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The Log of a Cowboy by Andy Adams

Part 5 out of 5

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of any of us, but I noticed he eased the holster on his belt forward,
where it would be ready to his hand. We had called for a round of
drinks, Officer taking one with us, when two men came out of the
gambling hell, and halting at the bar, pretended to divide some money
which they wished to have it appear they had won in the card room.
Their conversation was loud and intended to attract attention, but
Officer gave us the wink, and their ruse was perfectly understood.
After taking a drink and attracting as much attention as possible over
the division of the money, they separated, but remained in the room.

I was dealing the cards a few minutes later, when the long-haired man
emerged from the gambling hell, and imitating the maudlin, sauntered
up to the bar and asked for a drink. After being served, he walked
about halfway to the door, then whirling suddenly, stepped to the end
of the bar, placed his hands upon it, sprang up and stood upright on
it. He whipped out two six-shooters, let loose a yell which caused a
commotion throughout the room, and walked very deliberately the length
of the counter, his attention centred upon the occupants of our table.
Not attracting the notice he expected in our quarter, he turned, and
slowly repaced the bar, hurling anathemas on Texas and Texans in

I saw The Rebel's eyes, steeled to intensity, meet Flood's across the
table, and in that glance of our foreman he evidently read approval,
for he rose rigidly with the stealth of a tiger, and for the first
time that day his hand went to the handle of his six-shooter. One of
the two pretended winners at cards saw the movement in our quarter,
and sang out as a warning, "Cuidado, mucho." The man on the bar
whirled on the word of warning, and blazed away with his two guns into
our corner. I had risen at the word and was pinned against the wall,
where on the first fire a rain of dirt fell from the chinking in the
wall over my head. As soon as the others sprang away from the table, I
kicked it over in clearing myself, and came to my feet just as The
Rebel fired his second shot. I had the satisfaction of seeing his
long-haired adversary reel backwards, firing his guns into the ceiling
as he went, and in falling crash heavily into the glassware on the
back bar.

The smoke which filled the room left nothing visible for a few
moments. Meantime Priest, satisfied that his aim had gone true,
turned, passed through the rear room, gained his horse, and was
galloping away to the herd before any semblance of order was restored.
As the smoke cleared away and we passed forward through the room, John
Officer had one of the three pardners standing with his hands to the
wall, while his six-shooter lay on the floor under Officer's foot. He
had made but one shot into our corner, when the muzzle of a gun was
pushed against his ear with an imperative order to drop his arms,
which he had promptly done. The two others, who had been under the
surveillance of our men at the forward table, never made a move or
offered to bring a gun into action, and after the killing of their
picturesque pardner passed together out of the house. There had been
five or six shots fired into our corner, but the first double shot,
fired when three of us were still sitting, went too high for effect,
while the remainder were scattering, though Rod Wheat got a bullet
through his coat, close enough to burn the skin on his shoulder.

The dead man was laid out on the floor of the saloon; and through
curiosity, for it could hardly have been much of a novelty to the
inhabitants of Frenchman's Ford, hundreds came to gaze on the corpse
and examine the wounds, one above the other through his vitals, either
of which would have been fatal. Officer's prisoner admitted that the
dead man was his pardner, and offered to remove the corpse if
released. On turning his six-shooter over to the proprietor of the
place, he was given his freedom to depart and look up his friends.

As it was after sundown, and our wheel was refilled and ready, we set
out for camp, where we found that Priest had taken a fresh horse and
started back over the trail. No one felt any uneasiness over his
absence, for he had demonstrated his ability to protect himself; and
truth compels me to say that the outfit to a man was proud of him.
Honeyman was substituted on our guard in The Rebel's place, sleeping
with me that night, and after we were in bed, Billy said in his
enthusiasm: "If that horse thief had not relied on pot shooting, and
had been modest and only used one gun, he might have hurt some of you
fellows. But when I saw old Paul raising his gun to a level as he
shot, I knew he was cool and steady, and I'd rather died right there
than see him fail to get his man."



By early dawn the next morning we were astir at our last camp on Sweet
Grass, and before the horses were brought in, we had put on the wagon
box and reloaded our effects. The rainy season having ended in the
mountain regions, the stage of water in the Yellowstone would present
no difficulties in fording, and our foreman was anxious to make a long
drive that day so as to make up for our enforced lay-over. We had
breakfasted by the time the horses were corralled, and when we
overtook the grazing herd, the cattle were within a mile of the river.
Flood had looked over the ford the day before, and took one point of
the herd as we went down into the crossing. The water was quite chilly
to the cattle, though the horses in the lead paid little attention to
it, the water in no place being over three feet deep. A number of
spectators had come up from Frenchman's to watch the herd ford, the
crossing being about half a mile above the village. No one made any
inquiry for Priest, though ample opportunity was given them to see
that the gray-haired man was missing. After the herd had crossed, a
number of us lent a rope in assisting the wagon over, and when we
reached the farther bank, we waved our hats to the group on the south
side in farewell to them and to Frenchman's Ford.

The trail on leaving the river led up Many Berries, one of the
tributaries of the Yellowstone putting in from the north side; and we
paralleled it mile after mile. It was with difficulty that riders
could be kept on the right hand side of the herd, for along it grew
endless quantities of a species of upland huckleberry, and, breaking
off branches, we feasted as we rode along. The grade up this creek was
quite pronounced, for before night the channel of the creek had
narrowed to several yards in width. On the second day out the wild
fruit disappeared early in the morning, and after a continued gradual
climb, we made camp that night on the summit of the divide within
plain sight of the Musselshell River. From this divide there was a
splendid view of the surrounding country as far as eye could see. To
our right, as we neared the summit, we could see in that rarefied
atmosphere the buttes, like sentinels on duty, as they dotted the
immense tableland between the Yellowstone and the mother Missouri,
while on our left lay a thousand hills, untenanted save by the deer,
elk, and a remnant of buffalo. Another half day's drive brought us to
the shoals on the Musselshell, about twelve miles above the entrance
of Flatwillow Creek. It was one of the easiest crossings we had
encountered in many a day, considering the size of the river and the
flow of water. Long before the advent of the white man, these shoals
had been in use for generations by the immense herds of buffalo and
elk migrating back and forth between their summer ranges and winter
pasturage, as the converging game trails on either side indicated. It
was also an old Indian ford. After crossing and resuming our afternoon
drive, the cattle trail ran within a mile of the river, and had it not
been for the herd of northern wintered cattle, and possibly others,
which had passed along a month or more in advance of us, it would have
been hard to determine which were cattle and which were game trails,
the country being literally cut up with these pathways.

When within a few miles of the Flatwillow, the trail bore off to the
northwest, and we camped that night some distance below the junction
of the former creek with the Big Box Elder. Before our watch had been
on guard twenty minutes that night, we heard some one whistling in the
distance; and as whoever it was refused to come any nearer the herd, a
thought struck me, and I rode out into the darkness and hailed him.

"Is that you, Tom?" came the question to my challenge, and the next
minute I was wringing the hand of my old bunkie, The Rebel. I assured
him that the coast was clear, and that no inquiry had been even made
for him the following morning, when crossing the Yellowstone, by any
of the inhabitants of Frenchman's Ford. He returned with me to the bed
ground, and meeting Honeyman as he circled around, was almost unhorsed
by the latter's warmth of reception, and Officer's delight on meeting
my bunkie was none the less demonstrative. For nearly half an hour he
rode around with one or the other of us, and as we knew he had had
little if any sleep for the last three nights, all of us begged him to
go on into camp and go to sleep. But the old rascal loafed around with
us on guard, seemingly delighted with our company and reluctant to
leave. Finally Honeyman and I prevailed on him to go to the wagon, but
before leaving us he said, "Why, I've been in sight of the herd for
the last day and night, but I'm getting a little tired of lying out
with the dry cattle these cool nights, and living on huckleberries and
grouse, so I thought I'd just ride in and get a fresh horse and a
square meal once more. But if Flood says stay, you'll see me at my old
place on the point to-morrow."

Had the owner of the herd suddenly appeared in camp, he could not have
received such an ovation as was extended Priest the next morning when
his presence became known. From the cook to the foreman, they gathered
around our bed, where The Rebel sat up in the blankets and held an
informal reception; and two hours afterward he was riding on the right
point of the herd as if nothing had happened. We had a fair trail up
Big Box Elder, and for the following few days, or until the source of
that creek was reached, met nothing to check our course. Our foreman
had been riding in advance of the herd, and after returning to us at
noon one day, reported that the trail turned a due northward course
towards the Missouri, and all herds had seemingly taken it. As we had
to touch at Fort Benton, which was almost due westward, he had
concluded to quit the trail and try to intercept the military road
running from Fort Maginnis to Benton. Maginnis lay to the south of us,
and our foreman hoped to strike the military road at an angle on as
near a westward course as possible.

Accordingly after dinner he set out to look out the country, and took
me with him. We bore off toward the Missouri, and within half an
hour's ride after leaving the trail we saw some loose horses about
three miles distant, down in a little valley through which flowed a
creek towards the Musselshell. We reined in and watched the horses
several minutes, when we both agreed from their movements that they
were hobbled. We scouted out some five or six miles, finding the
country somewhat rough, but passable for a herd and wagon. Flood was
anxious to investigate those hobbled horses, for it bespoke the camp
of some one in the immediate vicinity. On our return, the horses were
still in view, and with no little difficulty, we descended from the
mesa into the valley and reached them. To our agreeable surprise, one
of them was wearing a bell, while nearly half of them were hobbled,
there being twelve head, the greater portion of which looked like pack
horses. Supposing the camp, if there was one, must be up in the hills,
we followed a bridle path up stream in search of it, and soon came
upon four men, placer mining on the banks of the creek.

When we made our errand known, one of these placer miners, an elderly
man who seemed familiar with the country, expressed some doubts about
our leaving the trail, though he said there was a bridle path with
which he was acquainted across to the military road. Flood at once
offered to pay him well if he would pilot us across to the road, or
near enough so that we could find our way. The old placerman
hesitated, and after consulting among his partners, asked how we were
fixed for provision, explaining that they wished to remain a month or
so longer, and that game had been scared away from the immediate
vicinity, until it had become hard to secure meat. But he found Flood
ready in that quarter, for he immediately offered to kill a beef and
load down any two pack horses they had, if he would consent to pilot
us over to within striking distance of the Fort Benton road. The offer
was immediately accepted, and I was dispatched to drive in their
horses. Two of the placer miners accompanied us back to the trail,
both riding good saddle horses and leading two others under pack
saddles. We overtook the herd within a mile of the point where the
trail was to be abandoned, and after sending the wagon ahead, our
foreman asked our guests to pick out any cow or steer in the herd.
When they declined, he cut out a fat stray cow which had come into the
herd down on the North Platte, had her driven in after the wagon,
killed and quartered. When we had laid the quarters on convenient
rocks to cool and harden during the night, our future pilot timidly
inquired what we proposed to do with the hide, and on being informed
that he was welcome to it, seemed delighted, remarking, as I helped
him to stake it out where it would dry, that "rawhide was mighty handy
repairing pack saddles."

Our visitors interested us, for it is probable that not a man in our
outfit had ever seen a miner before, though we had read of the life
and were deeply interested in everything they did or said. They were
very plain men and of simple manners, but we had great difficulty in
getting them to talk. After supper, while idling away a couple of
hours around our camp-fire, the outfit told stories, in the hope that
our guests would become reminiscent and give us some insight into
their experiences, Bob Blades leading off.

"I was in a cow town once up on the head of the Chisholm trail at a
time when a church fair was being pulled off. There were lots of old
long-horn cowmen living in the town, who owned cattle in that Cherokee
Strip that Officer is always talking about. Well, there's lots of
folks up there that think a nigger is as good as anybody else, and
when you find such people set in their ways, it's best not to argue
matters with them, but lay low and let on you think that way too.
That's the way those old Texas cowmen acted about it.

"Well, at this church fair there was to be voted a prize of a nice
baby wagon, which had been donated by some merchant, to the prettiest
baby under a year old. Colonel Bob Zellers was in town at the time,
stopping at a hotel where the darky cook was a man who had once worked
for him on the trail. 'Frog,' the darky, had married when he quit the
colonel's service, and at the time of this fair there was a pickaninny
in his family about a year old, and nearly the color of a new saddle.
A few of these old cowmen got funny and thought it would be a good
joke to have Frog enter his baby at the fair, and Colonel Bob being
the leader in the movement, he had no trouble convincing the darky
that that baby wagon was his, if he would only enter his youngster.
Frog thought the world of the old Colonel, and the latter assured him
that he would vote for his baby while he had a dollar or a cow left.
The result was, Frog gave his enthusiastic consent, and the Colonel
agreed to enter the pickaninny in the contest.

"Well, the Colonel attended to the entering of the baby's name, and
then on the dead quiet went around and rustled up every cowman and
puncher in town, and had them promise to be on hand, to vote for the
prettiest baby at ten cents a throw. The fair was being held in the
largest hall in town, and at the appointed hour we were all on hand,
as well as Frog and his wife and baby. There were about a dozen
entries, and only one blackbird in the covey. The list of contestants
was read by the minister, and as each name was announced, there was a
vigorous clapping of hands all over the house by the friends of each
baby. But when the name of Miss Precilla June Jones was announced, the
Texas contingent made their presence known by such a deafening
outburst of applause that old Frog grinned from ear to ear--he saw
himself right then pushing that baby wagon.

"Well, on the first heat we voted sparingly, and as the vote was read
out about every quarter hour, Precilla June Jones on the first turn
was fourth in the race. On the second report, our favorite had moved
up to third place, after which the weaker ones were deserted, and all
the voting blood was centered on the two white leaders, with our
blackbird a close third. We were behaving ourselves nicely, and our
money was welcome if we weren't. When the third vote was announced,
Frog's pickaninny was second in the race, with her nose lapped on the
flank of the leader. Then those who thought a darky was as good as any
one else got on the prod in a mild form, and you could hear them
voicing their opinions all over the hall. We heard it all, but sat as
nice as pie and never said a word.

"When the final vote was called for, we knew it was the home stretch,
and every rascal of us got his weasel skin out and sweetened the
voting on Miss Precilla June Jones. Some of those old long-horns
didn't think any more of a twenty-dollar gold piece than I do of a
white chip, especially when there was a chance to give those good
people a dose of their own medicine. I don't know how many votes we
cast on the last whirl, but we swamped all opposition, and our
favorite cantered under the wire an easy winner. Then you should have
heard the kicking, but we kept still and inwardly chuckled. The
minister announced the winner, and some of those good people didn't
have any better manners than to hiss and cut up ugly. We stayed until
Frog got the new baby wagon in his clutches, when we dropped out
casually and met at the Ranch saloon, where Colonel Zellers had taken
possession behind the bar and was dispensing hospitality in proper
celebration of his victory."

Much to our disappointment, our guests remained silent and showed no
disposition to talk, except to answer civil questions which Flood
asked regarding the trail crossing on the Missouri, and what that
river was like in the vicinity of old Fort Benton. When the questions
had been answered, they again relapsed into silence. The fire was
replenished, and after the conversation had touched on several
subjects, Joe Stallings took his turn with a yarn.

"When my folks first came to Texas," said Joe, "they settled in Ellis
County, near Waxahachie. My father was one of the pioneers in that
county at a time when his nearest neighbor lived ten miles from his
front gate. But after the war, when the country had settled up, these
old pioneers naturally hung together and visited and chummed with one
another in preference to the new settlers. One spring when I was about
fifteen years old, one of those old pioneer neighbors of ours died,
and my father decided that he would go to the funeral or burst a hame
string. If any of you know anything about that black-waxy, hog-wallow
land in Ellis County, you know that when it gets muddy in the spring a
wagon wheel will fill solid with waxy mud. So at the time of this
funeral it was impossible to go on the road with any kind of a
vehicle, and my father had to go on horseback. He was an old man at
the time and didn't like the idea, but it was either go on horseback
or stay at home, and go he would.

"They raise good horses in Ellis County, and my father had raised some
of the best of them--brought the stock from Tennessee. He liked good
blood in a horse, and was always opposed to racing, but he raised some
boys who weren't. I had a number of brothers older than myself, and
they took a special pride in trying every colt we raised, to see what
he amounted to in speed. Of course this had to be done away from home;
but that was easy, for these older brothers thought nothing of riding
twenty miles to a tournament, barbecue, or round-up, and when away
from home they always tried their horses with the best in the country.
At the time of this funeral, we had a crackerjack five year old
chestnut sorrel gelding that could show his heels to any horse in the
country. He was a peach,--you could turn him on a saddle blanket and
jump him fifteen feet, and that cow never lived that he couldn't cut.

"So the day of the funeral my father was in a quandary as to which
horse to ride, but when he appealed to his boys, they recommended the
best on the ranch, which was the chestnut gelding. My old man had some
doubts as to his ability to ride the horse, for he hadn't been on a
horse's back for years; but my brothers assured him that the chestnut
was as obedient as a kitten, and that before he had been on the road
an hour the mud would take all the frisk and frolic out of him. There
was nearly fifteen miles to go, and they assured him that he would
never get there if he rode any other horse. Well, at last he consented
to ride the gelding, and the horse was made ready, properly groomed,
his tail tied up, and saddled and led up to the block. It took every
member of the family to get my father rigged to start, but at last he
announced himself as ready. Two of my brothers held the horse until he
found the off stirrup, and then they turned him loose. The chestnut
danced off a few rods, and settled down into a steady clip that was
good for five or six miles an hour.

"My father reached the house in good time for the funeral services,
but when the procession started for the burial ground, the horse was
somewhat restless and impatient from the cold. There was quite a
string of wagons and other vehicles from the immediate neighborhood
which had braved the mud, and the line was nearly half a mile in
length between the house and the graveyard. There were also possibly a
hundred men on horseback bringing up the rear of the procession; and
the chestnut, not understanding the solemnity of the occasion, was
right on his mettle. Surrounded as he was by other horses, he kept his
weather eye open for a race, for in coming home from dances and
picnics with my brothers, he had often been tried in short dashes of
half a mile or so. In order to get him out of the crowd of horses, my
father dropped back with another pioneer to the extreme rear of the
funeral line.

"When the procession was nearing the cemetery, a number of horsemen,
who were late, galloped up in the rear. The chestnut, supposing a race
was on, took the bit in his teeth and tore down past the procession as
though it was a free-for-all Texas sweepstakes, the old man's white
beard whipping the breeze in his endeavor to hold in the horse. Nor
did he check him until the head of the procession had been passed.
When my father returned home that night, there was a family round-up,
for he was smoking under the collar. Of course, my brothers denied
having ever run the horse, and my mother took their part; but the old
gent knew a thing or two about horses, and shortly afterwards he got
even with his boys by selling the chestnut, which broke their hearts

The elder of the two placer miners, a long-whiskered, pock-marked man,
arose, and after walking out from the fire some distance returned and
called our attention to signs in the sky, which he assured us were a
sure indication of a change in the weather. But we were more anxious
that he should talk about something else, for we were in the habit of
taking the weather just as it came. When neither one showed any
disposition to talk, Flood said to them,--

"It's bedtime with us, and one of you can sleep with me, while I 've
fixed up an extra bed for the other. I generally get out about
daybreak, but if that's too early for you, don't let my getting up
disturb you. And you fourth guard men, let the cattle off the bed
ground on a due westerly course and point them up the divide. Now get
to bed, everybody, for we want to make a big drive tomorrow."



I shall never forget the next morning,--August 26, 1882. As we of the
third guard were relieved, about two hours before dawn, the wind
veered around to the northwest, and a mist which had been falling
during the fore part of our watch changed to soft flakes of snow. As
soon as we were relieved, we skurried back to our blankets, drew the
tarpaulin over our heads, and slept until dawn, when on being awakened
by the foreman, we found a wet, slushy snow some two inches in depth
on the ground. Several of the boys in the outfit declared it was the
first snowfall they had ever seen, and I had but a slight recollection
of having witnessed one in early boyhood in our old Georgia home. We
gathered around the fire like a lot of frozen children, and our only
solace was that our drive was nearing an end. The two placermen paid
little heed to the raw morning, and our pilot assured us that this was
but the squaw winter which always preceded Indian summer.

We made our customary early start, and while saddling up that morning,
Flood and the two placer miners packed the beef on their two pack
horses, first cutting off enough to last us several days. The cattle,
when we overtook them, presented a sorry spectacle, apparently being
as cold as we were, although we had our last stitch of clothing on,
including our slickers, belted with a horse hobble. But when Flood and
our guide rode past the herd, I noticed our pilot's coat was not even
buttoned, nor was the thin cotton shirt which he wore, but his chest
was exposed to that raw morning air which chilled the very marrow in
our bones. Our foreman and guide kept in sight in the lead, the herd
traveling briskly up the long mountain divide, and about the middle of
the forenoon the sun came out warm and the snow began to melt. Within
an hour after starting that morning, Quince Forrest, who was riding in
front of me in the swing, dismounted, and picking out of the snow a
brave little flower which looked something like a pansy, dropped back
to me and said, "My weather gauge says it's eighty-eight degrees below
freezo. But I want you to smell this posy, Quirk, and tell me on the
dead thieving, do you ever expect to see your sunny southern home
again? And did you notice the pock-marked colonel, baring his brisket
to the morning breeze?"

Two hours after the sun came out, the snow had disappeared, and the
cattle fell to and grazed until long after the noon hour. Our pilot
led us up the divide between the Missouri and the headwaters of the
Musselshell during the afternoon, weaving in and out around the heads
of creeks putting into either river; and towards evening we crossed
quite a creek running towards the Missouri, where we secured ample
water for the herd. We made a late camp that night, and our guide
assured us that another half day's drive would put us on the Judith
River, where we would intercept the Fort Benton road.

The following morning our guide led us for several hours up a gradual
ascent to the plateau, till we reached the tableland, when he left us
to return to his own camp. Flood again took the lead, and within a
mile we turned on our regular course, which by early noon had
descended into the valley of the Judith River, and entered the Fort
Maginnis and Benton military road. Our route was now clearly defined,
and about noon on the last day of the month we sighted, beyond the
Missouri River, the flag floating over Fort Benton. We made a crossing
that afternoon below the Fort, and Flood went into the post, expecting
either to meet Lovell or to receive our final instructions regarding
the delivery.

After crossing the Missouri, we grazed the herd over to the Teton
River, a stream which paralleled the former watercourse,--the military
post being located between the two. We had encamped for the night when
Flood returned with word of a letter he had received from our employer
and an interview he had had with the commanding officer of Fort
Benton, who, it seemed, was to have a hand in the delivery of the
herd. Lovell had been detained in the final settlement of my brother
Bob's herd at the Crow Agency by some differences regarding weights.
Under our present instructions, we were to proceed slowly to the
Blackfoot Agency, and immediately on the arrival of Lovell at Benton,
he and the commandant would follow by ambulance and overtake us. The
distance from Fort Benton to the agency was variously reported to be
from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and thirty miles, six or
seven days' travel for the herd at the farthest, and then good-by,
Circle Dots!

A number of officers and troopers from the post overtook us the next
morning and spent several hours with us as the herd trailed out up the
Teton. They were riding fine horses, which made our through saddle
stock look insignificant in comparison, though had they covered
twenty-four hundred miles and lived on grass as had our mounts, some
of the lustre of their glossy coats would have been absent. They
looked well, but it would have been impossible to use them or any
domestic bred horses in trail work like ours, unless a supply of grain
could be carried with us. The range country produced a horse suitable
to range needs, hardy and a good forager, which, when not overworked
under the saddle, met every requirement of his calling, as well as
being self-sustaining. Our horses, in fact, were in better flesh when
we crossed the Missouri than they were the day we received the herd on
the Rio Grande. The spectators from the fort quitted us near the
middle of the forenoon, and we snailed on westward at our leisurely

There was a fair road up the Teton, which we followed for several days
without incident, to the forks of that river, where we turned up Muddy
Creek, the north fork of the Teton. That noon, while catching saddle
horses, dinner not being quite ready, we noticed a flurry amongst the
cattle, then almost a mile in our rear. Two men were on herd with them
as usual, grazing them forward up the creek and watering as they came,
when suddenly the cattle in the lead came tearing out of the creek,
and on reaching open ground turned at bay. After several bunches had
seemingly taken fright at the same object, we noticed Bull Durham, who
was on herd, ride through the cattle to the scene of disturbance. We
saw him, on nearing the spot, lie down on the neck of his horse, watch
intently for several minutes, then quietly drop back to the rear,
circle the herd, and ride for the wagon. We had been observing the
proceedings closely, though from a distance, for some time. Daylight
was evidently all that saved us from a stampede, and as Bull Durham
galloped up he was almost breathless. He informed us that an old
cinnamon bear and two cubs were berrying along the creek, and had
taken the right of way. Then there was a hustling and borrowing of
cartridges, while saddles were cinched on to horses as though human
life depended on alacrity. We were all feeling quite gala anyhow, and
this looked like a chance for some sport. It was hard to hold the
impulsive ones in check until the others were ready. The cattle
pointed us to the location of the quarry as we rode forward. When
within a quarter of a mile, we separated into two squads, in order to
gain the rear of the bears, cut them off from the creek, and force
them into the open. The cattle held the attention of the bears until
we had gained their rear, and as we came up between them and the
creek, the old one reared up on her haunches and took a most
astonished and innocent look at us.

A single "woof" brought one of the cubs to her side, and she dropped
on all fours and lumbered off, a half dozen shots hastening her pace
in an effort to circle the horsemen who were gradually closing in. In
making this circle to gain the protection of some thickets which
skirted the creek, she was compelled to cross quite an open space, and
before she had covered the distance of fifty yards, a rain of ropes
came down on her, and she was thrown backward with no less than four
lariats fastened over her neck and fore parts. Then ensued a lively
scene, for the horses snorted and in spite of rowels refused to face
the bear. But ropes securely snubbed to pommels held them to the
quarry. Two minor circuses were meantime in progress with the two
cubs, but pressure of duty held those of us who had fastened on to the
old cinnamon. The ropes were taut and several of them were about her
throat; the horses were pulling in as many different directions, yet
the strain of all the lariats failed to choke her as we expected. At
this juncture, four of the loose men came to our rescue, and proposed
shooting the brute. We were willing enough, for though we had better
than a tail hold, we were very ready to let go. But while there were
plenty of good shots among us, our horses had now become wary, and
could not, when free from ropes, be induced to approach within twenty
yards of the bear, and they were so fidgety that accurate aim was
impossible. We who had ropes on the old bear begged the boys to get
down and take it afoot, but they were not disposed to listen to our
reasons, and blazed away from rearing horses, not one shot in ten
taking effect. There was no telling how long this random shooting
would have lasted; but one shot cut my rope two feet from the noose,
and with one rope less on her the old bear made some ugly surges, and
had not Joe Stallings had a wheeler of a horse on the rope, she would
have done somebody damage.

The Rebel was on the opposite side from Stallings and myself, and as
soon as I was freed, he called me around to him, and shifting his rope
to me, borrowed my six-shooter and joined those who were shooting.
Dismounting, he gave the reins of his horse to Flood, walked up to
within fifteen steps of mother bruin, and kneeling, emptied both
six-shooters with telling accuracy. The old bear winced at nearly
every shot, and once she made an ugly surge on the ropes, but the
three guy lines held her up to Priest's deliberate aim. The vitality
of that cinnamon almost staggers belief, for after both six-shooters
had been emptied into her body, she floundered on the ropes with all
her former strength, although the blood was dripping and gushing from
her numerous wounds. Borrowing a third gun, Priest returned to the
fight, and as we slacked the ropes slightly, the old bear reared,
facing her antagonist. The Rebel emptied his third gun into her before
she sank, choked, bleeding, and exhausted, to the ground; and even
then no one dared to approach her, for she struck out wildly with all
fours as she slowly succumbed to the inevitable.

One of the cubs had been roped and afterwards shot at close quarters,
while the other had reached the creek and climbed a sapling which grew
on the bank, when a few shots brought him to the ground. The two cubs
were about the size of a small black bear, though the mother was a
large specimen of her species. The cubs had nice coats of soft fur,
and their hides were taken as trophies of the fight, but the robe of
the mother was a summer one and worthless. While we were skinning the
cubs, the foreman called our attention to the fact that the herd had
drifted up the creek nearly opposite the wagon. During the encounter
with the bears he was the most excited one in the outfit, and was the
man who cut my rope with his random shooting from horseback. But now
the herd recovered his attention, and he dispatched some of us to ride
around the cattle. When we met at the wagon for dinner, the excitement
was still on us, and the hunt was unanimously voted the most exciting
bit of sport and powder burning we had experienced on our trip.

Late that afternoon a forage wagon from Fort Benton passed us with
four loose ambulance mules in charge of five troopers, who were going
on ahead to establish a relay station in anticipation of the trip of
the post commandant to the Blackfoot Agency. There were to be two
relay stations between the post and the agency, and this detachment
expected to go into camp that night within forty miles of our
destination, there to await the arrival of the commanding officer and
the owner of the herd at Benton. These soldiers were out two days from
the post when they passed us, and they assured us that the ambulance
would go through from Benton to Blackfoot without a halt, except for
the changing of relay teams. The next forenoon we passed the last
relay camp, well up the Muddy, and shortly afterwards the road left
that creek, turning north by a little west, and we entered on the last
tack of our long drive. On the evening of the 6th of September, as we
were going into camp on Two Medicine Creek, within ten miles of the
agency, the ambulance overtook us, under escort of the troopers whom
we had passed at the last relay station. We had not seen Don Lovell
since June, when we passed Dodge, and it goes without saying that we
were glad to meet him again. On the arrival of the party, the cattle
had not yet been bedded, so Lovell borrowed a horse, and with Flood
took a look over the herd before darkness set in, having previously
prevailed on the commanding officer to rest an hour and have supper
before proceeding to the agency.

When they returned from inspecting the cattle, the commandant and
Lovell agreed to make the final delivery on the 8th, if it were
agreeable to the agent, and with this understanding continued their
journey. The next morning Flood rode into the agency, borrowing
McCann's saddle and taking an extra horse with him, having left us
instructions to graze the herd all day and have them in good shape
with grass and water, in case they were inspected that evening on
their condition. Near the middle of the afternoon quite a cavalcade
rode out from the agency, including part of a company of cavalry
temporarily encamped there. The Indian agent and the commanding
officer from Benton were the authorized representatives of the
government, it seemed, as Lovell took extra pains in showing them over
the herd, frequently consulting the contract which he held, regarding
sex, age, and flesh of the cattle.

The only hitch in the inspection was over a number of sore-footed
cattle, which was unavoidable after such a long journey. But the
condition of these tender-footed animals being otherwise satisfactory,
Lovell urged the agent and commandant to call up the men for
explanations. The agent was no doubt a very nice man, and there may
have been other things that he understood better than cattle, for he
did ask a great many simple, innocent questions. Our replies, however,
might have been condensed into a few simple statements. We had, we
related, been over five months on the trail; after the first month,
tender-footed cattle began to appear from time to time in the herd, as
stony or gravelly portions of the trail were encountered,--the number
so affected at any one time varying from ten to forty head. Frequently
well-known lead cattle became tender in their feet and would drop back
to the rear, and on striking soft or sandy footing recover and resume
their position in the lead; that since starting, it was safe to say,
fully ten per cent of the entire herd had been so affected, yet we had
not lost a single head from this cause; that the general health of the
animal was never affected, and that during enforced layovers nearly
all so affected recovered. As there were not over twenty-five
sore-footed animals in the herd on our arrival, our explanation was
sufficient and the herd was accepted. There yet remained the counting
and classification, but as this would require time, it went over until
the following day. The cows had been contracted for by the head, while
the steers went on their estimated weight in dressed beef, the
contract calling for a million pounds with a ten per cent leeway over
that amount.

I was amongst the first to be interviewed by the Indian agent, and on
being excused, I made the acquaintance of one of two priests who were
with the party. He was a rosy-cheeked, well-fed old padre, who
informed me that he had been stationed among the Blackfeet for over
twenty years, and that he had labored long with the government to
assist these Indians. The cows in our herd, which were to be
distributed amongst the Indian families for domestic purposes, were
there at his earnest solicitation. I asked him if these cows would not
perish during the long winter--my recollection was still vivid of the
touch of squaw winter we had experienced some two weeks previous. But
he assured me that the winters were dry, if cold, and his people had
made some progress in the ways of civilization, and had provided
shelter and forage against the wintry weather. He informed me that
previous to his labors amongst the Blackfeet their ponies wintered
without loss on the native grasses, though he had since taught them to
make hay, and in anticipation of receiving these cows, such families
as were entitled to share in the division had amply provided for the
animals' sustenance.

Lovell returned with the party to the agency, and we were to bring up
the herd for classification early in the morning. Flood informed us
that a beef pasture had been built that summer for the steers, while
the cows would be held under herd by the military, pending their
distribution. We spent our last night with the herd singing songs,
until the first guard called the relief, when realizing the lateness
of the hour, we burrowed into our blankets.

"I don't know how you fellows feel about it," said Quince Forrest,
when the first guard were relieved and they had returned to camp, "but
I bade those cows good-by on their beds to-night without a regret or a
tear. The novelty of night-herding loses its charm with me when it's
drawn out over five months. I might be fool enough to make another
such trip, but I 'd rather be the Indian and let the other fellow
drive the cows to me--there 's a heap more comfort in it."

The next morning, before we reached the agency, a number of gaudily
bedecked bucks and squaws rode out to meet us. The arrival of the herd
had been expected for several weeks, and our approach was a delight to
the Indians, who were flocking to the agency from the nearest
villages. Physically, they were fine specimens of the aborigines. But
our Spanish, which Quarternight and I tried on them, was as
unintelligible to them as their guttural gibberish was to us.

Lovell and the agent, with a detachment of the cavalry, met us about a
mile from the agency buildings, and we were ordered to cut out the
cows. The herd had been grazed to contentment, and were accordingly
rounded in, and the task begun at once. Our entire outfit were turned
into the herd to do the work, while an abundance of troopers held the
herd and looked after the cut. It took about an hour and a half,
during which time we worked like Trojans. Cavalrymen several times
attempted to assist us, but their horses were no match for ours in the
work. A cow can turn on much less space than a cavalry horse, and
except for the amusement they afforded, the military were of very
little effect.

After we had retrimmed the cut, the beeves were started for their
pasture, and nothing now remained but the counting to complete the
receiving. Four of us remained behind with the cows, but for over two
hours the steers were in plain sight, while the two parties were
endeavoring to make a count. How many times they recounted them before
agreeing on the numbers I do not know, for the four of us left with
the cows became occupied by a controversy over the sex of a young
Indian--a Blackfoot--riding a cream-colored pony. The controversy
originated between Fox Quarternight and Bob Blades, who had discovered
this swell among a band who had just ridden in from the west, and John
Officer and myself were appealed to for our opinions. The Indian was
pointed out to us across the herd, easily distinguished by beads and
beaver fur trimmings in the hair, so we rode around to pass our
judgment as experts on the beauty. The young Indian was not over
sixteen years of age, with remarkable features, from which every trace
of the aborigine seemed to be eliminated. Officer and myself were in a
quandary, for we felt perfectly competent when appealed to for our
opinions on such a delicate subject, and we made every endeavor to
open a conversation by signs and speech. But the young Blackfoot paid
no attention to us, being intent upon watching the cows. The neatly
moccasined feet and the shapely hand, however, indicated the feminine,
and when Blades and Quarter-night rode up, we rendered our decision
accordingly. Blades took exception to the decision and rode alongside
the young Indian, pretending to admire the long plaits of hair, toyed
with the beads, pinched and patted the young Blackfoot, and finally,
although the rest of us, for fear the Indian might take offense and
raise trouble, pleaded with him to desist, he called the youth his
"squaw," when the young blood, evidently understanding the
appellation, relaxed into a broad smile, and in fair English said, "Me

Blades burst into a loud laugh at his success, at which the Indian
smiled but accepted a cigarette, and the two cronied together, while
we rode away to look after our cows. The outfit returned shortly
afterward, when The Rebel rode up to me and expressed himself rather
profanely at the inability of the government's representatives to
count cattle in Texas fashion. On the arrival of the agent and others,
the cows were brought around; and these being much more gentle, and
being under Lovell's instruction fed between the counters in the
narrowest file possible, a satisfactory count was agreed upon at the
first trial. The troopers took charge of the cows after counting, and,
our work over, we galloped away to the wagon, hilarious and care free.

McCann had camped on the nearest water to the agency, and after dinner
we caught out the top horses, and, dressed in our best, rode into the
agency proper. There was quite a group of houses for the attaches, one
large general warehouse, and several school and chapel buildings. I
again met the old padre, who showed us over the place. One could not
help being favorably impressed with the general neatness and
cleanliness of the place. In answer to our questions, the priest
informed us that he had mastered the Indian language early in his
work, and had adopted it in his ministry, the better to effect the
object of his mission. There was something touching in the zeal of
this devoted padre in his work amongst the tribe, and the recognition
of the government had come as a fitting climax to his work and

As we rode away from the agency, the cows being in sight under herd of
a dozen soldiers, several of us rode out to them, and learned that
they intended to corral the cows at night, and within a week
distribute them to Indian families, when the troop expected to return
to Fort Benton. Lovell and Flood appeared at the camp about
dusk--Lovell in high spirits. This, he said, was the easiest delivery
of the three herds which he had driven that year. He was justified in
feeling well over the year's drive, for he had in his possession a
voucher for our Circle Dots which would crowd six figures closely. It
was a gay night with us, for man and horse were free, and as we made
down our beds, old man Don insisted that Flood and he should make
theirs down alongside ours. He and The Rebel had been joking each
other during the evening, and as we went to bed were taking an
occasional fling at one another as opportunity offered.

"It's a strange thing to me," said Lovell, as he was pulling off his
boots, "that this herd counted out a hundred and twelve head more than
we started with, while Bob Quirk's herd was only eighty-one long at
the final count;"

"Well, you see," replied The Rebel, "Quirk's was a steer herd, while
ours had over a thousand cows in it, and you must make allowance for
some of them to calve on the way. That ought to be easy figuring for a
foxy, long-headed Yank like you."



The nearest railroad point from the Blackfoot Agency was Silver Bow,
about a hundred and seventy-five miles due south, and at that time the
terminal of the Utah Northern Railroad. Everything connected with the
delivery having been completed the previous day, our camp was astir
with the dawn in preparation for departure on our last ride together.
As we expected to make not less than forty miles a day on the way to
the railroad, our wagon was lightened to the least possible weight.
The chuck-box, water kegs, and such superfluities were dropped, and
the supplies reduced to one week's allowance, while beds were
overhauled and extra wearing apparel of the outfit was discarded. Who
cared if we did sleep cold and hadn't a change to our backs? We were
going home and would have money in our pockets.

"The first thing I do when we strike that town of Silver Bow," said
Bull Durham, as he was putting on his last shirt, "is to discard to
the skin and get me new togs to a finish. I'll commence on my little
pattering feet, which will require fifteen-dollar moccasins, and then
about a six-dollar checked cottonade suit, and top off with a
seven-dollar brown Stetson. Then with a few drinks under my belt and a
rim-fire cigar in my mouth, I'd admire to meet the governor of Montana
if convenient."

Before the sun was an hour high, we bade farewell to the Blackfoot
Agency and were doubling back over the trail, with Lovell in our
company. Our first night's camp was on the Muddy and the second on the
Sun River. We were sweeping across the tablelands adjoining the main
divide of the Rocky Mountains like the chinook winds which sweep that
majestic range on its western slope. We were a free outfit; even the
cook and wrangler were relieved; their little duties were divided
among the crowd and almost disappeared. There was a keen rivalry over
driving the wagon, and McCann was transferred to the hurricane deck of
a cow horse, which he sat with ease and grace, having served an
apprenticeship in the saddle in other days. There were always half a
dozen wranglers available in the morning, and we traveled as if under
forced marching orders. The third night we camped in the narrows
between the Missouri River and the Rocky Mountains, and on the evening
of the fourth day camped several miles to the eastward of Helena, the
capital of the territory.

Don Lovell had taken the stage for the capital the night before; and
on making camp that evening, Flood took a fresh horse and rode into
town. The next morning he and Lovell returned with the superintendent
of the cattle company which had contracted for our horses and outfit
on the Republican. We corralled the horses for him, and after roping
out about a dozen which, as having sore backs or being lame, he
proposed to treat as damaged and take at half price, the _remuda_ was
counted out, a hundred and forty saddle horses, four mules, and a
wagon constituting the transfer. Even with the loss of two horses and
the concessions on a dozen others, there was a nice profit on the
entire outfit over its cost in the lower country, due to the foresight
of Don Lovell in mounting us well. Two of our fellows who had borrowed
from the superintendent money to redeem their six-shooters after the
horse race on the Republican, authorized Lovell to return him the
loans and thanked him for the favor. Everything being satisfactory
between buyer and seller, they returned to town together for a
settlement, while we moved on south towards Silver Bow, where the
outfit was to be delivered.

Another day's easy travel brought us to within a mile of the railroad
terminus; but it also brought us to one of the hardest experiences of
our trip, for each of us knew, as we unsaddled our horses, that we
were doing it for the last time. Although we were in the best of
spirits over the successful conclusion of the drive; although we were
glad to be free from herd duty and looked forward eagerly to the
journey home, there was still a feeling of regret in our hearts which
we could not dispel. In the days of my boyhood I have shed tears when
a favorite horse was sold from our little ranch on the San Antonio,
and have frequently witnessed Mexican children unable to hide their
grief when need of bread had compelled the sale of some favorite horse
to a passing drover. But at no time in my life, before or since, have
I felt so keenly the parting between man and horse as I did that
September evening in Montana. For on the trail an affection springs up
between a man and his mount which is almost human. Every privation
which he endures his horse endures with him,--carrying him through
falling weather, swimming rivers by day and riding in the lead of
stampedes by night, always faithful, always willing, and always
patiently enduring every hardship, from exhausting hours under saddle
to the sufferings of a dry drive. And on this drive, covering nearly
three thousand miles, all the ties which can exist between man and
beast had not only become cemented, but our _remuda_ as a whole had
won the affection of both men and employer for carrying without
serious mishap a valuable herd all the way from the Rio Grande to the
Blackfoot Agency. Their hones may be bleaching in some coulee by now,
but the men who knew them then can never forget them or the part they
played in that long drive.

Three men from the ranch rode into our camp that evening, and the next
morning we counted over our horses to them and they passed into
strangers' hands. That there might he no delay, Flood had ridden into
town the evening before and secured a wagon and gunny bags in which to
sack our saddles; for while we willingly discarded all other effects,
our saddles were of sufficient value to return and could be checked
home as baggage. Our foreman reported that Lovell had arrived by stage
and was awaiting us in town, having already arranged for our
transportation as far as Omaha, and would accompany us to that city,
where other transportation would have to be secured to our
destination. In our impatience to get into town, we were trudging in
by twos and threes before the wagon arrived for our saddles, and had
not Flood remained behind to look after them, they might have been

There was something about Silver Bow that reminded me of Frenchman's
Ford on the Yellowstone. Being the terminal of the first railroad into
Montana, it became the distributing point for all the western portion
of that territory, and immense ox trains were in sight for the
transportation of goods to remoter points in the north and west. The
population too was very much the same as at Frenchman's, though the
town in general was an improvement over the former, there being some
stability to its buildings. As we were to leave on an eleven o'clock
train, we had little opportunity to see the town, and for the short
time at our disposal, barber shops and clothing stores claimed our
first attention. Most of us had some remnants of money, while my
bunkie was positively rich, and Lovell advanced us fifty dollars
apiece, pending a final settlement on reaching our destination.

Within an hour after receiving the money, we blossomed out in new
suits from head to heel. Our guard hung together as if we were still
on night herd, and in the selection of clothing the opinion of the
trio was equal to a purchase. The Rebel was very easily pleased in his
selection, but John Officer and myself were rather fastidious. Officer
was so tall it was with some little difficulty that a suit could be
found to fit him, and when he had stuffed his pants in his boots and
thrown away the vest, for he never wore either vest or suspenders, he
emerged looking like an Alpine tourist, with his new pink shirt and
nappy brown beaver slouch hat jauntily cocked over one ear. As we
sauntered out into the street, Priest was dressed as became his years
and mature good sense, while my costume rivaled Officer's in
gaudiness, and it is safe to assert two thirds of our outlay had gone
for boots and hats.

Flood overtook us in the street, and warned us to be on hand at the
depot at least half an hour in advance of train time, informing us
that he had checked our saddles and didn't want any of us to get left
at the final moment. We all took a drink together, and Officer assured
our foreman that he would be responsible for our appearance at the
proper time, "sober and sorry for it." So we sauntered about the
straggling village, drinking occasionally, and on the suggestion of
The Rebel, made a cow by putting in five apiece and had Officer play
it on faro, he claiming to be an expert on the game. Taking the purse
thus made up, John sat into a game, while Priest and myself, after
watching the play some minutes, strolled out again and met others of
our outfit in the street, scarcely recognizable in their killing rigs.
The Rebel was itching for a monte game, but this not being a cow town
there was none, and we strolled next into a saloon, where a piano was
being played by a venerable-looking individual,--who proved quite
amiable, taking a drink with us and favoring us with a number of
selections of our choosing. We were enjoying this musical treat when
our foreman came in and asked us to get the boys together. Priest and
I at once started for Officer, whom we found quite a winner, but
succeeded in choking him off on our employer's order, and after the
checks had been cashed, took a parting drink, which made us the last
in reaching the depot. When we were all assembled, our employer
informed us that he only wished to keep us together until embarking,
and invited us to accompany him across the street to Tom Robbins's

On entering the saloon, Lovell inquired of the young fellow behind the
bar, "Son, what will you take for the privilege of my entertaining
this outfit for fifteen minutes?"

"The ranch is yours, sir, and you can name your own figures,"
smilingly and somewhat shrewdly replied the young fellow, and promptly
vacated his position.

"Now, two or three of you rascals get in behind there," said old man
Don, as a quartet of the boys picked him up and set him on one end of
the bar, "and let's see what this ranch has in the way of

McCann, Quarternight, and myself obeyed the order, but the fastidious
tastes of the line in front soon compelled us to call to our
assistance both Bobbins and the young man who had just vacated the bar
in our favor.

"That's right, fellows," roared Lovell from his commanding position,
as he jingled a handful of gold coins, "turn to and help wait on these
thirsty Texans; and remember that nothing's too rich for our blood
to-day. This outfit has made one of the longest cattle drives on
record, and the best is none too good for them. So set out your best,
for they can't cut much hole in the profits in the short time we have
to stay. The train leaves in twenty minutes, and see that every rascal
is provided with an extra bottle for the journey. And drop down this
way when you get time, as I want a couple of boxes of your best cigars
to smoke on the way. Montana has treated us well, and we want to leave
some of our coin with you."

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