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the Rio de la Virgen, a tributary of the Great Colorado, takes its rise here.
These vegas are called by the Mormons Mountain Meadows.
In the afternoon, travelling south, we descended a slope, which brought us after dark to Santa Clara Creek, near which we encamped. Day's travel, 28 miles; whole distance, 1,429 miles.
DEPARTURE FROM LAS VEGAS DE SANTA CLARA.
ARRIVAL AT LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.
August 6. The Santa Clara at our encampment was a slender rill; but a few miles lower down, its volume was considerably increased by the accession of several streams. We were
now approaching the desert, and we this day travelled only ten miles, to allow our animals to recruit by rest and food. The road followed down the stream, and although level, was much overgrown with bushes.
After travelling a few miles, we met a small party of Pah. Utah Indians, who evinced great joy at seeing us, accosting us without fear. On approaching their village, a collection of miserable bush huts, we were met by an aged Indian, apparently their chief, holding in his hand a pipe, the stem of which was a reed and the bowl a piece of tin. With much gravity, he bade us welcome to his village, and after blowing three wreaths of smoke towards the sun, he offered us their symbol of friendship, with which we imitated his example. As soon as we had dismounted, a venerable squaw, laboring under great excitement, rushed towards Mr. Beale, and seizing his hands, forced into them a couple of green tunias (prickly pears), which she invited him to eat, a ceremony, I have no doubt, having a meaning as mystical as the first. And having thus entered into bonds to keep the peace and complied with all the exigen. cies of etiquette, we were considered the guests of the nation.
Among these Indians we witnessed one of the benefits which they have derived from their intercourse with the Mormons, who take every opportunity to ameliorate the condition of this wretched tribe. Near their village was a large and well-irri. gated field, cultivated with care, and planted with corn, pumpkins, squashes, and melons.
The Pah-Utah Indians are the greatest horse thieves on the continent. Rarely attempting the bold coups-de-main of the Utahs, they dog travellers during their march and follow on their trail like jackals, cutting off any stragglers whom they can surprise and overpower, and pick up such animals as stray from the band or lag behind from fatigue. At night, lurking around the camp, and concealing themselves behind rocks and bushes, they communicate with each other by imitating the sounds of birds and animals. They never ride, but use as food the horses and mules that they steal, and, if within arrow-shot of one of these animals, a poisoned shaft secures him as their prize. Their arms are bows and arrows tipped with obsidian, and lances sometimes pointed with iron, which they obtain from the wrecks of wagons found along the road; they also use a pronged stick to drag lizards from their holes.
The Indians being apprehensive that our animals might trespass on their field, which was without inclosure, we permitted them to drive the band several miles
stream, where we had noticed an abundance of white clover; and, whilst thus confiding in them, we had security for their honesty by several Indians passing the night in our camp, where they laid near the fire, coiled up like dogs; besides which, their women and children, and entire crops, on which they depended for their subsistence during the approaching winter, were also in our power.
In the afternoon we visited their huts, which presented a squalid scene of dirt and wretchedness. When the women saw us approaching they concealed their children, fearing that we might wish to carry them off. Noticing that something moved under a large wicker basket, one of us examined its contents, which were found to be a little naked fellow, his teeth chattering with fear.
Yearly expeditions are fitted out in New Mexico to trade with the Pah-Utahs for their children, and recourse is often had to foul means to force their parents to part with them. So common is it to make a raid for this purpose, that it is considered as no more objectionable than to go on a buffalo or a mustang hunt. One of our men, José Galliego, who was an old hand at this species of man-hunting, related to us, with evident gusto, numerous anecdotes on this subject; and as we
approached the village, he rode up to Mr. Beale, and eagerly proposed to him that we should “charge on it like h—1, kill the mans, and may-be catch some of the little boys and gals.”
Camp was all day crowded with men and squaws; the former had reduced their costume to first principles, and even the latter were attired in a style of the most primitive simplicity. They spoke with great volubility and vehemence, using many gesticulations, regardless of the common usage of other Indians, of speaking but one at a time. It appeared as though they thought aloud, and were not addressing any one in particular. Our ragged and forlorn appearance, unshaven chins, and sun-scarred visages, excited great merriment, and they used no ceremony in pointing and laughing at us. Day's travel, 10 miles; whole distance, 1,439 miles.
August 7. The Indians drove our animals into camp before dawn, and we were on the road at sunrise, travelling down the Santa Clara. In ten miles the road diverged to the right from the creek, and for eight miles passed through a region of rugged and arid hills and cañons, when it issued upon an inclined plane leading to the Rio de la Virgen. Although generally level, it was a rough road for wagons, and with the exception of one good spring, four miles from the Santa Clara, we saw no water until we encamped on the Virgen. A scanty growth of cactus, agave americana, greasewood, and small cedars, was the only vegetation after leaving the creek. A Pah-Utah handed me some ears of wheat, the grains of which I preserved, and he stated that it grows spontaneously near the Santa Clara. It is from this stock that the New Mexicans have obtained the seed which they call Payute wheat, and the Mormons, Taos wheat. It has been much improved by cultivation, and is considered the best in New Mexico and Utah. A party of Indians accompanied us for twelve miles, begging for tabac, and we noticed several smokes during the day, and fires after dark, made by the natives on the Virgen, to warn the country of our approach. We set double guard at night, and the mules evinced by their restlessness and uneasiness the vicinity of Pah-Utahs. Day's travel, 35 miles; whole distance, 1,474 miles.
August 8. The Rio de la Virgen is a turbid and shallow stream, about twelve yards in breadth. It flows with a rapid current over a sandy bed, and as we descended it, the growth of cottonwood gave place to mesquit trees and willows. The mesquit tree bears in some localities an abundance of sweet pods, on which mules feed greedily, and they are a good substitute for corn, being almost as nutritious. We crossed scanty patches of wiry salt grass, which affords but little nourishment.
The river bottom was hemmed in by bluffs, beyond which, on the right, was an extensive plain much cut up by gullies, and on the left a range of dark mountains, which in many places came down to the river's edge. The road which followed down the bottom, was at times through deep sand, as was mostly the case since leaving the Vegas de Santa Clara. The scenery was gloomy and forbidding, and gave indication that we were approaching a wild and desolate region. We noticed during the day many fresh Indian tracks, and at times caught glimpses of dark forms gliding through the bushes on either side. Day's march, 29 miles ; whole distance, 1,503 miles.
August 9. By keeping a watchful guard, our animals were saved from the Pah-Utahs, who hovered around us all night.
We rode down the Virgen ten miles farther, when we left it to cross the hot and sterile plain, eight miles broad, extending between the Virgen and the Rio Atascoso (Muddy Creek). It was thickly covered with sharp flints, and bore a scanty growth of stunted mesquit bushes, which on the dry plains bear few pods; for a couple of miles from each stream the country was much broken by ravines.
Rio Atascoso is a narrow stream, but in many places quite deep; its water is clear, and it derives its name from the slimy and miry nature of its banks and bed. Day's march, 18 miles; whole distance, 1,521 miles.
August 10. We again had Indians around us all night, making their usual signals, but by keeping a strict double guard they were prevented from stealing or wounding our animals. Soon after sunrise, a party of Pah-Utahs showed their heads from behind some rocks near camp, and shouted to us; find ing that we did not attempt to molest them, they cautiously exposed more of their persons, and finally dropped among us by twos and threes, until they numbered fifteen. They professed entire innocence of being concerned in the proceedings of the previous night, laying them all to the charge of other Pah-Utahs, and expressed for us the warmest attachment. At