A Dog and a Dagger in the Moonlight


The Mormon Colonies in Mexico, by Thomas C. Romney, pp. 323-330.
A Dagger in the Moonlight

Two of my older brothers, Miles and George had leased a portion of the Williams’ ranch adjacent to Cave Valley in northern Chihuahua, hoping to find ready market at the mines for all the vegetables they could produce. The mines were situated along the backbone of the Sierra Madres range which formed the boundary line between the adjoining states of Sonora and Chihuahua. The trails through the region leading from western Chihuahua into Sonora were rather difficult of travel since they traversed mountain passes and box canyons rendered almost inaccessible because of being hemmed in by jagged cliffs. In company with others the journey was a trying one but when taken alone it was almost intolerable due to its utter loneliness.

To add to the income it was agreed that Miles, when not otherwise engaged, should purchase cattle for certain companies, he to receive his compensation in the form of a commission. One of these business trips took him through the mountain passes and rugged canyons of the Sierra Madre far off into the valley of the Bavispe where the Sonoran cities of Baserac and Bavispe were the chief centers in a rich agricultural and stock raising territory. From residents of these communities he made his purchases and reimbursed them with bank checks deeming it unsafe to carry on his person large amounts of currency. As he moved about from place to place his attention was called to a strange Mexican dog that was following him in a friendly fashion. Having a fondness for dogs he reciprocated the animal’s advances of friendship, with the result that the dog refused to leave him.

Wild dog

With his purchases made and with the sun still two hours above the western horizon my brother decided to begin his homeward journey. Twenty or twenty-five miles at most would bring him to a good camp ground in the midst of the pines where water and pasture were abundant and where the bracing air of the mountains would insure him a night of refreshing sleep. With a light heart and a song on his lips he passed out of the region of the mesquite and cat claws, where the air was warm and sultry into the higher altitudes where the air was crisp and where a variety of timber grew. As he jogged along he cast backward glances and saw that the strange dog was following him. He tried to drive him back but all in vain. Long before the projected camping ground was reached the sun had sunk beyond the horizon at his back and dark shadows had cast their mantle on the forests of pine and oak. Presently to his delight, he saw the moon appear above the summit of the peak in front of him for now he knew he would experience but little difficulty in following the winding trail. At last the arduous journey of the day was over. In a delightful spot he pitched his camp. The two faithful horses were unsaddled and unpacked and put out to graze, and then the weary traveler took from his bag a cold lunch that had been prepared for him in the valley below and fell to eating. His supper over, he spread out his blankets and with his gun by his side he was soon wrapped in slumber.

How long he slept he could not conjecture when the strange Mexican dog with a fierce and prolonged growl awoke him from his sleep. With a start he opened his eyes to behold a Mexican in a crouching position coming toward his bed and clutching in his hand a huge dagger with which he expected to strike the deadly blow. The years of training among the dangers of the frontier had taught my brother well the lesson of self protection. As if by instinct he seized his rifle and with a steady aim he drew it on the approaching form and in a clear cut Spanish tongue commanded him to retrace his steps or he would pull the deadly trigger. The native, with bated breath, lost no time in argument, but hastily withdrew to a more congenial clime. The click of the rifle had unnerved him. As for Miles, when he was left alone with the dog he gave him a fond caress while tears of gratitude glistened in his eyes there in the moonlight. The attempt of the bandit had been frustrated and a life had been saved by the growl of a dog.

How strange that in times of crises men have nerves of steel but in the aftermath, when the danger is passed their nerves become limp as the strings of an unstrung bow. Such was the condition of my brother. During the long hours of the unfinished night he shook with fear while his tired eyes sought sleep in vain. With the break of dawn he was on his way and still following him was the dog. A few hours passed and this time when he cast a backward glance to his astonishment the dog could not be seen. For several miles he followed back the trail but his faithful friend could not be found. As mysteriously as the animal had come into the life of the traveler did it pass out again. Surely, thought my brother as he pushed on toward home there is an unseen power protecting the lives of men from dangers of which they are unaware and even dogs are made to serve good ends.

Romney, Miles & Frances Turley.jpg

Miles Archibald Romney b. 9 November 1869 married Frances Turley b. 21 April 1873 in Colonia Juarez, Mexico on 15 September 1898.  They had 8 children.

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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