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We got an early start in the morning, and we landed at our camping place about four o’clock in the evening, and I think there were as many as twenty invited us to take supper with them that night. The last one was from four young girls, who came to us together. One of them told Jim that she wanted him and Mr. Drannan to come to their tent right away, as supper was waiting. Jim answered that we didn’t want any supper but told her that if she would invite us to breakfast next morning and would promise there would be enough to eat to fill us both for three or four days, we would be glad to come and eat.

She answered, “All right, Mr. Bridger, I will get up before day and get to cooking, so I shall be sure and have enough for you at least.”

Jim and I now went to the tent of the people who had invited us first, as had been our custom all through the journey. These were elderly people who had one son and one daughter, both grown to man and womanhood. While we were at supper the older woman asked how much bread we could carry with us. Jim said we would like enough to last us three or four days, and he thought three loaves like the ones on the spread would be enough.

She said, “Why, Mr. Bridger, everybody is making bread, and cooking meat for you to take with you.”

Jim said, “Why, my good woman, we can kill all the meat we want as we need it, and three loaves of bread is all we can carry on our horses with our other stuff.”

The first thing in the morning the girls we had promised to eat breakfast with were after us to come to their tent, and we found a fine meal waiting for us.

Jim said, “Now ladies, you know that in going back, Will and I have to go over a very dangerous road, and we won’t have time to cook in the next three or four days, so we calculate to eat enough to last us till we get to the Sink of the Humboldt, and that will take us three or four days, so in our accepting your invitation to take our last breakfast on this trip with you we may make you twice glad.”

The elder woman smiled and told the girls they had better be frying some more meat. Jim looked around the spread and told the girls he guessed they had better wait till we had eaten what was before u, before they cooked more, and there certainly was enough food before us for as many more as sat around it, and although it was spread on a cloth laid on the ground, I have never partaken of a breakfast served on the finest table that tasted as good as that one did that morning.

We had almost finished eating when the elder lady said, “Girls, pass that cake around.”

Jim said, “Is there cake too? I’m not used to eating cake, only on Sunday mornings, and this is Saturday.”

I told the girls that Jim hadn’t seen any cake since we left Fort Kerney, and that if she wanted any left for themselves they had better not pass the plate. She answered, “There is aplenty, and I have a great big cake for you to take to eat on the road.”

Jim said, “That won’t do at all, for Will will want to stay in camp all the time and eat cake until it is all gone.”

As soon as breakfast was over, we caught our horses and began packing. We each had two saddle horses, and we had one pack horse between us. When we were leading up our horses, Jim said, “This is the worst job of all, for all these women have a lot of grub cooked for us to take along, and plagued take it, we have no room on the pack horses to put it. What shall we do?”

I said, “We will take what we can pack, Jim, and we can thank the ladies for their kindness, and tell them we are sorry we can’t take all they would give us, and then we can mount and be off.”

Jim said, “That sounds easy.”

When we were packing, sure enough, every one of the elder women and some of the girls brought something for us to take with us to eat. Jim told them that we were a thousand times obliged to them all, but we could not take anything but a few loaves of bread, and then, as was usual, in his joking way he said with a glance at me, “I know, Will feels bad to leave that cake, and he will dream of seeing cakes for a week, but I can’t indulge him this time.”

When Jim had done speaking, one of the girls, that we had taken breakfast with handed him a small sack, and told him not to open it until we camped that night. At this moment Mr. Tullock, came to us and said, “Here, my friends, is a recommendation, and I think every grown person in the train has signed their name to both of them, and all the company have asked me to say a few words for them. If either or both of you ever come to California, we want you to find some of us and make your home with us as long as you wish, for you will always find a warm welcome with any of this company.”

I had been acquainted with Jim Bridger several years and this was the first time I had ever seen him overcome with feeling. His voice shook so he could hardly thank the people for their kind words and when it came to shaking hands and biding them good bye, he almost lost his speech.

But it was over at last and we mounted our horses and left them. For the first ten miles I don’t think Jim spoke ten words. Finally he said, “Well they were a good crowd of people, weren’t they Will? If I ever go to California and can find any of them, I mean to stay all night with them, for it would be like visiting brother or sister.”

We now began to calculate where we should camp that night. I said, “Let’s make a dry camp tonight, we can fill our canteen, and water our horses at a stream that crosses the trail, and then we can ride on till dark. In doing this way we will avoid the Indians and will not have to guard against them in the night, for the Indians invariably camp near the water.”

We made a long ride that day and picked a nice place to camp that night. As soon as we had unsaddled and unpacked our horses, I said, “Jim, I will stake the horses if you will make a fire.” When I came back from attending to the horses, Jim said, “Look here, Will, see what them girls gave me, but I guess they meant it for you.”

And he showed me the sack which the girls had given him as we were leaving them that morning. I looked into it and saw two large cakes and a good-sized piece of roasted Elk calf. The reader may imagine how good this nice food looked to two hungry men, and we surely did justice to it. When we were eating, Jim made the remark that it would be many a long day before we met with such a company again as those we had left that morning. He said, “In nearly all large companies there are cranks, either men or women, and sometimes both, but all that outfit were perfect ladies and gentlemen, and they all seemed to want to do what was right, and the men were all brave and the women were sensible.”

The next morning we pulled out early, and we made good progress for five days, making dry camps every night. Nothing occurred to disturb us until we reached the Sink of the Humboldt. Here were Indian signs in every direction. We knew we would be in the heart of the Ute country for the next hundred miles, so we decided to do our traveling in the night and lay over and rest in the daytime.

We picked our camping places off the trail, where we thought the Indians would not be likely to discover us. The second night after we left the Sink of the Humboldt, we crossed a little stream called Sand Creek, and just off to the right of the trail we saw what we thought must have been five hundred Indians in camp. Most of them were laying around asleep, but a few were sitting at the fire smoking, and we succeeded in riding past them without their noticing us. After we had got entirely away from their camp fires, Jim said, “Will, we are the luckiest chaps that ever crossed the plains, for if them Indians had seen us, they would have filled our hides full of arrows just to get our horses, and I think we had better keep on traveling in the night until we strike Black’s Fork, then we will be pretty near out of the Utes country.”

When we got to Lone Tree on Black’s Fork we lay over one day to let our horses rest and to get rested ourselves.

It was a little before sunrise that morning when we reached Lone Tree. I said to Jim, “Are you hungry?” He replied that he was too hungry to tell the truth.

I answered, “All right, you take care of the horses, and I will get an Antelope and we will have a fine breakfast.”

Jim said, “Well, don’t disappoint me, Will, for I am in the right shape to eat a half an Antelope.”

I took my gun and went up on a little ridge and looked over, and not a quarter of a mile from me I saw a large band of Antelope, and I saw that they were feeding directly towards me. I hid myself in a little bunch of sage brush and waited until they fed up to within fifty yards of me. I then fired and brought down a little two-year-old buck. I took him up, threw him over my shoulder, and went back to Camp as fast as I could go. When I reached there, Jim had a fire burning, and in a few minutes we had the meat cooking. Jim made the remark that we had enough to do to keep us busy all day, for when we were not eating, we must be sleeping, for he was about as hungry as he ever was and so sleepy that he did not dare to sit down for fear he would fall asleep without his breakfast.

After we had enjoyed a very hearty meal of meat and bread, for we ate the last piece of bread that the ladies had given us that morning, we smoked our pipes a few moments, and then we spread our blankets on the ground under the only tree in ten miles of us, and we were soon lost to everything in a sleep that lasted until near night. I did at least. When I awoke I found Jim cooking meat for supper. When he saw that I was awake, he said, “Come, Will, get up. We have had our sleep. Now we will have our supper.”

While we were eating, I asked Jim if we could make Green River tomorrow. He said, “Yes, we must get out of here tomorrow morning by daylight. Our horses will be well rested as we ourselves will be. We want to make Green River tomorrow night and Rock Springs the next night. I consider it is about eighty miles to Rock Springs from here, and we ought to make it in two days.”

The next morning we were up bright and early and were on our journey as soon as we could see the trail. Nothing happened to disturb us, and we reached Green River just before sunset. We crossed the river and went into camp just above the Ford. We had just got our horses staked out when we heard whips snapping and people’s voices shouting.

Jim listened a moment and said, “What in thunder does that mean?”

I answered, “I think it is an emigrant train coming.” Jim said, “By jove if that is so, we will have to move from here and stake our horses somewhere else, for no doubt they will want to camp right here, and if there is much of a train, they will take all the room in this little valley.”

In a few minutes they hove in sight. Jim said, “Now, let’s get to one side and see if they have any system about their camping, and then we will know whether it is worth while for us to apply for a job or not.”

They did not seem to know that they were near a river by the way they acted. Some of them would leave their wagons and run down to the stream and run back again and talk with the others. Finally they discovered Jim and me, and about twenty of the men came to where we were sitting. We had started a fire and were waiting for it to get hot enough to cook our meat for our supper, and it was certainly very amusing to watch their faces. They looked at us as if they thought us wild men. We learned afterwards that they had never seen anyone dressed in Buck Skin before.

After staring at us a while, one of them, an old man, said, “Where in creation are you two men from?”

Jim answered, “We have just come from Sacramento Valley, California.”

And did you come all the way alone?

Jim answered, “Yes sir, we did.”

“Did you see any Indians?” he inquired.

Jim said, “Yes, about a thousand, I think.”

“Did they try to kill you?”

“Oh, no,” Jim said. “They were asleep when we saw them.”

“Why, they told us back at Fort Kerney that the Indians never slept day or night,” the old man said.

Jim answered that they slept a little at night sometimes, and that was the time we took to travel. We had traveled nearly all the way from California to this place after night, and in some places where we traveled over, the Indians were as thick as jack rabbits.

One of the men then inquired when we went to California.

Jim answered, “We left Fort Kerney about eight weeks ago and piloted the biggest train of emigrants across the plains that has ever gone to California, and we did not lose a person or a head of stock, but we got a good many Indian scalps on the way.”

One of the men then said, “Ain’t you Jim Bridger and Will Drannan that the commander at the Fort told us about?”

Jim replied, “That is who we are.”

One of them then asked if we would pilot another train to California.

Jim answered, “I don’t know. The Indians are getting so dog goned thick that there is no fun in the job, but you folks go and get your supper, and let us eat ours. We are dog goned hungry, for we haven’t had a bite since day-break this morning. You can come back here after supper, and we will talk to you.”

By this time there must have been a hundred men standing around us, but when Jim told them that we wanted to eat our supper, they all scattered. After they had left us, Jim said, “You get supper, Will, and I will go and see whether there is any system about this outfit or not, and if supper is ready before I get back, don’t wait for me, for I may not get back in half an hour or more.”

I had got my meat on the fire and was just making the coffee when a number of women, I should think about a dozen of them, came near me and stopped and gazed at me. I bid them good evening and asked them to have supper with me. One of them answered, “No, I came to ask you to come and eat supper with us. My father sent me to invite you.”

I thanked her and told her that as my own supper was nearly ready, I would eat at my own camp. I had taken my Buck-skin coat off and laid it on our pack. One of the women asked me if she could look at it. I told her that she could if she wished to.

While they were looking at the coat and exclaiming over its beauty (it was heavily embroidered with beads and porcupine quills, and was an odd looking garment to one not accustomed to seeing the clothing of the frontiers men), a couple of girls came running to me, saying, “Father wants you to come and eat supper with us, Mr. Bridger is eating now.” So I took the meat and coffee off the fire and put my coat on and went with them. When I got in speaking distance of Jim, I said, “I thought you told me to cook supper.” Jim answered, “I know I did Will, but we didn’t have any fried onions, and these folks have, so I thought we would eat here and save our supper.”

The people all laughed at Jim being so saving, and then the old man asked what we would charge to pilot the train through to California. Jim asked, “How many wagons have you in this outfit?”

He answered that he was not sure, but he thought there were about a hundred and thirty-five.

“How many men are there in the train?” The old man said, “Oh, dog gone it, I can’t tell.”

Jim said, “Have you got no Captain?”

The old man answered, “Why no, we haven’t any use for a Captain.”

Jim then said, “Well, I don’t suppose they have any use for a commander over at the Fort then. Suppose the Indians should make an attack on them over there, and there was no Commander there, what do you think the soldiers would do? I will tell you what would happen. The most of the soldiers would be scalped, and it is the same way with a train of emigrants if the Indians attack them and they have no leader or what we call a Captain; they will all be scalped and in a mighty short time too. Now you call the men together and come to our camp, and we will talk this matter over, and then we will see if we can make a bargain with the crowd.”

In a few minutes it seemed as if all the men and women of the train were standing around our camp.

Jim said to them, “I want some man who is a good reader to read this letter to the company.”

And he held up one of the letters of recommendation given us by the people of the train we had left a few days before. A middle-aged man came forward and said, “I reckon I can read it; I am a school teacher by profession, and I am used to reading all kinds of handwriting.”

He took the letter, stepped up on a log and in a clear, loud voice read it to the company. After he had finished reading it, the man handed the letter back to Jim with the remark that it was a fine recommendation and gave a character few men could claim.

Jim now told the emigrants that before we took charge of a train he always had the men of the train select a committee from their number, and this committee had the entire charge of the business in making arrangements with us and all other matters that might take place on the trip. “Now if you want us to pilot this train across to California, get together and select your committee, and they can come to us and we will talk business.”

It was now nearly eleven o’clock at night, so Jim told the people that we had traveled a long distance that day and were very tired, and he thought we had better not make any bargain that night. We would go to our rest, and in the morning they could tell us what they had decided on. Next morning Jim and I were up very early, and so were the most of the emigrants. We were building a fire to get our breakfast when one of the emigrants came to us and invited us to take breakfast with him. He said there had been a committee selected, that the men talked the matter over after they left us the night before, and they chose five men to make arrangements with us. “But as we did not go to bed until nearly morning, I don’t think they are all up yet,” he said, smiling.

We went with him and found breakfast waiting for us. After we had finished, two of the men came to us and said they were two of the five who had been appointed to do business with us, and that the other three would meet us at our camp in a few minutes. So Jim and I went back to our camp, and in a very short time the five men were with us. One of them asked us how much we would charge to pilot them to California. Jim said, “How many wagons have you?”

He said, “We have ninety here now, and there will be twenty more here by noon.”

Jim asked, “How many men are there in the company?” They said they did not know for certain but thought there would be about a hundred and ninety. Jim said that we would take them across to California for five dollars a day, which would be two dollars and a half for each of us. “Providing you will promise to obey our orders in all things pertaining to the protection of the train and also give us two days to drill the teamsters and the scouts, but we will have to move on one day from here, as there is no ground here that is fit to drill on.”

One of the committee said, “We will give you an answer in twenty minutes,” and they went back to their camp, which was a hundred yards or more from ours. Jim and I caught our horses and were saddling them when the committee came back to us and told us we could consider ourselves engaged.

I now spoke for the first time, Jim having done all the talking before. I said, “I want you men to select ten good men who own their horses. I prefer young men who are good horsemen, for I want them to assist me in doing scout work.”

This seemed to surprise the men. One of them asked, what the young men would have to do. Jim now spoke up in his joking way and said, “They will find enough to do before we get to California. For example I will show you what Will and his scouts have done on our last trip across.” At the same time he was untying the sack that held the Indian scalps we had taken on our last trip to California. When he emptied the sack it was amusing to us to see their faces. Their first expression was of surprise, and the next was of horror. Jim took up one of the scalps and shook it out and said, “Taking these is one of the things you young men may have to do,” and he continued, “These scalps which seem to give you men the horrors to look at now, will be worth more than money to all the people of this train, for they will save the lives of all of you, and that is more than money could do in an attack by the Indians.”

Some of the men wanted to know in what way the scalps would save them. Jim answered, “Let us get on the road to our next camping ground, and I will explain everything in regard to the protection of the train when we get to drilling.”

In a short time every thing was on the move, and we reached our place to camp about four o’clock in the afternoon. Jim commenced to put the numbers on the wagons as soon as we landed in camp in order to get to drilling as early as possible in the morning. We had been in camp but a short time when one of the committee men came to me and said, “We have selected your men, Mr. Drannan. Come out, and I will introduce them to you, and you can see if they would suit you, and if they do, you can tell them what you want them to do.”

We went outside the corral, and we found the ten men there with their horses. I asked them if they all had rifles and pistols. They said they had. I next asked them if they had ever practiced shooting off their horses’ backs, and they all said no, nor had ever heard of such a way of shooting. I then said, “Now boys, it is too late in the evening to commence practicing, but I want you all to meet me here after breakfast in the morning, and have your horses and guns and pistols with you, and you may make up your mind to do a hard day’s work tomorrow.”

That evening Jim and I had a talk by ourselves in regard to how much time we should take to drill the men. Jim said, “Will, do you think you can drill your men in one day so they will know enough to risk starting out day after tomorrow?”

I answered, “I think I can, Jim.”

He thought a moment and then said, “I don’t like to hurry you in training your men, Will, but you know it is getting late in the season, and we have a long road to travel after we get these emigrants through to California in order to get back home to Taos before the winter sets in, and I have no doubt Kit will be looking for us long before we get there.”

I said, “Jim, this will be my last trip as a pilot for emigrants.”

Jim laughed and answered, “I thought this kind of business just suited you, Will, for you are a favorite with the girls, especially when you bring in scalps.”

I answered, “The girls are all right, Jim, but there is too much responsibility in such an undertaking, and besides, it is impossible to suit everybody.”

Jim answered, “There is a good deal of truth in what you say, Will. It is not an easy job to please so many people all at once. We will hurry this trip through as quick as possible and get them off our hands.”

The next morning I was up early and met the men who were to be trained to make scouts. We went to a little grove of timber about a quarter of a mile from camp. I selected a small tree, probably a foot through, dismounted and made a crossmark with my knife. I then asked the boys, if they thought they could hit that cross with their guns or pistols with their horses on the dead run. One of them said, “No, I don’t know as I could hit it with my horse standing still.”

I answered, “But that is just what I must teach you to do if you are ever to make a scout to guard against Indians or fight them. I will mount my horse and go back to that little bunch of brush,” and I pointed to a bunch of brush that was perhaps a little more than a hundred yards from the tree, “and all of you men follow me.”

When we reached the brush, I turned my horse’s head towards the tree I had marked, and I then said, “Now boys, I am going to put my horse down to his best speed, and I want you all to follow me and keep as close to me as you can, and each man look out for his own horse when I commence to shoot. At the same time keep your eyes on me, for I want each one of you to take his turn in doing as I do, and I want you to repeat the thing until you can hit the mark as I shall do.”

I now started my horse at full speed, and before I had got to the tree I had fired my second shot, and both balls struck near the cross, but I was surprised, and I will not deny also amused, to see the way the boys were trying to stop their horses; they were running in every direction and appeared to be nearly frightened to death, and apparently their riders had no control over them, but finally they checked them and rode back to where I stood.

I said, “Boys, you certainly have your horses trained to run from the Indians if you can’t stop to fight them.”

One of the boys said, “I never saw my horse act the fool as he has done today.”

I said, “Now, which one of you are going to try it again first? Don’t all speak at once.”

It was some minutes before anyone answered. At last one of them said, “I will try it. Shall we all come down together as we did with you?”

I told him, “No, I want you to all to try it single-handed once and then we will try it in groups of three, but if you are afraid you cannot manage your horse, I will ride beside you.”

He answered, “No, I have got to break him in to it, and I might as well do it at the start.”

So the others got out of his way, and he rode to the brush, wheeled his horse, put the spurs to him and came at full speed. When within fifty feet of the tree he fired his rifle and missed the tree but pulled his pistol and made a good shot, and he did not have much trouble in stopping his horse this time.

When he rode back to us, I showed him the hole where the bullet struck it and told him he had done exceptionally well.

He said, “Can’t I give it another trial?”

I said, “Not now. Best let everyone have a try first.”

I saw that they were a little encouraged by the first one’s success, so I said, “Who comes next?”

One of them said, “I reckon it is me next,” and he was on his horse in a twinkle and off for the brush. This man was in a little too much of a hurry; he shot too soon and missed the tree, which scared his horse, and he turned and ran in an opposite direction, and the rider had all he could do to attend to him so he did not fire his pistol at all. When he came back the boys had a laugh on him.

He said, “All right, see that the balance of you does better.”

They all gave it a trial, and out of the ten men only three hit the mark with either rifle or pistol. Before we got through practicing, there must have been as many as a hundred men from the camp watching the performance. After each man had tried singly, I formed them in squads of three, and they were more successful that way than they were alone from the fact that their horses were getting used to the report of the guns.

The reader will understand that the drilling was done more for the benefit of the horses than it was for the men, for many times if the horses were unmanageable when in a fight with the Indians, the rider was in a great deal more danger of being killed than he would have if he could manage his horse.

As it was getting near noon I called it off until after dinner. When we were near the corral going back to camp, I pointed to a large log that was laying on the ground and told the boys to meet me there on foot, and I would put them through another kind of a drill, which was more essential for them to know than the one we had been practicing. One of them said, “What can it be?”

I answered, “It is to learn to signal to each other without speaking when you are in danger.”

After dinner I had a talk with Jim in regard to how he was succeeding in drilling his teamsters. He said they were doing fine and would be ready to pull out in the morning. He said, “Will, these are not such people to handle as the last train we drilled.”

I said, “What makes you think so, Jim?”

He answered, “There are a few in this outfit who do not believe there will be trouble with the Indians.”

I answered, “Well, Jim, these are of the class that will not obey orders, and they will get the worst of it, and no one can blame us.”

When I went to meet the boys, they were all standing or sitting on the fallen tree, waiting for me. I asked if they had ever heard a Coyote howl. They said not until they heard them on this trip. Then I explained to them, that the Indians were so used to hearing the Coyotes howl that they took no notice of that kind of a noise day or night, so we frontiers-men always used the bark or howl of a Coyote as a signal to call each other together in times of danger. I then gave a howl that the boys said no Coyote could beat, and in a couple of hours I had them all drilled so they could mimic the Coyotes very well.

We went back to camp, got our horses, and put in the afternoon in shooting at targets on horse back. Before we separated that evening, I told the men what position I wanted each one of them to take when the train was ready to move in the morning. I also told them they must always meet me at the head of the train before we started the train every morning to get their instructions for the day. Every one of the ten seemed to be willing and ready to obey everything I asked them to do.

CHAPTER VI.

All was in readiness for the start on the road the next morning, and we pulled out in good season. Every thing worked smoothly for the next three days, and then we were in the Ute country, and there were also a great many Buffalo scattered all through the country. I had seen some signs of Indians, but up to this time I had seen only one small band of them, and they were going in the opposite direction from the one we were going.

The evening of the third day, after we had eaten our supper, about twenty men came to where Jim and I were sitting on a log having a smoke and a private talk together.

One of them who seemed to be the leader said, “We want some Buffalo meat, and we propose to go out and get some tomorrow. Now what do you think about it?”

[Illustration: They raced around us in a circle.]

Jim said, “Which way do you think of going?” Pointing to the south, he said, “We think of going down into those low hills not more than eight or ten miles from the trail.”

Jim answered, “I have no doubt you would find Buffalo and maybe kill some, but I have grave doubt of your ever getting back alive.”

The man said, “Do you think we would get lost?”

Jim answered, “Yes, I think you would, if the Indians shoot you full of arrows and take your scalp off.”

He answered, “We have got to find some Indians before they have a chance to scalp us, and I don’t believe there is an Indian out there, and we are going hunting in the morning.”

Jim answered, “All right, do just as you darned please, but I will tell you this just here and now. When you go a half a mile from the train without our consent, you will be out from under our protection, and we shall not hold ourselves responsible for your lives.”

They turned away from us, saying, “We will take the chances; we want some Buffalo meat, and we are going to get it.”

The next morning when the train pulled out twenty-three men left us, mounted on their horses with their guns all in trim for a Buffalo hunt, and four out of the twenty three was all we ever saw again either dead or alive.

We pulled out, and everything moved on nicely all day. I saw a great deal of Indian sign at various places during the day. About the middle of the afternoon one of the scouts reported that he saw a band of Indians off to the south. As soon as he reported this to me, I went with him to the top of a high ridge where we could see all over the country, and sure enough, there was a small band of Indians some two or three miles south of our trail.

After watching them a few minutes, I saw that they were going from us, so I knew that we were in no danger from that band.

We had to make an early camp that evening on account of water. It was one of my duties to ride ahead of the train and look the country over for signs of Indians to select a safe camping ground for each night, although Jim and I always talked over the best place to camp the coming night before we struck out in the morning.

That night I did not get in until Jim had the wagons all corralled. Jim came to me as soon as I rode in and said, “Will, have you seen anything of the men that went hunting this morning?”

I answered, “I neither saw or heard anything of them since I saw them ride away this morning, but I will call my scouts together and ask them if they have seen them during the day.”

When I inquired of the men, I learned that they had not seen or heard of them and had not even heard the report of a gun all day.

We had just finished eating supper that night when one of the committee men came to us and said, “Don’t you think you had better send out some men to look for the party that went a hunting?”

Jim said, “I told those men not to go away from the train, that there was danger of their losing their scalps if they left us, and I also told them that if they went a half a mile from the train I should not be responsible for them dead or alive. They answered that they did not believe there was an Indian in the country, and that they would take the chances anyway, and more than that, I would not know where to go to hunt for them any more than you would, for the country for miles around is like this, and I would be willing to bet anything that you will never see them all again.”

Dusk was settling down, and as the night came on and the hunters did not come in, the excitement grew more intense. About twenty men came to me and inquired if I knew what kind of a country the hunters would be apt to go into. I answered that if they kept the course which they said they intended to go, it would lead them to the Buffalo country and also into the heart of the Indian country. One of them then asked me if I would be willing to try to find the absent men if I had enough men with me to help.

I answered, “Why, my friends, it would be like hunting for a needle in a haystack. You certainly do not understand the ways of the Indians. If the Indians have killed those men, they will take the bodies with them if they have to carry them a hundred miles. They will take them to their village and spend two or three days in having a scalp dance, so you will see how useless it would be to try to find them, and what is more to be thought of, if we should stay here two or three days we should in all probability be attacked by the Utes ourselves, and there is no knowing how many of the people would be killed, or how much other damage would be done.”

It was getting towards bed time when four women came to me with their faces swollen with tears. One of them said, “Mr. Drannan, do you think our husbands have been killed by the Indians?”

I answered, “That is a question I can not answer, but I will say that I hope they have not; they may have lost their course and in that way have escaped the Indians.”

While I was talking with the women, I heard the tramp of horses’ feet coming towards camp on the trail.

I said, “Listen, perhaps they are coming now.” and we went to meet the coming horsemen. There were four of them, and one of them was the husband of the woman I had been talking to. When they came up to us, he jumped off his horse and, clasping his wife in his arms he said, “Oh Mary, I never expected to see you again.”

In a few minutes everybody in camp was standing around those four men, and they surely had a dreadful story to tell. They said, they did not know how far they had ridden that morning when they sighted a band of Buffalo in a little valley. They fired at them and killed four; they dismounted and turned their horses loose and went to skinning their Buffalo and had the hides nearly off of them when, without a sound to warn them of danger, the Indians pounced upon them, and of all the yelling and shouting that ever greeted any one’s ears, that was the worst they had ever heard, and the arrows flew as thick as hail.

“One of them struck me here,” and he pulled up his pants and showed us a ragged wound in the calf of his leg. After we had looked at the wounded leg, he continued his story. He said, “As soon as I heard the first yell, I ran for my horse and was fortunate in catching him. I think the reason of we four being so lucky in getting away was that we were a little distance from the others. We were off at one side, and we four were working on one Buffalo, and lucky for us our horses were feeding close to us. I do not believe that one of the other men caught his horse as their horses were quite a distance from them, and the Indians were between the men and their horses. The last I saw of them was their hopeless struggle against the flying Indians’ arrows.

“We had mounted and had run a hundred or two hundred yards when we saw that four or five Indians were after us. They chased us two or three miles. It seemed that our horses could outrun theirs, and they gave up the chase, but in the confusion we had lost our course, and we did not know which direction to take, and we have been all the rest of the day trying to find the train, and we are just about worn but, and we are hungry enough to eat anything, at least I am.”

As it happened, Jim Bridger was standing near me when the man was talking. The man turned and said to him, “Mr. Bridger, I hope all the people of this train will listen to your advice from this night until we reach the end of our journey. If we four men had done as you told us to do, we would not have suffered what we have today, and the nineteen, who I have no doubt have been scalped by the savages, would have been alive and well tonight. There is no one to blame but ourselves. You warned us, but we thought we knew more than you did, and the dreadful fate that overtook the most of the company shows how little we knew what we were doing in putting our judgment in opposition to men whose lives have been spent in learning the crafty nature of the Red-men.”

Jim answered, “I always know what I am saying when I give advice, and I knew what would be liable to happen to you if you left the protection of the train. This is the third case of this kind which has happened since Will and I have been piloting emigrants across the plains to California, and I hope it will be the last.”

There was but little sleep in camp that night. Out of the nineteen men that were killed, twelve of them were the heads of families, and the cries of the widows and orphaned children were very distressing for Jim and me to hear, although we were blameless. The next morning just after breakfast the committee of five men came to Jim and me and said they wanted to have a private talk with us.

Jim said, “All right,” and we all went outside the corral. When we were alone by ourselves, one of them said, “I want to have your opinion with regard to hunting for the bodies of the men who are lost. Do you think it possible to find their bodies if they were killed?”

Jim said, “No, I do not. In the first place, we do not know where to look. In the second place, the Indians may have carried them fifty or seventy-five miles from where they killed them. In the third place, we do not know where the Indian village is or in what direction to look for it, and if we should find the Indian camp, they may be so strong that we would not dare to attack them, so you will see at once how useless it would be for us to attempt to do anything in regard to finding their bodies.”

One of the committee said, “Well, so you propose to pull out and go on?”

Jim said, “Yes, that is what I propose doing. For the next four hundred miles we shall be in the worst Indian country in the West, and I want to get this train through it as quickly as I possibly can.”

The man answered, “It seems cruel to do it, but I suppose we must give orders to get ready to move.”

Jim replied, “Yes, we must be moving at once, for I cannot risk the lives of the living to hunt for those who are dead.”

We were on the road in less than an hour, the committee having told the friends of the lost men what the consequences would be if they resisted the idea of moving, and also the utter uselessness of trying to find their friends dead or alive.

When the train was already to move, Jim rode down the whole length of the wagons and told each man that he wanted every one of them to have their guns and pistols loaded and ready for immediate action, for, he told them, “We cannot tell at what minute we may be attacked by the Indians, and if your guns were not ready for use, you would have a slim chance of saving your own lives or the lives of those dependent on you.”

Everyone seemed to understand the situation better than they ever had before and promised to do as we had asked them to do. Everything moved on satisfactory until about two o’clock in the afternoon, when one of the scouts from the north side reported that a big band of Indians was coming directly towards us. I spurred my horse to a run, and when we reached a little ridge about a half a mile from the trail, I could see them myself, and I could see that they were all warriors, for there were no squaws or children with them, and I thought they would number a thousand strong.

I sent my companion back to tell Jim what was in prospect for a fight, and to be sure and have the Indian scalps hung up in the most conspicuous places. I watched the Indians until they had got within a half a mile of the trail, where they all stopped and huddled together for several minutes. I decided they were planning the attack, for when they started, they went directly for the train, which fact convinced me that the Indians had had a scout out as well as I had, and that he had been a little sharper than I was.

I now signaled for all the scouts to get to the train at once, and the reader can rest assured that not one of them including myself was long in getting there.

We found everything in readiness to receive the Indians. We rode inside the corral of wagons and dismounted. I told my men to follow me. We went to the head of the train, which was but a short distance. I placed eight men under two wagons, four to a wagon, and took the other two with me to the next wagon. I told them to lay flat on the ground, and when I cried “fire” for each one to shoot and to be sure that he got his Indian.

When the savages got in sight of the wagons, they were probably a hundred and fifty yards from them, and to my surprise they all stopped. I had forgotten the scalps that Jim had hung up, but of course the sight of them hanging on the top of the wagons stopped them, but they did not stop longer than a few minutes. Then they began circling around the wagons. I could see that there were two war chiefs with the outfit. I knew this by their dress, for a war Chief always wears what is called a bonnet. It is made of feathers taken from the wings and tails of eagles and reaches from their head almost to their heels.

When they started to circle around the wagons, I said to the boys who were with me under the wagon, “Now you watch that old red sinner who has the lead. I am going to shoot at him, but I do not know as I can hit him, he is so far away, but if I can get him we have won the battle.”

They answered, “Fire away, and if you miss we will try our hand at him.”

I drew a bead at the top of his head, and when the gun cracked I saw that I had hit him. One of the boys cried, “You have hit him,” and at that moment he swayed and tumbled from his horse. The report of my gun seemed to be a signal for the whole train to fire, and for the next minute the noise of the guns was terrific. While they all did not hit an Indian, they did fairly well for men in an Indian battle for the first time. There were forty-two dead Indians left on the ground, and as the report of the last gun died away, the Indians turned their horses and fled in the opposite direction, and I ran to the old Chief to get his scalp.

I had just finished taking his scalp after taking his bonnet off when Jim Bridger and quite a crowd of the other men came running up to me. Jim said, “Did you do that, Will?” I answered, “I did,” and then one of the boys who were with me under the wagon said, “Mr. Drannan sure shot him, for he told us to see him get him, and at the report of his gun, Mr. big Chief went to the Indians’ happy hunting grounds.”

Jim slapped me on the back and said, “That is the best shot you ever made, Will, for that bonnet and that scalp will protect this train from here to California without another shot being fired.” I said, “You can have this bonnet to use for a scare crow, Jim, but be sure and take good care of it, for I want to keep it as a memento of this trip.”

I then asked Jim if he were going to take the scalps off of the other dead Indians. He said, “No, we have scalps enough now to protect the train, and that is all we want. Besides, we haven’t time; we must go on to our camping ground, we have fifty or sixty miles to drive before we can camp for the night.”

As we were pulling out, I said to the scouts, “We are in the Buffalo country, and there will be no more trouble with the Indians; let us try to get some fresh meat for supper.” I knew that we would camp near a little stream a few miles from where we had the fight, and also that it was a great feeding ground for Buffalo at this time of the year. When we were within a quarter of a mile of the stream, where we were to camp that night, we saw that the valley was covered with Buffalo. I sent all but one of the men down a little ravine to the valley. I told them to dismount and tie their horses just before they got to the valley and to crawl down and each one get behind a tree at the edge of the valley, and I and the other men would go around to the head of the valley and scare the Buffalo, and they would run down to where they were in hiding. I told the men to be sure and not shoot until the Buffalo started to run, and then to shoot all they could get with their guns, and when they had emptied them to use their pistols.

“Let us give the women and children a surprise tonight in giving them all the fresh Buffalo meat they can eat.”

Myself and companion rode around to the head of the valley, and when we reached the top of the ridge, we looked down and saw hundreds of Buffalo feeding. We spurred our horses to a run, and in a moment we were in the midst of them, and it certainly was a grand sight to see that immense herd on the stampede, as they all rushed down to the outlet where the boys were waiting for them. In a few moments we heard the report of guns, and we knew that the other boys, were getting the meat for supper. I told my comrade to pick out his Buffalo and I would pick mine, and I said to him, “Now don’t shoot until you get near the other boys, and if you want to kill him quick, shoot him through the kidneys.” When I had reached the mouth of the valley where the Buffalo had crowded together in one big mass, I chose a two-year-old heifer, rode up to her side and shot her through her kidneys, and she fell at my horse’s feet with hardly a struggle. I pulled my pistol and shot another one and broke its neck. My comrade had picked a big cow, and she was the fattest Buffalo I ever saw killed. The other boys had killed twelve, and we got three, making fifteen in all, and what was best of all, the Buffalo all lay near to where Jim had corralled the wagons. As the wagons were corralled, I went to one of the committee and told him that my scouts and I had killed fifteen Buffalo and asked him to send some of the men of the train to help dress them and to divide the meat so all the emigrants could have some fresh meat for their supper, and in a short time I saw men and women with their arms full of meat, hurrying to their camp fires.

Jim and I were sitting on a wagon tongue talking as we usually did every evening when two little girls came running to us and said their papa wanted us to come and eat supper with them. We went with the children to their father’s tent, and we found an appetizing meal waiting for us. Jim and I had not tasted any fresh meat since starting out with this train of emigrants at Green river. When we sat down, Jim said, “Lady, I am afraid you will be sorry that you invited Will and me to supper, for you may not have meat enough to go around. We have not had any fresh meat in a dog’s age, and we are big meat eaters any time.” She answered, “Oh, don’t be uneasy. I have two pans full on the fire cooking now. I know how much it takes to fill up hungry men, and you two are not the only hungry men around this camp, and you may be sure we appreciate the feast you planned to surprise us with”; and she turned to me with a smile. “You see, Mr. Drannan, the boys told me all about your suggesting the Buffalo hunt.”

I answered that the meal she had set before us would pay for more than I had done. Her husband said, “It has surely been a great benefit to all the people of the train, for we were all suffering for fresh meat, and you don’t know how much we appreciate your thoughtfulness in providing it for us.”

As I left the tent where I had supper, about a dozen middle-aged ladies came to me and said, “We would like to see that pretty thing you took off that Indian.”

I did not know what they meant by “A pretty thing” until Jim said, “Why, Will, they want to see that war bonnet you took with the old chief’s scalp.”

I went to our pack and got the bonnet and gave it to them, and for the next two hours that Indian adornment was the talk of the camp. It was carried from tent to tent, examined by nearly everyone, old and young, in the whole emigrant train, and it was a curiosity to any white person, and still more so to those not used to the Indians’ way of adorning themselves.

Jim explained to the emigrants why this piece of Indian dress in our possession would be a protection to them in case of an attack on us by the Indians; he said, “The Indians have no fear of being killed in battle. Their great dread is of being scalped. They believe that if their scalps are taken off their heads in this world, they will not be revived in the next, or what they call the “Happy Hunting grounds of the Indians,” where they will dwell with the great spirit forever, and if they should see this bonnet which none but a great chief can wear they will think we must be powerful to have got it and will keep away from us, fearing they may share the fate themselves.”

Jim told the emigrants to be ready for an early start in the morning, and then we separated for the night, the emigrants going to their tents and Jim and I to lay our blankets under a tree.

Next morning after we had a hearty breakfast of cornbread and Buffalo steak, Jim said, “Now, men and women, Will gave you all a treat in Buffalo meat last night, but if all goes well, and we meet with nothing to detain us, in one week from tonight I will give you a treat that will discount his.”

An old lady answered, “You must be mistaken, Mr. Bridger, for nothing could taste better then the chunk of meat I broiled over the fire last night.”

Jim laughed and said, he would own up to the last night’s supper being extra good but asked how she thought Mountain Trout would taste. She said she did not know, as she had never tasted any; Jim said, “Well, you will know in a week from tonight, and you will say that my treat is better than Will’s, for Mountain trout is the best fish that ever swam in the water.”

We were on the road soon after sunrise the next morning, and everything went well for the next three days. The third day’s travel brought us to Humboldt Well. As we were going into camp, I discovered a band of Indians coming directly for the train. I notified Jim at once, and he soon had the train corralled, and the chief’s bonnet hung high above the Indian scalps so all the Indians could see it. The savages seemed to discover the bonnet and the scalps as soon as they saw the train, for they stopped and came no nearer, and after gazing at the decorations on the wagons a few moments they wheeled their horses and galloped away in the same direction they had come, and we saw no more of them. As soon as the Indians disappeared Jim slapped his hands and said, “Didn’t I tell you the effect that bonnet would have on the Red Skins? And I don’t think we will have to shoot another Indian on this trip, for they will not get close enough to us for us to get a show to hit them.”

The second day from this camp we reached Truckey river, and it happened to be Saturday, and Jim told the emigrants that this was the place where he proposed to outdo Will in the way of a treat and told them that everyone who could catch a grasshopper could have a mess of fish for supper, as the river was swarming with the speckled beauties, and it was really amusing to see the old of both sexes as well as the children running in every direction, catching the little hopping insects. Everyone seemed to be of one mind, what they were going to have for the evening meal, for they were all on the margin of the river, and Jim and I staid with the wagons and watched the crowd which was great amusement for us, for they were all so excited. But our fun did not last long. In a few minutes the crowd commenced to come back with their bands full of fish; one woman passed us with two little girls. She had about a dozen fish, and the children had their hands full too. She said, “Come, Mr. Bridger, I want you and Mr. Drannan to eat supper with us tonight, and after we get through I will tell you which treat is the best, Buffalo or Mountain Trout.”

Jim told her she hadn’t got half enough fish for him, not reckoning the members of her own family. She said, “Don’t you be uneasy about not having enough. My man will come back in a few minutes, and he will have enough to make out the supper, I reckon.”

We went with her to her tent and helped to clean the fish, and it was not long before the appetizing meal was ready. While Jim and I were cleaning the fish that the woman and children had caught, the man came back, and he had fifteen of the handsomest trout I had ever seen on a string. He greeted us with a laugh and said this was the first stream he had ever seen where a man could take a long-handled shovel and pitch out all the fish he had a mind to. “It is wonderful to think of the amount of fish that has been taken out of that stream, and they would not be missed if we wanted more.”

Jim said, “If you could stay here and fish a week, they would be just as thick when you got through as they are now, and will be until the spawning season is over.”

That night Jim suggested that we get up a party and go over on Truckee Meadows and kill some Antelope tomorrow.

I said, “All right, Jim, that is the greatest feeding ground for Antelope of any I have seen. I will go and speak to my scouts now, and we may get a party so we can start early in the morning.”

I hunted my men up and told them what Jim and I thought of doing, and they were delighted with the idea. They said that every man in the outfit that owned a horse and gun would be glad to go with us. I told them to see everyone that they thought would like to or could go and for them to meet us at the head of the corral right after breakfast in the morning.

Next morning Jim and I went to the place agreed upon. We were mounted and had our guns all ready for business, and in a few minutes there were forty-three men all mounted and anxious to go with us on the hunt for Antelope.

Jim told them that the hunting ground was eight or ten miles away from camp, and he said, “I will guarantee that you will see a thousand Antelope today. Now we will all travel together until we begin to see the Antelope.”

The place called Truckee Meadows was about twenty miles long and ten miles wide and very level and covered with the tallest sage brush in all the country around and with an abundance of fine grass. We crossed the Truckee river just below where the city of Reno now stands, and then we struck out south east, Jim and I taking the lead and the others following us.

When we were about five miles from camp, I discovered a band of Antelope. They were probably a half a mile from us, and they were feeding in a northeasterly direction. I called Jim’s attention to them at once. After he got a good look at them, he said, “I will bet my old hat that there is a thousand Antelope in that band.”

We stopped our horses and waited for all the crowd to come up to us, and Jim pointed to the Antelope, saying, “There is your game. Did you ever see a prettier sight? Now my friends, I want every one of you to have an Antelope across your saddle when we go back to camp. It don’t make any difference who kills it so we all have an Antelope.”

Jim then turned to me and said, “Will, do you see that open ridge yonder?” and he pointed to a low ridge about a mile from us right in the direction towards which the Antelope were feeding. I told him, yes, I saw it. He then said, “I will take all the men but you and two others, and I will station them all along on that little ridge at the edge of sage brush. Now, Will, you pick out your two men and ride clear around the south end of the band, and when they start to run towards us, crowd them as hard as you can, but give us time to locate before you start the band.”

My men and I rode probably a mile and a half before we got around the herd, and it looked to us as if the whole valley was covered with Antelope. I told the men not to shoot at first, but to give a whoop or two to get them started and then to crowd them for all they were worth, and when the Antelope got to the open ridge to shoot.

In a few minutes, after we started the herd of Antelope, we heard the guns of Jim and his men, and it sounded as if they kept up a continual fire. When we struck the opening, I told the boys to get all the Antelope they could, and we had a plenty to choose from, for there were hundreds in the herd ahead of us. I fired my rifle and knocked one down, and then I pulled my pistol and got another. Just then I heard someone shouting at the top of his voice just ahead of me. I looked to see who it was and saw Jim Bridger, shaking his hat at me. I held up my horse so I could hear what he said. He cried, “For pity’s sake, Will, don’t kill any more Antelope, for we have more now than we can carry to camp.”

I called my men to me, and we rode to where Jim and his men were waiting for us. Jim said, “Will, I have been in the Antelope country twenty years most of the time, and I never saw so many Antelope together at one time as I saw here this morning; why, there must be fifty or seventy-five laying around here at this minute, that we have shot, and you would not miss them out of the herd.”

One of the men said, “It did not need any skill with the rifle, that hunt, for a blind man could not help hitting one of them, for as far as I could see, there was a mass of Antelope.”

Every man now went to work skinning and getting the meat ready to carry to camp. My two companions and myself put two Antelopes on each of our horses and started on ahead of the others, and although it was five miles and we walked all the way, we got back to camp a few minutes before they did.

As soon as they saw us, the women came to meet us and wanted to see what we had on our horses. As I threw one of the Antelopes off the horse, a middle aged woman said, “Mr. Drannan, can I have a piece of this one? My little girls have just picked some wild onions, and I can make some hash, and I want you and Mr. Bridger to come and take dinner with us today.”

I told her to help herself, that I brought the meat to camp for all of them to eat as far as it would go. Her husband came at that moment with a knife and skinned a portion of the Antelope and cut out what she wanted. By this time the other hunters began coming in, and everyone was getting fresh meat for their dinner, and by the way they acted I thought they enjoyed the Antelope fully as well as they had the Buffalo.

While we ate dinner, I asked Jim how many Antelope were killed by the whole party. He answered. “Why, dog gone it, I forgot to count them, but I know this much. Pretty near all of the men brought two across his saddle, and I will bet that it was the biggest Antelope hunt that was ever in this country before. Why, Will, the Antelope came along so thick at one time that a man could have killed them with rocks.”

If the reader will stop to think a moment, I think he will be surprised at the great change that has taken place in that country in fifty years. At that time there was not a white family living within two hundred miles of this place, and if there had been any one brave enough to tell us that in a few years this would be a settled country, we would have thought he was insane. And just think, this very spot where the wild Antelope roamed in countless numbers fifty-five years ago is today Nevada’s most prosperous farming country and is worth from fifty to one hundred dollars an acre, and the city of Reno, now a flourishing town of several thousand inhabitants stands on the very spot where we camped and had the Antelope hunt, and I have been told by reliable people that the whole country from the city of Reno to Honey Lake is thickly settled, and that cities and villages and thriving farms now cover the ground where at the time I am speaking of there was nothing but wild animals, and what was worse to contend with, wild savages lurking in the thick sage brush which covered the ground for hundreds of miles, and I am also told that the whole country around Honey Lake is a thriving farming country, but at the time I am speaking of, we did not have an idea that it would ever be settled up with Whites or used for anything but a feeding ground for wild animals. If we had been told at that time that a railroad would pass through the place where the city of Reno now stands, we would have thought the one who told us such a wild, improbable story to be a fit subject for a straight jacket.

We pulled out of there early Monday morning; we took the trail up Long Valley towards Honey Lake, which we reached on the evening of the third day. Nothing occurred to disturb us during this time. As soon as we went into camp that evening the emigrants got out their fishing tackle and went to the lake. Some of them caught some fish, but many of them came back disappointed. None had the luck they’d had at Truckee river. Still, the most of us had some fish for supper that night.

While we were at supper, Jim told the people that they were through catching trout, that the next fish we had would be salmon. They said they had never heard of that kind and asked what it looked like. Jim told them that the meat of some kinds of salmon was as red as beef, while another kind was pink, and still another kind was yellow, and they were considered the finest fish that swim in the water, and he continued, “I have seen them so thick in the spring in some of the streams in California that it was difficult to ride my horse through them without mashing them, and they ran against the horse’s legs and frightened him so that he was as eager to get away from them as they were of him.”

An old man presently asked how large a salmon usually was, to which Jim answered, “Well, they run in weight from ten to fifty pounds, but I have seldom seen one as small as ten pounds, and they are very fat when they are going upstream to spawn, but when they are coming down they are so poor they can scarcely swim.”

We left Honey Lake in the morning, and the third day from there we struck the Sacramento valley, and we now told the emigrants that they had no further use for our services, that their road was perfectly safe from this point to Sacramento city.

Two of the committee came to us and said, “As this is Saturday we will camp here until Monday, and we want you two men to stay with us, for the women want to fix up something for you to eat on your way back.”

Jim answered that we would stay with them over Sunday and take a rest, for we had a long and tiresome journey before us, but it must be understood that we did not want the women to go to cooking for us, for all we could take with us was a few loaves of bread, enough to last us a few days. Our meat we could get as we wanted it, which would be our principal food on the trip, as it always was when we were alone.

Sunday was a very pleasant, restful day to us. All the emigrants seemed to vie with each other in being social. Among the company was a man and wife by the name of Dent; these two came to us and said that they were going to make their home in Sacramento city and were going into business there, and they wanted us if we ever came there to come to them and make their home ours as long as we wished to stay, for, said they, “We appreciate what you have done for us on this journey we have passed through. Besides the protection you have given us, the Buffalo and Antelope meat you have shown us how to get and have helped to get has been worth more money to us than all we have paid you to pilot us to California.”.

We thanked them for their kind offer and good opinion of us but disclaimed having done anything but our duty by them.

Monday morning Jim and I were about the first to be astir. We caught our horses and had them saddled by the time breakfast was ready, and we accepted the first invitation offered us to eat. While we were eating, our hostess said she had baked two loaves of bread for us to take with us, and that she had roasted the last piece of Antelope that she had and wanted us to take that too. We took the food this lady had prepared for us and went to our horses, but before we reached them we saw the women coming from every direction with bread and cake. Jim said, “Will, let’s fill this sack with bread and cake if they insist on giving it to us and then get away as soon as possible.”

As Jim made this remark, it was very amusing to see how every woman tried to get her package in the sack first, but it would not begin to hold half that was brought. As soon as the sack was full, Jim said, “Now ladies, we can take no more, so be kind to us in letting us get away.”

By the time we had our pack fixed on our pack horses’ backs, every man and woman and all the children were around us to bid us farewell and good speed on our journey back to Taos, New Mexico.

We had shaken hands with probably a hundred or more when Jim sprang upon his horse all at once, saying, “Now friends, we will consider we have all shaken hands,” and he took off his hat and, waving it to the assembled crowd, gathered up his reins and galloped away, and I followed suit. But as long as we were in hearing distance we could hear, “Good bye, good bye,” floating on the wind. As the sight of the train faded in the distance, we waved our hats for the last time.

For the next two days everything went smoothly with Jim and me, which brought us to Honey Lake. The night we reached Honey Lake, we camped in a little grove of timber near a pearling stream of cool, sparkling water about a half a mile south of the trail.

We had eaten our supper and were about to spread our blankets and turn in for the night when we heard a dog bark close to our camp, but it was too dark to see him. Jim said, “Don’t that beat any thing you ever heard?”

We listened a moment, and then it was a howl, and then in a moment he barked again. Jim said, “You stay in camp, Will, and I will take my gun and see what is the matter.”

In a moment Jim called, “I see him.” I waited about an hour before Jim came back and was beginning to feel anxious about him. When I heard his footsteps, he said, “I followed that dog nearly a mile, and then I found the cause of his howling, and what do you think it was?” I answered, “Jim, I have no idea,” to which he said, “Well, I will tell you. I found the body of a dead man laying on his blanket just as if he was laying down to rest. I did not get near the dog until I had discovered the body, and then he was very friendly with me, and came and whined, and wagged his tail, as if he knew me. I looked all around, but I could find nothing but the body laying on the blanket. I could not see that there had been a fire, and I saw no signs of a horse or anything else, and the strange part of it is that, although the dog was so friendly with me, I could not coax him away from the body which I suppose was his master.”

I asked Jim what he thought it was best to do. He answered, “What can we do, Will? We have no tools to dig a grave with, and the body is laying among the rocks, and I expect that dog will stay beside it and starve to death.”

“Wouldn’t it be a good idea to go to the place in the morning and pile rocks on the body to keep the wolves and other wild animals from eating it up?” Jim said, “Yes, we will do that, and we will shoot some jack-rabbits and leave them with the dog, so he can have something to eat for a few days anyhow.”

On the way over to the place where the body lay, we killed three rabbits and threw them to the dog, and he ate them as if he was nearly starved, and I have always thought that his master died of starvation, as he had no gun or pistol with which to kill anything to eat, and Jim thought that he must have got lost from some emigrant train and wandered around until he was too weak to go farther and lay down and died with no one but his faithful dog to watch over him in his last moments.

We covered him up with stones and brush the best we could and left him and the poor dog together, although we tried every way we could to tempt the animal away. The faithful dog would not leave his master’s body. After trying persuasion until we saw it was no use, Jim said, “Let’s put a rope around his neck and lead him off.” I answered, “No, Jim, if he will not be coaxed away, it would not be right to force him to leave his dead master.” Jim said, “It seems too bad to leave him to starve, but you are right, Will,” and so we left him, and we never saw him again.

Saddened with the experience of the morning, we mounted our horses and struck for the trail. We had nothing more to disturb us for the next three days. About the middle of the afternoon of the third day we were riding along slowly, talking about where we should camp that night, when Jim happened to look off to the south, and he saw a band of Indians about a mile from us, and they were coming directly towards us, but we could not tell whether they had seen us or not. Jim said, “Let’s put spurs to our horses and see if we can get away from them Red devils without a fight with them.”

We put our horses to a run and had kept them going this gate for five or six miles when we came to the top of a little ridge, and in looking back we saw the Indians about a half a mile in the rear and coming as fast as their horses could carry them.

Jim said, “Will, we are in for it now, and we must find a place where we can defend ourselves.”

At that moment I saw a little bunch of timber a few hundred yards ahead of us. I pointed to it and said to Jim, “Let’s get in there and show them our war bonnet and scalps, and maybe that will save us from having a fight with the Red imps.”

Jim laughed and said, “Why dog gone it, Will, I forgot all about your war bonnet. Sure, that will be the very thing to do.”

We had reached the timber while we talked. We now dismounted and tied our horses, and in less time than one could think we had the war bonnet and scalps dangling from the trees all around our horses. We had scarcely got ready for them when the Red Skins were in sight. They raced around us in a circle but did not come in gun shot of us. They went through this performance a few times and then stopped and took a good look at our decorations, and then they wheeled their horses and left in the direction they had come from, and that was the last we saw of that bunch of Indians.

We waited a few minutes to be sure that all was clear, and then we mounted again and rode about two miles before we found water so we could camp for the night. When we were eating our supper that night, Jim said, “Will, I don’t think you realize what a benefit those scalps and that bonnet is to us; if I were you, I would never part with that bonnet as long as you are in the Indian country. This being a Ute bonnet, the Comanches will offer you all kinds of prices for it, but if I were you I would not sell it at any price.”

I answered, “Jim, I am going to keep that bonnet for two reasons. One is for the protection of my own scalp and the other is to keep in remembrance my last trip in company with you as a pilot across the plains to California.”

Jim looked at me a moment and then said, “Will, you don’t pretend to say that you will never take any more trips with me.”

I answered, “Yes Jim, I mean what I say. This is my last trip as a pilot for emigrants.”

Jim did not answer for a few moments, and then he said, “Who will go with me next year Willie? I thought the pilot business just suited you.”

I answered, “In some respects I do like it, and in others I dislike it very much. You know yourself how impossible it is to please everybody. There are so many of the people who come from the east that don’t think there is any more danger of the Indians than there is of the Whites, and you know Jim that is the class of people who will always get us into trouble. See what those nineteen smart alecks did for us on this last trip. Do you think if they had known any thing of Indian trickery they would have left our protection to go hunting in the very heart of the Indian country? And if we had not been firm with the rest of those people the whole outfit would have been scalped and then we would have had to bear the blame.”

Jim answered, “There is more truth than poetry in all you say Will, but maybe you will change your mind when spring comes.”

We had a peaceful night’s sleep and pulled out on the road bright and early the next morning. We left the main trail and took a south east course and crossed the extreme southern portion, of what is now the state of Utah. We traveled hundreds of miles in this country without seeing a human being.

A year ago I passed through this same country in a comfortable seat in a railroad car, and it would be difficult for me to make the people of this day understand the feelings that I experienced when in looking from the car window I saw the changes that fifty-five years have made in what was a wild, rough wilderness, inhabited by Buffaloes, Antelopes, Coyotes and savage men.

We kept on through this section of country until we struck the Colorado river, which we crossed just below the mouth of Green river, and a few days’ travel brought us into the northwest part of what is now New Mexico.

The country which is now New Mexico was at the time of which I am writing considered perfectly worthless. It is a rolling, hilly country with smooth, level valleys between the hills and is proving to be very fertile and is settling as fast as any part of the west.

There was nothing more to trouble us, and we made good progress on our journey, and in ten days from the time we left the Colorado river we reached Taos, New Mexico, which was the end of our journey, and tired and worn with the long hours in the saddle and the anxiety of mind which we had experienced in all the long months since we left there in the spring, we were glad to get there and rest a few days and to feel that we were free with no responsibility.

[Illustration: The mother bear ran to the dead cub and pawed it with her foot.]

CHAPTER VII.

We found Uncle Kit and his family all well and glad to see us. It was late in the afternoon when we got there, and we spent the remainder of the day and evening in recounting our summer’s experience for Uncle Kit’s benefit, who was a very interested listener to all that had befallen us since we parted from him in the spring.

While we ate supper, Jim told Uncle Kit of the fight with the Indians in which I killed the old chief and took his scalp and war bonnet, an account which amused Uncle Kit very much, and later in the evening he insisted on my undoing my pack and showing the bonnet to him.

After he had examined it, he said, “Will, I always knew that you would make an Indian fighter since that night when you were not fifteen years old and showed such bravery in showing me the two scalps of the Indians you had killed that morning all by yourself. But little did I think that you would have the honor of killing a Ute Chief and capturing his war bonnet. There will be many times when that bonnet will be as much protection to you as a whole regiment of soldiers would be,” and turning to Jim, Carson said, “Bridger, don’t you think my Willie must have been an apt pupil and does me great honor for the instruction I gave him?”

Jim answered, “Yes, Kit, I certainly do, and if you had seen him tested as I have the past summer, you would not need to ask me that question.”

Uncle Kit patted me on the back and told Jim that he did not need to see his boy’s bravery tested, for he always took it for granted that Willie would stand any test.

The next morning, Uncle Kit and Bridger commenced to lay their plans for the winter’s trapping. I heard Uncle Kit say, “Bridger, we have got to get down to Bent’s Fort right away; here it is in the last days of September, and you know that when the fall of the year comes, them trappers are like a fish out of water, and if we don’t get to the Fort soon, Bent and Roubidoux will fit them out and send them out trapping on their own hooks.”

Jim answered, “That is true, Kit, and the quicker we go the better it will be for us.”

On the fifth day after we arrived at Taos from California, we were on the road to Bent’s Fort with twenty-two pack horses besides our saddle horses. Uncle Kit, my old comrade Jonnie West and a Mexican boy by the name of Juan accompanied us.

We reached Bent’s Fort in safety without having any trouble on the way. The evening we got to the Fort it seemed to me that there were more trappers than I had ever seen together at one time before, and they all huddled around Carson and Bridger. Uncle Kit told them all that he would talk business with them in the morning. When supper was ready that evening, Col. Bent invited all of us to take supper with him. We accepted the invitation, and while we were at the table, a runner came with a note to Uncle Kit from Capt. McKee, asking Carson to send all the men he could muster to join him at Rocky Ford to escort a government train to Santa Fe, New Mexico.

According to the Capt’s. note Carson had only twenty-four hours to gather his men and get to Rocky Ford. When Uncle Kit read the note so unexpectedly brought him, it seemed to upset and confuse him. He said, “My God, I can’t go,” and then he read the note aloud. When he had finished reading. Col. Bent said, “I will go out and see how many men will volunteer to go.” After Col. Bent left the room, Uncle Kit said to me, “Willie, will you take charge of the men if Col. Bent can raise a company? I know you can handle them as well as I could.”

I answered, “Yes sir, I will do any thing you think is best.”

In a short time Col. Bent came back and said he had found twenty seven men who were willing to go, and that every man had his own horse and a gun and a pistol, “but who will take the command of the company? Do you intend to go yourself Carson?”

Uncle Kit said, “No, I do not, but Willie here,” and he touched my shoulder, “will take my place and do as well as I could.”

Col. Bent said, “Well, come with me, Will, and I will introduce you to your men.”

When we went outside, all the twenty-seven men were there waiting for us. Col. Bent said to them, “Now, gentlemen, I have brought you a leader in Mr. William Drannan. He will have charge of you until you reach Rocky Ford.”

I then told the men to furnish themselves with four day’s ration and also to take blankets to use at night, and to be ready to take the trail at sun rise in the morning. They all promised to be ready at the time I specified, and we separated for the night.

I found Uncle Kit in the dining room writing a letter to Capt. McKee. He gave the letter to me, saying, “Give this letter to Capt. McKee, and if you want to go to Santa Fe with him, do so, or if you had rather be with me, you will find Jim and me on the Cache-La-Poudre; just suit yourself, Willie, in regard to this matter, and I shall be satisfied.”

The next morning we were up and on the road by the time the sun was up. We rode hard until about eleven o’clock, when we dismounted, staked our horses out to grass and ate our luncheon. We let our horses feed about an hour, and then we mounted and were on the road again. A little before sunset we came in sight of Rocky Ford. As soon as I saw where we were, I pointed it out to the boys, and said, “There is Rocky Ford, and we are ahead of time.”

We had ridden but a short distance when one of the boys remarked, “We are not much in the lead, for there comes Capt. McKee’s company just across the river,” and as we reached the Ford, Capt. McKee and his men were crossing. So we both met on time. I had never met Capt. McKee but knew him from the fact that he was in the lead of his men.

I rode up to him and saluted and asked if this was Capt. McKee. He said it was. I told my name at the same time I gave him Carson’s letter.

He read the letter and then said, “Let us go into camp. My men and horses are tired, and we will talk business after we have had supper.”

We rode perhaps a quarter of a mile from the Ford, where we could get plenty of sage brush to make fires, dismounted and staked our horses out to grass, and it was not long until our meal was ready to eat. As soon as the meal was over, the Captain came to me and inquired if I had ever been over this country before. I told him I had a number of times. He said, “I am a stranger in this country; will you please tell me where the main body of the Comanches are at this time of the year?”

I told him that the main body of the Comanche tribe was at least a hundred miles down the river.

“They go down there to shoot the Buffalo as they cross the river on their winter’s feeding ground. You will find the Indians very numerous all through that part of the country. Sometimes there are from two to three hundred wigwams in one village, and the Indians will stay there for nearly a month yet before they go farther south.”

The Capt. then asked if I was acquainted with any of the Comanche Chiefs. I told him that I was, and that I had traded with pretty near all of them.

“The Comanches are all great friends with Kit Carson, and as I have visited them and traded with them in company with him, they extend their friendship to me.”

The Capt. thought a moment and then said, “I am mighty afraid that we are going to have trouble with the Comanches from the fact that that Government train is at least two hundred miles from here, and there are forty wagons in it, and they have no escort, only their drivers and herders, and I am weak myself; you see, I have only twenty men with me. Five days before I received this order, I sent all of my men, except the twenty with me, to Fort Worth, Texas to protect the settlers in that country as the Comanches are on the war path there, and the few men we have with us now will not be as much as a drop in a bucket as far as protecting the train is concerned if the Comanches attack it.”

I answered, “Captain, if we can reach the train before the Indians do, I believe we can get the train through to Santa Fe without firing a gun.”

This seemed to surprise him, for he looked at me as though I was insane in making such a remark and said, “What do you mean, young man?”

I answered: “Capt. McKee, all the Comanche tribe know me, and they also know that I have for several years been closely associated with Kit Carson, and they think that all Kit Carson does or says is right, for they both love him and fear him, and they have the same feeling for the boy Carson raised, and furthermore I have in this pack,” and I pointed to my pack which was laying on the ground near me, “more protection, in my estimation, than a hundred soldiers would be to the train.”

He said, “Explain what you mean, for I do not understand.”

I then unrolled my pack and, taking out the Indian scalps and the Ute Chief’s war bonnet, I showed them to him and told him how I had used them to protect an emigrant train when I only had twelve men to help me that were of any use in a fight with the Indians.

I said, “Now, Captain, you must know that the Indians have no fear of death, but they do dread to lose their scalps after they are killed, as they think there will be no chance for a scalpless Indian to enter the Happy Hunting ground. So if we reach the train before the Indians get there and fear they will attack it when they do, all we have to do is to hang these scalps up in a prominent place and put the Chief’s war bonnet high above them all, and there will be no need of a fight or chance for one, for the Indians will not come near enough to be shot at, for they will fear that they will share the same fate that befell the Indians that these scalps belonged to.”

Capt. McKee then asked me if I were willing to go on and assist him in this way until the train reached Santa Fe, and he said, “I am quite sure your plan in using the scalps and bonnet for protection with the Indians will prove a success, for I know how superstitious the Indians are about being scalped, and I am also sure that we have not sufficient men to save the train from the Indians without some other means is used.”

I then asked the Capt. who would pay me and my men for our time if we went with him. His answer was “The Government pays me and will pay you and the men with you, and if we have a chance to test your plan and it proves a success, I will see that you have double pay.”

Everything being understood and arranged to the satisfaction of all hands, we separated and turned in for the night.

Next morning we were all up in good season and got an early start on the road.

Late that evening just before we went into camp we saw a few Buffalo feeding near the river. I asked the Capt. where he was going to camp that night. He pointed to a little ravine about a half a mile from us, and answered, “We will camp on that ravine.” I said, “Take my pack on your saddle in front of you, and I will kill a calf for supper.”

He took my pack, saying, “All right, we surely will enjoy some fresh meat,” and the company moved on, and I struck out to kill the Buffalo. I rode around the herd so if they became frightened they would run towards the place where we were to camp. They saw me before I had got in gun shot of them and started to run directly towards where the Capt. had gone into camp.

As soon as I saw the direction they were taking, I commenced to shout to the men at the camp to look out, for the Buffalo were coming, and they did not get the news any too quick before the Buffalos were there. The men grabbed their guns and commenced shooting, and that was all that saved the camp from being overrun with Buffalo. They shot down three calves and two heifers right in camp.

The boys had the laugh on me for several days. When anything was said about getting fresh meat, some of them would say, “Will can go and drive it into camp, and we will shoot it,” and the Capt. would laugh and say he reckoned that was a good way to save me from packing it.

I do not think I ever saw men enjoy a meal more than these did that night. We had all ridden hard that day and had only a light lunch at midday, so we were all very hungry and young and hearty and just at the time of life when food tastes best, and every one of us knew how to broil Buffalo meat over sage brush fire.

The next morning the Capt. told the men to all cut enough meat from the Buffalos to last until the next day and to put it in their packs, for, he said, “We may not meet with as good luck again as we did today, and if we take the meat with us we will be provided for anyway.”

We were on the road early in the morning and traveled without stopping until noon, and we saw numerous small bands of Buffalo all along the way. We stopped on the bank of a little pearling stream of cold water, where there was plenty of grass for the horses, and ate our luncheon and rested about an hour. We were about ready to continue our journey when I discovered a small band of Indians coming up the trail.

I sang out to the Capt., “There come some of our neighbors.” He looked at them and said, “Boys, mount your horses and be ready, for we are going to have fun right here.” I said, “Hold on, Capt., and let me see if I can’t settle this thing without a fight.” He said, “How will you do it?” I said, “I believe I know all those Indians, but I will ride down and meet them and see, and if I am acquainted with them we will have no trouble with them.”

Capt. McKee said, “Won’t you be taking a desperate chance, Mr. Drannan, in going to meet those savages when you are not sure whether you know them or not?” I said, “I am not afraid to go to meet them, but if anything is wrong, I will signal to you by raising my hat, and if I do so you must charge at once, but if I give no signal you may be sure everything is all right.”

I started my horse at full speed down the narrow valley to meet the approaching Indian band. When I was within a hundred yards of them, they recognized me, and they all began crying, “Hi-yar-hi-yar,” which translated into English means, “How do-yo-do,” and in a few minutes, they were all swarming around me, each one trying to shake my hand first. I shook hands with all, and I then asked them where they were going. The Chief told me that they were going to their village, which was on the opposite side of the river. We had passed their village a few hours before, but owing to the timber being so thick we did not notice it. They wanted to know when I was coming to trade for Buffalo robes with them. I told them I would come in four months. This seemed to please them well, and they said they would have a plenty of robes to trade for knives and rings and beads.

I rode back with my Indian friends to the camp. On the way I told the chief where I was going, and that the white men he saw in the camp were my friends and were going with me. Not knowing any of the men in the camp, the Indians passed on without stopping, as is their custom when they are not on the war path.

When the last Indian had passed the camp, Capt. McKee ordered the men to mount, and we continued our journey.

When we were under way the Capt. rode to my side and said, “Mr. Drannan, will you tell me how it is that you have such a control over those Indians? Why, I would not have ridden to meet that savage band for anything that you could have offered me, for I should have considered doing such a thing equal to committing suicide, and I know I should not have come out alive.”

I said, “Very true, Capt. I don’t think you would. But there is this difference between your going to meet them and my doing so. You are a stranger to them, and a member of the white race, which they hate. They, not knowing who you are, are suspicious of your being on their hunting grounds, but in my case I have known them all for years and have accompanied them many times to their village. Whom they trust, although he be a “pale face,” they have confidence in, as they have in me. So they are all my friends, and when I told the Chief that you and all the company were my friends and were going with me, he or any of his braves had no wish to trouble you.”

Capt. McKee looked at me as if he thought me something hardly human while I explained why I was not afraid of the Indians who had just passed, and in a moment after I had ceased speaking he said, “Can you control all of the Comanche tribe the same as you did the band which has just passed us?” I answered, “I certainly think I can if I have my way about it.” He answered, “If that is so, the United States Government will be under great obligation to you.” “The obligation is nothing to me Capt., but if the men will obey my instruction I think I can pilot the train through to Santa Fe without their having to fire a shot,” I replied. The Capt. said, “I am not acquainted with the wagon master, so I can not say what he will do, but I will give you my word that my men will do as you instruct them, and as soon as we meet the train I will have a talk with the wagon master and try to influence him to submit to being directed by you.”

The third day from this place we met the train at a place called Horse Shoe Bend. We saw a number of bands of Indians and passed several Indian villages on the way, but we did not come into contact with any of them. The train was just corralling for the night when we met them, and the most discouraged-acting men I ever saw were in that train. The wagon master told us that the Indians had attacked the train the day before and killed five of his men, and he said, “If this had been anything but a Government train, I should have turned around and gone back, and Capt., you haven’t half men enough to protect this train through the Comanche country; we have just struck the edge of it, and the Comanches are the largest and most hostile tribe in the west, and you see that I lost five of my herders in the Kiawah country, and they are a small tribe beside the Comanches.”

Capt. McKee then told the wagon master what he had seen me do with a band of Comanche warriors, and also told him what I said I could do for the train if I had the control of the men and they would obey me.

The wagon master turned and looked at me a moment as if he was measuring me and then said, “Young man, do you pretend to say that you know all of the Comanche tribe?”

I answered, “No, sir, I do not know them all, but they all know me, and there are hundreds of them that are particular friends of mine, and if you are acquainted with the Indian character, you know that when an Indian professes to be a friend he is a friend indeed, and there is no limit to what he will do for you.”

He then asked how I proposed to handle the train and the men. I answered, “I want the men to ride beside the wagons, and in the rear of them with a half a dozen just a little ahead of the teams, and I will ride alone from a quarter to a half a mile ahead, and if the men in the rear or those on the side see any Indians advancing on the train, I want them to notify me at once, for I want to talk with the Indians before they get to the train, no matter whether there are a few or many of them.”

The wagon master said, “I don’t see anything to find fault with your plans,” and turning to McKee he asked what he thought of the arrangement. Capt. McKee answered, “All that I find fault with is the desperate chances Mr. Drannan will take in going out to meet the savages all by himself.” I said, “Capt., there is where you make a mistake. My safety lies in my going out to meet the Indians alone, and I will assure you and the other gentlemen that there will not be a gun fired if I can get to the Indians before they get to the train.”

At this moment the cook said supper was ready, and it did not take long for me at least to get to eating it, for I was very hungry.

The wagon master, the Capt. and I messed together. The Capt. asked me what I thought about putting out picket guards that night. I told him that I did not think it necessary tonight, but further on the road it might be advisable.

We had a quiet night’s rest, and everybody seemed cheerful in the morning, and we were on the road quite early. Before we started, I asked the wagon master how many miles he traveled in a day, and if he stopped at noon. He answered that he was four or five days behind time now and would like to make twenty miles a day if he could, and he thought it would not be advisable to stop at noon while we were in the Comanche country, but when we got clear of the Indians probably he would lay over a day or two, and let the teams have a rest.

Everything moved on pleasantly all that day. We did not see an Indian, but towards evening we saw large bands of Buffalo all going south. That night when we had got settled into camp, I told the Capt. that I would take a ride five or six miles up the valley and see if I could find any Indians’ village or see any Indians and for them not to be uneasy about me or look for me until they saw me.

I had ridden perhaps three miles when I saw a large band of Indians just going into camp. They were about a half a mile from our trail right on the bank of the Arkansas river. I knew that they were a hunting party because their squaws and papooses were with them, which is never the case if the warriors are on the war path.

I rode down among them, and as soon as the squaws saw me they commenced to cry, “Hi-yar-hi-yar,” and ran to me with extended hands, and they all asked together if I had come to trade rings and beads. When I told them that I would come again in four months and trade with them, they laughed and said in their own language that they would have many Buffalo robes ready to trade with me. As I was talking with the squaws, an Indian came to me, one that I had known for quite a while, and invited me to his wigwam to take supper with him and stay all night. I explained to him that I could not accept his invitation that time and told him what I was doing, and where I was going, but that I would return in four months and would bring a plenty of knives and rings and beads to trade for Buffalo robes.

This seemed to please him very much.

I bid them all good bye and went back to camp. It was rather late and supper was over, but the cook had saved some for me. While I was eating, Capt. McKee and the wagon master came to see me. The Capt. asked what I had seen while I was gone. I said, “Capt., I saw enough Indian squaws to keep me shaking hands for twenty minutes, and besides the squaws I saw four or five hundred warriors and shook hands with a good many of them and was invited to eat supper and pass the night with one of the Chiefs, but I declined to do either, although I would have been more than welcome.”

The Capt. asked where the Indians were, and I told him. He asked how far from our trail their village was. I told him between half and a quarter of a mile. He said, “Have we got to pass in full view of that Indian village?” I answered, “Yes, sir, that is the only road that leads from here to Santa Fe.” “And do you believe that we can pass them in the morning without being attacked by them?” he asked. I said, “Capt., if the men will obey my instructions, there will be no danger when we strike out in the morning. We will all travel in the same order as we did today, except that I shall not ride so far in advance of the train, and if the Indians start to come towards the train, I will ride out and meet them, and the train must keep right on, as if nothing had occurred, and I will hold the Indians until the train is out of sight, and then I will leave them and overtake you.”

The Capt. said, “All right, Mr. Drannan, we will do as you have directed, and if you succeed in this venture, I shall know that you have the control over the Indians that you thought you had.”

The wagon master said that he would not feel very easy until we had passed and were out of sight of the Indians and their village, and I believe he spoke the truth, for he was up and had everything ready. We were on the road by sunrise. When we were nearly opposite the Indian village, the squaws discovered us and came running towards us in droves. I rode out and met them and had a general hand-shaking with them, and they wanted me to assure them that I was coming in four months to trade with them and wanted me to go and look at some of the robes they had dressed, which I did, and in doing so, I saw something that I had never seen before nor have I since. It was a white Buffalo skin, and the animal must have been a half-grown cow judging from the size of the skin. It was the prettiest thing of the kind that I had ever seen, or ever have since. When I was looking at the beautiful thing, I asked the Indian that I thought it belonged to how much he would take for it. He said it was not his, that it was his squaw’s. I asked her what her price would be, and she answered, “One string of beads.” I told her to save it for me and in four months I would come back and bring the beads to her and take the robe. I was so interested in looking at the robes and talking with the Indians that time passed without notice, and the first thing I thought about it, in looking at my watch I found it was nearly noon. I now bid the Indians good bye, mounted my horse and started to overtake the train. When I caught up with them, I found that the Capt. was feeling very uneasy about me, and the wagon master thought the Indians had taken me captive.

When I rode to the Capt’s. side, he said, “This settles it. I have been fighting the Indians for several years, and I must admit now that I don’t know anything about them, and I will confess that I was like “the Missouri”; I had to be shown before I believed. But having seen like them, I am satisfied that you knew what you were talking about. After the experience of this morning, I cannot doubt that through your friendship with the Red skins we shall get through to Santa Fe in safety without having any trouble with them.”

That evening when we went into camp, the Capt. and the wagon master came to me. The Capt. said, “Mr. Drannan, you are so well acquainted with the Comanche Indians, perhaps you can tell us where we shall pass their main village and where the Indians are likely to be the most numerous.” I answered, “This is an unusually late fall, and the Buffalo are as a consequence unusually late in going south and are more scattered than they would be earlier in the season, and I do not think we will pass the Comanches’ main village under forty miles from here. You must understand that the Comanches’ main village is always near where the largest herd of Buffalo cross the river, and from this on we will travel as we have been doing; I will take the lead five or six miles in advance of the train so that if we come on to a band of Indians or a small village I can meet them and have a talk with them before the train gets up to them, and Capt., I want you and the other men to keep a close look out, and if any of you see any Indians coming towards the train from any direction, send a runner after me at once, for I want to meet the Indians before they get to the train.”

The next morning we pulled out early, and we traveled without interruption all day, and we did not see an Indian and but very few Buffalo.

That night we camped on a little stream called Cotton Wood Creek. There was fine water and the best of grass for the stock. That evening I told the Capt. and the wagon boss that the three main Buffalo crossings were within thirty miles of us, and we would probably have more trouble with the Buffalos than we would with the Indians. “At this time of the year it is no uncommon thing to see a herd of Buffalo from eight to ten miles long, and from a half to a mile wide, and if we meet with such a herd, all we can do is to stop and wait until they pass, for we could no more get through them than we could fly over them, and, Capt., we now have two dangers to avoid. The Indians and Buffalos. If you see a band of Buffalo coming and I am not with you, have the wagon master corral the train as quickly as possible, and as close as he can get them together. I have considerable influence with the Indians, but I have none with the Buffalos, so we must give the latter their own way and a plenty of room, or they will tramp the train under their feet and us with it.”

We were on the road in good season the next morning, and every thing went smoothly until about eleven o’clock in the morning, when I saw a large band of Buffalo coming from the north and heading directly for the river. I rode back and met the train and told the wagon master that he must corral the train at once, and he did not have time to get it corralled too soon before the herd was near us, and I will say I had seen a great many large herds of Buffalo before and have since that time but never saw anything that equaled this herd. We waited until three o’clock in the afternoon before we could move on our journey, and after they had all passed us, one could see nothing but a black moving mass as far as the eyes could see.

I asked the Capt. how many Buffalos he thought there were in that band. He answered, “I think the number would run into millions. How many Buffalos would it take to cover a half a mile square?”

I thought a moment and answered, “That is a difficult question to answer, Capt. The way they were crowded together here I believe there would be a hundred thousand on every half a mile square.”

Capt. McKee said, “Yes, and on some of the half a mile square there would be more than that number. I was in Texas nine years, and I saw a great many bands of Buffalo in that time, but I had no idea that they ever traveled in such immense bodies as the one that passed us today.”

We proceeded but a short distance that afternoon but made an early camp on account of water. While we were at supper, I was amused at some of the remarks made by the teamsters. One of them said, “Boys, if I live to get home, you will never catch me any farther west than the state of Missouri again. Who would live in such a country as this is? Good for nothing but Indians, Buffalos, and Coyotes, and any of the three is liable to kill you if you get out among them.” And another said, “How in creation are we going to get home? If this train don’t go back, we are sure in for it.”

The wagon boss said, “Boys, I should not think you would want to go back over this country again.” One of them said, “How would we live?” He answered, “Why, you could go and live with the Indians, and then you could have Buffalo meat to eat and hear the Coyotes howl all the time.”

This remark made a laugh, but I noticed one of the teamsters wiped his eyes on his coat sleeve and got up and left the crowd, and I saw the tears running down his cheeks. After he had gone, one of the other drivers said, “I pity John, for he thinks he will never see his sweetheart again. It was to get money to settle down with that brought him out here, and now he is afraid that he will never get back, and I believe he will go crazy if he don’t get to see his girl in a few months.”

The boss said, “It is too bad, and I will go and see if I can console him.”

When we were ready to strike the trail the next morning, I told the Capt. that I thought we would pass the Comanches’ main village that day. Said I, “If it is late in the afternoon when we pass the Indian camp, it will be best to drive on four or five miles before you stop for the night, and do not pay any attention to me, for very likely I shall be in the middle of the camp, talking with the Chief.”

I struck out, and I had not ridden more than eight miles when in looking off to the south I saw the Indian village. It was about a mile from the trail on the bank of the Arkansas river. I turned my horse and went for the village. When I was about halfway there, I met a number of young bucks, and they all knew me. After I had shaken hands with them, I asked where the old Chief’s wigwam was, and they all went with me and showed me where it was. As soon as I struck the edge of the village, every buck and squaw commenced to shout and shake their hands at me. When I got to the Chief’s wigwam I dismounted, and as he came out to meet me I offered my hand, which is always customary when one visits an Indian, be he Chief or warrior.