned powder from before you so you may look over the edge of the abyss
of the Great Primal Cause. Duck to the whistle of a bullet and commune
with Schopenhauer. Perhaps I am a little mad. Perhaps I am supremely
intelligent. But in either case I am not understandable to myself. How,
then, be understandable to others? If these sheets of paper, this
incoherence, is ever read, the others will understand it about as much
as the investigating hawk. But none the less be it of record that I,
Karslake, SAW. It reads like Revelations: 'I, John, saw.' It is just
that. There is something apocalyptic in it all. I have seen a vision,
but cannot--there is the pitch of anguish in the impotence--bear record.
If time were allowed to order and arrange the words of description, this
exaltation of spirit, in that very space of time, would relax, and the
describer lapse back to the level of the average again before he could
set down the things he saw, the things he thought. The machinery of the
mind that could coin the great Word is automatic, and the very force
that brings the die near the blank metal supplies the motor power of the
reaction before the impression is made ... I stopped for an instant,
looking up from the page, and at once the great vague panorama faded. I
lost it all. Cosmos has dwindled again to an amphitheatre of sage and
sand, a vista of distant purple hills, the shimmer of scorching alkali,
and in the middle distance there, those figures, blanketed, beaded,
feathered, rifle in hand.
"But for a moment I stood on Patmos.
"The Ridiculous jostles the elbow of the Sublime and shoulders it from
place as Idaho announces that he has found two more cartridges in
"They rushed again. Eight more cartridges gone. Twenty-one left. They
rush in this manner--at first the circle, rapid beyond expression, one
figure succeeding the other so swiftly that the dizzied vision loses
count and instead of seven of them there appear to be seventy. Then
suddenly, on some indistinguishable signal, they contract this circle,
and through the jets of powder-smoke Idaho and I see them whirling past
our rifle-sights not one hundred yards away. Then their fire suddenly
slackens, the smoke drifts by, and we see them in the distance again,
moving about us at a slow canter. Then the blessed breathing-spell,
while we peer out to know if we have killed or not, and count our
cartridges. We have laid the twenty-one loaded shells that remain in a
row between us, and after our first glance outward to see if any of them
are down, our next is inward at that ever-shrinking line of brass and
lead. We do not talk much. This is the end. We know it now. All of a
sudden the conviction that I am to die here has hardened within me. It
is, all at once, absurd that I should ever have supposed that I was to
reach La Paz, take the east-bound train and report at San Antonio. It
seems to me that I knew, weeks ago, that our trip was to end thus. I
knew it--somehow--in Sonora, while we were waiting orders, and I tell
myself that if I had only stopped to really think of it I could have
foreseen today's bloody business.
"Later.--The Red One got off his horse and bound up the creature's leg.
One of us hit him, evidently. A little higher, it would have reached the
heart. Our aim is ridiculously bad--the heat-shimmer----
"Later.--Idaho is wounded. This last time, for a moment, I was sure the
end had come. They were within revolver range and we could feel the
vibration of the ground under their ponies' hoofs. But suddenly they
drew off. I have looked at my watch; it is four o'clock.
"Four o'clock.--Idaho's wound is bad--a long, raking furrow in the right
forearm. I bind it up for him, but he is losing a great deal of blood
and is very weak.
"They seem to know that we are only two by now, for with each rush they
grow bolder. The slackening of our fire must tell them how scant is our
"Later.--This last was magnificent. The Red One and one other with lines
of blue paint across his cheek galloped right at us. Idaho had been
lying with his head and shoulders propped against the neck of his dead
pony. His eyes were shut, and I thought he had fainted. But as he heard
them coming he struggled up, first to his knees and then to his feet--to
his full height--dragging his revolver from his hip with his left hand.
The whole right arm swung useless. He was so weak that he could only
lift the revolver half way--could not get the muzzle up. But though it
sagged and dropped in his grip, he would die fighting. When he fired
the bullet threw up the sand not a yard from his feet, and then he fell
on his face across the body of the horse. During the charge I fired as
fast as I could, but evidently to no purpose. They must have thought
that Idaho was dead, for as soon as they saw him getting to his feet
they sheered their horses off and went by on either side of us. I have
made Idaho comfortable. He is unconscious; have used the last of the
water to give him a drink. He does not seem----
"They continue to circle us. Their fire is incessant, but very wild. So
long as I keep my head down I am comparatively safe.
"Later.--I think Idaho is dying. It seems he was hit a second time when
he stood up to fire. Estorijo is still breathing; I thought him dead
"Four-ten.--Idaho gone. Twelve cartridges left. Am all alone now.
"Four-twenty-five.--I am very weak." [Karslake was evidently wounded
sometime between ten and twenty-five minutes after four. His notes make
no mention of the fact.] "Eight cartridges remain. I leave my library
to my brother, Walter Patterson Karslake; all my personal effects to my
parents, except the picture of myself taken in Baltimore in 1897, which
I direct to be" [the next lines are undecipherable] "...at
Washington, D. C., as soon as possible. I appoint as my literary--
"Four forty-five.--Seven cartridges. Very weak and unable to move lower
part of my body. Am in no pain. They rode in very close. The Red One
is---- An intolerable thirst----
"I appoint as my literary executor my brother, Patterson Karslake. The
notes on 'Coronado in New Mexico' should be revised.
"My death occurred in western Arizona, April 15th, at the hands of a
roving band of Hunt-in-the-Morning's bucks. They have----
"Five o'clock.--The last cartridge gone.
"Estorijo still breathing. I cover his face with my hat. Their fire is
incessant. Am much weaker. Convey news of death to Patterson Karslake,
care of Corn Exchange Bank, New York City.
"Five-fifteen--about.--They have ceased firing, and draw together in a
bunch. I have four cartridges left" [see conflicting note dated five
o'clock], "but am extremely weak. Idaho was the best friend I had in
all the Southwest. I wish it to be known that he was a generous,
open-hearted fellow, a kindly man, clean of speech, and absolutely
unselfish. He may be known as follows: Sandy beard, long sandy hair,
scar on forehead, about six feet one inch in height. His real name is
James Monroe Herndon; his profession that of government scout. Notify
Mrs. Herndon, Trinidad, New Mexico.
"The writer is Arthur Staples Karslake, dark hair, height five feet
eleven, body will be found near that of Herndon.
"Luis Estorijo, Mexican----
"Later.--Two more cartridges.
"It is half-past five in the afternoon of April fifteenth. They followed
us from the eleventh--Friday--till to-day. It will
[The MS. ends here.]
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