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The Outlet by Andy Adams

Part 2 out of 5

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evident that he would prove the hero. Fortunately, however, we
were spared listening to his self-laudation. Dorg Seay and Tim
Stanley, bunkies, engaged in a friendly scuffle, each trying to
make the other get a firebrand for his pipe. In the tussle which
followed, we were all compelled to give way or get trampled
underfoot. When both had exhausted themselves in vain, we resumed
our places around the fire. Parent, who was disgusted over the
interruption, on resuming his seat refused to continue his story
at the request of the offenders, replying, "The more I see of you
two varmints the more you remind me of mule colts."

Once the cook refused to pick up the broken thread of his story,
John Levering, our horse-wrangler, preempted the vacated post. "I
was over in Louisiana a few winters ago with a horse herd," said
John, "and had a few experiences. Of all the simple people that I
ever met, the 'Cajin' takes the bakery. You'll meet darkies over
there that can't speak a word of anything but French. It's
nothing to see a cow and mule harnessed together to a cart. One
day on the road, I met a man, old enough to be my father, and
inquired of him how far it was to the parish centre, a large
town. He didn't know, except it was a long, long ways. He had
never been there, but his older brother, once when he was a young
man, had been there as a witness at court. The brother was dead
now, but if he was living and present, it was quite possible that
he would remember the distance. The best information was that it
was a very long ways off. I rode it in the mud in less than two
hours; just about ten miles.

"But that wasn't a circumstance to other experiences. We had
driven about three hundred horses and mules, and after disposing
of over two thirds of them, my employer was compelled to return
home, leaving me to dispose of the remainder. I was a fair
salesman, and rather than carry the remnant of the herd with me,
made headquarters with a man who owned a large cane-brake
pasture. It was a convenient stopping-place, and the stock did
well on the young cane. Every week I would drive to some distant
town eighteen or twenty head, or as many as I could handle alone.
Sometimes I would sell out in a few days, and then again it would
take me longer. But when possible I always made it a rule to get
back to my headquarters to spend Sunday. The owner of the
cane-brake and his wife were a simple couple, and just a shade or
two above the Arcadians. But they had a daughter who could pass
muster, and she took quite a shine to the 'Texas-Hoss-Man,' as
they called me. I reckon you understand now why I made that
headquarters?--there were other reasons besides the good

"Well, the girl and her mother both could read, but I have some
doubt about the old man on that score. They took no papers, and
the nearest approach to a book in the house was an almanac three
years old. The women folks were ravenous for something to read,
and each time on my return after selling out, I'd bring them a
whole bundle of illustrated papers and magazines. About my fourth
return after more horses,--I was mighty near one of the family by
that time,--when we were all seated around the fire one night,
the women poring over the papers and admiring the pictures, the
old man inquired what the news was over in the parish where I had
recently been. The only thing that I could remember was the
suicide of a prominent man. After explaining the circumstances, I
went on to say that some little bitterness arose over his burial.
Owing to his prominence it was thought permission would be given
to bury him in the churchyard. But it seems there was some
superstition about permitting a self-murderer to be buried in the
same field as decent folks. It was none of my funeral, and I
didn't pay overmuch attention to the matter, but the authorities
refused, and they buried him just outside the grounds, in the

"My host and I discussed the matter at some length. He contended
that if the man was not of sound mind, he should have been given
his little six feet of earth among the others. A horse salesman
has to be a good second-rate talker, and being anxious to show
off before the girl, I differed with her father. The argument
grew spirited yet friendly, and I appealed to the women in
supporting my view. My hostess was absorbed at the time in
reading a sensational account of a woman shooting her betrayer.
The illustrations covered a whole page, and the girl was simply
burning, at short range, the shirt from off her seducer. The old
lady was bogged to the saddle skirts in the story, when I
interrupted her and inquired, 'Mother, what do you think ought to
be done with a man who commits suicide?' She lowered the paper
just for an instant, and looking over her spectacles at me
replied, 'Well, I think any man who would do THAT ought to be
made to support the child.'"

No comment was offered. Our wrangler arose and strolled away from
the fire under the pretense of repicketing his horse. It was
nearly time for the guards to change, and giving the last watch
orders to point the herd, as they left the bed-ground in the
morning, back on an angle towards the trail, I prepared to turn
in. While I was pulling off my boots in the act of retiring, Clay
Zilligan rode in from the herd to call the relief. The second
guard were bridling their horses, and as Zilligan dismounted, he
said to the circle of listeners, "Didn't I tell you fellows that
there was another herd just ahead of us? I don't care if they
didn't pass up the trail since we've been laying over, they are
there just the same. Of course you can't see their camp-fire from
here, but it's in plain view from the bed-ground, and not over
four or five miles away. If I remember rightly, there's a local
trail comes in from the south of the Wichita River, and joins the
Chisholm just ahead. And what's more, that herd was there at nine
o'clock this morning, and they haven't moved a peg since. Well,
there's two lads out there waiting to be relieved, and you second
guard know where the cattle are bedded."


In gala spirits we broke camp the next morning. The herd had left
the bed-ground at dawn, and as the outfit rode away to relieve
the last guard, every mother's son was singing. The cattle were a
refreshing sight as they grazed forward, their ragged front
covering half a mile in width. The rest of the past few days had
been a boon to the few tender-footed ones. The lay-over had
rejuvenated both man and beast. From maps in our possession we
knew we were somewhere near the western border of the Chickasaw
Nation, while on our left was the reservation of three blanket
tribes of Indians. But as far as signs of occupancy were
concerned, the country was unmarked by any evidence of
civilization. The Chisholm Cattle Trail, which ran from Red River
to the Kansas line, had almost fallen into disuse, owing to
encroachments of settlements south of the former and westward on
the latter. With the advancement of immigration, Abilene and
Ellsworth as trail terminals yielded to the tide, and the leading
cattle trace of the '70's was relegated to local use in '84.

The first guard was on the qui vive for the outfit whose
camp-fire they had sighted the night before. I was riding with
Clay Zilligan on the left point, when he sighted what we supposed
was a small bunch of cattle lying down several miles distant.
When we reached the first rise of ground, a band of saddle horses
came in view, and while we were trying to locate their camp, Jack
Splann from the opposite point attracted our attention and
pointed straight ahead. There a large band of cattle under herd
greeted our view, compelling us to veer to the right and
intersect the trail sooner than we intended. Keeping a clear
half-mile between us, we passed them within an hour and exchanged
the compliments of the trail. They proved to be "Laurel Leaf" and
"Running W" cattle, the very ones for which the International
Railway agent at the meeting in February had so boastfully shown
my employer the application for cars. The foreman was cursing
like a stranded pirate over the predicament in which he found
himself. He had left Santo Gertrudo Ranch over a month before
with a herd of three thousand straight two-year-old steers. But
in the shipment of some thirty-three thousand cattle from the two
ranches to Wichita Falls, six trains had been wrecked, two of
which were his own. Instead of being hundreds of miles ahead in
the lead of the year's drive, as he expected, he now found
himself in charge of a camp of cripples. What few trains
belonging to his herd had escaped the ditch were used in filling
up other unfortunate ones, the injured cattle from the other
wrecks forming his present holdings.

"Our people were anxious to get their cattle on to the market
early this year," said he, "and put their foot into it up to the
knee. Shipping to Red River was an experiment with them, and I
hope they've got their belly full. We've got dead and dying
cattle in every pasture from the falls to the river, while these
in sight aren't able to keep out of the stench of those that
croaked between here and the ford. Oh, this shipping is a fine
thing--for the railroads. Here I've got to rot all summer with
these cattle, just because two of my trains went into the ditch
while no other foreman had over one wrecked. And mind you, they
paid the freight in advance, and now King and Kennedy have
brought suit for damages amounting to double the shipping
expense. They'll get it all right--in pork. I'd rather have a
claim against a nigger than a railroad company. Look at your
beeves, slick as weasels, and from the Nueces River. Have to hold
them in, I reckon, to keep from making twenty miles a day. And
here I am--Oh, hell, I'd rather be on a rock-pile with a ball and
chain to my foot! Do you see those objects across yonder about
two miles--in that old grass? That's where we bedded night before
last and forty odd died. We only lost twenty-two last night. Oh,
we're getting in shape fast. If you think you can hold your
breakfast down, just take a ride through mine. No, excuse me--
I've seen them too often already."

Several of the boys and myself rode into the herd some little
distance, but the sight was enough to turn a copper-lined
stomach. Scarcely an animal had escaped without more or less
injury. Fully one half were minus one or both horns, leaving
instead bloody stumps. Broken bones and open sores greeted us on
every hand; myriads of flies added to the misery of the cattle,
while in many instances there was evidence of maggots at work on
the living animal. Turning from the herd in disgust, we went back
to our own, thankful that the rate offered us had been
prohibitory. The trials and vexations of the road were mere
nothings to be endured, compared to the sights we were then
leaving. Even what we first supposed were cattle lying down, were
only bed-grounds, the occupants having been humanely relieved by
unwaking sleep. Powerless to render any assistance, we trailed
away, glad to blot from our sight and memory such scenes of
misery and death.

Until reaching the Washita River, we passed through a delightful
country. There were numerous local trails coming into the main
one, all of which showed recent use. Abandoned camp-fires and
bed-grounds were to be seen on every hand, silent witnesses of an
exodus which was to mark the maximum year in the history of the
cattle movement from Texas. Several times we saw some evidence of
settlement by the natives, but as to the freedom of the country,
we were monarchs of all we surveyed. On arriving at the Washita,
we encountered a number of herds, laboring under the impression
that they were water-bound. Immediate entrance at the ford was
held by a large herd of young cattle in charge of a negro outfit.
Their stock were scattered over several thousand acres, and when
I asked for the boss, a middle-aged darky of herculean figure was
pointed out as in charge. To my inquiry why he was holding the
ford, his answer was that until to-day the river had been
swimming, and now he was waiting for the banks to dry.
Ridiculing his flimsy excuse, I kindly yet firmly asked him
either to cross or vacate the ford by three o'clock that
afternoon. Receiving no definite reply, I returned to our herd,
which was some five miles in the rear. Beyond the river's steep,
slippery banks and cold water, there was nothing to check a herd.

After the noonday halt, the wrangler and myself took our remuda
and went on ahead to the river. Crossing and recrossing our
saddle stock a number of times, we trampled the banks down to a
firm footing. While we were doing this work, the negro foreman
and a number of his men rode up and sullenly watched us. Leaving
our horses on the north bank, Levering and I returned, and
ignoring the presence of the darky spectators, started back to
meet the herd, which was just then looming up in sight. But
before we had ridden any distance, the dusky foreman overtook us
and politely said, "Look-ee here, Cap'n; ain't you-all afraid of
losin' some of your cattle among ours?" Never halting, I replied,
"Not a particle; if we lose any, you eat them, and we'll do the
same if our herd absorbs any of yours. But it strikes me that you
had better have those lazy niggers throw your cattle to one
side," I called back, as he halted his horse. We did not look
backward until we reached the herd; then as we turned, one on
each side to support the points, it was evident that a clear
field would await us on reaching the river. Every horseman in the
black outfit was pushing cattle with might and main, to give us a
clean cloth at the crossing.

The herd forded the Washita without incident. I remained on the
south bank while the cattle were crossing, and when they were
about half over some half-dozen of the darkies rode up and
stopped apart, conversing among themselves. When the drag cattle
passed safely out on the farther bank, I turned to the dusky
group, only to find their foreman absent. Making a few inquiries
as to the ownership of their herd, its destination, and other
matters of interest, I asked the group to express my thanks to
their foreman for moving his cattle aside. Our commissary crossed
shortly afterward, and the Washita was in our rear. But that
night, as some of my outfit returned from the river, where they
had been fishing, they reported the negro outfit as having
crossed and encamped several miles in our rear.

"All they needed was a good example," said Dorg Seay. "Under a
white foreman, I'll bet that's a good lot of darkies. They were
just about the right shade--old shiny black. As good cowhands as
ever I saw were nigs, but they need a white man to blow and brag
on them. But it always ruins one to give him any authority."

Without effort we traveled fifteen miles a day. In the absence of
any wet weather to gall their backs, there was not a horse in our
remuda unfit for the saddle. In fact, after reaching the Indian
Territory, they took on flesh and played like lambs. With the
exception of long hours and night-herding, the days passed in
seeming indolence as we swept northward, crossing rivers without
a halt which in previous years had defied the moving herds. On
arriving at the Cimarron River, in reply to a letter written to
my employer on leaving Texas behind us, an answer was found
awaiting me at Red Fork. The latter was an Indian trading-post,
located on the mail route to Fort Reno, and only a few miles
north of the Chisholm Crossing. The letter was characteristic of
my employer. It contained but one imperative order,--that I
should touch, either with or without the herd, at Camp Supply.
For some unexplained reason he would make that post his
headquarters until after the Buford herds had passed that point.
The letter concluded with the injunction, in case we met any one,
to conceal the ownership of the herd and its destination.

The mystery was thickening. But having previously declined to
borrow trouble, I brushed this aside as unimportant, though I
gave my outfit instructions to report the herd to every one as
belonging to Omaha men, and on its way to Nebraska to be
corn-fed. Fortunately I had ridden ahead of the herd after
crossing the Cimarron, and had posted the outfit before they
reached the trading-station. I did not allow one of my boys near
the store, and the herd passed by as in contempt of such a
wayside place. As the Dodge cut-off left the Chisholm Trail some
ten miles above the Indian trading-post, the next morning we
waved good-bye to the old cattle trace and turned on a northwest
angle. Our route now lay up the Cimarron, which we crossed and
recrossed at our pleasure, for the sake of grazing or to avoid
several large alkali flats. There was evidence of herds in our
advance, and had we not hurried past Red Fork, I might have
learned something to our advantage. But disdaining all inquiry of
the cut-off, fearful lest our identity be discovered, we
deliberately walked into the first real danger of the trip.

At low water the Cimarron was a brackish stream. But numerous
tributaries put in from either side, and by keeping above the
river's ebb, an abundance of fresh water was daily secured from
the river's affluents. The fifth day out from Red Rock was an
excessively sultry one, and suffering would have resulted to the
herd had we not been following a divide where we caught an
occasional breeze. The river lay some ten miles to our right,
while before us a tributary could be distinctly outlined by the
cottonwoods which grew along it. Since early morning we had been
paralleling the creek, having nooned within sight of its
confluence with the mother stream, and consequently I had
considered it unnecessary to ride ahead and look up the water.
When possible, we always preferred watering the herd between
three and four o'clock in the afternoon. But by holding our
course, we were certain to intersect the creek at about the usual
hour for the cattle's daily drink, and besides, as the creek
neared the river, it ran through an alkali flat for some
distance. But before the time arrived to intersect the creek on
our course, the herd turned out of the trail, determined to go to
the creek and quench their thirst. The entire outfit, however,
massed on the right flank, and against their will we held them on
their course. As their thirst increased with travel, they made
repeated attempts to break through our cordon, requiring every
man to keep on the alert. But we held them true to the divide,
and as we came to the brow of a small hill within a quarter-mile
of the water, a stench struck us until we turned in our saddles,
gasping for breath. I was riding third man in the swing from the
point, and noticing something wrong in front, galloped to the
brow of the hill. The smell was sickening and almost unendurable,
and there before us in plain view lay hundreds of dead cattle,
bloated and decaying in the summer sun.

I was dazed by the awful scene. A pretty, greenswarded little
valley lay before me, groups of cottonwoods fringed the stream
here and there, around the roots of which were both shade and
water. The reeking stench that filled the air stupefied me for
the instant, and I turned my horse from the view, gasping for a
mouthful of God's pure ozone. But our beeves had been scenting
the creek for hours, and now a few of the leaders started forward
in a trot for it. Like a flash it came to me that death lurked in
that water, and summoning every man within hearing, I dashed to
the lead of our cattle to turn them back over the hill. Jack
Splann was on the point, and we turned the leaders when within
two hundred yards of the creek, frequently jumping our horses
over the putrid carcasses of dead cattle. The main body of the
herd were trailing for three quarters of a mile in our rear, and
none of the men dared leave their places. Untying our slickers,
Splann and I fell upon the leaders and beat them back to the brow
of the hill, when an unfortunate breeze was wafted through that
polluted atmosphere from the creek to the cattle's nostrils.
Turning upon us and now augmented to several hundred head, they
sullenly started forward. But in the few minutes' interim, two
other lads had come to our support, and dismounting we rushed
them, whipping our slickers into ribbons over their heads. The
mastery of man again triumphed over brutes in their thirst, for
we drove them in a rout back over the divide.

Our success, however, was only temporary. Recovering our horses
we beat the cattle back, seemingly inch by inch, until the rear
came up, when we rounded them into a compact body. They quieted
down for a short while, affording us a breathing spell, for the
suddenness of this danger had not only unnerved me but every one
of the outfit who had caught a glimpse of that field of death.
The wagon came up, and those who needed them secured a change of
horses. Leaving the outfit holding the herd, Splann and I took
fresh mounts, and circling around, came in on the windward side
of the creek. As we crossed it half a mile above the scene of
disaster, each of us dipped a hand in the water and tasted it.
The alkali was strong as concentrated lye, blistering our mouths
in the experiment. The creek was not even running, but stood in
long, deep pools, clear as crystal and as inviting to the thirsty
as a mountain spring. As we neared the dead cattle, Splann called
my attention to the attitude of the animals when death relieved
them, the heads of fully two thirds being thrown back on their
sides. Many, when stricken, were unable to reach the bank, and
died in the bed of the stream. Making a complete circle of the
ghastly scene, we returned to our own, agreeing that between five
and six hundred cattle had met their fate in those death-dealing

We were not yet out of the woods. On our return, many of the
cattle were lying down, while in the west thunder-clouds were
appearing. The North Fork of the Canadian lay on our left, which
was now our only hope for water, yet beyond our reach for the
day. Keeping the slight divide between us and the creek, we
started the herd forward. Since it was impossible to graze them
in their thirsty condition, I was determined to move them as far
as possible before darkness overtook us. But within an hour we
crossed a country trail over which herds had passed on their way
northwest, having left the Chisholm after crossing the North
Fork. At the first elevation which would give me a view of the
creek, another scene of death and desolation greeted my vision,
only a few miles above the first one. Yet from this same hill I
could easily trace the meanderings of the creek for miles as it
made a half circle in our front, both inviting and defying us.
Turning the herd due south, we traveled until darkness fell,
going into camp on a high, flat mesa of several thousand acres.
But those evening breezes wafted an invitation to come and drink,
and our thirsty herd refused to bed down. To add to our
predicament, a storm thickened in the west. Realizing that we
were confronting the most dangerous night in all my cattle
experience, I ordered every man into the saddle. The remuda and
team were taken in charge by the wrangler and cook, and going
from man to man, I warned them what the consequences would be if
we lost the herd during the night, and the cattle reached the

The cattle surged and drifted almost at will, for we were
compelled to hold them loose to avoid milling. Before ten o'clock
the lightning was flickering overhead and around us, revealing
acres of big beeves, which in an instant might take fright, and
then, God help us. But in that night of trial a mercy was
extended to the dumb brutes in charge. A warm rain began falling,
first in a drizzle, increasing after the first hour, and by
midnight we could hear the water slushing under our horses' feet.
By the almost constant flashes of lightning we could see the
cattle standing as if asleep, in grateful enjoyment of the
sheeting downpour. As the night wore on, our fears of a stampede
abated, for the buffalo wallows on the mesa filled, and water was
on every hand. The rain ceased before dawn, but owing to the
saturated condition underfoot, not a hoof lay down during the
night, and when the gray of morning streaked the east, what a
sense of relief it brought us. The danger had passed.

Near noon that day, and within a few miles of the North Fork, we
rounded an alkaline plain in which this deadly creek had its
source. Under the influence of the season, alkali had oozed up
out of the soil until it looked like an immense lake under snow.
The presence of range cattle in close proximity to this creek,
for we were in the Cherokee Strip, baffled my reasoning; but the
next day we met a range-rider who explained that the present
condition of the stream was unheard of before, and that native
cattle had instinct enough to avoid it. He accounted for its
condition as due to the dry season, there being no general rains
sufficient to flood the alkaline plain and thoroughly flush the
creek. In reply to an inquiry as to the ownership of the
unfortunate herds, he informed me that there were three, one
belonging to Bob Houston, another to Major Corouthers, and the
third to a man named Murphy, the total loss amounting to about
two thousand cattle.

From this same range-man we also learned our location. Camp
Supply lay up the North Fork some sixty miles, while a plain
trail followed up the first bottom of the river. Wishing to
avoid, if possible, intersecting the western trail south of
Dodge, the next morning I left the herd to follow up, and rode
into Camp Supply before noon. Lovell had sighted me a mile
distant, and after a drink at the sutler's bar, we strolled aside
for a few minutes' chat. Once I had informed him of the locality
of the herd and their condition, he cautioned me not to let my
business be known while in the post. After refreshing the inner
man, my employer secured a horse and started with me on my
return. As soon as the flag over Supply faded out of sight in our
rear, we turned to the friendly shade of the timber on the North
Fork and dismounted. I felt that the precaution exercised by the
drover was premonitory of some revelation, and before we arose
from the cottonwood log on which we took seats, the scales had
fallen from my eyes and the atmosphere of mystery cleared.

"Tom," said my employer, "I am up against a bad proposition. I am
driving these Buford cattle, you understand, on a sub-contract. I
was the second lowest bidder with the government, and no sooner
was the award made to The Western Supply Company than they sent
an agent who gave me no peace until they sublet their contract.
Unfortunately for me, when the papers were drawn, my regular
attorney was out of town, and I was compelled to depend on a
stranger. After the articles were executed, I submitted the
matter to my old lawyer; he shook his head, arguing that a
loophole had been left open, and that I should have secured an
assignment of the original contract. After studying the matter
over, we opened negotiations to secure a complete relinquishment
of the award. But when I offered the company a thousand dollars
over and above what they admitted was their margin, and they
refused it, I opened my eyes to the true situation. If cattle
went up, I was responsible and would have to fill my contract; if
they went down, the company would buy in the cattle and I could
go to hell in a hand-basket for all they cared. Their bond to the
government does me no good, and beyond that they are
irresponsible. Beeves have broken from four to five dollars a
head, and unless I can deliver these Buford herds on my contract,
they will lose me fifty thousand dollars."

"Have you any intimation that they expect to buy in other
cattle?" I inquired.

"Yes. I have had a detective in my employ ever since my
suspicions were aroused. There are two parties in Dodge this very
minute with the original contract, properly assigned, and they
are looking for cattle to fill it. That's why I'm stopping here
and lying low. I couldn't explain it to you sooner, but you
understand now why I drove those Buford herds in different road
brands. Tom, we're up against it, and we've got to fight the
devil with fire. Henceforth your name will be Tom McIndoo, your
herd will be the property of the Marshall estate, and their
agent, my detective, will be known as Charles Siringo. Any money
or supplies you may need in Dodge, get in the usual form through
the firm of Wright, Beverly & Co.--they understand. Hold your
herd out south on Mulberry, and Siringo will have notice and be
looking for you, or you can find him at the Dodge House. I've
sent a courier to Fort Elliott to meet Dave and Quince, and once
I see them, I'll run up to Ogalalla and wait for you. Now, until
further orders, remember you never knew a man by the name of Don
Lovell, and by all means don't forget to use what wits Nature
gave you."


It was late that night when I reached the herd. Before I parted
with my employer we had carefully reviewed the situation in its
minutest details. Since the future could not be foreseen, we
could only watch and wait. The Texan may have his shortcomings,
but lack of fidelity to a trust is not one of them, and relying
on the metal of my outfit, I at once put them in possession of
the facts. At first their simple minds could hardly grasp the
enormity of the injustice to our employer, but once the land lay
clear, they would gladly have led a forlorn hope in Don Lovell's
interests. Agitation over the matter was maintained at white heat
for several days, as we again angled back towards the Cimarron.
Around the camp-fires at night, the chicanery of The Western
Supply Company gave place to the best stories at our command.
"There ought to be a law," said Runt Pickett, in wrathy
indignation, "making it legal to kill some people, same as
rattlesnakes. Now, you take a square gambler and I don't think
anything of losing my money against his game, but one of these
sneaking, under-dealing, top-and-bottom-business pimps, I do
despise. You can find them in every honest calling, same as
vultures hover round when cattle are dying. Honest, fellows, I'd
just dearly love to pull on a rope and watch one of the varmints
make his last kick."

Several days of showery weather followed. Crossing the Cimarron,
we followed up its north slope to within thirty miles of the
regular western trail. Not wishing to intercept it until
necessity compelled us, when near the Kansas line we made our
last tack for Dodge. The rains had freshened the country and
flushed the creeks, making our work easy, and early in the month
of June we reached the Mulberry. Traveling at random, we struck
that creek about twenty miles below the trail, and moved up the
stream to within a short distance of the old crossing. The
presence of a dozen other herds holding along it forced us into a
permanent camp a short half-day's ride from the town. The
horse-wrangler was pressed into service in making up the first
guard that night, and taking Morg Tussler with me, I struck out
for Dodge in the falling darkness. On reaching the first divide,
we halted long enough to locate the camp-fires along the Mulberry
to our rear, while above and below and beyond the river, fires
flickered like an Indian encampment. The lights of Dodge were
inviting us, and after making a rough estimate of the camps in
sight, we rode for town, arriving there between ten and eleven
o'clock. The Dodge House was a popular hostelry for trail men and
cattle buyers, and on our making inquiry of the night clerk if a
Mr. Siringo was stopping there, we were informed that he was, but
had retired. I put up a trivial excuse for seeing him, the clerk
gave me the number of his room, and Tussler and I were soon
closeted with him. The detective was a medium-sized, ordinary
man, badly pock-marked, with a soft, musical voice, and
apparently as innocent as a boy. In a brief preliminary
conversation, he proved to be a Texan, knowing every in and out
of cattle, having been bred to the occupation. Our relations to
each other were easily established. Reviewing the situation
thoroughly, he informed me that he had cultivated the
acquaintance of the parties holding the assignment of the Buford
award. He had represented to them that he was the fiscal agent of
some six herds on the trail that year, three of which were heavy
beeves, and they had agreed to look them over, provided they
arrived before the 15th of the month. He further assured me that
the parties were mere figureheads of The Supply Company; that
they were exceedingly bearish on the market, gloating over the
recent depreciation in prices, and perfectly willing to fatten on
the wreck and ruin of others.

It was long after midnight when the consultation ended.
Appointing an hour for showing the herd the next day, or that one
rather, Tussler and I withdrew, agreeing to be out of town before
daybreak. But the blaze of gambling and the blare of dance-halls
held us as in a siren's embrace until the lights dimmed with the
breaking of dawn. Mounting our horses, we forded the river east
of town and avoided the herds, which were just arising from their
bed-grounds. On the divide we halted. Within the horizon before
us, it is safe to assert that one hundred thousand cattle grazed
in lazy contentment, all feeding against the morning breeze. Save
for the freshness of early summer, with its background of green
and the rarified atmosphere of the elevated plain, the scene
before us might be compared to a winter drift of buffalo, ten
years previous. Riding down the farther slope, we reached our
camp in time for a late breakfast, the fifteen-mile ride having
whetted our appetites. Three men were on herd, and sending two
more with instructions to water the cattle an hour before noon,
Tussler and I sought the shade of the wagon and fell asleep. It
was some time after midday when, on sighting the expected
conveyance approaching our camp, the cook aroused us. Performing
a rather hasty ablution, I met the vehicle, freshened, and with
my wits on tap. I nearly dragged the detective from the livery
rig, addressing him as "Charley," and we made a rough ado over
each other. Several of the other boys came forward and, shaking
hands, greeted him with equal familiarity. As two strangers
alighted on the opposite side, the detective took me around and
they were introduced as Mr. Field and Mr. Radcliff, prospective
beef buyers. The boys had stretched a tarpaulin, affording ample
shade, and Parent invited every one to dinner. The two strangers
were rather testy, but Siringo ate ravenously, repeatedly asking
for things which were usually kept in a well-stocked chuck-wagon,
meanwhile talking with great familiarity with Tussler and me.

The strangers said little, but were amused at the lightness of
our dinner chat. I could see at a glance that they were not
cowmen. They were impatient to see the cattle; and when dinner
was over, I explained to them that the men on herd would be
relieved for dinner by those in camp, and orders would be given,
if it was their wish, to throw the cattle compactly together. To
this Siringo objected. "No, Mac," said he, "that isn't the right
way to show beeves. Here, Morg, listen to me; I'm foreman for the
time being. When you relieve the other lads, edge in your cattle
from an ordinary loose herd until you have them on two or three
hundred acres. Then we can slowly drive through them for an hour
or so, or until these gentlemen are satisfied. They're not wild,
are they, Mac?"

I assured every one that the cattle were unusually gentle; that
we had not had a run so far, but urged caution in approaching
them with a conveyance. As soon as the relief started, I brought
in the livery team off picket, watered, and harnessed them into
the vehicle. It was my intention to accompany them on horseback,
but Siringo hooted at the idea, and Mr. Radcliff and I occupied
the back seat, puffing splendid cigars. We met the relieved men
coming in, who informed us that the herd was just over the hill
on the south side of the creek. On reaching the gentle rise,
there below us grazed the logy, lazy beeves, while the boys
quietly rode round, silently moving them together as instructed.
Siringo drove to their lead, and halting, we allowed the cattle
to loiter past us on either side of the conveyance. It was an
easy herd to show, for the pounds avoirdupois were there.
Numerous big steers, out of pure curiosity, came up near the
vehicle and innocently looked at us as if expecting a dole or
sweetmeat. A snap of the finger would turn them, showing their
rounded buttocks, and they would rejoin the guard of honor. If
eyes could speak, the invitation was timidly extended, "Look at
me, Mr. Buyer." We allowed the herd to pass by us, then slowly
circled entirely around them, and finally drove back and forth
through them for nearly two hours, when the prospective buyers
expressed themselves as satisfied.

But the fiscal agent was not. Calling two of the boys, he asked
for the loan of their horses and insisted that the buyers ride
the cattle over and thoroughly satisfy themselves on the brands.
The boys gladly yielded, and as Mr. Field and Mr. Radcliff
mounted to ride away, the detective halted them long enough to
say: "Now, gentlemen, I wish to call your attention to the fact
that over one half the herd are in the single Marshall ranch
brand. There are also some five hundred head in the '8=8,' that
being an outside ranch, but belonging to the estate. I am
informed that the remainder of nearly a thousand were turned in
by neighboring ranchmen in making up the herd, and you'll find
those in various mixed brands. If there's a hoof among them not
in the 'Open A' road, we'll cut them out for fear of trouble to
the buyer. I never sold a man cattle in my life who wasn't my
customer ever afterward. You gentlemen are strangers to me; and
for that reason I conceal nothing. Now look them over carefully,
and keep a sharp lookout for strays--cattle not in the road

I knew there were about twenty strays in the herd, and informed
Siringo to that effect, but the cattle buyers noticed only two, a
red and a roan, which again classed them as inexperienced men
among cattle. We returned to camp, not a word being said about
trading, when the buyers suggested returning to town. Siringo
looked at his watch, asked if there was anything further they
wished to see or know, and expressed himself like a true Texan,
"that there was ample time." I was the only one who had alighted,
and as they started to drive away, I said to Siringo: "Charley,
let me talk to you a minute first. You see how I'm situated
here--too many neighbors. I'm going to ride north of town
to-morrow, and if I can find a good camp on Saw Log, why I'll
move over. We are nearly out of supplies, anyhow, and the wagon
can go by town and load up. There's liable to be a mix-up here
some night on the Mulberry, and I'd rather be excused than

"That's all right, Mac; that's just what I want you to do. If we
trade, we'll make the deal within a day or two, and if not you
can start right on for Ogalalla. I've been selling cattle the
last few years to the biggest feeders in Nebraska, and I'm not a
little bit afraid of placing those 'Open A's.' About four months
full feed on corn will fit those steers to go to any market. Drop
into town on your way back from the Saw Log to-morrow."

That evening my brother Bob rode into camp. He had seen our
employer at Supply, and accordingly understood the situation. The
courier had returned from Fort Elliott and reported his mission
successful; he had met both Forrest and Sponsilier. The latter
had had a slight run in the Panhandle during a storm, losing a
few cattle, which he recovered the next day. For fear of a
repetition, Forrest had taken the lead thereafter, and was due at
Supply within a day or two. Flood and Priest had passed Abilene,
Texas, in safety, but no word had reached our employer since, and
it was believed that they had turned eastward and would come up
the Chisholm Trail. Bob reported the country between Abilene and
Doan's Crossing as cut into dust and barren of sustenance, many
weak cattle having died in crossing the dry belt. But the most
startling news, seriously disturbing us both, was that Archie
Tolleston was stationed at Doan's Crossing on Red River as a
trail-cutter. He had come up from the south to Wichita Falls by
train with trail cattle, and finding no opening as a foreman, had
accepted the position of inspector for some Panhandle cattle
companies. He and Bob had had a friendly chat, and Archie
admitted that it was purely his own hot-headedness which
prevented his being one of Lovell's foremen on the present drive.
The disturbing feature was, that after leaving headquarters in
Medina County, he had gone into San Antonio, where he met a
couple of strangers who partially promised him a job as trail
boss, in case he presented himself in Dodge about June 15. They
had intimated to him that it was possible they would need a
foreman or two who knew the trail from the Arkansaw to the
Yellowstone and Missouri River country. Putting this and that
together, the presence of Archie Tolleston in Dodge was not at
all favorable to the working out of our plans. "And Arch isn't
the man to forget a humiliation," concluded Bob, to which I

The next morning I rode across to the Saw Log, and up that creek
beyond all the herds. The best prospect for a camp was nearly due
north opposite us, as the outfit lowest down the stream expected
to start for the Platte the next morning. Having fully made up my
mind to move camp, I rode for town, taking dinner on Duck Creek,
which was also littered with cattle and outfits. I reached town
early in the afternoon, and after searching all the hotels,
located the fiscal agent in company with the buyers at the Lone
Star saloon. They were seated around a table, and Mr. Field,
noticing my entrance, beckoned me over and offered a chair. As I
took the proffered seat, both strangers turned on me, and Mr.
Radcliff said: "McIndoo, this agent of yours is the hardest man I
ever tried to trade with. Here we've wasted the whole morning
dickering, and are no nearer together than when we started. The
only concession which Mr. Siringo seems willing to admit is that
cattle are off from three to five dollars a head, while we
contend that heavy beeves are off seven dollars."

"Excuse me for interrupting," said the fiscal agent, "but since
you have used the words HEAVY BEEVES, either one of you ask Mac,
here, what those 'Open A's' will dress to-day, and what they
ought to gain in the next three months on good grass and water.
There he sits; ask him."

Mr. Field explained that they had also differed as to what the
herd would dress out, and invited my opinion. "Those beeves will
dress off from forty-five to fifty per cent.," I replied. "The
Texan being a gaunt animal does not shrink like a domestic beef.
Take that 'Open A' herd straight through and they will dress from
four fifty to six hundred pounds, or average better than five
hundred all round. In three months, under favorable conditions,
those steers ought to easily put on a hundred pounds of tallow
apiece. Mr. Radcliff, do you remember pointing out a black muley
yesterday and saying that he looked like a native animal? I'll
just bet either one of you a hundred dollars that he'll dress out
over five hundred pounds; and I'll kill him in your presence and
you can weigh his quarters with a steelyard."

They laughed at me, Siringo joining in, and Mr. Field ordered the
drinks. "Mac," said the detective, "these gentlemen are all
right, and you shouldn't take any offense, for I don't blame them
for driving a hard bargain. I'd probably do the same thing if I
was the buyer instead of the seller. And remember, Mac, if the
deal goes through, you are to drive the herd at the seller's
risk, and deliver it at any point the buyer designates, they
accepting without expense or reserve the cattle only. It means
over three months' further expense, with a remuda thrown back on
your hands; and all these incidentals run into money fast.
Gentlemen, unless you increase the advance cash payment, I don't
see how you can expect me to shade my offer. What's your hurry,

As it was growing late, I had arisen, and saying that I expected
to move camp to-morrow, invited the party to join me at the bar.
I informed the buyers, during the few minutes' interim, that if
they wished to look the cattle over again, the herd would cross
the river below old Fort Dodge about noon the next day. They
thanked me for the information, saying it was quite possible that
they might drive down, and discussing the matter we all passed
into the street. With the understanding that the prospect of
making a deal was not hopeless, Siringo excused himself, and we
strolled away together. No sooner was the coast clear than I
informed the detective of the arrival of my brother, putting him
in possession of every fact regarding Archie Tolleston. He
readily agreed with me that the recent break between the latter
and his former employer was a dangerous factor, and even went so
far as to say that Tolleston's posing as a trail-cutter at Doan's
Crossing was more than likely a ruse. I was giving the detective
a detailed description of Archie, when he stopped me and asked
what his special weaknesses were, if he had any. "Whiskey and
women," I replied. "That's good," said he, "and I want you to
send me in one of your best men in the morning--I mean one who
will drink and carouse. He can watch the trains, and if this
fellow shows up, we'll keep him soaked and let him enjoy himself.
Send me one that's good for a ten days' protracted drunk. You
think the other herds will be here within a few days? That's all
I want to know."

I reached camp a little before dark, and learned that Bob's herd
had dropped in just below us on the Mulberry. He expected to lie
over a few days in passing Dodge, and I lost no time in preparing
to visit his camp. While riding out that evening, I had made up
my mind to send in Dorg Seay, as he was a heady fellow, and in
drinking had an oak-tan stomach. Taking him with me, I rode down
the Mulberry and reached the lower camp just as my brother and
his outfit were returning from bedding-down the cattle. Bob
readily agreed that the detective's plans were perfectly
feasible, and offered to play a close second to Seay if it was
necessary. And if his own brother does say so, Bob Quirk never
met the man who could drink him under the table.

My herd started early for the Saw Log, and the wagon for town.
Bob had agreed to go into Dodge in the morning, so Dorg stayed
with our outfit and was to go in with me after crossing the
river. We threaded our way through the other herds, and shortly
before noon made an easy ford about a mile below old Fort Dodge.
As we came down to the river, a carriage was seen on the farther
bank, and I dropped from the point back to the drag end. Sure
enough, as we trailed out, the fiscal agent and the buyers were
awaiting me. "Well, Mac, I sold your herd last night after you
left," said Siringo, dejectedly. "It was a kind of compromise
trade; they raised the cash payment to thirty thousand dollars,
and I split the difference in price. The herd goes at $29 a head
all round. So from now on, Mac, you're subject to these
gentlemen's orders."

Mr. Field, the elder of the two buyers, suggested that if a
convenient camp could be found, we should lie over a few days,
when final instructions would be given me. He made a memorandum
of the number of head that I claimed in our road brand, and asked
me if we could hold up the herd for a closer inspection. The lead
cattle were then nearly a mile away, and galloping off to
overtake the point, I left the party watching the saddle horses,
which were then fording in our rear. But no sooner had I reached
the lead and held up the herd, than I noticed Siringo on the
wrangler's horse, coming up on the opposite side of the column of
cattle from the vehicle. Supposing he had something of a private
nature to communicate, I leisurely rode down the line and met

"Did you send that man in this morning?" he sternly demanded. I
explained that my brother had done, properly coached, and that
Seay would go in with me in the course of an hour.

"Give him any money you have and send him at once," commanded the
detective. "Tolleston was due on the ten o'clock train, but it
was an hour late. Those buyers wanted me to wait for it, so he
could come along, but I urged the importance of catching you at
the ford. Now, send your man Seay at once, get Tolleston beastly
drunk, and quarter him in some crib until night."

Unobserved by the buyers, I signaled Seay, and gave him the
particulars and what money I had. He rode back through the saddle
stock, recrossed the river, and after rounding the bend, galloped
away. Siringo continued: "You see, after we traded, they inquired
if you were a safe man, saying if you didn't know the Yellowstone
country, they had a man in sight who did. That was last night,
and it seems that this morning they got a letter from Tolleston,
saying he would be there on the next train. They're either struck
on him, or else he's in their employ. Mark my words."

When we had showed the herd to the satisfaction of the
purchasers, they expressed themselves as anxious to return to
town; but the fiscal agent of the Marshall estate wished to look
over the saddle horses first. Since they were unsold, and
amounted to quite an item, he begged for just a few minutes' time
to look them over carefully. Who could refuse such a reasonable
request? The herd had started on for the Saw Log, while the
remuda had wandered down the river about half a mile, and it took
us nearly an hour to give them a thorough inspection. Once by
ourselves, the detective said, with a chuckle: "All I was playing
for was to get as large a cash payment as possible. Those mixed
brands were my excuse for the money; the Marshall estate might
wait for theirs, but the small ranchmen would insist on an
immediate settlement the moment the cattle were reported sold. If
it wasn't for this fellow Tolleston, I'd sell the other two
Buford herds the day they arrive, and then we could give The
Western Supply Company the laugh. And say, when they drew me a
draft for thirty thousand dollars on a Washington City bank, I
never let the ink dry on it until I took it around to Wright,
Beverly & Co., and had them wire its acceptance. We'll give Seay
plenty of time, and I think there'll be an answer on the check
when we get back to town."


It was intentionally late in the day when we reached Dodge. My
horse, which I was leading, gave considerable trouble while
returning, compelling us to drive slow. The buyers repeatedly
complained that dinner would be over at their hotel, but the
detective knew of a good restaurant and promised all of us a
feast. On reaching town, we drove to the stable where the rig
belonged, and once free of the horses, Siringo led the way to a
well-known night-and-day eating-house on a back street. No sooner
had we entered the place than I remembered having my wagon in
town, and the necessity of its reaching camp before darkness made
my excuse imperative. I hurried around to the outfitting house
and found the order filled and all ready to load into the wagon.
But Parent was missing, and in skirmishing about to locate him, I
met my brother Bob. Tolleston had arrived, but his presence had
not been discovered until after Seay reached town. Archie was
fairly well "organized" and had visited the hotel where the
buyers were stopping, leaving word for them of his arrival. My
brother and Seay had told him that they had met, down the trail
that morning, two cattle buyers by the name of Field and
Radcliff; that they were inquiring for a herd belonging to Tom
Coleman, which was believed to be somewhere between Dodge and the
Cimarron River. The two had assured Tolleston that the buyers
might not be back for a week, and suggested a few drinks in
memory of old times. As Archie was then three sheets in the wind,
his effacement, in the hands of two rounders like Dorg Seay and
Bob Quirk, was an easy matter.

Once the wagon was loaded and started for camp, I returned to the
restaurant. The dinner was in progress, and taking the vacant
seat, I lifted my glass with great regularity as toast after
toast was drunk. Cigars were ordered, and with our feet on the
table, the fiscal agent said: "Gentlemen, this is a mere luncheon
and don't count. But if I'm able to sell you my other two beef
herds, why, I'll give you a blow-out right. We'll make it
six-handed--the three trail foremen and ourselves--and damn the
expense so long as the cattle are sold. Champagne will flow like
water, and when our teeth float, we'll wash our feet in what's

At a late hour the dinner ended. We were all rather unsteady on
our feet, but the pock-marked detective and myself formed a guard
of honor in escorting the buyers to their hotel, when an
officious clerk attempted to deliver Tolleston's message. But
anticipating it, I interrupted his highness and informed him that
we had met the party; I was a thousand times obliged to him for
his kindness, and forced on him a fine cigar, which had been
given me by Bob Wright of the outfitting store. While Siringo and
the buyers passed upstairs, I entertained the office force below
with an account of the sale of my herd, constantly referring to
my new employers. The fiscal agent returned shortly, bought some
cigars at the counter, asked if he could get a room for the
night, in case he was detained in town, and then we passed out of
the hotel. This afforded me the first opportunity to notify
Siringo of the presence of Tolleston, and I withheld nothing
which was to his interest to know. But he was impatient to learn
if the draft had been accepted, and asking me to bring my brother
to his room within half an hour, he left me.

It was growing late in the day. The sun had already set when I
found my brother, who was anxious to return to his camp for the
night. But I urged his seeing Siringo first, and after waiting in
the latter's room some time, he burst in upon us with a merry
chuckle. "Well, the draft was paid all right," said he; "and this
is Bob Quirk. Boys, things are coming nicely. This fellow
Tolleston is the only cloud in the sky. If we can keep him down
for a week, and the other herds come in shortly, I see nothing to
thwart our plans. Where have you picketed Tolleston?" "Around in
Dutch Jake's crib," replied Bob.

"That's good," continued the fiscal agent, "and I'll just drop in
to-night and see the madam. A little money will go a long way
with her, and in a case like this, the devil himself would be a
welcome ally. You boys stay in town as much as you can and keep
Tolleston snowed deep, and I'll take the buyers down the trail in
the morning and meet the herds coming up."

My brother returned to his camp, and Siringo and I separated for
the time being. In '84 Dodge, the Port Said of the plains, was in
the full flower of her wickedness. Literally speaking, night was
turned into day in the old trail town, for with the falling of
darkness, the streets filled with people. Restaurants were
crowded with women of the half-world, bar-rooms thronged with the
wayfaring man, while in gambling and dance halls the range men
congregated as if on special invitation. The familiar bark of the
six-shooter was a matter of almost nightly occurrence; a dispute
at the gaming table, a discourteous word spoken, or the rivalry
for the smile of a wanton was provocation for the sacrifice of
human life. Here the man of the plains reverted to and gave
utterance to the savagery of his nature, or, on the other hand,
was as chivalrous as in the days of heraldry.

I knew the town well, this being my third trip over the trail,
and mingled with the gathering throng. Near midnight, and when in
the Lady Gay dance-hall, I was accosted by Dorg Seay and the
detective. They had just left Dutch Jake's, and reported all
quiet on the Potomac. Seay had not only proved himself artful,
but a good fellow, and had unearthed the fact that Tolleston had
been in the employ of Field and Radcliff for the past three
months. "You see," said Dorg, "Archie never knew me except the
few days that I was about headquarters in Medina before we
started. He fully believes that I've been discharged--and with
three months' pay in my hip-pocket. The play now is that he's to
first help me spend my wages, and then I'm to have a job under
him with beeves which he expects to drive to the Yellowstone. He
has intimated that he might be able to give me a herd. So, Tom,
if I come out there and take possession of your cattle, don't be
surprised. There's only one thing to beat our game--I can't get
him so full but what he's over-anxious to see his employers. But
if you fellows furnish the money, I'll try and pickle him until
he forgets them."

The next morning Siringo and the buyers started south on the
trail, and I rode for my camp on the Saw Log. Before riding many
miles I sighted my outfit coming in a long lope for town. They
reported everything serene at camp, and as many of the boys were
moneyless, I turned back with them. An enjoyable day was before
us; some drank to their hearts' content, while all gambled with
more or less success. I was anxious that the outfit should have a
good carouse, and showed the lights and shadows of the town with
a pride worthy of one of its founders. Acting the host, I paid
for our dinners; and as we sauntered into the street, puffing
vile cigars, we nearly ran amuck of Dorg Seay and Archie
Tolleston, trundling a child's wagon between them up the street.
We watched them, keeping a judicious distance, as they visited
saloon after saloon, the toy wagon always in possession of one or
the other.

While we were amusing ourselves at the antics of these two, my
attention was attracted by a four-mule wagon pulling across the
bridge from the south. On reaching the railroad tracks, I
recognized the team, and also the driver, as Quince Forrest's.
Here was news, and accordingly I accosted him. Fortunately he was
looking for me or my brother, as his foreman could not come in
with the wagon, and some one was wanted to vouch for him in
getting the needed supplies. They had reached the Mulberry the
evening before, but several herds had mixed in a run during the
night, though their cattle had escaped. Forrest was determined
not to risk a second night on that stream, and had started his
herd with the dawn, expecting to camp with his cattle that night
west on Duck Creek. The herd was then somewhere between the
latter and the main Arkansaw, and the cook was anxious to secure
the supplies and reach the outfit before darkness overtook him.
Sponsilier was reported as two days behind Forrest when the
latter crossed the Cimarron, since when there had been no word
from his cattle. They had met the buyers near the middle of the
forenoon, and when Forrest admitted having the widow Timberlake's
beef herd, they turned back and were spending the day with the

The situation demanded instant action. Taking Forrest's cook
around to our outfitting store, I introduced and vouched for him.
Hurrying back, I sent Wayne Outcault, as he was a stranger to
Tolleston, to mix with the two rascals and send Seay to me at
once. Some little time was consumed in engaging Archie in a game
of pool, but when Dorg presented himself I lost no time in
explaining the situation. He declared that it was no longer
possible to interest Tolleston at Dutch Jake's crib during the
day, and that other means of amusement must be resorted to, as
Archie was getting clamorous to find his employers. To my
suggestion to get a livery rig and take him for a ride, Dorg
agreed. "Take him down the river to Spearville," I urged, "and
try and break into the calaboose if you can. Paint the town red
while you're about it, and if you both land in the lock-up, all
the better. If the rascal insists on coming back to Dodge, start
after night, get lost, and land somewhere farther down the river.
Keep him away from this town for a week, and I'll gamble that you
boss a herd for old man Don next year."

The afternoon was waning. The buyers might return at any moment,
as Forrest's herd had no doubt crossed the river but a few miles
above town.

I was impatiently watching the boys, as Dorg and Wayne cautiously
herded Tolleston around to a livery stable, when my brother Bob
rode up. He informed me that he had moved his camp that day
across to the Saw Log; that he had done so to accommodate Jim
Flood and The Rebel with a camp; their herds were due on the
Mulberry that evening. The former had stayed all night at Bob's
wagon, and reported his cattle, considering the dry season, in
good condition. As my brother expected to remain in town
overnight, I proposed starting for my camp as soon as Seay and
his ward drove out of sight. They parleyed enough before going to
unnerve a saint, but finally, with the little toy wagon on
Tolleston's knee and the other driving, they started. Hurrahing
my lads to saddle up, we rode past the stable where Seay had
secured the conveyance; and while I was posting the stable-keeper
not to be uneasy if the rig was gone a week, Siringo and the
buyers drove past the barn with a flourish. Taking a back street,
we avoided meeting them, and just as darkness was falling, rode
into our camp some twelve miles distant.

My brother Bob's camp was just above us on the creek, and a few
miles nearer town. As his wagon expected to go in after supplies
the next morning, a cavalcade of fifteen men from the two outfits
preceded it. My horse-wrangler had made arrangements with the
cook to look after his charges, and in anticipation of the day
before him, had our mounts corralled before sun-up. Bob's
wrangler was also with us, and he and Levering quarreled all the
way in about the respective merits of each one's remuda. A match
was arranged between the two horses which they were riding, and
on reaching a straight piece of road, my man won it and also
considerable money. But no matter how much we differed among
ourselves, when the interests of our employer were at stake, we
were a unit. On reaching town, our numbers were augmented by
fully twenty more from the other Lovell outfits, including the
three foremen. My old bunkie, The Rebel, nearly dragged me from
my horse, while Forrest and I forgot past differences over a
social glass. And then there was Flood, my first foreman, under
whom I served my apprenticeship on the trail, the same quiet,
languid old Jim. The various foremen and their outfits were aware
of the impending trouble over the Buford delivery, and quietly
expressed their contempt for such underhand dealings. Quince
Forrest had spent the evening before in town, and about midnight
his herd of "Drooping T's" were sold at about the same figures as
mine, except five thousand more earnest-money, and the privilege
of the buyers placing their own foreman in charge thereafter.
Forrest further reported that the fiscal agent and the strangers
had started to meet Sponsilier early that morning, and that the
probability of all the herds moving out in a few days was good.

Seay and his charge were still absent, and the programme, as
outlined, was working out nicely. With the exception of Forrest
and myself, the other foremen were busy looking after their
outfits, while Bob Quirk had his wagon to load and start on its
return. Quince confided to me that though he had stayed on Duck
Creek the night before, his herd would noon that day on Saw Log,
and camp that evening on the next creek north. When pressed for
his reasons, he shrugged his shoulders, and with a quiet wink,
said: "If this new outfit put a man over me, just the minute we
get out of the jurisdiction of this county, off his horse he goes
and walks back. If it's Tolleston, the moment he sees me and
recognizes my outfit as belonging to Lovell, he'll raise the long
yell and let the cat out. When that happens, I want to be in an
unorganized country where a six-shooter is the highest
authority." The idea was a new one to me, and I saw the advantage
of it, but could not move without Siringo's permission, which
Forrest had. Accordingly about noon, Quince summoned his men
together, and they rode out of town. Looking up a map of Ford
County, I was delighted to find that my camp on Saw Log was but a
few miles below the north line.

Among the boys the day passed in riotousness. The carousing was a
necessary stimulant after the long, monotonous drive and exposure
to the elements. Near the middle of the forenoon, Flood and The
Rebel rounded up their outfits and started south for the
Mulberry, while Bob Quirk gathered his own and my lads
preparatory to leaving for the Saw Log. I had agreed to remain on
guard for that night, for with the erratic turn on Tolleston's
part, we were doubly cautious. But when my outfit was ready to
start, Runt Pickett, the feisty little rascal, had about twenty
dollars in his possession which he insisted on gambling away
before leaving town. Runt was comfortably drunk, and as Bob urged
humoring him, I gave my consent, provided he would place it all
at one bet, to which Pickett agreed. Leaving the greater part of
the boys holding the horses, some half-dozen of us entered the
nearest gambling-house, and Runt bet nineteen dollars "Alce" on
the first card which fell in a monte lay-out. To my chagrin, he
won. My brother was delighted over the little rascal's luck, and
urged him to double his bet, but Pickett refused and invited us
all to have a drink. Leaving this place, we entered the next
gaming-hall, when our man again bet nineteen dollars alce on the
first card. Again he won, and we went the length of the street,
Runt wagering nineteen dollars alce on the first card for ten
consecutive times without losing a bet. In his groggy condition,
the prospect of losing Pickett's money was hopeless, and my
brother and I promised him that he might come back the next
morning and try to get rid of his winnings.

Two whole days passed with no report from either Seay or the
buyers. Meanwhile Flood and The Rebel threaded their way through
the other herds, crossing the Arkansaw above town, their wagons
touching at Dodge for new supplies, never halting except
temporarily until they reached the creek on which Forrest was
encamped. The absence of Siringo and the buyers, to my thinking,
was favorable, for no doubt when they came in, a deal would have
been effected on the last of the Buford herds. They returned some
time during the night of the third day out, and I failed to see
the detective before sunrise the next morning. When I did meet
him, everything seemed so serene that I felt jubilant over the
outlook. Sponsilier's beeves had firmly caught the fancy of the
buyers, and the delay in closing the trade was only temporary. "I
can close the deal any minute I want to," said Siringo to me,
"but we mustn't appear too anxious. Old man Don's idea was to get
about one hundred thousand dollars earnest-money in hand, but if
I can get five or ten more, it might help tide us all over a hard
winter. My last proposition to the buyers was that if they would
advance forty-five thousand dollars on the 'Apple' beeves--
Sponsilier's cattle--they might appoint, at the seller's expense,
their own foreman from Dodge to the point of delivery. They have
agreed to give me an answer this morning, and after sleeping over
it, I look for no trouble in closing the trade."

The buyers were also astir early. I met Mr. Field in the
post-office, where he was waiting for it to open. To his general
inquiries I reported everything quiet, but suggested we move camp
soon or the cattle would become restless. He listened very
attentively, and promised that within a few days permission would
be given to move out for our final destination. The morning were
the quiet hours of the town, and when the buyers had received and
gone over their large and accumulated mail, the partners came
over to the Dodge House, looking for the fiscal agent, as I
supposed, to close the trade on Sponsilier's cattle. Siringo was
the acme of indifference, but listened to a different tale. A
trusted man, in whom they had placed a great deal of confidence,
had failed to materialize. He was then overdue some four or five
days, and foul play was suspected. The wily detective poured oil
on the troubled waters, assuring them if their man failed to
appear within a day or two, he would gladly render every
assistance in looking him up. Another matter of considerable
moment would be the arrival that morning of a silent partner, the
financial man of the firm from Washington, D.C. He was due to
arrive on the "Cannon Ball" at eight o'clock, and we all
sauntered down to meet the train from the East. On its arrival,
Siringo and I stood back among the crowd, but the buyers pushed
forward, looking for their friend. The first man to alight from
the day coach, coatless and with both eyes blackened, was Archie
Tolleston; he almost fell into the arms of our cattle buyers. I
recognized Archie at a glance, and dragging the detective inside
the waiting-room, posted him as to the arrival with the wild look
and blood-shot optics. Siringo cautioned me to go to his room and
stay there, promising to report as the day advanced.

Sponsilier had camped the night before on the main river, and as
I crossed to the hotel, his commissary pulled up in front of
Wright, Beverly & Co.'s outfitting store. Taking the chances of
being seen, I interviewed Dave's cook, and learned that his
foreman had given him an order for the supplies, and that
Sponsilier would not come in until after the herd had passed the
Saw Log. As I turned away, my attention was attracted by the
deference being shown the financial man of the cattle firm, as
the party wended their way around to the Wright House. The silent
member of the firm was a portly fellow, and there was no one in
the group but did him honor, even the detective carrying a light
grip, while Tolleston lumbered along with a heavy one.

My effacement was only temporary, as Siringo appeared at his room
shortly afterward. "Well, Quirk," said he, with a smile, "I
reckon my work is all done. Field and Radcliff didn't feel like
talking business this morning, at least until they had shown the
financial member their purchases, both real and prospective. Yes,
they took the fat Colonel and Tolleston with them and started for
your camp with a two-seated rig. From yours they expect to drive
to Forrest's camp, and then meet Sponsilier on the way coming
back. No; I declined a very pressing invitation to go along--you
see my mixed herds might come in any minute. And say, that man
Tolleston was there in a hundred places with the big
conversation; he claims to have been kidnapped, and was locked up
for the last four days. He says he whipped your man Seay, but
couldn't convince the authorities of his innocence until last
night, when they set him free. According to his report, Seay's in
jail yet at a little town down the road called Kinsley. Now, I'm
going to take a conveyance to Spearville, and catch the first
train out of there East. Settle my bill with this hotel, and say
that I may be out of town for a few days, meeting a herd which
I'm expecting. When Tolleston recognizes all three of those
outfits as belonging to Don Lovell--well, won't there be hell to
pay? Yes, my work is all done."

I fully agreed with the detective that Archie would recognize the
remudas and outfits as Lovell's, even though the cattle were
road-branded out of the usual "Circle Dot." Siringo further
informed me that north of Ford County was all an unorganized
country until the Platte River was reached at Ogalalla, and
advised me to ignore any legal process served outside those
bounds. He was impatient to get away, and when he had put me in
possession of everything to our advantage, we wrung each other's
hands in farewell. As the drive outlined by the cattle buyers
would absorb the day, I felt no necessity of being in a hurry.
The absence of Dorg Seay was annoying, and the fellow had done us
such valiant service, I felt in honor bound to secure his
release. Accordingly I wired the city marshal at Kinsley, and
received a reply that Seay had been released early that morning,
and had started overland for Dodge. This was fortunate, and after
settling all bills, I offered to pay the liveryman in advance for
the rig in Seay's possession, assuring him by the telegram that
it would return that evening. He refused to make any settlement
until the condition of both the animal and the conveyance had
been passed upon, and fearful lest Dorg should come back
moneyless, I had nothing to do but await his return. I was
growing impatient to reach camp, there being no opportunity to
send word to my outfit, and the passing hours seemed days, when
late in the afternoon Dorg Seay drove down the main street of
Dodge as big as a government beef buyer. The liveryman was
pleased and accepted the regular rate, and Dorg and I were soon
galloping out of town. As we neared the first divide, we dropped
our horses into a walk to afford them a breathing spell, and in
reply to my fund of information, Seay said:

"So Tolleston's telling that he licked me. Well, that's a good
one on this one of old man Seay's boys. Archie must have been
crazy with the heat. The fact is that he had been trying to quit
me for several days. We had exhausted every line of dissipation,
and when I decided that it was no longer possible to hold him, I
insulted and provoked him into a quarrel, and we were both
arrested. Licked me, did he? He couldn't lick his upper lip."


The sun had nearly set when we galloped into Bob Quirk's camp.
Halting only long enough to advise my brother of the escape of
Tolleston and his joining the common enemy, I asked him to throw
any pursuit off our trail, as I proposed breaking camp that
evening. Seay and myself put behind us the few miles between the
two wagons, and dashed up to mine just as the outfit were
corralling the remuda for night-horses. Orders rang out, and
instead of catching our regular guard mounts, the boys picked the
best horses in their strings. The cattle were then nearly a mile
north of camp, coming in slowly towards the bed-ground, but a
half-dozen of us rushed away to relieve the men on herd and turn
the beeves back. The work-mules were harnessed in, and as soon as
the relieved herders secured mounts, our camp of the past few
days was abandoned. The twilight of evening was upon us, and to
the rattling of the heavily loaded wagon and the shouting of the
wrangler in our rear were added the old herd songs. The cattle,
without trail or trace to follow, and fit ransom for a dozen
kings in pagan ages, moved north as if imbued with the spirit of
the occasion.

A fair moon favored us. The night was an ideal one for work, and
about twelve o'clock we bedded down the herd and waited for dawn.
As we expected to move again with the first sign of day, no one
cared to sleep; our nerves were under a high tension with
expectation of what the coming day might bring forth. Our
location was an unknown quantity. All agreed that we were fully
ten miles north of the Saw Log, and, with the best reasoning at
my command, outside the jurisdiction of Ford County. The regular
trail leading north was some six or eight miles to the west, and
fearful that we had not reached unorganized territory, I was
determined to push farther on our course before veering to the
left. The night halt, however, afforded us an opportunity to
compare notes and arrive at some definite understanding as to the
programme of the forthcoming day. "Quirk, you missed the sight of
your life," said Jake Blair, as we dismounted around the wagon,
after bedding the cattle, "by not being there when the discovery
was made that these 'Open A's' were Don Lovell's cattle.
Tolleston, of course, made the discovery; but I think he must
have smelt the rat in advance. Archie and the buyers arrived for
a late dinner, and several times Tolleston ran his eye over one
of the boys and asked, 'Haven't I met you somewhere?' but none of
them could recall the meeting. Then he got to nosing around the
wagon and noticing every horse about camp. The road-brand on the
cattle threw him off the scent just for a second, but when he
began reading the ranch-brands, he took a new hold. As he looked
over the remuda, the scent seemed to get stronger, and when he
noticed the 'Circle Dot' on those work-mules, he opened up and
bayed as if he had treed something. And sure enough he had; for
you know, Tom, those calico lead mules belonged in his team last
year, and he swore he'd know them in hell, brand or no brand.
When Archie announced the outfit, lock, stock, and barrel, as
belonging to Don Lovell, the old buyers turned pale as ghosts,
and the fat one took off his hat and fanned himself. That act
alone was worth the price of admission. But when we boys were
appealed to, we were innocent and likewise ignorant, claiming
that we always understood that the herd belonged to the Marshall
estate, but then we were just common hands and not supposed to
know the facts in the case. Tolleston argued one way, and we all
pulled the other, so they drove away, looking as if they hoped it
wasn't true. But it was the sight of your life to see that fat
fellow fan himself as he kept repeating, 'I thought you boys
hurried too much in buying these cattle.'

The guards changed hourly. No fire was allowed, but Parent set
out all the cold food available, and supplementing this with
canned goods, we had a midnight lunch. Dorg Seay regaled the
outfit with his recent experience, concealing nothing, and
regretfully admitting that his charge had escaped before the work
was finished. A programme was outlined for the morrow, the main
feature of which was that, in case of pursuit, we would all tell
the same story. Dawn came between three and four on those June
mornings, and with the first streak of gray in the east we
divided the outfit and mounted our horses, part riding to push
the cattle off their beds and the others to round in the remuda.
Before the herd had grazed out a half-mile, we were overtaken by
half the outfit on fresh mounts, who at once took charge of the
herd. When the relieved men had secured horses, I remained behind
and assisted in harnessing in the team and gathering the saddle
stock, a number of which were missed for lack of proper light.
With the wagon once started, Levering and myself soon had the
full remuda in hand and were bringing up the rear in a long,
swinging trot. Before the sun peeped over the eastern horizon, we
passed the herd and overtook the wagon, which was bumping along
over the uneven prairie. Ordering the cook to have breakfast
awaiting us beyond a divide which crossed our front, I turned
back to the herd, now strung out in regular trailing form. The
halt ahead would put us full fifteen miles north of our camp on
the Saw Log. An hour later, as we were scaling the divide, one of
the point-men sighted a posse in our rear, coming after us like
fiends. I was riding in the swing at the time, the herd being
strung out fully a mile, and on catching first sight of the
pursuers, turned and hurried to the rear. To my agreeable
surprise, instead of a sheriff's posse, my brother and five of
his men galloped up and overtook us.

"Well, Tom, it's a good thing you moved last night," said Bob, as
he reined in his reeking horse. "A deputy sheriff and posse of
six men had me under arrest all night, thinking I was the Quirk
who had charge of Don Lovell's 'Open A' herd. Yes, they came to
my camp about midnight, and I admitted that my name was Quirk and
that we were holding Lovell's cattle. They guarded me until
morning,--I slept like an innocent babe myself,--when the
discovery was made that my herd was in a 'Circle Dot' road-brand
instead of an 'Open A,' which their warrant called for. Besides,
I proved by fourteen competent witnesses, who had known me for
years, that my name was Robert Burns Quirk. My outfit told the
posse that the herd they were looking for were camped three miles
below, but had left during the afternoon before, and no doubt
were then beyond their bailiwick. I gave the posse the
horse-laugh, but they all went down the creek, swearing they
would trail down that herd of Lovell's. My cattle are going to
follow up this morning, so I thought I'd ride on ahead and be
your guest in case there is any fun to-day."

The auxiliary was welcomed. The beeves moved on up the divide
like veterans assaulting an intrenchment. On reaching a narrow
mesa on the summit, a northwest breeze met the leaders, and
facing it full in the eye, the herd was allowed to tack westward
as they went down the farther slope. This watershed afforded a
fine view of the surrounding country, and from its apex I scanned
our rear for miles without detecting any sign of animate life.
From our elevation, the plain dipped away in every direction. Far
to the east, the depression seemed as real as a trough in the
ocean when seen from the deck of a ship. The meanderings of this
divide were as crooked as a river, and as we surveyed its course
one of Bob's men sighted with the naked eye two specks fully five
miles distant to the northwest, and evidently in the vicinity of
the old trail. The wagon was in plain view, and leaving three of
my boys to drift the cattle forward, we rode away with ravenous
appetites to interview the cook. Parent maintained his reputation
as host, and with a lofty conversation reviewed the legal aspect
of the situation confronting us. A hasty breakfast over, my
brother asked for mounts for himself and men; and as we were
corralling our remuda, one of the three lads on herd signaled to
us from the mesa's summit. Catching the nearest horses at hand,
and taking our wrangler with us, we cantered up the slope to our
waiting sentinel.

"You can't see them now," said Burl Van Vedder, our outlook; "but
wait a few minutes and they'll come up on higher ground. Here,
here, you are looking a mile too far to the right--they're not
following the cattle, but the wagon's trail. Keep your eyes to
the left of that shale outcropping, and on a line with that lone
tree on the Saw Log. Hold your horses a minute; I've been
watching them for half an hour before I called you; be patient,
and they'll rise like a trout. There! there comes one on a gray
horse. See those two others just behind him. Now, there come the
others--six all told." Sure enough, there came the sleuths of
deputy sheriffs, trailing up our wagon. They were not over three
miles away, and after patiently waiting nearly an hour, we rode
to the brink of the slope, and I ordered one of the boys to fire
his pistol to attract their attention. On hearing the report,
they halted, and taking off my hat I waved them forward. Feeling
that we were on safe territory, I was determined to get in the
first bluff, and as they rode up, I saluted the leader and said:

"Good-morning, Mr. Sheriff. What are you fooling along on our
wagon track for, when you could have trailed the herd in a long
lope? Here we've wasted a whole hour waiting for you to come up,
just because the sheriff's office of Ford County employs as
deputies 'nesters' instead of plainsmen. But now since you are
here, let us proceed to business, or would you like to breakfast
first? Our wagon is just over the other slope, and you-all look
pale around the gills this morning after your long ride and
sleepless night. Which shall it be, business or breakfast?"

Haughtily ignoring my irony, the leader of the posse drew from
his pocket several papers, and first clearing his throat, said in
an imperious tone, "I have a warrant here for the arrest of Tom
Quirk, alias McIndoo, and a distress warrant for a herd of 'Open

"Old sport, you're in the right church, but the wrong pew," I
interrupted. "This may be the state of Kansas, but at present we
are outside the bailiwick of Ford County, and those papers of
yours are useless. Let me take those warrants and I'll indorse
them for you, so as to dazzle your superiors on their return
without the man or property. I was deputized once by a constable
in Texas to assist in recovering some cattle, but just like the
present case they got out of our jurisdiction before we overtook
them. The constable was a lofty, arrogant fellow like yourself,
but had sense enough to keep within his rights. But when it came
to indorsing the warrant for return, we were all up a stump, and
rode twenty miles out of our way so as to pass Squire Little's
ranch and get his advice on the matter. The squire had been a
justice in Tennessee before coming to our state, and knew just
what to say. Now let me take those papers, and I'll indorse them
'Non est inventus,' which is Latin for SCOOTED, BY GOSH! Ain't
you going to let me have them?"

"Now, look here, young man," scornfully replied the chief deputy,

"No, you won't," I again interrupted. "Let me read you a warrant
from a higher court. In the name of law, you are willing to
prostitute your office to assist a gang of thieves who have taken
advantage of an opportunity to ruin my employer, an honest trail
drover. The warrant I'm serving was issued by Judge Colt, and it
says he is supreme in unorganized territory; that your official
authority ceases the moment you step outside your jurisdiction,
and you know the Ford County line is behind us. Now, as a
citizen, I'll treat you right, but as an official, I won't even
listen to you. And what's more, you can't arrest me or any man in
my outfit; not that your hair's the wrong color, but because you
lack authority. I'm the man you're looking for, and these are Don
Lovell's cattle, but you can't touch a hoof of them, not even a
stray. Now, if you want to dispute the authority which I've
sighted, all you need to do is pull your guns and open your

"Mr. Quirk," said the deputy, "you are a fugitive from justice,
and I can legally take you wherever I find you. If you resist
arrest, all the worse, as it classes you an outlaw. Now, my
advice is--"

But the sentence was never finished, for coming down the divide
like a hurricane was a band of horsemen, who, on sighting us,
raised the long yell, and the next minute Dave Sponsilier and
seven of his men dashed up. The boys opened out to avoid the
momentum of the onslaught, but the deputies sat firm; and as
Sponsilier and his lads threw their horses back on their haunches
in halting, Dave stood in his stirrups, and waving his hat
shouted, "Hurrah for Don Lovell, and to hell with the sheriff and
deputies of Ford County!" Sponsilier and I were great friends, as
were likewise our outfits, and we nearly unhorsed each other in
our rough but hearty greetings. When quiet was once more
restored, Dave continued: "I was in Dodge last night, and Bob
Wright put me next that the sheriff was going to take possession
of two of old man Don's herds this morning. You can bet your
moccasins that the grass didn't grow very much while I was
getting back to camp. Flood and The Rebel took fifteen men and
went to Quince's support, and I have been scouting since dawn
trying to locate you. Yes, the sheriff himself and five deputies
passed up the trail before daybreak to arrest Forrest and take
possession of his herd--I don't think. I suppose these strangers
are deputy sheriffs? If it was me, do you know what I'd do with

The query was half a command. It required no order, for in an
instant the deputies were surrounded, and had it not been for the
cool judgment of Bob Quirk, violence would have resulted. The
primitive mind is slow to resent an affront, and while the chief
deputy had couched his last remarks in well-chosen language, his
intimation that I was a fugitive from justice, and an outlaw in
resisting arrest, was tinder to stubble. Knowing the metal of my
outfit, I curbed the tempest within me, and relying on a brother
whom I would gladly follow to death if need be, I waved hands off
to my boys. "Now, men," said Bob to the deputies, "the easiest
way out of this matter is the best. No one here has committed any
crime subjecting him to arrest, neither can you take possession
of any cattle belonging to Don Lovell. I'll renew the invitation
for you to go down to the wagon and breakfast, or I'll give you
the best directions at my command to reach Dodge. Instead of
trying to attempt to accomplish your object you had better go
back to the chaparral--you're spelled down. Take your choice,

Bob's words had a soothing effect. He was thirty-three years old
and a natural born leader among rough men. His advice carried the
steely ring of sincerity, and for the first time since the
meeting, the deputies wilted. The chief one called his men aside,
and after a brief consultation my brother was invited to join
them, which he did. I afterwards learned that Bob went into
detail in defining our position in the premises, and the posse,
once they heard the other side of the question, took an entirely
different view of the matter. While the consultation was in
progress, we all dismounted; cigarettes were rolled, and while
the smoke arose in clouds, we reviewed the interim since we
parted in March in old Medina. The sheriff's posse accompanied my
brother to the wagon, and after refreshing themselves, remounted
their horses. Bob escorted them back across the summit of the
mesa, and the olive branch waved in peace on the divide.

The morning was not far advanced. After a brief consultation, the
two older foremen urged that we ride to the relief of Forrest. A
hint was sufficient, and including five of my best-mounted men, a
posse of twenty of us rode away. We held the divide for some
distance on our course, and before we left it, a dust-cloud,
indicating the presence of Bob's herd, was sighted on the
southern slope, while on the opposite one my cattle were
beginning to move forward. Sponsilier knew the probable
whereabouts of Forrest, and under his lead we swung into a free
gallop as we dropped down the northern slope from the mesa. The
pace was carrying us across country at a rate of ten miles an
hour, scarcely a word being spoken, as we shook out kink after
kink in our horses or reined them in to recover their wind. Our
objective point was a slight elevation on the plain, from which
we expected to sight the trail if not the herds of Flood,
Forrest, and The Rebel. On reaching this gentle swell, we reined
in and halted our horses, which were then fuming with healthy
sweat. Both creek and trail were clearly outlined before us, but
with the heat-waves and mirages beyond, our view was naturally
restricted. Sponsilier felt confident that Forrest was north of
the creek and beyond the trail, and again shaking out our horses,
we silently put the intervening miles behind us. Our mounts were
all fresh and strong, and in crossing the creek we allowed them a
few swallows of water before continuing our ride. We halted again
in crossing the trail, but it was so worn by recent use that it
afforded no clue to guide us in our quest. But from the next
vantage-point which afforded us a view, a sea of cattle greeted
our vision, all of which seemed under herd. Wagon sheets were
next sighted, and finally a horseman loomed up and signaled to
us. He proved to be one of Flood's men, and under his direction
Forrest's camp and cattle were soon located. The lad assured us
that a pow-wow had been in session since daybreak, and we hurried
away to add our numbers to its council. When we sighted Forrest's
wagon among some cottonwoods, a number of men were just mounting
to ride away, and before we reached camp, they crossed the creek
heading south. A moment later, Forrest walked out, and greeting
us, said:

"Hello, fellows. Get down and let your horses blow and enjoy
yourselves. You're just a minute late to meet some very nice
people. Yes, we had the sheriff from Dodge and a posse of men for
breakfast. No--no particular trouble, except John Johns, the d--
fool, threw the loop of his rope over the neck of the sheriff's
horse, and one of the party offered to unsling a carbine. But
about a dozen six-shooters clicked within hearing, and he acted
on my advice and cut gun-plays out. No trouble at all except a
big medicine talk, and a heap of legal phrases that I don't sabe
very clear. Turn your horses loose, I tell you, for I'm going to
kill a nice fat stray, and towards evening, when the other herds
come up, we'll have a round-up of Don Lovell's outfits. I'll make
a little speech, and on account of the bloodless battle this
morning, this stream will be rechristened Sheriff's Creek."


The hospitality of a trail wagon was aptly expressed in the
invitation to enjoy ourselves. Some one had exercised good
judgment in selecting a camp, for every convenience was at hand,
including running water and ample shade from a clump of
cottonwoods. Turning our steaming horses free, we threw
ourselves, in complete abandonment and relaxation, down in the
nearest shade. Unmistakable hints were given our host of certain
refreshments which would be acceptable, and in reply Forrest
pointed to a bucket of creek water near the wagon wheel, and
urged us not to be at all backward.

Every one was well fortified with brown cigarette papers and
smoking tobacco, and singly and in groups we were soon smoking
like hired hands and reviewing the incidents of the morning.
Forrest's cook, a tall, red-headed fellow, in anticipation of the
number of guests his wagon would entertain for the day, put on
the little and the big pot. As it only lacked an hour of noon on
our arrival, the promised fresh beef would not be available in
time for dinner; but we were not like guests who had to hurry
home--we would be right there when supper was ready.

The loss of a night's sleep on my outfit was a good excuse for an
after-dinner siesta. Untying our slickers, we strolled out of
hearing of the camp, and for several hours obliterated time.
About three o'clock Bob Quirk aroused and informed us that he had
ordered our horses, and that the signal of Sponsilier's cattle
had been seen south on the trail. Dave was impatient to intercept
his herd and camp them well down the creek, at least below the
regular crossing. This would throw Bob's and my cattle still
farther down the stream; and we were all determined to honor
Forrest with our presence for supper and the evening hours.
Quince's wrangler rustled in the horses, and as we rejoined the
camp the quarters of a beef hung low on a cottonwood, while a
smudge beneath them warned away all insect life. Leaving word
that we would return during the evening, the eleventh-hour guests
rode away in the rough, uneven order in which we had arrived.
Sponsilier and his men veered off to the south, Bob Quirk and his
lads soon following, while the rest of us continued on down the
creek. My cattle were watering when we overtook them, occupying
fully a mile of the stream, and nearly an hour's ride below the
trail crossing. It takes a long time to water a big herd
thoroughly, and we repeatedly turned them back and forth across
the creek, but finally allowed them to graze away with a broad,
fan-like front. As ours left the stream, Bob's cattle were coming
in over a mile above, and in anticipation of a dry camp that
night, Parent had been advised to fill his kegs and supply
himself with wood.

Detailing the third and fourth guard to wrangle the remuda, I
sent Levering up the creek with my brother's horses and to
recover our loaned saddle stock; even Bob Quirk was just
thoughtless enough to construe a neighborly act into a horse
trade. About two miles out from the creek and an equal distance
from the trail, I found the best bed-ground of the trip. It
sloped to the northwest, was covered with old dry grass, and
would catch any vagrant breeze except an eastern one. The wagon
was ordered into camp, and the first and second guards were
relieved just long enough to secure their night-horses. Nearly
all of these two watches had been with me during the day, and on
the return of Levering with the horses, we borrowed a number of
empty flour-sacks for beef, and cantered away, leaving behind
only the cook and the first two guards.

What an evening and night that was! As we passed up the creek, we
sighted in the gathering twilight the camp-fires of Sponsilier
and my brother, several miles apart and south of the stream. When
we reached Forrest's wagon the clans were gathering, The Rebel
and his crowd being the last to come in from above. Groups of
saddle horses were tied among the trees, while around two fires
were circles of men broiling beef over live coals. The red-headed
cook had anticipated forty guests outside of his own outfit, and
was pouring coffee into tin cups and shying biscuit right and
left on request. The supper was a success, not on account of the
spread or our superior table manners, but we graced the occasion
with appetites which required the staples of life to satisfy.
Then we smoked, falling into groups when the yarning began. All
the fresh-beef stories of our lives, and they were legion, were
told, no one group paying any attention to another.

"Every time I run a-foul of fresh beef," said The Rebel, as he
settled back comfortably between the roots of a cottonwood, with
his back to its trunk, "it reminds me of the time I was a
prisoner among the Yankees. It was the last year of the war, and
I had got over my first desire to personally whip the whole
North. There were about five thousand of us held as prisoners of
war for eleven months on a peninsula in the Chesapeake Bay. The
fighting spirit of the soldier was broken in the majority of us,
especially among the older men and those who had families. But we
youngsters accepted the fortunes of war and were glad that we
were alive, even if we were prisoners. In my mess in prison there
were fifteen, all having been captured at the same time, and many
of us comrades of three years' standing.

"I remember the day we were taken off the train and marched
through the town for the prison, a Yankee band in our front
playing national airs and favorites of their army, and the people
along the route jeering us and asking how we liked the music. Our
mess held together during the march, and some of the boys
answered them back as well as they could. Once inside the prison
stockade, we went into quarters and our mess still held together.
Before we had been there long, one day there was a call among the
prisoners for volunteers to form a roustabout crew. Well, I
enlisted as a roustabout. We had to report to an officer twice a
day, and then were put under guard and set to work. The kind of
labor I liked best was unloading the supplies for the prison,
which were landed on a near-by wharf. This roustabout crew had
all the unloading to do, and the reason I liked it was it gave us
some chance to steal. Whenever there was anything extra, intended
for the officers, to be unloaded, look out for accidents. Broken
crates were common, and some of the contents was certain to reach
our pockets or stomachs, in spite of the guard.

"I was a willing worker and stood well with the guards. They
never searched me, and when they took us outside the stockade,
the captain of the guard gave me permission, after our work was
over, to patronize the sutler's store and buy knick-knacks from
the booths. There was always some little money amongst soldiers,
even in prison, and I was occasionally furnished money by my
messmates to buy bread from a baker's wagon which was outside the
walls. Well, after I had traded a few times with the baker's boy,
I succeeded in corrupting him. Yes, had him stealing from his
employer and selling to me at a discount. I was a good customer,
and being a prisoner, there was no danger of my meeting his
employer. You see the loaves were counted out to him, and he had
to return the equivalent or the bread. At first the bread cost me
ten cents for a small loaf, but when I got my scheme working, it
didn't cost me five cents for the largest loaves the boy could
steal from the bakery. I worked that racket for several months,
and if we hadn't been exchanged, I'd have broke that baker, sure.

"But the most successful scheme I worked was stealing the kidneys
out of beef while we were handling it. It was some distance from
the wharf to the warehouse, and when I'd get a hind quarter of
beef on my shoulder, it was an easy trick to burrow my hand
through the tallow and get a good grip on the kidney. Then when
I'd throw the quarter down in the warehouse, it would be minus a
kidney, which secretly found lodgment in a large pocket in the
inside of my shirt. I was satisfied with one or two kidneys a day
when I first worked the trick, but my mess caught on, and then I
had to steal by wholesale to satisfy them. Some days, when the
guards were too watchful, I couldn't get very many, and then
again when things were lax, 'Elijah's Raven' would get a kidney
for each man in our mess. With the regular allowance of rations
and what I could steal, when the Texas troops were exchanged, our
mess was ragged enough, but pig-fat, and slick as weasels. Lord
love you, but we were a great mess of thieves."

Nearly all of Flood's old men were with him again, several of
whom were then in Forrest's camp. A fight occurred among a group
of saddle horses tied to the front wheel of the wagon, among them
being the mount of John Officer. After the belligerents had been
quieted, and Officer had removed and tied his horse to a
convenient tree, he came over and joined our group, among which
were the six trail bosses. Throwing himself down among us, and
using Sponsilier for a pillow and myself for footstool, he

"All you foremen who have been over the Chisholm Trail remember
the stage-stand called Bull Foot, but possibly some of the boys
haven't. Well, no matter, it's just about midway between Little
Turkey Creek and Buffalo Springs on that trail, where it runs
through the Cherokee Strip. I worked one year in that northern
country--lots of Texas boys there too. It was just about the time
they began to stock that country with Texas steers, and we rode
lines to keep our cattle on their range. You bet, there was
riding to do in that country then. The first few months that
these Southern steers are turned loose on a new range, Lord! but
they do love to drift against a breeze. In any kind of a
rain-storm, they'll travel farther in a night than a whole outfit
can turn them back in a day.

"Our camp was on the Salt Fork of the Cimarron, and late in the
fall when all the beeves had been shipped, the outfit were riding
lines and loose-herding a lot of Texas yearlings, and mixed
cattle, natives to that range. Up in that country they have
Indian summer and Squaw winter, both occurring in the fall. They
have lots of funny weather up there. Well, late one evening that
fall there came an early squall of Squaw winter, sleeted and spit
snow wickedly. The next morning there wasn't a hoof in sight, and
shortly after daybreak we were riding deep in our saddles to
catch the lead drift of our cattle. After a hard day's ride, we
found that we were out several hundred head, principally
yearlings of the through Texas stock. You all know how locoed a
bunch of dogies can get--we hunted for three days and for fifty
miles in every direction, and neither hide, hair, nor hoof could
we find. It was while we were hunting these cattle that my yarn

"The big augers of the outfit lived in Wichita, Kansas. Their
foreman, Bibleback Hunt, and myself were returning from hunting
this missing bunch of yearlings when night overtook us, fully
twenty-five miles from camp. Then this Bull Foot stage came to
mind, and we turned our horses and rode to it. It was nearly dark
when we reached it, and Bibleback said for me to go in and make
the talk. I'll never forget that nice little woman who met me at
the door of that sod shack. I told her our situation, and she
seemed awfully gracious in granting us food and shelter for the
night. She told us we could either picket our horses or put them
in the corral and feed them hay and grain from the
stage-company's supply. Now, old Bibleback was what you might
call shy of women, and steered clear of the house until she sent
her little boy out and asked us to come in. Well, we sat around
in the room, owly-like, and to save my soul from the wrath to
come, I couldn't think of a word that was proper to say to the
little woman, busy getting supper. Bibleback was worse off than I
was; he couldn't do anything but look at the pictures on the
wall. What was worrying me was, had she a husband? Or what was
she doing away out there in that lonesome country? Then a man old
enough to be her grandfather put in an appearance. He was
friendly and quite talkative, and I built right up to him. And
then we had a supper that I distinctly remember yet. Well, I
should say I do--it takes a woman to get a good supper, and cheer
it with her presence, sitting at the head of the table and
pouring the coffee.

"This old man was a retired stage-driver, and was doing the
wrangling act for the stage-horses. After supper I went out to
the corral and wormed the information out of him that the woman
was a widow; that her husband had died before she came there, and
that she was from Michigan. Amongst other things that I learned
from the old man was that she had only been there a few months,
and was a poor but deserving woman. I told Bibleback all this
after we had gone to bed, and we found that our finances amounted
to only four dollars, which she was more than welcome to. So the
next morning after breakfast, when I asked her what I owed her
for our trouble, she replied so graciously: 'Why, gentlemen, I
couldn't think of taking advantage of your necessity to charge
you for a favor that I'm only too happy to grant.' 'Oh,' said I,
'take this, anyhow,' laying the silver on the corner of the table
and starting for the door, when she stopped me. 'One moment, sir;
I can't think of accepting this. Be kind enough to grant my
request,' and returned the money. We mumbled out some thanks,
bade her good-day, and started for the corral, feeling like two
sheep thieves. While we were saddling up--will you believe it?--
her little boy came out to the corral and gave each one of us as
fine a cigar as ever I buttoned my lip over. Well, fellows, we
had had it put all over us by this little Michigan woman, till we
couldn't look each other in the face. We were accustomed to
hardship and neglect, but here was genuine kindness enough to
kill a cat.

"Until we got within five miles of our camp that morning, old
Bibleback wouldn't speak to me as we rode along. Then he turned
halfway in his saddle and said: 'What kind of folks are those?'
'I don't know,' I replied, 'what kind of people they are, but I
know they are good ones.' 'Well, I'll get even with that little
woman if it takes every sou in my war-bags,' said Hunt.

"When within a mile of camp, Bibleback turned again in his saddle
and asked, 'When is Christmas?' 'In about five weeks,' I
answered. 'Do you know where that big Wyoming stray ranges?' he
next asked. I trailed onto his game in a second. 'Of course I
do.' 'Well,' says he, 'let's kill him for Christmas and give that
little widow every ounce of the meat. It'll be a good one on her,
won't it? We'll fool her a plenty. Say nothing to the others,' he
added; and giving our horses the rein we rode into camp on a

"Three days before Christmas we drove up this Wyoming stray and
beefed him. We hung the beef up overnight to harden in the frost,
and the next morning bright and early, we started for the
stage-stand with a good pair of ponies to a light wagon. We
reached the widow's place about eleven o'clock, and against her
protests that she had no use for so much, we hung up eight
hundred pounds of as fine beef as you ever set your peepers on.
We wished her a merry Christmas, jumped into the wagon, clucked
to the ponies, and merely hit the high places getting away. When
we got well out of sight of the house--well, I've seen mule colts
play and kid goats cut up their antics; I've seen children that
was frolicsome; but for a man with gray hair on his head, old
Bibleback Hunt that day was the happiest mortal I ever saw. He
talked to the horses; he sang songs; he played Injun; and that
Christmas was a merry one, for the debt was paid and our little
widow had beef to throw to the dogs. I never saw her again, but
wherever she is to-night, if my prayer counts, may God bless

Early in the evening I had warned my boys that we would start on
our return at ten o'clock. The hour was nearly at hand, and in
reply to my inquiry if our portion of the beef had been secured,
Jack Splann said that he had cut off half a loin, a side of ribs,
and enough steak for breakfast. Splann and I tied the beef to our
cantle-strings, and when we returned to the group, Sponsilier was
telling of the stampede of his herd in the Panhandle about a
month before. "But that run wasn't a circumstance to one in which
I figured once, and in broad daylight," concluded Dave. It
required no encouragement to get the story; all we had to do was
to give him time to collect his thoughts.

"Yes, it was in the summer of '73," he finally continued. "It was
my first trip over the trail, and I naturally fell into position
at the drag end of the herd. I was a green boy of about eighteen
at the time, having never before been fifty miles from the ranch
where I was born. The herd belonged to Major Hood, and our
destination was Ellsworth, Kansas. In those days they generally
worked oxen to the chuck-wagons, as they were ready sale in the
upper country, and in good demand for breaking prairie. I reckon
there must have been a dozen yoke of work-steers in our herd that
year, and they were more trouble to me than all the balance of
the cattle, for they were slothful and sinfully lazy. My
vocabulary of profanity was worn to a frazzle before we were out
a week, and those oxen didn't pay any more attention to a rope or
myself than to the buzzing of a gnat.

"There was one big roan ox, called Turk, which we worked to the
wagon occasionally, but in crossing the Arbuckle Mountains in the
Indian Territory, he got tender-footed. Another yoke was
substituted, and in a few days Turk was on his feet again. But he
was a cunning rascal and had learned to soldier, and while his
feet were sore, I favored him with sandy trails and gave him his
own time. In fact, most of my duties were driving that one ox,
while the other boys handled the herd. When his feet got well--I
had toadied and babied him so--he was plum ruined. I begged the
foreman to put him back in the chuck team, but the cook kicked on
account of his well-known laziness, so Turk and I continued to
adorn the rear of the column. I reckon the foreman thought it
better to have Turk and me late than no dinner. I tried a hundred
different schemes to instill ambition and self-respect into that
ox, but he was an old dog and contented with his evil ways.

"Several weeks passed, and Turk and I became a standing joke with
the outfit. One morning I made the discovery that he was afraid
of a slicker. For just about a full half day, I had the best of
him, and several times he was out of sight in the main body of
the herd. But he always dropped to the rear, and finally the
slicker lost its charm to move him. In fact he rather enjoyed
having me fan him with it--it seemed to cool him. It was the
middle of the afternoon, and Turk had dropped about a
quarter-mile to the rear, while I was riding along beside and
throwing the slicker over him like a blanket. I was letting him
carry it, and he seemed to be enjoying himself, switching his
tail in appreciation, when the matted brush of his tail noosed
itself over one of the riveted buttons on the slicker. The next
switch brought the yellow 'fish' bumping on his heels, and
emitting a blood-curdling bellow, he curved his tail and started
for the herd. Just for a minute it tickled me to see old Turk
getting such a wiggle on him, but the next moment my mirth turned
to seriousness, and I tried to cut him off from the other cattle,
but he beat me, bellowing bloody murder. The slicker was sailing
like a kite, and the rear cattle took fright and began bawling as
if they had struck a fresh scent of blood. The scare flashed
through the herd from rear to point, and hell began popping right
then and there. The air filled with dust and the earth trembled
with the running cattle. Not knowing which way to turn, I stayed
right where I was--in the rear. As the dust lifted, I followed
up, and about a mile ahead picked up my slicker, and shortly
afterward found old Turk, grazing contentedly. With every man in
the saddle, that herd ran seven miles and was only turned by the
Cimarron River. It was nearly dark when I and the roan ox
overtook the cattle. Fortunately none of the swing-men had seen
the cause of the stampede, and I attributed it to fresh blood,
which the outfit believed. My verdant innocence saved my scalp
that time, but years afterward I nearly lost it when I admitted
to my old foreman what had caused the stampede that afternoon.
But I was a trail boss then and had learned my lesson."

The Rebel, who was encamped several miles up the creek, summoned
his men, and we all arose and scattered after our horses. There
was quite a cavalcade going our way, and as we halted within the
light of the fires for the different outfits to gather, Flood
rode up, and calling Forrest, said: "In the absence of any word
from old man Don, we might as well all pull out in the morning.
More than likely we'll hear from him at Grinnell, and until we
reach the railroad, the Buford herds had better take the lead.
I'll drag along in the rear, and if there's another move made
from Dodge, you will have warning. Now, that's about all, except
to give your cattle plenty of time; don't hurry. S'long,


The next morning the herds moved out like brigades of an army on
dress-parade. Our front covered some six or seven miles, the
Buford cattle in the lead, while those intended for Indian
delivery naturally fell into position on flank and rear. My
beeves had enjoyed a splendid rest during the past week, and now
easily took the lead in a steady walk, every herd avoiding the
trail until necessity compelled us to reenter it. The old pathway
was dusty and merely pointed the way, and until rain fell to
settle it, our intention was to give it a wide berth. As the
morning wore on and the herds drew farther and farther apart,
except for the dim dust-clouds of ten thousand trampling feet on
a raw prairie, it would have been difficult for us to establish

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