From the novel, Texas Is Cattle Country
The rider’s back ached. He had seen forty winters and was well into approaching another. No longer a young man.
He glanced around and spotted many pony tracks.
No metal moccasins. No pony-drags. Most likely a war party; forty to fifty, possibly more. Comanche.
A Comanche war party can easily travel forty miles a day. Judging by the freshness of the dung piles the trail was no more than two days old. The stalks of grass that were stomped down by the ponies hooves were beginning to rise back toward the sky.
He rode upstream for a quarter mile looking for more signs of the war party before returning to the trail. It took another three hours before he finally found what he was looking for. To the left of the trail was a gathering of white stones set in the shape of the quarter moon, meaning the party had passed this spot at the time of the first quarter moon which was three nights before. Not far away were two sticks jutting from the ground, one higher than the other and he knew that meant they had been on the trail two days from their last camp. He now understood the Comanches were at ease and not concerned about enemy movements around them
The rider continued to scour the ground for more signs. It didn’t take long to locate a straight line of small pebbles pointing east, indicating the direction the war party was heading.
Rain and sleet began to pepper him for the next mile before letting up, failing to soak him and, more importantly, the Comanche pony tracks remained visible.
That evening he could smell the smoke from their fires. He dismounted and staked his pony in a stand of Dogwood and cautiously approached on foot. He watched a mounted procession of warriors circling the fire, leading up to the Comanche scalp dance. One warrior rode through camp on his horse, his buffalo headdress on his head and freshly taken scalps tied to his tomahawk. One after another riders arrived and dismounted at a large dance area where drums began to beat and the warriors began to dance in their elaborate costumes; some dressed up as antelope or deer, some as bear or mountain lions. It was fascinating to watch as they screamed, growled and roared, imitating the sounds of the different animals. Then they all screamed blood-curdling war cries.
The rider knew this would go on for most of the night. He turned and crawled back to the stand of Dogwoods where he spread out his robe and fell asleep.
He was awake and saddled up before the sun rose and rode to the Comanche camp. He knew the Comanche sign to give, alerting the Sentinel he was a friend when approaching the camp. He rode his mount forward twenty steps and stopped. Then he turned to the right and walked another twenty steps and stopped before returning to where he began. The Sentinel waved him forward.
He was told to sit next to the chief, Tasacowadi, wearing a cape made from a huge spotted jaguar.
Tasacowadi looked at the stranger for a moment before saying, “Speak.”
“I followed you for three days since you crossed the Rio de Los Brazos de Dios, The River of the Arms of God,” the rider said. “You are brave. You weren’t concerned about enemies being in the area. I watched your scalp dance last night before spreading my robe and finding sleep.”
“And why should we be concerned? We are Comanche.”
“A hombre named, Basilio Ramos, and a group of his followers from Chihuahua Mexico, calling themselves Seditionistas, are stirring up trouble between the Comanche and the Texians. They are committing atrocious acts against women and children of the Texians and making it look like the Comanche committed the attacks and also on the Comanche making it look like the Texians were to blame.
I know the Comanche has no fear, but your women and children are left unattended and are in danger as the Seditionistas have been spotted east of the Brazos. I have come to let you know.”
“The Comanche will kill this Ramos if he comes near our women and children.”
“Now the Texas Rangers are coming and you must be careful so that you and your people do not get caught in the middle of this bloodletting.”
“ We do not fear the Texas Rangers nor do we fear the Mexicanas. We drove off the Apaches and the Kiowas and will do the same to the Mexicanas and Texians. Where have these Mexicanas been spotted?”
“I will show you. But we must leave before the sun moves a fist in the sky.”