The Life of Ten Bears: Comanche Historical Narratives

By Francis Joseph Attocknie; Thomas W. Kavanagh | Go to book overview

28   The Mule

Comanche ex-Mexican soldier Cruz Portillo, three brothers, one with diseased glands and unable to walk.

On Rio Grande River, the bubbling roar of an alligator is heard upstream from where members of a Comanche war party going south were making their crossing. The sick brother, who is the youngest one, had been riding a mule while most of the others were on foot. During the fording activities, the swollen river swept away the sick brother’s means of travel, the mule, and took it downstream. The mule finally came to stop, either caught on a submerged obstacle or a shallow part of the river. At any rate it seemed to be swimming stationary, facing upstream, in all likelihood to swim until it became exhausted, then to sink into the swollen river, leaving the sick brother without any means of travel.

The two older brothers, realizing the predicament that faced their sick brother, offered twenty dearly valuable arrows to anybody who would rescue the mule for them. Other friends added ten more arrows, making a total of thirty valuable arrows. Even then the swollen, treacherous river and the watery roar of the alligator kept everybody from accepting what would have been anywhere else a tempting offer. Metal-tipped arrows were certainly most highly valuable even at home away from enemy country, but here in the dangerous Rio Grande country the value of arrows was enormous. Arrow making was a long process, and not everybody was good at making arrows. The value of arrows rose, too, as it was impossible for anyone to stop and take time to fashion them.

When nobody accepted the thirty-arrow offer, somebody pointed out to the brothers a young warrior who apparently had not heard the offer. The brothers were told that this young warrior had lost all his arrows in games of chance or rather skill. Better marksmen had won the young warrior’s arrows from him.

The sick one’s two older brothers hopefully spoke to the young warrior of their thirty-arrow offer. The young warrior looked toward the fasttiring mule, which was now very low in the swollen stream, and got up and disposed of his wearing apparel. He hurried some distance upstream from the mule and took a running plunge into the river and swam with strong strokes toward the helpless mule. The Comanche idea of a good

-175-

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