Joaquin Murrieta: Life and Adventures of the Celebrated Bandit : His Exploits in the State of California

By Ireneo Paz; Francis P. Belle | Go to book overview
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Chapter II

It is easy to imagine the desperation and the thirst for vengeance which agitated the heart of Joaquin when he came to himself and saw what had happened. But while that grief was torturing his soul, he felt himself incapable of fighting alone against the murderers of his wife and brother. One imprudence might cost him very dearly. He resolved, therefore, to wait and to suffer with composure until an opportunity to put his plans into execution should present itself.

With that object, in April of 1850, he went to Calaveras County and worked hard in Murphy’s mines. Presently, he rested from his work in the mines and tried to make a fortune playing cards. “Monte” was a game very much in vogue in Mexico, and furthermore it was considered by some classes of society as one of the most honorable occupations.

At first fortune smiled on him, but very soon the tyrant luck declared itself against him in an abrupt and thorough manner. Joaquin then threw himself into the murky depths of crime.

One day he went to see one of his friends named Valenzuela, not far from his camp, and at night returned to Murphy’s mounted on a horse which his friend had loaned him. Suddenly, he found himself surrounded by a furious crowd, which accused him of stealing. Several persons said that the horse which he rode had been stolen some weeks before. Joaquin declared that the animal had been loaned to him, at the same time trying to convince his accusers of Valenzuela’s honesty. But they would not listen. They took the despised Mexican youth, tied him to a tree and gave him a shameful beating before all the crowd. Following this, the savage mob went to the house of Valenzuela and he was hanged without giving him any time to prove his innocence.

This was sufficient to provoke a sudden change in Joaquin’s character: one of those terrible changes, both implacable and sordid. His impassioned soul did not recognize any limit: the perception of honor lost all its worth in that heart, ruined by adversity. He swore

-7-

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