A Memorandum of Sudden Death by Frank Norris
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
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 Klondike.
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
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
“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 Estorijo joyfully.
“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
“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 shooting.
“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
“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 it.
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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.
[Illustration: CAUGHT IN THE CIRCLE.
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 ammunition.
“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 long since.
“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.]