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Ranching, Sport and Travel
by Thomas Carson
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Then, too, the cowboy, in matter of accoutrements, was a very splendid fellow indeed. His saddle was gaily decorated with masses of silver, in the shape of buttons, buckles and trimmings, etc. Likewise his bridle and bit; his spurs were works of loving art from the hands of the village metal-worker, and likewise heavily plated with silver. The rowels were huge but blunt-pointed, and had little metal bells attached. His boots cost him near a month's pay, always made to careful order, with enormously high and narrow heels, as high as any fashionable woman's; his feet were generally extremely small, because of his having lived in the saddle from early boyhood up. He wore a heavy woollen shirt, with a gorgeous and costly silk handkerchief tied loosely round his neck. His head-covering was a very large grey felt hat, a "genuine Stetson," which cost him from five to twenty dollars, never less. To keep the big hat in place a thong or cord is tied around and below the back of the head instead of under the chin, experience having proved it to be much more effective in that position. His six-shooter had plates of silver on the handle, and his scabbard was covered with silver buttons. It should be said that a saddle, such as we all used, cost from forty to sixty dollars, and weighed generally about forty pounds, not counting saddle blankets. Sometimes the saddle had only one "cinch" or girth, generally two, one of which reached well back under the flank. Such heavy saddles were necessary for heavy work, roping big cattle, etc. The stirrups were then generally made of wood, very big and broad in sole and very heavy, sometimes covered with tapaderos, huge leather caps to save the feet from thorns in heavy brush, and protect them from cold in severe weather.

To protect our legs we wore over the trousers heavy leather chaparejos, sometimes of bear or buffalo hide. Let it be noted that a genuine cowpuncher never rolls his shirt sleeves up, as depicted in romancing novels. Indeed he either protects his wrists with leather wristlets, or wears long gauntlet gloves. Mounted on his favourite horse, his was a gay cavalier figure, and at the "Baillie" he felt himself to be irresistible to the shy and often very pretty Mexican senoritas. There you have a pretty faithful picture of the cowboy of twenty-five years ago.

It remains to say something of the "shooting irons." In the days of which I write there was no restriction to the bearing of arms. Every man carried a six-shooter. We, and most of our outfit, habitually carried a carbine or rifle as well as the smaller weapon. The carbine was carried in a scabbard, slung from the horn, under the stirrup flap, and so under the leg. This method kept the weapon steady and left both arms free. By raising the leg it was easily got at, and it interfered in no way with the use of the lariat (La Riata). The hang of the six-shooter required more particular consideration; when needed it would be needed badly, and therefore must be easily drawn, with no possible chance of a hitch. The butt of a revolver must point forwards and not backwards, as shown in the accompanying illustration, a portrait of one of our men as he habitually appeared at work. We ourselves did not go the length of wearing three belts of cartridges and two six-shooters; but two belts were needed, one for the rifle and the other for the smaller weapon. Some of the boys were always getting into scrapes and seemed to enjoy protracted fights with the Mexicans. There must be no flap to the scabbard, and the point must be tied by a leather thong around the thigh to keep it in correct position; and of course it was hung on the right side and low down on the hip, so as to be easily got at. Only when riding fast was a small loop and silver button passed through the trigger guard to prevent the gun from jolting out and being lost. The chambers were always kept full and the weapons themselves in perfect working order. Very "bad" men tied back or removed the trigger altogether, cocking and releasing the hammer with the thumb, or "fanning" it with the left hand. This permitted of very rapid firing, so that the "aar would be plumb full of lead."



As an instance of quick shooting, two of our neighbours had threatened to kill each other at sight: and we were all naturally interested in the results. When the meeting did take place, quite unpremeditated, no doubt, each man saw the other about the same instant, but one of them was just a little the quicker, and put a bullet through his enemy's heart. It was a mortal wound of course; but before the unlucky man fell he was also able to "get his work in," and both fell dead at the same instant. This was no duel. The first to fire had the advantage, but the "dead" man was too quick for him, and he did not escape. If I remember right, a good riddance.

There was one other way of "packing a gun." It was called the Arizona way. Legal gentlemen, some gamblers, and others who for various reasons wished to appear unarmed, simply put the pistol in the coat side pocket, and in use fired from that position through the pocket. It was not often so used, but I have known cases of it. In this way it was difficult to know whether a man was "heeled" (armed) or not. Of course our usual weapon, the long Colt 45 deg. six-shooter could not be so used, being too cumbrous.



CHAPTER III

CACTUS RANCHING IN ARIZONA—continued

The Cowboy—Accoutrements and Weapons—Desert Plants—Politics and Perjury—Mavericks—Mormons—Bog Riding.

The "rustling" of cattle was very common in Arizona in these days. By "rustling" is not meant the petty burning out of a brand, or stealing of calves or odd beef cattle. It was carried on on the grand scale. Bands of rustlers operated together in large bodies. Between our range and the old Mexican border extended the Apache Reservation, a very large tract of exceedingly rough country, without roads of any description, the only signs of human presence being an occasional Indian trail and abandoned wickyups. Beyond the Reservation lay certain mining towns and camps, such as Clifton, Camp Thomas, Tombstone, and others; and then the Mexican frontier.

The rustlers' business was to steal cattle, butcher them in the mountains, and sell the beef to the mining towns; or drive them over into Old Mexico for disposal, and then again drive Mexican cattle or horses back into Arizona. Some of these gangs were very powerful and terrorized the whole country, so much so that decent citizens were afraid "to give them away."

Our cattle ranged well into the mountains, and up to a certain period we had no occasion to think that any "dirty" work was going on; but at last we "tumbled" to the fact that a gang was operating on our range. Word was brought us that a bunch of some 200 cattle had been "pulled" (Scotch, lifted). I was off the ranch at the time, but one of my partners at once started on the trail with three of the men. After some days very hard riding they caught up on the thieves at early dawn, in fact when still too dark to see very well. Shooting began at once. None of our men were hurt. Two of the enemy were badly wounded, but managed in the darkness to scramble off into the rocks, or were carried off by their companions. Our party captured their saddle horses and camp outfit, but did not feel themselves strong enough to continue the chase in such a country. The cattle were found close to the camp, but so footsore that it was impossible to move them homewards. They then returned to the ranch, and we at once organized a strong force of some seventeen men, well mounted and abundantly supplied with ammunition, etc. Again taking the trail we met the cattle on their way home, and gave them a push for a mile or so; and thinking them safe enough we prepared to continue south.

On arriving at the scene of last week's fight we noticed that the big pine trees under which the rustlers camped had gun-rests notched in the sides of them, not newly made, but showing that they had been cut a long while ago, probably in anticipation of just what had happened.

That day in camp, a horseman, the most innocent-looking of individuals, appeared, took dinner with us, and gave some plausible reason for his presence in that out-of-the-way place. It is strictly against cowboy etiquette to question a guest as to his personality, his movements or his occupation. We, however, felt very suspicious, especially as after he had gone we stumbled on to a coffee-pot and frying-pan, still warm, which had evidently been thrown into the bushes in great haste. In fact, this confirmed our suspicions that our visitor was one of the gang, and we thereafter stood careful guard round our horses every night. The cattle we decided to leave alone to take their chances of getting home, thinking the rustlers would not have the "gall", in face of our near presence, to again try to get off with them; but they did! These cattle never reached the ranch. Had they been left alone their wonderful homing instinct would certainly have got them there just as quick as they could travel. However, we did not realize the fact of the second raid till on our return no sign of these cattle could be found. So we continued south, passing through the roughest country I ever set eyes on, the vegetation in some places being of the most extraordinary nature, cacti of all kinds forming so thick a jungle that one could hardly dismount. Such enormous and freakish-looking growths of this class of plant few can have ever looked on before. The prickly pear "nopal" was the most common, and bore delicious, juicy and refreshing fruit. Indeed, being out of water and short of "chuck," we were glad to accept Nature's offering, but at a dreadful cost, for in a little while our mouths and tongues were a mass of tiny, almost invisible spines, which the most careful manipulation of the fruit could not prevent. But the most astonishing of these growths was the pitahaya (correct name saguarro), or gigantic columnar cactus, growing to a height of thirty to fifty feet, bearing the fruit on their crowns; a favourite fruit of the Pima Indians, though by what means they pluck it it would be interesting to know. Besides an infinite variety of others of the cactus family, there were yuccas, agaves and larreas; the fouquiera and koberlinia, long and thorny leafless rods; artemisias and the algarrobbas or mesquite bean-trees, another principal food of the Indians and valuable for cattle and horses. The yucca when in full bloom, its gigantic panicles bearing a profusion of large white bells, is one of Nature's most enchanting sights. Besides all these were massive biznagas, cholas, bear-grass or palmilla, and the mescal, supplying the principal vegetable food of the Apaches. Never in Texas, Arizona, or even Old Mexico, have I seen such a combination of varieties of such plants growing in such profusion and perfection; but being no botanist, and quite incompetent to give a proper appreciation of these wonders, we will return to the trail.

At one place, hidden in a canon, we ran on to a stone-built and fortified butchering establishment, but without sign of life around. Continuing, we finally came to Clifton, the copper-mining town, then perhaps the "hardest" town in Arizona. The townspeople appeared pleased to see us. Martial law was prevailing, and they seemed to think we were a posse deputized to assist in restoring order. Anyway, the sheriff informed us that nearly thirty men had left the town that day for their camp, a fortified position some ten or fifteen miles away. They were all rustlers, and somehow or other had heard of our coming. Mr Sheriff was also kind enough to advise us that we were not nearly strong enough to tackle them; so adopting his advice, after securing supplies, we rode off, and by travelling all night and working round avoided the enemy's "position." Next day we unexpectedly ran on to a large bunch of our own cattle quietly grazing on the hillside. We rounded them up, but our brands were so completely burned out and effaced that, when we put them in the corral at Camp Thomas and claimed ownership, the sheriff refused to acknowledge it, and we had to draw his attention to a small jaw brand lately adopted by us but unnoticed by the thieves, and therefore not "monkeyed" with. This was proof enough, and so our long and tedious trip was to some extent compensated for. The particular rustlers we were after we could hear nothing of, except one man, who was lying wounded at a certain establishment, but who was carefully removed before we got to the place.

On returning home there were only two possible passes through the mountains. It was lucky we took the one, as the other, we afterwards learned, had been put into a state of defence and manned by the outlaws, who in such a place could have shot us all down without danger to themselves.

This short narrative will give some sort of idea of the state of the country at that period. Thereafter it became necessary that the cattle in the mountains should be more carefully guarded and looked after, and the duty fell to me to "cut sign." By "cutting sign" is meant, in this instance, the riding round and outside of all our cattle, pushing back any that had strayed too far, and carefully looking out for fresh sign (footprints) of cattle or horses leading beyond our range limits. Such sign was always suspicious, and the trail must be followed till the stock was found and accounted for. If horse tracks accompanied the cattle it would be a dead sure proof that something was wrong. I continued this work for a long time, but nothing suspicious occurred. At last, one day when searching the open country with my field-glasses, I was gratified and at the same time alarmed to see three or four men driving a considerable herd of cattle in the direction, and on exactly the same trail as before taken by the rustlers. Convinced that all was not right, and quite realizing that there was the prospect of serious trouble for myself, I lit out for them, keeping as well under cover as possible, till, on mounting a small tree-covered knoll, I found myself directly overlooking their camp. There were the cattle, from four to five hundred, and there the men, preparing their mid-day meal, four of them in all, and all strangers to me. It was necessary at all costs to know who they were, so I was obliged to disclose myself by going into their camp. The number of saddle horses they had with them led me to think that they were not real professional cattle thieves. Had they been indeed rustlers it would have been a risky thing to do, as they would have had to dispose of me in some way or other. By my horse brand they at once knew what "outfit" I belonged to. Their brands, however, were strange to me. They asked me to eat, of course; and I soon found out that their party was headed by one Pete——, whose reputation I had often heard of as being of the worst. He said he had been grazing these cattle in some outlying park, and was now taking them home to his ranches somewhere in New Mexico. That was all right; but since he had passed through part of our range it was necessary to inspect the herd. This he resisted by every means he could think of, asserting that they were a "clean" bunch, with no "strays," and that he was in a great hurry to push on. I insisted, however, on riding through them, when, not much to my surprise, I found about twenty large unbranded calves, apparently without their "mammies." On asking Pete for an explanation: "Oh," he said, "the mammies were shore in the herd" and he "warn't no cow thief," but on my persisting he finally exclaimed, "Well, take your damned caves and let's get on," or some such words; so I started in and cut out nearly twenty big unbranded calves, which certainly did not have their mothers with them; which, therefore, were clearly not his property; were probably ours, but whether they were or not did not matter to me. Pete and his men pulled out home, but I caught and branded over half of these calves before turning them loose, and it is probable we got the rest of them at the next round-up. When a man is single-handed and has to make his fire up as well as catch and tie down the calves he has his hands pretty full. In this case I used only one fire and so had to drag the calves up close to it; every bit of tie rope in my pocket, thongs cut off the saddle, even my pocket-handkerchief, were all brought into service; as at one time there were as many as four calves tied down at once. I had only the one little branding-iron, a thin bent iron rod, generally carried tied to the saddle alongside the carbine. The branding-iron must be, if not quite red-hot, very nearly so. Then the calf has to be ear-marked and altered.

When the mothers are near by the bellowing of the young ones as the hot iron burns into the hide makes them wild with fear and anxiety, and the motherly instinct to charge is strained to the utmost, though they seldom dare to do it. The calves themselves, if big and stout enough, will often charge you on being released, and perhaps knock you over with a painfully hard punch.

This was merely an adventure which lent some excitement and interest to the regular work. Happily no more serious raid on our cattle occurred in that direction, but one never knew when a little "pulling" might take place and so had to be constantly on the alert.

About this time certain ill-disposed individuals tried "to get their work in on us" by asserting land frauds on our part. They tried every possible way to give us "dirt," that is, to put us to trouble and expense, and even send us to the pen if they could. They succeeded in having me indicted for perjury by the Grand Jury at Prescott, the then capital of Arizona. It cost us some money, but no incriminating evidence was forthcoming and the trial was a farce. The trial jury consisted of miners, cattlemen, saloon-keepers and others, and by mixing freely with them, standing drinks, etc., we managed to "correct" any bad feeling there might have been against us. Certainly these jurymen might have made trouble for me, but they did not. This notwithstanding that my friend, a special land agent sent out from Washington and principal witness against me, swore that I had assaulted him at a lonely place (and I well remember the occasion), and that he felt his life in such danger that he had to travel with a guard, etc. This came from politics.

Having described summer life and occupations, and before going to winter camp, something must be said about our headquarters ranch, situated some twenty miles off. Here were the grain-house, the hay stacks, wagon sheds, corrals, the kitchen, general messroom, the bunk house and private rooms for ourselves. There was a constant succession of visitors. Nearly every day some stranger or neighbour "happened" in for a meal. Everyone was welcome, or at least got free board and lodging and horse feed. There being a paid cook made things different.

But it was hot down here in summer-time, hot and dry and hardly attractive. The lower part of the range was much of it sandy country. With the temperature at 110 deg. in the shade the sand would get so hot as to be almost painful to walk on, certainly disagreeable to sit on. And when one wanted to rest the only shade you could find would be in the shadow of your horse, which at noon meant your sitting right under him; and your saddle, on remounting, would be so hot as to be really very uncomfortable. Between round-ups there was not much work to do. Before round-up a general shoeing of the horses had to be gone through. I shod my own, except in cases of young ones undergoing the operation for the first time, when assistance was needed. Except poker every night we had few amusements. It was almost a daily programme, however, to get our carbines and six-shooters out and practise at targets, firing away box after box of ammunition. No wonder we were pretty expert shots, but indeed it needs much practice to become so.

It should be said that amongst our visitors there were, no doubt, many angels whom we entertained unawares; but also, and no doubt of this, many blackguards and desperadoes, "toughs" and horse-thieves.

An old English sailor, who had farmed a little in the mountains, was on one occasion left alone at our headquarters to take charge of it during our absence on the work. Two men came along and demanded something which the old man would not give and they deliberately shot him dead. We caught the miscreants, but could not convict them, their plea being self-defence. They really should have been hung without trial.

Lynchings of cattle and horse thieves and other criminals were not then uncommon. I have twice come on corpses swinging in the wind, hung from trees or telegraph posts. But the most distressing sight witnessed was in Denver's fair city when a man, still alive, was dragged to death all through the streets by a rope round his neck, followed by a howling mob!

By the way, a strange couple once surprised me at my mountain camp, viz., two individuals dressed much alike, both wearing the hair in a long pigtail, both dressed in leather "chaps," high-heeled boots, woollen shirts, big felt hats, rifles and six-shooters, and both as "hard"-looking as they ever make them. One was a man, the other a woman! They volunteered to me nothing of their business, but I watched the horses a little closer. And I may as well here give another little incident that occurred in my summer camp.

A United States cavalry officer appeared one day at my door and demanded that I at once move the cattle off the Reservation. This was a sudden and rather big order. I told him that I was alone and could not possibly do it at once, or for several days. "Oh," he said, he "would help me," he having some forty nigger troopers with him. "All right," I said, and took the men along with me, got back behind the cattle, spread these novel cowboys out and began to drive, when such a shouting and shooting of guns took place as never was heard before in these parts. We drove the cattle, really only a thousand head or so, back to the supposed Reservation border, quite unmarked and vague, and so left them, only to wander back again at their leisure to where they had been. The officer made all kinds of threats that he would turn the Indians loose on them, but nothing more was then done.

At my winter camp, some thirty-five miles below headquarters, there was a good three-roomed frame house, a corral, etc., and the Little Colorado River flowed past near by. It was to these lower parts of the range that most of our cattle drifted in winter time. Two or three other large cattle-ranches marched with us there.

A small Mormon settlement was not far off. These Mormons were a most venturesome people and daring settlers. Certainly they are the most successful colonists and a very happy people. Living in close community, having little or no money and very little live stock to tempt Providence (rustlers), theirs is a peaceable, though possibly dull, existence. They had frequent dances, but we Gentiles were not admitted to them.[1]

[Footnote 1: See Appendix, Note 1.]

In winter one lives better than in the hot weather, table supplies being more varied. In summer, excepting during the round-ups, we never had butcher meat, and in my camp butter, eggs and milk were not known; but in winter I always had lots of good beef, potatoes, butter and some eggs from the Mormons, but still no milk. This was varied, too, by wild duck, teal and snipe shot along the river bottom.

Talking of snipe, it is very wonderful how a wounded bird will carefully dress and apply down and feathers to the injury, and even apply splints and ligatures to a broken limb.

My principal duties at this season consisted in riding the range on the lookout for unbranded calves, many calves always being missed on the round-up. This was really rather good sport. Such calves are generally big, strong, fat, and run like jack-rabbits, and it takes a fast and keen pony to catch them. Occasionally you would be lucky enough to find a maverick, a calf or a yearling so old as to have left its mother and be still running loose without a brand and therefore without an owner. It was particular satisfaction to get one's rope, and therefore one's brand, on to such a rover, though it might really not be the progeny of your own cattle at all. It was no easy job either for one man alone to catch and brand such a big and wild creature, especially if among the brush and cedar trees. A certain stimulant to your work was the fact that you were not the only one out on a maverick hunt. There were others, such as your neighbours, or even independent gentlemen, expert with the rope and branding-iron, who never bought a cow critter in their lives, but started their herds by thus stealing all the calves they could lay hands on. A small crooked iron rod, an iron ring, or even an old horseshoe, did duty as branding-iron on these occasions. The ring was favoured by the latter class of men, as it could be carried in the pocket and not excite suspicion. Of course we branded, marked and altered these calves wherever we found them. "Hair branding" was a method resorted to by dishonest cowboys; by burning the hair alone, and not the hide, they would apparently brand the calf with its rightful owner's brand; but later, when the calf had grown bigger and left its mother, they would slap on their own brand with comparative safety. One had to be constantly on the lookout for such tricks.

The Mexicans, too, were fond of butchering a beef now and then, so they too required watching; but my busiest time came with early spring, when the cattle were in a poor and weak condition. The river-bed, too, was then in its boggiest state. Cattle went in to drink, stuck, and could not get out again, and thus some seasons we lost enormous numbers of them. Therefore I "rode bog" every day up and down the river. When I found an animal in the mud I had to rope it by the horns or feet and drag it by main force to solid ground. A stout, well-trained horse was needed. It was hard, dirty work and exasperating, as many of those you pulled out never got up again, and if they did would invariably charge you. No special tackle was used; you remain in the saddle, wrap the rope round the horn and dig the spurs in. Of course, on your own beat, you dragged out all you could, no matter of what brand; but when, as often happened, you failed to get them out, and they belonged to someone else, you were not allowed to shoot them; so that there the poor creatures lay for days, and perhaps even weeks, dying a lingering, but I am glad to think and believe not a painful, death. What an awful death for a reasoning, conscious man. Dumb animals, like cattle, happily seem to anticipate and hope for nothing one way or another. Once I found a mare in the river in such a position under a steep bank that nothing could be done for her. Her young colt was on the bank waiting and wondering. Very regretfully I had to leave them and carefully avoided passing that way for some days to come till the tragedy had terminated. The Little Colorado River, and afterwards the Pecos River in New Mexico, I have often seen so thick with dead and dying cattle that a man might walk up and down the river on the bodies of these unfortunate creatures. The stench would become horrible, till the spring flood came to sweep the carcasses to the sea or covered them up with deposit.

Quicksand is much more holding than mere river mud. If only the tip of the tail or one single foot of the animal is covered by the stuff, then even two stout horses will not pull it out. The Pecos River is particularly dangerous on account of its quicksandy nature, and it was my custom, when having to cross the mess wagon, to send across the ramuda of two or three hundred saddle horses to tramp the river-bed solid beforehand. On one occasion when crossing quite a small stream my two driving ponies went down to their hocks, so that I had to cut the traces and belabour them hard to get them out. Had they not got out at once they never would have done so. My ambulance remained in the river-bed all night and till a Mexican with a bull-team luckily came along next day.

At the Meadows, my winter camp, I had to fill a contract of two or three fat steers for the town butcher every week. With a man to help me we had to go far afield and scour the range to get suitable animals, the best and fattest beeves being always the furthest out. After corralling, which might mean a tremendous amount of hard galloping and repeated failures, the most difficult part of the job was the actual killing, which I accomplished by shooting them with a six-shooter, not a carbine. Only when a big steer has its head down to charge can you plant a bullet in exactly the right spot, a very small one, too, on the forehead, when he will drop like a stone. It was very pretty practice, but risky, as to get them to charge you must be afoot and inside the corral. The butcher was rather astonished when I first accomplished this trick, but it saved time and a lot of trouble. Such were my winter duties.

Sometimes neighbours would look in, and the weekly mail and home papers helped to pass the time. I read a great deal, and so the solitariness of the position was not so trying as one might suppose. Indeed, books were more to me than the neighbours' society.

"Incidents" occurred, of course, but I will only mention one. In winter I only kept up two saddle horses, picked ponies, favourites and almost friends. They were fed with grain night and morning, and, to save hay, were allowed to graze out at night. They regularly returned at early morning for their feed, so I never had to go after them. One morning, however, they did not appear. It was quite unaccountable to me and very awkward, as it left me afoot and unable to do anything. Not till about 10 a.m. did they come galloping in, greatly excited, their tails in the air, puffing and snorting. It did not look quite right. Someone had been chasing them. At noon, while preparing early dinner, a man, a stranger, rode up to the house, and of course was invited to eat. He was very reticent, in fact would hardly speak at all, and gave no hint as to who he was or anything about himself. While eating there was suddenly a rapid succession of rifle-shots heard outside. We both rushed to the door and saw a man riding for life straight to the house, with half a dozen others shooting at him from horseback. He was not touched, only his horse being killed at the door. The new-comer and my strange guest at once showed that they were very intimate indeed, so that I quickly and easily put two and two together. The following party in the meantime had stopped and spread out, taking positions behind the low hills and completely commanding the house. Only their big hats showed and I could not make out whether they were Mexicans or white men. My two guests would tell me nothing, except to assert that they knew nothing of their followers, or why they began shooting. Realizing that these two had me at their mercy, that they could make me do chores for them, fetch water, cook, feed and attend to the horses till nightfall, when with my own two fresh mounts they might possibly make a bolt for it, I got a bit anxious, and determined to find out who the larger party were. So walking out and waving my hat I caught their attention and, on advancing further, one of the party came out and met me. They were neighbouring cattlemen, and explained that the two men in my house were rustlers, and they were determined to take them dead or alive. They asked me to join their party as they were going to "shoot up" the house if necessary. To this I would not consent and went back. After a deal of talk and persuasion the two men finally agreed to give me their guns, preliminary to meeting two of the other party, who were also asked to approach unarmed. They met, much to my relief, and when, somehow or other, the two men allowed themselves to be surrounded by the rest they saw the game was up and surrendered. Then the funny thing happened and the one reason for the telling of this story. They all came down to the house, had dinner together, chatted and cracked jokes, and not a word was said about the immediate trouble. They were all "punchers," had worked together, knew each other's affairs, etc., etc. The one party was about to send the other to the penitentiary, or perhaps the gallows; but you would have thought it was only a pleasant gathering of long-separated friends. The two rustlers were lodged in the county jail, quickly broke out, and soon afterwards died in their "boots," one at the hands of the sheriff.

For tracking jail-breakers Indians, Navajoes or Apaches were sometimes employed, and the marvellous skill they showed was simply astonishing and inexplicable; all done by reading the "sign" left by the escaping party, but "sign" often quite unnoticeable to the white man. Indeed, an Indian would follow a trail by sign much as a hound will do by scent.

Talking of scent, the homing instinct of horses and cattle is very wonderful and mysterious; but it is not generally known that a horse has also great power of scent. A horse will follow its mate (nearly all horses have their chums) many miles merely by sense of smell, as my long experience of them has amply proved to me. On one occasion I for some reason displaced the near horse of my driving team and hitched up another. After driving a distance of fifteen miles and returning homewards on the same road, soon in the distance could be seen said near horse busy with nose on the ground picking up the trail, and so absorbed in it that even when we got up quite close he did not notice us. When he did recognize his chum and companion his evident satisfaction was affecting.



CHAPTER IV

ODDS AND ENDS

Scent and Instinct—Mules—Roping Contests—Antelopes—The Skunk—Garnets—Leave Arizona.

This shall be a sketchy chapter of odds and ends, but more or less interesting according to the individual reader.

The horse's intelligence is nothing compared to that of the mule, and as riding animal in rough country a mule should always be used. In Mexico, Central American States and the Andes mules are alone used; and what splendid, even handsome, reliable creatures they are on roads, or rather trails, such as it would be hazardous to take horses over. I once saw the unusual sight of two big strong mules (our ammunition pack animals) roll together down a very steep hillside. Happily neither mules nor loads were at all damaged, but it was a steepish hill, as on our returning and trying to climb it we had to dismount and hang on to the horses' tails. Another good point about mules is that they will not founder themselves. Put an open sack of grain before a hungry mule and he will eat what he wants, but never in excess, whereas a horse would gorge and founder himself at once.

As said before, the homing instinct of horses and cattle is very remarkable. I have known horses "shipped" by a railway train in closed cars to a distance of over 400 miles, some of which on being turned loose found their way back to their old range. Cattle, too, may be driven a hundred or two hundred miles through the roughest country, without roads or trails of any kind, and even after being held there for several weeks will at once start home and take exactly the same route as that they were driven over, even though there be no "sign" of any kind to guide them and certainly no scent.

On my shooting and fishing trips I rode one horse and packed another. The packed horse, on going out, had to be led, of course, unless indeed he was my saddle-horse's chum. But on going home, after even a couple of weeks' absence, I simply turned the pack-horse loose, hit him a lick with the rope, and off he would go with the utmost confidence as to the route, and follow the trail we had come out on, each time a different trail be it remembered, with ridiculous exactitude; yet there was no visible track or sign of any kind. Indeed, I would often find myself puzzled as to our whereabouts and feel quite confident we were at fault, when suddenly some familiar tree or landmark, noticed on going out, would be recognized.

Parts of our Arizona range were covered with great beds of broken malpais rock, really black lava, hard as iron, with edges sharp and jagged. Over such ground we would gallop at full speed and with little hesitation, trusting absolutely to our locally-bred ponies to see us through. English horses could never have done it, and probably no old-country horseman would have taken the chances. We got bad falls now and then, but very seldom indeed considering conditions.

The bits used then were murderous contrivances, being of the kind called spade or ring bits. By means of them a horse could be thrown on his haunches with slight effort, even his jaw may be broken. Luckily the bit is little used by the cowboy. His horse knows its painful character, and so obeys the slightest raising of the rider's hand. It should also be remarked that the cow-pony is guided, not by pulling either the right or left rein, but by the rider carrying his bridle hand over to the left if he wants to go to the left, and vice versa. There is no pulling on the mouth. The pony does not understand that; it is the slight pressure of the right rein on the right side of the neck that turns him to the left.

The reata in those days was nearly always made of plaited raw hide, and often made by the boys themselves, though a good reata required a long time to complete and peculiar skill in the making of it. Quirts (quadras) and horse hobbles were also made of raw hide.

As everyone knows, the horn of the saddle is used in America to hold roped cattle with. In South America a ring fixed to the surcingle is used; while in Guatemala and Costa Rica the reata is tied to the end of the horse's tail!

It is a very pretty sight to see a skilled roper (the best are often Mexicans) at work in a corral or in a herd; or better still, when after a wild steer on the prairie. But roping is hardly ever used nowadays, one reason of the "passing" of the old-time cowboy. We used to have great annual roping competitions in New Mexico and Texas, when handsome prizes were given to the men who would rope and tie down a big steer in quickest time. I once or twice went in myself to these competitions and was lucky enough to do fairly well, being mounted on a thoroughly trained roping horse; but it is a chancy affair, as often the best man may unluckily get a lazy sort of steer to operate on, and it is much more difficult to throw down such an animal than a wild, active, fast-galloping one; for this reason, that on getting the rope over his horns you must roll him over, or rather flop him over, on to his back by a sudden and skilful action of your horse on the rope. If properly thrown, or flopped hard enough, the steer will lie dazed or stunned for about half a minute. During that short period, and only during that short period, you must slip off your horse, run up to the steer and quickly tie his front and hind feet together, so tightly and in such a way that he cannot get up. Then you throw up your hands or your hat, and your time is taken. While you are out of your saddle your horse will, if well trained, himself hold the steer down by carefully adjusting the strain on the rope which still connects the animal's horns with the horn on the saddle.



I may here tell a wonderful story of a "buck" nigger who sometimes attended these gatherings. He was himself a cowboy, and indeed worked in my neighbourhood and so I knew him well. He was a big, strong, husky negro, with a neck and shoulders like a bull's. You cannot hurt a nigger any way. Well, this man's unique performance was to ride after a steer, the bigger and wilder the better, and on getting up to him to jump off his horse, seize the steer by a horn and the muzzle, then stoop down and grip the animal's upper lip with his teeth, turn his hands loose, and so by means of his powerful jaws and neck alone throw down and topple the steer over. The negro took many chances, and often the huge steer would fall on him in such a way as would have broken the neck or ribs of any ordinary white man. In this case also the steer must be an active one and going at a good pace, otherwise he could not be thrown properly.

Stock-whips were never allowed. Useful as they may be at times, still the men are liable to ill-treat the cattle, and we got on quite well without them. Dogs, too, of course, were never used and never allowed on the range. They so nearly resemble the wolf that their presence always disturbs the cattle.

This deprivation of canine society, as it may be imagined, was keenly felt by us all, perhaps more especially by myself. Had I only then had the companionship of certain former doggy friends life would have been much better worth living. As a protection at night too, when out on long journeys across the country, during the hunting and fishing trips, or even at the permanent camps, the presence of a faithful watch-dog would probably have saved me from many a restless night.

The Navajo Indian's method of hunting antelope was to strew cedar branches or other brush in the form of a very long wing to a corral, lying loose and flat on the ground. The antelope on being driven against it will never cross an obstruction of such a nature, though it only be a foot high, but will continue to run along it and so be finally driven into the corral.

And antelope are such inquisitive animals! On the Staked Plains of New Mexico the Mexicans approach them by dressing themselves up in any ridiculous sort of fashion, so as least to resemble a human being. In this way they would not approach the antelope, but the antelope would approach them, curious to find out the nature of such an unusual monstrosity. Antelope, there, were still very plentiful, and even in my own little pasture there was a band of some 300 head. Only at certain times of the year did they bunch up together; at other times they, though still present, were hardly noticeable.

I would like to make note of the curious misnaming of wild animals in North America. Thus, the antelope or pronghorn is not a true antelope, the buffalo is not a buffalo, the Rocky Mountain goat is not a goat, and the elk is not an elk. By the same token the well-known "American aloe," or century plant, is not an aloe, but an agave.

While in Arizona I used to carry in a saddle pocket a small sketch-book and pencil, and on finding one of the beautiful wild flowers the Rocky Mountains are so famous for, that is, a new kind, I would at once get down and take a sketch of it, with notes as to colour, etc. The boys were at first a bit surprised, and no doubt wondered how easily an apparent idiot could amuse himself. I was considerably surprised myself once when busy sketching on the banks of a brawling stream in the mountains. A sudden grunt as of a bear at my elbow nearly scared me into the river. On turning round, there was an armed Apache brave standing close behind me; but he was only one of a hunting party. What sentiment that grunt expressed I never learnt.

It is remarkable how a range or tract of country that has been overstocked or over-grazed will rapidly produce an entirely new flora, of a class repugnant to the palate of cattle and horses. In this way our mountain range in particular, when in course of a very few years it became eaten out, quickly decked itself in a gorgeous robe of brilliant blossoms; weeds we called them, and weeds no doubt they were, as our cattle refused to touch them. Certain nutritious plants, natives of the soil, such as the mescal, quite common when we first entered the country, were so completely killed out by the cattle that later not a single plant of the kind could be found.

Amongst the fauna of Arizona was, of course, the ubiquitous prairie dog; and as a corollary, so to speak, the little prairie owl (Athene cunicularis), which inhabits deserted dog burrows and is the same bird as occupies the Biscacha burrows in Argentina. Rattlesnakes, so common around dog-towns, enter the burrows to secure the young marmots. Another animal frequently seen was the chaparral-cock or road-runner, really the earth cuckoo (Geococcyx Mexicanus), called paisano or pheasant, or Correcamino, by the Mexicans. It is a curious creature, with a very long tail, and runs at a tremendous rate, seldom taking to flight. Report says that it will build round a sleeping rattlesnake an impervious ring of cactus spines. Its feathers are greatly valued by Indians as being "good medicine," and being as efficacious as the horseshoe is with us.

A still more curious animal, not often seen, was the well-named Gila monster or Escorpion (Heloderma suspectum), the only existing animal that fills the description of the Basilisk or Cockatrice of mediaeval times; not the Basilicus Americanus, which is an innocent herbivorous lizard. This Gila monster is a comparatively small, but very hideous creature, in appearance like a lizard, very sluggish in its movements, and rightly owning the worst of reputations. Horned toads, also hideous in appearance, and tarantulas (Mygales), very large centipedes and scorpions, were common, and lived on, or rather were killed because of their reputation, but they seldom did anyone harm.

But the most highly appreciated, that is the most feared and detested, of wild creatures was the common skunk, found everywhere, mostly a night wanderer and a hibernator. He is a most fearless animal, having such abundant and well-reasoned confidence in his mounted battery, charged with such noxious gases as might well receive the attention of our projectile experts. The first time I ever saw one he came into my mountain hut. Knowing only that he was "varmint" I endeavoured to kill him quickly with a spade. Alas! the spade fell just a moment too late and henceforth that hut was uninhabitable for a month. The only way to get one out of the house is to pour buckets of cold water on it. That keeps the tail down (unlike a horse, which cannot kick when his tail is up); but when his tail goes up, then look out! The skunk is also more dreaded by the cowboy and the frontiers-man than the rattlesnake. It is their belief that a bite from this creature will always convey hydrophobia. Being a night prowler it frequents cow camps, and often crawls over the beds spread on the ground, and it certainly has a habit of biting any exposed part of the human body. When it does so, the bitten man at once starts off to Texas, where at certain places one can hire the use of a madstone. The madstone is popularly supposed to be an accretion found somewhere in the system of a white stag. It is of a porous nature, and if applied to a fresh wound will extract and absorb the poison serum. Texans swear that it "sticks" only if there be poison present—does not stick otherwise. A fanciful suggestion! And yet, no doubt, the skunk does sometimes convey hydrophobia through its bite. I have myself often had the pleasant experience of feeling and knowing that a skunk was crawling over my carefully-covered-up body. But enough of this very objectionable creature.

In Texas some of the boys used to carry in their pockets a piece of "rattlesnake root," which when scraped and swallowed after a bite was held to be an antidote, though otherwise a virulent poison.

In this placid land of ours, so free of pests, mosquitoes, fleas and leeches, we are also free of the true skunk; but we do have, as perhaps you are aware, a small creature armed and protected in much the same way. This is the bombardier-beetle, common in certain other countries, but also found in England, which if chased will discharge from its stern a puff of bluish-white smoke, accompanied by a slight detonation. It can fire many shots from its stern chasers. It is said that a highly volatile liquid is secreted by glands, which when it meets the air passes into vapour so suddenly as to produce the explosion.

The Mexicans of the United States deserve more than a passing notice. Many of them have Indian blood and are called Greasers, but the majority are of fairly pure Spanish descent. Contact with the Americans has made them vicious and treacherous. They have been robbed of their lands, their cattle and their horses, bullied and ill-treated in every possible way. But even now many of them retain their character, almost universal amongst their compatriots in Old Mexico, for hospitality, unaffected kindness, good breeding and politeness. A Mexican village in autumn is picturesque with crimson "rastras" of Chile pepper hung on the walls of the adobe houses. To the Mexicans we owe, or rather through them to the Aztecs, the delightfully tasty and delicious enchiladas and tamales.

Among native animals should not be forgotten the common jacket-rabbit (hare). She affords capital coursing, and someone has said runs faster than an ice boat, or a note maturing at a bank, so she must indeed be speedy. It is interesting to recall that puss in Shakespeare's time was he and not she. Among our feathered friends the humming-bird was not uncommon. These lovely but so tiny little morsels are migrants. Indeed one of the family, and one of the tiniest and most beautiful, is known to summer in Alaska and winter in Central America; thus accomplishing a flight twice a year of over two thousand miles.

An interesting little note too may be made of the fact that the garnets of Arizona are principally found on ant-heaps, being brought to the surface by the ants and thrown aside as obstructions only fit for the waste-basket. But they are very beautiful gems and are regularly collected by the Indians.

There was little or no gold mining in our part of the territory; but there were current many tales of fabulously rich lost Claims, lost because of the miners having been massacred by the Indians or other causes. In likely places I have myself used the pan with the usual enthusiasm, but luckily never with much success.

The practice of that very curious custom, the "couvade," seems to be still in force among some of the Arizona Indian tribes, among whom so many other mysterious rites and customs prevail.

The loco-weed (yerba-loco) was common in our country and ruined many of our horses, but more about it hereafter.

After ten years, a long period of this life in Arizona, an offer came to me which, my partners consenting, was gladly accepted, viz., to take charge of and operate certain cattle-ranches in New Mexico in the interests of a Scottish Land and Mortgage Company. Things had not been going well with us and the future held out no prospects of improvement. Also I had been loyal to my agreement not to take or seek any share in the management of affairs, and the natural desire came to me to assume the responsibility and position of a boss. But dear me! had I foreseen the nature of the work before me, and the troubles in store, my enthusiasm would not have been quite so great.



CHAPTER V

RANCHING IN NEW MEXICO

The Scottish Company—My Difficulties and Dangers—Mustang Hunting—Round-up described—Shipping Cattle—Railroad Accidents—Close out Scotch Company's Interests.

Bidding good-bye to Arizona I travelled to Las Vegas, New Mexico, now quite an important place. Calling on Mr L——, the manager of the Mortgage Company, and the Company's lawyers, the position of affairs was thus stated to me. The Company had loaned a large sum of money to a cattleman named M——, who owned a large ranch with valuable water-claims and a very fine though small herd of cattle. M—— had paid no interest for several years and attempted to repudiate the loan, so the Company decided to foreclose and take possession. Well, that seemed all right; so after getting power of attorney papers, etc., from the Company, I started down to the ranch, some eighty miles and near Fort Sumner, and introduced myself to M——, who at once refused to turn over the property to me or to anyone else, and sent me back to Las Vegas in a somewhat puzzled state of mind. Recounting my experience to Mr L—— and the lawyers, after a long confab they decided that I should go down again and take possession. They refused me the services of a sheriff or a deputy to serve the papers and represent the law. No, I was to take possession in any way my wits might suggest; they merely proposing that everything I did I should put on paper and make affidavit to and send up to them. By this time I had learned that M—— was very much stirred up about it, was quite determined to give nothing up, and that really he was a dangerous man who, if pushed to extremities, might do something desperate. The lawyers told me there was another, a right, usual and legal way of taking possession, but for private reasons they did not wish to proceed in that way; and so I finally agreed to go down again and do what I could.

Buying some horses and hiring a Mexican vaquero to show me the country, and especially to be a witness to whatever took place, we pulled out for Fort Sumner. The spring round-up was about to begin, and near by I found M——'s "outfit" wagon, "cavayad" of horses, his full force of "hands" and the foreman H——. After dining with them I pulled out my papers to show H—— who I was and told him I had come there to take possession of M——- 's saddle horses, the whole "ramuda" in fact of nearly a hundred head. Oh, no! he had no instructions to give them up; he did not know anything of the matter and he certainly would not let me touch them! I said I had come to carry out my orders and meant to do so; and mounting, rode out to gather up the grazing ponies. At once they came after me, not believing that anyone would dare do such a thing in their presence, and began to jostle me, with more evil intentions in their eyes. Desisting at once, and before they had gone too far, I told them that that was all I wanted, said good-bye in as friendly a way as possible, and went before a Justice of the Peace and made affidavit of having attempted to take possession of the horses till resisted by force, in fact, that physical violence had been used against me. This was sent to Las Vegas, and in due course the lawyers advised me that it was satisfactory and recommended me to adopt similar methods when attempting to get possession of the ranches, cattle, stock horses, etc.

This was a funny position to be in! M——was a popular man; the other cattlemen would certainly side with him and resent such novel and apparently high-handed proceedings. Myself was an entire stranger in the whole of that huge country, devoted solely to cattle interests, and of course did not have a friend nor did expect to have any. In fact M—— 's appellation of me as that "damned Scotsman" became disagreeably familiar. The round-up was then a long way off down the river, some 100 miles, working up towards Fort Sumner; so I decided to visit the ranches. We rode out to one where was a house (unoccupied) and a spring, there stayed one night, and on departing left an old coffee-pot, some flour, etc., as proof of habitation and so gave myself the right to claim having taken possession. From there to the headquarters ranch was some thirty-five miles. On our route we came across a number of M——'s stock horses (he claimed about four to five hundred) and, taking the opportunity, we got together some 200 head, inspected them, and in this way, the only way open to me, claimed having taken possession. But now with fear and trembling we approached the ranch where M—— and his family, as I knew, were residing. A hundred yards from the house was the main spring of water, to which and at which we went and camped for dinner. Somehow or other M—— heard of our presence and out he came, a shot-gun in his hand, fury in his eyes, and his wife clinging to his coat-tails. No doubt he meant to shoot, but I was quite ready for him and put a bold face on it. Things looked nasty indeed and I was determined to fire should he once raise his gun. Perhaps this boldness made him think a bit, and I was very much relieved indeed when he resorted to expressive language instead of any more formidable demonstration. Though it was necessary to tell him that I was come to take possession of the ranch, he was not on to the affidavit game, and the result was that on returning to Fort Sumner I swore to having attempted to take possession but had been resisted by force. As explained before, such an affidavit was, in the eye of the law, a strong point in our contention of having taken possession. At least, so our legal advisers affirmed.

From Fort Sumner I then started for the round-up, taking with me a white man, the Mexican having got scared and quit. Having bought more horses, enough to fully mount two men, we joined the work. Fortunately M——'s outfit had gone up the river with a large herd of cattle, and was during their absence represented by the foreman of another ranch. What I did was to get all the foremen together (there were some ten wagons on the work) and explain to them who I was, that I was there to work and handle the M—— cattle, that if they would help me I should be obliged, but they were to understand that they would be regarded as doing it for my Company. They only said they were going to help in the usual way to gather the cattle and brand the calves; that I could work or not as I liked; that, in fact, it was none of their business as to whose the cattle were. So after working on a bit an affidavit was sent in that I had "worked" the cattle and had met no resistance. But mine was an extremely disagreeable position.

During this round-up I noticed that M——was carefully gathering all the steers and bulls of any age he could find. I notified my people and asked them to send the sheriff down to help me. Things were coming to a point as it were; it was evidently M——'s intention to drive the steers out of the territory, knowing that once over the Texas line we could no longer enjoin him. His whole force of men depended on this to get their wages out of these steers, as every one of them was at least three months in arrears, some of them six, twelve, and even eighteen months. Thus I knew they would make every effort to succeed in the drive and would be desperate men to interfere with. The last day of the round-up was over, and in the evening I was careful to note the direction taken by the herd.

In the meantime L—— had sent me a restraining paper to serve and I was of course determined to do it; but late that night my relief was great to see the sheriff, a Mexican, drive into camp. Here was a proper representative of the law at last, though I do not think he himself liked the job overmuch, officers of his breed being habitually treated with contempt by the white men. We agreed to take up the trail early next morning, knowing that the distance to the line was forty miles straight across the Staked Plains, no fences, no roads or trails, and no water for thirty miles at least. So up and off before daybreak, he driving a smart pair of horses, I with only my saddle pony, at as quick a gait as a wheeled vehicle could move; drove till his team began to play out, when luckily we came upon a mustang-hunter's camp and were supplied with two fresh mounts. Pushing on we at last spied in the far distance what was unmistakably a herd of cattle. Experience told me that the cattle had been watered, a fact which was thankfully noted. Watered cattle cannot be driven except at a very slow walk, and the herd was still seven or eight miles from the Texas line. M——'s foreman had made a fatal mistake! Had he not watered them they might have escaped us. They must have thought they had hoodwinked me and were probably then rejoicing at their success. They had certainly made a noble effort, having travelled all night and on till noon next day at a speed I had not thought possible. (There were even bulls in the herd.) One can imagine the feelings of the party when they at last saw us two riding at top speed directly on their trail. Cuss words must have flown freely, and no doubt the more desperate ones talked resistance. I was really anxious myself as to what course they would decide on, M—— not being with them, and they thinking of nothing but the settlement of their wages. On coming up to them they looked about as "mad" as any men could be. But they decided rightly; and seeing the game was up, merely tried to get me to promise to pay their back wages. This I would not do, but said there was time enough to talk that over afterwards; that meantime the herd must be driven back to its proper range, and to this they finally agreed. Word was brought in that M—— was lying out on the prairie, prostrated by the sun, helped no doubt by his realizing that his little scheme had been defeated. We had him brought into camp, but I declined to see him and returned to Fort Sumner. Soon afterwards M—— threw up the sponge, so to speak, and agreed to turn the property over to us. These M—— cattle, numbering only 2000, did not justify the running of a mess wagon and full outfit, so I made arrangements with a very strong neighbouring ranch company to run the cattle for us, only myself attending the round-ups to see that our interests were properly protected.

Meantime the stock horses must be looked after. Fraudulently M—— had started new brands on the last two crops of colts, the pick of them going into his wife's brand; and her mares ranged with M——'s, now ours. The band ran apparently anywhere. They had the whole Staked Plains of New Mexico to wander over, there being then absolutely no fences for a distance of 200 miles. Some 200 head of the gentler stock ranged near home; the balance, claimed to number some 300 more, were mixed up with the mustangs and were practically wild creatures, some of them having never been rounded up for over two years.

By this time some of M——'s old hands had come over to my side. They knew the country, knew how best to handle these horses, and by favourable promise I got them to undertake to help in discriminating as to which colts were the Company's property and which Mrs M——'s. So I put up an "outfit," wagon, cook, mounts for seven or eight men, etc., and set out on a very big undertaking indeed, and one that M——himself had not successfully accomplished for several years—a clean round-up of all the stock horses in the country. These Staked Plains (Llanos Estacados) were so called because the first road or trail across them had to be staked out with poles at more or less long intervals to show direction, there being no visible landmarks in that immense level country. They are one continuous sweep of slightly undulating, almost level land, well grassed, almost without living water anywhere, but dotted all over with depressions in the ground, generally circular, some of great size, some deeper than others, which we called "dry lakes," from the fact that for most of the year they were nearly all dry, only here and there, and at long distances apart, a few would hold sufficient muddy water to carry wild horses and antelope through the dry season. But which lakes held water and which not was only known to these wild mustang bands and our mares that ran with them. We took out with us some hundred of the gentler mares, the idea being to graze these round camp, and on getting round a bunch of the outlaws to drive them into this herd and so hold them. Nearly every bunch we found had mustangs amongst them. The mustang stallions we shot whenever possible. They were the cause of all our trouble. These stallions did not lead the bands, but fell behind, driving the mares in front and compelling them to gallop. When pressed, the stud would wheel round as if to challenge his pursuers. He presented a fine spectacle, his eyes blazing and his front feet pawing the ground. What a picture subject for an artist! The noble stallion, for he does look noble, no matter how physically poor a creature he may chance to be, wheeling round to challenge and threaten his pursuer, his mane and tail sweeping the ground, fury breathing from his nostrils and his eyes flashing fire! Is he not gaining time for his mares and progeny to get out of danger? A noble object and a gallant deed! Then was the time to shoot. But, yourself being all in a sweat and your horse excited, straight shooting was difficult to accomplish. We worked on a system; on finding a band, one man would do the running for six or eight miles, then another would relieve him, and so on, the idea being to get outside of them and so gradually round them in to the grazing herd. We had special horses kept and used for this purpose, fast and long-winded, as the pace had to be great and one must be utterly regardless of dog and badger holes, etc. This kind of work we kept up for a couple of weeks, some days being successful, some days getting a run but securing nothing. We made a satisfactory gathering of all the gentler and more tractable mares, but some of the wilder ones we could not hold. At night we stood guard over the band, and it was amusing, and even alarming, how the stallions would charge out and threaten any rider who approached too near his ladies. A good deal of fighting went on too between these very jealous gentlemen. As illustrating what the wild stallions are capable of, I may relate here how, one night when we had a small bunch of quite gentle mares and colts in a corral, a mustang stallion approached it, tore down the gate poles, took the mares out and forced them to his own range, some thirty miles away; and he must have driven them at a great pace, as when we followed next morning it was quite that distance before we saw any sign of them. The story is told of M—— himself who one dark night saw what he supposed was one of these depredators, shot it with his rifle, and found he had killed the only highly-bred stud he possessed.

At last we started homewards, meaning to separate the properties of the two claimants; but M—— owned the only proper horse-separating corral in the whole country, and from obstinacy and cussedness would not let us use it. Here was a pretty go! To drive to any other corral would mean taking M——'s horses off their proper range and the law forbade us doing so, and he knew it. So we were compelled to do what I reckon had never been done or attempted before—separate the horses on the open prairie! First we cut out and pushed some half a mile away all mares and young unbranded colts to which the Company's title could not be disputed; also the stallions and geldings of like nature; then came the critical and difficult part of the operation—to cut out and separate mothers from their unbranded colts, and branded colts, some even one or two years old, from their mothers. And not only cut them out, but hold them separate for a full couple of hours! No one can know what this means but one who has tried it. I had done a fair amount of yearling steer-cutting; but hard as that work is, it is nothing compared with the separating of colts from their dams. The only way was to suddenly scare the colt out and race him as hard as you could go to the other bunch. But if by bad luck its mother gave a whinny, back the colt would come like a shot bullet, and nothing on earth could stop him. Fortunately I had kept a fresh horse in reserve, a very fine fast and active cutting pony. I rode him myself, and but for him we would never have accomplished what we did. When we got through our best horses were all played out. But it was absolutely necessary to move our own mare band to the nearest corral at Fort Sumner, a distance of thirty miles, which we did that evening. To night-herd them would have been impossible. The title to many of these colts, branded and unbranded, was very much mixed up, and indeed still in the Courts. Nevertheless I prepared next morning to brand them for the Company. The fire was ready, the irons nearly hot, when up drove M——in a furious rage. I do not think I ever saw a man look so angry and mean. He held a shot-gun in his hand and, presenting it at me, swore he would kill me if I dared to proceed any further. My foreman, who knew him well, warned me to be careful; there seemed no doubt that he meant what he said; he was too mad to dispute with, and so! well, his bluff, if it were a bluff, carried the day and I ordered the mares to be turned loose. As it turned out afterwards it was well I did so, as further legal complications would have resulted. But as I began to think of and remember the time that had been spent and the amount of hard work in collecting these horses, I felt rather ashamed of my action. And yet, can one be expected to practically throw his life away, not for a principle, but for a few head of young colts not even his own property? But, as said before, the disputed title influenced me to some extent; that, and the muzzle of the shot-gun together certainly did.

A word about mustangs. They were very wary, cunning animals, keen of scent and sharp of eye. Invariably, when one first sighted them, they would be one or two miles away, going like the wind, their tails and manes flying behind them; and be it noted that when walking or standing these manes as well as tails swept the ground. Few of them were of any value when captured; many of them were so vicious and full of the devil generally that you could do nothing with them, and they never seemed to lose that character. Like the guanaco of South America, the wild stallion always dungs in one particular spot, near the watering-place, so that when hunting them we always looked out for and inspected these little hillocks. It may also be mentioned here that guanacos, like wild elephants and wild goats, have their dying ground, so to speak, where immense quantities of their bones are always found. Cattle when about to die select if possible a bush, tree or rocky place, perhaps for privacy, quietness, or some other reason unknown to us.

The next and last time we rounded up the stock horses I left the wilder ones alone, and gave a contract to some professional mustangers to gather them at so much per head. These men never attempt to run them down. They "walk" them down. A light wagon, two mules to pull it, lots of grain, some water and supplies, are what you need. On sighting a band you simply walk your team after them, walk all day and day after day, never giving them a rest. Keep their attention occupied and they will neglect to feed or drink. Gradually they become accustomed to your nearer presence, and finally you can get up quite close and even drive them into your camp, where your companions are ready with snare ropes to secure them, or at least the particular ones you want to catch.

Prince, a horse I used to ride when mustang hunting, once accidentally gave me a severe tumble. He was running at full speed when suddenly a foreleg found a deep badger hole; over he went of course, head over heels, and it is a miracle it did not break his leg off. These badger holes, especially abandoned ones, go right down to a great depth, and the grass grows over them so that they are hardly visible. Dog holes always have a surrounding pile of earth carefully patted firm and trod on, no doubt to prevent entrance of rain flood-water; thus they are nearly always noticeable. Dog towns are sometimes of great extent, one in my pasture being two miles long and about a mile wide. They are generally far from water, many miles indeed, often on the highest and driest parts of the plain and where the depth to water may be 500 feet or more. They must therefore depend entirely on the juices of the green grass, though in dry seasons they cannot even have that refreshment; and they never scrape for roots. But even the small bunnies (called cotton-tails) are found in like places and must subsist absolutely without water, as they do not, or dare not, on account of wolves, etc., get far away from their holes.

No sooner was the M—— trouble well over than my Company saw fit to foreclose on two other cattle outfits, one of which bowed to the law at once. The other gave us, or rather me, a lot of unnecessary trouble, and I had again "to take chances" of personal injury. All these cattle were thrown on to the M—— range, and this increased the herd so much as to justify the running of our own wagon and outfit.

Eastern New Mexico, the country over which our cattle ranged, was a huge strip of territory some 250 miles by 100 miles, no fences, no settlers, occupied only by big cattle outfits owning from 8000 to 75,000 cattle each. The range was, however, much too heavily stocked, the rains irregular, severe droughts frequent, and the annual losses yearly becoming heavier; so heavy in fact that owners only waited a slight improvement in prices to sell out or drive their cattle out of the country. The way the cattle were worked was thus. The spring round-up began in March, far down the river, and slowly worked north to our range. Our wagon, one of many more, would join the work some 110 miles south of our range, but I sent individual men to much greater distances. The work continued slowly through the range, branding the spring calves, and each outfit separating its own cattle and driving its own herd. Twelve or more wagons meant some 300 riders and about 3000 saddle horses. So the operation was done on a grand scale; thousands of cattle were handled every day, and altogether such a big round-up was a very busy and interesting scene. Intricate and complicated work it was, too, though not perhaps apparent to an outsider; but under a good round-up boss, who was placed over the bosses of all the wagons, it was wonderful how smoothly the work went on. A general round-up took a long time and was no sooner over than another was begun at the far south border (the Mexico line) and the thing repeated. Our own cattle had got into the habit of drifting south whenever winter set in. It took us all summer to get them back again, and no sooner back than a cold sleet or rain would start them south. In fact, in winter few of our own cattle were at home, the cattle on our range being then mostly those drifted from the northern part of the territory. Such were the conditions in a "free range" country, and these conditions broke nearly all these big outfits, or at least compelled them to market their stuff for whatever it would bring. Partly on account of long-drawnout lawsuits we held on for seven or eight years, when on a recovery of prices our Company also closed out its live-stock interests.

During the turning-over of these, the Company's cattle, to the purchasers, of course they had to be all branded, not with a recorded brand, but simply with a tally brand, thus /**, on the hip. Had there been a convenient separate pasture to put the tallied cattle into as they were tallied, much work would have been saved and no opportunity offered for fraud, such as will now be suggested and explained. The method adopted was to begin gathering at one end of the range, tally the herd collected, and then necessarily turn them loose. But we had bad stormy weather and these tallied cattle drifted and scattered all over the country and mixed up with those still not rounded up. This at once gave the opportunity for an evilly-inclined man to do just as was soon rumoured and reported to me. It was even positively asserted to me by certain cowmen (this was while I was confined in bed from an accident) that the buyer had a gang of men out operating on the far end of the range, catching and tally-branding for him the still untallied cattle. A simple operation enough, in such an immense district, where four men with their ropes could, in a few undisturbed days' work, cheat the Company out of enough cattle at $20 a head to be well worth some risk. Several men were positive in their assertions to me. But I knew these gentlemen pretty well—cattle-thieves themselves and utterly unprincipled; perhaps having a grudge against the said buyer, perhaps wanting merely to annoy me, and also possibly hating to see such a fine opportunity not taken advantage of. In the end, when brought to the scratch, not one of these informers would testify under oath. Whether afraid to, as they would undoubtedly have run strong chances of being killed, or whether they were just mischief-makers, as I myself have always believed, it is impossible to know accurately. The buyer, being a man of means and having many other interests in the district, would certainly hesitate long before he took such a very dangerous risk of discovery. All that can be said about it is that though I employed detectives for some time to try to get evidence bearing on the subject, no such evidence was ever obtained. The shortage in the turnover was due simply to the usual miscalculation of the herd; the herd which never before had been counted and could not, under range conditions, be counted.

These were still "trailing" days, which means that steers sold or for sale were driven out of the country, not shipped by rail cars. One great trail passed right through our ranch (a great nuisance too), and by it herd after herd, each counting, maybe, 2500 cattle, was continually being trailed northwards, some going to Kansas or the Panhandle, most of them going as far north as Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana. These latter herds would be on the trail continuously for two or three months. Our own steers were always driven to the Panhandle of Texas, where, if not already contracted to buyers, they were held till sold.



A herd of breeding-stock when on the trail must be accompanied by one or more calf wagons, wagons with beds well boxed up, in which the youngest or new-born calves are carried, they being lifted out and turned over to their mother's care at night or during stoppages. In the old days, when such calves had no value, they were knocked on the head or carelessly and cruelly abandoned.

It is a strange fact to note that when a herd is on the trail there is always a particular steer which, day after day and week after week, occupies a self-assigned position at the head of the herd, and is therefore called the "lead steer." I have often wondered what his thoughts might be, if any; why he so regularly placed himself at the head of affairs and was apparently so jealous of his commanding position. Yes, the lead steer is a mysterious creature, yet if displaced by death or some such cause, another long-legged, keen traveller will at once take his place. It should be explained that a herd on the trail travels naturally best in an extended form, two deep, seldom more than three or six, except towards the tail end, called the "drag": so that a herd of 2000 steers will form a much-attenuated line a mile in length from one end to the other.

Which reminds me of an incident in this connection. I was moving a small lot of steers, some 400 head in all, to pasture in the Panhandle of Texas. The force consisted only of the wagon driver, one cowboy and myself. But the cowboy turned out to be quite ignorant of the art of driving cattle, did more harm than good, and so annoyed me that I dismissed him to the rear to ride in the wagon if he so chose, and myself alone undertook to drive, or rather not so much to drive, that being hardly necessary, as to guide the herd on its course. I got them strung out beautifully half a mile long, and they were making good time, when suddenly a confounded sheep herder and his dog met the lead steers and the procession was at once a scene of the most utter confusion. It should be explained here that, in the case of a small herd thus strung out, its guidance, if left to only one man, may be done from the rear by simply riding out sharply to one side or the other and calling to the lead cattle. How I did curse that wretch and his dog. A man on foot was bad enough; but a man on foot with a dog! Horrors! Yet, perhaps, barring the delay in getting the cattle started again, the incident had its uses, as it had just previously occurred to me that the line was getting a bit too long and might soon be out of control. Such are the uses of adversity.

It can be understood that even a small herd of 400 lusty young steers can keep a man, or even two or three men, busy enough, especially if there are any cattle on the range you are passing through. In this case there were fortunately few.

Amarillo, being the southern end of the Kansas railroad, was a great cattle market. Buyers and sellers met there; and there, immediately around the town, were congregated at any time in spring as many as 40,000 cattle, all under herd. Amarillo was then the greatest cattle town in the world. She was the successor of such towns as Wichita and Fort Dodge, simply because she was at the western terminus of the railway. Though a pretty rowdy town her manners were an improvement on such places as Dodge, where in the height of her wickedness a gambling dispute, rivalry for the smile of a woman, or the slightest discourtesy, was sufficient ground for the shedding of blood.

My life during these eight years had its pleasures and its troubles; certainly much discomfort and a lot of disagreeable work. During the working season, April to November, my time was mostly spent with the round-up or on the trail, with occasional visits to our head office in Las Vegas, and also to Amarillo on business matters. To cover these immense distances, near 300 miles (there were few or no desirable stopping-places), I used a light spring wagon or ambulance, holding my bedding, mess-box, grain for the team, some water, stake ropes, and a hundred other things. I nearly always camped out on the prairie, of course cooked my own meals, was out in all kinds of weather—sun, rain, heat and drought, blizzards and frightful lightning storms. My favourite team was a couple of grey ponies. From being so much together we got to understand each other pretty thoroughly, and we had our adventures as well. Once on going up a very steep hill the ponies lost their footing. The wagon backed and turned over, and ponies and wagon rolled over and over down the hill among the rocks till hung up on a cedar stump. I was not much hurt, but found the ponies half covered with stones and rocks that had rolled on to them, the wagon upside down and camping material scattered everywhere. Cutting the tugs and rolling the stones away the ponies jumped up miraculously little injured, and even the wagon still serviceable, but I had to walk a long way to get assistance. Then we have fallen through rotten bridges, stuck in rivers and quicksands, and all sorts of things.

One pony of this team, "Punch," was really the hardiest, best-built, best-natured and most intelligent of any I have ever known. Many a time, on long trips, has the other pony played completely out and actually dropped on the road. But Punch seemed to be never tired. He was a great pet too, and could be fondled to your heart's content. He had no vice, yet was as full of mischief as he could possibly pack. His mischief, or rather playfulness, finally cost him his life, as he once got to teasing a bull, the bull charged, and that was his end.

It was with this team too that when driving in New Mexico through a district where white men were seldom seen, but on a road which I had often selected as a shorter route to my destination, I came on a Mexican ill-treating his donkey. His actions were so deliberate as to rouse my ire, and I got down, took the club from him and threatened castigation. On proceeding on the road I passed another Mexican mounted on a horse and carrying a rifle. Happening by-and-by to look back much was my surprise, or perhaps not very much, to see the gun and horse handed over to the first man, and himself mounted and galloping after me. Knowing at once what it meant, that his game was to bushwhack me in the rough canon immediately in front, I put the whip to my team to such good purpose that we galloped through that canon as it had never been galloped through before. I would have had no show whatever in such a place, and so was extremely glad to find myself again in the open country.

Another time I hitched up another team, one of which, a favourite mustang-chaser, had never been driven. We made some ten miles all right till we came to the "jumping-off" place of the plains, a very steep, long and winding descent. Just as we started down, Prince, the horse mentioned, got his tail over the lines, and the ball began. We went down that hill at racing speed, I having absolutely no control over the terrified animals, which did not stop for many miles. Again, with the same team I once started to Amarillo, being half a day ahead of the steer herd. First evening I camped out at a water-hole and staked out Prince with a long heavy rope and strong iron stake pin. The other horse was hobbled with a rope hobble. Some wolves came in to water, and I was lying on my bed looking at them when the horses suddenly stampeded, the strong stake rope and pin not even checking Prince. They were gone and I was afoot! Prince ran for forty miles to the ranch. The hobbled horse we never saw again for more than twelve months, but when found was fat and none the worse. Next day the trail outfit came along and so I hitched up another team.

But the worst trouble I used to have was with a high-strung and almost intractable pair of horses, Pintos, or painted, which means piebald, a very handsome team indeed, whose former owner simply could not manage them. Every time we came to a gate through which we had to pass I, being alone, had to get down and throw the gate open. Then after taking the team through I had of course to go back to shut the gate again. Then was the opportunity apparently always watched for by these devils, and had I not tied a long rope to the lines and trailed it behind the wagon they would many times have succeeded in getting away.

Yet it is only such a team that one can really care to drive for pleasure; a team that you "feel" all the time, one that will keep you "interested" every minute, as these Pintos did. How often nowadays does one ever see a carriage pair, or fours in the park or elsewhere that really needs "driving"?

"Shipping" cattle means loading them into railroad cars and despatching them to their destination. The cattle are first penned in a corral and then run through chutes into the cars. One year I sold the Company's steers, a train-load, to a Jew dealer in Kansas. They were loaded in the Panhandle and I went through with them, having a man to help me to look after them, our duty being to prod them up when any were found lying down so they would not be trodden to death. At a certain point our engine "played out" and was obliged to leave us to get coal and water. While gone the snow (a furious blizzard was blowing) blew over the track and blocked it so effectively that the engine could not get back. The temperature was about zero and the cattle suffered terribly; but there we remained stuck for nearly two days. When we finally got through, of course the buyer refused to receive them, and I turned them over to the railway company and brought suit for their value. The case was thrice tried and we won each time; and oh, how some of these railroad men did damn themselves by perjury! But it is bad business to "buck" against a powerful railway corporation. This will serve to give an idea as to what shipping cattle means. Many hundreds of thousands, or even millions, are now shipped every year. Trail work is abandoned, being no longer possible on account of fences, etc. Such great towns as Chicago and Kansas City will each receive and dispose of in one day as many as ten to twenty thousand cattle, not counting sheep or hogs.

It was when returning to Amarillo after this trip that I was fortunate enough to save the lives of a whole train-load of people. One night our passenger train came to a certain station, and the conductor went to get his orders. Nearly all the passengers were asleep. When he returned I happened to hear him read his orders over to the brakeman. These orders were to go on to a certain switch and "side track" till three cattle trains had passed. At that point there was a very heavy grade and cattle trains came down it at sixty miles an hour. Two trains swung past us, and to my surprise the conductor then gave the signal to go ahead. We did start, when I at once ventured to remark to him that only two trains had so far gone by. He pooh-poohed my assertion; but after a few minutes began to think that he himself might just possibly be wrong. Meantime I got out on the platform and was ready to jump. The conductor most fortunately reversed the order, and the train was backed on to the siding again, none too soon, for just then the head-light of the third cattle train appeared round a curve and came tearing past us. It was a desperately narrow escape and I did not sleep again that night. Writing afterwards to the general manager of the railway company about it my letter was not even acknowledged, and of course no thanks were received.

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