The signs are exceedingly graceful and significant; and, what was a fact of much astonishment to me, I discovered they were very nearly the same as those practiced by the mutes in our deaf and dumb schools, and were comprehended by them with perfect facility. The Comanche is represented by making with the hand a waving motion in imitation of the crawling of a snake.
After a silence of a few minutes, he asked the Comanche chief what he could answer to that? The chief looked at him and replied, with the most ineffable contempt: "What should I answer?" said he; "I have heard nothing but the words of a fool abusing other fools.
And soon half a dozen similar silhouettes beside it, while they could hear distinctly the talk that was passing overhead. Wilder had some knowledge of the Comanche tongue, and could make out most of what was being said. Amidst exclamations that spoke of vengeance there were words in a calmer tone discussion, inquiry, and conjecture.
We saw no further signs of their presence until quite late in the afternoon, when Jerry called my attention to a small, oblong pile of stones, that stood in a conspicuous place a short distance from the trail we were following. "That's a Comanche sign," said Jerry. "Pooh! it's nothing but a pile of stones," said Hal. "That's true enuff," said Jerry; "but who put 'em there?
"Stoop, Pale-face of a Texian, and look with thy eyes open; be honest if thou canst, and confess that thou knowest by thine own experience that this deed is that of white men. What Comanche ever scalped women and children. Stoop, I say, and behold a shame on thy colour and race a race of wolves, preying upon each other; a race of jaguars, killing the female after having forced her stoop and see.
At this moment the Comanche rode up. Bringing his horse abruptly to a stand-still, he extended a very dirty hand, ornamented with finger-nails that closely resembled the talons of an eagle. "Me Senaco, good Injun," he exclaimed, in pretty fair Spanish. "Of course you be," replied Jerry, in English. "Whoever seed a bad Injun, ef you let him tell his story?
A halt was ordered; and, in an incredibly short time, our animals were picketed, Jerry and Don Ignacio had started out for a reconnoissance of the Comanche camp, and the men were enjoying a hearty supper. I was greatly amused to see the facility with which they accommodated themselves to the situation.
Some were half-breed Indians, and a few were white gunmen who killed for the very joy of killing. And The Terror himself? That was the mystery. Nobody knew his identity. Some rumors held that he was a white man; others maintained that he was a full-blooded Comanche Indian. Nobody had ever seen his face, for he always was masked. His deeds were enough. No torture was too cruel for his insane mind.
Soon they were driven to the shelter of the adobe wall, where they lay, and for a little while returned a scattering fire which did no harm. After it ceased no Comanche uttered a war whoop and there was silence again, save for the rain which now trickled down softly. Bowie distributed sentinels at the openings, including the new one made by the fire, and then the Texans took count of themselves.
The headquarters of the United States land-office for that territory being at Meander, the drawing was to take place there. Meander was sixty miles farther along, connected with the railroad and Comanche by stage and telephone.