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[Illustration: THE STAMPEDE]



THE LOG OF A COWBOY

A Narrative of the Old Trail Days

BY ANDY ADAMS

_ILLUSTRATED BY E. BOYD SMITH_

"Our cattle also shall go with us."
--_Exodus_ iv. 26.

[Illustration: The Riverside Press]

BOSTON AND NEW YORK: HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY,

The Riverside Press, Cambridge


_1903_.




TO THE COWMEN AND BOYS OF THE OLD WESTERN TRAIL

THESE PAGES ARE GRATEFULLY DEDICATED




CONTENTS


CHAP.

I. UP THE TRAIL

II. RECEIVING

III. THE START

IV. THE ATASCOSA

V. A DRY DRIVE

VI. A REMINISCENT NIGHT

VII. THE COLORADO

VIII. ON THE BRAZOS AND WICHITA

IX. DOAN'S CROSSING

X. NO MAN'S LAND

XI. A BOGGY FORD

XII. THE NORTH FORK

XIII. DODGE

XIV. SLAUGHTER'S BRIDGE

XV. THE BEAVER

XVI. THE REPUBLICAN

XVII. OGALALLA

XVIII. THE NORTH PLATTE

XIX. FORTY ISLANDS FORD

XX. A MOONLIGHT DRIVE

XXI. THE YELLOWSTONE

XXII. OUR LAST CAMP-FIRE

XXIII. DELIVERY

XXIV. BACK TO TEXAS



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

THE STAMPEDE

MAP SHOWING THE TRAIL

HEAT AND THIRST

MEETING WITH INDIANS

CELEBRATING IN DODGE

STORY-TELLING

SWIMMING THE PLATTE



THE LOG OF A COWBOY



CHAPTER I

UP THE TRAIL

Just why my father moved, at the close of the civil war, from Georgia
to Texas, is to this good hour a mystery to me. While we did not
exactly belong to the poor whites, we classed with them in poverty,
being renters; but I am inclined to think my parents were
intellectually superior to that common type of the South. Both were
foreign born, my mother being Scotch and my father a north of Ireland
man,--as I remember him, now, impulsive, hasty in action, and slow to
confess a fault. It was his impulsiveness that led him to volunteer
and serve four years in the Confederate army,--trying years to my
mother, with a brood of seven children to feed, garb, and house. The
war brought me my initiation as a cowboy, of which I have now, after
the long lapse of years, the greater portion of which were spent with
cattle, a distinct recollection. Sherman's army, in its march to the
sea, passed through our county, devastating that section for miles in
its passing.

Foraging parties scoured the country on either side of its path. My
mother had warning in time and set her house in order. Our work stock
consisted of two yoke of oxen, while our cattle numbered three cows,
and for saving them from the foragers credit must be given to my
mother's generalship. There was a wild canebrake, in which the cattle
fed, several hundred acres in extent, about a mile from our little
farm, and it was necessary to bell them in order to locate them when
wanted. But the cows were in the habit of coming up to be milked, and
a soldier can hear a bell as well as any one. I was a lad of eight at
the time, and while my two older brothers worked our few fields, I was
sent into the canebrake to herd the cattle. We had removed the bells
from the oxen and cows, but one ox was belled after darkness each
evening, to be unbelled again at daybreak. I always carried the bell
with me, stuffed with grass, in order to have it at hand when wanted.

During the first few days of the raid, a number of mounted foraging
parties passed our house, but its poverty was all too apparent, and
nothing was molested. Several of these parties were driving herds of
cattle and work stock of every description, while by day and by night
gins and plantation houses were being given to the flames. Our
one-roomed log cabin was spared, due to the ingenious tale told by my
mother as to the whereabouts of my father; and yet she taught her
children to fear God and tell the truth. My vigil was trying to one of
my years, for the days seemed like weeks, but the importance of hiding
our cattle was thoroughly impressed upon my mind. Food was secretly
brought to me, and under cover of darkness, my mother and eldest
brother would come and milk the cows, when we would all return home
together. Then, before daybreak, we would be in the cane listening for
the first tinkle, to find the cattle and remove the bell. And my day's
work commenced anew.

Only once did I come near betraying my trust. About the middle of the
third day I grew very hungry, and as the cattle were lying down, I
crept to the edge of the canebrake to see if my dinner was not
forthcoming. Soldiers were in sight, which explained everything.
Concealed in the rank cane I stood and watched them. Suddenly a squad
of five or six turned a point of the brake and rode within fifty feet
of me. I stood like a stone statue, my concealment being perfect.
After they had passed, I took a step forward, the better to watch them
as they rode away, when the grass dropped out of the bell and it
clattered. A red-whiskered soldier heard the tinkle, and wheeling his
horse, rode back. I grasped the clapper and lay flat on the ground, my
heart beating like a trip-hammer. He rode within twenty feet of me,
peering into the thicket of cane, and not seeing anything unusual,
turned and galloped away after his companions. Then the lesson, taught
me by my mother, of being "faithful over a few things," flashed
through my mind, and though our cattle were spared to us, I felt very
guilty.

Another vivid recollection of those boyhood days in Georgia was the
return of my father from the army. The news of Lee's surrender had
reached us, and all of us watched for his coming. Though he was long
delayed, when at last he did come riding home on a swallow-marked
brown mule, he was a conquering hero to us children. We had never
owned a horse, and he assured us that the animal was his own, and by
turns set us on the tired mule's back. He explained to mother and us
children how, though he was an infantryman, he came into possession of
the animal. Now, however, with my mature years and knowledge of
brands, I regret to state that the mule had not been condemned and was
in the "U.S." brand. A story which Priest, "The Rebel," once told me
throws some light on the matter; he asserted that all good soldiers
would steal. "Can you take the city of St. Louis?" was asked of
General Price. "I don't know as I can take it," replied the general to
his consulting superiors, "but if you will give me Louisiana troops,
I'll agree to steal it."

Though my father had lost nothing by the war, he was impatient to go
to a new country. Many of his former comrades were going to Texas,
and, as our worldly possessions were movable, to Texas we started. Our
four oxen were yoked to the wagon, in which our few household effects
were loaded and in which mother and the smaller children rode, and
with the cows, dogs, and elder boys bringing up the rear, our caravan
started, my father riding the mule and driving the oxen. It was an
entire summer's trip, full of incident, privation, and hardship. The
stock fared well, but several times we were compelled to halt and
secure work in order to supply our limited larder. Through certain
sections, however, fish and game were abundant. I remember the
enthusiasm we all felt when we reached the Sabine River, and for the
first time viewed the promised land. It was at a ferry, and the
sluggish river was deep. When my father informed the ferryman that he
had no money with which to pay the ferriage, the latter turned on him
remarking, sarcastically: "What, no money? My dear sir, it certainly
can't make much difference to a man which side of the river he's on,
when he has no money."

Nothing daunted by this rebuff, my father argued the point at some
length, when the ferryman relented so far as to inform him that ten
miles higher up, the river was fordable. We arrived at the ford the
next day. My father rode across and back, testing the stage of the
water and the river's bottom before driving the wagon in. Then taking
one of the older boys behind him on the mule in order to lighten the
wagon, he drove the oxen into the river. Near the middle the water was
deep enough to reach the wagon box, but with shoutings and a free
application of the gad, we hurried through in safety. One of the wheel
oxen, a black steer which we called "Pop-eye," could be ridden, and I
straddled him in fording, laving my sunburned feet in the cool water.
The cows were driven over next, the dogs swimming, and at last, bag
and baggage, we were in Texas.

We reached the Colorado River early in the fall, where we stopped and
picked cotton for several months, making quite a bit of money, and
near Christmas reached our final destination on the San Antonio River,
where we took up land and built a house. That was a happy home; the
country was new and supplied our simple wants; we had milk and honey,
and, though the fig tree was absent, along the river grew endless
quantities of mustang grapes. At that time the San Antonio valley was
principally a cattle country, and as the boys of our family grew old
enough the fascination of a horse and saddle was too strong to be
resisted. My two older brothers went first, but my father and mother
made strenuous efforts to keep me at home, and did so until I was
sixteen. I suppose it is natural for every country boy to be
fascinated with some other occupation than the one to which he is
bred. In my early teens, I always thought I should like either to
drive six horses to a stage or clerk in a store, and if I could have
attained either of those lofty heights, at that age, I would have
asked no more. So my father, rather than see me follow in the
footsteps of my older brothers, secured me a situation in a village
store some twenty miles distant. The storekeeper was a fellow
countryman of my father--from the same county in Ireland, in fact--and
I was duly elated on getting away from home to the life of the
village.

But my elation was short-lived. I was to receive no wages for the
first six months. My father counseled the merchant to work me hard,
and, if possible, cure me of the "foolish notion," as he termed it.
The storekeeper cured me.



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