Addressing himself to Ramrod, he began: “You might live amongst these border Mexicans all your life and think you knew them, but every day you live you’ll see new features about them. You can’t calculate on them with any certainty. What they ought to do by any system of reasoning they never do. They will steal an article and then give it away. You’ve heard the expression ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ Well, my brother played the role of Paul once himself. It was out in Arizona at a place called Las Palomas. He was a stripling of a boy but could palaver Spanish in a manner that would make a Mexican ashamed of his ancestry. He was about eighteen at this time and was working in a store. One morning as he stepped outside the store, where he slept, he noticed quite a commotion over around the custom-house. He noticed that the town was full of strangers, as he crossed over toward the crowd. He was suddenly halted and searched by a group of strange men. Fortunately, he had no arms on him, and his ability to talk to them, together with his boyish looks, ingratiated him in their favor, and they simply made him their prisoner. Just at that moment an alcalde rode up to the group about him and was ordered to halt. He saw at a glance they were revolutionists and whirling his mount attempted to escape when one of them shot him from his horse. The young fellow then saw what he was into.
“They called themselves Timochis. They belonged in Mexico and a year or so before they refused to pay taxes that the Mexican government levied on them, and rebelled. Their own government sent soldiers after them, resulting in about eight hundred soldiers being killed when they dispersed into small bands, one of which was paying Las Palomas a social call that morning. Along the Rio Grande, it is only a short step at best from revolution to robbery, and either calling has its variations.
“Well, they took my brother with them to act as spokesman in looting the town. The custom-house was a desired prize, and when my brother interpreted their desires to the collector, he consented to open the safe, as life had charms for him, even in Arizona. Uncle Sam’s strong-box yielded up over a thousand dobes. They turned their attention to the few small stores of the town, looting them of the money and goods as they went.
There was quite a large store kept by a Frenchman, who refused to open when he realized that the Timochi was honoring the town with his presence. They put the boy in the front and ordered him to call on the Frenchman to open up. He said afterward that he put in a word for himself, telling him not to do any shooting through the door. After some persuasion, the store was opened and proved to be quite a prize. Then they turned their attention to the store where the boy worked. He unlocked it and waved them in. He went into the cellar and brought up half a dozen bottles of imported French Cognac, and invited the chief bandit and his followers to be good enough to join him. In the meantime they had piled up on the counters such things as they wanted. They made no money demand on him, the chief asking him to set a price on the things they were taking. He made a hasty inventory of the goods and gave the chief the figures, about one hundred and ten dollars. The chief opened a sack that they had taken from the custom-house and paid the bill with a flourish.
“The chief then said that he had a favor to ask: that my brother should cheer for the revolutionists, to identify him as a friend. That was easy, so he mounted the counter and gave three cheers of ‘Viva los Timochis!’ He got down off the counter, took the bandit by the arm, and led him to the rear, where with glasses in the air they drank to ‘Viva los Timochis!’ again. Then the chief and his men withdrew and re-crossed the river. It was the best day’s trade he had had in a long time. Now, here comes in the native. While the boy did everything from compulsion and policy, the native element looked upon him with suspicion. The owners of the store, knowing that this suspicion existed, advised him to leave, and he did.”
The two prisoners were sleeping soundly. Sleep comes easily to tired men, and soon all but the solitary guard were wrapped in sleep, to fight anew in rangers’ dreams scathless battles!
There was not lacking the pathetic shade in the redemption of this State from crime and lawlessness. In the village burying-ground of Round Rock, Texas, is a simple headstone devoid of any lettering save the name “Sam Bass.” His long career of crime and lawlessness would fill a good-sized volume. He met his death at the hands of Texas Rangers. Years afterward a woman, with all the delicacy of her sex, and knowing the odium that was attached to his career, came to this town from her home in the North and sought out his grave. As only a woman can, when some strong tie of affection binds, this woman went to work to mark the last resting-place of the wayward man. Concealing her own identity, she performed these sacred rites, clothing in mystery her relation to the criminal. The people of the village would not have withheld their services in well-meant friendship, but she shrank from them, being a stranger.
A year passed, and she came again. This time she brought the stone which marks his last resting-place. The chivalry of this generous people was aroused in admiration of a woman that would defy the calumny attached to an outlaw. While she would have shrunk from kindness, had she been permitted, such devotion could not go unchallenged. So she disclosed her identity.
She was his sister.
Bass was Northern born, and this sister was the wife of a respectable practicing physician in Indiana. Womanlike, her love for a wayward brother followed him beyond his disgraceful end. With her own hands, she performed an act that has few equals, as a testimony of love and affection for her own.
For many years afterward, she came annually, her timidity having worn away after the generous reception accorded her at the hands of a hospitable people.
About the Author: Rangering was written by Andy Adams in 1906 and included in his book Cattle Brands: A Collection of Western Camp-Fire Stories. The story, as it appears here, is not verbatim as it has been edited.