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Arizona Nights by Stewart Edward White

Part 2 out of 5

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southward. Now, however, we began to extend our ridin' a little.

I was down towards Dos Cabesas to look over the cattle there, and
they used to send Larry up into the Double R country. One
evenin' he took me to one side.

"Look here, Jed," says he, "I know you pretty well, and I'm not
ashamed to say that I'm all new at this cattle business--in fact,
I haven't been at it more'n a year. What should be the
proportion of cows to calves anyhow?"

"There ought to be about twice as many cows as there're calves,"
I tells him.

"Then, with only about fifty head of grown cows, there ought not
to be an equal number of yearlin's?"

"I should say not," says I. "What are you drivin' at?"

"Nothin' yet," says he.

A few days later he tackled me again.

"Jed," says he, "I'm not good, like you fellows are, at knowin'
one cow from another, but there's a calf down there branded T 0
that I'd pretty near swear I saw with an X Y cow last month. I
wish you could come down with me."

We got that fixed easy enough, and for the next month rammed
around through this broken country lookin' for evidence. I saw
enough to satisfy me to a moral certainty, but nothin' for a
sheriff; and, of course, we couldn't go shoot up a peaceful
rancher on mere suspicion. Finally, one day, we run on a
four-months' calf all by himself, with the T 0 iron onto him--a
mighty healthy lookin' calf, too.

"Wonder where HIS mother is!" says I.

"Maybe it's a 'dogie,'" says Larry Eagen--we calls calves whose
mothers have died "dogies."

"No," says I, "I don't hardly think so. A dogie is always under
size and poor, and he's layin' around water holes, and he always
has a big, sway belly onto him. No, this is no dogie; and, if
it's an honest calf, there sure ought to be a T 0 cow around
somewhere."

So we separated to have a good look. Larry rode up on the edge
of a little rimrock. In a minute I saw his hoss jump back,
dodgin' a rattlesnake or somethin', and then fall back out of
sight. I jumped my hoss up there tur'ble quick, and looked
over, expectin' to see nothin' but mangled remains. It was only
about fifteen foot down, but I couldn't see bottom 'count of some
brush.

"Are you all right?" I yells.

"Yes, yes!" cries Larry, "but for the love of God, get down here
as
quick as you can."

I hopped off my hoss and scrambled down somehow.

"Hurt?" says I, as soon as I lit.

"Not a bit--look here."

There was a dead cow with the Lazy Y on her flank.

"And a bullet-hole in her forehead," adds Larry. "And, look
here, that T 0 calf was bald-faced, and so was this cow."

"Reckon we found our sleepers," says I.

So, there we was. Larry had to lead his cavallo down the
barranca to the main canon. I followed along on the rim, waitin'
until a place gave me a chance to get down, too, or Larry a
chance to get up. We were talkin' back and forth when, all at
once, Larry shouted again.

"Big game this time," he yells. "Here's a cave and a mountain
lion squallin' in it."

I slid down to him at once, and we drew our six-shooters and went
up to the cave openin', right under the rim-rock. There, sure
enough, were fresh lion tracks, and we could hear a little faint
cryin' like woman.

"First chance," claims Larry, and dropped to his hands and knees
at the entrance.

"Well, damn me!" he cries, and crawls in at once, payin' no
attention to me tellin' him to be more cautious. In a minute he
backs out, carryin' a three-year-old goat.

"We seem to he in for adventures to-day," says he. "Now, where
do you suppose that came from, and how did it get here?"

"Well," says I, "I've followed lion tracks where they've carried
yearlin's across their backs like a fox does a goose. They're
tur'ble strong."

"But where did she come from?" he wonders.

"As for that," says I, "don't you remember now that T 0 outfit
had a yearlin' kid when it came into the country?"

"That's right," says he. "It's only a mile down the canon. I'll
take it home. They must be most distracted about it."

So I scratched up to the top where my pony was waitin'. It was a
tur'ble hard climb, and I 'most had to have hooks on my eyebrows
to get up at all. It's easier to slide down than to climb back.
I dropped my gun out of my holster, and she went way to the
bottom, but I wouldn't have gone back for six guns. Larry picked
it up for me.

So we went along, me on the rim-rock and around the barrancas,
and Larry in the bottom carryin' of the kid.

By and by we came to the ranch house, stopped to wait. The
minute Larry hove in sight everybody was out to once, and in two
winks the woman had that baby. Thy didn't see me at all, but I
could hear, plain enough, what they said. Larry told how he had
found her in the cave, and all about the lion tracks, and the
woman cried and held the kid close to her, and thanked him about
forty times. Then when she'd wore the edge off a little, she
took the kid inside to feed it or somethin'.

"Well," says Larry, still laughin', "I must hit the trail."

"You say you found her up the Double R?" asks Hahn. "Was it that
cave near the three cottonwoods?"

"Yes," says Larry.

"Where'd you get into the canyon?"

"Oh, my hoss slipped off into the barranca just above."

"The barranca just above," repeats Hahn, lookin' straight at him.

Larry took one step back.

"You ought to be almighty glad I got into the canyon at all,"
says he.

Hahn stepped up, holdin' out his hand.

"That's right," says he. "You done us a good turn there."

Larry took his hand. At the same time Hahn pulled his gun and
shot him through the middle.

It was all so sudden and unexpected that I stood there paralysed.

Larry fell forward the way a man mostly will when he's hit in the
stomach, but somehow he jerked loose a gun and got it off twice.
He didn't hit nothin', and I reckon he was dead before he hit the
ground. And there he had my gun, and I was about as useless as a
pocket in a shirt!

No, sir, you can talk as much as you please, but the killer is a
low-down ornery scub, and he don't hesitate at no treachery or
ingratitude to keep his carcass safe.

Jed Parker ceased talking. The dusk had fallen in the little
room, and dimly could be seen the recumbent figures lying at
ease on their blankets. The ranch foreman was sitting bolt
upright, cross-legged. A faint glow from his pipe barely
distinguished his features.

"What became of the rustlers?" I asked him.

"Well, sir, that is the queer part. Hahn himself, who had done
the killin', skipped out. We got out warrants, of course, but
they never got served. He was a sort of half outlaw from that
time, and was killed finally in the train hold-up of '97. But
the others we tried for rustling. We didn't have much of a case,
as the law went then, and they'd have gone free if the woman
hadn't turned evidence against them. The killin' was too much
for her. And, as the precedent held good in a lot of other
rustlin' cases, Larry's death was really the beginnin' of law and
order in the cattle business."

We smoked. The last light suddenly showed red against the grimy
window. Windy Bill arose and looked out the door.

"Boys," said he, returning. "She's cleared off. We can get back
to the ranch tomorrow."

CHAPTER FIVE
THE DRIVE

A cry awakened me. It was still deep night. The moon sailed
overhead, the stars shone unwavering like candles, and a chill
breeze wandered in from the open spaces of the desert. I raised
myself on my elbow, throwing aside the blankets and the canvas
tarpaulin. Forty other indistinct, formless bundles on the
ground all about me were sluggishly astir. Four figures passed
and repassed between me and a red fire. I knew them for the two
cooks and the horse wranglers. One of the latter was grumbling.

"Didn't git in till moon-up last night," he growled. "Might as
well trade my bed for a lantern and be done with it."

Even as I stretched my arms and shivered a little, the two
wranglers threw down their tin plates with a clatter, mounted
horses and rode away in the direction of the thousand acres or so
known as the pasture.

I pulled on my clothes hastily, buckled in my buckskin shirt, and
dove for the fire. A dozen others were before me. It was
bitterly cold. In the east the sky had paled the least bit in
the world, but the moon and stars shone on bravely and
undiminished. A band of coyotes was shrieking desperate
blasphemies against the new day, and the stray herd, awakening,
was beginning to bawl and bellow.

Two crater-like dutch ovens, filled with pieces of fried beef,
stood near the fire; two galvanised water buckets, brimming
with soda biscuits, flanked them; two tremendous coffee pots
stood guard at either end. We picked us each a tin cup and a tin
plate from the box at the rear of the chuck wagon; helped
ourselves from a dutch oven, a pail, and a coffee pot, and
squatted on our heels as close to the fire as possible. Men who
came too late borrowed the shovel, scooped up some coals, and so
started little fires of their own about which new groups formed.

While we ate, the eastern sky lightened. The mountains under the
dawn looked like silhouettes cut from slate-coloured paper; those
in the west showed faintly luminous. Objects about us became
dimly visible. We could make out the windmill, and the adobe of
the ranch houses, and the corrals. The cowboys arose one by one,
dropped their plates into the dishpan, and began to hunt out
their ropes. Everything was obscure and mysterious in the faint
grey light. I watched Windy Bill near his tarpaulin. He stooped
to throw over the canvas. When he bent, it was before daylight;
when he straightened his back, daylight had come. It was just
like that, as though someone had reached out his hand to turn on
the illumination of the world.

The eastern mountains were fragile, the plain was ethereal, like
a sea of liquid gases. From the pasture we heard the shoutings
of the wranglers, and made out a cloud of dust. In a moment the
first of the remuda came into view, trotting forward with the
free grace of the unburdened horse. Others followed in
procession: those near sharp and well defined, those in the
background more or less obscured by the dust, now appearing
plainly, now fading like ghosts. The leader turned
unhesitatingly into the corral. After him poured the stream of
the remuda--two hundred and fifty saddle horses--with an
unceasing thunder of hoofs.

Immediately the cook-camp was deserted. The cowboys entered the
corral. The horses began to circle around the edge of the
enclosure as around the circumference of a circus ring. The men,
grouped at the centre, watched keenly, looking for the mounts
they had already decided on. In no time each had recognised
his choice, and, his loop trailing, was walking toward that part
of the revolving circumference where his pony dodged. Some few
whirled the loop, but most cast it with a quick flip. It was
really marvellous to observe the accuracy with which the noose
would fly, past a dozen tossing heads, and over a dozen backs, to
settle firmly about the neck of an animal perhaps in the very
centre of the group. But again, if the first throw failed, it
was interesting to see how the selected pony would dodge, double
back, twist, turn, and hide to escape second cast. And it was
equally interesting to observe how his companions would help him.

They seemed to realise that they were not wanted, and would push
themselves between the cowboy and his intended mount with the
utmost boldness. In the thick dust that instantly arose, and
with the bewildering thunder of galloping, the flashing change of
grouping, the rush of the charging animals, recognition alone
would seem almost impossible, yet in an incredibly short time
each had his mount, and the others, under convoy of the
wranglers, were meekly wending their way out over the plain.
There, until time for a change of horses, they would graze in a
loose and scattered band, requiring scarcely any supervision.
Escape? Bless you, no, that thought was the last in their minds.

In the meantime the saddles and bridles were adjusted. Always in
a cowboy's "string" of from six to ten animals the boss assigns
him two or three broncos to break in to the cow business.
Therefore, each morning we could observe a half dozen or so men
gingerly leading wicked looking little animals out to the sand
"to take the pitch out of them." One small black, belonging to a
cowboy called the Judge, used more than to fulfil expectations of
a good time.

"Go to him, Judge!" someone would always remark.

"If he ain't goin' to pitch, I ain't goin' to make him", the
Judge would grin, as he swung aboard.

The black would trot off quite calmly and in a most matter of
fact way, as though to shame all slanderers of his lamb-like
character. Then, as the bystanders would turn away, he would
utter a squeal, throw down his head, and go at it. He was a very
hard bucker, and made some really spectacular jumps, but the
trick on which he based his claims to originality consisted in
standing on his hind legs at so perilous an approach to the
perpendicular that his rider would conclude he was about to fall
backwards, and then suddenly springing forward in a series of
stiff-legged bucks. The first manoeuvre induced the rider to
loosen his seat in order to be ready to jump from under, and the
second threw him before he could regain his grip.

"And they say a horse don't think!" exclaimed an admirer.

But as these were broken horses--save the mark!--the show was all
over after each had had his little fling. We mounted and rode
away, just as the mountain peaks to the west caught the rays of a
sun we should not enjoy for a good half hour yet.

I had five horses in my string, and this morning rode "that C S
horse, Brown Jug." Brown Jug was a powerful and well-built
animal, about fourteen two in height, and possessed of a vast
enthusiasm for cow-work. As the morning was frosty, he felt
good.

At the gate of the water corral we separated into two groups.
The smaller, under the direction of Jed Parker, was to drive the
mesquite in the wide flats. The rest of us, under the command of
Homer, the round-up captain, were to sweep the country even as
far as the base of the foothills near Mount Graham. Accordingly
we put our horses to the full gallop.

Mile after mile we thundered along at a brisk rate of speed.
Sometimes we dodged in and out among the mesquite bushes,
alternately separating and coming together again; sometimes we
swept over grassy plains apparently of illimitable extent,
sometimes we skipped and hopped and buck-jumped through and over
little gullies, barrancas, and other sorts of malpais--but always
without drawing rein. The men rode easily, with no thought to
the way nor care for the footing. The air came back sharp
against our faces. The warm blood stirred by the rush flowed
more rapidly. We experienced a delightful glow. Of the morning
cold only the very tips of our fingers and the ends of our noses
retained a remnant. Already the sun was shining low and level
across the plains. The shadows of the canons modelled the
hitherto flat surfaces of the mountains.

After a time we came to some low hills helmeted with the outcrop
of a rock escarpment. Hitherto they had seemed a termination of
Mount Graham, but now, when we rode around them, we discovered
them to be separated from the range by a good five miles of
sloping plain. Later we looked back and would have sworn them
part of the Dos Cabesas system, did we not know them to be at
least eight miles' distant from that rocky rampart. It is always
that way in Arizona. Spaces develop of whose existence you had
not the slightest intimation. Hidden in apparently plane
surfaces are valleys and prairies. At one sweep of the eye you
embrace the entire area of an eastern State; but nevertheless the
reality as you explore it foot by foot proves to be infinitely
more than the vision has promised.

Beyond the hill we stopped. Here our party divided again, half
to the right and half to the left. We had ridden, up to this
time, directly away from camp, now we rode a circumference of
which headquarters was the centre. The country was pleasantly
rolling and covered with grass. Here and there were clumps of
soapweed. Far in a remote distance lay a slender dark line
across the plain. This we knew to be mesquite; and once entered,
we knew it, too, would seem to spread out vastly. And then this
grassy slope, on which we now rode, would show merely as an
insignificant streak of yellow. It is also like that in Arizona.

I have ridden in succession through grass land, brush land,
flower land, desert. Each in turn seemed entirely to fill the
space of the plains between the mountains.

From time to time Homer halted us and detached a man. The
business of the latter was then to ride directly back to camp,
driving all cattle before him. Each was in sight of his right-
and left-hand neighbour. Thus was constructed a drag-net whose
meshes contracted as home was neared.

I was detached, when of our party only the Cattleman and Homer
remained. They would take the outside. This was the post of
honour, and required the hardest riding, for as soon as the
cattle should realise the fact of their pursuit, they would
attempt to "break" past the end and up the valley. Brown
Jug and I congratulated ourselves on an exciting morning in
prospect.

Now, wild cattle know perfectly well what a drive means, and they
do not intend to get into a round-up if they can help it. Were
it not for the two facts, that they are afraid of a mounted man,
and cannot run quite so fast as a horse, I do not know how the
cattle business would be conducted. As soon as a band of them
caught sight of any one of us, they curled their tails and away
they went at a long, easy lope that a domestic cow would stare at
in wonder. This was all very well; in fact we yelled and
shrieked and otherwise uttered cow-calls to keep them going, to
"get the cattle started," as they say. But pretty soon a little
band of the many scurrying away before our thin line, began to
bear farther and farther to the east. When in their judgment
they should have gained an opening, they would turn directly back
and make a dash for liberty. Accordingly the nearest cowboy
clapped spurs to his horse and pursued them.

It was a pretty race. The cattle ran easily enough, with long,
springy jumps that carried them over the ground faster than
appearances would lead one to believe. The cow-pony, his nose
stretched out, his ears slanted, his eyes snapping with joy of
the chase, flew fairly "belly to earth." The rider sat slightly
forward, with the cowboy's loose seat. A whirl of dust,
strangely insignificant against the immensity of a desert
morning, rose from the flying group. Now they disappeared in a
ravine, only to scramble out again the next instant, pace
undiminished. The rider merely rose slightly and threw up his
elbows to relieve the jar of the rough gully. At first the
cattle seemed to hold their, own, but soon the horse began to
gain. In a short time he had come abreast of the leading animal.

The latter stopped short with a snort, dodged back, and set out
at right angles to his former course. From a dead run the pony
came to a stand in two fierce plunges, doubled like a shot, and
was off on the other tack. An unaccustomed rider would here have
lost his seat. The second dash was short. With a final shake of
the head, the steers turned to the proper course in the direction
of the ranch. The pony dropped unconcernedly to the shuffling
jog of habitual progression.

Far away stretched the arc of our cordon. The most distant
rider was a speck, and the cattle ahead of him were like maggots
endowed with a smooth, swift onward motion. As yet the herd had
not taken form; it was still too widely scattered. Its units, in
the shape of small bunches, momently grew in numbers. The
distant plains were crawling and alive with minute creatures
making toward a common tiny centre.

Immediately in our front the cattle at first behaved very well.
Then far down the long gentle slope I saw a break for the upper
valley. The manikin that represented Homer at once became even
smaller as it departed in pursuit. The Cattleman moved down to
cover Homer's territory until he should return--and I in turn
edged farther to the right. Then another break from another
bunch. The Cattleman rode at top speed to head it. Before long
he disappeared in the distant mesquite. I found myself in sole
charge of a front three miles long.

The nearest cattle were some distance ahead, and trotting along
at a good gait. As they had not yet discovered the chance left
open by unforeseen circumstance, I descended and took in on my
cinch while yet there was time. Even as I mounted, an impatient
movement on the part of experienced Brown Jug told me that the
cattle had seen their opportunity.

I gathered the reins and spoke to the horse. He needed no
further direction, but set off at a wide angle, nicely
calculated, to intercept the truants. Brown Jug was a powerful
beast. The spring of his leap was as whalebone. The yellow
earth began to stream past like water. Always the pace increased
with a growing thunder of hoofs. It seemed that nothing could
turn us from the straight line, nothing check the headlong
momentum of our rush. My eyes filled with tears from the wind of
our going. Saddle strings streamed behind. Brown Jug's mane
whipped my bridle band. Dimly I was conscious of soapweed,
sacatone, mesquite, as we passed them. They were abreast and
gone before I could think of them or how they were to be dodged.
Two antelope bounded away to the left; birds rose hastily from
the grasses. A sudden chirk, chirk, chirk, rose all about me.
We were in the very centre of a prairie-dog town, but before I
could formulate in my mind the probabilities of holes and broken
legs, the chirk, chirk, chirking had fallen astern. Brown Jug
had skipped and dodged successfully.

We were approaching the cattle. They ran stubbornly and well,
evidently unwilling to be turned until the latest possible
moment. A great rage at their obstinacy took possession of us
both. A broad shallow wash crossed our way, but we plunged
through its rocks and boulders recklessly, angered at even the
slight delay they necessitated. The hardland on the other side
we greeted with joy. Brown Jug extended himself with a snort.

Suddenly a jar seemed to shake my very head loose. I found
myself staring over the horse's head directly down into a
deep and precipitous gully, the edge of which was so cunningly
concealed by the grasses as to have remained invisible to my
blurred vision. Brown Jug, however, had caught sight of it at
the last instant, and had executed one of the wonderful stops
possible only to a cow-pony.

But already the cattle had discovered a passage above, and were
scrambling down and across. Brown Jug and I, at more sober pace,
slid off the almost perpendicular bank, and out the other side.

A moment later we had headed them. They whirled, and without the
necessity of any suggestion on my part Brown Jug turned after
them, and so quickly that my stirrup actually brushed the ground.

After that we were masters. We chased the cattle far enough to
start them well in the proper direction, and then pulled down to
a walk in order to get a breath of air.

But now we noticed another band, back on the ground over which we
had just come, doubling through in the direction of Mount
Graham. A hard run set them to rights. We turned. More had
poured out from the hills. Bands were crossing everywhere,
ahead and behind. Brown Jug and I went to work.

Being an indivisible unit, we could chase only one bunch at a
time; and, while we were after one, a half dozen others would be
taking advantage of our preoccupation. We could not hold our
own. Each run after an escaping bunch had to be on a longer
diagonal. Gradually we were forced back, and back, and back; but
still we managed to hold the line unbroken. Never shall I forget
the dash and clatter of that morning. Neither Brown Jug nor I
thought for a moment of sparing horseflesh, nor of picking a
route. We made the shortest line, and paid little attention to
anything that stood in the way. A very fever of resistance
possessed us. It was like beating against a head wind, or
fighting fire, or combating in any other of the great forces of
nature. We were quite alone. The Cattleman and Homer had
vanished. To our left the men were fully occupied in marshalling
the compact brown herds that had gradually massed--for these
antagonists of mine were merely outlying remnants.

I suppose Brown Jug must have run nearly twenty miles with only
one check. Then we chased a cow some distance and into the dry
bed of a stream, where she whirled on us savagely. By luck her
horn hit only the leather of my saddle skirts, so we left her;
for when a cow has sense enough to "get on the peck," there is no
driving her farther. We gained nothing, and had to give ground,
but we succeeded in holding a semblance of order, so that the
cattle did not break and scatter far and wide. The sun had by
now well risen, and was beginning to shine hot. Brown Jug still
ran gamely and displayed as much interest as ever, but he was
evidently tiring. We were both glad to see Homer's grey showing
in the fringe of mesquite.

Together we soon succeeded in throwing the cows into the main
herd. And, strangely enough, as soon as they had joined a
compact band of their fellows, their wildness left them and,
convoyed by outsiders, they set themselves to plodding
energetically toward the home ranch.

As my horse was somewhat winded, I joined the "drag" at the rear.
Here by course of natural sifting soon accumulated all the lazy,
gentle, and sickly cows, and the small calves. The difficulty
now was to prevent them from lagging and dropping out. To that
end we indulged in a great variety of the picturesque cow-calls
peculiar to the cowboy. One found an old tin can which by the
aid of a few pebbles he converted into a very effective rattle.

The dust rose in clouds and eddied in the sun. We slouched
easily in our saddles. The cowboys compared notes as to the
brands they had seen. Our ponies shuffled along, resting, but
always ready for a dash in chase of an occasional bull calf or
yearling with independent ideas of its own.

Thus we passed over the country, down the long gentle slope to
the "sink" of the valley, whence another long gentle slope ran to
the base of the other ranges. At greater or lesser distances we
caught the dust, and made out dimly the masses of the other herds
collected by our companions, and by the party under Jed Parker.
They went forward toward the common centre, with a slow
ruminative movement, and the dust they raised went with them.

Little by little they grew plainer to us, and the home ranch,
hitherto merely a brown shimmer in the distance, began to take on
definition as the group of buildings, windmills,and corrals we
knew. Miniature horsemen could be seen galloping forward to the
open white plain where the herd would be held. Then the mesquite
enveloped us; and we knew little more, save the anxiety lest we
overlook laggards in the brush, until we came out on the edge of
that same white plain.

Here were more cattle, thousands of them, and billows of dust,
and a great bellowing, and slim, mounted figures riding and
shouting ahead of the herd. Soon they succeeded in turning the
leaders back. These threw into confusion those that followed.
In a few moments the cattle had stopped. A cordon of horsemen
sat at equal distances holding them in.

"Pretty good haul," said the man next to me; "a good five
thousand head."

CHAPTER SIX
CUTTING OUT

It was somewhere near noon by the time we had bunched and held
the herd of some four or five thousand head in the smooth, wide
flat, free from bushes and dog holes. Each sat at ease on his
horse facing the cattle, watching lazily the clouds of dust and
the shifting beasts, but ready at any instant to turn back the
restless or independent individuals that might break for liberty.

Out of the haze came Homer, the round-up captain, on an easy
lope. As he passed successively the sentries he delivered to
each a low command, but without slacking pace. Some of those
spoken to wheeled their horses and rode away. The others settled
themselves in their saddles and began to roll cigarettes.

"Change horses; get something to eat," said he to me; so I swung
after the file traveling at a canter over the low swells beyond
the plain.

The remuda had been driven by its leaders to a corner of the
pasture's wire fence, and there held. As each man arrived he
dismounted, threw off his saddle, and turned his animal loose.
Then he flipped a loop in his rope and disappeared in the eddying
herd. The discarded horse, with many grunts, indulged in a
satisfying roll, shook himself vigorously, and walked slowly
away. His labour was over for the day, and he knew it, and took
not the slightest trouble to get out of the way of the men with
the swinging ropes.

Not so the fresh horses, however. They had no intention of being
caught, if they could help it, but dodged and twisted, hid and
doubled behind the moving screen of their friends. The latter,
seeming as usual to know they were not wanted, made no effort to
avoid the men, which probably accounted in great measure for the
fact that the herd as a body remained compact, in spite of the
cowboys threading it, and in spite of the lack of an enclosure.

Our horses caught, we saddled as hastily as possible; and then at
the top speed of our fresh and eager ponies we swept down on the
chuck wagon. There we fell off our saddles and descended on the
meat and bread like ravenous locusts on a cornfield. The ponies
stood where we left them, "tied to the ground", the
cattle-country fashion.

As soon as a man had stoked up for the afternoon he rode away.
Some finished before others, so across the plain formed an
endless procession of men returning to the herd, and of those
whom they replaced coming for their turn at the grub.

We found the herd quiet. Some were even lying down, chewing
their cuds as peacefully as any barnyard cows. Most, however,
stood ruminative, or walked slowly to and fro in the confines
allotted by the horsemen, so that the herd looked from a distance
like a brown carpet whose pattern was constantly changing--a
dusty brown carpet in the process of being beaten. I relieved
one of the watchers, and settled myself for a wait.

At this close inspection the different sorts of cattle showed
more distinctly their characteristics. The cows and calves
generally rested peacefully enough, the calf often lying down
while the mother stood guard over it. Steers, however, were more
restless. They walked ceaselessly, threading their way in and
out among the standing cattle, pausing in brutish amazement at
the edge of the herd, and turning back immediately to endless
journeyings. The bulls, excited by so much company forced on
their accustomed solitary habit, roared defiance at each other
until the air fairly trembled. Occasionally two would clash
foreheads. Then the powerful animals would push and wrestle,
trying for a chance to gore. The decision of supremacy was a
question of but a few minutes, and a bloody topknot the worst
damage. The defeated one side-stepped hastily and clumsily out
of reach, and then walked away.

Most of the time all we had to do was to sit our horses and watch
these things, to enjoy the warm bath of the Arizona sun, and to
converse with our next neighbours. Once in a while some
enterprising cow, observing the opening between the men, would
start to walk out. Others would fall in behind her until the
movement would become general. Then one of us would swing his
leg off the pommel and jog his pony over to head them off. They
would return peacefully enough.

But one black muley cow, with a calf as black and muley as
herself, was more persistent. Time after time, with infinite
patience, she tried it again the moment my back was turned. I
tried driving her far into the herd. No use; she always
returned. Quirtings and stones had no effect on her mild and
steady persistence.

"She's a San Simon cow," drawled my neighbour. "Everybody knows
her. She's at every round-up, just naturally raisin' hell."

When the last man had returned from chuck, Homer made the
dispositions for the cut. There were present probably thirty men
from the home ranches round about, and twenty representing owners
at a distance, here to pick up the strays inevitable to the
season's drift. The round-up captain appointed two men to hold
the cow-and-calf cut, and two more to hold the steer cut.
Several of us rode into the herd, while the remainder retained
their positions as sentinels to hold the main body of cattle in
shape.

Little G and I rode slowly among the cattle looking everywhere.
The animals moved sluggishly aside to give us passage, and closed
in as sluggishly behind us, so that we were always closely hemmed
in wherever we went. Over the shifting sleek backs, through the
eddying clouds of dust, I could make out the figures of my
companions moving slowly, apparently aimlessly, here and there.

Our task for the moment was to search out the unbranded J H
calves. Since in ranks so closely crowded it would be physically
impossible actually to see an animal's branded flank, we depended
entirely on the ear-marks.

Did you ever notice how any animal, tame or wild, always points
his ears inquiringly in the direction of whatever interests or
alarms him? Those ears are for the moment his most prominent
feature. So when a brand is quite indistinguishable because, as
now, of press of numbers, or, as in winter, from extreme length
of hair, the cropped ears tell plainly the tale of ownership. As
every animal is so marked when branded, it follows that an uncut
pair of ears means that its owner has never felt the iron.

So, now we had to look first of all for calves with uncut ears.
After discovering one, we had to ascertain his ownership by
examining the ear-marks of his mother, by whose side he was sure,
in this alarming multitude, to be clinging faithfully.

Calves were numerous, and J H cows everywhere to be seen, so in
somewhat less than ten seconds I had my eye on a mother and son.
Immediately I turned Little G in their direction. At the slap of
my quirt against the stirrup, all the cows immediately about me
shrank suspiciously aside. Little G stepped forward daintily,
his nostrils expanding, his ears working back and forth, trying
to the best of his ability to understand which animals I had
selected. The cow and her calf turned in toward the centre of
the herd. A touch of the reins guided the pony. At once he
comprehended. From that time on he needed no further directions.

Cautiously, patiently, with great skill, he forced the cow
through the press toward the edge of the herd. It had to be done
very quietly, at a foot pace, so as to alarm neither the objects
of pursuit nor those surrounding them. When the cow turned back,
Little G somehow happened always in her way. Before she knew it
she was at the outer edge of the herd. There she found herself,
with a group of three or four companions, facing the open plain.
Instinctively she sought shelter. I felt Little G's muscles
tighten beneath me. The moment for action had come. Before the
cow had a chance to dodge among her companions the pony was upon
her like a thunderbolt. She broke in alarm, trying desperately
to avoid the rush. There ensued an exciting contest of dodgings,
turnings,and doublings. Wherever she turned Little G was before
her. Some of his evolutions were marvellous. All I had to do
was to sit my saddle, and apply just that final touch of judgment
denied even the wisest of the lower animals. Time and again the
turn was so quick that the stirrup swept the ground. At last the
cow, convinced of the uselessness of further effort to return,
broke away on a long lumbering run to the open plain. She was
stopped and held by the men detailed, and so formed the nucleus
of the new cut-herd. Immediately Little G, his ears working in
conscious virtue, jog-trotted back into the herd, ready for
another.

After a dozen cows had been sent across to the cut-herd, the
work simplified. Once a cow caught sight of this new band, she
generally made directly for it, head and tail up. After the
first short struggle to force her from the herd, all I had to do
was to start her in the proper direction and keep her at it until
her decision was fixed. If she was too soon left to her own
devices, however, she was likely to return. An old cowman knows
to a second just the proper moment to abandon her.

Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts a cow succeeded in
circling us and plunging into the main herd. The temptation was
then strong to plunge in also, and to drive her out by main
force; but the temptation had to be resisted. A dash into the
thick of it might break the whole band. At once, of his own
accord, Little G dropped to his fast, shuffling walk, and again
we addressed ourselves to the task of pushing her gently to the
edge.

This was all comparatively simple--almost any pony is fast enough
for the calf cut--but now Homer gave orders for the steer cut to
begin, and steers are rapid and resourceful and full of natural
cussedness. Little G and I were relieved by Windy Bill, and
betook ourselves to the outside of the herd.

Here we had leisure to observe the effects that up to this moment
we had ourselves been producing. The herd, restless by reason of
the horsemen threading it, shifted, gave ground, expanded, and
contracted, so that its shape and size were always changing in
the constant area guarded by the sentinel cowboys. Dust arose
from these movements, clouds of it, to eddy and swirl, thicken
and dissipate in the currents of air. Now it concealed all but
the nearest dimly-outlined animals; again it parted in rifts
through which mistily we discerned the riders moving in and out
of the fog; again it lifted high and thin, so that we saw in
clarity the whole herd and the outriders and the mesas far away.
As the afternoon waned, long shafts of sun slanted through this
dust. It played on men and beasts magically, expanding them to
the dimensions of strange genii, appearing and effacing
themselves in the billows of vapour from some enchanted bottle.

We on the outside found our sinecure of hot noon-tide filched
from us by the cooler hours. The cattle, wearied of standing,
and perhaps somewhat hungry and thirsty, grew more and more
impatient. We rode continually back and forth, turning the slow
movement in on itself. Occasionally some particularly
enterprising cow would conclude that one or another of the
cut-herds would suit her better than this mill of turmoil. She
would start confidently out, head and tail up, find herself
chased back, get stubborn on the question, and lead her pursuer a
long, hard run before she would return to her companions. Once
in a while one would even have to be roped and dragged back. For
know, before something happens to you, that you can chase a cow
safely only until she gets hot and
winded. Then she stands her ground and gets emphatically "on the
peck."

I remember very well when I first discovered this. It was after I
had had considerable cow work, too. I thought of cows as I had
always seen them--afraid of a horseman, easy to turn with the
pony, and willing to be chased as far as necessary to the work.
Nobody told me anything different. One day we were making a
drive in an exceedingly broken country. I was bringing in a
small bunch I had discovered in a pocket of the hills, but was
excessively annoyed by one old cow that insisted on breaking
back. In the wisdom of further experience, I now conclude that
she probably had a calf in the brush. Finally she got away
entirely. After starting the bunch well ahead, I went after her.

Well, the cow and I ran nearly side by side for as much as half a
mile at top speed. She declined to be headed. Finally she fell
down and was so entirely winded that she could not get up.

"Now, old girl, I've got you!" said I, and set myself to urging
her to her feet.

The pony acted somewhat astonished, and suspicious of the job.
Therein he knew a lot more than I did. But I insisted, and, like
a good pony, he obeyed. I yelled at the cow, and slapped my bat,
and used my quirt. When she had quite recovered her wind, she
got slowly to her feet--and charged me in a most determined
manner.

Now, a bull, or a steer, is not difficult to dodge. He lowers
his head, shuts his eyes, and comes in on one straight rush. But
a cow looks to see what she is doing; her eyes are open every
minute, and it overjoys her to take a side hook at you even when
you succeed in eluding her direct charge.

The pony I was riding did his best, but even then could not avoid
a sharp prod that would have ripped him up had not my leather
bastos intervened. Then we retired to a distance in order to
plan further; but we did not succeed in inducing that cow to
revise her ideas, so at last we left her. When, in some chagrin,
I mentioned to the round-up captain the fact that I had skipped
one animal, he merely laughed.

"Why, kid," said he, "you can't do nothin' with a cow that gets
on the prod that away 'thout you ropes her; and what could you do
with her out there if you DID rope her?"

So I learned one thing more about cows.

After the steer cut had been finished, the men representing the
neighbouring ranges looked through the herd for strays of their
brands. These were thrown into the stray-herd, which had been
brought up from the bottom lands to receive the new accessions.
Work was pushed rapidly, as the afternoon was nearly gone.

In fact, so absorbed were we that until it was almost upon us we
did not notice a heavy thunder-shower that arose in the region of
the Dragoon Mountains, and swept rapidly across the zenith.
Before we knew it the rain had begun. In ten seconds it had
increased to a deluge, and in twenty we were all to leeward of
the herd striving desperately to stop the drift of the cattle
down wind.

We did everything in our power to stop them, but in vain.
Slickers waved, quirts slapped against leather, six-shooters
flashed, but still the cattle, heads lowered, advanced with slow
and sullen persistence that would not be stemmed. If we held our
ground, they divided around us. Step by step we were forced to
give way--the thin line of nervously plunging horses sprayed
before the dense mass of the cattle.

"No, they won't stampede," shouted Charley to my question.
"There's cows and calves in them. If they was just steers or
grown critters, they might."

The sensations of those few moments were very vivid--the blinding
beat of the storm in my face, the unbroken front of horned heads
bearing down on me, resistless as fate, the long slant of rain
with the sun shining in the distance beyond it.

Abruptly the downpour ceased. We shook our hats free of water,
and drove the herd back to the cutting grounds again.

But now the surface of the ground was slippery, and the rapid
manoeuvring of horses had become a matter precarious in the
extreme. Time and again the ponies fairly sat on their haunches
and slid when negotiating a sudden stop, while quick turns meant
the rapid scramblings that only a cow-horse could accomplish.
Nevertheless the work went forward unchecked. The men of the
other outfits cut their cattle into the stray-herd. The latter
was by now of considerable size, for this was the third week of
the round-up.

Finally everyone expressed himself as satisfied. The largely
diminished main herd was now started forward by means of shrill
cowboy cries and beating of quirts. The cattle were only too
eager to go. From my position on a little rise above the
stray-herd I could see the leaders breaking into a run, their
heads thrown forward as they snuffed their freedom. On the mesa
side the sentinel riders quietly withdrew. From the rear and
flanks the horsemen closed in. The cattle poured out in a steady
stream through the opening thus left on the mesa side. The
fringe of cowboys followed, urging them on. Abruptly the
cavalcade turned and came loping back. The cattle continued ahead
on a trot, gradually spreading abroad over the landscape, losing
their integrity as a herd. Some of the slower or hungrier
dropped out and began to graze. Certain of the more wary
disappeared to right or left.

Now, after the day's work was practically over, we had our first
accident. The horse ridden by a young fellow from Dos Cabesas
slipped, fell, and rolled quite over his rider. At once the
animal lunged to his feet, only to he immediately seized by the
nearest rider. But the Dos Cabesas man lay still, his arms and
legs spread abroad, his head doubled sideways in a horribly
suggestive manner. We hopped off. Two men straightened him out,
while two more looked carefully over the indications on the
ground.

"All right," sang out one of them, "the horn didn't catch him."

He pointed to the indentation left by the pommel. Indeed five
minutes brought the man to his senses. He complained of a very
twisted back. Homer set one of the men in after the bed-wagon,
by means of which the sufferer was shortly transported to camp.
By the end of the week he was again in the saddle. How men
escape from this common accident with injuries so slight has
always puzzled me. The horse rolls completely over his rider,
and yet it seems to be the rarest thing in the world for the
latter to be either killed or permanently injured.

Now each man had the privilege of looking through the J H cuts to
see if by chance steers of his own had been included in them.
When all had expressed themselves as satisfied, the various bands
were started to the corrals.

From a slight eminence where I had paused to enjoy the evening I
looked down on the scene. The three herds, separated by generous
distance one from the other, crawled leisurely along; the riders,
their hats thrust back, lolled in their saddles, shouting
conversation to each other, relaxing after the day's work;
through the clouds strong shafts of light belittled the living
creatures, threw into proportion the vastness of the desert.

CHAPTER SEVEN
A CORNER IN HORSES

It was dark night. The stay-herd bellowed frantically from one
of the big corrals; the cow-and-calf-herd from a second. Already
the remuda, driven in from the open plains, scattered about the
thousand acres of pasture. Away from the conveniences of fence
and corral, men would have had to patrol all night. Now,
however, everyone was gathered about the camp fire.

Probably forty cowboys were in the group, representing all types,
from old John, who had been in the business forty years, and had
punched from the Rio Grande to the Pacific, to the Kid, who would
have given his chance of salvation if he could have been taken
for ten years older than he was. At the moment Jed Parker was
holding forth to his friend Johnny Stone in reference to another
old crony who had that evening joined the round-up.

"Johnny," inquired Jed with elaborate gravity, and entirely
ignoring the presence of the subject of conversation, "what is
that thing just beyond the fire, and where did it come from?"

Johnny Stone squinted to make sure.

"That?" he replied. "Oh, this evenin' the dogs see something run
down a hole, and they dug it out, and that's what they got."

The newcomer grinned.

"The trouble with you fellows," he proffered "is that you're so
plumb alkalied you don't know the real thing when you see it."

"That's right," supplemented Windy Bill drily. "HE come from New
York."

"No!" cried Jed. "You don't say so? Did he come in one box or in
two?"

Under cover of the laugh, the newcomer made a raid on the dutch
ovens and pails. Having filled his plate, he squatted on his
heels and fell to his belated meal. He was a tall, slab-sided
individual, with a lean, leathery face, a sweeping white
moustache, and a grave and sardonic eye. His leather chaps were
plain and worn, and his hat had been fashioned by time and
wear into much individuality. I was not surprised to hear him
nicknamed Sacatone Bill.

"Just ask him how he got that game foot," suggested Johnny Stone
to me in an undertone, so, of course, I did not.

Later someone told me that the lameness resulted from his refusal
of an urgent invitation to return across a river. Mr. Sacatone
Bill happened not to be riding his own horse at the time.

The Cattleman dropped down beside me a moment later.

"I wish," said he in a low voice, "we could get that fellow
talking. He is a queer one. Pretty well educated apparently.
Claims to be writing a book of memoirs. Sometimes he will open
up in good shape, and sometimes he will not. It does no good to
ask him direct, and he is as shy as an old crow when you try to
lead him up to a subject. We must just lie low and trust to
Providence."

A man was playing on the mouth organ. He played excellently
well, with all sorts of variations and frills. We smoked in
silence. The deep rumble of the cattle filled the air with its
diapason. Always the shrill coyotes raved out in the mesquite.
Sacatone Bill had finished his meal, and had gone to sit by Jed
Parker, his old friend. They talked together low-voiced. The
evening grew, and the eastern sky silvered over the mountains in
anticipation of the moon.

Sacatone Bill suddenly threw back his head and laughed.

"Reminds me f the time I went to Colorado!" he cried.

"He's off!" whispered the Cattleman.

A dead silence fell on the circle. Everybody shifted position
the better to listen to the story of Sacatone Bill.

About ten year ago I got plumb sick of punchin' cows around my
part of the country. She hadn't rained since Noah, and I'd
forgot what water outside a pail or a trough looked like. So I
scouted around inside of me to see what part of the world I'd
jump to, and as I seemed to know as little of Colorado and minin'
as anything else, I made up the pint of bean soup I call my
brains to go there. So I catches me a buyer at Henson and turns
over my pore little bunch of cattle and prepared to fly. The
last day I hauled up about twenty good buckets of water and threw
her up against the cabin. My buyer was settin' his hoss waitin'
for me to get ready. He didn't say nothin' until we'd got down
about ten mile or so.

"Mr. Hicks," says he, hesitatin' like, "I find it a good rule in
this country not to overlook other folks' plays, but I'd take it
mighty kind if you'd explain those actions of yours with the
pails of water."

"Mr. Jones," says I, "it's very simple. I built that shack five
year ago,and it's never rained since. I just wanted to settle in
my mind whether or not that damn roof leaked."

So I quit Arizona, and in about a week I see my reflection in the
winders of a little place called Cyanide in the Colorado
mountains.

Fellows, she was a bird. They wasn't a pony in sight, nor a
squar' foot of land that wasn't either street or straight up. It
made me plumb lonesome for a country where you could see a long
ways even if you didn't see much. And this early in the evenin'
they wasn't hardly anybody in the streets at all.

I took a look at them dark, gloomy, old mountains, and a sniff at
a breeze that would have frozen the whiskers of hope, and I made
a dive for the nearest lit winder. They was a sign over it that
just said:

THIS IS A SALOON

I was glad they labelled her. I'd never have known it. They had
a fifteen-year old kid tendin' bar, no games goin', and not a
soul in the place.

"Sorry to disturb your repose, bub," says I, "but see if you can
sort out any rye among them collections of sassapariller of
yours."

I took a drink, and then another to keep it company--I was
beginnin' to sympathise with anythin' lonesome. Then I kind of
sauntered out to the back room where the hurdy-gurdy ought to be.

Sure enough, there was a girl settin' on the pianner stool,
another in a chair, and a nice shiny Jew drummer danglin' his
feet from a table. They looked up when they see me come in, and
went right on talkin'.

"Hello, girls!" says I.

At that they stopped talkin' complete.

"How's tricks?" says I.

"Who's your woolly friend?" the shiny Jew asks of the girls.

I looked at him a minute, but I see he'd been raised a pet, and
then, too, I was so hungry for sassiety I was willin' to pass a
bet or two.

"Don't you ADMIRE these cow gents?" snickers one of the girls.

"Play somethin', sister," says I to the one at the pianner.

She just grinned at me.

"Interdooce me," says the drummer in a kind of a way that made
them all laugh a heap.

"Give us a tune," I begs, tryin' to be jolly, too.

"She don't know any pieces," says the Jew.

"Don't you?" I asks pretty sharp.

"No," says she.

"Well, I do," says I.

I walked up to her, jerked out my guns, and reached around both
sides of her to the pianner. I run the muzzles up and down the
keyboard two or three times, and then shot out half a dozen keys.

"That's the piece I know," says I.

But the other girl and the Jew drummer had punched the breeze.

The girl at the pianner just grinned, and pointed to the winder
where they was some ragged glass hangin'. She was dead game.

"Say, Susie," says I, "you're all right, but your friends is
tur'ble. I may be rough, and I ain't never been curried below
the knees, but I'm better to tie to than them sons of guns."

"I believe it," says she.

So we had a drink at the bar, and started out to investigate the
wonders of Cyanide.

Say, that night was a wonder. Susie faded after about three
drinks, but I didn't seem to mind that. I hooked up to another
saloon kept by a thin Dutchman. A fat Dutchman is stupid, but a
thin one is all right.

In ten minutes I had more friends in Cyanide than they is
fiddlers in hell. I begun to conclude Cyanide wasn't so
lonesome. About four o'clock in comes a little Irishman about
four foot high, with more upper lip than a muley cow,and enough
red hair to make an artificial aurorer borealis. He had big red
hands with freckles pasted onto them, and stiff red hairs
standin' up separate and lonesome like signal stations. Also his
legs was bowed.

He gets a drink at the bar, and stands back and yells:

"God bless the Irish and let the Dutch rustle!"

Now, this was none of my town, so I just stepped back of the end
of the bar quick where I wouldn't stop no lead. The shootin'
didn't begin.

"Probably Dutchy didn't take no note of what the locoed little
dogie DID say," thinks I to myself.

The Irishman bellied up to the bar again, and pounded on it with
his fist.

"Look here!" he yells. "Listen to what I'm tellin' ye! God
bless the Irish and let the Dutch rustle! Do ye hear me?"

"Sure, I hear ye," says Dutchy, and goes on swabbin' his bar with
a towel.

At that my soul just grew sick. I asked the man next to me why
Dutchy didn't kill the little fellow.

"Kill him! " says this man. "What for?"

"For insultin' of him, of course."

"Oh, he's drunk," says the man, as if that explained anythin'.

That settled it with me. I left that place, and went home,and it
wasn't more than four o'clock, neither. No, I don't call four
o'clock late. It may be a little late for night before last, but
it's just the shank of the evenin' for to-night.

Well, it took me six weeks and two days to go broke. I didn't
know sic em, about minin'; and before long I KNEW that I didn't
'know sic 'em. Most all day I poked around them mountains---not
like our'n--too much timber to be comfortable. At night I got to
droppin' in at Dutchy's. He had a couple of quiet games goin',
and they was one fellow among that lot of grubbin' prairie dogs
that had heerd tell that cows had horns. He was the wisest of
the bunch on the cattle business. So I stowed away my
consolation, and made out to forget comparing Colorado with God's
country.

About three times a week this Irishman I told you of--name
O'Toole--comes bulgin' in. When he was sober he talked minin'
high, wide, and handsome. When he was drunk he pounded both
fists on the bar and yelled for action, tryin' to get Dutchy on
the peck.

"God bless the Irish and let the Dutch rustle!" he yells about
six times. "Say, do you hear?"

"Sure," says Dutchy, calm as a milk cow, "sure, I hears ye!"

I was plumb sorry for O'Toole. I'd like to have given him a run;
but, of course, I couldn't take it up without makin' myself out a
friend of this Dutchy party, and I couldn't stand for that. But
I did tackle Dutchy about it one night when they wasn't nobody
else there.

"Dutchy," says I, "what makes you let that bow-legged cross
between a bulldog and a flamin' red sunset tromp on you so? It
looks to me like you're plumb spiritless."

Dutchy stopped wiping glasses for a minute.

"Just you hold on" says he. "I ain't ready yet. Bimeby I make
him sick; also those others who laugh with him."

He had a little grey flicker in his eye, and I thinks to myself
that maybe they'd get Dutchy on the peck yet.

As I said, I went broke in just six weeks and two days. And I
was broke a plenty. No hold-outs anywhere. It was a heap long
ways to cows; and I'd be teetotally chawed up and spit out if I
was goin' to join these minin' terrapins defacin' the bosom of
nature. It sure looked to me like hard work.

While I was figurin' what next, Dutchy came in. Which I was
tur'ble surprised at that, but I said good-mornin' and would he
rest his poor feet.

"You like to make some money?" he asks.

"That depends," says I, "on how easy it is."

"It is easy," says he. "I want you to buy hosses for me."

"Hosses! Sure!" I yells, jumpin' up. "You bet you! Why, hosses
is where I live! What hosses do you want?"

"All hosses," says he, calm as a faro dealer.

"What?" says I. "Elucidate, my bucko. I don't take no such
blanket order. Spread your cards."

"I mean just that," says he. "I want you to buy all the hosses in
this camp, and in the mountains. Every one."

"Whew!" I whistles. "That's a large order. But I'm your meat."

"Come with me, then," says he. I hadn't but just got up, but I
went with him to his little old poison factory. Of course, I
hadn't had no breakfast; but he staked me to a Kentucky
breakfast. What's a Kentucky breakfast? Why, a Kentucky
breakfast is a three-pound steak, a bottle of whisky, and a
setter dog. What's the dog for? Why, to eat the steak, of
course.

We come to an agreement. I was to get two-fifty a head
commission. So I started out. There wasn't many hosses in that
country, and what there was the owners hadn't much use for unless
it was to work a whim. I picked up about a hundred head quick
enough, and reported to Dutchy.

"How about burros and mules?" I asks Dutchy.

"They goes," says he. "Mules same as hosses; burros four bits a
head to you."

At the end of a week I had a remuda of probably two hundred
animals. We kept them over the hills in some "parks," as these
sots call meadows in that country. I rode into town and told
Dutchy.

"Got them all?" he asks.

"All but a cross-eyed buckskin that's mean, and the bay mare that
Noah bred to."

"Get them," says he.

"The bandits want too much," I explains.

"Get them anyway," says he.

I went away and got them. It was scand'lous; such prices.

When I hit Cyanide again I ran into scenes of wild excitement.
The whole passel of them was on that one street of their'n,
talkin' sixteen ounces to the pound. In the middle was Dutchy,
drunk as a soldier-just plain foolish drunk.

"Good Lord!" thinks I to myself, "he ain't celebratin' gettin'
that bunch of buzzards, is he?"

But I found he wasn't that bad. When he caught sight of me, he
fell on me drivellin'.

"Look there!" he weeps, showin' me a letter.

I was the last to come in; so I kept that letter--here she is.
I'll read her.

Dear Dutchy:--I suppose you thought I'd flew the coop, but I
haven't and this is to prove it. Pack up your outfit and hit the
trail. I've made the biggest free gold strike you ever see. I'm
sending you specimens. There's tons just like it, tons and tons.
I got all the claims I can hold myself; but there's heaps more.
I've writ to Johnny and Ed at Denver to come on. Don't give this
away. Make tracks. Come in to Buck Canon in the Whetstones and
oblige.
Yours truly,
Henry Smith

Somebody showed me a handful of white rock with yeller streaks in
it. His eyes was bulgin' until you could have hung your hat on
them. That O'Toole party was walkin' around, wettin' his lips
with his tongue and swearin' soft.

"God bless the Irish and let the Dutch rustle!" says he. "And
the fool had to get drunk and give it away!"

The excitement was just started, but it didn't last long. The
crowd got the same notion at the same time, and it just melted.
Me and Dutchy was left alone.

I went home. Pretty soon a fellow named Jimmy Tack come around a
little out of breath.

"Say, you know that buckskin you bought off'n me?" says he, "I
want to buy him back."

"Oh, you do," says I.

"Yes," says he. "I've got to leave town for a couple of days,
and I got to have somethin' to pack."

"Wait and I'll see," says I.

Outside the door I met another fellow.

"Look here," he stops me with. "How about that bay mare I sold
you? Can you call that sale off? I got to leave town for a day
or two and--"

"Wait," says I. "I'll see."

By the gate was another hurryin' up.

"Oh, yes," says I when he opens his mouth. "I know all your
troubles. You have to leave town for a couple of days, and you
want back that lizard you sold me. Well, wait."

After that I had to quit the main street and dodge back of the
hog ranch. They was all headed my way. I was as popular as a
snake in a prohibition town.

I hit Dutchy's by the back door.

"Do you want to sell hosses?" I asks. "Everyone in town wants to
buy."

Dutchy looked hurt.

"I wanted to keep them for the valley market," says he, "but--How
much did you give Jimmy Tack for his buckskin?"

"Twenty," says I.

"Well, let him have it for eighty," says Dutchy; "and the others
in proportion."

I lay back and breathed hard.

"Sell them all, but the one best hoss," says he--"no, the TWO
best."

"Holy smoke!" says I, gettin' my breath. "If you mean that,
Dutchy, you lend me another gun and give me a drink."

He done so, and I went back home to where the whole camp of
Cyanide was waitin'.

I got up and made them a speech and told them I'd sell them
hosses all right, and to come back. Then I got an Injin boy to
help, and we rustled over the remuda and held them in a blind
canon. Then I called up these miners one at a time, and made
bargains with them. Roar! Well, you could hear them at Denver,
they tell me, and the weather reports said, "Thunder in the
mountains." But it was cash on delivery, and they all paid up.
They had seen that white quartz with the gold stickin' into it,
and that's the same as a dose of loco to miner gents.

Why didn't I take a hoss and start first? I did think of it--for
about one second. I wouldn't stay in that country then for a
million dollars a minute. I was plumb sick and loathin' it, and
just waitin' to make high jumps back to Arizona. So I wasn't
aimin' to join this stampede, and didn't have no vivid emotions.

They got to fightin' on which should get the first hoss; so I
bent my gun on them and made them draw lots. They roared some
more, but done so; and as fast as each one handed over his dust
or dinero he made a rush for his cabin, piled on his saddle and
pack, and pulled his freight on a cloud of dust. It was sure a
grand stampede, and I enjoyed it no limit.

So by sundown I was alone with the Injin. Those two hundred head
brought in about twenty thousand dollars. It was heavy, but I
could carry it. I was about alone in the landscape; and there
were the two best hosses I had saved out for Dutchy. I was sure
some tempted. But I had enough to get home on anyway; and I
never yet drank behind the bar, even if I might hold up the
saloon from the floor. So I grieved some inside that I was so
tur'ble conscientious, shouldered the sacks, and went down to
find Dutchy.

I met him headed his way, and carryin' of a sheet of paper.

"Here's your dinero," says I, dumpin' the four big sacks on the
ground.

He stooped over and hefted them. Then he passed one over to me.

"What's that for?" I asks.

"For you," says he.

"My commission ain't that much," I objects.

"You've earned it," says he, "and you might have skipped with the
whole wad."

"How did you know I wouldn't?" I asks.

"Well," says he, and I noted that jag of his had flew. "You see,
I was behind that rock up there, and I had you covered."

I saw; and I began to feel better about bein' so tur'ble
conscientious.

We walked a little ways without sayin' nothin'.

"But ain't you goin' to join the game?" I asks.

"Guess not," says he, jinglin' of his gold. "I'm satisfied."

"But if you don't get a wiggle on you, you are sure goin' to get
left on those gold claims," says I.

"There ain't no gold claims," says he.

"But Henry Smith--" I cries.

"There ain't no Henry Smith," says he.

I let that soak in about six inches.

"But there's a Buck Canon," I pleads. "Please say there's a Buck
Canon."

"Oh, yes, there's a Buck Canon," he allows. "Nice limestone
formation--make good hard water."

"Well, you're a marvel," says I.

We walked n together down to Dutchy's saloon.

We stopped outside.

"Now," says he, "I'm goin' to take one of those hosses and go
somewheres else. Maybe you'd better do likewise on the other."

"You bet I will," says I.

He turned around and taked up the paper he was carryin'. It was
a sign. It read:

THE DUTCH HAS RUSTLED

"Nice sentiment," says I. "It will be appreciated when the crowd
comes back from that little pasear into Buck Canon. But why
not tack her up where the trail hits the camp? Why on this
particular door?"

"Well," said Dutchy, squintin' at the sign sideways, "you see I
sold this place day before yesterday--to Mike O'Toole."

CHAPTER EIGHT
THE CORRAL BRANDING

All that night we slept like sticks of wood. No dreams visited
us, but in accordance with the immemorial habit of those who live
out--whether in the woods, on the plains, among the mountains, or
at sea--once during the night each of us rose on his elbow,
looked about him, and dropped back to sleep. If there had been a
fire to replenish, that would have been the moment to do so; if
the wind had been changing and the seas rising, that would have
been the time to cast an eye aloft for indications, to feel
whether the anchor cable was holding; if the pack-horses had
straggled from the alpine meadows under the snows, this would
have been the occasion for intent listening for the faintly
tinkling hell so that next day one would know in which direction
to look. But since there existed for us no responsibility, we
each reported dutifully at the roll-call of habit, and dropped
back into our blankets with a grateful sigh.

I remember the moon sailing a good gait among apparently
stationary cloudlets; I recall a deep, black shadow lying before
distant silvery mountains; I glanced over the stark, motionless
canvases, each of which concealed a man; the air trembled with
the bellowing of cattle in the corrals.

Seemingly but a moment later the cook's howl brought me to
consciousness again. A clear, licking little fire danced in the
blackness. Before it moved silhouettes of men already eating.

I piled out and joined the group. Homer was busy distributing
his men for the day. Three were to care for the remuda; five
were to move the stray-herd from the corrals to good feed; three
branding crews were told to brand the calves we had collected in
the cut of the afternoon before. That took up about half the
men. The rest were to make a short drive in the salt grass. I
joined the Cattleman, and together we made our way afoot to the
branding pen.

We were the only ones who did go afoot, however, although the
corrals were not more than two hundred yards' distant. When we
arrived we found the string of ponies standing around outside.
Between the upright bars of greasewood we could see the cattle,
and near the opposite side the men building a fire next the
fence. We pushed open the wide gate and entered. The three
ropers sat their horses, idly swinging the loops of their ropes
back and forth. Three others brought wood and arranged it
craftily in such manner as to get best draught for heatin,--a
good branding fire is most decidedly a work of art. One stood
waiting for them to finish, a sheaf of long JH stamping irons in
his hand. All the rest squatted on their heels along the fence,
smoking cigarettes ad chatting together. The first rays of the
sun slanted across in one great sweep from the remote mountains.

In ten minutes Charley pronounced the irons ready. Homer,
Wooden, and old California John rode in among the cattle. The
rest of the men arose and stretched their legs and advanced. The
Cattleman and I climbed to the top bar of the gate, where we
roosted, he with his tally-book on his knee.

Each rider swung his rope above his head with one hand, keeping
the broad loop open by a skilful turn of the wrist at the end of
each revolution. In a moment Homer leaned forward and threw. As
the loop settled, he jerked sharply upward, exactly as one would
strike to hook a big fish. This tightened the loop and prevented
it from slipping off. Immediately, and without waiting to
ascertain the result of the manoeuvre, the horse turned and began
methodically, without undue haste, to walk toward the branding
fire. Homer wrapped the rope twice or thrice about the horn, and
sat over in one stirrup to avoid the tightened line and to
preserve the balance. Nobody paid any attention to the calf.
The critter had been caught by the two hind legs. As the rope
tightened, he was suddenly upset, and before he could realise
that something disagreeable was happening, he was sliding
majestically along on his belly. Behind him followed his anxious
mother, her head swinging from side to side.

Near the fire the horse stopped. The two "bull-doggers"
immediately pounced upon the victim. It was promptly flopped
over on its right side. One knelt on its head and twisted back
its foreleg in a sort of hammer-lock; the other seized one hind
foot, pressed his boot heel against the other hind leg close to
the body, and sat down behind the animal. Thus the calf was
unable to struggle. When once you have had the wind knocked out
of you, or a rib or two broken, you cease to think this
unnecessarily rough. Then one or the other threw off the rope.
Homer rode away, coiling the rope as he went.

"Hot iron!" yelled one of the bull-doggers.

"Marker!" yelled the other.

Immediately two men ran forward. The brander pressed the iron
smoothly against the flank. A smoke and the smell of scorching
hair arose. Perhaps the calf blatted a little as the heat
scorched. In a brief moment it was over. The brand showed
cherry, which is the proper colour to indicate due peeling and a
successful mark.

In the meantime the marker was engaged in his work. First, with
a sharp knife he cut off slanting the upper quarter of one ear.
Then he nicked out a swallow-tail in the other. The pieces he
thrust into his pocket in order that at the completion of the
work he could thus check the Cattleman's tally-board as to the
number of calves branded.[3] The bull-dogger let go. The calf
sprang up, was appropriated and smelled over by his worried
mother, and the two departed into the herd to talk it over.

[3] For the benefit of the squeamish it might be well to note
that the fragments of the ears were cartilaginous, and therefore
not bloody.

It seems to me that a great deal of unnecessary twaddle is
abroad as to the extreme cruelty of branding. Undoubtedly it is
to some extent painful, and could some other method of ready
identification be devised, it might be as well to adopt it in
preference. But in the circumstance of a free range, thousands
of cattle, and hundreds of owners, any other method is out of the
question. I remember a New England movement looking toward small
brass tags to be hung from the ear. Inextinguishable laughter
followed the spread of this doctrine through Arizona. Imagine a
puncher descending to examine politely the ear-tags of wild
cattle on the open range or in a round-up.

But, as I have intimated, even the inevitable branding and
ear-marking are not so painful as one might suppose. The
scorching hardly penetrates below the outer tough skin--only
enough to kill the roots of the hair--besides which it must be
remembered that cattle are not so sensitive as the higher nervous
organisms. A calf usually bellows when the iron bites, but as
soon as released he almost invariably goes to feeding or to
looking idly about. Indeed, I have never seen one even take the
trouble to lick his wounds, which is certainly not true in the
case of the injuries they inflict on each other in fighting.
Besides which, it happens but once in a lifetime, and is over in
ten seconds; a comfort denied to those of us who have our teeth
filled.

In the meantime two other calves had been roped by the two other
men. One of the little animals was but a few months old, so the
rider did not bother with its hind legs, but tossed his loop over
its neck. Naturally, when things tightened up, Mr. Calf entered
his objections, which took the form of most vigorous bawlings,
and the most comical bucking, pitching, cavorting, and bounding
in the air. Mr. Frost's bull-calf alone in pictorial history
shows the attitudes. And then, of course, there was the gorgeous
contrast between all this frantic and uncomprehending excitement
and the absolute matter-of-fact imperturbability of horse and
rider. Once at the fire, one of the men seized the tightened
rope in one hand, reached well over the animal's back to get a
slack of the loose hide next the belly, lifted strongly, and
tripped. This is called "bull-dogging." As he knew his
business, and as the calf was a small one, the little beast went
over promptly, bit the ground with a whack, and was pounced upon
and held.

Such good luck did not always follow, however. An occasional and
exceedingly husky bull yearling declined to be upset in any such
manner. He would catch himself on one foot, scramble vigorously,
and end by struggling back to the upright. Then ten to one he
made a dash to get away. In such case he was generally snubbed
up short enough at the end of the rope; but once or twice he
succeeded in running around a group absorbed in branding. You
can imagine what happened next. The rope, attached at one end to
a conscientious and immovable horse and at the other to a
reckless and vigorous little bull, swept its taut and destroying
way about mid-knee high across that group. The brander and
marker, who were standing, promptly sat down hard; the
bull-doggers, who were sitting, immediately turned several most
capable somersaults; the other calf arose and inextricably
entangled his rope with that of his accomplice. Hot irons, hot
language, and dust filled the air.

Another method, and one requiring slightly more knack, is to
grasp the animal's tail and throw it by a quick jerk across the
pressure of the rope. This is productive of some fun if it
fails.

By now the branding was in full swing. The three horses came and
went phlegmatically. When the nooses fell, they turned and
walked toward the fire as a matter of course. Rarely did the
cast fail. Men ran to and fro busy and intent. Sometimes three
or four calves were on the ground at once. Cries arose in a
confusion: "Marker" "Hot iron!" "Tally one!" Dust eddied and
dissipated. Behind all were clear sunlight and the organ roll of
the cattle bellowing.

Toward the middle of the morning the bull-doggers began to get a
little tired.

"No more necked calves," they announced. "Catch 'em by the hind
legs, or bull-dog 'em yourself."

And that went. Once in a while the rider, lazy, or careless, or
bothered by the press of numbers, dragged up a victim caught by
the neck. The bull-doggers flatly refused to have anything to do
with it. An obvious way out would have been to flip off the loop
and try again; but of course that would have amounted to a
confession of wrong.

"You fellows drive me plumb weary," remarked the rider, slowly
dismounting. "A little bit of a calf like that! What you all
need is a nigger to cut up your food for you!"

Then he would spit on his hands and go at it alone. If luck
attended his first effort, his sarcasm was profound.

"There's yore little calf," said he. "Would you like to have me
tote it to you, or do you reckon you could toddle this far with
yore little old iron?"

But if the calf gave much trouble, then all work ceased while the
unfortunate puncher wrestled it down.

Toward noon the work slacked. Unbranded calves were scarce.
Sometimes the men rode here and there for a minute or so before
their eyes fell on a pair of uncropped ears. Finally Homer rode
over to the Cattleman and reported the branding finished. The
latter counted the marks in his tally-book.

"One hundred and seventy-six," he announced.

The markers, squatted on their heels, told over the bits of ears
they had saved. The total amounted to but an hundred and
seventy-five. Everybody went to searching for the missing bit.
It was not forth-coming. Finally Wooden discovered it in his hip
pocket.

"Felt her thar all the time," said he, "but thought it must
shorely be a chaw of tobacco."

This matter satisfactorily adjusted, the men all ran for their
ponies. They had been doing a wrestler's heavy work all the
morning, but did not seem to be tired. I saw once in some crank
physical culture periodical that a cowboy's life was physically
ill-balanced, like an oarsman's, in that it exercised only
certain muscles of the body. The writer should be turned loose
in a branding corral.

Through the wide gates the cattle were urged out to the open
plain. There they were held for over an hour while the cows
wandered about looking for their lost progeny. A cow knows her
calf by scent and sound, not by sight. Therefore the noise was
deafening, and the motion incessant.

Finally the last and most foolish cow found the last and most
foolish calf. We turned the herd loose to hunt water and grass
at its own pleasure, and went slowly back to chuck.

CHAPTER NINE
THE OLD TIMER

About a week later, in the course of the round-up, we reached the
valley of the Box Springs, where we camped for some days at the
dilapidated and abandoned adobe structure that had once been a
ranch house of some importance.

Just at dusk one afternoon we finished cutting the herd which our
morning's drive had collected. The stray-herd, with its new
additions from the day's work, we pushed rapidly into one big
stock corral. The cows and unbranded calves we urged into
another. Fifty head of beef steers found asylum from dust, heat,
and racing to and fro, in the mile square wire enclosure called
the pasture. All the remainder, for which we had no further use
we drove out of the flat into the brush and toward the distant
mountains. Then we let them go as best pleased them.

By now the desert bad turned slate-coloured, and the brush was
olive green with evening. The hard, uncompromising ranges,
twenty miles to eastward, had softened behind a wonderful veil of
purple and pink, vivid as the chiffon of a girl's gown. To the
south and southwest the Chiricahuas and Dragoons were lost in
thunderclouds which flashed and rumbled.

We jogged homewards, our cutting ponies, tired with the quick,
sharp work, shuffling knee deep in a dusk that seemed to
disengage itself and rise upwards from the surface of the desert.
Everybody was hungry and tired. At the chuck wagon we threw off
our saddles and turned the mounts into the remuda. Some of the
wisest of us, remembering the thunderclouds, stacked our gear
under the veranda roof of the old ranch house.

Supper was ready. We seized the tin battery, filled the plates
with the meat, bread, and canned corn, and squatted on our heels.
The food was good, and we ate hugely in silence. When we could
hold no more we lit pipes. Then we had leisure to notice that
the storm cloud was mounting in a portentous silence to the
zenith, quenching the brilliant desert stars.

"Rolls" were scattered everywhere. A roll includes a cowboy's
bed and all of his personal belongings. When the outfit includes
a bed-wagon, the roll assumes bulky proportions.

As soon as we had come to a definite conclusion that it was going
to rain, we deserted the camp fire and went rustling for our
blankets. At the end of ten minutes every bed was safe within
the doors of the abandoned adobe ranch house, each owner
recumbent on the floor claim he had pre-empted, and every man
hoping fervently that he had guessed right as to the location of
leaks.

Ordinarily we had depended on the light of camp fires, so now
artificial illumination lacked. Each man was indicated by the
alternately glowing and waning lozenge of his cigarette fire.
Occasionally someone struck a match, revealing for a moment
high-lights on bronzed countenances, and the silhouette of a
shading hand. Voices spoke disembodied. As the conversation
developed, we gradually recognised the membership of our own
roomful. I had forgotten to state that the ranch house included
four chambers. Outside, the rain roared with Arizona ferocity.
Inside, men congratulated themselves, or swore as leaks developed
and localised.

Naturally we talked first of stampedes. Cows and bears are the
two great cattle-country topics. Then we had a mouth-organ solo
or two, which naturally led on to songs. My turn came. I struck
up the first verse of a sailor chantey as possessing at least the
interest of novelty:

Oh, once we were a-sailing, a-sailing were we,
Blow high, blow low, what care we;
And we were a-sailing to see what we could see,
Down on the coast of the High Barbaree.

I had just gone so far when I was brought up short by a
tremendous oath behind me. At the same instant a match flared.
I turned to face a stranger holding the little light above his
head, and peering with fiery intentness over the group sprawled
about the floor.

He was evidently just in from the storm. His dripping hat lay at
his feet. A shock of straight, close-clipped vigorous hair stood
up grey above his seamed forehead. Bushy iron-grey eyebrows
drawn close together thatched a pair of burning, unquenchable
eyes. A square, deep jaw, lightly stubbled with grey, was
clamped so tight that the cheek muscles above it stood out in
knots and welts.

Then the match burned his thick, square fingers, and he dropped
it into the darkness that ascended to swallow it.

"Who was singing that song?" he cried harshly. Nobody answered.

"Who was that singing?" he demanded again.

By this time I had recovered from my first astonishment.

"I was singing," said I.

Another match was instantly lit and thrust into my very face. I
underwent the fierce scrutiny of an instant, then the taper was
thrown away half consumed.

"Where did you learn it?" the stranger asked in an altered voice.

"I don't remember," I replied; "it is a common enough deep-sea
chantey."

A heavy pause fell. Finally the stranger sighed.

"Quite like," he said; "I never heard but one man sing it."

"Who in hell are you?" someone demanded out of the darkness.

Before replying, the newcomer lit a third match, searching for a
place to sit down. As he bent forward, his strong, harsh face
once more came clearly into view.

"He's Colorado Rogers," the Cattleman answered for him; "I know
him."

"Well," insisted the first voice, "what in hell does Colorado
Rogers mean by bustin' in on our song fiesta that way?"

"Tell them, Rogers," advised the Cattleman, "tell them--just as
you told it down on the Gila ten years ago next month."

"What?" inquired Rogers. "Who are you?"

"You don't know me," replied the Cattleman, "but I was with Buck
Johnson's outfit then. Give us the yarn."

"Well," agreed Rogers, "pass over the 'makings' and I will."

He rolled and lit a cigarette, while I revelled in the memory of
his rich, great voice. It was of the sort made to declaim
against the sea or the rush of rivers or, as here, the fall of
waters and the thunder--full, from the chest, with the caressing
throat vibration that gives colour to the most ordinary
statements. After ten words we sank back oblivious of the storm,
forgetful of the leaky roof and the dirty floor, lost in the
story told us by the Old Timer.

CHAPTER TEN
THE TEXAS RANGERS

I came from Texas, like the bulk of you punchers, but a good
while before the most of you were born. That was forty-odd years
ago--and I've been on the Colorado River ever since. That's why
they call me Colorado Rogers. About a dozen of us came out
together. We had all been Texas Rangers, but when the war broke
out we were out of a job. We none of us cared much for the
Johnny Rebs, and still less for the Yanks, so we struck overland
for the West, with the idea of hitting the California diggings.

Well, we got switched off one way and another. When we got down
to about where Douglas is now, we found that the Mexican
Government was offering a bounty for Apache scalps. That looked
pretty good to us, for Injin chasing was our job, so we started
in to collect. Did pretty well, too, for about three months, and
then the Injins began to get too scarce, or too plenty in
streaks. Looked like our job was over with, but some of the boys
discovered that Mexicans, having straight black hair, you
couldn't tell one of their scalps from an Apache's. After that
the bounty business picked up for a while. It was too much for
me, though, and I quit the outfit and pushed on alone until I
struck the Colorado about where Yuma is now.

At that time the California immigrants by the southern route used
to cross just there, and these Yuma Injins had a monopoly on the
ferry business. They were a peaceful, fine-looking lot, without
a thing on but a gee-string. The women had belts with rawhide
strings hanging to the knees. They put them on one over the
other until they didn't feel too decollotey. It wasn't until the
soldiers came that the officers' wives got them to wear
handkerchiefs over their breasts. The system was all right,
though. They wallowed around in the hot, clean sand, like
chickens, and kept healthy. Since they took to wearing clothes
they've been petering out, and dying of dirt and assorted
diseases.

They ran this ferry monopoly by means of boats made of tules,
charged a scand'lous low price, and everything was happy and
lovely. I ran on a little bar and panned out some dust, so I
camped a while, washing gold, getting friendly with the Yumas,
and talking horse and other things with the immigrants.

About a month of this, and the Texas boys drifted in. Seems they
sort of overdid the scalp matter, and got found out. When they
saw me, they stopped and went into camp. They'd travelled a heap
of desert, and were getting sick of it. For a while they tried
gold washing, but I had the only pocket--and that was about
skinned. One evening a fellow named Walleye announced that he
had been doing some figuring, and wanted to make a speech. We
told him to fire ahead.

"Now look here," said he, "what's the use of going to California?
Why not stay here?"

"What in hell would we do here?" someone asked. "Collect Gila
monsters for their good looks?"

"Don't get gay," said Walleye. "What's the matter with going
into business? Here's a heap of people going through, and more
coming every day. This ferry business could be made to pay big.
Them Injins charges two bits a head. That's a crime for the only
way across. And how much do you suppose whisky'd be worth to
drink after that desert? And a man's so sick of himself by the
time he gets this far that he'd play chuck-a-luck, let alone faro
or monte."

That kind of talk hit them where they lived, and Yuma was founded
right then and there. They hadn't any whisky yet, but cards were
plenty, and the ferry monopoly was too easy. Walleye served
notice on the Injins that a dollar a head went; and we all set to
building a tule raft like the others. Then the wild bunch got
uneasy, so they walked upstream one morning and stole the Injins'
boats. The Injins came after them innocent as babies, thinking
the raft had gone adrift. When they got into camp our men opened
up and killed four of them as a kind of hint. After that the
ferry company didn't have any trouble. The Yumas moved up river
a ways, where they've lived ever since. They got the corpses and
buried them. That is, they dug a trench for each one and laid
poles across it, with a funeral pyre on the poles. Then they put
the body on top, and the women of the family cut their hair off
and threw it on. After that they set fire to the outfit, and,
when the poles bad burned through, the whole business fell into
the trench of its own accord. It was the neatest, automatic,
self-cocking, double-action sort of a funeral I ever saw. There
wasn't any ceremony--only crying.

The ferry business flourished at prices which were sometimes hard
to collect. But it was a case of pay or go back, and it was a
tur'ble long ways back. We got us timbers and made a scow; built
a baile and saloon and houses out of adobe; and called her
Yuma, after the Injins that had really started her. We got our
supplies through the Gulf of California, where sailing boats
worked up the river. People began to come in for one reason or
another, and first thing we knew we had a store and all sorts of
trimmings. In fact we was a real live town.

CHAPTER ELEVEN
THE SAILOR WITH ONE HAND

At this moment the heavy beat of the storm on the roof ceased
with miraculous suddenness, leaving the outside world empty of
sound save for the DRIP, DRIP, DRIP of eaves. Nobody ventured

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