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The Ransom Of Don Ramon Mora
On the southern slope of the main tableland which divides the waters of the Nueces and
Rio Grande rivers in Texas, lies the old Spanish land grant of "Agua Dulce," and the
rancho by that name. Twice within the space of fifteen years was an appeal to the sword
taken over the ownership of the territory between these rivers. Sparsely settled by the
descendants of the original grantees, with an occasional American ranchman, it is to-day
much the same as when the treaty of peace gave it to the stronger republic.
This frontier on the south has undergone few changes in the last half century, and no
improvements have been made. Here the smuggler against both governments finds an
inviting field. The bandit and the robber feel equally at home under either flag.
Revolutionists hatch their plots against the powers that be; sedition takes on life and finds
adherents eager to bear arms and apply the torch.
Within a dozen years of the close of the century just past, this territory was infested by a
band of robbers, whose boldness has had few equals in the history of American
brigandage. The Bedouins of the Orient justify their freebooting by accounting it a
religious duty, looking upon every one against their faith as an Infidel, and therefore
common property. These bandits could offer no such excuse, for they plundered people
of their own faith and blood. They were Mexicans, a hybrid mixture of Spanish atrocity
and Indian cruelty. They numbered from ten to twenty, and for several months terrorized
the Mexican inhabitants on both sides of the river. On the American side they were
particular never to molest any one except those of their own nationality. These they
robbed with impunity, nor did their victims dare to complain to the authorities, so
thoroughly were they terrified and coerced.
The last and most daring act of these marauders was the kidnapping of Don Ramon Mora,
owner of the princely grant of Agua Dulce. Thousands of cattle and horses ranged over
the vast acres of his ranch, and he was reputed to be a wealthy man. No one ever enjoyed
the hospitality of Agua Dulce but went his way with an increased regard for its owner and
his estimable Castilian family. The rancho lay back from the river probably sixty miles,
and was on the border of the chaparral, which was the rendezvous of the robbers. Don
Ramon had a pleasant home in one of the river towns. One June he and his family had
gone to the ranch, intending to spend a few weeks there. He had notified cattle-buyers of
this vacation, and had invited them to visit him there either on business or pleasure.
One evening an unknown vaquero rode up to the rancho and asked for Don Ramon. That
gentleman presenting himself, the stranger made known his errand: a certain firm of well-
known drovers, friends of the ranchero, were encamped for the night at a ranchita some
ten miles distant. They regretted that they could not visit him, but they would be pleased
to see him. They gave as an excuse for not calling that they were driving quite a herd of
cattle, and the corrals at this little ranch were unsafe for the number they had, so that they
were compelled to hold outside or night-herd. This very plausible story was accepted
without question by Don Ramon, who well understood the handling of herds. Inviting the